Title: Four Times the Winchesters Visit an Injured Castiel (and One Time They Don't)
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1,804
Characters/Pairings: Castiel. (Dean, Sam, Chuck).
Genre: General; angst.
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural or its characters.
Warning: This is unbeta-ed. But it should be a-okay to read considering English is my first language and all... Nevertheless, even though I reread it, if someone notices a mistake (typo or other), let me know and I'll fix it.
Prompt: Future; Dean & Castiel
Summary: Based on the events of "The End," a look at a human and often injured Castiel and his relationships with Dean and Sam. Future AU fic.

It's 2011 and it's the second time Castiel's ever had a bed in a hospital.

He had been complaining for hours about an upset stomach before vomiting and passing out from the sight of it. When he wakes up in a flimsy gown surrounded by the familiar stench of sickness, he immediately knows where he is.

"How? What –"

"Told you not to order the fish, Cas," Sam quips, before stating, "Food poisoning."

"I don't understand. You and Dean ordered the same."

"Sam and me don't have the average human stomach. Higher tolerance to crappy take-out, y'know. Practically born and raised with it."

"Wonderful. Another weakness of the human condition," Castiel sighs and hits his head against the headboard.

April 2012 and Castiel finds himself attached to a tube that's currently inserted through his chest, right lung to be exact. The procedure of how it came to be there … was quite unpleasant. A doctor shoving a long tube in a man-made incision above his ribs. Man, he thinks, seems far more sadistic than any angel or demon he's ever met.

Dean arrives shortly after Castiel wakes up. He points to the tubes, asking, "How's that feeling?"

Castiel grunts. "Bothersome."

Dean scratches his head. "I just wanted to say thanks. You really saved Sam's and mine's asses by distracting that spirit so we could torch his bones. Just sorry he had to kick you in the lung in the meantime."

"Yes, quite unfortunate," he replies with a bitter bite in his words.

"But, hey, the doctors tell me that you'll be out of here in no time. And just because you got a collapsed lung don't mean that your other parts ain't workin'. Sam'll be back in ten with a crapload of burgers. And I, um," Dean pauses to glance around, before pulling a full flask from his jacket. "I brought ya somethin' too."

Castiel is famished, can feel his stomach begging for sustenance, but he still welcomes and yearns the alcohol far more than he does the food.

He reaches for it, muttering "Thank you." Dean pats his shoulder and sits in silence; he watches Castiel take a swig with miserable satisfaction.

There is a jesting tinge in the voice that says: "Seriously, Cas. Three years as a human and ya still don't know enough to look both ways before crossing the street?"

But Castiel still frowns. "It's 2013, the apocalypse has been in the works for years, and things are only worsening. It is complete anarchy out there. I assure you, had I not been hit by one of the thousand of reckless drivers in this city deprived of order, I would have been bestowed a far unkinder fate."

Sam swallows hard, before exhaling. "Yeah, I know. But we'll figure this out and we'll stop it. We will."

Castiel scoffs quietly to himself, but Sam says, "Here's something to keep busy with." He hands over The Odyssey. "I'll leave you to it," he says, only seconds later, when he's past the door.

Dean visits later in the evening. "Hey. Sorry I couldn't be here before. I was … uh, interviewing one of your dickish angel buddies," he says, his shirt still stained with Holy Oil, his jeans with dry blood. He takes his flask out, uncaps slowly, drinks, and screws the cap back on.

Castiel tries to coax a drink out of Dean. He starts: "I'm pretty sore and whatever they've got me on isn't doing much –"

"Oh, I almost forgot," Dean interrupts, never listening in the first place. "Got ya something to read." Dean hands him 1984, and leaves fifteen minutes later, tired and downtrodden.

Sam says yes to Lucifer six weeks later and Dean takes up arms to stop him, still stalwart and stubborn, if only reluctantly.

Castiel sits in the passenger seat of the Impala (a place that would have been reserved for the younger Winchester only a short time ago) and stares at the two books in the duffel Dean bought him. A story of utmost determination against all odds from Sam and a story of falling apart and giving in to higher forces from Dean.

Cas never sees the end coming. Not like this.

December 2013, two months after the end began. And Castiel is stuck in bed with a broken foot, of all things.

Dean has him put in his motel room; he's propped up against Dean like a dead weight (and why shouldn't it be that way; he's felt like that constantly for three years now) and is dragged over into the bed.

Castiel sits up, leaning against the headboard, and he catches, with a single hand, a bottle of painkillers that Dean throws his way. Castiel swallows them without fluid and they squeeze their way down his dry throat. It should surprise Dean, maybe even alarm him, – the ease in which Castiel can consume heavy-duty meds, but it doesn't.

"Tried to fix it up the best I could. You might have to see a professional if an infection develops. Y'know, granted that we'll actually find one in the chaos that is the outside world."

