A/N: Entirely the fault of whenindoubtdenyeverything on tumblr, because we were having an angst-off and the general plot of this was her contribution. Warning, this is dark. Torture, abuse, blood and gore, mental issues, homelessness, vaguely implied rape. Please don't read if any of that is triggering for you. Apologies for the vaguely pretentious present-tense second-person thing, it just sort of came out that way. Reviews are always welcome!

It's cold in Purgatory. Always cold, always dark. Even colder when you're slowly bleeding out, even darker when there's red shining in the blackness and you can hear the growls and heavy breathing, and you can't see where they're coming from. You shiver, curl up slightly tighter, feel the drying blood on your back crack with the movement. It won't do anything, you know, but you can't run, can't do anything but lay there and wait.


("Do you trust me, Cas?" asks Dean, and you nod, fingers tangled tight with his.)

("Always, Dean.")

(When he pushes you to the ground and twists your arms behind your back, straddling you and pressing cold steel against the base of your wings, it's hard to understand what's going on.)

(When the pain finally reaches you and the blood begins soaking into your hospital scrubs, it's too late to do anything other than scream.)

(The knife cuts through feather and tendon and muscle and bone like nothing, and you sob through your tears and raw throat and can't find the words to ask, "Why.")


When the breath hits the back of your neck, you don't even have the energy to flinch. Don't have the energy to fight any more, or to try and run. Barely have the energy to breath and shiver and sob softly into the mud and leaf mould as the pain overwhelms everything else. A tongue runs up your back, scraping damply across the blood-soaked fabric, and a low whimper escapes out of your throat, a sound you didn't know you were still capable of making.

You pass out soon after that, the tongue still running up and down your back, and your last thought is, won't you just hurry up and kill me.

When you wake up, there's light, and it burns after so long in the dark. You scream and curl into a ball, thick scabs on your back breaking with the motion, fresh blood running out of the long, ugly wounds that mar your shoulder blades. Around you, there's noise, people talking, someone shouting something, but you can't see anything past the white trying to claw its way into your eyeballs. There's pain and noise and light and it's too much and you screech out, "Stop it!" through your mangled throat, "just stop it!" and they won't and they keep on talking and why won't they stop can't they see that they'll find them they'll catch them the eyes the eyes and then someone presses something into your wrist and the blessed, familiar darkness is back.


(You remember more pain, a lot more lights and noises, a mess of sensory input that seems strained and distorted and slips out of your memory like water through fingers.)

(You remember needles, endless amounts of needles.)

(And them taking your coat from you.)

(You fought them about that, but there were more of them, and they were stronger, and they tied you down and cut it off your body while you cried.)

(You remember lots of gaps, holes in your memory, periods of blackness, and it doesn't disconcert you as much as it should.)

(The dark is your friend, after all.)


When you wake up properly, head fuzzy, back wrapped in thick layers of white, bloodied hospital clothes replaced with new ones, coat still missing– when you wake up, they tell you you're in a hospital. That you staggered out of an alleyway and collapsed on the sidewalk, that you frightened a lot of people. They tell you that you're in New York, and that it's a Thursday.

They seem scared when you laugh at that, although that might be because your throat isn't healed from the screaming yet and the noise comes out dark and insane.

After they tell you a lot of things, they start asking you more things than they told you. What's your name, where are you from, how old are you, do you have any family, do you have someone we can contact, how did you get in the alleyway, where were you before that, why were you wearing hospital clothes, who did this to you, do you want to talk to the police?

You can't answer some of them, don't want to answer a lot of them.

You're Castiel Winchester, you tell them, and you don't know any more than that. Can't remember. Don't remember anything past the lights, and waking up here.


(That's a lie, of course, but you don't want to give them the same nightmares about the dark and the eyes and bleeding wings that you have.)

(Besides, you're not supposed to tell people things like this, you're supposed to lie, that's what Dean told you.)

(And you'll always trust Dean.)


When they finally let you out, they give you new clothes – jeans and a t-shirt, shoes, a jacket. They say the police are waiting in the lobby, they'll help you find your family. You nod and smile and don't say anything other than you need to use the bathroom, which you know has a window.

It's almost too easy.

You've never hotwired a car before, but Dean showed you how, so you do. It's nothing special, but it works, and you drive off, away from the hospital and the policemen. Towards Dean. Because you'll always trust him, and you have nowhere else to go – and besides, everything is blurry in the dark. You must have imagined it, what he did, it must have been one of the monsters, he must have been trying to push you out the way.


(It takes you three months to find them.)

(Three months of hotwiring cars and begging or stealing money and food, three months of no bed and few hot meals, of sleeping in cars and living rough.)

(Three months of no showers other than the rain and no new clothes other than the ones you manage to steal.)

(Three months of being painfully, unbearably human and being constantly hungry, of collecting new injuries and of losing weight.)


When you finally find them, you're a wreck, thin to the point of unrecognisable and unwashed and sleepless and limping, collapsing against the motel doorframe, but still they welcome back with open arms. You remember why you'll always trust Dean Winchester – because of his smile and his voice and the way he opens his arms and says, "Hey, welcome back, Cas," to you with such warmth and honesty.

Both him and Sam promise to take care of you, offer you a shower and new clothes and tend to your cuts and bruises and twisted ankle. When they offer you food – fresh, warm, you've not had a proper meal in over a week and not had food that hasn't been scavenged out of a dustbin in two days – you nearly cry. When they offer you a bed for the night, you actually do, and Dean holds you and whispers, "Shh, Cas, we'll look after you now," and strokes your hair back off your forehead, and for the first time in months and months you feel safe.


(You fall asleep to the sound of traffic and the quiet murmur of the Winchesters talking, a soothing background that's almost painfully familiar after such a long absence.)

(For a moment, before you fade out completely, you think you hear them mention something about demons.)

("Think of all the favours we could get from Crowley if we gave him an angel.")

(They're probably just working out how to best proof the motel room against the black-eyed monsters.)


There's pain, nearly constant pain, now, but at least the room is dark again. No more frightening light. The cold and the pain and the dark is familiar, but this time it's rough brick instead of mud, manacles instead of hands around his arms, and knives everywhere. You're almost grateful for the fact you've lost your wings – less skin means less places form them to cut and bruise.

Crowley visits sometimes, and you spit on his shoes, tell him Dean and Sam will come and rescue you, and you don't know why he laughs and laughs at that, but he does. You struggle against the chains and the hands holding you down and tell him they will come, and he just smiles.

You're not sure how long you're there. The demons come and go, change constantly, but you can only tell because each of them wields the blade slightly differently, or punishes you in a slightly different way, because they all wear the same face. You know it's punishment, because Dean hasn't come to rescue you yet, which means you must have done something wrong.

You alternate between crying and sobbing out, "sorry, so sorry," when you're not screaming or fighting to breathe. You would vomit, but there's rarely enough in your stomach for that.


(Except there's one that seems to come back every now and then, still with the same face, and he's the most talented out of all of them.)

(He's the only one that talks to you.)

(He croons endearments as he slices you open, sings to you softly as he breaks arms and limbs, tells you how beautiful you are as he pins you down.)

(And he calls you, "Cas," where all the others call you, "Castiel.")


Crowley comes to you one day, after a week, a month, a year, a small eternity and a heartbeat, and tells you the Winchesters are dead.

And you cry and scream and sob and whimper, "sorry, sorry, sorry," over and over, because now you finally know what you've done wrong, what you're being punished for, and you know that you deserve it.

Because Dean Winchester is dead, and you couldn't save him.