Author's Note: This is your average song/lyrical prompt fic. Except for the part when I planned it first and then chose the song based on what I was listening to when I wrote it. The lyrics are included in the fic, but I wrote everything specifically in tune to the simple instrumental version. Both are beautiful, but the instrumental REALLY sets that haunting, emotional feel I was looking for. You get to be the judge if I succeeded or not. Song is "Always Find Me Here" by Transit.

For the instrumental version, type in youtube's regular url, and add this to the end: watch?v=0ncRkKKr2W4

For the lyrical version, do the same, but with this one: watch?v=uMVaVKrRwvY


Purgatory was worse than either of them, than Sam, could have predicted or imagined. It was sorrow and constant war, every moment spent fighting to the death or running for your life. It was personal demons and dark deeds brought to light. It was every vile soul demanding their suffering and making them pay. Too often did he consider abandoning what little fortitude he had left, falling into the inky blackness of Purgatory's ill-omened woods. He wanted to give up, wanted to let whatever monsters beyond the ridgeline just have him and be done. The longer they were trapped, the more desolate he became. Courage was the first die, faith the second.

In the end, it had been Meg.

Meg broke out of Hell. She broke out and saved them, but at a terrible cost.

No one would notice the danger lying dormant until it struck.

hold you close
don't let go

Castiel wakes to butterfly kisses on his eyelids and teeth marks on his ear, to hands tracing his jawline and fingernails dragging across his chest. He wakes to skin pressed against his and a weight trapping his body. Castiel wakes and Meg is waking with him. This is new.

"How were the nightmares this time?"

Wretched, he wants to answer. This is why he despises sleep. But after grueling battles, it is regrettably necessary to indulge. Meg has been surprisingly supportive, almost sweet, helping him through the aftermath of his time spent in Purgatory. He's not sure what to think of her kindness. Even while he feels like a shadow trapped between shafts of light, splintered as a mast in a storm, there is a part of him that settles. Castiel rumbles a reply, whatever he says not really mattering so much as he has someone who listens to him.

Something has broken between them, a barrier made of glass—he never saw it until the shards are piercing his skin. She's dug her way under his flesh and isn't going away. Stranger still, he doesn't want her to go away.

So when she nips along his collarbone, husky laughter dancing across skin, asking, "am I kicked out of your life yet," he's puzzled.

"Why would I want you to leave? I like having you with me." He captures a lock of her hair in his fingers, playing with it idly. The gesture speaks of candid affection, and that's something she can't quite understand. "You aren't alone anymore, Meg. You never will be again. These sheets, they're ours now."

The angel's fascination with her hair both amuses her and endears him to her—not that she'd ever say so without screws being driven into all of her fingers. "Why does everything you say to me sound like it's ripped right out of a sappy romance novel?"

There's a sideways smile on his face, something she suspects is at her expense. "Because it irks you."

Meg grunts her annoyance and wallops him, muttering about no good angels and how all they're good for is pillow stuffing. She anticipates another disapproving look, maybe even a few blown-out lights and cracks in the windows if she gets far enough under his skin to rouse his true form, but she definitely doesn't see coming what Castiel does next.

His hands reach to cup her face tenderly, and his lips brush against hers in a fleeting way. "Thank you."

Meg squirms a little, gaze darting away from his self-consciously. He doesn't object when she crawls over him and lays her head on his chest. It's more to hide from the piercing quality of his knowing eyes than anything else, and he understands that. "We do what we must," she says. "Devil take the hindmost."

"You didn't have to stay with me. You didn't have to rescue me." She doesn't have to be here now, but she is.

"Yeah, yeah. You owe me, featherbrain."

Castiel is not second in command, he is not learning. He is a weapon, a warrior. Everything that he was made to be. For awhile, he'd stumbled, but now he is back on his path. A little more morose, but ready to fight the good fight. It is thanks to one person.

They take jobs together, work as a team. When the brothers call one of them, the other is not far behind. They are a package deal. The Winchesters don't have a lot to say about it—or they do, but keep it to themselves. They haven't tried to kill her yet, and that's good enough for Castiel.

