Hell’s Remains

Hell’s Remains

Written by Tamra Garcia

A Supernatural Fan-Fiction

 

 

Darkness filled the room, this was how it had always been. Her hands were shackled and hung from the chain latch above her head. Her body hung heavy from her bonds; beaten, maimed, and broken. This was how it had been for millennia. At least she felt it had been that long, she had no idea. Time had slipped past her long ago, everyday was near the same; torture, pain, eternal suffering. This was hell and she’d been here for a very long time.

Everyday a demon came, over the years there had been many different torturers and with each new torturer came a different form of torture and pain. Each time she began to grow used to a new tactic- a new infliction of suffering- the tactic would change. Each time her body was broken and hurt, her mind flayed and reeling with pain and confusion.

They would leave her injuries to fester until she began to grow used to them, grow numb to the pain. Then they would heal her and start fresh.

How long had this been going on? She had long since stopped wondering, no need to torture herself with unanswerable questions.

She had also long since given up escape. She once had fought, but with the binding cuffs the demons had her chained with she was powerless, no stronger than a common human. She was weak even when she had been new to hell. Now she was weaker, broken in so many ways.

She had long since stopped talking. They had tried, and still try everyday, to break her will and bring her to their command. They were under orders to make her work for hell, but they couldn’t use her power unless she was willing. They couldn’t remove the binding cuffs until they knew she would not kill them all. And she would not satisfy them with any kind of confirmation. She had learned to not acknowledge them, to not respond to anything. It was easier to just not speak or make sound at all, she would not give them the pleasure of screams, cries, or words. She would not encourage them. Most of the time this was easier on her, but sometimes it made the demons work harder, inflict more pain in order to incite a response.

She was flesh and blood, a living being imprisoned in hell. There were very few like her here. Most were souls or demons, but there were a few living, breathing beings here as well.

Being a desirable weapon of hell, that was the only thing keeping her alive. But it was also the thing keeping her in hell and tortured perpetually. There were only two ways out of this, either work for hell or die. They would never release her; they knew, and she knew, she would instantly have her revenge and snuff out every demon in her path.

There was no escape unless she could break free of these bonds. And there was no way she could break herself free. She was just too weak without her power.

She wished every moment for death. Why wouldn’t they kill her? It had been so very long and she had never agreed to their terms. They must know by now she never would. If she were to die what good would that do anyway? She would still be trapped here, useless to them, but still tortured for eternity.

She wished to be snuffed out. No life, no afterlife, just gone into nothingness.

Why don’t they kill me?

Because this is hell. This is what hell does. Torture, eternal suffering.

She closed her eyes, lightheaded, feeling the sweet wave flow over her. She would very soon pass out and that would be the only release she would have. It would only last moments but it would bring her that short minute of peace before the next round of excruciating pain.

Warmth. Warmth? She had not felt warmth in…she couldn’t remember. Hell was cold. Her naked body had hung in cold darkness for so long. Hell is cold, so why do I feel warm? It was her skin that felt warm, and now it was beginning to penetrate deeper.

Light. Light? What is this? She slowly began to open her eyes. Bright! So bright she snapped her eyes closed again.

What is going on? This must be a new tactic. A new torture I have not been subject to in many, many years. They are making me think I’m outside in the sun.

But this was new. It felt different. She realized at that moment she was laying on a surface. She was no longer hanging from the ceiling, from her bonds. She lay…in the grass? Is this grass I feel? It smells like grass, and fox-tails, and dirt? it smells like nature!

She opened her eyes again, slowly. It was too bright. It took many attempts and then she finally gave up and kept her eyes closed. It hurt too much, she had been in the dark too long to stand daylight. She did understand now, though, that she was laying outdoors, facing the sky, and it was probably a clear bright day.

What is this torture? They are trying to convince me I am free. They will make me feel joy and then rip me back to the reality of hell.

No!

Her body still hurt, she was still suffering the injuries of yesterday’s torture. She was still naked. Her bonds were still on, she could feel the heavy metal around her wrists and neck. The chains rattled loudly with each movement she tried to make. She attempted to roll over, to face away from the bright sky, but her ribs were broken and the agony was terrible.

Why make me think I’m free but leave me still bound and broken?

She lay there, quietly, no longer trying to move. She would just stay like this until they gave up on this tactic and moved on to some other form of torture.

“Here! Over here, this is where we saw it! Look!” A distinctively female voice yelled loudly. It startled her awake.

“What’s going on? Who is this?” An older male voice spoke up.

“We saw the light in the sky right here, it struck down right where she is.” The female voice said.

“Be careful.” The older voice said.

A hand touched her forehead. She instinctively drew away but her weakness and injuries held her down, she felt heavy and petrified with confusion and fear.

“We should get her inside. Castiel can heal her.” A younger male voice spoke.

“Those are binding cuffs, aren’t they? Is it safe to take her inside?” The female voice said.

“As long as we keep them on she can’t do anything.” The older voice spoke. “We gotta figure out what’s going on here. How’d she get here.”

“Who is she?” The younger male voice spoke.

“What is she?” The older voice said.

 

“There.” She heard a new male voice speak. She was waking. How long had she been unconscious? She instantly understood something had changed. She felt…good. There was no heaviness, no pain, no stiffness. She took a deep breath and felt whole and fresh. She opened her eyes and was looking into the face of an angel. She shot up and scrambled back as quickly as she could manage, she stopped only when she hit wall. She had not seen the light of an angel in…why does she even try to recount time anymore? Her concept of time was long since lost.

She was still bound! Without her power she was defenseless against an angel!

This is definitely a new form of torture. They had never tried mind tricks like this before. What are the demons doing to me? What are they trying to do, confuse me? Yes, they want me to think I’ve been rescued from hell by angels. Why angels? Angels would want me dead, not rescued. What is this mind game?

“Don’t worry.” The angel spoke plainly and put his hands out in an attempt to calm her.

“It’s OK.” Another voice spoke, his hands out in the same gesture as the angel’s. This man was human, and very tall. “Cass healed you, you’re OK. Nobody here is going to hurt you” The man stood looking at her with a gentle and kind expression, then he walked over to a chair a few feet from her and sat. The angel remained standing but stepped back a few steps from her.

“My name is Sam, this is Castiel.” The human said, gesturing to the angel. “What is your name?”

Her eyes betrayed her fright and confusion. She heard the man speaking but her mind reeled with the puzzle of what was happening. She thoroughly believed she was still in hell and this was all an elaborate mind trick, just another form of torture. She would soon be pulled back to reality, still hanging from her shackles, naked and cold, blanketed in darkness and writhing in pain. She pressed her back against the wall, her legs pulled up and her arms tucked in, she remained in that tight ball of a trembling, wide-eyed wreck of a woman for hours. She did not speak or move save for her eyes that followed Castiel’s every move.

The angel stayed in the dungeon with the woman. Other people came and went, delivering food- of which she stared at longingly but did not eat-, blankets, and clothing, and checking in on the two now and then. Three days passed and the woman barely moved, hardly slept, and only took in a bit of water but no food. She only took her eyes off the angel when she slept, and she fought off sleep as best she could.

The angel had spoken little to her. He had explained to her who he was, who the other’s were, and what this place was, this bunker. He had explained why they kept her in this room, he had made sure not to call it by it’s rightful name, the dungeon. He had also explained why they kept the binding cuffs on her. They did not know who she was or what she could do should those cuffs come off. If only she would speak to them, explain who she was. He had explained all of this on the first day, and then he stayed mostly silent, only asking the occasional question. “Who are you?”, “How did you end up in the field?”, “How did you get the injuries?”, etc..

But she did not speak. She barely even moved.

Up until now Castiel had either stood in his spot or sat in the chair. But today, the third day, he began to pace. She could see he was bothered by something. She worried. Was it time now? Were the demons getting impatient with her lack of response to their new torture? Was this angel going to show his true colors and turn into the demon he really is and beat her bloody?

