Note: This follows on directly after When Angels Deserve to Die... Thanks to all who read it, and especially those who left a review :) I just couldn't leave you with that evil cliffhanger :P Big thanks to Jonjo for betaing!
The snippets of poetry are from Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings". I've also woven in The Fray's "How to Save a Life", as ever FF dot net isn't going to link to the wonderful fanvid I want to show you, so pop watch?v=nWuiavLozCQ after the YouTube addy. It's by Addriene, using the same song.

Another Angel Down

Chapter One

A caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

Pain is a strange thing. Seemingly immeasurable in all the ways it strikes and takes you. When a blow hits there is often a delay. You know it should hurt, but you don't feel it. You know it will hurt when the message running down your nerves reaches your brain… There is that moment, a moment of calm detachment. It is a blessed reprieve of the senses, cursed only with the inevitability of the hurt to come. He did not know it before, that inevitability. In those moments Castiel would repair the damage before he ever got to feel it. But he felt it now…

This vessel is damaged… was the only thought running around Castiel's head. He felt cold, he felt wet, and he felt a crushing wave of hurt crash over him. Something is wrong… the vessel is damaged… must repair… But he reached for his grace and found a yawning chasm that scared him more than any of the alien feelings assaulting his senses. Then rough hands were on him, accompanied by a yell of: "Cas you stupid son of a bitch!" His frantic mind stilled and ceased.

-oOo-

"How could I have been so stupid? I shouldn't have left him alone. It was stupid, so stupid…"

The hard plastic chairs of the hospital didn't make waiting any easier. Dean stood and paced. He didn't know whether he was talking to himself or to Sam. He just needed to fill the silence and voice his frustration at his own actions.

"Look, stupid or not, you can't change what happened Dean". Ever the voice of reason, Sam worriedly watched his brother tread and re-tread the same few metres of dull, hospital floor.

"It shouldn't have happened though. If I…" Dean suddenly quieted as a doctor approached them.

"Are you Cas Hetfield's brothers?" The doctor was a man in his late forties; he had salt and pepper hair with a kind face. Though you could never be sure with doctors whether their pleasant manner was genuine or part of the job. Still, his smile, well rehearsed or not, was a welcome sight. As the brothers confirmed his question he went on. "I'm Doctor Parker, I've been looking after Cas. The good news is he'll live. He's had a lucky escape. Leave it to the professionals next time boys…"

They had told the hospital they were working on the roof when Castiel lost his footing and fell. Telling them he'd jumped would not have been a good idea.

"There's a lot of bruising as expected, and he has quite a badly broken foot. Don't worry though, I've seen worse. We've set the bones and put him in a cast. He'll need to stay off it for a good few weeks to let it heal, but after some physical therapy he should be fine. Now we couldn't find any serious head trauma, and you said he didn't land on his head… lets face it, he'd be in a much worse condition if he had… but I would still like to send him for some scans to investigate further. Cas has been saying some rather strange things…"

"No need doc". Dean cut in, engaging his professional bullshit mode. "He has had… uh, mental issues in the past. They were under control with meds, he's better now. The trauma must have set it off again or something. We'll take care of it".

The doctor's smile disappeared, a frown of disapproval taking its place. "You didn't think to mention that when you brought him in?"

"Well… uh, it's personal, you know. And he's been fine for years. I didn't think it needed mentioning…"

"Mr Hetfield, we are medical professionals here, there is no matter too personal for us to deal with. An accurate medical history is very important and can affect the treatment we give…" Dr Parker's demeanour softened, his smile returned. "… but I do understand. If you would like I could refer him to-"

"It's fine, we'll take him back to his old doctor. Now can we see him?"

"Ok, but we've given him a little morphine, so he might not be that talkative. Oh and he's also a little dehydrated so we've put him on a drip. Has he been eating and drinking normally?"

Seeing Dean getting more agitated Sam stepped in and ushered his brother away. "You go, I can answer any questions the doctor has".

