A/N: HI, GUYS! :D I know it's been a while, but I'm still here, hahaha. I'm so excited to have a fun new story to share with you!

So this fic is dedicated to hengrimm, who asked if I would write a Megstiel story. As much as I enjoyed the last episode with Meg and Cas, I'd never really explored the Megstiel aspect much, so this was a lot of fun to play with (and now I'm actually much more a fan of it than I used to be, hah!). Hengrimm, I hope this was everything you dreamed it would be! :D

The main story for this fic is set after Purgatory, though some scenes will take us back to the Crazy!Cas era or Purgatory itself to reveal pieces of backstory. The timeline will hop around a little bit, but at least that means you get dumped right into the action! In this AU, Meg wasn't taken by Crowley after killing the Leviathan. Other aspects are different, too, but you'll find those as you go. ;) Though I will say I'm sorry to Crowley, LOL... I LOVE him as a good-ish guy, but for this story I needed him to be the complete villain. No frenemies here, alas.

Thanks so much to Aini NuFire for continuing to be a fantastic beta reader and writing partner. ^_^

I don't own any Supernatural characters. Stay tuned for updates on Tuesdays and Fridays!


Bedtime Story

Castiel yanked and fought against the merciless hands forcing him along. Though one of the demons had taken his angle blade, the warrior was hardly defenseless without it. He bared his teeth, catching the eye of one victorious demon and snarling so ferociously that its smug grin faltered. The evil tang of sulfur in the air burned his eyes and throat. Hell was never a pleasant place to be, but the angel had a deeper appreciation for its horrors after having lived with Sam's Cage scars for a time.

"Son of a bitch!" Dean cursed from nearby. "Let go of me! Get off!"

If only he could get loose enough to spread his wings, Castiel thought in frustration. He could grab Dean and run for it. Even though they were outnumbered a hundred to two, there was no way the demons could ever hope to keep up with him.

It was no use, though. The mob hemmed him in too tightly, a dozen demons manhandling the angel towards the front of the brimstone chamber. Dean was even less likely to break free, the strength of his human body easily overpowered by the horde. Castiel chanced a look over his shoulder when the hunter yelled again, only to find his friend had been hoisted off the ground completely as his legs were held aloft by two more of the brutes for easier carrying.

"Put him down!" Castiel growled, lurching towards the group, but unable to reach Dean when one of the demons jabbed the confiscated angel blade at him. They ignored his demand, hauling him the rest of the way up to the throne situated at the end of the chamber.

The seat was occupied, and the demon sitting on it gave him a smile. Castiel glowered back at Crowley, wanting nothing more than to wipe that smirk off his face.

"Castiel. What a pleasant surprise. Did you come all this way just to see your old business partner?" the demon asked. He gestured to another of his servants waiting in the wings. She scurried forward, torch light glinting off the metal bracelets she carried.

Castiel didn't react to the sight of the cuffs as the demons forced his arms behind his back, but he mentally cursed. Sigils. Great. The instant the metal restraints clamped around his wrists, he felt his wings and his grace lock down tightly.

"Cas-" Dean started, though he was cut off with a muffled growl. A demon had a hand over his mouth and the hunter had no leverage to fight his way free.

The angel wanted to rip them all apart for laying a hand on his friend, but even more than that, he wished he could fly forward and smite Crowley to pieces.

"You know perfectly well what we came for," Castiel snapped in reply to Crowley, trying to dig his heels in as the demons gripping him shoved him closer to the throne. "And it's not to see you."

"Really, I'm wounded," Crowley replied, though the satisfaction on his face said otherwise. "But no matter. I can't tell you how disappointed I was to find out you'd gone loony before I could pay you back for that little stunt with the Purgatory souls. But now that you seem to be sane again… oh you can't even imagine. I've had a long time to plan what I'd do when I finally caught you, Castiel."

The angel's only response was a deeper scowl. Castiel would not be intimidated by this loathsome creature, even though the danger was a real one. He raised his head in defiance, eliciting a raised eyebrow from Crowley.

"You seem unimpressed."

"You seem unimpressive."

