Supernatural © the CW.

Another little one shot featuring Abby.

As the World Falls Down

Dean thinks it's a simple salt and burn. There are demons, yes, but they have inhabited the bodies of a middle-aged couple. It won't be hard to exorcise them, and they still have Ruby's knife, no matter how much he hates using the thing. There is no reason why they'll have problems.

Then he sees the little girl, barely eight years old, cowering behind her possessed parents, and he can't help a small twinge of sadness. She'll never be the same again.

"The Winchesters." the mother sneers. "How wonderful." She waves her hand and pins both boys to the far wall. "I'll deal with you later."

"We need to hurry." the father says. "It won't take long."

"Oh yes, I know."

Dean and Sam exchange we are so screwed looks. The mother takes a long ceremonial dagger from the father and turns to the girl. Dean renews his struggles, yelling every curse he can think of, anything to distract the demon and maybe give the kid a chance to escape. The mother raises the dagger, and the little girl screams.

"CASTIEL!"

It surprises Dean that she even knows the name. It shocks him when, a second later – right as the mother plunges the dagger downward – the angel materializes in between her and the demon, taking the dagger to his own shoulder. Castiel reaches out and grabs the woman's throat, fingers digging in as his Grace begins to glow around him. He glances behind him at the little girl.

"Close your eyes." he orders quietly. She obeys without hesitation, covering her face with her hands. Castiel begins to glow brighter, and suddenly Dean realizes that Castiel isn't going to wait until Sam and Dean close their eyes as well. The angel hasn't looked away from the little girl, and it's like the brothers aren't even there.

Like Castiel hasn't noticed them.

Dean squeezes his eyes shut just in time. The mother and father scream in agony, and light pierces through Dean's eyelids. For a moment, he's afraid his own eyes will burn the same way Pamela's did, and bile rises in his throat.

Then the light vanishes. Sam and Dean fall to the ground. Dean opens his eyes in time to see Castiel drop the woman. She lands in a crumpled heap; the father lays there, twitching and moaning. To Dean's horror, the mother's face is badly burned and her eyes are gone. When she speaks, her voice is as broken as she is.

"Why?"

Castiel doesn't even bend down to see her properly. "You were corrupted long before the demons came." he growls.

Dean has never seen him so angry.

The angel turns his back on the damaged woman and kneels, reaching out and gently touching the little girl's shoulder. "Abby." His voice lacks the anger Dean can sense simmering underneath. He expects the girl to flinch away, to jerk back and start screaming at the thing that hurt her parents so badly, but for the second time she surprises him.

She lowers her hands and latches on to his coat. Tears wet her cheeks. "Are they gone?" she whispers.

Castiel calmly wraps his arms around her and pulls her close, and that surprises Dean more than anything he's seen so far. "They can't hurt you anymore."

"Good." She keeps holding on, even as Castiel stands up. Now the angel is carrying her on his hip, and the image would be hilarious if Dean could actually find his voice, could shake the feeling that everything was about to change.

"Cas!"

The angel pauses and finally, finally, focuses on Dean and Sam. He examines the two of them for a moment, then with a rustle of wings he and the girl are gone.

Dean punches the floor.

"Dammit!"

/-/

Castiel and Abby stand on a beach. He gently sets Abby down and looks her over for damage. There are no cuts or bruises, but now that he's concentrating, he can see the thin layer of wet salt covering her bare arms. She looks up at him with wide green eyes, her pale hair a tangled cloud around her face.

"It hurt them to touch it."

The angel nods. "You did good." He guides her to the water and reaches down, wetting his hands enough to wash the salt from her arms. She watches him silently. Castiel can feel her soul in turmoil. He finishes cleaning her arms and reaches up to take both of her hands in his. He still kneels in front of her. "This was not your fault."

"They wanted to hurt you." Abby whispers. "So they tried to hurt me. They hurt you anyway."

Something inside him clenches. "I am fine. That is not your fault."

Abby nods. "What happens to me now?"

Castiel sighs. "I'll find you a new home. A better one, where you'll be loved as you deserve."

"Thank you. For everything."

It's the first time Castiel has been honestly thanked.

He's pretty sure Dean and Sam are still at Abby's old house. In fact, he's pretty sure Dean's cursing his name. He just shattered Dean's world – after all, Castiel is supposed to be Dean's angel, and Castiel just ignored him in favor of a kid. Abby's world has been broken as well, even if it wasn't a good world to begin with.

Still, as he watches Abby introduce herself to the young foster mother while he hides just out of sight, he can't bring himself to care.

He finally feels like an angel again.