Sam didn't know what he expected to find when he checked on Castiel after a four in the morning bathroom run, but he had been hoping 'sleeping angel' would be somewhere in the picture. Sadly, that was not the case.
Castiel's head snapped up, and he stared at Sam in silent horror, his blue eyes wide and tearful and dilated with panic. His bloody fingers were curled mid-scratch, both hands hovering over his collarbone, the skin red and swollen under his touch.
"Let me take a look." Sam stepped into the garage and knelt down beside the mattress Castiel was sitting on.
Castiel immediately leaned into the wall, his wings curling protectively around his body. He shook his head and shifted his hands so they were clutching his own feathers.
"Castiel, it's okay." Sam held out a placating hand and very gently brushed his fingers against Castiel's wing. "It's okay. I just want to take a look at the damage."
Castiel shuddered, a soft whine rising in his throat, and for a moment, it looked like he was going to refuse again. But then he looked Sam up and down, took a deep breath, and slowly let go of his feathers. He turned on the mattress until he was facing Sam, and then he tucked his wings behind himself and pulled down his shirt collar, revealing the self-inflicted scratch marks.
Sam offered a small smile and tried to look at the marks from where he was. He couldn't see much in the dim light, but he noticed there was more blood than there would have been from just scratching. If Sam had to guess—and given Castiel's silence, he did—he would say Castiel had scratched himself open before and was now scratching the scabs off.
"Let me go get the first aid kit. If we put some band-aids on those marks, you might not scratch them open again. Then they might actually heal up."
With that, Sam got up and walked back into the house. He went through the kitchen and down the hall to the bathroom, where he retrieved the first aid kit and a bottle of hydrogen peroxide. Then he walked back out to the garage.
"Here." Sam knelt down by the mattress again and opened the kit, pulling out a packet of gauze. "This is going to sting, but it's good for you." He tore open a packet and then soaked the gauze in peroxide. "It'll clean the wounds. Okay?"
Castiel watched Sam carefully, but he granted permission with a faint nod.
Sam took the gauze and gingerly dabbed it on the scratch marks over Castiel's collarbone. He used his other hand to pull the shirt out of the way, and a not-so-easy silence settled over the room.
I wonder if he was dreaming about the rape. Sam didn't want to ask that question for obvious reasons, but he was inclined to think Castiel was scratching at some of the bite marks and hickies that bedecked his body. If that was the case, then Sam wanted to distract Castiel as soon as possible.
"So…" Sam cleared his throat a bit awkwardly, still dabbing at the wounds. "You told me your name. Can you speak?"
Castiel hesitated and then shook his head, blue eyes peering up at Sam with curiosity beneath the ever-present fear.
Sam nodded slightly. "So, you can say your name, but you can't speak?"
Castiel nodded, seeming a little more sure of himself. He definitely wasn't confused about what Sam was asking.
That doesn't make any sense. But Sam chose not to question it for the time being. Castiel was barely comfortable giving answers; Sam had no way of knowing how Castiel would respond to being contradicted or questioned.
"It's okay if you can't speak." Sam pulled the gauze away and set it to the side, looking over Castiel's body in the dim light. "Are there any more places where you scratched yourself open?"
Castiel didn't do anything at first, his eyes locked on Sam's. He took a breath, hesitated, and then slowly extended his left arm, revealing two bleeding gouges on the inside.
Sam nodded and grabbed a new packet of gauze, ripping it open and pouring the hydrogen peroxide over it. He took Castiel's arm in one hand and gently wiped with his other hand.
If Castiel felt any pain from the peroxide or the contact Sam made, he didn't show it. He just stared, watching Sam's hands intently, every little movement examined in depth.
"We don't have to talk about what was bothering you, but…" Sam set the bloody gauze aside and picked up a new packet, tearing it open and pressing the dry gauze to the sluggishly bleeding wound. "Does scratching help?"
Castiel blinked once, his jaw clamped shut, and he continued to stare. He watched Sam absorb the blood and weeping fluid from the scratches, and then he watched Sam grab the tube of Neosporin.
"It's okay. You don't have to answer." Sam twisted the cap off the tube and squirted some of the ointment onto the scratches. "I was just wondering." He grabbed a few large band-aids from the kit and opened them up one by one, placing three along the length of the gashes. "There we go."
Castiel looked at the band-aids on his arm, and for the first time since John brought him to the compound, the primary emotion on his face wasn't fear. He was looking at them with confusion and curiosity, his expression so utterly innocent it was hard to imagine him as any kind of threat.
"Never seen a band-aid before?" Sam asked, a light smile pulling on the corner of his mouth.
Castiel blinked a few times and slowly shook his head, reaching out to touch them. He ran his fingers over the new addition to his body, bewildered, and then he looked at Sam. He pointed to his collarbone, his expression dumbfounded.
"Yeah, I'm putting some band-aids up there, too." Sam grabbed the Neosporin and put some on Castiel's collarbone. He grabbed some more band-aids from the kit and opened them up, carefully placing the first one on Castiel's skin.
Castiel blinked again, and some of his fear started returning, but he remained fascinated with the little sticky objects being placed on him. He waited until Sam had put two more on his collarbone, and then he ran his fingers over all three, his face twisting up with confusion.
"So, I know you didn't respond, and I know I said that was okay, but…" Sam trailed for a moment, rubbing the back of his neck. "Well, if scratching makes you feel better, then I'm glad there's something that helps, but… you really can't do this anymore. You're hurting yourself, and it isn't healthy."