The door opened and a younger man walked in. She had seen him before, they called him Jack. There was something strange about him, he had a very mild angelic glow, but he was human. Had he been the vessel of an angel at one time and still held a small amount of grace? But why would the demons put such an odd detail into this hallucination? To make it seem more believable? It just didn’t make sense.

“There might be a lead, Bobby and Mary went to check on it.” Jack said to Castiel.

“What is it?” Castiel asked, a sense of urgency in his voice.

“An abandoned hospital blew up a few days ago. It was a known demon dwelling, one of Crowley’s. It looks like it was an angel smiting.”

“Michael. I should go.”

“If it was him he’s not there anymore. Bobby and Mary are on it.”

The tall man, Sam, walked in. “Anything new here?” He said as he glanced at the woman.

“She’s still silent.” Castiel said. “Sam, I should go…”

“There’s nothing to find, Cass, we need you here right now.”

“There’s nothing here, either.” Castiel responded.

“If she wont speak, maybe you should go to her.” Sam said.

“You mean…”

“Yeah.”

“It’s dangerous. It could harm her.”

“Just be careful.” Sam said. He looked at the woman and sighed. “We can’t keep her in here forever, we need to get through to her. See what you can find inside her head.”

What’s happening? What does the tall man want the angel to do to me? This is a scare tactic, the demons are trying to scare me. Next they’ll inflict pain.

The angel began to approach her. Instinctively she tried to scurry away but there was no place to run, two men blocked the only exit. She tried futilely to dodge the angel’s advances but he came right up to her with little effort. His hand came up and he touched her forehead with two fingers. All went dark.

 

He stood within a lavender glow. This wasn’t what he had expected. He should be sorting through her memories but instead he’s here. Where is here?

“Hello.” He spoke to the emptiness.

“Go away. You don’t belong here! You’re not supposed to be here!”

Castiel looked in the direction of the unfamiliar voice. He stepped toward it. A woman, the woman, stood before him. She began to cry.”I know what you’re doing and it wont work. You can keep trying but it’ll just end the same way it always has.” She choked back her tears and tried to sound strong, not understanding why the tears were coming, she hadn’t cried since the beginning of her time in hell. “This is my space, you can’t be here. Get out!”

“I’m trying to help you.” Castiel studied the scene. Her words had not all made sense. She was confused and understandably frightened. “What has happened to you?”

“Your mind tricks are weak, demon, they aren’t working. Move on.” She tried with all her might to sound confident.

“I’m not a demon, I’m an angel.” Demon? Why would she call him a demon, she knew he was an angel. He needed to delve deeper and find the cause of her confusion. “Demons have hurt you? There are no demons here, you’re safe.”

“You’ve come to the wrong place this time, demon!” She screamed. Of all the time she’d been a prisoner in hell they had never actually brought themselves into her mind, that was something they had avoided out of precaution, even with the bonds on. But this demon had made the mistake, he had gone beyond projecting hallucinations and had actually brought himself into her mind. This was the one place she still had some small amount of power. She reached out and grabbed the monster by his neck and poured all the torture they’d inflicted on her over the countless years back to him. “You can’t hurt me here, demon! I’ve got you now!”

Castiel was consumed by pain. In seconds he saw, felt, and fully experienced this woman’s years upon years of suffering and torture. He saw it all and he experienced everything within her years of hell. It overpowered his mind, but even so his mind instinctively caught and recognized one period of time, a common link between himself and this woman.

Dean.

She released him and stepped back. He did not move. She stood, confused, her hands on her head, gripping the searing pain. The demons were truly working in new territory this time, she had no idea what was going on, what had just happened. She was terrified. She had intended to flood the demon with the pain they had inflicted on her all these years, and she had succeeded; but at the same time she had been flooded with this…angel’s memories, not all of his memories, but many.

“What…”

“These are not mind tricks… It’s just you and I here… Let me help you.” Castiel stumbled over his words and to his feet, fighting to gather himself despite what he had just endured. He looked around again at the dark room. How was she doing this? She was still bound by the cuffs, how could she wield this power?

She didn’t want to believe. She couldn’t believe this was real, she was free of hell. If she believed it then the hallucination would shatter and the pain would begin again. She didn’t move. Tears began to flow again.

“Mila?” Castiel asked.

She stared blankly at him. Her mind still reeled by what she had just experienced and what she now held in her mind. All these new things she had absorbed from his memories in the span of seconds. It confused her. It frightened her. It was all a jumble. Instinct forced it all aside and her focus was put on the moment at hand. This angel had asked her a simple question, ‘Mila?’ Mila. She had not thought about it since near the beginning of her time in hell, she had tried to appeal to her torturer’s emotions; she’d tried to spare herself some suffering. Then the name had not slipped her lips for many, many years, until now. “Mila.” She whispered, barely audible.

“Hello, Mila.” Castiel smiled weakly.

The tears flowed stronger now. “You really aren’t a demon.” She spoke in little more than a whisper.

“No, I’m not.”

“I’m free.” She whispered to herself. “How?”

“You don’t know how you got free?”

She looked up at the angel. They both realized that it was a mystery. How had she gotten free? How had she ended up in the field?

Castiel had many, many questions, but the one he wanted an immediate answer to was how she was doing all of this, how she was creating this space in her mind. “How are you doing this?” He asked as he gestured to himself and to the room. “You are controlling this, Mila. I can’t release.” Castiel had been trying to leave her mind since the moment she had grabbed his neck. “Let me go, please.” He had realized her fear and had taken into account her years of torture in hell. He did not want to incite panic in her and therefore was keeping himself calm. If he made one wrong step this woman may be able to kill him. He wasn’t sure, but from what he had just experienced and the fact he was trapped here made him take no chances.

“I’m not sure, I just wanted to…I didn’t want you seeing my memories.” She closed her eyes. If he accessed her memories then she would have to think about them, too, and she hadn’t wanted to do that, but she had ended up doing it anyway. Yes, she had been keeping him here. But she now realized she had been doing all of this because she had thought he was a demon tricking her. She now realized she had inflicted her painful revenge on an innocent. She stared into his blue eyes, frightened. “I thought you were a demon…” She said with trembling voice.

Maybe he still is, maybe the demons are more powerful than I thought. She pushed the thought away.

“I know.” He said calmly. “But I am not your enemy. Let me go and I and my friends out there will help you.”

 

Castiel was sitting on the floor, Mila’s head in his lap. He removed his hands from the sides of her head, the task was done, he had succeeded.

“Cass, are you OK?” Sam said anxiously.

“We couldn’t get through to you. We thought something was wrong.” Jack looked worried as well.

“I’m fine. We’re fine.” Castiel responded as he somewhat slowly got to his feet and then helped Mila up as well. He stood beside her, facing the other men. “Sam, Jack, this is Mila.”

 

Sam, Jack, and Castiel left Mila alone in the dungeon as they gathered outside the room to discuss what Castiel had experienced in her mind. He recounted his experience in detail and left nothing out, including the memories he saw of Dean with her in hell.

“She’d been in hell that long?” Sam spoke with shock.

“Yes, she was there years before Dean arrived, and ever since. She spent nearly 15 years there, Sam.”

“Oh, my god, 15 years, maybe more. In hell time that’s like almost two thousand years.” Sam could now understand why she was so traumatized.

“It’s going to take some time for her to recuperate. She may never fully recover.” Castiel looked in the direction of the woman who sat on the other side of the door, eating for the first time since she had arrived. “She is quite remarkable, though, she has a very strong mind and will. She may be just fine, eventually.”

“Now we need to figure out what powers those binding cuffs are keeping at bay.” Sam said. “What is she capable of?”

“The demons were trying to win her to their side, or at least force her to work for hell. They were afraid of her power. Whatever she can do, it can destroy hell.”

“She’s that powerful?” Jack spoke.

“Well, why keep her alive if she could potentially destroy hell? Wouldn’t it be more beneficial to the demons to kill her instead of keeping her around?” Sam pointed out.

“In her memory of first seeing me, she was afraid. She can see angel’s true form, she could see I am an angel. She was confused that I didn’t kill her. She was certain an angel seeing her bound would take the opportunity to kill her. Maybe the demons intended to use her as a weapon against angels.” Castiel paced for a moment as he thought over the memories. “She is very powerful, Sam, she forced all of her memories on me but intentionally kept out any knowledge of what she can do. I wonder if even the demons knew the full extent of her power.”

