Author Note: A few assumptions to be made for this story. Gabriel is not dead, Castiel isn't a mindless being, or a God, or getting a God complex. Sam is not a soulless dick. Dean still thinks he's straight, or likes to tell himself that. Before this point things have been pretty much as happened on TV, other than the Gabriel dying bit.
I hope you enjoy. It started out as something very simple but then I wanted a plot and it quickly escalated. I plan for this to be big and angsty and full of tears. Please, let me know what you think. this is my first ever fanfic.
Also a shout out to my beta reader and like best friend ever, Michelle, over at superunnaturallysexy on Tumblr. Without her I would never have had the courage to do this. Ever.
It had started off as a regular haunting, just some vengeful spirit which, compared to most things nowadays, was a rather simple task. It should have just been a case of salting and burning the bones, maybe a bit of a fight to save some idiot people that got themselves involved somehow, but things had gotten considerably darker as soon as they had realised all the doors and windows were locked, and that it was certainly not a vengeful spirit. They should have known, really, that the rumours about the big haunted house were getting into peoples' heads. They should have known something was off when no one had really seen the ghost, despite the fact that murders had resembled the crimes committed by the old serial killer. It became painfully clear what was behind the deaths as Dean's giant of a brother was knocked clean off his feet and thrown into a nearby wall, as five figures stepped out of the shadows in front of them, eyes black with possession. They really just could not get a break from this demon crap. Dean was next to be flung by the rough hands of a tall and broad man, and he felt the side of an old wooden dresser slam into chest, knocking the wind straight out of his lungs. He wanted to snap out a witty greeting but he was very aware that he could hardly breathe. They were overwhelmed surprisingly fast, as if this had been the plan all along. There were certainly not prepared for a demon incident, and before Dean could even reach the holy water in his jacket pocket he was being hauled to his feet by two demons. They were strong, of course. Before he could manage another thought, everything went black as a fist connected with the side of his head.
Dean let out a low hiss as he examined the cut on his hairline. It was deep and bloody and a shining example of why you should always be prepared for demon attacks. It was some sort of miracle that they had escaped, a shade of luck that had led to Dean finally reaching his holy water and distracting them long enough for Sam to grab the knife and take down the ring leader of the little pack. After fighting through what seemed like a hundred demons before managing to reach the Impala and get the hell out of there, they were both completely exhausted. Sam had collapsed on the bed as soon as they reached the motel and secured the doors and windows, and Dean could feel his whole body aching dully as he studied his injuries in the mirror. He was about to lift his shirt and check the continuous sharp throbbing in his ribs when he heard the flutter of wings followed by a soft thud. "Well, Cas, better late than never," he called from the bathroom, but no reply came back. He hesitated for a moment, fingers tightening slightly on the hem of his shirt as he turned towards the door. Castiel was neither invading his personal space nor speaking, and that had him slightly worried. His eyes landed on the trench-coated figure leaning against the dresser in the bedroom and he felt his stomach drop. The tan coat was bloodstained and the shirt was barely noticeable as white any more. "Cas!" He was beside the angel in seconds, supporting him around his torso before he fell to the ground. Blue eyes turned up to him, slightly wide with pain and surrounded by small trickles of blood.
"I came as fast as I could," he choked out, one hand gripping Dean's shirt tightly as he steadied himself. Dean stared at those bright blue eyes for a moment, a frown crossing his face.
"Well," he started slowly, heaving Castiel gently to the bed and helping him to sit down. "I'm glad you did. What even did this to you?" There was not a lot that could do such damage to an angel, Dean knew that much. He glanced over his shoulder as he went into the bathroom to get a damp cloth, seeing Castiel hunched over on the end of the bed, head buried in his hands. "Cas?" Dean called cautiously as he ran a cloth under the warm water coming from the tap, a little unnerved by the silence. It was not until he was knelt on the floor reaching up to clean some of the blood from the angel's face that he finally received an answer.