Castiel didn't say anything, but he ducked his head as if he had been scolded. His eyes flickered between his lap and Sam's face, his jaw clenched tightly as he struggled with some emotion Sam wasn't privy to.
"I'm not mad," Sam assured, trying to calm the waters. He didn't even know if it was a good idea to bring up the scratching in general, but he felt like he couldn't say nothing. "It's just… really not good for you."
Castiel looked at Sam with something like hope in his eyes.
Sam decided the best thing to do was to keep moving forward. "Did you scratch yourself anywhere else?"
Castiel's eyes widened—if that was even possible—and he immediately started breathing harder. He swallowed thickly and his wings started to curl around him.
"Castiel." Sam held his hands up in a gesture of surrender. "I just want to help. Please."
Castiel sat and stared at Sam, wings half-curled, breathing shallow.
"I just want to help," Sam repeated earnestly.
Castiel looked down at himself and then looked right back at Sam, his eyes brimming with fear. He slowly stood up, his blanket falling to the mattress in a heap. He stood there for a moment, still staring at Sam, and then he hesitantly slipped his thumbs into his waistband and dropped his pants.
Sam winced sympathetically at the scratches all over Castiel's thighs, the marks half hidden by the borrowed boxers. "Do you want to do it yourself?"
Castiel blinked a few times and nodded his head enthusiastically. He held out his hands and made a grabbing motion, looking at Sam expectantly.
Sam smiled and grabbed a packet of gauze, quickly tearing it open and pouring hydrogen peroxide on it. He immediately handed the wet gauze over to Castiel and sat back to see what Castiel would do.
Castiel spent a moment staring at Sam, and he seemed hesitant to look anywhere else, but he eventually directed his gaze downward. He began wiping the scratch marks, and thankfully the damage to his legs didn't seem as bad as the damage to his arm and collarbone. Though, despite being less severe, the scratch marks were more widespread, covering Castiel's entire thighs.
"Do you want to put some band-aids on those, too?" Sam didn't really think the marks on Castiel's legs needed band-aids, but Castiel seemed so intrigued by the little sticky bandages. Besides, band-aids were cheap; it was no big deal to put on some unnecessary ones.
Castiel finished cleaning the scratch marks and put the dirty gauze on Sam's trash pile. He wet his lips and looked at the first aid kit for a moment before looking at Sam and blinking twice. He stared and waited patiently, a hopeful look on his face.
Sam opened up a band-aid and peeled the backing off, handing it over to Castiel with a smile. "Just stick it wherever you think it should go."
Castiel tentatively reached out and took the band-aid, giving it a long look before lowering it to one of the many scratch marks on his legs. He placed the bandage, and for a fraction of a second, his lips turned up into a smile.
Sam smiled, too, his own expression lasting longer than Castiel's had. He opened another band-aid and peeled off the back again, handing it over and watching as Castiel carefully placed it over another scratch mark.
Castiel looked at Sam and held up one finger.
"Just one more?" Sam picked up another band-aid and prepared it for Castiel.
Castiel nodded his head a few times and took the offered bandage, sticking it on his leg before quickly leaning down and pulling his pants back up.
Sam smiled kindly and twisted the lid onto the bottle of hydrogen peroxide. "Does that feel a bit better?"
Castiel nodded his head, but it looked like his fear was returning. His wings started to come forward and wrap around him, and his hands grabbed onto the tattered feathers nervously.
"Take a deep breath, Castiel." Sam stayed on the floor, trying to keep himself small and unthreatening. "Just take a deep breath. You're okay. You're safe."
Castiel wet his lips and, after a second of hesitation, took a deep breath like Sam said. He let it out slowly, and then he took another deep breath, his wings slowly slipping into a relaxed position behind him.
"There we go." Sam smiled kindly, and then he gestured to the garbage they had accumulated. "Do you mind if I get up to throw this stuff away?"
Castiel watched Sam closely, but he slowly shook his head.
Sam gathered the garbage in one hand and then grabbed the bottle of peroxide, tucking it under his arm. He grabbed the first aid kit and then slowly got to his feet, moving toward the door that led into the house.
"Let me take care of this stuff, and then you can come in and wash your hands, okay?"
Castiel looked down at his hands in surprise, as if he hadn't realized his hands had blood on them, and then he looked back at Sam and nodded.
Sam struggled to open the door with his hands full, but he managed, and then he threw the garbage in the kitchen trash can. He took the first aid supplies back to the bathroom, and then he returned to the garage to get Castiel.
"Come on. Once you wash your hands you can go back to sleep."
Castiel took a few cautious steps, approaching the house with trepidation on his face. He glanced up at the doorway as he passed through it, and then he looked around at the kitchen.
It was a simple layout and, thankfully, it looked like it was part of a normal house. None of their weapons were laying on the table in the nearby dining room, as their weapons were prone to do. There was some lore stacked on the bar that separated the dining room and kitchen, but there was nothing really threatening about lore. There were some dirty dishes in the sink, a dish towel hanging from the oven handle, and some empty beer bottles on the counter against the wall. It was normal. It was safe.
Sam walked over to the sink and turned on the hot water. He figured it would be easier to just show Castiel how to wash his hands instead of explaining it, so he squirted some soap onto his hands and got to business.
Castiel watched closely, and when Sam moved his hands out of the way and began drying them, Castiel approached the sink. He squirted some soap into his hands and started rubbing them together, looking to Sam for confirmation.