“Well, if she has the power to take on angels…” Sam and Castiel looked knowingly at each other. If this woman had the power to kill, or at least weaken, angels, she might be the key they needed to even the odds against Michael. “We need to talk to her. We need to find out what she can do. How powerful she actually is. We need to get her to open up more, and we don’t have time to wait for her to be ready.” Sam wasn’t just thinking of taking down Michael, he was also thinking of saving his brother, Dean.

 

“Hi.” Jack said once he’d shut the door behind himself. He had spoken to Mila a few times over the days since she had arrived, but she hadn’t paid much attention to his words, just the strange angelic glow of him. She had come to assume it was because he had been a vessel at one time, but she wasn’t sure if that was it. He was a man, probably in his twenties, but he seemed much younger, very child-like in personality. He was warm and welcoming and innocent, but something about him made her feel wary.

She had been sitting at the table for a while since she’d finished her meal. She had been thinking, carefully mulling over the memories she had gotten from Castiel’s mind. The angel had experienced much, had been through many hardships and agony. He had also experienced much joy and positive times. Many of the memories included Sam, and she was surprised to also see a familiar face, someone she had known in hell, someone who incited terror in her core. And this someone was a close friend to Castiel, someone who was loved by the angel, and brother to Sam. Dean.

Castiel’s memories had not come in order or context for her, they were a jumble, and the more she tried to find order and reason in them the more they made less sense. But she knew if these people were allies to Dean, they must not be as good as they were trying to lead her to believe. The feelings she knew Castiel felt when he saw Dean’s face were strong and clear. The angel loved this man, he felt protective of him. Dean was his family and his best friend. That can’t be a good thing. If these people are so close to him where is he? She wanted to leave this place; was Dean here? If he was here or near by, she didn’t want to… she had to get out of here! Suddenly it dawned on her that she was as much a prisoner here as she had been in hell. She was still in the bonds, she was still in a cell. They were not harming her, but they certainly were keeping her locked up.

Jack had been speaking to her but she had not heard him.

“Why do you keep me locked here?” She asked plainly, interrupting him mid sentence.

“We know you have power, but we don’t know what it is.” He said quizzically. “Will you tell us?”

“I want to leave this place.”

“We can’t let you go until we know you aren’t going to hurt anyone.” Jack tried to be gentle with his words, but he was still mastering the concept of tact. “We don’t want to keep you here, but we need to keep everyone safe…”

Mila could feel a ball of rage and fear rise within her. “Who are you to keep me locked up?! What do you want with me? I can’t hurt you, even without these bonds. I’m no threat to humans!” She could hardly believe her own words, was this her voice? She hadn’t spoken at all in years and now it was simply flooding out of her.

“I’m not human…” Jack began but then stopped himself. Was he human now? Lucifer had stolen his grace, did that make him human?

Mila stared at him. Not human? Then what was he? She could see the hint of glow but it was so small.

“I, I was a nephilim but now I’m…I don’t know.” A very candid expression of sorrow shown on his face.

Mila tensed. Nephilim. She had never encountered a nephilim, she knew of them but had never met one. She didn’t think her power could contend with a nephilim, maybe weaken one, but still, she’d be no match. But this man, something had happened to him and he was now an extremely pale version of what he once was, if he in fact had once been a nephilim. That glow, though, angels regenerated their lost grace, do nephilims as well?

Again she asked why she was here. Again she asked forcibly what they wanted with her.

Jack took a moment to think about her questions and also take into account how heated her emotions were. He chose, as he often did, the straight forward and simple response. “We would like to know what power you have.” He then took another moment to decide if he should say more, then decided he would. “We would like to know if you can help us.” He smiled his purely innocent smile.

They want to use me. They want to use my power. Just like the demons. How far will these people go to try to get me to bend to their will? She knew now that these were not good people. These were monsters no better than demons. No wonder they were friends to Dean, they were as evil as he. Dean was probably the one leading these people. She had to escape this place, she had to find a way to get out of these bonds and out of this cell.

The door opened and Sam walked through, followed by Castiel. Mila stood up and stepped back, almost to the wall.

“Remove my cuffs and I’ll show you what I can do.” She said with all seriousness.

“Why don’t you tell us about your power first? Describe it to us.” Sam responded with a kind but knowing tone.

“I can’t hurt you. The demons had me bound because I could hurt them, I could kill them. But I can’t hurt you. Take them off.” She almost said please but couldn’t bring herself to beg.

“What about me? Can you kill me?” Castiel said more than asked.

Mila remained silent. She weighed her options here, she could lie and say no, but she could also be honest and try to gain their trust. “Yes, I can kill you. I can rip you from your vessel in a split second and snuff you out of existence. But I wont…” She choked up momentarily, overwhelmed with her desire to be free and feel her own power once more. It had been so long. “I won’t, I promise.” She willingly let her tears flow.

“How do you do it?” Sam was very interested, thoughts of Dean being free of Michael filled his mind and drove him to press for information. How was this done? “Rip angels from their vessels? How does it work?”

Picking up on Sam’s obvious curiosity and the sense of urgency in his voice, Mila took the opportunity to gain trust. “Not just angels. I can rip any invading force from it’s victim, demon, ghost, anything.”

“What happens to the vessel?” Sam, Jack, and Castiel asked in unison.

Mila looked specifically at Castiel. They obviously had a specific person in mind. It couldn’t be Castiel, that made no sense, why would he want to be ripped from his own vessel? Unless there was a spell at work and he couldn’t leave his vessel? She’d never heard of such a thing. It must be someone else. “They aren’t hurt by it. The only damage to them is whatever was there before I free them.” She thought to herself that that was the whole point of this specific power. She was given it in order to stop a demon invasion of her homeland. Kill the demons and free the people. She thought it best not to go into her whole life story with these bad men, though, and kept that part to herself.

The men stood in shock, staring at the woman with expressions that gave away their emotions. She was exactly what they needed to stop Michael and free Dean. They had stumbled upon the answer to it all. Even stranger (and better?) she had just fallen on their doorstep; well, at least several yards from their doorstep.

How had she gotten here? Who was behind this? It couldn’t be coincidence. Had she come on her own? Playing some kind of trick? Had Michael sent her? Had someone else?

Maybe an ally sent her to help. Chuck?

Sam and Castiel looked to each other. They needed to speak in private about this. They left the room, Jack in tow.

“This is…”

“I know, too much…too much of a good thing.”

“Exactly. How should we proceed?”

“Well…” Sam tried hard to not let his excitement over possibly saving his brother cloud his judgement. “On the one hand this is too good to pass up. On the other hand…”

“It may be a trap.” Jack finished for Sam. Castiel and Sam nodded in agreement. “So, what do we do?” Jack added.

“Play along, for now. See where it leads. We should try to learn as much as we can about her and how she ended up here.”

“So, just keep doing what we’ve been doing?”

“For now. I’ll do some research on her power, see what I can dig up.”

“Should we tell her about why we need her?” Jack asked.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to mention Dean, at least not by name.” Castiel added. She only knows him by who he was in hell.

“She wouldn’t agree to help him.” Sam nodded. He noticed Castiel appeared momentarily distracted. “Cass, what is it?”

“I’m not sure. The more I recover from what happened when I was in her mind, the more clear that time becomes. I recall feeling as if my memories were being touched somehow.”

“What do you mean?”

“Sam..” Castiel looked up at his friend. “She may have seen my memories.”

” How much? All of them?”

“Not everything. But if she did see even a small amount then she’d most likely be aware of our relationship with Dean.”

Sam looked to the dungeon door as if he could see Mila through it. He swallowed hard, feeling his brother’s rescue slip through his grasp.

 

Michael was not pleased with what he was hearing. The target building was destroyed and the seven demons that had inhabited it were dead. However, the true target, the being known as Mila, was not there.

“We are working to track her down, but we have no leads as of yet.” Anael had reported.