Dean gave him a sceptical look but wasted no time in scooting down the corridor to Castiel's room. He hovered a moment in the doorway, taking in the sight of an ashen ex-angel against the stark white of his bed sheets. Tubes ran from Castiel's arms and his leg was plastered and raised. It all seemed so surreal when he had seen the angel shake off gunshots and knife wounds as if he'd been hit with nothing more lethal than a snowball.

Tentatively Dean approached the bed and reached out for Castiel's hand. "Cas? Can you hear me?" There was no response; no fluttering of eyelashes… his hand remained still beneath Dean's warm touch. "I'm sorry man, this is all my fault, I should never have left you".

Each time he spoke Dean paused, as if giving Castiel a chance to wake up and answer. The closest he got was a wistful sigh. Eventually Sam pushed through the door in a hurry, Dean quickly withdrew his hand.

"Dude, we need to get him out of here sooner rather than later. Doctor Parker was asking who his previous doctor was… He wants to forward on notes and everything. Our story isn't going to hold up for long".

And so for the second time in as many weeks the Winchester brothers found themselves "kidnapping" Castiel from a hospital.

-oOo-

Back at the cabin Castiel was set up on the couch again. His foot was raised on a couple of pillows and a faded red blanket had been thrown over him with care. Dean drew closer as the former angel began to stir.

"Hey Cas? You awake?" He lightly shook Castiel's arm and was rewarded with an eyelid cracking open. "Yeah, that's great, now the other one. How you feeling?"

Castiel's eyes lazily wandered around the room before settling on Dean. He seemed to take a moment to gather his thoughts before his cracked voice managed to utter "Strange".

"Yeah well, morphine will do that to you. Water?" After Castiel gave a small nod Dean propped his head up and helped him sip from a bottle.

The cold water seemed to wake him up a little more. "'m back here?"

"Yeah you're back in Kansas, Dorothy".

"But I thought we were in Montana?" Castiel blinked at Dean owlishly.

"It's just… ah, nevermind. Look, you broke your foot, so you're going to have to stay here for a while. No walking around, understand?"

Castiel frowned, as if contemplating the idea of walking, and then he looked slightly worried. "I can't feel anything… why can't I feel anything?"

"It's fine, it's just the drugs. If you start feeling something let me know, cuz it's probably going to hurt like a bitch".

"Ok, I'll tell you when the cupcakes are ready…" Castiel's eyes drifted closed.

Dean sat back with a smile. Castiel might be in a drugged out haze, but at least he looked peaceful for once. Fishing around in his pocket Dean drew out Bobby's flask and placed it on the table with a familiar thunk.

"Ground control to Major Bobby, do you read me?"

Nothing.

"Bobby pick up if you're there…"

Still nothing.

"So help me, I am going to kick your ass when you do show up". And Dean was sure that he would. But the only sound in the room was a soft whimper from his ex-angel.

Castiel started to shift and tremble under his blanket. "Dean… Dean?"

"I'm here, is it starting to hurt?" After a slight nod Dean went to retrieve a pill bottle and shook a couple out.

"Here. I got you". Once again Dean helped lift Castiel's head as he took the pills and knocked them back with some water.

As Castiel settled back down, Dean turned his attention to the flask again. "Come on Bobby, we're not done, we can't leave it like that… Show yourself".

Dean quietly watched the flask with a slight look of concentration on his face. It almost seemed as if Bobby would appear out of the ether if Dean could focus on the flask hard enough. After a few moments had passed the silence was broken by Castiel's weak voice. "I know what love is now. This is love".

Dean looked up from the flask, brow furrowed with confusion. "What do you mean?"

