"Well, if you don't have enough in stock, you shouldn't run a sale."

"Come on, John, this is a hunter's market, not freakin' Pier One. I have what I have when I have it."

John heaved a sigh, putting a hand on his hip and looking around the store. "Okay, well, what do you have that will put me over the five-hundred-dollar mark without making the discount completely pointless?"

Ray arched a brow and gave John a look. "You never struck me as the middle-class soccer mom type." He immediately held up his hands—a smart reaction, they both knew—and gestured toward the back. "I got a couple creatures back there."

"You know I don't bring creatures back to the compound." John glared, not moving from his side of the counter. "It's my job to keep the hunters at my compound alive and healthy. I don't want anything alive or anything that could hurt one of my people, I just want supplies."

"Come on," Ray egged, moving toward the door to the back. "At least take a look. We're rotating soon, so most of these guys are on the brink of death anyway. They can't fight back. We'll put'em down Friday and get a new shipment Monday."

John didn't budge. "What would be the point of buying one if they're almost dead?"

Ray indicated the door and shrugged. "They're not good for a profit, but they're still good for pieces." He shrugged his shoulders. "It all depends on what you use most during hunts."

John pulled his cellphone out and checked the time. They were supposed to be meeting up to go back to compound in less than an hour, and John didn't like being the last one to show. On top of that, John knew Ray, and John had gone into the store knowing he would probably wind up making an unnecessary purchase to get the allover benefit he was looking for.

"Alright, fine, I'll take a look." John followed Ray into the back, casting his eyes around the different cages and boxes. "And you don't have the ammo I need anywhere in any of these boxes?"

Ray flicked on the secondary light and leaned against one of the nearby kennels. "John, I might be a crook, but I like making money. If I had your bullets, I'd sell'em to you, I'd just cheat you in the process."

John snorted. "You'd try." He glanced down at the kennel next to Ray, acutely aware of the fact that it wasn't empty. "What's that?"

"Oh, this?" Ray stopped leaning and crouched down. "I think this one is my angel." He smacked the side of the cage with the back of his hand and whistled loudly.

Whatever was inside jumped, lifting its head enough to peer out with electric blue eyes.

John leaned forward slightly and peered right back, glaring slightly just to get a reaction.

It pushed itself into the corner and dropped its eyes to its feet, curled up and shaking, its own wings wrapped tightly around itself.

"Angels are pretty rare," John commented. "Why didn't he sell?"

"He was in bad shape when I got him." Ray hit the cage again, and the angel jumped. He hit it again, another jump. "It's normal for something to jump once or twice." He hit it again, same reaction. "But when a monster knows what's gonna happen," another hit, another jump, "and it knows it's not gonna get hurt," hit and jump, "but it still jumps, it's pretty far gone."

John crouched down and tried to get a better look at the angel. Hmm…

John wouldn't deny that angels were useful. Between their feathers, blood, and grace, they were a near-limitless source of ingredients for spells and rituals. They made good bait, because lots of creatures could sense and were drawn to the essence their grace gave off. They were also powerful, and that made them dangerous, but… the creature in front of him was beaten down and terrified. John got the idea it would lick his boots if told to.

"So, you'll sell him for one-fifty?"

Ray's eyes widened. "He's a beat-up angel, but he's still an angel, John. He's worth three-fifty at least."

John gave Ray a hard look. "You're gonna put him down in two days, and I'm only back here because I need to hit a mark. Two hundred, take it or leave it."

Ray hesitated and looked toward the ceiling, as if he were pondering whether or not to take the deal.

"Cut the crap, Ray." John stood up and headed back toward the front of the store. "I know your tells. I'll be loading the rest of my stuff in the car, including the free med kits I earned." He shook his head and huffed out a sigh, going out front and grabbing the first of many boxes.

All in all, it took about twenty minutes to fully load his pickup truck, and then Ray helped him slide the caged angel into the slot John had left open for it. John paid for his purchases, slammed the tailgate shut, and got in the driver's seat with a heavy sigh.

John pondered the angel as he drove, going over the observations he had made once it was out in the light. It was filthy, for starters, and there appeared to be quite a few bruises layered underneath all the grime and sweat. It had dark hair, and those striking eyes had been screwed shut once exposed to the harsh light of the sun. It was pale, and John wasn't going to pretend he hadn't seen the blood smeared between its thighs; though, whether that was a dominance display from another monster or punishment from a hunter or some variation thereof, John didn't know.

Regardless, it wouldn't be fighting back in its condition, and if it didn't fight back, no one would get hurt. Still, it was staying in the garage under tight lock and key; John wasn't about to risk anybody else's lives with his purchase. He might have been leader of the camp, but that didn't give him the right to put his own wants and desires over the safety of everyone he gave orders to.

John set the thoughts aside when he saw the caravan up ahead, and he eased his truck onto the side of the road right in front of Bobby's.

"What in blue blazes is in the back of your truck, John?"

John smirked and got out, walking around to the back as Bobby approached. "Something I bought in an effort to keep Ray from cheating me."

Bobby arched a brow and looked into the cage, folding his arms over his chest. "That's one way to do it, I guess." He glanced back at John. "You still wanna put a tarp over everything?"

John nodded. "They're calling for rain. I figure the angel doesn't want to get wet any more than I want the boxes getting rained on." He leaned against the side of the truck bed and gestured to the cage. "Besides, I think it's got some kind of sensitivity to light. Tarp might help it adjust to the outside."

Bobby lifted his baseball cap and scratched his scalp a few times before replacing the hat with a sigh. "Well, might as well give it a go."

John nodded and followed Bobby back to his truck to get the tarp. He was almost there when he came to a sudden stop and swore loudly.

"What?" Bobby asked, giving him an odd look.

"Sam." John ran a hand down his face and sighed. "He's gonna give me a dissertation on inhumane treatment of animals and monsters." As if the two didn't have enough to fight about, especially recently, John was going to go ahead and bring home a new source of conflict.

"I could do without the laughing, Singer."


John put the truck in park and let out a heavy sigh. Okay. Let's get this over with. He opened his door and got out, knowing his boys would be there any second to help unload. Both of them. Including Sam.

"You still alive in there?" John asked, poking his head under the tarp and finding the angel in the same shuddering, curled-up position as it had been in when they left the market. "Hoo, boy. This is gonna go well."

John pulled his head back out just in time to see Dean coming out the front door. Dean rubbed his hands together as he approached, grinning as he looked at the truck.

"Man, you got a lot of goodies."

"You have no idea," John muttered. "Where's your brother?"

Dean jerked a thumb over his shoulder, frowning. "He's coming. Why?"

"He's not gonna be happy about a purchase I made." John have Dean a sideways sort of glance. "Come to think of it, you might not, either." They had never really talked about monsters outside of how to kill them, and Dean never weighed in on the arguments between Sam and John over monster treatment.