Michael sat silently. All had been going well up until now. He had made his way to this realm, this dimension, and had surprisingly easily taken his vessel, Dean. He was finding great joy in wearing Dean, this was a good, strong vessel, and made especially for him. Dean was the best fit. He had also easily taken leadership of heaven; this wasn’t a difficult task since there were so few angels left alive in this realm. They had been desperate for a strong capable leader and had willingly accepted him. His other plans were moving along quickly and, so far, without difficulty.

Save this one. Mila was a formidable enemy in the other realm and it had taken a lot of resources and loss before he was able to kill her. He had no intention of going through that turmoil again and had intended on taking her out before she could get to him. Learning of her imprisonment had made things so much easier for him.

So, how had she gotten away? The timing was the give away. The first and only answer he came up with was that there was a traitor in heaven. “Find her. And find the traitor who helped her escape. I want them both dead.” His hand rolled into a fist. He did not want any setbacks. He would not tolerate traitors. “Wait.” He stopped Anael before she could exit the room. “Kill Mila, but bring the traitor to me.” He would make an example of this betrayer.

 

Dean was tucked away deep inside his own mind. Most angels kept their vessel’s minds in a deep dream state where they were completely unaware of the activities of the angel, and also unaware of the passage of time. Michael, however, had chosen to keep Dean awake and aware. Dean was in a room, a small, bare room with no windows or doors. He was trapped here, aware that Michael had his body, and painfully aware of the passage of time. At this very moment he was standing in the center of the room screaming for help. He prayed to Chuck for rescue. He prayed to Castiel to find him and get him out of here. He punched and kicked the walls of this place. If he remained trapped here much longer he would go insane. Michael found great pleasure in Dean’s suffering. The only way in which Michael interfered with the function of Dean’s perception was to erase any thought or memory of the fact that he had the power to cast Michael out of his body. All of this meant Michael had to spend some energy and attention constantly on monitoring Dean. But he was fine with the cost, the show was immensely pleasurable.

“Cass! You get your feathery ass over here and get me out!” Dean prayed. He fell to his knees in a lump of exhausted defeat. “God…Chuck, please, help me. Help us. Stop Michael…Please.” He sat against the wall, exhausted. He would rest for a while, then get back to the fight.

 

Sam, Bobby, Castiel, and a few others had spent the past couple of days pouring over the library and many other sources in an attempt to gather any possible knowledge on Mila and her power. They had not come up with any real leads and were growing tired enough to take a real break when Sam’s phone rang. His mother, Mary, had been out chasing her own lead and had hit pay-dirt. She told Sam to hurry his way over to her. He took Castiel with him.

They pulled up into the empty parking lot of an equally empty shell of an old department store. Inside they found Mary and a rather nervous looking man who was tied to a chair that sat in the center of a devil’s trap.

“This is Carlos, or at least the body of Carlos.” Mary said as she nodded toward the demon. “He told me an interesting story about Mila, and now he’s going to tell you.”

It took a bit of prodding, but Carlos told the story. Everything he knew about the woman who had been a prisoner of hell, a special project of Azazel and then Alastair, and then Lucifer, and finally of Crowley. Each one had tried in vain to win the woman and her power over to hell, or at least to force her to work for hell. She had been in hell at the beginning of her incarceration, and for several years, but when Crowley took over he had her transferred to the surface and held in one of his buildings. Once all the fighting over leadership of hell had come to a head and then Crowley died, no one really knew what to do about the woman. A skeleton crew kept watch on her and a couple other prisoners in the same building, waiting for orders. Then the angel came and broke her out.

“An angel? Who was this angel?” Sam demanded.

“No idea, I don’t know one angel from another, and I wasn’t there anyway.”

“One angel smote that whole building?” Mary asked.

“No, that happened like two hours later. I hear it was three angels that did that.”
Sam and Castiel stepped away to talk.

“It sounds like someone knew the plan and rescued Mila before the others destroyed the building.”

“A rogue angel.”

“And brought her to us.”

“Someone in heaven is on our side.”

“Are you gonna let me go now?” The demon interrupted.

“Do you really think we’re going to let you go?” Mary said sarcastically.

“Hey! I helped you! I told the whole story!”
Mary readied her blade.

“Wait! Hell is on your side, you know! We want Michael dead just as bad as you do! We can work together.”

Sam held up his hand to stop his mother from stabbing the demon. “He has a point. We should talk, maybe work something out. We can use all the help we can get against Michael.”

 

When everyone was gathered in the meeting room of the bunker Sam explained to the group all of the events of the past week. Mila had appeared and they had since discovered her apparent power to rip an angel (or demon or ghost) from a vessel and destroy it. She had been a prisoner of hell for around 15 years and was quite traumatized, understandably, from that experience. They had no information as to the exact extent of her power, and they have no knowledge of where she comes from or anything of her origins or past before hell.

“We are working to, more or less, befriend her and convince her to help us fight Michael and save Dean.” Sam explained. “Her trauma from hell is pretty severe, and it doesn’t help that she knows Dean, but her only knowledge of him is from hell as well.”
Everyone in the room who knew about Dean’s time in hell groaned or let out small gasps. somewhere in the crowd came the words, “Oh, shit.”

 

It had been a couple of days since she had been visited by Sam, Castiel, or Jack. She wondered why. Was this some kind of attempt at torture? Make her wonder and worry? Cause her to start to think she had been forgotten, or worry they might keep her here forever? She was still being visited by those who brought her meals. The food was good, well balanced in nutrition, varied in ingredients and flavor, a huge improvement over hell food. She was even taken to the restroom regularly. Mila had thought of attempting escape during a restroom trip, but there were two guards who escorted her each time, they were human- not that that made any difference with her bonds on- and they had weapons.

In her solitude she had time to think. The only thing she could really pay much attention to were the memories she had absorbed from Castiel’s mind. It greatly upset her that they were so fragmented and jumbled. Nothing made sense, each memory was little more than a blip from a whole memory. Flashes of faces, items, places, feelings; a couple words from sentences and conversations she had no idea the context of. Sam, Jack, and many other faces shone many times over. Dean was in so many memories it made her want to scream and rip her own mind out. So much blood, fighting, anger, tears.
But then there were also so many memories of smiles, hugs, laughter. She had not experienced Dean in such pleasant moods while in hell. She couldn’t help but wonder about that.

She couldn’t help but feel relief when the dungeon door slid open. A distraction, any distraction, from the torture of Castiel’s memories was welcome. Jack stepped in, followed by Sam, and then Castiel.

“Hi, Mila. We’re sorry to have you in here for so long.” Sam began. “We’ve been doing some research, trying to get to know more about you.”

Mila wore a confused expression. She had no idea what Sam was implying. Research? What kind of research?

“There is no mention of power like yours anywhere. We were able to capture a demon, though, and he told us about your time in hell, and then in Crowley’s dungeon.”
Crowley. That was a name she hadn’t heard for awhile. She hadn’t seen or spoken with Crowley in a long time. Of all the demons and torturers he was the most unique. His torture tactics were agonizing and drawn out. He could be rather kind on occasion, though, masterfully bargaining for hours with her. He almost got her to give in and agree to a deal on a few occasions. But she held out in the end. And then the torture would begin again.

Wait, what did Sam mean by “And then in Crowley’s dungeon”? She said it out loud.

Sam looked confused for a moment. Then it dawned on him, Mila had thought she was in hell the entire time. “When Crowley took over hell he moved you to a location up here, an abandoned hospital he preferred to do some of his business from.” He explained.

Mila was shocked, she’d had no idea. She had thought she was in hell all those years. She suddenly felt more insecure. What else wasn’t real? How could she be sure anything was real?

“Hey, it’s OK.” Sam said gently. “That’s all over now, you’re safe. I know it’s hard to believe, but we really aren’t going to hurt you. We need your help…” Sam stopped himself. He knew he sounded cliche. The demons probably told her the same things just before they tortured her some more.

The room was silent for a few moments. No one knew what to say, where to go from here. Mila stood with her head lowered. The others watched her nervously, worried and unsure how to proceed.