"I can feel it now… Since time immemorial I watched…" Castiel paused to lick his dry lips before continuing. "I watched countless young couples fall in love, grow old together and die. I watched mothers care for their newborns with unconditional love. I see it between you and your brother. I could see it but never experience it. I wondered what it was like to love, and be loved. I tried to imagine this force, so powerful, so gentle, but it was always out of reach. I was not made to know or feel love… but I wanted it. I wanted it so much, and I wasn't supposed to want. We had only orders and duty. Cold order and duty… but now there is no pain, there is no suffering and this euphoria… this must be what love feels like". Castiel's glassy eyed anguish gave way to a hazy smile.

"That's not love Cas. It's the drugs, you're just high". Dean tried to brush it off but warning bells were ringing at the back of his head. The ghost of future Castiel lurched to life and smirked at his dark thoughts.

"This has to be love. How can you be so happy if this is not love?"

"Believe me Cas, it's not love… Love is better than that". Dean spoke with a sad smile, remembering Lisa who could no longer remember him.

"Then I would very much like to feel it…" Castiel slurred as he dozed off.

Dean waited, making sure he was well away before giving his answer. "No you wouldn't Cas, because it doesn't last. And when it ends you'll feel so torn to shreds you'll wonder if it was ever worth it in the first place…"

Hearing the car pull up, Dean fell silent and waited for Sam to come in. Sure enough the cabin door creaked open and Sam entered with a couple of bags full of supplies. After a nod and an enquiry into Castiel he set them down on the kitchen counter and tossed a box to Dean.

"Really Sammy? This the best you can do?" Dean scowled at his brother.

Sam only half shrugged an apology. "They were out of pie. There must be another pie addict in the area buying them all up".

"But cupcakes? I swear you do it to annoy me…"

-oOo-

As the weeks passed cabin fever set in. Castiel wouldn't move from the couch, he ate little, slept lots, and kept requesting the painkillers. This had become quite a point of contention with Dean. Dean insisted on cutting the dosage down, Castiel insisted he was still in pain. After the latest row Dean had left the cabin in a huff, Sam had hinted he should go for a walk to clear his head. As if to spite them Dean made his exit a dramatic one; the cabin door slamming nearly set the whole house shaking. And so Sam was left with Castiel.

Sam could see the ex-angel trembling under the blanket that had become a second skin to him. A sheen of sweat lay over his forehead, and his eyes were scrunched shut. He sure looked like he was in pain.

"Dean's only like this because he's worried about you, you know". Sam quietly took a seat by the couch.

"I hurt, my leg hurts… Please Sam, I need more". Castiel spoke between gritted teeth, his pleading eyes wrenched at Sam's heart.

Sam's eyes wandered to the pill bottle. Dean had placed it on top of a high cabinet, and pushed it back as far as he could make it go. It was well out of Castiel's reach, even if he was mobile, which he most certainly wasn't. However Sam's reach was a different story.

"Your next dose isn't for a few hours yet Cas…" Sam offered a token resistance. He wanted to give Castiel some relief, but fear of Dean's reaction stayed his hand. Still… Dean had gone out, who knows how long he would be? It might be enough time to take some of Castiel's pain away.

"Please Sam… I can't stand this". The wrecked sound of Castiel's voice made up his mind for him. He couldn't sit here and watch Castiel suffer.

Sam deftly took the bottle of pills from the cabinet and shook a couple out. It was all done with a slight hint of haste and stealth, as if Dean would come through the door and catch him in the act. Castiel eagerly took the pills like a man left wandering the desert would lunge at water.

"Just don't let Dean know I gave them to you". Sam sighed… Castiel didn't really seem like he cared.

Sam sat back down and watched as the painkillers kicked in and Castiel visibly relaxed. His tight body unwound like a slowly released spring. His formerly rapid breathing evened out, it deepened, loosening him up… A wave of relief seemed to wash over the ex-angel. It lapped at Sam's feet; he no longer had to watch Castiel endure such pain.

"I dream now you know…" Being free from pain seemed to have loosened Castiel's tongue.

"Yeah?" Sam hesitated to ask what he dreamt about. It wasn't going to be puppies and kittens for sure.

