Title: The Shattered One

Author: MissAnnThropic

Spoilers: Season 5, up to "Changing Channels"

LiveJournal: miss_annthropic(dot)livejournal(dot)com

Summary: When it struck Castiel, he was in mid-flight. It dropped him out of the sky like a sparrow buffeted by gale-force winds. Castiel set down the first place he could find. He ended up standing in a field in Switzerland, swaying on his feet and staring down at his body, dazed by what it had just done. (mpreg)

Characters/Pairing: pre-slash Dean/Castiel

Disclaimer: None of it's mine. I'm just a sad little fangirl that spends her days writing fanfic and watching DVDs of her favorite shows :(

Author's Note: Okay, here's the thing… I HATE mpreg. I have never read an mpreg fic that didn't creep me out to the point that I had to stop reading. I privately came to the conclusion that mpreg was just a type of fic that could not be done well. It was impossible. So, of course, my Muse takes that as a challenge to try to prove me wrong. She has a twisted mind, and I'm unfortunately at the mercy of it. So here I am, writing mpreg *facepalm*

Castiel never saw it coming. Though, in hindsight, he probably should have. There was an historical precedence, but it was so ancient, even by angel standards, that no one thought it could happen again.

When it struck Castiel, he was in mid-flight. It dropped him out of the sky like a sparrow buffeted by gale-force winds. Castiel set down the first place he could find, and it was almost more of a plunge than a landing. He ended up standing in a field in Switzerland, swaying on his feet and staring down at his body (or the vessel that held his grace), dazed by what it had just done.

All he could think of was Before. The first time, after Michael toppled the Morning Star. In the beginning, God created angels. They were meant to live so long that repopulation was never a consideration in their genesis. They need never have descendants, for they would live in the beginning and the end time.

Then came the war, angel against angel. Brother against brother. Michael and Heaven won, but there were casualties. Angels that were supposed to last forever were gone, and quite unexpectedly Heaven found itself with a shortage of warriors.

By then, of course, God had created man. While they were inferior to angels in so many ways, they had some admirable virtues. Like teaching their offspring so they need not make the same mistakes.

God decreed the new batch of angels would come from angels. And so it was. Though they had never been built for it, suddenly angels were capable of creating new life. Not in the human way of forming emotional bonds with one another that led to intimacy. That would give angels too much free will. It would open a door for an angel to put another before God.

No… for angelkind, it was involuntary service as much as anything else done in His name. Being angels, of course, there was no outrage or protest. It just was.

There was no predicting which angels would be chosen. Without warning, a chosen angel's grace would crack. A shard would separate from the bright core and begin to grow. It would become larger and stronger, feeding off the parent grace much like a human infant in the womb. When it reached critical mass, a second angel would offer up a portion of its grace to complete the cycle, and from the blended ball of grace a new angel was born.

Like all things made by God, it was beautiful. But it hadn't happened since Lucifer's expulsion from Heaven.

But it made sense that it would happen again, now. Lucifer was risen, and in the conflagration, angels were lost. Their ranks would need to be replenished.

That rationale hit Castiel and found him numb. Overcome.

He stood in an empty field in Switzerland and felt his splintered grace throb. Another, smaller, throb pulsed alongside his grace.

Acceptance washed over him and he felt himself sink into it. He would not have expected him, of all angels, to have been chosen for this. Fallen from grace, fighting against his brothers and sisters… yet there was no mistaking the sensation in his chest.

Castiel knew one thing with certainty… for a rogue angel like him, this was a death sentence.

He might waste time raging against the injustice, but Castiel was still an angel, no matter how far he'd fallen, and he accepted his fate with bowed head.

He was jarred from his somber reflection when the cellular phone, an annoyingly perky human device, began to buzz in his coat pocket. It would be Dean Winchester; Castiel knew that before he even took it out.

The thought of the Winchesters made Castiel straighten up. His personal mission had always been to help the Winchesters avert the Apocalypse… now it had to happen soon.

While Castiel was still around to help.

When phoning an angel, anything more than one ring felt like forever. Knowing Castiel could fly halfway across the planet in the blink of an eye, it made Dean wonder how the guy couldn't get the phone to his ear just a little faster.

Three rings was like being ignored.

