Author's Note: First of all guys, sorry for the delay on "These Wicked Precious Things." I was stalling on that to write this little dickens. But I'll be updating that one tonight as well hopefully!

Spoilers for 7x21.




He stumbled back a little with the force of the knife blow, but still regarded her with fondness. "Meg, this is a demon blade," said Castiel of the jagged steel penetrating his side. "I'm an angel." He smiled, curious. "What are you doing?"

Innocent freaking bastard. Meg was stricken, resolve fraying around the edges, and there was just so much about this that sucked. This was cruel, even for her. "Sorry, honey. We need the old you."

Castiel's sunny smile slowly faded, as the symptoms of the poisoned blood tingeing the blade began to take effect, and realization of what she'd done finally hit him.

Blood of the exiled Morning Star (of course she has some), bone of a prophet (Kevin Tran is still bleating pitifully about the lifted sample), and the brass ashes of the holy amulet (Sam never left that motel room without plucking Dean's necklace from the trash). Alone, the ingredients were powerful. Forged, they were the key to every lock. An elixir to the broken mind of a fallen angel. It would rebuild everything from the ground up, restore every righteous seam, every tormented fracture his mistakes had wrought upon the very character of his being.

Wounded blue eyes lifted to meet hers, the aching stain of betrayal in them. "Meg?"

Her voice tripped over the words, catching in an almost profound way. "I am sorry, Clarence."

It wasn't a lie.

The concoction didn't take long, and Meg was grateful. There was no need for him to suffer through it unnecessarily. Dark lines crept up his throat from beneath his collar like twisted vines, and she could feel the thrum of power in her hand where she still held the knife handle. They shifted color—awful colors; black, magma orange, brimstone red. The innocent hue she'd come to associate with his gaze was quickly swallowed by an oily black and it threw her. So foreign and wrong and, for a moment, she hated what she was. That this disease of hers could somehow corrupt something so pure as him.

He'd been corrupted so many times; by the enervating human experience, the trials of being a mortal man, the leviathans, and then taking on Sam's psychic pains. Even Meg, a condemned being unworthy of any salvation, was affronted on his behalf, because of all the creatures deserving of such a fate, Castiel was not one of them. Affronted, and heartsick. Because even while infected with the old ones squirming beneath his skin, Castiel had ruled over the earth with arrant innocence, oblivious to wrongdoing and drowning in good intentions.

But it wasn't long before the polluted remains of every aftermath were strung clean and new, every dark crease purified until it shone the brightest white. The ugly-looking vines beneath his skin became Grace-formed blue, and the angel was glowing with renewed strength. Everything about him became vivid, to the point where it nearly hurt her eyes to look at him.

He was perfect. In every way. Meg wasn't sure when that stopped sickening her and instead began filling her with hope. She caught him when he fell, as she always would, because he wasn't going to be alone in this. Never again would he be alone. She wouldn't desert him.

I'm talking cause, douchebag. As in: reason to get up in the morning.

Despite the holy cleansing, or whatever the hell had just transpired, he didn't look well. It took him almost five minutes to regain consciousness and, when he did, it wasn't the perfect, wrapped-up-in-a-bow ending she'd been so looking forward to. But was it ever?

She'd been reaching out to touch him—maybe she could coax him awake, because lately he loved it when she touched him—when his eyes snapped open and suddenly her wrist was being crushed in a steel-like angel deathgrip. Those eyes, cold as she'd ever seen them, turned on hers, utter loathing within.

"Don't. Touch me."

Bones ground together and she cried out before she could stop herself. He'd never looked at her with that kind of hatred, not even when they first met. Meg stumbled back, twisting away and cradling her wrist to her chest. He was already on his feet, taller somehow. Like she remembered. Like she hated.

Like she feared.

His lip curled in a sneer of disgust, and she held her ground, even as his hand closed viciously—painfully—around her throat in the blink of an eye. Meg struggled briefly, eyeing him with a hopelessness she couldn't ever remember feeling.

"I should destroy you," growled Castiel, in a voice so burdened with guilt and pain and a thousand sufferings, because he remembered and felt everything with no enlightenment to protect him. His expression twisted, like he couldn't stand the sight of her, or couldn't bear to be breathing—she couldn't tell and she'd never know. His grip on her throat tightened, like he couldn't decide how to respond to what was right in front of him. Fainter than before, he told her, "Show your face to me again, and I won't hesitate."