"I walked in so many people's dreams, and now find myself so unprepared for them. I didn't realise how real it felt to the dreamer. In those moments between moments, in those places between places… it's all true. To fall is to die, until you wake gasping in this world once again. It seemed such an obvious fabrication to me as an angel. And now I fear closing my eyes…

Most of the time, I'm standing in your ring of fire. It always happens differently, no two times the same, or as it actually was… Sometimes I throw myself on your mercy, sometimes I cast myself into the fire, sometimes I…" He trailed off, not wanting to finish the sentence, as if realising how bad it would sound. "I just wish it really happened differently. I asked you to trust me, you wouldn't. I told you I raised you and you assumed the worst. You thought I meant to leave you incomplete. How could you think that?"

He turned to face Sam then, eyes innocent and sincere. "Sam… I raised you from Perdition".

"Um… thanks for that". Sam really didn't know what to say. He wasn't sure whether he should console the angel with false feelings or give him a dose of truth and point out that he had been working with Crowley, and that didn't exactly foster feelings of trust.

"That's what he said. Right before he stabbed me". The former angel sank back on the couch with a broken laugh.

A hazy look descended on Castiel, and a strange smile graced his lips as he was swept away by the drugs. "I raised you both from Perdition and you both stabbed me. So if I send you back to hell will I get pie? But I'd have to share the pie with Dean… no, he'd be in Perdition. I could have it all. I don't really like pie though… maybe Bobby would like it".

Of course, Dean chose that moment to come back to the cabin. Sam shot to his feet and stood in front of Castiel, blocking him from view. "Hey, how are you doing? Better now?"

"Yeah, forget it, let's just eat and watch some TV. Dr Sexy will be on in a minute". Dean went over to the kitchen area to wash his hands. Sam followed and noticed Dean had scraped his knuckles. Maybe the fresh air hadn't helped as much as punching something had…

"You can't have the pie Dean!" Castiel's voice came across to them. Sam willed him to be quiet.

"What was that? What'd he say? We have pie?" The thought of pie seemed to perk Dean up.

"Um, no, he's just…" Sam flailed for an explanation as Dean strode across to the former angel.

Castiel reached out to grab Dean's hand. "I'm sorry, you can't have the pie". He whispered sombrely "I think Bobby ate it. His dog told me…"

Dean shook Castiel's hands away and turned to Sam. "Mind explaining why Cas is tripping balls?"

"Dean, I…" Sam flailed a little more.

"Ok Sam, a word please". Dean waved him down to the basement where their voices would be heard a little less easily. He gave the impression he was barely hanging on to his anger.

As soon as Sam's foot left the bottom step and hit the basement floor Dean turned on him. "You gave him more pills didn't you? I told you not to! I thought we agreed we'd get him off them? I'd worked out a schedule and everything and you just go fill him up as soon as my back is turned!"

"He's still in pain Dean!" Instead of continuing to flail Sam went on the offensive and decided to butt heads with his brother if it was an argument he wanted.

"But we need to get him off those pills!" Dean threw his hands wide, acting as if he found Sam's actions incomprehensible.

"He has a broken foot Dean! How else is supposed to relieve the pain? Breathing exercises?"

"It'll leave him worse off in the long run! If only you knew…" He ran a hand over his face and turned his back on Sam.

Sam put a hand on his shoulder and pulled Dean back round. "If only I knew what Dean? What's got you so worked up about these pills? You took enough when you broke your leg; I'd call this being just a little hypocritical".

The anger seemed to drain out of Dean then. His voice turned hollow and defeated. "The future Sammy… In the future Zachariah sent me to Cas is an addict, and he's so broken. I can't let that happen to him. I was a dick you know, I sent Cas to his death, and he went willingly! I won't become that, and I won't let him either".

"It's not going to happen. The other stuff you told me about can't come true. Lucifer's safely locked up, Croatoan's defeated… We won Dean; we stopped it all from happening, if it was ever going to happen in the first place. Zachariah was a dick too; he probably made it all up". Sam sought to be reassuring, it didn't seem to work.