When they aren't vanquishing evil, when Meg isn't soothing or demanding the nightmares away, there are moments. Fleeting, intrinsic little things. Once, after a battle, Meg dragged him to a diner and bought him a milkshake. Her hearty laughter had filled the establishment at his almost comical enthusiasm of the new taste. Sometimes he'll take her to a meadow, or even once a cave behind a waterfall, to unwind. Sometimes she'll go kicking and swearing, sometimes she's the one asking him to take her away.

Sometimes her nails rake into his back, sometimes her fingers cradle his face. Sometimes he's slamming her into walls, sometimes he's the one catching her. When they need to forget, there is either violence or the most tender form of affection. It's whispered like a secret they can never tell.

Their relationship, just as their warring species, is a tangled cacophony of light and darkness. There is camaraderie, there is friendship, there is loyalty. He nearly kills her a dozen times, she nearly kills him a dozen more. They take turns saving each other, on the battlefield and off. She makes fun of him for his naivety and awkwardness, he rebukes her for what she is and the twistedness of her nature.

But more than that, the crushing guilt of their past crimes begins to ebb. When they are together, fighting or keeping each other alive, they can breathe. The nagging devastation at what can never be forgiven washes out, leaving a wholesomeness and the promise of restoration. Of redemption.

They sit on benches in parks, talking about the world, and neither of them feel alone anymore.

eyes so strange
time goes by
watch you fall, again

hold you close
don't let go
hear my call, afraid

Then, months after their escape, out of nowhere, Meg pulls a knife and goes after Dean. What had been most surprising about it had been the stealth, the covert precision. The patience. It wasn't just Meg losing her cool and exercising her temper on a convenient Winchester out of spite. It was methodical, planned out. Wrong.

It was Castiel who intervened.

So long spent convincing the brothers of her allegiance, of her placidity, and it was some sort of tragic poetry that he be the one to stop her.

The angel has the demon by the throat in seconds, Dean sputtering obscenities behind him, Sam yelling the collective distress of the group. When the struggling captor turns the knife then on Castiel, they know something is definitely amiss. He catches her armed fist, staying the weapon before it can do anyone any more damage.

"Meg, enough!" he commands in that rough voice, tinged with confusion and alarm. There is concern in his eyes and nothing but hate in hers.

"I would have had him," growls Meg, in a voice not her own. It is guttural and a twisted perversion of her smoky drawl. "Stupid celestial, he would have been mine."

There is a chorus of horrified recognition at the sudden yellowy glare burning into them all like a branding iron.

"Yellow Eyes," Sam utters, breathless.

"Azazel," snarls Dean, taking a ruthless step forward.

"The two of you leave. Now," Castiel orders them both, never taking his eyes from the possessed demon in his grasp.

"Like hell!"

"Sammy, go to the car—get the Colt! Where the hell are the salt rounds?!"

But this new Azazel is too dangerous. He has spent the equivalent of a millennia in Purgatory, stripped raw of whatever little humanity he once retained. He is now a monster, through and through. Once an angel, then a demon, now he is just pure corruption. Somehow, he had stowed away inside of her on the trip back to Earth. The how doesn't matter—there is only one thing that matters.

Jaw clenching, Castiel's eyes dart back, thoughts racing. He has to keep them safe.

And you can save her, that small voice in the back of his head whispers, like it's some desperate prayer he's clinging to.

Without further hesitation, Castiel disappears them both, leaving the cursing Winchesters screaming at the sky in frustration.

During flight, his grip around her throat has somehow loosened and he and Meg tumble to the ground in a rolling heap. He's back on his feet quickly, reaching for an absent sword.

He'd given it to Meg.

Biting back a curse of his own, Castiel stares at the ancient evil possessing the thing he's in love with. "Meg."

"She can't hear you." Azazel advances her body towards the angel, teeth baring. When it attacks him, he tries to pull his punches, but if he does, Azazel will overpower him. He must be just as ruthless.

They fight in a brutal tandem across the forest floor he's transported them to. Fists smash through tree trunks, narrowly missing faces, spraying splinters and debris. Bodies are hurled against boulders, against trees, across clearings.