"Come on, Cas," Dean muttered as he paced the tacky motel room of the week. Sam was at the wobbly table, their current case spread out on the surface and covering the unsightly stains underneath.

Finally, the ringing stopped. "Hello."

"Cas, hey."

"What is it?"

It sucked how they both knew it was never a social call. Not that Dean made those.

"Yeah, Sam and I are working on something here… pretty freaky stuff. Might have Lucifer's name all over it. Thought you might want to put in your two cents."


"Give us your opinion on what we're looking at," Dean translated.

"Oh… yes, of course. Where are you?"

"Suite Dreams Motel, Room 35, Evanston, Illinois." The second 'Illinois' passed his lips, Dean was glancing around the room for Castiel. The angel had a habit of showing up when Dean had barely finished giving him their location. Showing up creepily up in Dean's personal space most of the time.

But Cas wasn't there.

It was two long seconds before the sound of wing beats filled the room and suddenly Cas was standing by the far wall, several feet away from Dean. That was surprising. Maybe Dean's lectures about personal space were finally sinking in. It took long enough.

Dean opened his mouth to speak, but stopped and narrowed his eyes at Castiel once he got a good look at him. He didn't look that great, a shade paler than normal, and Dean could almost swear he'd looked unsteady when he touched down. Dean had never known Castiel to land like anything less than a deceptively lean mountain, suddenly an immovable force of nature just there, filling up more space than the eyes said he did.

"Cas, you okay? You look kind of yurky."

Castiel looked up at Dean with a quizzical tilt of his head. "I don't understand that… what is this work of the Devil you spoke of on the phone?"

Dean gave him the hairy eyeball. If he didn't know any better, he'd call that Cas evading the question. But he had a point… much bigger fish to fry. "Fine… just let us know if you need a trashcan."

"What would I need one for?" Castiel asked, breaking from his landing spot and moving toward the brothers.

"In case you're about to spew."

Castiel frowned.

"Barf, upchuck, blow chunks, puke, yak, hurl, ralf…" the litany finally hit him, "guh, now I'm not feeling very well."

Castiel went from puzzled to annoyed at Dean's perpetual inability to speak in words Castiel could understand.

"He means vomit," Sam jumped in to forestall any smiting inclinations. "Dean's saying you look like you might throw up."

Castiel looked affronted, pushed back his shoulders, and just like that he looked like his usual self again. Slightly uptight, unflappable, and fed up with being reminded of his slipping divinity. Figured that the angel could will away nausea. "I am not going to spew." He shot a glare at Dean, like how dare he suggest Castiel might engage in such a vulgar humanact.

"Okay," Dean held up his hands, "geez… sorry to show concern."

Castiel flinched and his expression flickered.

"Ignore him," Sam said, "Dean's idea of showing concern is a case of the cure being worse than the disease."

"Hey! What's that supposed to mean?"

"Dude, you really think whenever I was sick as a kid was the time to bring out your spaghetti noodle floss in the nose trick? It's making me gag just thinking about it."

"Fine, see if I entertain you next time you're laid up like a pansy," Dean grumbled.

"I assume this matter of 'noodle nose flossing' is not the Devil's work you mentioned on the phone?" Castiel said evenly. Dean doubted Sam would be able to hear the terse undertone to it that he did. Castiel sure was short-tempered today.

"No… I wish. Here, take a look." Dean beckoned Castiel toward the table, where an array of grisly photographs were laid out that they'd gotten while posing as federal agents. "So, about a week ago, kids in this town up and start killing their folks. Pretty awful shit, too. I'm never going to look at Tonka trucks the same way again."

Sam joined in, "This all started suddenly, and it's widespread. Twelve mothers and fathers have been killed so far."

"And no killer is older than ten," Dean added.

"The youngest one was two. Authorities are baffled," Sam added.

"And honestly, so are we. There's no indication here of possession," Dean scratched at the back of his neck, "but we don't know what else could make kids do this."

Castiel pursed his lips, eyes narrowing at the pictures. One of his hands drifted forward where he steadied himself primly with the steepled fingers of one hand against the tabletop. "You are correct; this is Lucifer's doing. Crudely put, it's a recruitment machine, built on the principle of the slaughter of the innocents. The most horrific defilement of the covenant honor thy mother and thy father." Castiel glanced between both brothers. "A child's soul is more powerful than an adult's in the sense that it is pure. If Lucifer can mark souls for damnation at such an unblemished age, they will one day be among the more powerful demons. Evil impressed upon an infant will grow as the child does." Castiel obviously tried, and spectacularly failed, to not look at Sam at that.