"You know what the devil told me after he crushed other-me's throat beneath his foot? He said I would always end up there… whatever details I alter, whatever choices I make, we would always end up there. And look at what's happening! You know what else happened in the future? Cas broke his foot. Bobby died. You said 'yes' in Detroit. The angels weren't around because they left… here they've been killed off. We're making choices and altering details but the same things are still happening… What if we're taking a different path to the same destination?" There was a note of fear in Dean's voice that scared Sam.

"It's coincidence Dean. Cas could have broken anything, heck he could have died. And Bobby's coming back…"

"Really? Cuz every time I get his goddamn flask out my hope dies a little bit more".

"Stop it Dean. You have to stay strong. Remember what you told me? 'We make our own future'. It's still true. We're deciding where we go and what we do. So stop thinking like that, it'll drive you crazy. Now let's just go back upstairs, get a beer, and watch some TV. We can have a normal evening, no yelling, no crying, and no killing stuff, ok?" Sam gave Dean's shoulder a reassuring squeeze.

Dean took a moment and then nodded, as if giving in. "Dr Sexy's going to find out his girl's been cheating on him with that scumbag intern. Wouldn't want to miss that…"

Sam made a crack at Dean's poor taste in TV before giving his brother's back a friendly slap and pushing him towards the stairs. Sam usually welcomed the times Dean actually opened up and talked to him about these things… but with this topic Sam would rather shut it down and run. Dean was meant to be the one who shot their problems in the face and told them to 'shove it', his fear was infectious. But perhaps more than that was the fact the future Dean spoke of meant only one thing for Sam… and that was Lucifer.

-oOo-

Things only seemed to go from bad to worse with Castiel. Eventually the time came when they had to take his cast off. Castiel fought them tooth and nail. Sam tried holding him down while Dean fired up the angle grinder. But Castiel flailed about so much Dean was in danger of cutting his foot off. Reluctantly Dean agreed to give Castiel more pills. They waited until he zoned out before tackling the cast again. Sam made to hold him down just in case, but all Castiel did was raise a wobbly hand to press two fingers against Sam's forehead. The former angel looked slightly confused that Sam was still conscious, then his own eyes started to close and Dean got to work.

Dean examined Castiel's foot once the cast was off, running his hands over the limb, feeling for anything out of place. "Well it looks ok to me, but without an x-ray who knows? We should get him to put weight on it now. The longer he puts this off the worse it's going to be…"

Castiel had resisted all attempts to get him up and about. Dean had found his old crutch, but it only ended up thrown in a corner after one of their rows when Castiel refused to use it. The ex-angel only left the couch to answer the call of nature, and he insisted on either Sam or Dean half supporting, half carrying him, to the bathroom. Dean wouldn't do it any more, but Sam always gave in.

After Sam left on a supply run Dean switched on the TV and settled down with a beer. It was a nature program about meerkats. Dean had started watching it because there was nothing else on, but he was soon getting into it. The meerkats were being attacked by a rival group and their pups were heartlessly killed. "Man these meerkats are ruthless…" Dean muttered to himself with a sip of beer.

As the burrow was successfully defended, and the rival group fled, Castiel began to stir. Dean waited until the credits started to roll before switching it off. He wanted to give Castiel time to wake up… and he really wanted to know what happened with the meerkats.

"Ok Cas, time to get that foot working again". Dean put his beer down and clapped his hands with faux enthusiasm.

Castiel looked down at his foot as if seeing it for the first time. Then he looked up at Dean with wide eyes and shook his head.

"Come on dude, the cast is off, no more excuses". He stood then and held a hand out to the former angel.

Castiel ignored Dean's hand and choked out "I can't… It hurts".

"Suck it up. I took my cast off early and went chasing after Sam the minute it hit the floor. Plus you've had your painkillers for today; it should be enough to take the edge off". Dean wiggled his fingers at Castiel.