Dean stared, clearly confused, but if he had any more questions, he kept them to himself.

John looked over Dean's shoulder at the house and watched Sam walk toward them. Sam looked like he was already in a bad mood, or at least tired.

Great.

Sam slowed down as he approached. "Uh… why are you just standing there staring at me?"

John sighed and jerked his head in the direction of the truck. "Made a purchase you're not gonna like."

Sam squinted, confused.

"It wasn't planned, I was just making Ray keep up his end of the deal." He couldn't really put it off any longer. "I got an angel."

Sam's face was immediately drawn with disgust and frustration. "Dad—"

"I'll hear the lecture later, Sam. It's in pretty rough shape, and even though we're keeping it in the garage," he gave Sam a pointed look, "I don't see a reason not to patch it up as soon as possible."

Dean looked at the truck curiously. "You don't think it'll attack once it's feeling better?"

John shook his head. "Not likely."

Sam's brows shot up to his hairline. "You don't think a monster is going to attack as soon as it can?" His eyes darted between the truck and John. "Who are you and what have you done with my dad?"

"Ha ha, you're so funny." John dropped the tailgate, hearing the angel jump from the loud bang. "I wouldn't have brought him to the camp if I thought he could be a threat."

John pulled the tarp back without preamble, suddenly exposing the half of the cage that faced the back of the truck. Inside the cage, the angel leapt back and whimpered, pressed against the far side and curled up in its perpetual ball. John looked to his boys for a reaction.

Surprisingly, it was Dean who recovered from the shock and approached first. "Well, crap. Forget rough shape, it's a mess."

John gave a tight-lipped smile and a nod, a combination that never failed to relay his displeasure with a situation. "We're not getting it out of the cage until we're in the garage."

"He's not an it," Sam snapped, apparently over his shock and able to determine the gender of the thing he was looking at. "He's a he."

John sighed, getting up on the truck. It begins. He looked at Sam. "You gonna help us get him in the garage, or are you gonna stand there and give me a civil rights speech?"

Sam struggled with himself for a moment—John almost made a comment—but Sam ultimately nodded and stood next to the tailgate.

"Dean, help me get it to the edge, then get down with Sam."

"Got it." Dean, ever obedient, immediately moved to follow orders. "Here we go."

Throughout the entire moving process, John couldn't help but think of a cat every time the angel reacted. It moved to the center of the cage once it realized there would be people all around it, and then it braced its arms and legs to keep it from toppling over. Black feathers ruffled and puffed up, touching every corner of the cage. If it had a tail, it would have been frizzed and sticking straight up, body tense and close to the ground.

"Easy," Sam muttered as they put the cage on the floor of the garage. "Easy does it."

"Thanks, Sam." Dean grunted and let go of the cage, straightening up. "If you hadn't said that, I'd'a chucked the whole thing down and then kicked it for good measure."

Sam gave Dean a look.

John put his hands on his hips and looked at the angel. "Well, who wants to get him out?"

Sam and Dean exchanged a glance, and then Sam took a breath and raised his hand slightly. "Me, I guess." He crouched down in front of the door and started sliding the locking mechanism.

"You can clean him up in the outside shower," John said, his mind already back on the truckload of supplies he had to unload. He trusted Sam wouldn't let the angel do anything too ridiculous.

Sam looked up at John in confusion. "How did I get stuck doing this?"

John shrugged. "You always wanted a dog. This is close enough, right, Sammy?" John slapped Sam on the back and started for the door, ignoring the face Sam gave him. "Dean, help me unload the truck. Sam, don't do anything stupid."

With that, John left, wondering if he had just made the biggest mistake in hunting history.


Sam blew his bangs out of his eyes and put his attention on the caged angel, waiting until he heard the garage door close behind his father and brother to try anything.

"Hey, there, little guy." Though, Sam supposed, the angel wasn't exactly little. He was actually quite large. "You gonna come out here for me?"

Blue eyes stared back at Sam, wild and searching, as the angel shook his head.

"Come on, buddy." Sam stepped away from the open door and gestured to the mostly empty garage. "I need you to come out here."

The angel looked at the room and then looked at Sam again, crouching low and shaking his head, a low whine rising in his throat.

Sam wet his lips and considered going for a more hands-on tactic—letting the angel take his time wasn't an option with the state he was in—but then Sam had a thought. Jo had a cat, and Sam had often watched in amusement as Jo repeated the same command over and over until the little, mewing protests died out the feline reluctantly slinked off to do as it was told.

He doesn't want to come out, but he has to know I'm bigger and stronger than he is. Most angels are strictly predators, but this one is predator and prey, like a cat. Maybe I can…

Sam cleared his throat and gestured to the garage again. "Come out, angel."

The angel whimpered and shook his head again, pushing back into the corner of the cage. He was refusing, but he was scared.

"Out, angel. Now."

He shook his head again, letting out a little whine and flattening his wings.

"Come out, angel."

Headshake, little cry, little smaller.

"Out."

Headshake, shudder.

"Out."

Headshake.

"Out."

The angel whimpered softly but started to crawl forward, staying low to the ground, wings shielding almost his entire body. He crept out of the cage and put his nose to the floor, peering up at Sam with pleading eyes as he whined again.

Sam almost replied with a 'good boy' before remember he was, in fact, dealing with a person. "Thank you." He reached out and slowly shut the cage door before easing himself into a sitting position. "My name's Sam. What's yours?"

Sam knew his behavior must have seemed out of the ordinary to the angel, but the angel didn't show any confusion or curiosity on his face. Just terror. Pure, unadulterated terror.

"I'd really like to have a name to call you by." Sam smiled kindly, slouching slightly so he wasn't towering so much. "You don't have to tell me your real name, if you don't want. Just… something."

For several seconds, the angel just stared some more, but then his lips started to move. "C…" He flinched back at the sound of his own voice, pressing his entire body to the cold concrete in the most submissive position Sam had ever seen. It almost reminded Sam of a playful dog, the way the angel's chest was pressed to the ground with both hands splayed on the concrete in front of him. Except, instead of having his rear end in the air, metaphorical tail wagging excitedly, the angel kept the back end of his body plastered just as low as the front end, wings drawn in as tightly as they could be.

"It's okay," Sam encouraged softly. "I want to know your name. You can tell me. You won't get in trouble."

There was another moment of hesitation, and then the angel let out a small whine, pressing his cheek to the floor and peering up at Sam. "Cas..." He coughed, cleared his throat, and coughed again, his body still so unbelievably flat. "Castiel."

"Castiel?" Sam smiled again, trying to seem as friendly and non-threatening as possible. "It's nice to meet you, Castiel. I wish it had been under different circumstances." He wet his lips and vaguely indicated Castiel's body, earning another flinch. "You, uh… you don't look like you feel very well. Can you walk?"