Sam nodded his head with an encouraging smile. "You got it, buddy."
Castiel nodded and put his attention on what he was doing, leaving Sam to watch him in silence.
His wings look a little rough. There were a few patches where Sam could see skin, and growing out of that skin were several shafts for feathers but no actual feathery parts. It looked almost painful, and Sam had no idea if that's what they were supposed to look like or not. I'll do some research tomorrow before we clean them.
Castiel turned to Sam and held out his dripping wet hands, waiting for Sam to hand him a towel, which Sam did. Castiel dried his hands and then carefully hung the towel from the oven door handle where it belonged.
"Come on," Sam urged, gesturing to the garage. "Bedtime."
Castiel walked out to the garage without complaint, though he did look over his shoulder at Sam repeatedly. He settled down on the mattress and pulled his blanket up to his neck, looking up at Sam with wide eyes.
Sam smiled. "I know your wings got rinsed off in the shower, but we'll clean them good with soap tomorrow, okay?"
Castiel nodded twice, still staring at Sam.
Sam flicked the light off, submerging the room in darkness. "Goodnight, Castiel."
Castiel made a humming noise, and then Sam closed the garage door.
I can't believe Dad bought an angel. Sam couldn't help but laugh a little. My life is so ridiculous. As if being a monster hunter wasn't bad enough, now he was a monster hunter with a traumatized pet angel.
No, he reminded himself. He's not a pet, he's a person. He's just a very traumatized, mute, half-creature person. Sam blew his bangs out of his eyes and started to walk back to his bedroom, making sure all the lights were off. But, at least for the time being, he's my person. I might as well get used to it.
Sam crawled into bed and felt a little twinge in his chest over the fact that Castiel was sleeping on a mattress in a garage. He should at least be on the couch. But he knew John wasn't going to budge on that rule, and starting a fight wouldn't do anybody any good. So, Sam rolled over and tried to go to sleep.
I might start a fight with Dad anyway, just to make a point.
And that was his last thought before he tumbled down into unconsciousness.
"How are we gonna do this without getting the bandages wet?"
Dean looked between Jo and the angel crouched in the backyard, putting his hands on his hips. "Well, it doesn't matter if we get the bandages wet because they need to be changed anyway." He glanced at Sam and then looked at the angel, their first obstacle painfully obvious. "I don't suppose a rape victim is gonna feel like stripping for three total strangers, is he?"
Sam gave Dean a withering glare, which Dean readily ignored. "No, Dean, he's not going to want to strip for us."
Dean let out a sigh and looked at Castiel, painfully aware that he lacked Sam's patience. "Well, birdbrain, are you gonna cooperate or not?" He crossed his arms over his chest. "I know you can understand us, so what's it gonna be? You gonna let your wings stay like they are now, or are you gonna work with us?"
Castiel looked at Dean with nothing short of terror in his eyes. He shook his head and backed away, black feathers puffed up.
"You're really gonna fight us on this?" Dean questioned, a tone of disbelief entering his voice.
Castiel just kept staring at Dean, his gaze occasionally flickering to Jo or Sam but always going back to Dean. Dean was the biggest threat, and Dean got the feeling as long as he was around, things were going to be difficult.
Sam must have realized the same thing, because the next words out of his mouth were, "Maybe you should go inside, Dean. Jo and I can do this."
"He's got to get used to me eventually, Sammy." Dean took a step toward Castiel, holding up his hands when Castiel jumped away. "Easy, Cas. Easy. I'm not gonna hurt you."
Castiel shrank in on himself, crouched low to the ground and shaking. He drew his wings in tight, the feathers still ruffled, and his fingers curled through the grass.
"Just let me try, Sam." Dean didn't take his eyes off Castiel, and even though he felt some frustration about the situation, he tried to keep it off his face. "Easy, Cas." He took another step, reaching out a hand to tousle Castiel's hair. "Just keep breathing. I'm not gonna hurt you."
Castiel backed away, his eyes wide with fear. He started to breathe a little harder, and it was like he couldn't see Sam and Jo anymore. All he could see was Dean, and he was afraid.
"Cas," Dean spoke as seriously as he could, crouching down with his hand still outstretched. "I'm just gonna ruffle your hair. Okay? It's not a big deal. It's all okay."
Castiel backed up until he hit the fence that went around the Winchester property. He whimpered quietly, lowering himself until his chin was in the grass.
Dean kept his eyes on Castiel. "Just give me a second, Sam. Let me try." He inched a little closer to Castiel and slowly dropped his hand into Castiel's messy, dark brown locks. "See?"
Castiel screwed his eyes shut tight, but he couldn't move any further away.
Dean rubbed Castiel's head a little bit, and then he stood up, backing away from the angel and holding his hands up in a gesture of surrender. "That's all, see? I'm back over here now."
Castiel slowly opened his eyes, scanning Dean first and then looking at Jo and Sam. He quickly looked back at Dean, fear written plainly on his face. He might have processed that Dean did him no harm, but he was a far cry from trusting anything.
"Castiel," Sam started softly, drawing the angel's attention over to him. "We really just want to help you wash your wings. You can keep your boxers on."
Castiel stared at Sam for a long moment, and then he slowly stood up. He pulled his arms into his shirt and then pulled it up and over his head, the fabric still twisted around his wings. He looked at Sam for another long moment, then at Jo, and then at Dean.
"It's okay, Castiel," Sam assured. "Everything's gonna be okay."
