Summary: The first time Cas had stitched up a wound had been an exercise in controlled panic and lots of alcohol; that along with his first experience driving made for an exciting evening.
A/N: End!Verse story! Set shortly after Castiel loses his powers in an AU version of Point of No Return, which is coming soon. This will be a part of my latest massive project, which is the 'getting there' story of The End. Just a one shot that came to me. Rated T for semi graphic description of wounds, and swearing, but no more than the show. No slash, as in all of my stories. Castiel POV.
Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural, nor any of the characters.
The first time Cas had stitched up a wound had been an exercise in controlled panic and lots of alcohol. He'd learned how to do it quickly and effectively now, when his fingers weren't shaking from lack of drugs or drink, but he still remembered the terror he'd felt with Dean's blood on his hands and no healing powers to fix him.
It wasn't even that bad of a wound, in retrospect. It was shortly after Cas had blown away his powers the first time, and barely a week into his first time hunting as a human. They'd holed up at Bobby's after the affair with Pestilence, to give time to them both to heal. Cas had ended up needing longer than planned, to his annoyance, as his newly human status was not as resistant to the contagions of Pestilence, but eventually he was well, and itching to move and do something.
Dean found a hunt a few states over, just a simple one, he said, one to ease Cas into the life, since he had nothing else to do but learn how to be human.
They set out in the Impala, Cas sitting in Sam's usual seat, though Sam hadn't been with Dean for months. It was strange to sit up front. The music was louder, and the conversation stilted.
The ghost hunt was easy, for the most part, until Dean got flung into a rotted wooden shed that sat on the cemetery grounds, and Cas had to both find a match, and figure out how to use it while the spirit screamed and charged him. Finally, the bones ignited, and the ghost vanished in a column of flames.
Breathing hard (he still hadn't completely gotten his breath back after that illness and lingering cough) Cas ran towards where Dean was lying. The man was already stirring, and groaning, which calmed Castiel's heart a bit.
"Dean, are you alright?"
"Damn," Dean's voice answered, and there was pain in the tone.
Coming closer, Castiel could see that Dean was hunched in the wreckage of the shed, scraped and dirty, but sitting upright. He was clutching around his middle, and Castiel had a sudden fear of Dean's insides spilling out. Images of Hell danced around in his brain.
"Dean, are you hurt?" He reached the man, and saw that Dean wasn't holding around his middle, but was trying to reach his own back.
"Ow, dammit." Dean muttered. "Just got scraped across the back, I think."
"Let me see." Castiel said, leaning over Dean, and squinting through the dark. Dean's jacket was torn, and shirt as well, and through it, he could see liquid glistening. A surge of alarm ran through him. He carefully put a hand to the wound, and whispered "Sorry," when Dean flinched.
"Careful, man." Dean muttered.
"Dean, you're losing blood. I think this is more than a scratch."
"I'll be fine," Dean said, vaguely lifting a hand towards his back again. Castiel pushed his hand away, and came around so he could get a better look. The wound was long, and bleeding slowly, and was deeper than he'd like.
"Damn it." Castiel muttered too, the profanity seeming to fit. Coming into action, he shrugged out of his outer coat, and his over shirt. He still preferred button up shirts, since acquiring a wardrobe other than Jimmy's, and the shirt he was wearing over his tee shirt would make a good bandage. Folding the body of it into a square, Castiel pressed it against Dean's back, using the arms to tie it off around Dean's chest. That would have to do for now.
He shoved his shoulder under Dean's arm, and heaved him up. Dean was still conscious and walked mostly under his own power, through he was unsteady and silent, which worried him more.
"Stay with me, Dean." Castiel muttered, as they walked.
"I'm here, I'm here..." Dean grumbled. Castiel took that as a good sign.
They reached the car, which was parked along the road from town, and then came to a stand still.
"Well, this is a problem." Dean muttered, already straightening, and pulling away from Castiel's grip.
"Dean, you can't drive in your condition." Castiel said, alarm rising, as well as a resurgence of his feelings of uselessness since Van Nuys. Dean pulled out his keys with a wince.
"Yeah, well, you can't drive at all." He said. Castiel grabbed the keys from Dean's hand.
"I've been watching humans for thousands of years, and I've seen you drive this car countless times. I can figure out how to drive."
Determination was rising within him. He would do this. Sixteen year old children drove in this country; so why couldn't an angel made human with countless years under his belt?
"Cas, give those back." Dean tried to snatch the keys back, but failed. It was a show of how much pain he was in that he didn't try again. "I'll teach you to drive another time, but I'm not letting you drive my baby cold."
Castiel opened the passenger side down of the Impala, and turned back to Dean, who by now was swaying without his support. The bloody bandages on his back were flimsy at best, and dark stains were spreading down his coat. This was taking too long.
"Dean, get in. You need treatment." Castiel said firmly. Dean resisted for a moment more, before he stumbled a bit, and Castiel had to grab him under the arms.
"Fine," Dean muttered. "But just this once."
Castiel folded Dean carefully into the front seat, adjusting his position with careful hands until Dean pushed him away with a grumble. Then, he straightened, shut the car door, and came around to the drivers side of the Impala.