“Would it help if we told you about us?” Jack asked. The others looked at him quizzically.

“Lucifer is my father. I don’t think of him that way, though. Castiel is more my father… My mother was a human named Kelly Klien, she died when I was born…”

Jack continued with his short but powerful life story. Mila had heard him talking but it took a bit for her to finally truly listen. She found herself interested, curious, and very skeptical about the truth of it all. He spoke about Dean as a hard, angry, mistrusting man at first, but then he softened and became just as close a friend and ally to Jack as Sam and Castiel.

“Castiel can go next.” Jack said with a smile when he was done.

“I was born in a village in Romania…” Mila spoke softly. She had no idea why she began to speak, but it felt good to connect with someone. Jack’s story was so tragic, so painful, but ended with such close friends. Maybe he was lying, tricking her, but she wanted it to be real, she wanted the pain to end. Also, she had realized this was a perfect opportunity to gain their trust and empathy. So she told her story, she told them what they wanted to know. “I was born around 1820, I’m not sure exactly when. I grew up in the village, married there, had three children, and I lost everything there.” She was surprised to feel the pain and tears still came even after all this time. “The village was overtaken by a band of demons. They took the bodies of our loved ones and settled in. They tortured and terrorized us for many months. My family was somewhat lucky for a while to avoid most of the suffering. But that all ended when a demon took my husband. He beat and raped me and then forced me to watch him torture and murder our children.” She sobbed softly as she remembered it so vividly. “I knew it wasn’t my husband, but it was his body, and I watched him kill our children.”

“The demon left me laying there with my children’s bodies. After a while I buried them and then went to the hills. There was a witch that lived there, I begged her to help in any way she could. I had no idea if she could but she was the village’s only hope. I told her I’d pay anything she wanted, I’d find a way and pay her. She told me she wanted my body as payment. I didn’t know what she meant, I had ideas, but I didn’t really know and I didn’t care. I agreed.”

“It took a long time, a few years. The demons didn’t leave, they liked being in the village and hurting all the people. The population shrank to only about a hundred people by time…” Mila was getting ahead of herself. She looked up at the men and saw the concerned looks on their faces. She didn’t know why she was surprised to see real empathy but she felt warmed by it.

“The witch, her name was Crina, she used me as a kind of test animal. She tested spells on me. Many hurt, made me sick, or didn’t work. A few times I came near death. But she always found a way to make them work eventually. There were many of them, some were cast by words and ritual, some required blood, cuts, sutures. They all left permanent marks.”

All three men had seen Mila’s naked body when she was first brought in. She didn’t have a mark on her. Sure, there were plenty of ways to cure scars, but…

Mila saw their expressions. “Remove the bonds and you’ll see.” She held up her shackled wrists. When none of the men moved she knew the trust was still not there. She continued her story.

“Eventually the witch announced her work was done and she told me to go to the village and kill the demons. I did as I was told. I was frightened, I had no real idea what the witch had done to me. I knew she had given me powers and protections, she had told me about all of it, but it had not been tested. The test was me going to the demons and using the power.” Mila absentmindedly pulled at the cuffs as she remembered that day so long ago.

“I walked into the square of town ready to die or defeat the demons. They came and as they got closer I felt the power…” She took a deep breath at the memory of how her power made her feel. “I felt the protections take effect. The demons stood away from me, frightened. I killed them all in just a moment’s time. I reached out and I pulled them from their bodies and I snuffed them out, just like that.” The three men watched Mila demonstrate the action.

“What happened to the bodies, the people they were possessing?” Sam asked eagerly.

“There were nine demons. Three people died from injuries the demons had inflicted before. Four had injuries, but they survived. Two were completely unharmed.” Mila stood silent for just a moment, remembering, and absentmindedly fiddling with her bonds. The power, she missed it.

“I left the village after that. I couldn’t stay. The villagers treated me like some kind of hero, but also were frightened of me.” She sighed, trying not to cry anymore. “My husband survived, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to look at each other. I left. I traveled and I hunted demons, ghosts, all kinds of monsters. I eventually ended up in the Americas and I liked it here so much I stayed. Too long I guess, because I got captured.”

“Thank you for telling us.” Sam said after a moment.

“I know you want to know about all of my power.”

“I gather from what you said that it is more than just the casting out and killing.” Castiel said. “You mentioned protections.”

“It would be easier if I could just show you.” Mila said frankly.

“What do you mean ‘show’?” Jack asked. Sam nodded to him in agreement.

“I’m not going to hurt anyone. I wouldn’t do that, it’s just that you so obviously want my help which means you need to know exactly what I can do. The best way is for you to trust me and let me show you.” Mila stepped a bit closer to Sam.

Sam took a few long moments to mull over his options. He didn’t trust this woman, he had long since learned never to trust anyone. But she was right, if she were to help them they needed to know what she was capable of. “OK, we’ll get the cuffs off. We need to figure out how to get them off.” Sam’s first thought was to try the key for the anti-magic cuffs they had in Baby’s trunk. The locks on Mila’s cuffs looked almost identical. If not, it might be a simple matter of making a key. Hopefully it wouldn’t take much effort or time.

It took an entire week but the cuffs finally came off.

Castiel, for safety’s sake, stayed away. Sam, Bobby, and Jack had gone into the dungeon to do the job. Bobby and Jack stood by the dungeon door while Sam approached Mila and stood before her, a tower of height over her petite body. Mila had not realized how very tall the man was until he stood inches, just inches, in front of her. He first unlocked the cuff around her neck, then her right wrist, and finally her left, and then taking the shackles completely off the woman. Instantly Sam felt the power surge and everyone in the room saw the lavender glow flow over her body from her chest outward to her extremities. Mila felt the power fill her as if she were awaking and filled with vibrant energy.

Sam saw it best from his front row seat. Symbols, markings, spells, wards, sigles, they looked like pale purple tattoos and they covered her from head to toe. Sam recognized many of them, the anti-possession symbol, angel wards, demon wards, among many others. And there were many he didn’t immediately recognize. He read Latin, Enochian, Gaelec, and many other languages. He made his way to her face and barely recognized the woman who had been bound. This woman had power, this woman was confident and strong, this woman had a plan.

Sam’s first thought wasn’t so much about what he’d just witnessed but the fact that it was happening as she stood right in the center of the devil’s trap. He looked at the cuffs he had just removed from her and took in a sudden breath. These particular cuffs must have been made specifically for her by someone who knew exactly how to bind her power.

“Mila…” Sam brought the cuffs up by instinct.

“Sam!” A voice came from the door. It wasn’t Bobby or Jack. It was Rowena and it surprised him just enough for Mila to act. She shoved Sam with enough force that he stumbled. He had enough wits about him in the moment to attempt to cuff the woman by a wrist. She out maneuvered him and ran for the door. Bobby, Jack, and Rowena were ready for her but they had not anticipated her wards. Jack was thrown back into Bobby, knocking them both to the wall several feet away from the door. Rowena stood in the doorway and attempted a spell, but nothing happened. She had no power when near this woman. Mila punched her in the face, knocking her down, and stepped over her and ran.

“We have to stop her!” Sam yelled as he got up and helped Rowena to her feet.

“I felt the power, I knew it meant bad news…” Rowena tried to explain.

“Come on, she can’t get far, she doesn’t know the layout of the bunker.” Sam replied as he headed after Mila.

“Sam, she has Cass’ memories, she might know.” Jack pointed out.

 

Castiel was in the kitchen talking with Mary when they heard the commotion. Something must have gone wrong in the dungeon. “You better stay here, I’ll go.” Mary said as she darted toward the noise.

The angel felt useless. He waited for several minutes in the kitchen, listening but not hearing anything useful. They were searching for Mila, several people had seen her but no one had been able to chase her down and stop her yet. He wanted to help, but what could he do? She could kill him in an instant. He stepped to the doorway and looked down the hall, it was empty and the noise had died away to the other side of the bunker.

A powerful weakness and full-body pain hit Castiel like lightening. He crumpled to the floor and groaned loudly. He saw her turn the corner and walk toward him. It took all of his strength to clamber himself away from her. Mila came right up to the angel and knelt before him.

