Title: Wings are strewn everywhere
Author: Stolen Childe
Disclaimer: SPN and associated people/events don't belong to me, they belong to Kripke and Co.
Rating: PG
Warnings: Gen, language, mental instability, angst, Team Free Will
Characters: Dean, Castiel, Sam and Meg
Pairing: Castiel+Dean with your goggles on
Timeline/Spoilers: Between 7.17 and 7.21 with potential spoilers for episodes aired to date and 7.21
Word Count: 2100
Summary: Broken angel lying on the ground, so sad yet still so proud. Dean visits Castiel.
Author's Notes: Hey everyone, this has been inspired by the rumour mill and promos floating around the web. Parts of the summary and the title are shamelessly stolen from Hanson. That's right, guys, I said Hanson. Please enjoy! Comments are loved and adored.

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Wings are strewn everywhere

"Hey, Cas, how you holding up?"

"Still not talking, huh?"

"I get that."

"You like games, right? That's what Meg said."

"I saw you twitch there, so I'm gonna take that as a yes."

"Pick a colour Cas."

"Why am I not surprised you picked the green one? I'll be blue, all right? Go first Cas. Technically youngest first but we'll bend the rules for today."

"So… Meg's been telling me you haven't been crying out in your sleep as much… That's good."

"Cas! Cas! Relax, it's all right, we don't have to talk about it. Cas? Damnit!"

"I told you not to bring it up," Meg drawled at Dean's back.

Dean sighed and ran a hand through is hair. "Yeah, yeah… Sue me."

"Please, my shoes are worth more than the entirety of what you own, it'd only be pathetic," Meg snorted, crossing her arms over her chest. "You know… I think he's starting to get a crush on me."

Dean glared. "Very funny."

"I dunno, maybe's it more of a baby duck thing… You know, all sad and pathetic and imprints on the first thing he sees? Or in this case sees the most of."

"Can it, Meg, I'm trying to keep him safe. We can't protect him out there. Not when he's like this. There's probably gonna be all kinds of things wanting to get their hands on him… Like a Jimmy fiasco 2.0, this time with more feathers."

"Cute," Meg mocked.

"Do you know where he goes?" Dean asked eventually.

"No, but I can find him. I'll call you when I have. Get your moose of a brother ready because I'm not going to be able to bring him back on my own. Baby duck or no, he can still smite my ass and I'm rather attached to it." Meg saluted, wandered out of plain sight and vanished.

Dean squeezed the bridge of his nose and pushed away from the table, their board game practically untouched on the beaten, vinyled pressboard.

Sam was off doing Sam things, at this point Dean could only assume he was researching what to do about Bobby or fan-girling over Harry Potter with Charlie. They had a running argument over who that Hermione chick was meant to be with. Dean tended to agree with Sam that Harry and Hermione would just be awkward as hell and that Ron was a pretty good match, but hey, Dean wasn't about to go there. He'd leave it to the kids.

Regardless of what Sam was doing, Dean only got his voice mail and left a terse message, before hurrying out of the institution and nonchalantly palming his visitor's pass. It'd be a lot easier coming and going without having to sign in all the time.

His phone buzzed the minute he slid behind the wheel of his stolen Chevy – nowhere near as nice as Baby but a Chevy was a Chevy – he was startled to see that the caller idea read 'Nurse Ratched' and answered.

"That was quick," Dean remarked.

"Well don't worry Deano, I don't do everything that quickly," Meg purred back.

"Oh gross… Where is he?" Dean demanded.

"Barn. Demon-sealed to kingdom-come. Can't even get close. I don't even know how he found the damned thing but it's basically plastered in warding magic… Well, everything but the important Enochian woobies that it should have. Do you need directions or am I transgressing on your masculinity even suggesting that?"

"Shut up, Meg. I know the place. It'll take me a few hours to get there so just—"

"Watch him, sheesh, I got it. I'm smarter than your average bear you know, you only have to tell me once."