Jo gave two thumbs up and a smile. "Dean and I are just here to help Sam get you clean, Castiel. It's all good."
Castiel slipped his fingers into his waistband and pulled his sweatpants down, stepping out of them and tossing them to the side. He curled his wings around himself and grabbed at the feathers, watching the assembled hunters with wide, frightened eyes.
"Thanks, Castiel." Sam took a few careful steps and slowly put his hands on the shirt still wrapped around Castiel's wings. He worked with Castiel to get the shirt off the wings, and then he tossed it onto the sweatpants, turning to Jo and Dean. "Okay, guys. Let's get these wings cleaned."
Dean pointed to the shower. "First things first. You gotta get your wings wet, Cas."
Castiel looked at the shower stall, and then back at the hunters. He was still visibly afraid, but he had been in the shower before. Dean was hoping that familiarity would take some of the fear away.
After all, it wasn't like Dean had anything against Castiel. Dean just wasn't very good at using kid gloves, and he wasn't as sympathetic toward monsters as Sam was. Still, it bothered him how afraid Castiel was, and he didn't want to cause the angel any more suffering.
"Come on, Castiel." Sam stepped into the stall and turned on the water before walking back out. "You can do it yourself, okay? We'll wait out here."
Castiel looked at Sam for a few moments, and then he looked at Dean again. He glanced at Jo, then looked back at Dean, and then looked back at Sam.
Oh, for Pete's sake. Dean folded his arms over his chest, but he did his best not to show any kind of irritation on his face. Just get in the freaking shower.
As if hearing the unspoken demand, Castiel crept over to the shower stall and cautiously walked inside, pulling the door shut behind him.
Jo shook her head and looked at Dean. "I still can't believe your dad bought an angel." She ran a hand through her hair. "Did he say why he did it?"
Dean shrugged his shoulders. "Something about keeping Ray from cheating him. I know he got some free med kits out of the deal, but that's about it."
"Huh." Jo folded her arms over her chest. "Well, at least angel parts are useful. I know what I'll be doing next time I'm going after a witch."
Dean snorted. "Yeah, tell me about it."
"Hey." Sam glared at both of them from where he stood outside the shower stall. "He can hear everything you're saying. You guys wanna tone it down?"
Dean barely managed not to roll his eyes. "Come on, Sam. Are you really gonna fight with Dad every time he tries to pluck a feather or draw some blood?"
"Castiel is a person, Dean," was Sam's snapped reply. "He shouldn't be used as a tool, especially not after what he's been through."
"But he is a tool, Sam. That's literally his purpose." Dean spread his hands, inviting an argument. "Because if that's not his purpose, then his purpose is doing what other angels do, in which case we're gonna kill him before he hurts someone."
Sam took a few steps toward Dean, closing the distance between them and drawing himself up to his full height. "You are not killing him, and neither is Dad." He shook his head. "If I'm the only one in this compound who cares about him, so be it, but you're not killing him."
Dean's face screwed up. "You care about him? What are you, dating?" He gestured toward the shower. "He's a monster, Sam! It's your job to keep him from hurting people, and if—"
"He's not a monster, and he's not going to hurt anyone!" Sam spread his arms in disbelief. "He's scared, Dean. He's terrified, and I know you can see that, so don't pretend we're working some kind of job here. We're helping a trauma victim."
Dean opened his mouth to argue, but he found he wasn't quite sure what he wanted to say. His jaw snapped shut, and he settled for crossing his arms over his chest and glaring angrily.
Sam didn't say anything, either, apparently ready to let the argument die, and he turned back toward the shower.
Jo rocked on her heels and cleared her throat a bit awkwardly. "Anyways…"
Dean glanced over at her. "Sorry, Jo." He looked back at Sam, but he still didn't have anything to say, so he kept his mouth shut.
Well, that wasn't necessarily true. He had something to say, he just wasn't sure how to say it. He didn't know how to turn off his hunter brain, and even though the blatant fear on Castiel's face made his stomach churn, he didn't know how to stop seeing a potential threat. He saw those huge wings and thought of the time Bobby was almost skewered through the heart by an angel blade. He saw the unearthly shade of blue in Castiel's eyes and thought of the time an angel had put him into a three-day coma.
Dean saw Sam treating Castiel like a frightened victim, and all he could see were the ways things could go wrong. But how to tell Sam that? Dean had no clue. He didn't have the words, he just had the feelings, the innate sense of wrong and danger.
"Are they wet?"
Dean pulled himself from his thoughts and realized the shower had been shut off. He looked at Castiel, who had hesitantly poked his head out of the shower stall, and he saw that fear again.
Castiel nodded twice in response to Sam's question, and then he slowly moved out from behind the shower door. He looked at the three hunters in turn, and he eventually shifted his gaze to Sam with a noise of confusion.
Sam gestured to the grassy yard. "It'll be helpful if you sit so we can reach the top of your wings." He started walking back toward Jo and Dean. "Can you come over here and sit down?"
Castiel turned his eyes to Dean then, distrust evident on his face. His eyes were wide and zeroed in on Dean's crossed arms, his wings puffing up slightly.
Dean uncrossed his arms and leaned down, picking up the bottle of Dawn dish soap from the sidewalk. "It's all good, Cas." He extended the bottle so Castiel could see it. "We're just gonna squirt this on your wings and rub it in good. It'll get your feathers nice and clean."