Castiel feels something in his chest wrench when the snap of her bones echo beneath his hands. Her feral smile is unbefitting on her apple face. It was sharp when she wanted it to be, but never like this. "Meg!"

"Keep trying, handsome. I like feeling her squirm," Azazel says, manipulating her voice. He leaves a bloody gash down Castiel's face with the knife, tearing then at the angel's back with mental claws, straight into his grace.

Castiel twists and yells, rolling away. Pure light leaks through the wound, but he heals it quickly. It will weaken him until he can properly mend, but he must manage without full restoration. It is a small miracle that she didn't have the angel blade on her when the stronger demon took over. He catches her charging body and they tumble down a small ravine into a decrepit hollow.

Meg's stolen form pins him down with a vicious slam into the rocks, hovering over him with menacing triumph. Castiel holds her back, gripping her arms hard enough to bruise and fracture bone. "Meg, look at me."

Azazel laughs, bane twisting the sound until it's no longer recognizable. "She's my child, angel. You're wasting your time."

Castiel ignores the voice, staring instead into the eyes he knows are struggling beneath the yellow. "I won't abandon you, Meg. Meg. I'm here. I know who you are. You never gave up on me." He speaks, with such raw conviction, that the silence of the forest amplifies in the most profound way. "And I will never give up on you. You are the reason I'm still here, after everything."

For a hanging moment, a breath in time, brown like melted chocolate overtakes the yellow perversion, staring back at him with aching dependency. Seconds tick by, though not many. But it's enough. Castiel seizes the opportunity, quickly disarming her and breaking free.

Meg is tossed aside, skidding in the dirt. Castiel is already on his feet, knife in hand—for what little good it will do. Only one thing does he possess that can destroy Azazel.

"Cas," her voice chokes out.

Castiel feels the breath rush out of him, every nerve on fire. Meg writhes for a moment on the ground, keening a low groan and something that sounds almost like a sob. He's frozen in place, not daring to move. He watches as she stumbles to her feet, dark eyes lifting and boring into his pleadingly.


"Meg." He rushes to her, dropping the knife, catching her around the waist as she falls. He holds her to himself tightly, blue eyes darting over her body and face. "Where is he?"

Her fingers clutch at the folds of his trenchcoat like it's a lifeline. A shudder runs through her. Meg exhales sharply, around a failing gasp. "Dammit…"

He lowers them to the ground until he's on his knees and she is spread across his lap, in his arms. "I've got you. It's all right."

"No, I can't… he's not letting go, Cas," Meg anguishes, squirming. She wires her eyes shut, sweat beaded on her brow. It takes all her strength to keep him back, and it won't be enough.

Castiel stares down at her, helpless. His lips work soundlessly for a moment, until words come out. "I don't know how to remove him without… Meg…"

Her eyes glaze over a bit, and the tension in her small body eases some. Her muscles relax, but there's a quiver of anxiety, of strain, skating over her skin. "I've got him, for the moment," she sighs out, suddenly spent and very drained. Her eyelids flutter. "It's okay. Sorry I checked out on you back there, baby." Meg laughs bitterly. They're both wearing the others' blood. "Don't think there'll be any makeup sex this time, though."

A muscle tightens in his jaw. "How long?"

"Not long."

Castiel's features set stubbornly. "I will figure out something."

The demon groans, weak and resigned. "Life sucks, and then you die. It is what it is."

The words are spilling out before he can stop them. "I need you to stay with me."

Meg looks at him like she so badly wishes she could make him smile right then. "That's not how it's gonna work out this time, feathers."

Azazel is too dangerous, and he was bound to Meg's body. There isn't enough time.

There is not enough time.

"We had a good run, Castiel."

A vice closes around his heart; there is pain he can't account for. "You never call me that."

Meg smiles a little, but there is no happiness to it. "Decided I was due for a change. What the hell, right?" She curls tighter, groaning until it becomes a whimper. Another shudder arcs through her. She's shaking, and he's too powerful for her. A wisp of trepidation runs down her spine, and the very human reaction startles her. "Cas?" she whispers, huddled against him.

He doesn't dare look at her, afraid of seeing that small spark of fear in her eyes. "Yes?"