Meg was roughly released, without warning, and she flew back into the wall, pocketing the sheetrock and splitting the support boards beneath. The last thing she'd heard had been a fluttering of wings, and when she looked up, he was gone.

Getting shakily to her feet, feeling more alone and isolated than ever, Meg took out her cellphone. Which, by some miracle, hadn't been destroyed in their little lover's spat. It took her a moment to realize what the stinging pinpricks behind her eyes were, and, with shamed determination, wiped at them fruitlessly and squared her tiny shoulders.

Even when she'd been human, Meg had always needed to make herself out to be taller than she really was. When the other line picked up, she steadied her voice through sheer force of will, but there was a single fracture that caught poignantly over the detached notes as she spoke.

"Well, you got what you wanted, Winchester. Your wayward little angel hates me again."

- FADE -

"King of Hell," that familiar, gruff voice demanded, startling them all. Four pairs of eyes fell on the sudden appearance of the angel. He stood taller, wore an expression of stern foreboding, and there was no innocence to speak of in his commanding blue eyes.

Crowley paused, mid-attack, eyes widened comically in irrefutable fear. Slowly, he lowered the blade. Before him, Meg eyed Castiel with obvious appreciation. Dean and Sam looked relieved, if a little wary. "Angel of Thursday. We're on to full titles, now?" the former crossroads demon tried to snark.

"Lower your weapon and surrender your grievances against the Winchesters and Meg. They are no longer your concern."

"Aren't they?" Crowley challenged, though by the bare tremor in his voice, it wouldn't be long before he fled.

"If you'd rather I bury you in the wormhole you crawled out of… please—it's been so long since my last extermination. I would enjoy nothing more than to start with you."

Tension stretched amongst the small group, weaved into every muscle and along every spine. Deciding the heavy silence had gone on long enough, Crowley flashed a scornful smile, eyes flashing coal black. "Well, it's been a pleasure."

Then, he was gone.

Meg smiled broadly and shook her head. "Knew you'd fly to my rescue, Clarence. But how about next time you kill the bastard, 'kay?"

Dean and Sam eyed the angel uncertainly. "Cas?" said the oldest.

Castiel lost a great deal of his imposing façade, cracking a halfhearted smile. "He scares too easily."

Sam stepped forward. "Castiel? Are you… okay?"

The angel offered up what could only be described as a world-weary sigh, his smile softening at the edges until it looked like it might fall away completely. "I'm fine."

Meg scowled in approval, eyeing him up and down. "Isn't it obvious? The happy's wearing off." Muttering then, "'Bout time."

That brought the mood down considerably.

"Cas? Is that true?"

"Call if you need me." With a flutter of wings, the angel vanished.

Later, after about a dozen interrogations with Meg—she'd been the only person Castiel had since spoken too after the faceoff with Crowley—Dean finally broke down and called for him. And, predictably, the angel didn't disappoint. Before he could even get out a Hello Dean, the hunter was already talking. "Listen, man, I'm sorry."

That earned him a head tilt. "Why?"

"I know your little Zen trip was inconvenient to us, but… you were happy. For once." Castiel chuckled, low enough that Dean barely heard, as though his friend's words had brought him some great amusement. The hunter felt a tiny swell of frustration bubble up inside him. "What? Were you? Happy, I mean? Ever?"

"Dean… happiness for me was a '67 Chevy impala and unsanitary motel rooms. It was Bobby Singer's auto. It was any given battlefield, at your and Sam's side."

Now, it was a tiny little brunette with a mean right hook and a meaner give 'em hell attitude. Or maybe it was all of that. Happiness, after all, was never just one thing. Castiel would be better off with some trailer park meth head, truthfully, but something about the angel and his little devil was somehow sickeningly sweet. Dean laughed, at an utter loss to how things had turned out, but it wasn't forced and it wasn't disingenuous. "That little bitch is going to eat you alive, you know that, right?" Somehow, surprising even himself, the name wasn't said with malice. Dean was oddly amused by the whole thing.

Castiel was smiling that little smile, and shrugged. "I know."

Dean snorted, shaking his head. "Poor dumb bastard." They remained in comfortable silence for a little while longer, before Dean asked the question he'd been afraid to since the Crowley incident. "Do you think you'll be okay? When the dust settles up in your leadbox there?"