Castiel wet his lips and cautiously walked closer to the group, crouching down in the grass. He looked between the three of them, squinting his eyes as he scrutinized them, and after a few moments he shifted into a sitting position and spread his wings out.
It wasn't permission to touch, but it was as close as the mute angel could get, so Dean walked over to Castiel and turned the Dawn bottle upside down. He squirted a copious amount over the surface of Castiel's right wing, the soap nearly invisible against the black feathers.
"Here, Sam." Dean held the bottle out for his brother to take, and then he started combing his fingers through the feathers, working up a good lather.
Sam applied soap to Castiel's left wing, and he and Jo got to work cleaning. Dean kept to his designated wing and found himself mildly fascinated by the slimy feathers he was running his hands through. He was a bit concerned about the amount of dirt showing up in the lather, but he didn't let the worry take root. He shoved it off and focused on his task, scratching and rubbing and combing until he was satisfied enough to move on to the next section of feathers.
They worked in silence for about ten minutes, and then Dean groaned and pulled his hands off Castiel's wing. "This blows. We need some music."
Sam seemed a bit hesitant. "Uh… I don't know how he'll respond to music… especially if it's loud."
"He'll love it," Dean assured, walking toward the shower.
Dean turned the shower on and washed the soap and dirt from his hands before turning it off and making his way to the garage door. He walked through the garage and kitchen, went back the hall to his room, grabbed his boombox, and walked back out.
Dean walked up to the outdoor outlet, lifted the cover, and plugged in his boombox. He turned it on and turned it up, walking back over to Castiel as Knocking on Heaven's Door by Guns N' Roses started to ring throughout the yard.
"Oh, yeah." Dean nodded, burying his fingers in Castiel's feathers. "Just what we needed."
Jo laughed. "I want to roll my eyes, but I love this song. I'm screwed."
Dean held up a finger. "You're never screwed when listening to good music." He ran both hands through Castiel's feathers, and then he grabbed the bottle of Dawn Sam had set on the ground behind them. "Unless you're playing good music to set the mood, in which case, you're definitely screwed, but it's good screwed."
Jo laughed, and Sam rolled his eyes.
Dean smirked to himself and kept working on Castiel's wing.
Things settled into an easy silence after that, the music breaking up the monotony as they washed the large, black wings. They all sang some impressive solos, duets, and trios, and Castiel didn't seem to mind the tunes. In fact, he seemed to kind of like them, though it was hard to tell with his perpetually fearful demeanor.
"Do you hear that?" Sam asked suddenly, leaning down slightly.
Dean squinted at Sam but also leaned down, trying to hear what Sam was hearing. At first, there was nothing, but then he heard a quiet rumble coming from the angel.
"Dude…" Dean blinked. "Are you purring?"
Castiel reached up and covered his mouth, but the noise persisted.
Sam had a little smile on his face when he spoke. "Don't make a big deal out of it. He probably can't control it."
Dean looked at Sam with a mixture of surprise and disbelief on his face. "How do I not make a big deal of him purring?"
Jo spoke up then, still spreading soap through Castiel's feathers. "Don't make it weird, Dean. Getting his wings cleaned is probably like getting a back rub or having someone play with his hair. I'd be purring, too."
Dean gave them both a weird look. "I better not be giving him a freaking back rub." But he continued to run his hands over Castiel's wings. "This is just to get you clean. Got it, angel?"
Castiel nodded seriously, no longer purring, and Dean felt a flicker of guilt. He had probably scared the angel by being his usual, abrasive self, which hadn't been his intent.
Dean sighed and looked at Sam. "Help."
Sam smiled a bit. "Castiel, Dean isn't mad. He just isn't used to people purring. That's all."
"What he said," Dean confirmed.
Castiel nodded his head a few times, and from the contemplative look on his face, he seemed to understand.
It took about a half an hour, but it was eventually time for Castiel to get back in the shower. So, Castiel gave them all a cautious look, and then he went into the stall and turned on the water.
"Do you need any help?" Sam asked, holding the shower door open.
Castiel nodded and reached back behind himself, trying and failing to touch the place where his wings met his back. He looked at Sam and tried to touch the spot again, showing that he couldn't reach.
"Ooh." Dean winced sympathetically. "I hate trying to reach that spot."
"I've got it," Sam said, stepping into the shower stall and running his hands through Castiel's feathers. "You're getting me all wet again."
Castiel froze up and looked at Sam with wide eyes.
Well, at least it wasn't me this time.
Sam quickly tried to fix his mistake. "It's okay, Castiel. I'm not mad. I don't mind getting wet."
Dean cleaned his hands in the shower water and then leaned against the open doorway to the stall, watching the dirty soap flow from the feathers to the drain. "You were pretty messed up, Cas." He looked at the angel, who was helpfully working the soap out of the parts of his wings he could reach. "Did you make someone angry?"
Castiel shook his head at first, his eyes wide and frantic. He looked at Dean, swallowed hard, and then reluctantly nodded a few times. Then he shook his head again, and then he nodded.
"Well, what does that mean?" Dean looked to Sam for help.
Sam didn't say anything for a moment, and Dean knew from the look on his face that he was confused. "Um… I think…" Sam bit his lip and then continued haltingly. "I think… that might mean… he did make someone angry, but he didn't mean to. Or maybe—"
Castiel was nodding before Sam could continue, his eyes brimming with the desperate need to make them understand.
Dean held up his hands in a 'down boy' motion. "Easy there, Cas. We get it. It was an accident."
Castiel looked at Dean for a long moment, but then he got back to cleaning his wings.