Meg's voice has become small, quick—like she's running out of time and she knows it. "If I could have ever… it would have been with you."

"I know." The words lodge in his throat. Castiel has trouble breathing. He is an angel. He shouldn't have to struggle with such a trivial function.


"You found me when nobody else was looking. Poor dumb bastard," Meg whispers.


"Tell the tweedle dumbasses I said sianara, huh? It was a pleasure terrorizing them."


"Whatever you wish."

He cannot meet her eyes and never will again.

"Talk to me?"

His throat feels tight, and his eyes and face become hot. His vision as he stares out across the forest is blurry, but outwardly, Castiel forces himself to remain perfectly calm. "What would you like me to say?"

"Never mind. I'll talk."

He listens when she tells him about the last few years. How she broke him out of Purgatory. How worried she was about him during that time, and how scared she was to admit it. She tells him about when she was a human, about her brothers and sisters. About her mother. There is wistful nostalgia with every word confessed. Then she tells him how her feelings for him have evolved over the years, from seething hatred to what it is now.

Her host body can't handle the exertion of so many inhabitants for much longer. Unbidden, Castiel slowly wipes the tears from her face as he watches the trees, cradling her precious weight against himself. His hand grazes her forehead in a gentle caress as she retells the story of him dragging her around Creation to watch the bees. How he has changed her. How he gave her back something she never thought she'd have again. Her voice becomes fainter, the tremors rising.

"Cas, thank you. I lo—"

There is a soft flash of light that illuminates the shadow of the forest, formed by the canopy of treetops above their heads. Castiel's hand slips from her forehead as peaceful death washes over the demon in his arms.

He hasn't realized the moment he'd started shaking too. Perhaps around the time he had to burn out her soul with his own grace. Castiel stares stonily, inconsolably, straight ahead. There is a fierce determination in his chest and he doesn't know where it belongs or what it's for. He has no idea what to do with it. A veil of numbness has settled over him, and, with unsteady fingers, he grips her tighter. Every cell and membrane of his body, every fiber of his still present grace roils with the guilt. His jaw is trembling, but he keeps it firmly locked out of sheer desperation. Staring ahead, eyes unblinking and his body otherwise as unmoving as a statue, Castiel listens to the deafening silence around him. His expression contorts as a flood of grief assails him.

Indescribable pain tears into him, leaving him gutted and raw. He tries to imagine her telling him to pull himself together, but there is no warmth, no pithy teasing words, no heat from her skin or the inciting stroke of fingers up and down his chest. There is… nothing. Just the void where she should be, and will never be again.

Her body is lying cold in his arms. Not even her body. Pieces of his heart shift like fine dust in his chest, inadequate. There is a hopelessness he hasn't felt in a long time, back at the forefront of his mind.

Blue eyes, unbeknownst to the angel, are brimming with tears.

His breath rasps raggedly from between his lips and his stomach churns, body shuddering with anguish. Castiel squeezes his eyes shut, pressing his face against her hair as the tears roll silently down his cheeks. Hours go by, but he doesn't notice. He holds her limp body closer, desperately wishing she would move, that she would laugh and tell him it was all just some elaborate joke.

The storm that has been raging in his darkening eyes breaks loose and the flood gates open to the torrent of alien emotion pouring out of him as Castiel begins to sob.

He stays like this for a long time, knelt on the ground and bowed around her, honestly feeling like his world is crashing down. He guards her body in silent vigil, until he's certain he can stand on his own two feet. He doesn't think he'll ever be able to again.

The angel grieves and grieves and doesn't move until the first fires of dawn erupt on the horizon.

He doesn't want to be alone.

hold you close
don't let go
hear my call, afraid

I don't want to be the one, this time

and I'll say grace for where you are
I want you to know
you will always find me here

The brothers startle when the angel appears in a quiet rustle of wings the next morning. They shoot to their feet, concern and anxiety meshing into a chaotic tangle of emotion. They look at him and see the utter lack of life. Castiel tosses the knife onto the dirt at their feet; it's the only reason he's returned.

"Azazel?" Sam hesitantly asks.

"He is dead."