Castiel considered this, wistful. "I suppose I don't really know."

That was all but encouraging. "Right."

"But, I promise… I won't leave again. If you'll have me, I'm here to stay."

Dean nodded, both touched and relieved. "Family, Cas. We're still one big, unholy mess of a family. What do we have if we don't stick together? I mean damn, how much worse could it get? You've got the two dumbasses who jumpstarted the apocalypse, a fallen angel, a ghost, and a demon. It's like some kind of sitcom nightmare."

Castiel smiled, finding shared amusement in the curious circumstances. "No. It's perfect."

Poor dumb bastard, for sure, thought Dean fondly. But the angel was right. After all, family wasn't about apple pies and grilled cheese sandwiches. It was every day, standing up for your brothers in blood and bond, hunting things, and saving people.

The family business.

So what if they'd added a few more members?


He wouldn't fight for them. So she begged him to fight for her.

Meg didn't give a crap if he fought for world peace, the Pope, or homeless kittens. Just so long as he fought. But still, he refused. His warrior days were behind him, and that was about as in-freaking-convenient as a thing could get. He was terrified at the thought of any battlefield now; not because he feared to die, but because of what he was capable of.

Well. Meg had had enough. So had the Winchesters, but they were too busy with the levia-chompers and frankly hated to force their little treetopper into anything he didn't want to do. They might not have had any backbone where it counted, but Meg was happy to be the bad guy.

It wasn't going to be easy, though, if his tranquil obstinacy was of any indication.

"They don't want me," explained Castiel to her reasonably. There was no animosity, no hard feelings, just a simple stating of easy facts. Like he was talking about the weather. "You're the only one who stayed. I'm still not sure why."

But Meg knew she was breaking through when things started to elevate and she quit pulling punches. Whether they were lies or truth didn't matter, just so long as he snapped out of this free love shtick he wouldn't shut up about. After all, the worst, and best, lies were always rooted in truth.

That smile frayed around the edges, and he admonished her for being deliberately hurtful, but she refused to let up. "Can't you see how pathetic you are? How worthless? Do you really deserve to be happy, after everything you've done? Dean was going to kill you. He hogtied Death, didn't he? That must've been fun." There: a flicker of repressed emotion, of hurt. That had stung him. "What about every time you died? Did he even blink?" Meg could see her hate speech was getting to him. He shifted uncomfortably with each verbal assault, wincing almost imperceptibly with each continuous blow. "When you searched forty years for him in the pit, dragged him out, singeing your own Grace, how did he thank you?"

"Meg, stop it."

"A knife to the heart." She circled him now, cutting at every wound she could find, clawing at every hidden scar. Around them, the lights flickered ominously. "It's why you hate conflict, isn't it? It's your trigger. Can't have that, can't have honesty, because that'll bring back every awful, horrible thing you've ever done. It makes them real, it reveals the reality of it all."

"Meg… don't."

"The fact of your Fall, and the fact that your best friend? Couldn't give a damn if you lived or died."


Every light fizzed out with unanimous harsh pops, casting the room into darkness. She wasn't surprised to find herself pinned to the wall by her throat, but rather relieved that this was working at all. Now we're getting somewhere. Meg stared back within the swirling, tormented waters of the eyes boring into hers, and he was so close. If she could just peel away a little more. "Face it, Castiel. You're a stain he can't wait to wash out." The final nail in the coffin. "Just like me."

"Stop," he commanded her, begged her. She shoved back at him, closing in on his crumpling form.

"Make me, angel. Show me what you really are."

The pain, the tears,in his eyes were like barbed wire cinching around her borrowed heart. "No more," he pleaded, again and again, because once was not enough. "Stop. Please, stop."

Meg reached out to him, grasping his hand tightly in hers, lifting another to his face and gripping his chin with cogent desperation. Her tone grew more compassionate, of its own volition, and she couldn't help but reach out to him even as she caused him such grief. "I know it sucks. I know," she told him, and he clung to her now like she was some kind of lifeline he'd been pretending he didn't need. "But this is who we are." She cupped his face, holding his gaze with her own and drilling every word into him with a softer vitality. "This is what we do."

This is who we'll always be.


Castiel shook his head, miserable and breaking. "What I did…"

"It's already done. Now show them what you can do."