Castiel was still for several seconds, and then he lifted his face from the floor enough to offer the faintest nod possible.

"Good." Sam got up as slowly as he could, but it still made Castiel flinch and whimper. "I just need you to come with me, okay? We're gonna get you cleaned up and feeling better."

Castiel whined again and backed up, shaking his head and drawing his wings in closer.

Sam held out his hands in a placating gesture. "Shh, it's okay. I'm not gonna hurt you."

Castiel backed up a little more, shrinking and coiling around his own abdomen protectively, one hand moving down toward his crotch.

Sam wet his lips and bent his knees slightly, not going so far as to crouch back down. "Castiel, I know you don't know me… and I know you're scared… but I just want to help you get cleaned up. I'm sure you don't want anyone touching you, but we don't really have a choice."

Castiel continued to stare, breathing hard, quivering in his ball of feathers and flesh.

Sam let out a soft sigh and crouched, but he stayed on his haunches, not wanting to return to a full sit. "You're probably not used to getting sick or injured, are you? Everything I've read on angels says you're basically immortal." He kept his tone and expression soft, trying to relay as much of a sense of safety as he could, and he tried not to gesture with his hands too much. "But, uh, if you get an open wound in your skin—one that bleeds or oozes in some way—and you don't keep it clean, it gets infected. It becomes red and inflamed and extremely painful… and the longer it stays that way, the deadlier it gets." He wet his lips, seeing some semblance of comprehension in Castiel's eyes. "I really need you to let me help you clean up and take care of your wounds. I know you're scared, and I know you don't trust me, but it could get really, really bad if we don't take care of it right away."

Castiel considered Sam for a long moment, his fear receding ever-so-slightly to make room for curious calculation. He slowly pushed himself off the ground and got his feet beneath him, freezing in that crouched position and watching Sam with suspicious, frightened eyes. He straightened a little, stopped, straightened a little more, stopped…

Castiel repeated the process while Sam stared, a swath of panic and pity burning through his chest. Dad never would have bought him if he knew Castiel was in this bad a shape.

Castiel already had infected wounds, which was probably why the explanation of what his body was doing was so effective, and there were bruises and bite marks patterned across his neck, chest, stomach, thighs, and upper arms. And Sam knew the angel's back was in a similar state, because that was what he had seen in the first place. Then, of course, came the copious amounts of dried blood between Castiel's legs that Sam had been trying to ignore ever since John pulled the tarp back.

Okay, so, infections and some yellowing bruises. It must have happened a while ago… but how long ago?

Though, Sam supposed, it didn't really matter. As long as it hadn't happened while his dad was shopping. Not that Sam thought John would partake in anything that cruel, but… he might condone it if the monster had enough of a violent history, or if the information it had was important enough… might turn a blind eye if the circumstances were extreme…

It doesn't matter. Castiel was raped and beaten long before Dad laid eyes on him. Dad had nothing to do with any of… this.

"You alright?" Sam took a step back, wanting to offer a helping hand but knowing an approach would probably scare Castiel more than anything. "Can you follow me?"

Castiel offered a faint nod and took a hesitant step, watching Sam with eerily unblinking eyes.

Maybe angels don't need to blink. Sam kept a smile on his face and continued to walk toward the back door to the garage, twisting the knob and opening it up. Of course, they aren't supposed to need a lot of things, and… Castiel looks very needy.

Castiel kept a considerable distance, wings folded close to his body and shielding his arms from sight. He glanced between Sam and the open door, slowing to a stop when Sam didn't continue to the other side.

Sam stepped out and held the door, giving Castiel and apologetic look. "I'm sorry, but I can't let go of the door until you're out here with me." Castiel might shut and lock it from the inside, and then Sam would be screwed. "I'm standing as far away as I can."

Castiel looked at Sam for a long moment, his earlier fear quickly returning as his panicked glances expanded to include over his shoulder. He looked at the open door like it was a wall of fire.

Looks like we're going to have to play cat again. "Castiel, you need to come out here."

Castiel shook his head, making a soft, grunting noise in his throat.

"Yes. I need you to come out here with me."

Castiel shook his head again, letting out a short moan.

"Come on, Castiel. Out."

Castiel tilted his head to the side and hunched down slightly, letting out a quiet whine in lieu of a verbal plea. He looked to Sam imploringly and let out the same noise.

Sam shook his head. "Sorry, Castiel, but you need to come out. Now."

Castiel hunched a little more and cautiously slinked through the door, backing away from Sam as soon as he was over the threshold. He couldn't go far—the side of the house was just a few feet behind him—but he made the most of it by pressing himself up against the brick wall.

"Thank you for coming out, Castiel." Sam slowly closed the garage door and started down the small sidewalk that led down the hill to the back of the house and, beneath the porch that was on level with the house, the outdoor shower. "We're gonna go in here now."

Castiel looked at the shower with nothing but dread on his face, and Sam couldn't really blame him. It wasn't as small as some outdoor showers Sam had seen, but it was small enough that having two people inside, plus the wings… well, it would be uncomfortable for anybody, even someone without Castiel's level of trauma.

"We need to get the dirt cleaned off so nothing else gets infected." Sam pointed very discreetly, keeping his hand by his thigh. "All that dried blood and dirt carries bacteria, and it's going to make your injuries worse."

Castiel looked down at himself for half a second, but he was too scared to take his eyes off Sam for very long. He looked over his shoulder for an equally brief moment, and then he inched toward the shower.

Sam reached inside and turned the hot water knob first.

Castiel jumped at the sudden noise and scrambled back, crouching in the grass beside the house. He stared at the water flow with a heaving chest and saucers for eyes, tremors rattling his body.

"I'm sorry," Sam said quickly, holding his hands up in a gesture of surrender. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. It's just water."

Castiel stared at the water, shaking, but he slowly started crawling forward. He couldn't put his knees on the ground—they were too bruised and torn—and his arms were struggling to hold him up, but he seemed oblivious to the pain. There was only fear.

"It's okay, Castiel. It really is just water." Sam put his hand under and found it a little too warm for comfort. "I'm gonna twist this one now…" he did what he said as he continued to speak, "…to keep the water from getting too hot. I wouldn't want to scald you."

Castiel slowly inched up to the doorway across from Sam, sinking deeper into his crouch. He tilted his head and looked up at Sam curiously, letting out another whine.

"It's okay," Sam said softly, joining Castiel on the ground. "I just want to help you, Castiel."

Castiel looked at Sam for another moment, and then he drew his wings in, making himself very small before scuttling into the stall. He immediately turned around, keeping both eyes on Sam and moving back into the corner.

"You aren't going to get very wet back there."