Dean is watching the angel with increasing worry. That Meg is not with him is disconcertingly obvious. And with the way their friend looks, there's no mistaking what's happened. "Cas…"

"Don't," he says, in a voice full of broken glass. For a second, there is overwhelming pain in the angel's expression, barely checked. Castiel almost visibly bows under the weight of it. He wishes to rid himself of the evidence of his heartbreak, his utter failure. "Don't."

Just as soon as he'd arrived, Castiel is once again gone with hardly a sound.

days go by
lost in time
night time calls, again

Dean waits a day before the combination of impatience and concern finally compels him into action. He sends up an awkward prayer to the angel, wherever he is, and waits. It's almost an hour before Castiel finally shows.

"What do you want?" that familiar voice gruffs from behind him.

Dean turns around, taking in the rumpled sight. "Hey, man," he says quietly, just as gruff. "How're you doing?" Castiel answers with his usual silence and Dean sighs. "You gotta help me out here, Cas. You know I suck at these heart-to-hearts."

"Is there a point to this meeting?"

"Yeah, there is. Sam and I were worried how you left yesterday and we wanted to make sure you were okay. So, you know…" The hunter gestures helplessly, at a loss. "If there's anything you need to talk through, or whatever."

Castiel's eyes narrow. "She saved me and now she's dead. What else is there to say?" It's no less than he deserves, he thinks, for his sins. He should have stayed in Purgatory. He should have stayed dead. Why could he never stay dead?

The hunter's demeanor softens, expression molding piteously. "You're grieving, Cas. It's okay."

Castiel's features harden into sharp lines and harsh shadows in the low light. He turns his face away, not able to meet Dean's eyes any longer. "What's the point in grieving when it doesn't bring anyone back?"

Hard to argue with that; Dean understands this all too well. "I don't know, man."

In a rare moment of candor, Castiel's grim resolve to keep all emotion to himself ultimately wavers. He lets his head hang, his mask falling away. "I don't have anybody," he says, almost silently to himself. "Meg… she was all I had."

Dean frowns, closing the cavernous gap between them. "What about us?"

Castiel lifts his head, eyes meeting the other man's sharply. Voice flat. "We're not friends, Dean. You've made that abundantly clear. Meg was there, through everything. Even when I didn't want her to be. Now, there is nothing. I have no one. I have… no one," Castiel says fiercely, full of venom at himself, and his eyes are now blue-black and with terrible anger. With such suffering. It holds more authority than the angel has used in a long time, and so much more pain. "I know whose fault that is, but it doesn't change anything. So don't presume to understand what that's like. You will always have Sam. Even when you are at each other's throats, when you leave the other behind, when one or both of you is dead. You will always have your brother."

There is desperation and loss curling around him like smoke, his voice finally hitching. His vessel's throat tightens, jaw clenching back emotions tangled in a dark knot, pulsing with an anger and a grief that rises like an encroaching flood. He'd rebelled for the hope of a better world, and all that was left, all that he feels, is despair.

Stop, he just wants it all to stop.

"She was my Sam."

Because he needs Dean to understand this. The roughness of his throat startles him though, makes him realize how long it's been since he'd last spoken, and the heavy silence took over. Castiel misses her.

He misses her.

Sometimes they slept together. Sometimes they fought. Sometimes they drove each other crazy. There were times he'd wanted to throttle the life out of her, and then there were moments he wanted to keep her safe from everything, most of all herself. He swore to her once that he would never let anything happen to her. He was the stronger one, he would be the protector.

Meg no longer needs his protection. Castiel still wishes desperately that she were here so he could give it.

Dean is already deflating, and sadness becomes plain across his face. He wants to say he's sorry, because he is, but voicing it aloud will somehow make it inadequate. Instead, he waits in the silence to see if the angel will say anything more. When he doesn't, Dean knows the conversation is over. "Can we call you?"

Castiel drops his eyes, his shoulders, his heart. In a low voice, subdued, he says, "If you need me, I'll come."

Dean stands there, watching the wall where the angel had been just moments ago. His own shoulders slump in defeat.

days go by
lost in time
night time calls, again

I'm here
I'm here without you
you'll always find me here

It's almost a month later when the Winchesters finally call. With halfhearted resignation, Castiel answers, appearing in the old rundown cabin they've called him to. Upon arrival, his brow quirks warily… there is something eerily familiar about this place.

