Castiel tilted his head, eyes fixed on the run-down factory ahead. Apparently, somewhere behind those walls, was a nest of demons, and he was there to use his "angel mojo", as Dean had put it, if there were more than the Winchesters could handle. He puffed out a breath, distracted momentarily as it condensed before him, and turned his charge, frowning slightly. It felt like there was a lump in his throat, something he decided to question Dean about later. Emotions, though he'd grown used to them, were still rather foreign to him.
"You good, Cas?" The angel simply nodded, observing the hunter's movements as he slid Ruby's knife into his pants. Beside him, Sam loaded a shotgun, flashlight in between his teeth. "Sam?" The younger brother grunted in response, shutting the boot and pulling the torch out of his mouth. Castiel simply watched, waiting until the hunters brushed passed him to follow.
He took the time to look around, admire what surrounded him. From the grass that sprouted in small clusters, to the sky, each star making its own mark, telling its own life story, Castiel couldn't deny the beauty of his Father's creations, and whenever he could, he would simply look, experience and feel just what a miracle felt like. Even the building ahead was its own special entity in Castiel's eyes, from the stories that had been told in there once, to the moss that climbed the walls. It was a home in its own little way.
The closer they got though, the less it felt like a home, and the more it felt... wrong. It had started with a simple worry, which he ignored - apparently worry wasn't uncommon - then grew, until his feathers ruffled at most everything, and his skin prickled.
It was only when Dean nudged the angel's shoulder that Castiel realised he'd lost focus, 'drifted off into his own little world', so to say. Sam was scrawling out a rough Devil's Trap at the entrance, his intentions clear. Castiel turned back to his charge, straight-faced and unblinking, to be met with a quirked eyebrow.
"Mind sharing what's on your mind, Cas?" Dean's lip tightened into a grimace as Castiel stared at him, forgetting to blink again. No matter how long he'd known the angel, each time he forgot to blink, the hunter found it rather unnerving.
"We don't split up in here. I believe something is not right here." He watched as the older hunter opened his mouth to protest, before realising that arguing with Castiel of all beings would be a pointless waste of time. The angel was impossible to sway, an just as difficult to explain things to.
"What exactly do you mean, Cas?" Sam stood up, tossing the chalk to the side as Castiel squinted at him, puzzled as to how his statement wasn't self-explanatory.
"I mean something is wrong here." Dean crudely supressed a snort, simply heightening the angel's confusion. Sam jabbed him in the ribs, glaring at his brother as Castiel simply glanced between them.
"Cas, what I think Sam meant was why is something not right?" It was Sam's turn to laugh under his breath, poorly disguising it as a cough.
"The air is off. I can feel it. Something is definitely not right." Dean furrowed his brow, opening and closing his mouth, trying to find a retort which refused to come to mind. Sam pursed his lips slightly, his grip on the shotgun tightening slightly.
"The air is off? Cas, not that I don't trust your sixth sense or anything, but there were all the demonic omens. ALL of them. What else could it possibly be?" Sam questioned.
Castiel paused. "Exactly."
"See, it's - wait, what?"
"All the demonic omens. Not one, or two, but all. Doesn't that strike you as a little... odd?" A wave of realisation hit the Winchesters then, and the cockiness fell from Dean's face, badly disguised concern taking its place.
Sam lifted his shotgun up, resting the barrel against the flashlight. "Look, whatever's in there, demon or not, is not coming out alive. That thing, or those things, have already slaughtered god knows how many. We can't just chicken out." Dean nodded in response, grunting slightly, and Castiel did what he was best at: watching.
"You ready then?" Sam dipped his head ever so slightly, gun ready, flashlight poised, as Dean worked on the lock, twisting the pick ever so slightly until a familiar click sounded. One glance at the angel and the younger hunter assured him, and he pushed the door open, one hand instinctively resting on the hilt of Ruby's knife. Each step was slow, careful, and Sam mimicked his brother's movements.
Castiel followed behind the Winchesters, a little less cautious with his strides. The bite of the air intensified inside the factory, sending a chill down his spine. The sensation felt familiar, and it irritated - another emotion he could live without - him greatly, not being able to place it. It wasn't just something he thought he knew, Castiel was more than certain he knew what it was.
A few steps later and it clicked.
Thunder crackled outside in response to the angel as he growled, crouching primitively in front of the hunters, his blade sliding between his fingers until the weapon was fully emerged. He flipped it over in his palm, poised to stab or slash should it be necessary, and swept the immediate vicinity, spiritually and visually. His wings were unfolded to their full span, an intimidation tactic he'd learnt, his fingers flexing around the angel blade.
"What the hell, Cas!" Castiel glanced over his shoulder at the older hunter, recoiling his wings slightly despite Dean not being able to see them. He twisted round to Sam, who looked equal parts confused, curious and worried, then forward again, determined not to miss anything.
"There's an angel here." Dean groaned, the whole angels fiasco growing irritating to him. Last time he checked, angels were meant to be nice, fluffy things, not walking, talking dicks, some of which had a desire for murder.
"That's just fucking fantastic. Who doesn't love a holy psychopath?" Dean growled, "Guess we best fin it before it finds us." Castiel paused a moment, then nodded, his grip loosening slightly on the angel blade. He folded his wings back for the time being, grey feathers pressing feathers his neck.
"I believe it already knows we're here. Surprise is out of the question. I felt its grace, it will have felt me too." Sam stood there, mulling the situation over whilst his brother acted melodramatic, groaning and sighing. He smiled a little as Dean tried to lead the way, but Castiel pushed him back, shifting into over-protective angel mode. And yet he mad sure Dean was always close to him. A little too close for there to be nothing between them. Sam decided to do the smart thing and made sure to steer clear of the pair so he didn't interfere with the sexual frustration between the angel and his brother. They'd figure it out eventually. Hopefully.