"The angels," he muttered quietly, his eyes watching Dean with a slight distance, as if he were still really not all there. Dean gritted his teeth a little and pressed the cloth against a particularly nasty gash on Castiel's hairline. He hissed and recoiled, eyes clamping shut for a moment before he cracked one open to look once again at the man. "It still hurts," he grumbled under his breath. Dean raised one eyebrow and reached his other hand to hold his head in place by the jaw, his grip firm.
"You're such a baby," he sighed, pressing the cloth against the wound again and ignoring the cringing.
"I am not," Castiel argued quietly, his eyes narrowing towards Dean. He had stopped squirming so much as the man cleaned the cuts around his brow and along his jaw. They had really done a number on him, Dean noted, as he found more and more little grazes.
"Maybe you should just get a shower or something," he grumbled, straightening up and moving to wash out the cloth and refresh it a little. When he returned, the angel was rubbing his eyes with one blood-stained hand, squinting against his exhaustion. "Actually, maybe you should sleep. Stop that." He grabbed the hand that was quickly undoing all the good work he had done on Castiel's face, running the cloth over his fingers to remove the worst of it. It was like cleaning up some grubby little child, he thought.
"Sleep sounds nice," Castiel sighed, rubbing his eyes again with his now clean hand as Dean wiped down the fingers on the other. It was then that he noticed the state of the angel's clothes, covered in dirt and blood and giving off a rather unpleasant odour. He wrinkled his nose as he cleaned his palms, scrubbing a little to get some stubborn grime off.
"What did you do, dive into a ditch?" He rocked back to sit on his heels, pleased with his work and tossing the cloth onto the bedside table. Castiel frowned, but not particularly in Dean's direction, his eyes slipping down to his hands.
"Renaissance France is not the cleanest of places," his voice was quiet again, and Dean narrowed his eyes, head shaking.
"Renaissance France? Seriously?" He stood and motioned for the angel to do the same before he helped him out of the trench coat. Great, now he was undressing an angel who was a little too like a manchild, that was exactly what he needed after a day like that.
"Yes," Castiel said simply, brows furrowing slightly as he let Dean strip his torso down to his shirt, feeling the slight chill of the motel room damp against his back. Then it all came back to him yet again and his gaze dropped. "I lost them after 1920." He should have known Dean would not stop at the shirt, with the filth that coated it, but suddenly he found his hand rushing up to stop the man, his eyes slightly wide. "That can stay on." Dean's hands did not move from the buttons, his eyes narrowing once more as he met the suddenly wide blue gaze of the angel.
"Why? It's not like I'm going to fondle an angel of the Lord or anything," the man grumbled, going again to unbutton the shirt. Castiel pushed his hands away a little more forcefully this time, eyes darting to the floor nervously. "Or maybe the angel of the Lord is self-conscious," he chided gently, eyebrows lifting slightly.
"No I'm not," Castiel blurted out seriously, and then wished he had not said that. Maybe lying about not being self-conscious was better than admitting the truth. He cringed again, face scrunching up a little. "Yes, yes I am self-conscious, now please leave the shirt," he tried to cover quickly. Dean lifted his hands in defeat and motioned to Castiel's feet.
"Fine, fine, whatever, just take your shoes off." He was a little concerned, he had to admit. It was rare for the angel to be so shady about something, and shady was certainly the way to describe this. Dean moved around the bed as the angel sat back down and went to take his shoes off, and that was when Dean's eyes landed on the stains, deep and red and trickling right down from either shoulder blade, nearly to the bottom of his shirt. The man froze, eyes widening slightly, and he did not move until Castiel sat up, his shoes removed. Suddenly he tensed, as if feeling the eyes upon him, and his head slowly turned over his shoulder to look at Dean.
"What… what's that?" Castiel's face twisted into something near agitation, one hand running through his still matted hair.
"Blood, Dean," he grumbled, rolling his shoulders awkwardly.
"Yeah, yeah I can see that… but… but why?" Suddenly Dean was in front of him again, and Castiel closed his eyes for a moment before looking away. Dean glanced over to his sleeping brother, who was still snoring like a chain saw, before returning his eyes to the hunched figure in front of him.