“Please…” Castiel sputtered. “Stop.”

“I don’t want to kill you, angel.” She said with a subtle hint of remorse in her voice. “I want to use you to get me out of here.”

As quickly as the pain had hit him it was gone, although the weakness remained. Mila grabbed him by the arm and helped him to his feet. “Get me out of here.” She commanded.

Castiel lead the way, Mila behind him with one hand on his shoulder. He could feel her hand trembling and realized the woman was scared.

“You don’t have to do this.” He managed. He stopped and held the wall with one hand as he tried to turn to face her. “We don’t want to hurt you or keep you prisoner. We just need your help to stop Michael.”

And then it will be something else after that, she thought to herself. It would never end, they would always find something they need her power for. She would never be anyone’s weapon, no one would ever hold her captive again! “Move!” Mila shouted at Castiel as she shoved him.

Before they got to the end of the hall Rowena, Bobby, and Mary blocked their path, Bobby and Mary held guns at the ready, aimed at her head.

Mila stood behind Castiel, using his body as a shield “Get out of the way or the angel dies!” Mila demanded. She reactivated her spell and Castiel screamed in pain and fell to his knees, exposing her to the weapons; she accepted the risk.

Rowena’s eyes widened in amazement of the power this woman had. The witchcraft used to create this being was superb.

“Let him go!” Mary ordered.

“You don’t have to do this.” Rowena added.

“Just get out of my way!” Mila demanded. She raised her right hand ready to rip Castiel from his vessel. Before the action could be done a cuff snapped around her wrist. Sam had crept up behind her. “No!” She screamed more in terror than anger. She spun around and struggled to pull away from Sam’s grasp. He held her firm and cuffed her other wrist and then her neck.

 

Sam, Mary, Rowena, Bobby, Jack, and Castiel crowded into the dungeon with Mila. Sam sat her in a chair that sat against the far wall. Everyone else stood blocking the only exit while Sam brought the other chair over to Mila and sat in front of her.

Mila’s eyes looked to the floor but she could see everyone in her peripheral. Every face, every expression was grave and angry. Sam’s face had looked that way as well, but now he had reigned in his emotion and looked at her with a serious and emotionless expression that demanded her attention.

“Look, I know you’ve been, literally, through hell. I understand you don’t trust anyone; we don’t trust anyone, either. But the fact is we don’t want to hurt you and we don’t want to keep you locked up here. We don’t have much choice, you are the one and only person on this earth that has the power to bring down Michael. We need you to work with us on this.” Sam’s eyes remained locked on Mila’s, he was done being gentle and careful with her, she needed to understand the stakes, the weight of the situation. They were running out of time.

Mila did not move, she wanted to squirm, she wanted to make distance between herself and this man. She wanted to be free and away from here, away from people, pain; she wanted to be left alone.

“Michael intends to destroy the earth. If his plan succeeds every living thing on earth will be gone and the world will be nothing but a dead rock. You can stop him. We’ll help you. You just need to work with us. Then you can leave and go anywhere you want and we won’t stop you.”

Mila didn’t say anything but her expression said it all plainly. She didn’t believe him. Maybe he was telling the truth about Michael, but she was sure he was lying about letting her go.

“The world depends on us. We, everyone here, especially you, we’re it. We are the world’s only hope of saving Dean…stopping Michael.” Sam looked to the floor.

A flash of anger shot across Mila’s face. She couldn’t help it, that name evoked those terrible memories. The thought of saving the world had piqued her interest, Sam probably would have won her over with that, but then he had mentioned Dean. Michael was possessing Dean. She understood it now. They could have come right out with the whole explanation of Michael and saving the world, but they had been distracted by worries of Dean. They didn’t want to harm Dean. They didn’t want to lose him.

“Do you really think I care about saving the world?” She asked angrily, trying to mask that her anger was really about Dean. But then she just came out with it. “Dean needs to die. He doesn’t deserve to live, he is evil!”

“I understand how you feel about Dean. All you know of him is from hell. That isn’t… that’s only a very small part of Dean. He’s a good person. He’s saved all of us,” Sam motioned to himself and everyone behind him. “Everyone here more times than we can count. Dean’s saved the world a few times. And now he needs us to save him.” Sam stood up. “He’s not perfect, none of us are, he did horrible things to you in hell, but that was hell, that’s what hell is about. He’s a different person here. Please understand that. You have some of Cass’ memories, I’m sure there’s a lot of Dean in there, don’t you see it?”

Mila looked up into Sam’s eyes. “All I see is blood, anger, killing. It’s all fragments and jumbled, there’s nothing to understand!”

Castiel had been standing in the back of the crowd but now he brushed past them and walked directly across the room to Mila. “Give me some time with her.” He said as he sat in the chair across from the woman and put a hand to her forehead.

“Cass, what are you doing?” Sam asked with concern.

“That angel is either very dumb or very brave.” Bobby remarked.

 

Castiel was fully aware of the risk he was taking. This venture into the mind of Mila could easily end up the same way it had before, or worse. But he knew he could help, he knew he could do some good here, he could fix the memories. He could put them in order and fill in the blanks. He could show Mila the whole picture.
It took a few hours. Castiel and Mila sat across from each other, linked in mind, but nearly catatonic in state. After her initial response to Castiel’s touch, a short painful scream, Mila had fallen silent, staring into oblivion. Castiel held his hand to her forehead, his head slightly bent forward, eyes glowing, and an expression of determination solidified on his face.

As the time passed everyone eventually left the room except Jack, he had agreed to stay and keep an eye on the two.

Finally, it was done. Castiel released his grasp and sat back. Mila blinked and slumped slightly, taking a deep breath.

“Do you remember, Mila, what you said to Dean at the beginning of every torture session?” Castiel asked. “Better me than you.” Castiel reminded Mila. He wanted her to remember how she had originally felt about Dean. “You knew then, Mila, that Dean was as much a prisoner as you. You understood then that he wasn’t as evil as hell tried to make him. Do you understand now?”

Mila stood up slowly and walked over to her cot. She lay down facing the wall and curled into a fetal position.

Castiel stood up and walked toward the door. “We should let her rest.” He said to Jack. She would need time to process it all.

As soon as she knew she was alone Mila let the tears flow. Castiel certainly had put all of the memories in order and filled in the blanks. It had been painful both physically and emotionally. She only had a fraction of his memories, but even this small portion was overwhelmingly full of pain and suffering. She knew of his fall from heaven which had a lot to do with his relationship with Dean and Sam. His choices over the years, both good and bad, were heavily influenced by his feelings for Dean. This angel would do anything for Dean. It was a familial love, a connection that had formed and deepened due to their struggles together, their fights to save the world, to do phenomenal things, overcome insurmountable odds. And Dean returned Castiel’s love. Dean would do anything for Castiel, to protect him.

These memories included Dean fighting, killing, caring, rescuing, sacrificing everything, including his own life, to save those he cared about, and even those he didn’t even know. He had made many bad choices and did many bad things, but he had done so much more good. He’d ended up in hell to save his brother’s life. The monster he became in hell was the result of his sacrifice for his bother.

Sam was right, she had misjudged him. It was understandable, but still. Her mind returned to her time with Dean in hell and now she saw it in a different light. The things he’d said to her, the things she’d said to him, some of them she had forgotten, it had been so long, but now it was more fresh and clear. It didn’t change how she felt about him much, but those feelings did change.

And Castiel was right. She had known Dean wasn’t as evil as he’d behaved in hell. Hell had gotten to him, it had fed his depraved side, enhanced it. That was all him, but it was a concentrated part of him. “Better me than you.” She’d tell him every time they put her on his rack. She knew if she was tortured by him, then he would be spared that pain.

But at what cost to his soul?

She found herself glad Castiel had rescued Dean from hell. If Dean had remained there then the world would be all the worse for it.

Even so, the thought of Dean still evoked fear and rage within her.

Eventually she fell asleep.