Instead of dwelling on the sense of déjà vu eating at him, Castiel acknowledges the brothers with tired eyes. "What do you need?"

He's been roaming the earth, with no destination or purpose in mind. He's been aimless, lonely. Scattering Meg's ashes had taken more strength than he currently had in his arsenal. He should feel relief that they've called, but that sense of isolation seems to only amplify at the Winchesters' presence.

"Hey, Cas," greets Sam. There is something in his eyes, in his voice. Something suspiciously close to regret.

Castiel looks to Dean for clarification, but the hunter is a portrait of grim resolve. A match strikes, firelight licking suddenly at the air. Castiel watches numbly as it's cast at the floorboards, where, upon contact, there is a stronger eruption of flames. The angel feels his stomach drop like a stone when he's quickly engulfed in a ring of fire. There is a sense of blind panic that jolts through him—no, no, no. Not again. Why are they doing this? What have I done? What have I done now? Please, no…

"What is this?" Castiel's voice catches tremulously over the words, despite any effort to remain stoic, or, at the very least, offended. Not this fear and dread he feels, because this is the cabin. The cabin—where this has happened once before. Where he'd lost everything. A moment which lead to four words that changed everything forever—I have no family. Castiel's true form squirms inside his vessel with dismay. Please. Please, don't do this again. His heart twists viciously. "Let me go."

"Can't do that," says Sam softly. "You'll just fly off."

"Another interrogation?" Castiel menaces, but there is buried pain, rekindled, in every nuance of his expression that refuses to be masked. It's hard to keep the rolling storm inside of him constrained. His guilt, old and new, has by no means abated, and now he's forced to relive a very corporeal reminder of the past. His eyes narrow in a despairing grimace. They see the lost hope and anger warring there.

"No," Dean tells him. At first hearing, the tone sounds flat, but when Castiel looks at him sharply, there is profound compassion in the hunter's eyes.

Sam steps forward, speaking earnestly. "This is us, saying now what we should have said then."

Castiel stares between the two of them, hovering restlessly in place. There's a sobering weight in the air now, making it thick and difficult to breathe properly. The wall of flames seems unbearably close, the heat wrapping around his skin like chains. If human eyes could behold his true form, they would see his wings fidgeting at his back, curling around himself defensively. He's anxious, because this can't be good. When is it ever good?

"Cas." Dean looks at him meaningfully, mirroring his brother's heartfelt expression. The sincerity of this unprecedented mercy completely blindsides the angel. The hunter hesitates, taking a moment, before he utters the most powerful words Castiel has ever heard. "You are not alone."

Castiel raises his head, breath frozen for a moment in a silent gasp. Shock pools in his worn features, and, as Dean's words register in his mind, one by one, it feels as if the air has been completely sucked out of the room. The angel doesn't move, lets the words sink in, as if being completely still will make them real. Has his grief prompted hallucinations now as well?

The brothers don't stop talking, though.

You are not alone.

"No matter what you do."

"Good, bad, stupid."

They're talking over each other now, flooding him with words and sentiments before he can speak.

"God knows we've both done it all."

"You're a part of this family."

"We're not leaving you."

"We're not casting you out."

"We're not abandoning you."

Castiel stares at them in a sort of subdued, disquieted apprehension. He has no idea what to make of this generosity. Unprecedented, and undeserved. Overwhelmed, he stays quiet for a long time. What has inspired this? Why the sudden change? The sudden acceptance?

"I broke your wall," Cas whispers in a small voice, gaze retreated to the floor. The wounds he's caused to each of them personally were tremendous, overwhelming and unforgiveable.

"I stabbed you in the back," Sam replies, not missing a beat.

"We left you in this ring of fire."

"We left you in that reservoir when the leviathans broke free."

"Never again."

"Never again."

"We all have something to atone for."

"You're our angel."

"You've done everything for us. Everything."

"You gave your life, multiple times. You lost your grace, your sanity. You sacrificed everything you knew, all of it, for us. Heaven, faith, your family."

"Let us do something for you."