"Only an angel truly knows how to hurt another angel," his voice was barely audible, but he did not fight as Dean went to unbutton the shirt again. "They were trying to stop me from running, or, rather, flying."
"And?" Dean peeled the shirt gently away from the wounds, which looked even uglier than he had anticipated. The cuts were deep and precise and still oozing gently.
"It didn't work, I managed to jump into time," Castiel explained quietly, burying his face in his hands again as Dean moved to the bedside table to grab the cloth again. Castiel would never admit what happened to him, not fully. They had managed to tie him down, to bind him, and then they had attempted to torture him for information. Angels knew very intimate methods of torture. He trembled slightly as he felt the cloth on his lower back, wiping up the dried blood that had trickled down from the deep wounds on his shoulders. It was almost relaxing, he guessed, as he let the other man clean it all away carefully. Castiel was so wrapped up in how good it felt to be clean again, that he realised too late what was about to happen. He jerked forwards just as Dean's hand reached the cuts on his shoulders, but his actions were in vain. Once again Dean froze. They had appeared from nowhere, but there were certainly there now. Dean had always figured their wings were more metaphorical than real, a shadow being cast but not an actual physical thing, but they were there, right in front of him. The span was large, he could tell, but the wings were folded untidily against Castiel's back, and that was when Dean's heart sank at the sight of them and the state they were in. He glanced across to Sam to check his brother was still asleep, and then turned his gaze back to the soft, grey feathers. They were dark but somehow shimmered, and they were covered in blood. He was entranced; there was no other word for it. He did not notice the tension in the angel as his fingers reached out to the soft downy feathers near the bone structure. Castiel groaned, rocking forward a little more on the edge of the bed as Dean inspected the feathers. He was no expert in angel anatomy, but he was sure there should be more. He guessed the blood was coming from where feathers had been removed, and by the way Castiel buried his face deep in his hands and sucked in his breath he guessed it hurt a lot.
"Is… is there anything I can do?" He was completely lost. He knew how to patch himself up, to stitch up cuts and holes and stop infection, but wings? He had no idea what to do, and that frustrated him. Castiel shook his head gently and straightened a little, daring to stretch his wings a fraction. This only resulted in his scrunching up his face in pain.
"They will heal," the angel said quietly as he inspected his right wing. It was worse than he had thought. "I hope," he added, noticing that a few of his flight feathers were missing. Suddenly he was glad he had come to Dean as soon as he had lost the group of angels. He would not be able to fly again for a while, and he knew there was not really another place he would rather be stranded. Getting to Dean had been slow and like flying through a blender because of the pain and the absence of some of his important feathers, but he had known that was where he needed to be. Dean always knew what to do.
Castiel wondered for a moment why his wings had would not disappear again, and then he noticed the hand still on his left wing preventing it from vanishing back into its metaphorical form, and the dampness that he could feel on his feathers. He turned his head over his left shoulder to see Dean sat behind him, tongue stuck out in concentration, cleaning the blood off each feather meticulously having already cleaned up a lot of the blood around the base of the wings. "Dean," he started gruffly, closing his eyes at the warm sensation spreading through him. His wings were sensitive and the water was warm, the warmth seeping into the rest of his body. "They will heal," he repeated gently, but firmly. The man did not look up, trailing the cloth down one of the long flight feathers, sending a visible shiver through Castiel.
"Sorry," he said quickly, withdrawing his hand. "Didn't mean to hurt-"
"It didn't hurt," he grumbled, folding his wings down again. "I just… they'll heal." With Dean's touch relenting, the wings were suddenly gone again and the angel let out a long sigh.
"Why don't you just heal up, anyway? Out of angel mojo?" He tossed the cloth down again and straightened up from where had been sat behind Castiel. A pair of serious blue eyes looked up at him, a weariness in them that he had seen a few times before. Castiel was not in the mood for joking about his 'mojo'.
"I… I have lost my connection," he said simply, looking back down at his hands. "My powers are now minimal, and I used what I had left to escape the others." He looked over his shoulder to where Dean had pulled back the sheets of the creaky old motel bed. Dean could see Castiel was running on nearly empty.