Castiel tensed and lowered himself slightly, inching forward, still watching Sam. He stopped once his head and shoulders were under the edge of the spray, muddy water running off him in thin waves. He shook his head and made a sneezing noise, blinking rapidly and shaking his head again.

"Tilt your head down to keep your mouth and nose away from the water. And… I know it's scary, but you need to close your eyes to keep the dirty water out." Sam slipped from a crouch to his knees and moved forward, grabbing the bar of soap from the corner of the stall. "Just… let me help you wash your hair, and then you can do the rest yourself, once your eyes are safe."

Castiel flinched back when Sam tried to close the distance between them, but he seemed to realize the truth in what Sam was saying. He eased back under the water, looked up at Sam, ducked down and shook off the water, looked back up, and then ducked his head back down and kept it that way. He took a shuddering breath, and from what Sam could see, it looked like he had closed his eyes.

"Okay… I'm gonna get some soap on my hands…" Sam was completely soaked, and the water was coming down on him just as much as Castiel, but Sam couldn't find it in himself to mind. "Now I'm sitting the soap down and moving closer… and now I'm gonna put my hands on your head. Just on the top…"

Sam continued to murmur a commentary as the cleaning commenced, and while Castiel was far from relaxed, he seemed to respond well to Sam's monologue.

"…now I'm gonna use my fingers kind of like a comb and comb through your hair while it's under the water." Sam tried to keep his voice loud enough to be heard over the water but soft enough not to be threatening. "That'll get all the soap out and leave the clean hair behind."

Castiel flinched, as he did just about every time Sam moved or spoke or breathed, but he stayed in place, and the longer they sat there, the more relaxed he got. As afraid as he was of Sam—and everything else that moved—he clearly knew there were certain things that needed to be done for the sake of his health.

Sam felt honored to be the kind of person Castiel closed his eyes around, no matter how desperately Castiel needed what Sam was offering. Castiel had probably desperately needed a lot of things from people who had taken advantage of that need, and Castiel had probably learned not to trust anyone who said they were offering met needs in exchange for obedience. But he still let Sam wash his hair.

"There we go." Sam held his hands under the flow for a little to get off the remaining soap, and then he backed almost all the way out of the stall. "Okay, you're good."

Castiel opened his eyes and looked at Sam for a moment before seeking the bar of soap. He put one hand on the ground and leaned forward, slipping into something resembling a crawl…

…and immediately collapsed.

"Castiel!" Sam shot forward, and while he wasn't able to catch Castiel before the fall, he was able to get Castiel's face off the rough cement rather quickly. "Castiel, are you okay?"

Castiel only whined, not even trying to get his hands or knees beneath himself.

Of course. He wasn't relaxing, he was tiring out. Sam could have smacked himself. Check your hubris, Winchester. But guilt wouldn't do either of them any good, so Sam instead focused on easing Castiel onto his side.

"It's alright, Castiel. I'll help you. I don't mind."

Castiel whimpered, his stomach visibly flexing with the effort of expelling the noise.

"Shh, it's okay." Sam grabbed the rag hanging from the bar on the wooden wall behind him, and then he worked up a good lather. "It's okay. It's okay, we're gonna get you cleaned up."

Castiel didn't say anything, half-lidded eyes no longer capable of the laser-focus that had followed Sam's every movement up to that point. Castiel whimpered again, fingers twitching, and Sam got the idea it was more a noise of helpless frustration than anything.

He finally gets a chance to be the only one touching his body, and he physically can't do it.

Sam decided the best thing he could do was another talk-through. "This is the same soap I used on your hair, I just put it on this rag instead of my hands." Sam rubbed his face on his own sleeve, trying to clear away the water. "I'm gonna do the best I can to avoid the bruises and cuts, okay?"

Castiel just lay there, open-mouthed and panting, wings occasionally fluttering behind him and creating a secondary shower. Sam didn't mind the spray; he simply kept up with his commentary as he washed Castiel's body.

"I'll use some Dawn dish soap on your wings then… don't worry, it's safe for use on wings." Bird wings, anyway. "I know this cut is really tender, so I'm trying to be careful, but I do need to clean the area around it, so a little pain can't be helped." He didn't want to think about the eventual need to lance the wound. "I've never bandaged a knee before—at least, not with an injury this big—so that'll be a bit of trial-and-error to figure out what works best."

Sam's commentary continued as he worked his way down Castiel's body, cleaning as gently and quickly as he could. And then came the part of the shower Sam was least looking forward to; one he had initially hoped Castiel could take care of himself.

"Okay, so… I know this isn't what you want, and if you could do it, I would let you… but can't not clean your… private areas." Sam winced at his own words. "They can get infected just like any other opening in your body. Especially if you don't get treated after…" Rape. But Sam didn't want to say that. "I promise, I wouldn't do it if it wasn't necessary."

Castiel mewled unhappily, his abdomen once again flexing, and his eyes slid shut for a moment. He sucked in a breath and forced out another sound, face twisted up in discomfort and pain.

"I promise, Castiel, I just want to help you get cleaned up. That's all. Nothing else." Sam took a deep breath and reached out, gently pulling Castiel's cheeks away from each other to survey the damage.

Oh, crap.

Sam get out a little breath and pulled his hands off Castiel. "Okay, um…" He wet his lips and decided to shove off any notions of awkwardness he might have had. "Um, do you know what they put in you?"

Castiel's eyes slowly wandered up Sam's body to his face. Castiel gave a slight headshake, and the fear seemed to be going back into his eyes, even with his crippling exhaustion.

"Uh, well… it's called an anal plug… for obvious reasons." Sam cleared his throat, using his arm to push back the wet hair plastered to his face. "And, uh, I know right now it probably hurts, but it's not made to hurt. It's… actually made to bring pleasure."

Castiel's eyes fell back to Sam's knees, exhaustion emanating from every pore, his stomach moving despite the lack of sound. Or at least, the lack of a sound Sam could hear.

"I need to take the… I need to take it out, and, uh, it's probably gonna hurt." Which was likely the intention of whoever had put it in. "But… it's not causing any new damage, okay? Again, it's not supposed to be painful, so if it is, it's just aggravating the wounds that are already there. It's not sharp or rough or anything. Okay?"

Castiel was unresponsive for a moment, and then he offered a jerky nod, eyes unfocused but glassy with tears that said he clearly understood what was happening. He wished he didn't, but he did.

"Okay, good. I just… I didn't want you thinking I was tearing up your insides or something. That's… not happening." Sam sighed softly. "I just have to get it out, and then I'll throw it away. You never have to see it again."

Castiel's eyes flickered hopefully at that, but the light was quick to die out. Whether he was too tired to be excited, or realism reminded him Sam was likely lying, Sam didn't know.