Then it was Sam's turn to look like he might throw up.

Dean stiffened defensively.

"So how is he doing it?"

"He isn't… not directly. This is the work of a particular class of demon. It can force its will upon a human without possessing them. You might compare it to high-level hypnosis. These demons are quite rare, for they are difficult to train; I suspect there is only one that's responsible for all this." Castiel's eyes swept over the buffet of horror on the table with detached calculation, and Dean felt a shiver run up his spine. He could almost forget sometimes just how much of a battle-hardened warrior Castiel was. The ill-fitting coat and suit were misleading.

"Okay, so… how do we stop it?" Dean was already fidgeting, eager to get to work.

After a long moment staring hard at the pictures, Castiel pushed away from the table and drew back his shoulders to look directly at Dean. "You don't. I'll take care of this. You two should move on to tracking down a way to defeat Lucifer."

Sam's eyebrows rose. Dean's mouth popped open.

"Uh, Castiel… look, we're here, we might as well give you a hand," Sam argued.

Castiel looked crossly at Sam, which surprised Sam into sitting back. Castiel had a glower that would freeze fire.

"You would only be a hindrance to me. I can take care of this problem faster without you. The most effective use of your time would be focusing on finding a weapon we can use against Lucifer."

Dean was watching Castiel closely, frowning up a storm. The angel looked back at Dean. Sam slid a careful look over at his brother engaged in one of his epic staring contests with Castiel. These could drag on into uncomfortable territory in a heartbeat.

Dean was the one to break this time. "Okay, Cas… if you're sure you can handle this on your own."

Castiel looked insulted at the insinuation that he couldn't.

Dean held up his hands in surrender. "Okay… Sam, let's pack it up."

That was Castiel's cue to vanish without a word of parting.

The brothers looked around the room, still smelling of ozone and feathers. Sam broke the silence first. "What the hell was that all about?"

"I have no freaking clue."

"Are we going to just leave him on his own to do this?" Sam asked dubiously.

Dean scowled. "I don't like leaving before this is taken care of any more than you do, but Cas is probably right. He's off the scale on the badass-o-meter without us getting in his way. Might even have the demon in a chokehold as we speak." Dean mulled it over and came to a decision. "If Cas is all of a sudden cool with being the attack dog against the Apocalypse, then I say we knuckle down, find the next lackey of Satan, and sic Cas on it."

Apparently Sam could see the logic there, since he stood and started packing up their things.

They packed in silence a few minutes before Sam asked in concern, "Did he look okay to you?"

Dean paused in the act of stuffing a shirt in his duffle bag. Dean sighed. "Not really…"

"You think he's… falling?"

"I don't know… he said he's cut off from Heaven, so…" Dean shrugged.

Sam worried his bottom lip with his teeth but said nothing else.

Even Dean could see the writing on the wall on that one. If Castiel was falling, it made his new urgency make sense. If Cas knew he didn't have much longer to use his angelic abilities to their advantage…

Sam hurried his packing.

Battling with the demon made Castiel feel better. Cathartic, as humans would say. He didn't realize how much anger and frustration had built up in him about the ticking time bomb in his grace until there was a demon in front of him and he let it all spill out. He might have been a little too enthusiastic in his dispatching of the demon, truth be told, but he knew Dean would not have thought so. Somehow, that made it all right.

But even once the demon was gone, the shattered one in his chest remained. Castiel wanted to mount a war against it, too. He had important work to do on earth, two humans that needed him. It wasn't fair. He should be allowed to live.

The brief rush of rage passed, and Castiel settled. The shattered one within him settled in tandem, bound to his every thought. It was slave to a higher power, just as Castiel was. They were comrades in this as much as foes. Each as doomed as the other.

Castiel wondered if God didn't have a dark sense of humor. Castiel was an angel, albeit fallen, but he would not have to become human in order to know mortality.

But his fate now was something he could not change, and it was unangel-like to brood on such things.

He gathered himself up and went in search of the next battle. He had to win as many for the Winchesters as he could… and hope, once he was gone, that they could win the war.

To Be Continued…