Came Tumbling After

"You won't let him say yes, you won't give up on him - even when he drags you down with him," Lucifer looks almost fondly at Castiel. "You will fall, Castiel."

When they return to the motel they find the door ripped from the hinges and in two pieces in the parking lot.

There's a crowbar laying on the unmade bed, smeared red with blood. An unfamiliar address forty miles away is scrawled hastily onto crumpled paper and they have to peel it off of the sheets to read it. Sam looks it up on his laptop - in the Impala, on the road, because they're not staying - and he researches it like he does for everything, and it's just an address in Bumfuck, Nevada.

Until it's not. Until it's a cemetery in Nevada. Until the crowbar seems like some sort of sick clue and Dean is checking the trunk for shovels, until Sam is staring at the address like it's some sort of joke and he's not noticing the way Dean's hands are shaking when he gets back into the car.

He doesn't know what to say because he doesn't want to just assume it's the worst case scenario, that someone they know is at this address, but it is always the worst case scenario.

Eyes open, surrounded by darkness, and his breathing is ragged-

His breathing.

Castiel doesn't remember having to focus this closely on breathing, doesn't remember the ache and strain of his lungs trying to keep him alive. The air around him is heavy, thick and suffocating, and it closes in around him like a vice. Each breath is a conscious effort, each inhale a strain that he feels in every inch of his body.

It feels as though his lungs are in tatters, as though he is breathing through a box full of holes that is closing in around him.

He is in a box.

He slides his hands along the inside of the pine prison, searching and feeling and slowly looking through touch for something that will open. It is dark, only dark, and it is troubling that he sees absolutely nothing within the small space; his eyes see absolutely nothing.

Hands jump away from the wooden wall in front of him as the pounding begins, as the box trembles underneath the weight of metal and hands, and he can see nothing but he can hear everything. Thin strips of metal press into the box, hammered in above him - and they are driving nails into his prison.

Voices, unfamiliar and hostile, and laughter.

For a moment he feels weightless, feels his stomach lurch strangely, and he realizes they've thrown him somewhere. His head knocks against the pine when it hits the ground, sends flashes of bright light into his eyes and a dull throbbing into his head.

Nothing but darkness, nothing that he can see, but he feels his fingers trembling and he wonders why.

His mind feels calm, he feels calm, but his body seems to know something that he doesn't and it fights against him to gain control.

He slowly gives in, slowly allows his fingers to again search over the lid, to try to find the error in their seal, to try to pry his way out of this coffin-

The first shovelful of dirt against the box makes him aware that his heart is beating, truly beating, so hard against his ribcage that he hears it in his ears. He worries for a moment, at the sensation in his chest, worries that his heart may beat so fast that it stops altogether.

Do not panic.

It's a trap, but they walk into it knowing it's a trap.

They aren't even past the iron gates when Sam knows it's not going to be Adam, because he can smell the demons before he sees them and something about that tells him it's not Adam.

He doesn't know if that makes him feel relieved or horrified.

The demons are practically dripping excitement, as they walk into the graveyard and into their claws and into this trap. They talk too much, too fucking much about what they've done, and Sam watches his brother slowly lose it.

They talk, they laugh, and they taunt them with the angel's name - like it isn't blasphemy on their tongues - and Dean loses it.

It's just one knife between them. Three demons and one knife and Dean won't let him fight, growls at him to stay the fuck back and not eat anything and to go find him, but Dean fights like a man that has nothing left to lose and everything to gain.

He lets them ambush them, let's them throw themselves at him, because he needs to break something - because someone needs to hurt for this.

And they fall. They fall.

His body is out of his control. Already his searching fingers have turned to slowly scraping against the pine, already his knees and elbows knock against unbreakable wood as they try to find leverage. His movements are carefully becoming frantic, his breathing more labored- and the thought almost stops him altogether, as he suddenly wonders of oxygen and breathing and his heart racing and how long. How long does he have before these mechanical pieces of life stop working?

The urge is there to fly, to flicker into existence elsewhere, but Castiel's body feels rooted to the wood and no amount of tearing and pulling sets him free.

There are wards placed on the coffin, scrawled across it in blood, and they sear into his mind's eye as though thedemons etched them into his skin instead. The fingers that press against the wood feel the runes from the other side, feel the burning and the rejection, and nothing budges underneath his hands.

Tightness of chest, as though someone is standing on his lungs, and everything in his body is tense and taught. Sweat runs down his face and he realizes belatedly that he is suffocating.

Palms press flat against the wall and he pushes hard, harder than the wood should be able to withstand, harder than he thinks is possible with his elbows pressed so tightly against his sides. Nothing gives, nothing moves, and he inhales too sharply.

Palms against the wall and he pushes again, pushes again, and again, and again. He pushes against the wall until he gasps for oxygen, until something terrifying in his mind clicks and everything falls out of place and he is gasping. He is gasping, and breathing, and trapped - suffocating in his own grave, held down by wood and nails and dirt, and he feels...he feels.....

Do not panic.

Metal into earth. Another day, another grave.

Do not panic.

He has never dug this fervently.

Sam looks at him, looks up from where he is digging and doesn't stop - they don't have time to stop, they can't stop - and he swallows hard but says nothing. He focuses his attention on the soil beneath his feet, on the shovel in his hands, and he digs as quickly as he can without breaking anything.

They've dug out so many graves, been up to their elbows in graveyards at two in the morning since they were kids, but there has never been a living body waiting for them.

There's no proof that there's one waiting for them now.

God, Cas... Please.

Sam's shovel hits something hard, something that 'thuds' against the metal like wood - not rock. Before the shovel moves away Dean is on his knees in the grave, shoving fistfuls of dirt aside, tossing it behind him, throwing it like he's bailing water out of their sinking ship.

Flesh scrapes against the wood and the brothers are pushing the dirt from the pine, pushing until the outline of the coffin appears in the half-moonlight and the bloody wards stare at them.

"Cas!" Sam's own voice sounds strange and strangled in his throat, and his chest feels oddly heavy at the way his voice echoes in the quiet graveyard; there isn't an answer.

Dean is gone in an instant, scrambling up the side of the grave. His feet aren't moving fast enough, mind not working fast enough, nothing is going fast enough. Everything is in slow motion, as though he's in some fucking nightmare where he's destined to fail, where nothing he does is going to have the right outcome, where he's running in reverse and straight into some monster's claws.

Dirty, bloodied hands grab the cold metal of the crowbar from the wet grass and he slides back into the grave.

It fits against the groove where the wood has been nailed, and it's him and Sam in a cluster of arms trying to hold on and legs desperate for leverage. The wood creaks and it might as well be gunshots with how the sound from the protesting wood fills Dean's ears.

Please, please....