"Really," Dean remarked flatly. He was met with a dial-tone and wasn't the least bit surprised.

Dean sent a quick text with coordinates to Sam before tossing his phone into the empty seat. The silence of the car was overwhelming. Dean flipped on the radio and promptly shut it off, but 'Angel with a Shotgun' was already stuck in his head. The radio around here sucked.

xx

"Hey, Cas? It's Dean. You can come out. I'm alone," Dean called as he cautiously entered the far too familiar barn in which nearly four years ago he encountered this celestial being for the first time. It seemed like centuries ago. Eons. Both of them were entirely different people then, so it seemed.

Dean heard a soft skittering noise coming from the shadows at the back of the barn. Most of the lights had been burnt out for years and what remained flickered lifelessly, as if on their last legs. Pathetic, sad, hopeless. Dean stared at the flickering light and closed his eyes. Feeling as shattered as the tiny glass shards that still crunched below his feet.

"I promise, Cas. Just me," Dean tried again.

Dean heard faint shuffling and a light indrawn breath before Castiel slid into the watery light of the few remaining lamps.

"You brought your coat?" Dean blinked. "I don't know why I'm surprised about that. Though I tell you what, Cas, pajama chic just does not work on you. I'm just saying."

Castiel stared at Dean. The blue eyed angel shifting restlessly on the dirt and glass that made up the barn's floor. He held his hands before him, fidgeting with his fingers. The move was so incredibly odd that Dean found himself staring at those surprisingly familiar hands. Smooth, even – not a fighter's hands - though Dean knew they should be battered and scarred.

The light stirred a soft glint of silver on Castiel's left ring finger. Dean supposed the angel in his current state wouldn't think to take it off. Dean wandered if that chick who had married 'Emmanuel' was looking for him like Claire and Amelia looked for Jimmy. Seeing the ring lying there made Dean's stomach flip uncomfortably and his fist clench at his side. How many lives would they destroy in the process of saving the world?

"I need to get you back to the hospital, Cas," Dean said quietly, trying to shake off dark thoughts, knowing they wouldn't do any good. Just shut-up and smile Dean. Even if you have to bullshit the world, your family and yourself, shut the fuck up and smile.

Castiel was still staring, Dean was used to it by now. He really was. Castiel had been staring for four years. Do his eyes linger, or do they just slide on past? Do I stare back?

"Cas, are you ready?"

"You aren't real," Castiel's voice was even rougher and lower than usual, the sound startling in the quiet of the barn. From what Dean understood, Castiel had only spoken in screaming the last several weeks. All the same though, hearing Castiel speak again sent a jolt down Dean's spine as he waited, barely breathing, for Castiel to continue. Dean had been here before in a similar dilapidated building, far removed from the being across from him but that time it was Sam. Sam was easy. Sam was human. Castiel had no scars for Dean to use, to draw on, to convince with. Castiel's scars were hidden far too deep for Dean to reach… Maybe.

"I am, Cas," Dean said quietly.

"No, Dean doesn't visit me. Dean hasn't forgiven me. Dean wouldn't be here to take me away. Not anymore. Stop using his face!"

Dean went cold inside. Not even trying to deny Castiel's words. They were true. Dean hadn't forgiven the angel but that didn't mean that Dean didn't care. God help him, he tried not to, but he still cared. Cas had been family once, but with Winchesters, family once didn't exist. Once again, always. Cas had screwed up but he wasn't the first of them to do it. His had just been the biggest.

"Harder they fall, huh Cas?" Dean mused. "I'm not Lucifer, wearing Dean's face, Cas. I'm Dean. I was with you earlier, in the hospital, remember?"

"No were weren't. You always use his face!" Castiel screamed. The shutters on the roof and the very walls themselves vibrated out the sound.

Dean winced, fighting the urge to cover his ears. You always use his face.