"Okay, here we go." Sam took a deep breath and used his thumb and forefinger to spread Castiel's cheeks a bit. He grabbed the flared, silicon base with the thumb and forefinger of his other hand. He almost told Castiel to try and relax—that it would come out easier if he did—but he was afraid Castiel's rapist had said something similar when putting it in… or putting other things in…

I'll just have to be gentle. "Easy…" Sam tugged slowly and steadily, watching the black ball stretch Castiel's rim before popping out, and its size had him muttering curses under his breath. I hope this wasn't his first time. Sam doubted he would be that lucky, though; Castiel hadn't even known what the intrusion was called. He clearly wasn't experienced with sex toys. Though, maybe that was just because he was an angel. Maybe they didn't use those sorts of things.

Does it matter?

In some ways, yes. But in most ways, no.

Sam swallowed hard and pulled on the base again, drawing out another section that was slightly smaller and caked with old blood and semen. "You're doing great, Castiel. You're doing really great." He continued to pull, keeping his movements slow and steady, and once the next portion was through, Castiel's body pushed out the rest on its own, followed by a trail of fluids that streaked down his thigh.

Sam tossed the toy away as if it had burned him.

"There, it's gone." Sam was rubbing Castiel's back below the wings before his brain could really process that prolonged physical contact with a rape victim probably wasn't a good idea. "It's gone, Castiel, it's okay. It's over. It's gone."

Castiel gulped down a few breaths and curled his legs up toward his chest, trying to push against the ground with his hands and feet to get distance between himself and Sam.

"Shh, it's okay." Sam immediately removed his hand. "Castiel, I'm not—" He swallowed hard, his stomach churning. "I'm not going to put anything else in you, okay? That's not why I took it out. We just have to clean you up, that's all. You don't ever have to put anything in there again, not if you don't want to."

Castiel only whimpered and pushed some more, dragging his body backward until he hit the wall, which drew a pained cry from his lips.

"Castiel, please—you're scraping your wounds open." Sam reached out to try and stop the frantic movements, but then he remembered he wasn't supposed to touch and backed up instead, raising his hands a little. "Um, okay, I… I need to get some gloves and clothes for you, anyway. So, you just… take a breath and rest for a little." Sam moved over to the door. "Stay here, Castiel. Do not leave the shower."

Castiel nodded his head and whined, curling up a little more, wings stretching down at an awkward angle to cover his lower half. He looked so scared, and yet, so tired. Maybe he was scared of being tired; of the vulnerability sleep required. Maybe he was tired of being scared.

If Sam had to guess, he would say it was both.

"Stay here, Castiel. I'll be right back." Sam stepped out of the shower and closed the door behind him, leaning back against it and taking a moment to breathe. This is insane. He put a hand on his stomach, trying to calm the nausea. This is completely insane.

Sam had done his fair share of exploration in his sex life, and if he were honest, despite being thoroughly straight, Sam very much enjoyed anal play. Because of that preference, Sam knew the kind of plug he took out of Castiel could only be bought at BDSM-oriented stores and sites.

How much damage did it do? Were they gradual at all? Did they use lube? What if he needs stitches? What if they perforated his colon? How bad is the internal bleeding? He needs a hospital, not a hunter's patch job!

Sam took another breath and shook his head, pushing off the door and making his way back up the incline toward the garage. It was time to do what he always did when he hit a wall.

Sam walked through the garage and came out on the other side, spying Dean and John a couple buildings away at the storehouse, still unloading the truck.

"Dean!" Sam waved his arms over his head and gestured for Dean to come over.

Dean exchanged a few words with John, and then he approached with spread arms and look of confusion. "What happened to you?"

"I'm giving Castiel a bath. Or… trying to, anyway."

Dean arched a brow. "Castiel?"

"The angel," Sam clarified, glancing over his shoulder out of instinct. Hopefully, it hadn't been a mistake to leave Castiel in the shower alone.

"Okay, so… what's up?"

Sam folded his arms over his chest and looked back at Dean, slowly opening his mouth. "He, uh… he…" Sam shook his head. "I need some latex gloves from the kitchen, and a clean change of clothes that'll fit him."

Dean gave Sam an odd look. "He, uh, he?"

Sam rubbed the back of his neck and looked over his shoulder again. I hope he isn't trying to leave. He looked back at Dean. "He was raped. So… gloves."

Dean's eyes widened at the news, and then shifted to a more grossed-out expression, but he was still clearly confused. "He can't handle his own junk?"

"No, Dean, he can't. He can barely move." Sam didn't mean for the words to come out so hard and angry, but they did, and then he was looking over his shoulder again. "Just get the stuff, okay? I don't want to track water into the house."

Dean held up his hands in a gesture of surrender. "Okay, I'll get the stuff. Geeze."

Sam huffed out a small sigh and a quiet 'thank you,' and then he went back through the garage. He glanced at the empty cage when he walked by, wondering how long Castiel had been in there, afraid and confused and in pain. How scared Castiel must have been, wondering what was inside him, wondering why it hurt so much to try and take it out, wondering what he had done to provoke his attacker, wondering…

Sam shook his head and put it out of his mind. He shut the garage door behind him and made his way down the path to the shower, which he found to be, unsurprisingly, locked.

"Castiel," Sam sighed softly, reaching up and grabbing the top of the stall wall. "See how it's open up here?" He wet his lips. "I can climb over the top, so please unlock the door. This is pointless."

Castiel didn't respond, and the stall was too silent for him to be obeying Sam's command.

"Castiel." The Cat Game was three for three. "Unlock the door."

Castiel was once again still and silent.

"Castiel…" Sam wet his lips, abandoning his usual tactic. "Does it hurt?"

That time, Sam thought he heard something like a sob, and it was followed shortly by another. Castiel shifted inside the stall, his feathers scratching against the wooden walls.

"I know, buddy. I know it hurts. Please, let me help."

"Having a share n' care session with the angel?"

Sam jerked and looked over his shoulder with a disapproving expression. "Stop it, Dean."

"Aw, come on, Sammy. I'm—"

"No, seriously, Dean." Sam knew Dean meant no harm—in fact, he was probably trying to help by lightening the mood, trying to make himself seem less threatening to Castiel—but Sam needed Dean to understand how bad the situation was. "Stop it."

Dean received the message loud and clear, faint concern creasing his brow. "Okay." He held out the bundle in his arms. "Got the gloves and clothes for both of you. Hope the angel likes Zeppelin."

Sam offered a faint smile. "Thank you. Just, uh…" He reached out and took a glove from the box and then pointed to the ground. "Just set it down there."

With that, Sam turned back to the door and rattled it slightly. "Come on, Castiel. Open the door for me." He pulled on the handle and then put his hand back on top of the door. "I want to help you."