"Well maybe you'll feel better in the morning." He motioned to the bed and Castiel slowly climbed over to lie down on the cool sheets. "You can have a shower then, too, 'cause you smell like sewer," he plastered a grin on his face as he watched the angel curl up under the sheets, those large blue eyes frowning up at him. Dean left him then, flicking off the light in the room and heading back into the bathroom to finally sort out his own injuries. The painful throbbing around his chest was still there, but he had forgotten about it while he had tended to the angel. Now the pain was back with vengeance. He braced himself against the sink and looked in the mirror, his mind wandering back to those wings. He had seen a lot of weird crap in his time, stuff other people would never believe even if it walked up and slapped them in the face, so he was not surprised that he had not been wholly surprised at the wings. Yet, now he thought about it, he was in a minor shock. Angels really did have wings, and they were not pearly white, or at least Castiel's were not. Dean could not help but wonder if this was another thing that separated his angel from the rest of the heavenly soldiers, along with the defiance and his increasing ability to understand and use sarcasm. His angel? He certainly had no possession over Castiel, and yet he felt protective, as if no one had the right to abuse his angel in such a way. He glanced over his shoulder towards the bedroom before sighing and pulling his shirt off over his head.
It was just as ugly as he had expected, a dark bruise forming over his ribs. Well, it was certainly broken, he mused as he pressed his fingers against his ribcage and felt the bones shift. That was all he needed. He ran the tap and washed his face off, the water cool and refreshing against his skin. He took a bit of time to clean his own wounds, glad that most of the cuts were shallow and not really a big deal. He finished shortly and picked his shirt off the side of the bathtub where he had dropped it and headed back into the room, looking to his brother as the man who barely fitted on the bed rolled over to face the door, fretting for a moment before dropping back into a deeper sleep. Dean suddenly stopped, aware of a warm sensation in his ribs. He could feel a gentle pressure there, and he slowly looked down to see a hand pressed against the side of his chest, gentle warmth radiating from the palm, and not a bruise in sight. His eyes darted to Castiel, the faint glint of his eyes staring back up at him sleepily. He had a small smile on his face, satisfied at the result of his touch. His fingers lingered for a moment before slowly slipping away, his arm dropping back down onto the bed. Dean did not move, his eyes locked onto the gaze of the angel through the darkness of the room.
"I thought you were out of mojo," he muttered, fingers wringing at the shirt he held in his hands. The stabbing and throbbing pains in his chest were gone, replaced by the still lingering warmth of the angel's touch. Castiel closed his eyes again.
"I am now," he said sleepily as he rolled over, curling back up into the sheets. Dean stared a moment longer, taking in the darkness of the deep wounds on Castiel's shoulders, a contrast to his pale skin. Of all the places he could have gone, he had chosen to return to the brothers in his time of need. Dean did not know if it was out of his protectiveness or the feeling of safety having the angel around that made him glad that Castiel had chosen to come to them. He wanted to disregard the whirlwind of thoughts and feelings in his mind, but he found that as he settled down on the sofa to sleep that they only got worse. The angel had used his last scrap of energy to heal some broken ribs, instead of his own wings. Why had he kept that scrap in reserve? Why had he come to them for help when there were surely other places better equipped to handle his problems? Dean had prayed and prayed for a bit of help when they were fighting the demons, but he knew it was not the angel's place to help them out of every little problem they ran into. He had expected a lecture on the more important things in this world when the angel had appeared; he had even prepared a few retorts and comments for the occasion. The sight of Castiel in such a broken and vulnerable state was a little unnerving, but Dean had to say he was glad to have him around. Having an angel hanging about was always a comfort. His last thoughts as he fell asleep were of those wings, large and grey but so utterly destroyed. He imagined what they were like when they had not been mutilated, how grand they must be with all their flight feathers intact. He remembered what they felt like, softer than satin and barely there, as if his fingers were moving over the air itself. He wanted to touch them again.