When she curled her fist into a vicious twist of fingers, Castiel stumbled, feeling the breath stolen out from his lungs. He was taken off guard, but certainly not surprised. He'd been expecting this, although not so soon. But his little beauty with her tiara of thorns was an impatient thing.

Meg summoned her dark gift again, imagining the feel of the angel's insides warping painfully and then making it a reality. He doubled over, but didn't fight her. He could never—not anymore. He'd sooner fall on his own sword, and her efforts served little more than to amuse him, to make him proud. She was a fiery sphere of determination and too precious for words for doing this. For trying, when no one else had or would. He was lost, but still she turned over every stone and burned every bridge to find him.

Meg grit her teeth, wrath overshadowed by genuine remorse at her actions. "I need you back the way you were, feathers. Not this helpless shell you've become. Do you understand that?" A step closer, another twist. He could taste blood now; not a promising sign. "You're no good to me like this. You're no good to anyone."

Not to mention, she needed him throwing her against walls and into rings of holy fire again, not reciting her poetry and bringing her flowers from the garden. Meg needed passion, not cavities. She'd carve the crazy right out of him if she had to.

Yet another painful churn, and Castiel faltered to one knee. He could've flown away from her, far away where she could never find him. But oddly, he didn't. Something rooted him to this decrepit factory, where she'd called on him from. "This won't work, sweetheart," said Castiel around a grimace, bowed over in pain at her feet. He panted, trying to regain his breath with little success as another wave of agony washed over him. "I know you're trying. I know, and it's okay. I understand. I forgive you."

Meg's features twisted from a different kind of anguish. "Dammit, Cas," she grated, hating what she would have to do. The lengths she would now have to take to ensure his return to their sober and emotionally baggaged group of sourpusses.

Why did he always have to pick the hard way?

It wasn't much longer—though, to her, she was sure it'd been hours—before Meg had given in to her darkest instinct. Castiel was now bound to a similar rack as she had been when at the mercy of Crowley's prized henchman. He squirmed a little, though she didn't think because of the pain or the uncomfortable nature of the bonds. No, that would've been too easy. That would've marked the beginning of actual progress, but fate couldn't have that, could it?

No, Meg thought it was probably because he could sense her own discomfort and frustrations, therefore making him restless with the urge to touch and comfort her. Like always. Stupid little angel. Stupid, fucking precious little angel. Meg despised his good intentions, and perhaps this little exercise would finally do away with those as well.

"I'm sorry your efforts aren't more effective," he said.

Earnest bastard. Meg shook her head, giving them both a respite before tearing psychically into him again. "It will work. It has to."

Castiel's eyes wired shut against the onerous onslaught, yet his voice was more compassionate than ever. "But you're barely trying as it is," he pointed out reasonably.

And damned if he wasn't right.

She would never break through the madness at this rate. She wore little demon kid gloves, because this was Clarence, and it was costing them both. This wouldn't do.

Reviling herself more and more with this new revelation, Meg's expression lost its mask of neutrality. This wasn't going to be pleasant, for either of them, and it was bizarre to think she'd used to relish such activities. But the thought of what was to come brought her no amount of peace or sense of superiority. She could very well wind up breaking them both, at the end of this. Stupid little angel and his stupid good intentions.

"I'd better give it all I got then," she ground out, eyes flashing pitifully for a mere second. I'm so sorry, baby.

Meg curled her fingers into claws and dug them straight into his Grace. Castiel threw his head back and screamed.

This time, it really was hours later. Meg was at the end of her rope, frayed at every nerve. This little session was taking its toll on them both and she just couldn't stomach it. But around the third hour, things took a much darker turn when his screams became something else.

Castiel, mid assault, started laughing. Loud, hysterical breaks in voice, and it wasn't his laugh. Meg felt a shudder run through her at the sound, an unprecedented sense of anxiety filling her. This couldn't be a good sign. He trailed off in a litany of spiteful chuckles, his voice hoarse and burned raw from the torture he'd already endured. "No matter what you do… nothing ever seems to go your way, does it?" He lifted his head, eyeing her bitterly and with a sneer that was even colder. "Every king you serve does nothing but fail you. Nothing but a deserted little pawn piece, you are."