Sam got back to cleaning, too, his clothing growing progressively wetter the longer he helped Castiel.
He really does care about him. Dean wasn't entirely sure how he felt about that, but for the time being, it wasn't doing any harm. If Sammy's gonna be treating this angel like a pet instead of a monster, we're gonna need to know more.
"You ever been owned before, Cas?" Dean asked, keeping his tone casual.
Castiel blinked a few times and then nodded his head, moving so a new portion of his wing was under the water's flow. He kept cleaning his wings, but he would periodically look over at Dean, a combination of fear and uncertainty in his eyes.
Castiel shook his head, shifting his body so he could face Dean. This forced Sam into the corner, but Sam didn't seem to mind, so Dean kept going.
"Did you like any of your owners?"
Castiel swallowed hard, no longer cleaning his wings, and he slowly shook his head.
"Huh." Dean folded his arms over his chest, giving Castiel a scrutinizing look. "Did you do anything about that?"
"Dean," Sam started, a warning tone in his voice.
"What?" Dean shifted his attention from Castiel to Sam, hidden though he was. "They're just questions."
Sam sighed but didn't say anything further.
Dean looked back at Castiel and repeated himself. "So, did you do anything about the owners you didn't like?"
Castiel looked at Dean with wide eyes, pupils dilating slightly. He shook his head slowly, clearly afraid of what Dean would do.
"Really?" Dean's eyebrows shot up to his hairline. "You just let them beat on you, huh?"
Castiel wet his lips and, after a quick look at Sam, he lifted his hands as if to protect himself from a blow.
Dean nodded his head in understanding. "So, you defended yourself, but you didn't try and fight back. Is that about right?"
Castiel nodded a few times, and then he glanced at Sam again.
Dean waved a dismissive hand. "Go ahead. Help Sam with your wings. I'll ask you more questions later." He pushed off the doorframe and stepped out of the shower, walking over to Jo.
Jo smiled at him, barely able to keep from laughing.
"What's so funny?" Dean snapped, only half irritated.
Jo shook her head, still grinning. "You and Sam are gonna come to blows over this angel."
Dean ran a hand through his hair and sighed. "We just might." He shook his head and looked at the shower stall. We just might.
Hunters knew a lot about angels. They knew how to track and kill them, what their strengths and weaknesses were, and how to use their parts for spells and rituals. What hunters did not know about angels was anything involving their day-to-day life.
For example, food. While many hunters speculated that angels drew their energy from grace and didn't need food, no one actually knew whether or not angels needed to eat. Because of this, Sam was halfway through the spaghetti John had made for lunch before he went 'Oh, crap,' and jumped to his feet.
"Hey, Castiel." Sam would have offered a wave, but he had a plate in each hand. Instead, he put a warm smile on his face and stepped into the garage.
Castiel sat up a little straighter and blinked at Sam, curiosity dominating his features.
Sam looked over his shoulder briefly and jerked his head in the general direction of the door. "Can someone get that for me?"
John got to his feet and crossed the kitchen, leaning out to give Castiel a scrutinizing look before he shut the door.
Sam rolled his eyes and approached the mattress on the floor, sitting down and putting one plate in front of himself. He put the other one in front of Castiel and reinforced his smile. "I was eating lunch, and I realized that I don't know whether or not you need to eat." He rubbed the back of his neck a bit awkwardly. "I feel bad for not thinking of it sooner, but it's just kinda assumed that you don't eat, so…" He shook his head. "It doesn't matter. I brought you something."
Castiel blinked his wide blue eyes and cocked his head to one side, looking down at the plates. He shifted where he sat, cross-legged on the mattress, a contemplative expression crossing his face.
"It's spaghetti." Sam felt a little stupid explaining, but he figured if Castiel hadn't known what band-aids were, there was a good chance he wouldn't know what spaghetti was. "Have you ever had it before?"
Castiel stared at the food, seeming fascinated more than anything else, and when he looked at Sam, there was almost no fear in his eyes.
Sam smiled at the sight, and he picked up his own plate and fork. "Here, watch me." He twirled the fork in the spaghetti, and then he lifted it up toward his mouth. "Like this."
Castiel watched him put the food into his mouth, and then his eyes went down to his own plate. He cautiously reached out, his fingers ghosting along the edge of the glass, and then he looked at Sam with a silent, 'Are you sure?' in his eyes.
Sam nodded as he chewed. "Go 'head."
Castiel's brow furrowed, and he looked down at the food. He bit his lip and carefully picked up his fork, stabbing the center of the spaghetti pile. He twisted the prongs in the noodles, and then he looked at Sam again.
Sam laughed good-naturedly. "It's okay, Castiel." He shook his head. "It's not a trap."
Castiel looked at Sam for a few more moments, and then he lifted the fork to his mouth. He stuck his tongue out and touched the noodles, checking the temperature, and then he opened his mouth as wide as he could and shoved the food in. He started to chew, and the contemplation on his face quickly melted into amazement, his eyes widening and zeroing in on the plate.
Sam chuckled softly. "Do you like it?"
Castiel nodded enthusiastically, using his fork-holding hand to wipe some sauce from the corner of his mouth.
"Good." Sam got some more spaghetti on his fork, preparing to take another bite. "I'll tell Dad you approve."