Crowley snorted. "There's that spirit. I'm going to enjoy breaking you and that pride of yours." He beckoned the demons to bring the captive angel forward, then gestured to the side of the throne where two stone pillars stood.

Seeing in an instant what Crowley intended for him, Castiel tried to fight, even overpowered as he was. He heard Crowley clear his throat meaningfully, and froze when he saw the demons holding Dean tighten their grips with Castiel's blade at the human's neck.

Right. Killing Dean would release the human's soul, which Crowley could keep to torture forever regardless of the Righteous Man's allotted seat in Heaven. The King of Hell had already proven he would stoop to that. Dean gave him a glare, clearly wanting him to keep fighting, but Castiel was unwilling to be the cause of his friend's suffering. He stopped struggling and allowed his captors to drag him over to the first pillar and shove him down onto his knees.

Manacles at the bottom of the pillar locked around his ankles on either side of the stone column. A demon grabbed Castiel's bound wrists and jerked upward, hard enough for him to grunt in surprised discomfort. His arms couldn't bend that way, so when she locked him in place with a shorter length of chain attached high on the pillar, his only choice was to bow forward to relieve the pressure on his shoulders.

"There's a good boy," Crowley said, all condescension and smugness. He waved a hand to indicate the remaining demons do the same to Dean.

Castiel clenched his jaw, fury welling up within him to have been bested by this scum. All the worse that Dean was there; the angel had no doubt that Crowley would use their friendship to his advantage, and Castiel would be unable to protect the hunter once the torture started. Hopefully, Crowley's anger with the angel meant he would take the lion's share of the punishment, not Dean.

"Cas?" the hunter hissed as he was locked in place at the second pillar, biting back a grunt of his own when his arms were similarly forced up behind him so that he was left in an uncomfortable hunch.

"Sigiled cuffs," Castiel muttered back, knowing his friend would be trying to formulate an escape plan. His own mind whirred, trying to do the same. He did not like that they were trapped in Hell, far away from aid. He did not like being unable to access his grace or his wings. And he certainly did not like the position they were in, pantomiming the subservient gesture of bowing to Crowley—of all people.

The demon in question had no doubt created the entire setup for just this reason, judging by the gratification in his dark eyes as he stood and bore down on the two captives.

"Well, I must say," Crowley said as he held out his hand for Castiel's blade. "This will be worth every second I had to wait."

"Your fight is with me, Crowley," Castiel snapped, testing the chain suspending his arms up and behind him. It refused to yield. "Let Dean return to Earth."

"I'm not leaving without you, Cas," Dean retorted. He jerked at his own restraints with a jangle of chains, but got no farther than Castiel had.

"How touching. But did I make the big, dumb squirrel come down here?" Crowley asked. "No, I did not."

The demon prowled even closer, so that Castiel had to strain his neck just to maintain eye contact. Once again he cursed this position he was stuck in, but he refused to bow his head or appear cowed, even when Crowley raised the angel blade.

He slid it along Castiel's throat as the demons filling the chamber shifted in obvious excitement. The blade was sharp enough to draw a thin line of blood; Castiel's grace flared in the wound, the glow emphasized even more by the hellish surroundings. The angel gritted his teeth in an effort to remain silent.

Dean, on the other hand, was not so reticent.

"Crowley, you touch him and I swear to god-"

"You'll do nothing about it," Crowley finished for him. The demon's free hand gripped Castiel's hair, wrenching his head down so that the angel was forced to stare at the ground in the very posture of humility he'd been trying to avoid. The blade didn't leave his throat. "That's better," Crowley seethed. "Servility looks good on you. Where's that famous pride of yours now, eh?"

Around them, the demons were starting to whisper now, probably hoping for blood, but Castiel knew Crowley wasn't going to kill him outright. The King of Hell was out for revenge, which meant long, slow torture. This was a good thing; they still had plenty of time to escape, and he could handle anything Crowley chose to dish out… he hoped. Castiel didn't respond to the taunt, though it rankled.

Crowley chuckled and pushed Castiel's head farther down so that his wrists screamed in protest to take so much weight.

"Angel, if you only knew the tortures I have in store for you."

...