 

Michael was a patient angel, but he had a plan and that plan had a schedule, and things were falling behind schedule. He was losing patience, why had they not found Mila? Why was there still a traitor in his midst that had not been identified? He was beginning to suspect there was more than one. These wrinkles in his plan could potentially grow into a bloody mess. They needed to be cleaned up before they grew too big.

“Sir, we have gathered everything on the list.” Anael bowed before him.

At least that much was on schedule. “Tell me about Mila, and the traitor.” He said with a flat tone.

Anael stammered slightly before answering. She had come with good news and now had to deliver bad. “Mila is proving to be difficult to relocate, she is untraceable. We are having to rely on other methods to find her.” The angel couldn’t bring herself to look into his eyes. “The traitor is also proving to be difficult to weed out.” She forced herself to look up at him. “We will find them both.”

If he was angry, Michael showed no sign of it. He sat silent for several moments. Anael remained in her bowed state, unmoving, nervous, and waiting for instructions.

“Gather everyone. It’s time to take the next step.”

 

Dean had not given up, he would never give up. He had spent much of his time thinking, going over and over everything he knew about angels and possession. There had to be a way to free himself of this prison. He had also spent hours upon hours beating the walls of this small barren room, kicking, punching, pounding on the walls, screaming at the top of his lungs. Raging at Michael, cussing, and cursing his name.

“Face me you feathery cock! Come and fight me face to face, coward! I’ll kick your cherub ass!”

For all of his threats and insults, it never once occurred to Dean that he could force Michael out of his body. Michael made sure those thoughts never crossed his mind.

 

Sam returned to the dungeon the following morning and spent a couple of hours talking with Mila. They discussed the memories Castiel had helped to order and clarify for her. She found herself opening up to the tall man somewhat, explaining her experiences with his brother in hell and how over the years she had somehow twisted her memory of Dean into something even more monstrous than he had already been.

“He was evil, but my time in hell must have made my memories of him, of everything, seem so much worse.” She still wondered at how that could be.

They talked about Michael and his intentions for the world. They talked a little bit about a lot of other things as well.

In the end Mila agreed to help stop Michael and save Dean. And Sam agreed that once those things were accomplished she would leave and no one would try to stop her.

With more hesitation than he let on to, Sam removed the cuffs again. This time the markings showed for a moment and then disappeared. Sam looked confused.

“You can control them…” He remarked as he realized what had happened.

Mila smiled slightly. “It all works better if I can turn each spell and ward on and off as I need them.” Crina had thought of everything, she thought to herself. It had taken Mila many years to learn and master full control over her powers, but now, even after 15 years of not using them at all, she had full control.

 

The strong smell of coffee filled the kitchen. Sam had just brewed a fresh pot and now sat across the table from Mila, she sipped her coffee tentatively, it seemed very strong to her, but it had been a very long time since she had had coffee. She hadn’t really been a fan of the drink before hell and she didn’t think she was now, either. Bobby stepped in and took his turn at the coffee pot.

“I’m getting real tired of nothing happening.” He grumbled.

“Yeah, me too.” Sam replied. “No one has seen or heard anything about Michael.”

“Not even a hint of a clue.”

“I don’t know, it kind of feels like the calm before the storm.” Sam said as he straightened up in his chair.

“My feelings exactly.” Bobby replied.

Jack walked into the kitchen with an eager smile on his face. “Look.” He said as he held out his hand and ran a knife over it. Blood instantly flowed from the open wound.

Everyone looked in surprise as the wound almost instantly healed. “I’m getting my power back.” Jacked beamed.

“Jack, that’s great!” Sam said as he stood up. “Your grace is regenerating.”

“I’ll be able to help again. I can help fight Michael.” Jack felt the weight of his frustration over feeling useless lighten.

“It’ll be sooner than you think.” Castiel commented as he stood in the doorway. The look on his face was obvious, he had news.

“What is it, Cass?”

“I got a message from an angel. Michael plans to capture Jack and use him to open the rift one last time. He wants to bring over his few remaining soldiers from the other side.”

“This may be the opportunity we need.” Sam said, eyeing Castiel and Bobby. They all nodded.

“What?” Jack asked, confused.

“We can use the fact that Michael wants you to draw him out and trap him.”

“I’ll be bait.” Jack nodded in understanding.

“Yes, and Mila will take on Michael, we’ll back her up of course. If he brings backup- he probably will- the rest of us can take them on.”

Mila was concerned. She had already discussed it with Sam, but she felt she needed to say it again. “I’ve never been up against an archangel before, I don’t know exactly how much effect I’ll have on him.”

“You can definitely weaken him, if not kill him.” Castiel replied. “I suggest we not leave her completely alone against him.” He added.

“Let’s gather everyone together in a couple hours and work out the plan.” Sam said. “I’ll have my mom contact our demon representative.”

 

Baby pulled up into the same abandoned department store parking lot as they had interrogated Carlos the demon at a few weeks earlier. Sam, Bobby, Castiel, and Jack exited the car and met up at Baby’s trunk. They each selected their weapons as they discussed the plan.

“I’ll go around the East side,” Sam began. “Bobby, Cass, you go around the west. Jack, you can go in the front doors.”

Everyone nodded and hurried off in their respective directions. Jack didn’t hurry, he walked at a somewhat slow pace toward the building’s front doors with an angel blade in hand. About twenty demons were inside the building having a meet-up about an upcoming coup in hell. Or so that’s what the rumor in the grapevine was in order to put out the message to Michael that Jack and his friends were going to come and kill the demons. In fact, there were only three demons inside (Carlos had only been able to recruit two considering hell really was fighting it’s own battles over leadership), waiting to help fight Michael.

Jack was about three yards from the doors of the building when a very familiar voice said his name. He stopped and turned around to meet the face of his friend, Dean. He knew, of course, that it wasn’t Dean but Michael. Dean was in there, somewhere, trapped.

“Let him go.” Jack demanded.

Michael completely disregarded Jack’s words. “You’re going to open the rift for me.”

“No.” Jack said as his eyes began to glow.

Michael’s eyes widened with pleasant surprise. He could sense the nephilim was still low on grace, but he liked that it was regenerating. This meant he wouldn’t have to supplement with as much grace from other sources. Michael went at Jack but was instantly halted by overwhelming pain and weakness. Jack was not spared the same attack. Both men fell to their knees, and then Jack crumpled to a fetal position. With a pained growl Michael managed to turn on one knee to look at the woman standing a couple yards behind him. The hint of a smile graced his lips as he looked past her. Then the smile turned to anger when he saw Naomi and Anael standing over the unconscious bodies of the two angels he had set in place to shoot Mila.

He now knew who the traitors were.

Mila reached out a hand and grabbed onto Michael’s being and put all of her might into ripping him from Dean’s body. Michael resisted and he was immensely strong. Mila struggled to keep her hold.

“Dean!” She yelled. “Dean, you have to help me! Cast him out!”

Around the outskirts of the parking lot, both factions, the Winchester group with the demons, and Michael’s small army, battled, giving plenty of space to Mila so as not to be infected by her wards and spells. Blades clashed, guns shot, fists, nails, teeth, spells, everything was fair game. Blood flowed freely, violently, and fatally.

Sam had fully intended on making his way to Michael and Mila but was held back by an angel who had put all of his attention on keeping Sam right where he was, and killing him. Sam tried to make quick dispatch of the angel but it was proving to be a difficult task. The angel managed to disarm the human and Sam had to dodge and parry punches and advances from the angel while also trying to retrieve his angel blade. The angel had a blade but was seeming to have more fun with his fists.

 

Something was happening, Dean could feel the change and he instinctively knew it was something big. The room rumbled and shook lightly at first, but it was steadily becoming more violent.

It had to be Sam and Cass. Were they finally here? Were they fighting Michael?

“Sammy!” Dean shouted at the top of his lungs. “Cass!” He shouted and kept shouting.

The walls of the small room he’d been trapped in for months suddenly cracked in multiple places. Dean ran to the wall and pushed feeling it give a little. He heard a voice clearly but it sounded very far away. It wasn’t Sam or Cass or anyone he recognized.