"You are used to pain… I am not". The former angel looked up at Dean darkly.

"Well we all have to start somewhere. Seriously Cas, use it or lose it. If you don't get your foot working again you might not be able to. You want to spend the rest of your life limping around?" Dean's hand fell down to his side, the invitation to Castiel withdrawn.

"Leave me alone Dean, I need to rest". Castiel tried to burrow back down into the couch underneath his blanket.

"I won't, and you've done nothing but rest Cas. It's time to get up". He stepped forward, took the edge of the blanket, and forcefully ripped it away from the ex-angel. The ragged red blanket flew across the room. "Now get on your feet".

Without the blanket Castiel was exposed. He curled up on one side as if to hide himself. A cold feeling ran through Dean at seeing how thin the former angel was, but he wouldn't be defeated. "For God's sake Cas, it's like you're not even trying to get better!"

Castiel turned to face him then, a wrathful look on his face. "And what have I got to get better for? There is nothing for me in this life!"

"Don't you pull that on me Cas! You know how many times I would have loved to just give up, sit here and wallow? But I didn't. We get knocked down and we get right back up again. You're getting up Cas, even if I have to make you!"

"You can try" Castiel hissed.

"You should know better than to call my bluff". Dean growled, reached out for Castiel, and roughly pulled the ex-angel to his feet. Castiel cried out and tried to resist, but his feeble efforts were easily brushed off by Dean. "Now one foot in front of the other…"

Castiel made no attempt to walk. Dean ended up hauling him around the cabin while he sobbed and whimpered. Eventually Castiel lifted a leg and took a fragile stab at a step. It would probably hurt less to walk than have his wounded appendage drag along the floor. Each step Dean took jarred his foot, sending spikes of pain up his leg.

After seeing Castiel's small effort Dean dumped him back down on the couch. The former angel clutched at his offending limb and glared at Dean. "There, you tried. That's all I'm asking. All I want is for you to try".

Throwing the blanket at Castiel Dean turned the TV back on and snatched up his beer. He pointedly ignored the ex-angel's angry stare, and acted for all the world as if nothing had happened.

It became a regular thing, every time Sam went out on a supply run or left for a jog Dean would drag Castiel around the cabin. He didn't want Sam to know about it; no doubt he would think it some kind of torture. With the fuss Castiel made it sure sounded like torture. Sometimes he fought Dean and cried out at every step, other times it was passive resistance, he would go limp and force Dean to pull him round like a piece of dead meat. It was like dealing with a child. But Dean kept telling himself it was for Castiel's own good, and so he carried on.

On this occasion Dean's frustration got the better of him. Castiel's arm was slung over Dean's shoulder as he tried forcing the ex-angel to take another step. Castiel's legs remained still, so Dean shuffled forward and Castiel let out a moan as his foot dragged uselessly against the floor. It was that moment when Dean snapped. Abruptly he spun them around and headed for the bathroom.

"You know what? I've met homeless guys that smell better than you Cas. Go take a shower, and you can make your own way back to the couch". It was said with a spiteful edge to his voice.

Dean lowered Castiel down into the bottom of the shower none too gently. He was past caring by this point. He left to retrieve the discarded crutch and threw it down at Castiel's feet. Dean said nothing more to the former angel. He simply stormed off and left the cabin with a trade mark slam of the door.

-oOo-

Dean got in the car and slammed that door too. Then aggressively pulling off, he set out on a drive to clear his head. It sometimes helped to have nowhere to go, only the asphalt to follow. He turned the radio on and set the volume at a level where his own thoughts were louder. After a bit of chatter the first solemn piano notes of How to Save a Life rang out. Dean rolled his eyes but made no move to change the station. Step one you say we need to talk…

Talking never seemed to work with Castiel. Not now, not when he got into bed with Crowley. Of course now the ex-angel saw the error of his ways, but it needn't have gotten that far if only he had listened… If only he would listen. Dean was only trying to help.