There was another pause, some scuffling and a quiet rattle, and Sam slowly pulled the door open. He poked his head in and found Castiel crouched in the nearest corner, too weak to move any further away.

"We're almost done, okay?" Sam crouched down in the doorway and held out the glove. "Do you want to try and do it yourself?"

Castiel looked at the glove for a moment, but he wasn't even sitting fully upright in the corner. His stomach moved as he pushed out a moaning sound, his eyes dropping to the ground.

"You don't?" That surprised Sam. "Are you afraid? Is there something I should know about?"

Castiel looked down at himself, uncurling just enough to point to a long, infected laceration in his stomach. He then looked back at Sam, his eyes seeming less afraid and more… sad… than they had before.

Sam looked at the wound for a few moments and then watched as Castiel slumped down again. "You…" He bit his lip and considered the wound again. No, not the wound… the infected wound. Sam had explained how dirt in an injury could lead to infection, and he had told Castiel what the symptoms were, so maybe—

"You want me to do it because you won't know if something's seriously wrong. Is that right? You want me to make sure there aren't any problems?"

Castiel slowly lowered onto his side, still pressed in the corner, a slight nod tugging his head down. He pressed his flushed, tearstained face to the floor and drew his wings in close.

"That's okay, I can help." Sam started fighting with the glove, trying to get it on his still-damp hand. He leaned back and looked out the open door, but Dean was gone.

Good. Castiel doesn't need an audience.

"Okay, so…" Sam pulled the door shut and patted the portion of the shower where water was still coming down. "Can you help me get your legs over here?"

Castiel inched toward the spray, and thankfully, the shower was small enough that he didn't have to move far.

"Thanks." Sam took a deep breath and thought, 'screw it' before he leaned forward and pulled one of Castiel's legs closer to him. "Your, uh… you're still pretty… open, so I'm gonna use two fingers, but let me know if it hurts. I'll switch to one if I need to."

Castiel didn't say or do anything, and Sam had to wonder if the angel was dissociating in favor of acknowledging what was happening. Sam wouldn't blame him if he was.

Sam slid his index and middle fingers into Castiel's rectum as carefully as he could, trying to get a good look at the ring of muscles under the blood caked there. It looked like there had been some tearing… but enough to need stitches? Sam wasn't sure.

I don't know what I'm doing.

Sam decided to focus on what he could definitely help with, and he turned his attention to Castiel's insides, feeling some kind of… gooey substance in the cavity. He tried to gently scrape some out, and unsurprisingly, it was more coagulated blood and semen. He bled a lot. Thankfully, nothing that came out resembled the pus that often came with infection. Count the small blessings, I guess.

Sam pushed his fingers back in and pressed against Castiel's insides, gingerly feeling around for any tears or lumps.

Castiel moaned quietly, one wing twitching, and his eyes screwed shut.

"I'm sorry," Sam said softly, freezing as he was. "Does that hurt?"

Castiel didn't do anything, but he whined again, and that was basically a yes.

"I'll be careful." Sam tried to move more tenderly, running his fingers over the painful section and feeling nothing that resembled a hole. It was probably stretched, maybe even torn like a muscle or ligament, but it wasn't perforated.

"It's nothing serious." Sam assured with far more confidence than he felt.

He continued to clean Castiel out, avoiding the lefthand side of cavity and pulling out more of the gelatinous goop with a wet, farting sound that had him struggling to ignore how awkward the situation was.

Because maybe it was awkward and disgusting and weird, but Sam was a hunter. He had cleaned up vomit, ghoul guts, zombie guts, brain matter, werewolf drool, webs that came out of an arachne's who-knew-what… he had lanced infections, stitched up cuts that went to the bone, dug bullets out of tissue and muscle and… and Castiel just had a new kind of injury to add to the list of expertise. It wasn't Castiel's fault that he had been raped, and it wasn't Castiel's fault that he had been so heavily abused he couldn't take care of himself, and Castiel didn't deserve to be made to feel any more shame or discomfort than he already did.

"Castiel, are you okay?" Sam couldn't really pull out anymore blood, and even if he could, Castiel was starting to make more pained noises. "You still with me?"

Castiel let out a quiet groan, and his wing fluttered again, smacking against the wall behind him and spraying water down over the two of them.

"Okay." Sam shed his glove and tossed it in the general direction of the discarded butt plug before grabbing the soapy rag. "Here, take this. I'm gonna step out and grab some towels. If there's anything else you want to clean, go ahead and… do what you can… and then we'll both get dried off."

Castiel looked at the rag for a long time, and then he looked up at Sam, slowly reaching out and taking the fabric. His hand fell to the floor as soon as he grabbed it.

Sam chose to focus on the more optimistic fact that Castiel no longer fixed his eyes on Sam's every movement. Apparently, some little bond of trust was being formed.

"Okay. I'll be right out there." Sam offered a little wave and then stepped out.

Okay. Well. That happened. Sam heaved a sigh and opened the small, makeshift closet beside the shower, pulling out a towel for each of them. He kicked off his boots and stuffed them with his still-dry socks—take that, Dean, spending extra money on good boots was worth it—before he set them aside.

Sam quickly stripped out of his clothes and dried off. He got dressed and tossed his wet clothes in a pile with his towel, figuring he could come back for them later.

"Castiel?" he called, knocking on the closed door. "Are you done?"

Nothing.

"Castiel?" Sam pulled the door out and poked his head in, finding Castiel curled up under the center of the spray. "Are you done?"

Castiel looked up at him with tired eyes, and then he dropped his head back down without an answer given.

"Come on, Castiel. We're almost finished. Once you're dried off, we'll get your wounds tended to, and then you can get some sleep." Sam pushed a pleading note into his voice. "I know you're tired, Castiel, and I promise, you can sleep soon. You can sleep very, very soon. But I need you to work with me a little while longer."

Castiel whined softly and pushed his hands against the cement, limbs trembling. He tried to get up, but he only managed half a foot before he was dropping to the ground again.

Sam winced, creeping forward and shutting off the water. "Is it alright if I help you? I know you don't really want to be touched…"

Castiel didn't respond, panting heavily, skin flushed. From the heat or the exertion or an infection-induced fever, Sam didn't know.

Sam creeped closer and crouched down, placing a cautious hand on Castiel's upper arm and trying to avoid the large, black wing behind them. "Castiel…?"

Castiel didn't confirm that the touch was okay, but he didn't say no, and given how difficult it was to get him to answer… Sam had to take the lack of whimpering and flinching as a positive answer.

"Okay, it's alright. Let me…" Sam almost helped Castiel up, but then he stopped. "Wait, I need a place to put you… hold on." He wet his lips and looked through the open door at the sidewalk. That's too rough, and the grass is soft, but it'll just get him dirty again. Not that dirty, I guess… but with all his open wounds… I should put a towel down.