Castiel flew - pun intended - down the hallways, his feet barely touching the ground , but never too fast for Sam and Dean to match. There was something empowering about it. Whether it was the way his trench coat billowed out around him, or that physically he was the smallest of them, and yet he led the way, Castiel didn't know. But it was certainly empowering.
Castiel followed the sensation, his "angel radar", shivering as it intensified, worrying him and exciting him equally. Not that his face would ever reflect that though. Castiel knew that it was more than likely another angel who wanted him, or one of the boys, dead. As far as he knew, that summed up most every angel right now. But then, then there was always the chance that maybe, just maybe, he wouldn't but assaulted on sight. That maybe it was someone who could help. And then Castiel realised he was feeling hope. He'd never really liked hope - it was a cruel, misleading emotion.
They came to one door which hadn't stood out to either of the brothers, and yet Castiel stood still in front of it, and pressed a finger to his lips. Dean nodded and pulled Ruby's knife out of his trousers, Sam gripping the shotgun with both hands, ready to fire if needed. Cas' fingers flexed around the blade, and with a deep breath, he twisted his other hand, the lock clicking and the door swinging open. Castiel braced himself, expecting some half-minded angel lunatic to charge at him, angel blade raised high.
Now he'd wished that was what he'd been confronted with.
To Sam and Dean, they saw a man, slouched forward but held upright by some invisible force, surrounded by a ring of what they presumed to be holy fire. His head was slumped forward, hands cuffed behind his back, a chain around his the neck, the end just outside the holy fire. His hair was matted with blood and dirt, his chest bare, gashes long and short, deep and shallow decorating it, and his eyes squeezed shut, his whole face contorted in pain.
To Castiel, however, saw what their human eyes couldn't pick up on. To the angel, it was a torture chamber of the worst degree. He saw wings charred and stained beyond recognition, broken and torn, stab wounds piercing through them, leaving the aftermath only an angel blade would produce. It wasn't just one pair, or two, but more than Cas cared to count, each as broken and bloodied as the next. And the largest pair were the worst. Feathers had been ripped from them, the membrane of the wing pierced as they were chained to the ceiling with clamps far too tight for comfort, cracked bones and dried blood around each of the numerous clamps, forcing the angel to stay upright. The brackets were etched with Enochian symbols, pulling the wings, larger than any Castiel remembered, outside of the holy fire, the feathers on the end burnt black.
Castiel took a deep breath and tentatively stepped forward, his stomach twisted in revulsion. His hand was outstretched, desiring to run through the damaged feathers, offer some form of comfort to the tortured angel. The fire was the only barrier between them, the only thing stopping him. A quick glance upwards, and an idea began to form in his head. Castiel closed his eyes, angel blade dropping to the floor as he inhaled deep through his nostrils. Several pipes ran overhead, and Castiel hoped, prayed even, that water ran through one of them.
He gritted his teeth, hand twisting, pipes creaking. Castiel's face contorted, and the first pipe cracked under the pressure of his grace, setting off what seemed like a chain reaction as more pipes followed suit. He hissed as cold water hit him, his black hair clinging to his forehead, but it doused the majority of the flames, breaking the ring. His eyes fell onto the clamps, and his lips pulled back a little in disgust.
"Support his weight. Now." The room rumbled slightly, and another thunder crack sounded in the distance. Neither hunter hesitated in lifting the angel up, carrying his weight. Partially because their angel wasn't to be spoken against when elements of his true voice broke through.
Castiel grimaced, already aware he'd over exerted himself, beyond what an angel cut off from Heaven should. But he wasn't prepared to stop. This grace, this angel's grace felt familiar, comforting even, and good or bad, he wasn't prepared to leave any brother or sister in such a state. Though some of his siblings may not be better than that, he was, and he prided himself on that.
His hand twisted, squeezing into a fist, and one by one, the brackets snapped in half, leaving shattered bone and torn wing in their place. Each bracket that snapped, the angel became heavier, leaving the two hunters to imagine the wingspan of the angel. Castiel felt blood running over his top lip as the last clamp cracked apart, and he fell to his knees, his head pounding from the strain. A groan of pain slipped through clenched teeth as he pushed his grace just that bit further, the cuffs dropping to the ground with a satisfying clatter. Castiel dropped completely, his weight too much to support.
"Cas?" Dean called out, worry creasing his features as he glanced between the angels. "Castiel?!"
"Dean," Sam nudged his brother, nodding in Castiel's direction. "Go check he's alright. Help him."
"Dude, I've got him, don't worry. Just go help Cas, that's gonna take a toll on him." Dean glanced between Sam and the unconscious angel in his arms, still slumped forward, torn. "Dean, Cas." The elder Winchester glanced once more, biting his lip slightly, before moving to help Castiel to his feet again.
Sam repositioned himself, still supporting the weight of the, well, rather short angel, hooking an arm under his knees, tossing the shotgun aside and wrapping his other arm around the angel's shoulders, pulling him into his chest. Definitely short. He pushed the hair aside from the angel's face, his finger lingering a moment longer than necessary. Dean was hobbling towards him with Castiel, now semi-conscious, before glancing back at the man in his arms, eyelids slowly parting. They flitted around, terrified, until they met with Sam, who was staring, lips parted and his own eyes widened, torn between shock and surprise (and if he was honest, a considerable amount of concern as well).
"Shit!" he exclaimed, catching his brother's and Castiel's attention. "Gabriel?!"