“Dean! Dean, you have to help me! Cast him out!”

 

Mila continued to hold Michael and tried to pull him from his vessel. Michael continued to resist. Mila shouted to Dean again, and she tried to reach him with her mind as well but there was a wall. She struggled to break the wall while not losing her grip on Michael, but it was all too much and she retreated from Dean’s mind and put all her might back into holding the archangel and ripping him out.

Michael was in agony, weakened but still very strong, and struggling to hold onto his vessel. He slowly moved his hand and was able to grab the gun he had brought in case of this very possibility. He managed to move and aim at the woman who stood before him. She did not see his movements, her full attention was on keeping her grasp on the archangel.

 

Dean had no idea who the woman was that called to him, but her words had flipped a switch in his mind and he was now able to remember that he could cast Michael out. The fact that Michael had overpowered his ability to cast him out once before did not escape Dean, but this time someone else was helping him fight this battle. Dean pounded on the weakened wall as he yelled. “Get the fuck out!”

The wall burst into pieces and Dean was free.

 

The gun went off just as Michael was cast out. Dean fell to all fours in a deep, pained shout.

The bullet hit Mila in the abdomen but she scarcely felt it. She didn’t realize she’d been shot and continued to hold Michael as he tried to fly away. He was no longer in Dean’s body, and now Mila let loose her power and tried to snuff him out. His power was evident, Mila had never contended with such strength as his. She injured him, she wasn’t sure how badly, before he escaped and dissapeared.

Michael had escaped. Mila watched him disappear before she collapsed from exhaustion and her injury.

A hand grasped Dean’s shoulder gently. “Dean, are you OK?” Jack asked. Dean let Jack help him up. “Yeah.” He grumbled as he found his feet and looked up.

“Michael got away but I think Mila injured him.” Jack said as he released his steadying hand on Dean and hurried to Mila who lay on her side. “Mila.” He said worried as he knelt beside her.

Dean picked up the gun that had fell from his hand moments earlier. He stood next to Jack looking down on the woman who had helped him get free of Michael. She’d saved his life. Jack rolled her onto her back and examined her. She opened her eyes and gasped for breath. “She’s hurt bad.” He said as he looked up at Dean.

The other angels made their escape as soon as they saw Michael make his. All but one demon had died, no angels, and one human. Most of those remaining had some level of injury, but most were not life-threatening.

“Dean!” Sam shouted as he ran up to his brother. They embraced. “It worked, you’re free.”

“I’m good, Sammy. It’s good to see you, brother.”

“Sam, Michael shot Mila.” Jack said with urgency.

“Where’s Cass?” Everyone looked around.

“Cass!” Sam yelled.

“She’s dying.” Jack said weakly.

Dean looked down into the face of the woman, she looked him in the eyes and  barely smiled. “Better me than you” She said through rasping breath. All color drained from Dean’s face as he was flooded with memories of hell. It was her, yes, Mila, he remembered her now. He had spent countless hours in hell torturing her. The things he had done to her, the horrors. She had said those words to him every time they put her on his rack. How could this be the same woman? How did she have such power? How could she be willing to help him now? Yes, she had been fighting Michael, but she could have ignored him, fought Michael while he was inside this body, but she had gone to pains to save him as well.

Why?

“Cass!” Dean shouted.

“I’m here.” Cass said as he walked up from behind the crowd of people. He patted Dean’s shoulder as he passed him and went to Mila.

“You have to save her.” Dean said urgently. He couldn’t let her die. He owed her a life. She couldn’t be allowed to die saving the man who’d caused her so much suffering. He was the reason she was lying there, he couldn’t let that be. She couldn’t die from saving him.

Castiel knelt beside Mila and placed a hand on her. Everyone watched and waited in silence with held breath for what seemed an eternity. Finally she took breath and everyone else released theirs in relief. Her markings flashed momentarily, causing Castiel, Jack, and Rowena to step back from the shock of power. Mila gathered control of herself and deactivated the wards almost as soon as they activated.

Sam helped her to her feet. She found her balance and looked up into his eyes. “I failed, he got away.”

“I know, but Dean’s safe. You injured Michael, we’ll track him down. We’ll get him.”

“Well, let’s get on it, then.” Dean said as he walked with purpose to his car. “Sam. My keys.” He said without looking back.

Everyone watched the man with mild disbelief. Everything he had been through and he was ready to keep fighting. Many of them then looked to Sam as if waiting for direction. “Meet back at the bunker.” He addressed the crowd.

 

Baby was full. Dean and Sam sat up front, Dean drove, happy to be back behind the wheel of his precious Impala. Castiel and Jack sat in the back seat with Mila between them. They all discussed what had happened and what they could do to find Michael quickly.

“I’m not sure how much damage I did to him, but he seemed pretty weak by time I lost my grip on him.” Mila said.

Dean eyed her through the rear-view mirror, he was still amazed at how she could be the same woman he’d tortured in hell. This woman was powerful while the woman he’d tortured in hell had been weak and powerless. He remembered the shackles she’d been bound with. How had he forgotten that? He’d gone to pains to bury hell and avoid thinking about it. Honestly, he hadn’t forgotten any of it, he just hadn’t let himself think about it. But besides the change in her, he was even more surprised that she had been willing to risk her own life to save a man she had to hate. There was no way she could have any other feelings but loathing for him, not after what he had put her through. He just couldn’t figure out why she’d saved him. Had Sam and Cass made her do it? Where had they found her? How had they even known about her? He had so many questions.

 

As was the plan, everyone met back at the bunker. An impromptu celebration was thrown in honor of Dean’s safe return. Food, drink, and camaraderie went on well into the night and early morning. Early on Sam, Dean, Castiel, Jack, and Mary gathered in the garage for a private talk. They first expressed their joy in Dean’s return. Hugs were given, backs and shoulders were patted, hands were shaken. They moved on to discussions of serious matters. Dean told them what he had been put through trapped inside his own mind. The others told Dean about what had gone on while he was away, including how Mila came to be here and the whole story leading up to today. They recounted the battle with Michael and his army and many other topics. Eventually they returned to the party and tried to enjoy the evening. But none of them could think of much other than finding Michael, and soon.

Mila had chosen to spend the evening alone in her room.

Around three in the morning most of the group had gone to bed. Dean was headed to his room, planning to sleep but not sure if he’d be able to. He saw Mila walking into her room. Without allowing much thought about it he walked to her open doorway.
She looked over to the man standing in her doorway. She didn’t say anything.

“I just wanted to thank you.” Dean said with a hint of nervous hesitation. He started to turn to walk away but then stopped and turned back. “Why?”

Mila took a breath, but still did not speak.

“Why?” Dean asked again. “Why would you save me? Me. You could have let me die. Hell, you could have killed me.” His expression betrayed his true thoughts. He felt he deserved to die. She had every right to kill him after all the agony he’d dealt her in hell. “Why did you save me?”

Mila walked closer to Dean. She still had difficulty looking at that face. She would never be free of the memories this man stirred in her mind,and the feelings that came with them. She did her best to brush them aside. “You did terrible things to me, Dean. We are all capable of evil. But something I learned about you, from your friends, your family. I learned about the real you from them, and Castiel’s memories.” A couple tears escaped her eyes. “The man you were in hell is just a tiny part of who you are. You are a good man above all else.”

Dean looked away for a moment, gathering his emotional control, then he looked back to her eyes. “But, you. Those terrible things I did, I did them to you…”

“I forgive you Dean.”

Dean felt as if a hammer had struck his chest. “How…” He couldn’t stop the tears now.

“Dean, I have forgiven you. Now you need to forgive yourself.”

He stared at her in total disbelief. He was one hundred percent certain he would never be able to do that.

 

A few short hours later everyone grouped together to lay out the new plan. Even Jody, Claire, Patience, Alex, and Donna had come. They were going to find Michael, and they were going to kill him for certain this time. Dean looked over the group, many were the same faces he’d worked with for so many years, some were new faces, people they’d saved from the other side of the rift. All of them were dedicated to saving this world. All of them were his friends, many of them were his family.

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