Castiel lets out a loud and acrid laugh. "All this from tripping over a headstone. That's … that's just laughable. Hell, at least, I can enjoy myself in other ways. Gaia or Lila wouldn't be around, would they?"

"Cas," Dean begins, as he gathers the supplies, "you shouldn't have been runnin'." Dean's eyes are downcast and void of sarcasm when he says, "Slow and steady wins the race, right? I mean, God knows everything else hasn't worked…"

"Yeah, well, guess I don't have much practice running. I mean, I used to flap my angel wings for transportation. Once upon a glorious time."

"Yeah," Dean smirks briefly. "Gotta hand it to you there. Being human sure as hell ain't glorious. Life is hard, Cas," Dean says, barely audible, eyes staring at the pallid walls in his peripheral vision. "Life is damn hard."

"No, Dean," Castiel starts. He breathes in deep, runs his hand over his foot, thinks about Sam's desperation and desolation, envisions the blindingly hopeful words of The Odyssey in his mind, sees the sternness in Dean's jaw and raging sorrow in his eyes, and replies: "Life is fragile."

Throughout his entire existence as an Angel of the Lord, no one had ever mentioned to him that Dean Winchester would die, (and remain so, oddly enough), on a dark, dreary, and thundering day in mid-August 2014.

Then again, no one had told him that he'd be lying in bed with a bullet hole still healing on the left side of his abdomen, only three days after. So, really … Castiel shouldn't be surprised.

Castiel didn't see it for himself (he was too busy getting wounded by a trigger-happy Croat), but, instinctively, he knows how it went down.

Dean was reckless and desperate and disillusioned and inconsolable and unready and … (and really, Castiel is prepared to exhaust every vocabulary word, in every language, under the umbrella of tragic hero to describe Dean Winchester in his final days, but he knows no amount syllables would do the picture justice. Funny thing no one else ever told him … years of misery and mayhem strip away every quality of a man until man becomes but a single word: warrior. See adjectives: obsessed, crippled, hardened, unsympathetic, Castiel thinks, chuckling to only himself in the dim room.)

And Dean's defeater was … (Castiel sees him in his head, from the soles of his white shoes to the tips of his styled hair, and he shudders.) Dean's defeater was ... a creature with the mouth of Sam Winchester (but twisted in a false and sinister smile) and with the voice of Sam Winchester (but cool and collected in a way that Sam's never had been).

And this creature won, Castiel knows. He knows that the colt ended up lying idly on the ground as Dean had (though he doesn't know if an attempt had been made to fire it; he never was able to figure out if, when push came to shove, Dean Winchester could kill his own brother). He does know, however, that Lucifer, bigger (Sam surpassed Dean in height ever since he was 17) and better (a gun is nice, but it sure won't beat angelic superpowers), snaps Dean's neck like a twig.

And just like that, Castiel knows it's over. For everyone.

"Here. I brought you some water."

Castiel opens his eyes and for one beautiful moment, he thinks he sees Sam Winchester's boyish smile, thinks he has finally awoken from an impossibly long nightmare, before he realizes Sam never sported a beard.

And so Castiel shakes his head, refusing the glass of water from Chuck.

"Okay," Chuck says, setting the glass down. "Ahem, Cas … do you really think the angels are gonna let this happen? I mean, they're not gonna let Lucifer wipe the whole earth clean, right?"

"Remember Noah and his ark?" Castiel responds dryly without a hint of panic or regret.

"Oh. Oh right. Crap. This really sucks. Isn't there any other way … I mean, like … there's gotta be a back-up Michael vessel or something somewhere out there, right?"

"It doesn't matter. They don't stand a chance. Not when Lucifer is in his true vessel."

Chuck, with his shoulders flopped forward, stares and grimaces. "So we're screwed."

Castiel roars with laughter. "That's the gist of it," he says, grinning, and shuts his eyes.

He hears Chuck talking still. "Um, well, you know what? I'm not ready to admit defeat … and y'know, certain death, so I'm gonna just keep talking like our leader's not dead and Lucifer's not roaming the world, more powerful than ever, if that's okay with you. So… uh," Chuck swallows, "we have some morphine … um, that is, are you still in a lot of pain from the gunshot wound that you so did not get from fighting Croats?"

Castiel is in a world of pain. There are itching and burning sensations and on top of it all, he's about a hundred and ten percent sure he's running a fever. More than anything, Castiel wants to take enough morphine and alcohol to knock him out until Lucifer inevitably comes to kill him.

But he can't. He can't take the easy way out. It's not what Dean Winchester taught him (or the Sam Winchester of yore, with his fingers running over Homer's epic, for that matter). Just because this particular injury hasn't warranted a visit from Dean doesn't mean Castiel won't get out of bed, fully recovered, and carry on like he has before.

"No," Castiel opens his eyes and lies. "I'm okay."

He sniffles and fights tooth and nail to keep the tears inside. It doesn't work.


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