Castiel hummed softly in response, and for a little while, the two ate in silence. For Sam, the quiet atmosphere was full of unspoken questions. He wondered how long it had been since Castiel ate something. He wondered if angels could throw up, and if Castiel had ever thrown up because of a nightmare or flashback. He wondered if Castiel could eat around Sam because he felt somewhat at ease, or if he could eat around Sam because he was desperate.
"So…" Sam set his empty plate aside and licked his lips. "I've been trying to think of ways we can communicate."
Castiel looked up from his food and chewed quietly, waiting for Sam to continue.
"Do you think you could learn sign language?" Sam asked.
Castiel shook his head and twirled his fork through his spaghetti, shoveling the food into his mouth and slurping up whatever noodles hung out.
Sam chuckled softly, but he couldn't deny feeling a bit discouraged. "I don't suppose you have any idea on how we can communicate better."
Castiel gave Sam an apologetic look and shook his head again.
"What about writing?" Sam wasn't hopeful about the suggestion, but he figured it couldn't hurt. "Could you write me a message?"
Castiel looked down at his food, and his lips started to move. He shuddered, looked at Sam, and then looked down again. He set his plate down, his appetite apparently leaving with the question, and his wings curled around him protectively.
Sam frowned slightly, but he tried not to show any negative emotions on his face. Hopefully, his confusion wouldn't be misconstrued as something more sinister. "Castiel?"
Castiel grabbed his feathers, then let them go, and then grabbed them again. He wet his lips, and they started to move in silent words that clearly meant something to him.
"Castiel," Sam started, keeping his voice gentle. "I just want to talk to you. That's all." He glanced at the garage door, wondering if John or Dean would have some insight to share, and then he looked back at Castiel. "Do you want to give it a try?"
Castiel shook, sliding his hands from his wings and hugging himself instead. He looked at Sam, fear written plainly on his face, but he didn't shake his head.
"Castiel, it's okay." Sam smiled, hoping that would do something to encourage the angel. "It's okay if I don't understand it, or if it doesn't work, or…" He shook his head. "Whatever you're afraid of, it's okay. I promise."
Castiel looked at Sam and swallowed hard. He slowly let go of himself and made a writing gesture with his hand.
"You want to try it?" Sam asked.
Castiel nodded and then hugged himself again.
Sam got his feet beneath him and grabbed his plate, standing up. "I'm gonna go get something for you to write with, okay?" He grabbed the door but didn't open it. "Why don't you finish your spaghetti while you wait?"
Castiel didn't respond, and he didn't try to pick his plate up.
Sam was somewhat discouraged by that, but he opened the garage door and stepped into the kitchen.
"So," Dean asked around a mouthful of food, "did featherbrain like it?"
"Yeah." Sam put his plate and fork in the sink, and then he opened the junk drawer.
"What are you looking for?" John asked, taking a swig of his beer.
"Pen and paper." Sam found the objects just as he answered.
John quirked a brow. "The angel gonna write something?"
"He's gonna try." Sam held both objects up and gave his family a look that said, 'Here goes nothing.'
Dean gave a thumbs up, and John muttered 'Good luck,' before taking another swig.
Sam walked back out into the garage and closed the door behind him. He sat down by the mattress and frowned at the untouched plate of food.
"Castiel, you should really try to eat." Sam nudged the plate a little closer.
Castiel shook his head, putting a hand on his stomach and looking at Sam with a nauseated expression.
Sam wet his lips. "Well…" He fought with himself for a moment, and then he decided to go with his gut. "Look, I don't know how food words for angels, but with humans, if you go for a long time without eating, your stomach actually gets smaller. You might feel full, but if you try, I bet you could eat some more, and I think that would be good for you." He set the tablet and pen on the floor behind him. "We can write later."
Castiel looked at the food with a less-than-enthusiastic expression, but he slowly reached out and picked up his plate.
Sam smiled encouragingly. "Just give it a try. If you can't eat it, that's okay, but I really want you to try."
Castiel nodded a few times and, after a moment of thought, shoved a forkful into his mouth.
Sam sat in silent while Castiel ate, waiting patiently for the angel to finish. Briefly, he worried that he had intimidated Castiel to the point where he would eat until he was physically ill, but then Sam remembered the times Castiel had said 'no' in response to what Sam wanted. As scared as Castiel was, he seemed to be able to say 'no' when it counted. Of course, Castiel didn't seem to know his body that well, so it was possible he didn't know when to say 'no.'
I hope I'm doing this right. I really, really hope I'm doing this right.
It took about te n minutes for Castiel to finish the food, and when he was done, Sam handed over the pen and tablet. Castiel took the objects and stared at them, taking a deep breath and letting it out.
Castiel took the pen in hand and put it to the page, looking at Sam and hesitating.
Sam only smiled. "It's okay, Castiel. You can do this."
Castiel's hand didn't move, and he kept staring at Sam.
Sam wet his lips and cleared his throat. "Uh… would it help if I turned around? Or shut my eyes or something?"
Sam nodded back and immediately closed his eyes, trying to shut down his hunter's instinct. That voice inside him that sounded an awful lot like his dad and reminded him not to do stupid things like close his eyes around an angel. It was a persistent voice, but it was a voice that went ignored, and Sam sat with his eyes closed for a good minute and a half before Castiel nudged him on the knee.
Sam opened his eyes and saw Castiel holding out the tablet and pen, a mixture of fear and resignation on his face. Like he expected Sam to hurt him for what he wrote, but he felt he needed to write it anyway for some reason Sam was not privy to.
Sam took the tablet, and in one glance, he knew what it was.
"This is Enochian."