"Okay, stop. You're doing it wrong," Meg complained. She didn't move from her position, tucked in close to the angel in the bed and resting her head on his chest. "That's not how you tell a bedtime story."

Castiel paused, glancing down. "I thought you wanted a retelling of our latest misadventure. Did you… not want to hear that part?"

"Don't get me wrong… you being chained up, that's all kinds of hot," the demon assured him as she twisted her head to meet his eye with a mischievous twinkle. "We'll come back to that. But you're supposed to start from the beginning. What were you doing in Hell? How did Crowley catch you?"

Castiel wrinkled his brow in confusion, thumb rubbing a gentle circle against the smooth skin of her arm. "You already know what we were doing there."

Meg rolled her eyes and sighed with an air of great patience. "Not the point. You have to tell it right, from the beginning. We've been over this, Clarence. Did I start the story about the three bears who ate Goldilocks with them picking their teeth clean? Of course not, it starts with the girl waltzing into their house."

"I'm still not convinced that's how the story was supposed to end."

"The point is, I want to hear the whole story. Go back farther."

She snuggled in closer, prompting a smile from Castiel. He leaned back against the headboard, grateful that his wounds had all but disappeared by now, and Meg would be good as new before too long. His angelic touch had no power to heal a demon, or he would have done so. But at least it gave him an excuse to stay for a while.

"Well… okay. How much farther back?"

"To the beginning, Clarence. I taught you how to tell a bedtime story, remember? Once upon a time…"

...

"Once upon a time, there was an angel who wouldn't shut up and go to sleep," Meg said, voice as smooth and even as ever, even in her annoyance. She crossed her arms and glared down at Cas, reclined on the bed and smiling up at her. "Even though he knew the orderlies would come give him more pills if he didn't."

"You're talking about me," Cas pointed out, the smile not dimming in the slightest.

Meg rolled her eyes. The angel had been so much easier to look after before he'd woken up from his coma, only a few hours ago.

"Very clever, Clarence," she said. "You get a gold star for figuring that out."

"I do?" Cas sat up on the bed, looking bewildered. "Where am I going to keep it? I don't think bringing a gaseous heavenly body so close to the Earth would be-"

"It's a figure of speech, dimwit," Meg growled.

Cas's face fell, and the demon felt an uncomfortable stirring of guilt. She sighed, sitting down on the bed next to the angel. No one could have anticipated that he would wake up so suddenly, or that he would be… well… not his normal self. Meg had been prepared to flee if necessary, when he found himself in such close proximity to someone like her. Castiel would have had every reason to smite the demon immediately.

Instead, he'd just stared at her, seeming more perplexed than angry.

"Meg?" he asked. "What are you doing here?"

"You've been in a coma. Do you remember-"

"The Cage scars… that's right… Sam. Have you seen Sam? Where's Sam and Dean?"

Meg swallowed, not sure how to tell him, with so much hope in his eyes. "They're fine. They're hunting."

"They're not- oh. Okay. Yes, that's good, they should be out doing their jobs." And damn, that slumping in his shoulders had made Meg feel… well, something. And then that little head tilt. "But why are you here, then?"

"Someone had to look after you. If the demons found out you were here, defenseless-"

"You stayed to protect me?"

Meg had never seen the angel show any emotion other than grim ferocity, but the smile blossoming across his face now transformed him completely. It took Meg by surprise.

"Don't read too much into it, angel," she advised. "I need friends."

"We can be friends," he decided, pushing the bedsheets aside. "Shall we go find-"

"Wait, hold on!" Meg protested. Something deep inside pinged with emotion at his readiness to accept her friendship with no questions asked, as though it didn't matter that she was a human soul twisted into something repulsive, and he was a divine warrior of God. Meg pushed that aside, burying it beneath layers of thorns.

She reached out to stop the angel in his tracks, studying his face. There was no trace of the residual evil she'd felt lurking beneath his skull ever since he'd fallen into the coma. "What about the scars? How are you awake?"

"Hmm. I don't know. But it's gone. Isn't that wonderful?" Cas looked around, his face falling. "Meg… have you seen Sam or Dean?"