"Just wait here a second." Sam got to his feet and froze with one foot out of the shower. "Dad?"

John looked up from where he was spreading a twin-sized blanket on the grass, the large first aid kit from the house sitting at his feet. "Dean said the angel was worse than we thought."

Sam looked over his shoulder at Castiel, who was staring blankly ahead, and then he looked back out at John. "Can you help him without—"

"Sam." John used a tone that very clearly said it was unwise for Sam to finish his question.

Normally, Sam would have balked at the idea he could be so easily controlled, but he couldn't afford to start a fight in front of Castiel. So, Sam grabbed a towel and returned to Castiel's side, focused on helping him.

"If I carry you, will you be able to hold onto my neck?"

Castiel looked up at Sam and then started staring ahead again, his expression fighting to maintain its fearful features.

He's so tired. Sam put one of Castiel's arms around his own shoulders, and then he wrapped the towel around Castiel's hips and slowly started to stand. "Come on, Castiel. Come on, you can do it. Get your feet beneath you."

Castiel didn't seem to realize he was supposed to do anything at first, but then he managed to get his feet on the ground, one hand grappling haphazardly with Sam's shirt.

"Good job, buddy. We're trying to get to the blanket by my dad. He's not gonna hurt you, don't worry." And if John tried, Sam wouldn't let him. "Almost there."

Castiel didn't really seem to understand what was being said, and by the time they got to the blanket, he collapsed so completely Sam thought he might have passed out. Thankfully, Castiel landed on his left side, keeping his wings relatively out of the way, so they didn't need to move him again.

"What's the worst?" John asked, crouched by the first aid kit.

Sam knelt on the opposite side of Castiel, hovering almost protectively. "Uh, there's this cut in his abdomen…" he pointed it out, "…and his knees are skinned almost completely off."

John cursed under his breath and surveyed the injuries. "Well, it's not gonna be pleasant. Is he out?"

Sam shook his head. "No, but he's close."

John pulled out a stitch kit and tossed it to Sam, expecting him to know what to do with it.

Sam did, of course. He had done enough medical jobs with his dad to know what he was supposed to cover when John was at the operating table. Sam opened the kit and got to work, watching John to see what he would approach first.

John went for the knees, and Sam let out a subtle sigh of relief. Those wouldn't be too painful or invasive, and Sam hadn't been entirely sure how to bandage them, anyways.

Castiel wasn't nearly as relieved, and despite his incoherence, he still moaned and twitched away from the hands treating him. His wings spasmed occasionally, and they eventually drew Sam's attention to an open sore on the underside of the right wing, right where it met Castiel's back; most likely, the wing had gone too long in a cramped space with no cleaning.

Eventually, though, it came down to the infected cut.

"Dad, maybe I should—"

"You've never dealt with anything this big in an area that wasn't a limb." John didn't even look up from the kit as he spoke, putting on a pair of gloves before, to Sam's surprise, pulling out a syringe and a small bottle. "You just keep him calm. This'll help, but it won't knock him out."

"I didn't even know we had numbing agents…"

"Yeah, well, I try not to advertise. We don't have any to spare."

Sam didn't say anything to that, staying in position behind Castiel and wondering what he could do to offer comfort. If it were anyone else, he would hold their hand or rub their back, but there was a good chance that wouldn't help Castiel.

He's already going to have hands on him that he doesn't want.

Sam watched John flick the syringe to ensure there were no air bubbles, followed by the process of injecting the drug into various points around the site of infection.

Castiel inhaled sharply each time, but he didn't let out any pained noises. Apparently, the needle itself wasn't causing any great deal of pain. Hopefully, the numbing agent would be strong enough to help, because Sam knew the actual procedure wouldn't be so merciful.

"I might need your hands," John said, unpackaging a scalpel.

Sam heard the silent order—'get gloves and keep them near you'—and obeyed, watching in a mix of morbid fascination and dread as John started pressing the tip of the blade around various points on Castiel's abdomen.

"You feel that, angel?"

Castiel offered a jerky nod and then shook his head.

"Sort of, then." John grabbed another pack of gauze and tore it open, his eyes wandering over the injury with a kind of calculative, level-headedness that made Sam feel a little more at ease. After a moment of consideration, John grabbed some disinfectant and started cleaning the area he would be cutting.

Sam doublechecked to make sure he had gloves nearby, which he did, and then he moved to the side a bit so he could look down at what his dad was doing without blocking the much-needed light.

"You still feel that?"

Castiel nodded slightly.

"Castiel," Sam started softly. "Do you feel pain or pressure?"

Castiel turned tired, frightened eyes to Sam, looking on in helpless confusion as if to say, 'You won't make me talk, will you? Please, don't.'

"Sorry." Sam flashed a quick smile. "Do you feel pain?"

Castiel shook his head slightly.

John pursed his lips and nodded. "Good enough for me."

Sam watched as John carefully approached the laceration. It had once been a long cut—roughly five inches—but most of it had scarred, leaving about two inches scabbed and oozing. John seemed to debate where on the cut to go first, but he ultimately started at the bottom, dragging the scalpel along the length of the scab. Pus immediately started pouring from the wound, painting Castiel's front, and John grabbed the gauze.

Sam felt helpless, watching his dad apply pressure to force more of the infection out of the wound, and that feeling only increased when Castiel started to whimper. Sam struggled with himself for a moment, and then he went against his better judgement and reached out, grabbing Castiel's hand and giving it a squeeze.

"Easy, there, buddy. You're doing good, just don't move."

Castiel screwed his eyes shut and panted hard, prompting Sam to let out the breath he had, apparently, been holding.

John muttered a few choice words under his breath. "There's a lot in here."

Sam wet his lips, looking down at the mess of pus and blood for a brief second before he turned his head. "Is he gonna be okay?"

John nodded his head, never once taking his eyes off of what he was doing. "Hopefully." He applied more pressure, and Castiel let out a cry. John shook his head. "Can't help that part. It's gonna be tender inside."

Sam gave Castiel's hand another squeeze, and Castiel whined, breathing harder and pressing his head into the ground. Castiel flexed the hand Sam was holding for a moment, and then he tightened his hold, almost as if experimenting with the contact.

"Easy, Castiel. Just stay still, alright? Shout if you have to, but stay still."

Castiel sucked down air and choked out another whine, sweat forming on his brow.

"I know it hurts now, but it's going to feel so much better once the infection is out."

Castiel only whined again, squeezing Sam's hand in return.

"How much longer, Dad?" Sam asked softly.

"However long it takes," John replied with a sigh, sounding irritated.

Sam glared. "General estimate?"