Castiel pressed his lips into a thin line and nodded his head.
Sam looked the message over, and while he recognized a couple of the words, it was mostly undecipherable to him. Hunter knowledge of Enochian was, like all knowledge about angels, limited to things related to hunting. Incantations Sam would recognize, but everyday speech? Sam had no clue.
Sam held up the tablet. "Let me talk to Dean and my dad. They might have some ideas about what this says."
Castiel shrank back, his eyes going wide, and he shook his head rapidly.
"Castiel, it's okay." Sam spoke softly but unwaveringly. "They aren't going to be upset about this. But they've worked with Enochian just as much as I have, and they might be able to help me understand what you're trying to tell me."
Castiel looked at the tablet and then at Sam's face again, fear carved into his features. His chest rose and fell with quivering breaths, and his wings started to curl around his body.
"Castiel, listen to me." Sam spoke as earnestly as he could, practically pleading with the angel. "I just want to understand you, okay? I just want to understand you."
Castiel bit his lip and looked down and to the side, a contemplative expression crossing his face. Fear was still alive in his eyes, but he seemed to be considering the idea of bringing Dean and John in on the communication attempt. He looked at Sam, squinted slightly, and then he offered a faint nod.
Sam smiled and let out a small sigh of relief, getting to his feet. "I'll be back soon."
Castiel nodded and leaned back against the wall of the garage, his wings fluttering slightly before wrapping around him tightly.
Sam opened the door and walked into the kitchen, going over to the dinner table. Where John and Dean were sitting with empty plates and beers. Sam plopped the tablet down in front of his father and brother.
"Do you guys recognize anything here?"
John and Dean both leaned forward for a closer look.
"Well," Dean started, pointing to the last word on the page. "That says 'Enochian.'"
John nodded his head and pointed to the first word. "That means the statement is in the first person. It's either 'I' or 'my' or 'mine.' Something like that."
Sam nodded and let out a small sigh. "Yeah, those were the only two I knew."
Dean frowned, turning the tablet slightly so it was facing him. "This is all he wrote?"
"Yeah." Sam put his hands on his hips. "What do you think he's trying to say?"
John leaned back in his chair and reached up, scratching his scalp. "Better question is, why would he write it in Enochian?"
Sam shrugged his shoulders. "I figured it's something significant to angels. Maybe something that doesn't have an English equivalent."
Dean frowned. "Maybe he can only speak Enochian."
Sam looked at Dean in mild surprise. "That's actually a really good idea."
Dean snorted. "Don't sound so surprised."
"It would explain why he's not talking," John added, grabbing his beer and taking a drink. "If he tried to speak Enochian around any hunters, they would have kicked his teeth in before he finished the first word."
Dean folded his arms on the tabletop. "That also explains why he can say his name. Names are universal."
Sam frowned in thought, shaking his head as he stared down at the writing. "But he can understand us, and not just general ideas and vague concepts. He understands English perfectly, but he can't write or speak it? At all?"
Dean's face screwed up, and he grabbed his beer. "Yeah, that doesn't make sense." He took a swig.
Sam sighed. "It has to be something supernatural."
John nodded in agreement. "Someone put some kind of spell on him that makes him only able to communicate in Enochian."
"Let me ask him." Sam turned and walked back out to the garage, letting the door hang open when he saw John and Dean walking after him. "Castiel, can you only speak Enochian?"
Castiel nodded vigorously, a somewhat hopeful expression on his face.
John stepped into the garage and regarded the angel with his hands on his hips. "Did someone put a spell on you to make it that way?"
Castiel nodded again, a little more timid than before, and he seemed less comfortable with John in the room.
Sam squinted slightly, confusion creasing his brow as he posed a question to the people in the room who could actually talk. "So, why was he willing to write Enochian but not speak it?"
John didn't take his eyes off Castiel. "He probably tried speaking it in the past and was cut off as soon as the hunter recognized it was Enochian. By writing a message, he guaranteed he would be able to finish his sentence and show it to you all at once."
Sam nodded his head a few times. "That makes sense." He offered a small smile to Castiel, trying to ease the tension John and Dean's presence was creating. "I'm gonna figure out what kind of spell you're under, and I'm going to break it."
Castiel gave Sam a worn, defeated look and shook his head.
Dean leaned against the doorframe, his arms folded over his chest. "Don't discount Sammy with a laptop, Cas."
John reached up and rubbed his beard. "I don't know, boys. He's probably tried just about everything."
"But he was in captivity," Sam pointed out, looking back down at the written Enochian in his hands. "He didn't have the resources we do."
Dean clapped Sam on the shoulder. "I gotta side with Sammy on this one, Dad. Someone, somewhere figured out how to put this spell on him. It's gotta be possible to reverse it somehow."
John shrugged his shoulders. "You're more than welcome to try. Try talking to Bobby. He's got a slew of lore on angels."
Sam thought about the time for a moment, and he figured if they were done with lunch it was probably sometime after one. That left him with plenty of time to start researching.
"I'll go get started at Bobby's." Sam smiled at Castiel, pointing at him and speaking with conviction. "Just you wait, Castiel. I'm gonna get you talking again."
Castiel's lips twitched into a second-long smile, but his expression could only be described as defeated. He didn't believe Sam had any chance of figuring out the spell.
I'll just have to prove him wrong. Sam went back into the house and headed through the dining room toward the front door. I can do this.
Of that, he had no doubt. It was just a matter of how much time it would take.
And Sam was a very patient man.