Meg held her ground, but didn't dare step closer. Something warned her to keep her distance. "Who are you?" she demanded. Her eyes fixed on his, drilling into him, but his continued to stare straight through her. She already knew the answer of course, somewhere deep inside, but would never admit to it.

He smiled wide, teeth bared in a feral grin. "I'm what's behind the looking glass."

Realization hit her like a salt round to the gut. Meg's breath rushed out of her in a trembling gust. "Lucifer."

Blue eyes glimmered obscenely like a neon sign. "You always were my cleverest soldier."

Meg suddenly hated him. With every corrupted cell in her body, she wished him dead. For him to be nothing more than a forgotten memory; dust and ash and bones to be burned. "Is he still in there?" she hissed out.

Castiel leaned forward against his restraints, expression twisted in challenge. "Why don't you break me open and find out?"

She was breaking through the layers. Layers buried beneath a wall constructed on borrowed memories of Hell and the Cage and a thousand torments. She would find him.

She had to find him.

When it was over, Castiel had gone limp. Too still for her peace of mind, and he just wasn't moving and Meg was scared. She started forward, hardly daring to reach out to him. "Castiel?" His eyes dragged slowly open, just a crack. He shifted a bit in his bonds and Meg let out the breath she was holding in a sigh of relief. "Hey."

His head rolled to the right, bright blue eyes lifting to meet hers. In them was weariness and pain, but ultimately confusion. "Meg?"

His gravelly voice, void of madness, was just what she needed to hear. "Yeah, feathers, it's me," she murmured, fingers smoothing back the damp locks of black hair from his temple. "You back with us?"

His eyes narrowed despondently, but there was grudging purpose where before there had only been wonder. "Yes. I'm back."

Meg gripped a small handful of his hair, shaking her head. "I'm sorry." It felt ridiculous to say such a thing, but the words were like shards of glass and she needed to get them out.

He nodded, as well as he could while still pinned down. "I know you are. It's all right."

Meg bowed her head with a sigh. "Stupid pansy."

Castiel shifted a little more, tugging resignedly at his bonds. "Let me loose?"

Meg nodded, freeing him without another word, and he stared down at her from where he now stood. "Clarence?"

He smiled a little, and it was a broken pretender of a thing. Sad and disillusioned. "There's work to be done. Let's go."


He found Metatron.

It hadn't been easy, in the sense that it had taken Castiel far too long to get here on his own. Actually reaching the ancient seraphim had been surprisingly lacking in difficulty. To ask the question was even harder.

"Please, brother."

"But you have found peace, Castiel. Your eyes have been opened to the world and to our Father's plan. Is what you've gained not a blessing?"

This would be the hardest thing he had ever done. Because this was the happiest he had ever been, could ever hope to be. This was perfect bliss, it was no suffering. It was as if his own private heaven had been placed on him as he walked the earth, traversing between two worlds like a sphere of light that never tarnished. He could see everything, without the pain that so often came with infinite knowledge.

But there was more to it. There always was.

"My friends are dying."

And really, it couldn't be simpler. Even so carelessly driven, somehow this fact alone was enough to set him on the path he was needed. His resolve fissured with the knowledge of what this would do, the consequences he would be made to endure. Castiel felt panic arc through him, but battled it down.

"This is never what I wanted."

The seraphim looked upon him with pitying eyes. Compassionate, weathered pools of amber Grace. "A peculiar thing you are, young Castiel," the elder angel rumbled softly. "You were always going to be the outcast, the saving pariah. Since the dawn of our time, it was written that you would triumph as the archangels had over our heavenly tribulations, or succumb as Lucifer had to the pride and iniquity that destroyed him. Your destiny was forged as a two-sided coin; light and darkness, leader and rebel. But you always had to Fall."

Castiel felt as though all the oxygen in the atmosphere had suddenly dispersed, leaving him choking on nothing but his own misdeeds he'd fought so hard to bury. "Why me?" he couldn't help but ask. Because why him? Why, out of his many siblings? He was no one. He was the angel of Thursday, not of anything important. Without Thursday, a week would bear six days instead of seven and the world would carry on.

"Yours was an ascent to greatness, Castiel. Otherwise, your name would be no more than a statistic in the thousands that came before you."

He had to rise to fall as far as he had. It was all so nauseatingly perfect.

"Will you help me?"