Clearly he'd been foggy from returning to consciousness. But the longer Meg waited for it to pass, the more she began to realize he wasn't getting much clearer. In the first hour alone, he asked for Sam and Dean five times, and each time Meg got a little more peeved that the Winchesters weren't there. Especially since she was the one who had to watch Cas's face fall every time she reminded him that they weren't around.

The burden he'd lifted from Sam seemed to have affected his mind, though, and Meg had her hands full keeping his craziness in check.

But she wouldn't complain; if he'd been sane, he wouldn't have let her anywhere near him, regardless of how diligently she'd watched over him when the Winchesters couldn't.

And now she was calling him names and hurting his feelings. Meg sighed. "Look, just lay down on the bed," she ordered, feeling another surge of annoyance when he meekly complied.

"But I'm an angel, I don't need to sleep. I don't even know if I can."

"You still need to rest. Besides, you've got to act like a human, Clarence. The orderlies can't find out you're an angel, got it? No one can find out you're an angel. So just… close your eyes until morning."

He shouldn't have done it. He shouldn't have laid there on the bed, closing his eyes so that he couldn't keep her in his line of sight. Meg had an angel blade, always on hand in case of demonic visitors. She could have killed him in seconds. Castiel was a seasoned warrior, who should have known never to take his eyes off his enemy, so why was he obeying her so trustingly?

She was not trustworthy. Hell, she'd been there when Lucifer had imprisoned the angel in holy fire, had stood guard (albeit unsuccessfully) to ensure he wouldn't escape. She was a demon. Castiel should not trust her.

"It's not working," he said from the bed, squinting one eye open. "I told you, I don't think I can sleep. Can we play a game instead?"

"No." Meg exhaled, hoping Sam and Dean got there soon. "How about I tell you a story? A real one this time."

"Okay."

Okay. Meg took a breath. "Once upon a time, there was a selfish little brat named Goldilocks, walking through the woods. She came upon a house in the middle of the forest. And, because she was quite rude and had never been warned of stranger danger, she waltzed right on in."

Meg watched the angel's face as she told him the story, not sure if he seemed glazed over because of the insanity he'd woken with, or if it was something to do with her. She tried not to shift in discomfort. People didn't usually look at her like that, and it put her on guard. Sure, Lucifer had occasionally offered her attention and praise, and though she craved that acceptance, on some level she always knew it wasn't real.

Positive reinforcement, nothing more, a little trinket to keep her loyal and at his side, as though she'd had anywhere else to be or anything else to do. She'd been valuable, not valued.

"Goldilocks only made about half a meal for a hungry family, but the three bears lived happily ever after without any more humans poking their noses in where they didn't belong."

Meg fell silent, but Cas continued to watch her for a second, before seeming to realize she was done with her story. The angel smiled, propping his head up on a hand.

"You have such a soothing voice," he said, unprompted. "It reminds me of a gentle brook, trickling through a forest on a summer day."

Meg stared at him. What?

"It's beautiful," he continued, the picture of contentedness. "I could listen to you talk all night. Will you tell me another one?"

Still, she couldn't speak. This hadn't been her intention. Meg felt as muddled as the angel looked, but she narrowed her eyes, trying to gauge his sincerity. Cas shifted on the bed, getting more comfortable, and smiled hopefully.

She wanted to tell him no, but it was the same hope on his face when he repeatedly inquired about Sam and Dean, and Meg didn't feel like dealing with his disappointment.

"Flattery won't work on me," she told him, recovering herself. "Put up or shut up."

"What does that mean?"

Oh hell. Another time, Meg would have jumped all over the golden opportunity, but at the moment she was still a trifle disturbed at how compliant Castiel was being now that his omelet had been scrambled. He'd been vulnerable while unconscious, of course, but that vulnerability hadn't disappeared. Just… shifted. Though Meg was a being of indulgence and gratification, she shook her head. It would be too easy.

"Nothing, Clarence," she assured him. "Fine, one more. Once upon a time, there was a peasant girl who thought too highly of herself and a stepmother who was unfairly misunderstood…"

The more she talked, the more contentedly he smiled. So Meg kept talking.

And that was how it began.