"Cas, Castiel. Look at me." Dean bowed his head and caught Castiel eyes with his own. Just as he had done all those years ago in the beautiful room and that more than anything seemed to shake Castiel. His head snapped up and his mouth fell open.

"Dean," Castiel breathed.

"Yeah, Cas. Dean." Dean walked forward, approaching cautiously, treating Castiel liked the caged animal he was in this moment. Dean held out his arm and turned it over, baring the underside of his wrist to Castiel and gesturing a few inches higher. "You cut me, remember? Back then, to paint the symbol that banished Zach. You remember right, Cas?"

Castiel's face fell, his eyes closed and he nodded, a slow broken keening sound rising from his throat. "Dean. I remember everything."

"Good, that's good. And see my palm, Cas? You did that too, when you had to find Balthazar. I was pretty pissed at you then, but I forgave you for it."

"Balthazar," Castiel sobbed. "I… I…"

"Shit, Cas. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have—" Dean shook his head. He had never been good at apologizing. "Cas, I just meant… It's me, all right? You know me, right down to the core, you told me that. I can show you ever scratch and scar I've got if that's what it takes. All the ones I got since you put me back together anyway. You know those."

"No! It's a trick." Castiel back-peddled finding the nearest solid object to flatten himself again; protect what he could of himself while fending off attacks that would reach the rest of him.

"Cas, listen to me," Dean reached forward and without warning, seized Castiel's arm, wrist closing tight around cool flesh. He took Castiel's hand and slid it over the scar, first on his palm and then on his arm. "Feel those? Do those feel fake?"

"Dean."

"Feel me underneath, blood and bone, just like you put back together. That feels real, right?"

"He's strong, Dean. So strong. Pounding on my head. I want to die, but I can't, Dean. I can't. I've never been able to die."

Dean felt sick and fought every urge he had that was telling him release his hold on Castiel in shock of the proclamation. Castiel who had been strong even while falling. Castiel who had beat Dean to a bloody pulp to prove a point that he never gave up and neither should Dean.

"No, Cas. That's not you, Man. You don't give up. Remember? All that shit we've gone through and you made it through it all. Lucifer is just some wacked-out, crazy-long mind-trip. He isn't there, it isn't real and he can't control you. He's in Hell. Locked away where we left him. Just look at me. See me. Feel me here and solid under you hand. If you get lost, you reach out and grab all right? I'll keep you grounded until we can get you back and safe, but we have to get out of here. It's dangerous. So just walk with me and we'll take you back, all right?"

"Dean."

"Right, Cas."

"Dean."

They walked, slow and staggered – the blind leading the drunk, very nearly at the barn doors when Castiel cried out again and closed his hand tight around Dean's wrist, blue eyes boring into Dean, as if desperate to keep the green-eyed man in his sights in case he got lost.

Dean tensed hearing the doors creak only to relax when Sam peered around the edge of the wood.

"You got him?" Sam asked unnecessarily.

"Yeah, I got him," Dean answered.

Sam looked significantly at where Dean and Castiel were joined but didn't comment, merely flexed his own hand, the shiny swath of paling scar tissue just barely visible now.

"We should go, then," Sam nodded.

"We're right behind you, Sam," Dean said.

Sam nodded again then moved to walk out of the barn before he paused and turned back. "Cas?"

Castiel flinched, acknowledging the sound, but his gaze didn't turn from Dean's face.

"You hang on, Cas. I know how it feels, but you hang on, and…" Sam paused for a moment. "And thank you."

Castiel did turn then, blue eyes widening, looking from one Winchester to the other, mute but as lucid as Dean had seen him all night. Lucid, and sad.

The three of them, together, left the barn. Dean couldn't help but glance back and see the phantom of a figure: proud, strong, terrifying and powerful, linger against the graffitied walls, wishing for just a moment that he could go back but wondering at the same time, if things were better this way.

Castiel's grip tightened on Dean's arm as they passed through the threshold into the clear, cool April night.

End