"I don't know, Sam." John slipped a gloved finger into the wound and felt around. "This isn't a leg; I can't just shove forceps in there and dig around until I get all the pus out." He huffed a little, and to his credit, his focus was still entirely on the makeshift surgery.

"I wasn't questioning you," Sam snapped. "I just wanted to know how long you thought it would take."

John snorted. "Well, you say it like I'm dragging this out on purpose."

Sam stopped at that. "You really think I would say something like that?"

John heaved a sigh, as if the conversation had happened a million times before when it most definitely had not. "You're a lot mouthier than your brother, so yes."

"You think I think that about you?" Sam was torn between hurt and guilty. "Dad… I think you can be too rough sometimes, and… yeah, I figure you're not gonna have the best bedside manner, but…" He shook his head, face contorted with emotions he couldn't quite define. "I don't think you're the kind of man who would torture for fun, monster or not. I've never thought that about you."

John didn't say anything, shedding his gloves before throwing on a fresh pair.

Sam fell silent, squeezing Castiel's hand to reassure him. You're still safe. Dad's not gonna hurt you. He's not like that.

Because John really wasn't like that. He wasn't the kind to lash out, especially not over something unrelated. Honestly, that was one of the worst parts about him. If Sam did something to anger or disappoint John, Sam never really knew how much he had angered or disappointed John. John was the strong and silent type, only stating things he felt need to be clarified, and John happened to think most things were obvious.

Was John angry at Sam? Irritated? Furious? Upset? Constipated? Was he mildly disappointed? Ashamed? Disgusted? Thinking about dinner? Itchy?

Who knew? Not Sam, that's for sure. Not anybody, except John himself, and getting John to realize that no, the answer was not obvious, was like pulling teeth.

Castiel let out a loud moan that tapered off into a whimper, and when Sam looked down, he saw tears streaming down the angel's cheeks. Castiel clutched Sam's hand, and his leg started to jerk slightly, like he wanted to kick but didn't know where to aim.

Sam quickly closeted his train of thought and tried to keep Castiel calm. "Hey, it's alright." He glanced down at the injury and saw it was mostly blood and clear fluid coming out, and in a much smaller volume than before. "Dad, is it done?"

John pressed his lips together and shook his head, once again inserting his finger into the wound and feeling around. "I don't know. Based on the swelling…" He trailed off, pressing on Castiel's abdomen from the outside while digging with his other finger.

Castiel whimpered again, a sound which escalated into a sharp cry before tapering away.

"You're doing really good," Sam soothed. "Just hang in there, Castiel. Just take deep breaths, alright?"

John started pulling his finger out, and when he did, he brought out a strip of infected… something, and whatever it was had apparently been serving as a plug. As soon as John pulled the strip out, another wave of pus gushed from the wound.

Castiel moaned at first, but then he gasped, eyes snapping open. He took another deep breath and made a little humming noise, almost sounding pleased.

John chuckled to himself. "Yeah, I bet that feels a lot better, getting rid of all that pressure."

Castiel took another breath, and while he was still clearly in pain, he was also clearly able to breathe a little easier.

Sam took a break from watching his dad work and paid attention to Castiel, reaching down and pulling the clingy strands of wet hair away from Castiel's face. Castiel's cheeks were red and stained with tears, and his nose was somewhat colored, too. His eyes flickered down to watch John from time to time, but for the most part, they stayed shut, unable to stay open for more than a few seconds at a time.

"It's almost over," Sam encouraged after a series of pained cries. John had finished draining and cleaning the wound, and he had now moved on to the final step. "I know, buddy. This part really sucks." Packing the wound was unavoidably painful unless the patient was unconscious, even in well-equipped hospitals, which the Winchester backyard was not. "You're doing great."

"One more big push," John muttered dryly.

Sam laughed a little, hoping things were alright between them.

John's lips twitched into a faint smile, but then he was all business.

Sam was alright with that. He put his attention on Castiel and reached out to comb the angel's hair back again. "It's okay. Just stay still a little while longer. Then we'll get your wings cleaned."

John glanced up for the first time since the procedure began. "That's a bad idea. You might get the bandages wet." He nodded toward Sam. "Sunset's in an hour and a half anyway."

Sam looked over his shoulder and saw John was right. Wet wings and a dropping temperature aren't a good combination. I guess we need to get them dry as soon as possible. He sighed softly. "Tomorrow, then."

Castiel kept breathing hard, but he didn't make any noise of pain or protest, so Sam considered that to be an okay sign.

John taped down the bandage that covered the incision and the packing sticking out of it, and then he sat back on his heels and wiped his brow. "Well, that's one thing taken care of. You got him from here?"

Sam nodded with a tight smile. "Yeah, I got him." He smiled a little wider. "Thanks, Dad."

"Mm-hmm." John put the unused supplies back in the kit and picked it up. "Just leave the blanket and trash out. Dean or I will get it later."

Sam smiled briefly. "Thanks," he repeated.

John gave a nod and walked away, leaving Sam to gather the clothes Dean had brought out earlier. Sam could hardly believe it when he saw the large hole in the back of the Led Zeppelin tee, and he figured it must have been an old one.

Getting Castiel in the sweatpants was fairly easy, but the shirt was a little more difficult. Once Sam dried Castiel's wings, he had to wrestle them through a hole that was smaller than they were. It took some doing, but Sam got them through, and then Castiel just had to push his arms up into the sleeves and let Sam pull it down.

"Come here, buddy." Sam wrapped one arm around Castiel's back below his wings, and the other arm wrapped around Castiel's knees. He grunted as he hoisted Castiel from the ground with no small amount of effort, and he immediately started making his way toward the garage.

Castiel couldn't even lift his head from Sam's shoulder, but he reached out numbly as they approached the door, trying to be helpful.

"Thanks, Castiel."

Castiel just let his arm drop, wings dragging on the ground, eyes fluttering heavily.

Sam stopped when he saw a mattress with a simple, black, fitted sheet laying by the corner closest to the door that led into the house. However, Castiel was heavy, so Sam didn't stand there with a fond smile on his face for very long.

"Easy… easy…" Sam lowered Castiel to the mattress and grabbed the folded blanket nearby. "Are your wings okay under you?"

Castiel nodded tiredly, his right wing resting against the wall while the left wing splayed out on the garage floor.

Sam smiled softly and covered Castiel with the blanket, tucking him in. "It's summer, so this should be plenty." He pressed his lips together. "We don't have a lot of extra pillows lying around, but I'll dig around tomorrow. We might have some in the attic, and if not, I'll buy you one or make you one or…" He let out a soft sigh and smiled again. "Try to get some rest, okay?"

Castiel stopped fighting to keep his eyes open and sank into the mattress with a quiet sigh.

Sam's smile faded, a twisted pain slipping onto his face, and it was with a heavy heart that he walked inside and locked the door behind him.