"Let us help."

"We're here."

"You're not alone."

"You're not alone, Cas."

He feels the scars on his heart anew, realizing there has always been a tiny part of him that had hoped for absolution, for penance. He could never ask, would never, because it's too big—but perhaps he doesn't have to ask. Castiel doesn't realize he's crying until he feels a wetness land on the toe of his shoe. He holds his breath, breath that tries to hitch into something like a sob, but he beats it back by sheer will. Eyes shining, he tells them, with a tearful break in his voice, "I'm sorry."

He says this as if it's the most important thing he's ever told anyone. His voice is a damaged sound, defeated, small and brimming with emotion and regret and so much guilt. A strange mixture of longing and shame folds around him like a cloud; he wants to belong again. Dean and Sam are looking at him like it's their fault, like they mean every word and they want to make everything better and right. It takes his breath away, and, for a frightening moment, he doesn't even know up from down.

"So are we."

Castiel stares at the droplets of light on the ground, puzzled and mystified. "I don't understand," the angel murmurs. It isn't a blinding light, just a soft shimmer that seems to shift and flow beneath his skin as if it were alive. It leaks out of his blue eyes, falling in time with the tears, dissipating into the air.

"It's okay. Humans cry all the time." He can hear the smile in Dean's voice. "Angels just do it a little differently, I guess."

Castiel hadn't noticed the phenomenon when he'd wept over Meg. As it did now, it had been his true form bleeding through, roused by the powerful deluge of pure, divine emotion. Never has such an event arisen before. It is a miracle.

At some point in time, the brothers must have come forward, because Dean is pouring a bag of salt over a section of fire, breaking the connection. The flames wither down without their holy completion, freeing the angel of the circle. Dean steps up to him, Sam just behind.

Castiel never once lifts his head, leaving it bowed in a manner that could almost be construed as prayer.

Sam is first at his side, speaking low and gentle. "Castiel?"

"I don't understand what this means."

"That means he forgives you," he explains softly.

Dean waits until the angel lifts his head, shame and guilt warring with the flecks of hope in the sad, familiar blue eyes. "You don't have to be sorry anymore. We forgive you. I forgive you."

"Come home," says Sam.

The aching in his chest crests to an incredible height, his defenses plummet, and Castiel is torn between sobbing on his knees and fighting off the beaming smile of relief that tries to break free. He settles for nodding his head; squaring his shoulders and standing up tall. He clears his throat. "Shall we drive, or will I be taking you there?" the angel gruffs, with that same solemn tone that has always accompanied his void expression. But there is a light in his eyes now, a twitch of the lips.

Dean quashes his amusement at that grave serious way of speech that makes him wonder if Cas ever says anything he doesn't mean, heart and soul. "Unless you can zap Baby back to Rufus's cabin along with our sorry asses, we're hittin' the asphalt, wingman."

The men take turns clapping the angel on the back with stirrings of real enthusiasm.

"Think you can handle a boring old road trip?"

Castiel looks at both brothers, his brothers, and smiles. "I believe I can."

days go by
lost in time
night time calls, again

That dead clearing in the forest, home to a moment of incredible grief, thrived now with new life. Sunlight streamed through the canopy, bathing the forest floor in golden light from which flowers sprung up, once extinct for thousands of years. The grass was so green, so vibrant. Lush vegetation spread through the hollow, covering the rocks in a blanket of moss. Brittle trees were made strong again, trunks swelling, branches stretching for the sky. The leaves shimmered in the light, fresh dew catching the kiss of sun.

All life bloomed from the presence of Earth's rarest tear, where a stream of perfectly unpolluted river water now flowed, babbling crystal clear. An angel's true form had been loosed in its midst, exposing it to the replenishing light of Creation. A powerful, timeless event.

Broken life was mended where angel and demon had fought. The memory of that great loss was forgotten, in its place a memorial raised. A symbol of goodness in the place of sacrifice.

and I'll say grace for where you are
I want you to know
you will always find me here

Author's Note: I actually legitly started crying whilst writing this. Don't usually have that happen. Then again, it was that time of the month for me. Leave your opinions and mockery in the box below, people. Sound off!