Between the lines of fear and blame, you begin to wonder why you came…

Dean feared Castiel, he feared for him and the drug addled version he became. He could see the potential for it in the former angel, and he wanted to do all he could to stop it happening. That meant getting him better without the pills. But all Dean got from Castiel was blame. The former angel didn't seem to understand he was trying to help. Castiel saw his actions only as a torment… What little he said as he cried out tore at Dean. He blamed Dean for making him human and told Dean to let him rot. And in his worst moments Dean wondered why he bothered. How could he help the former angel when Castiel wouldn't help himself?

Let him know that you know best, 'cause after all you do know best…

Dean did know best. If Castiel didn't get using his legs again he might end up permanently damaged. Why wouldn't he cooperate? Why wouldn't he try? Sure being human sucked, but he had to accept the situation… Barring divine intervention of some kind Castiel was stuck as a human. He should be thankful - he could be dead. The ex-angel had been given another chance and was going to waste it by rotting on the couch.

Where did I go wrong? I lost a friend, somewhere along in the bitterness…

Eventually Dean started to think about turning back. No doubt Castiel would still be sitting in the shower, just to spite him. Dean would just have to pick him up off the floor again. Hitting the steering wheel out of frustration Dean's earlier words came to him. The words he said the last time he picked Castiel up off the floor, when the angel had become human: 'We'll look after you…' and for a moment he hated himself. Castiel had been through something horrendous and all Dean could do was push at him.

And I would have stayed up with you all night, had I known how to save a life…

But Dean didn't know how to be gentle. That was Sam's department. Dean's philosophy was to shout at the world until it gave in or your voice gave out… It wasn't working.

-oOo-

The cold porcelain of the shower bit into Castiel as Dean dropped him into it. After disappearing momentarily he returned only to cast the crutch at Castiel's feet before leaving again. As the sound of the door slamming died away there was nothing but silence. Castiel's foot throbbed painfully; the floor of the shower was hard, but beginning to warm as he sat there. He didn't want to move. He didn't know why Dean insisted on making him walk. He was human now, and useless. It didn't matter whether he walked with a limp, or ever walked again. As the weeks passed by the cabin seemed to get ever smaller. Its walls closed in, forcing them together, taking away the air. The only thing that made any of this bearable was the pills. They took away his pain, they made him not care, and they even made him happy.

From his position on the floor Castiel could see the cabinet where Dean kept the pills. His salvation was always so near and yet so far. Not so now. Dean had unwittingly given Castiel the tool for his deliverance. If Dean wanted him to walk, then he would walk. These few steps would be for Dean. Castiel reached out for the crutch, welcoming its solid wooden weight into his hand for the first time. After a bit of struggling he gained his feet, head spinning momentarily at being up so suddenly. Pausing, he looked back at the shower and thoughtfully turned it on. It would be like the rain. In the rain he felt like an angel.

Castiel didn't really take time to coordinate the crutch and his legs. He lurched quickly forward to the cabinet in an awkward gambol. A newborn foal finding its legs probably did so more gracefully. But he needed the pills quickly before Dean came back, Dean didn't like him having the pills… Castiel reached the counter and clutched at it to stay upright. Then he took the crutch and thrust it at the pill bottle on top of the cabinet. He missed at first, but on his third attempt the bottle shot off and fell to the floor with a satisfying rattle. Castiel scrabbled after it; he pried the top off with shaking hands as if he couldn't wait to get at the contents. Then pouring a few pills out onto his palm Castiel knocked them back dry. Dean was always careful to count how many, Castiel supposed he should have paid more attention, but he couldn't bring himself to care as a fuzzy feeling descended on him. Not bothering to find the crutch Castiel crawled back to the shower and sat under the spray with the pill bottle held on his lap tightly in a fist. He lay against the side of the shower, closing his eyes and imagining the weight of wings at his back.