"I'm not sure what you'd ask me to do, Castiel. Is it your wish to become the nameless soldier you'd once been? An obedient servant to the cause of Heaven and our Father?"

Castiel shook his head, feeling as though a boulder had nestled its way into his throat. It felt heavy as the burden weighing now on his shoulders. With all that he was, he didn't want to do this. And yet… there was something, buried so deeply in the locked chambers of his mind, that told him this would always be his choice. "No. Restore me back to the way I was when I had a purpose. A family." A single tear fell down his cheek, but Castiel did not turn back. "To when I had brothers to stand by—not angels, but two human boys and an old drunk who taught me of free will, and standing up for what you believe in. Please… just make me like I was. I can't allow them to pay for my sins. Make me strong enough to save them."

Metatron stepped close to him, awed gaze sweeping over the younger angel, who, quite possibly, was braver than any of them had ever been. "You would go back to the pain of a Fallen existence? For them, these… broken creatures?"

Castiel felt as though he was slowly splitting apart, piece by agonizing piece. The reserves of his strength wavered. Warning bells went off in his head, begging against this course of action and every repercussion that came with it.


He felt a hand settle on his shoulder, a small comfort to what would soon become a most unholy amount of pain. "Do not be afraid, little brother," the silken voice assured him gently. "This was always meant to be."

It was but moments later, across state lines and countrysides, where the new war ended between leviathan and man. Saved from the clutches of the earth's deadliest creature, the injured Winchesters faded into the background as their guardian threw himself into the fray on their behalf.

It was the way of things. Castiel fought, so they wouldn't have to. He destroyed, so that they could live. And when Dick Roman came at him, all teeth and twisted arrogance, Castiel did what he did best.

"Leviathan beats angel, Castiel," Dick smirked, lunging at the angel's chest with a hand. "Didn't you hear?"

"No," said Castiel, eyes completely dead. Instead of perishing at the monster's hand, he punched a fist through the creature's trunk, a burst of light erupting through. Roman began to burn from the inside out. "No more. No more."

No more monsters, no more deals, no more mistakes he cannot fix. The leviathan's dying scream was the last thing heard before deafening silence reigned over the lot. The boys were then pouring gratitude at him, relieved and elated at his return, but Castiel just couldn't.

"I am sorry, Dean. Sam. I'm so sorry."

Stricken with the weight of his transgressions fresh in his mind, the angel flew away, the broken sounds of his own failures the only thing he heard across the prisms of light and time in which he traveled. When he landed, he wasn't even sure where he was, or what state, even. He fell against the nearest wall, slamming a fist back into the brick at his side, and slowly slid down. A wrecked sob broke past his lips, and he mourned, for the first time, what he had become.

Of course it would be her to find him like this.

He could feel her presence long before she spoke, and he wasn't sure if he should be grateful or angry at her being here. Castiel didn't even look up as he asked, "What are you doing here?" His voice was too abused to work properly, so what came out was a raw version of the words, but she seemed to understand anyway.

"What, no poetry?" Meg quipped. It was a halfhearted gibe as she too was spent of all sarcasm and honey. She slipped down beside him on the floor. He should've felt shame for his state in her presence—of all people to see him like this. But he just didn't care. "I like you better like this anyway."

He could feel the warmth of her pressing against him and marveled at what shouldn't be. That he shouldn't be allowed to feel her proximity, her company, and his unvoiced desire to not be alone getting fulfilled. No matter who—or what—she was, this was too much. "I don't deserve anyone."

Meg sighed. "Oh, Clarence, quit that."

Castiel looked down, surprised at the small hand whose fingers slotted through his. "How did we get here?" he couldn't help but ask, after a moment of silence. It was somewhat of a rhetorical question, but Meg always found an opportunity to talk, even if she didn't feel like doing so.

"Beats the hell outta me." Her head dipped to rest on his shoulder and he heard her sigh again. "So?" said his companion, staring out with him at the world beyond them. "You think we'll make it?"

Chin pressed against the crown of her hair, Castiel shook his head. He spoke softly. "I don't know."

"Well… you've got me, feathers. And baby, I've got you."

She'd always called him hers, whether in jest or in an effort to get under his skin. Maybe, after all this time, she was his too.

Maybe they would make it. Maybe, together, they had a chance.

Author's Note: Reviews make me all warm and fuzzy. Everybody likes fuzzy.