It really was only a ten minute drive, straight on a few roads until they came to their motel. The town had the luck of being small and built with a simple lay out. Castiel remembered the turns they'd taken from the motel, and since it was the dead of night, there would be fewer cars around. It would be fine.
Castiel sat behind the wheel carefully, feeling Dean's eyes on him. There was a moment's beat before-
"You know, it's just a wheel. It doesn't bite." Dean's voice hovered between amused, pained and annoyed. Castiel clapped his hands onto the wheel. "Keys," Dean murmured, which Castiel remembered were still in his pocket.
"I know." He said, pulling out the keys, and fitting it to the ignition without trouble. He twisted, and the car rumbled to life. The Impala seemed to growl at the unfamiliar person in the drivers seat.
"You're lucky it's an automatic." Dean said. "Okay, put your foot on the brake, release the parking break, and then put it in drive." Dean's voice was quiet but steady, and Castiel felt warmed by the sign of trust here, along with worried at the weakness that was already evident in Dean's tones.
Castiel did each step in a slow rhythm. Once the car was in drive, Dean roused, and rolled his head over.
"Now, slowly take your foot from the brake to the gas pedal, and then push down gently. Keep it slow, and take your time. You know the way back to the motel?" Dean finished.
Castiel nodded. "Yeah, just rest."
Dean kept his eyes open, but leaned his head back at Castiel's words.
"Okay, rock and roll."
Slowly, Castiel moved his foot over like Dean had said. The engine revved, but once his foot touched the gas pedal, the whole car jerked forward. Dean winced, and Castiel slammed his foot on the brake again.
"Sorry," Castiel muttered.
"Try again," Dean said. "Softly."
He nodded, and eased his foot over again, and pressed down. The car moved forward, but much slower. He pulled the car out onto the road and sped up a bit until they were moving down the country road from the cemetery at a slow but steady pace.
"Okay, good. Feels good." Dean murmured.
Castiel kept it steady, and they made good time down the road, until they came to the town's edge. There was a stop light marking the town limits, and Castiel pulled to a stop (traffic laws were something he'd observed, and never really understood, but he did know that you were supposed to stop at a stoplight.) Impatiently, he tapped his fingers on the wheel, and glanced over at Dean.
The man's eyes were open halfway, and peering at him, while the rest of his face was ashen. He was twisted in his seat, trying to keep pressure off his back, and his face was lined with pain. He met Castiel's eyes, and his lips flickered upward slightly.
"I'm fine, man. Concentrate on driving. You're doing fine."
Castiel turned back to the road to see the light flip to green, so he carefully pushed the car forward. He went about as fast as before, making turns that were too wide, until he stopped in the motel parking lot. He parked the car at an angle between two spot, for he didn't trust himself to turn that precisely, and turned the car off. Dean was listing to the side, but gave him an approving look when he opened the passenger door.
"Wouldja look at that. You made it, Cas." Dean murmured, and then his eyes slipped closed. Castiel leaned forward quickly, panic that he'd kept at bay coming forward again.
"Dean," Castiel tapped Dean's cheek. "Dean, stay awake."
"Mm 'wake, you idiot." Dean slurred, and Castiel took a breath. He pushed Dean forwards a bit, check his back. The blood was soaking his both shirts, and Dean's coat, but it didn't look like it was still flowing as quickly, which was good.
"Come on, Dean. We need to get you inside." Castiel grabbed Dean's arm, and slung it over his shoulder again, pulling him out of the car with a hand on his waist. He tried not to think that his arm was across the dripping blood stains, because it couldn't be helped. It turned his stomach a bit though.
"Med kit." Dean gasped, as they moved, and Castiel nodded. It wouldn't be good to forget that, but his arms were full with Dean's bulk.
"I'll come back for it."
They made their way carefully inside, and towards their first floor room, which they'd gotten yesterday when they came to town. Castiel somehow got the key card into the door slot, and then flipped on the light with his elbow, all without dropping the increasingly heavy Dean duffel bags were already inside, and Dean's mess had already spread from the bad to the floor surrounding it, as was per usual. Dean's bed wasn't made, so he sat him down on the side, and shoved the blankets onto the floor. Dean swayed, looking like he wanted to lie down, but Castiel put two hands on his shoulders.
"Hold on, Dean. Let me get a towel for the blood."
Dean nodded tiredly, and continued sitting upright, while Castiel went to the bathroom and gathered all the towels he could find. He laid a couple out under behind Dean, and let him turn and lie on his stomach. Dean let out a sigh of relief as the muscles in his back relaxed. Castiel laid another towel over the wound, and then turned back to the door.
"I'll be right back.
It only took a minute to fetch the kit, and then he was back, and standing over Dean's bleeding body. Suddenly the nights events caught up with him, and he felt a rush of nervousness. He clutched the medical kit in his hands to stop the sudden trembling on his fingers. He'd never been in this position, and he wished he could regain his angel powers, just for a moment, to heal Dean's back with a touch. Because he didn't know how to do this.
On the bed, Dean stirred, and turned his head. He'd not been truly unconscious, and his gaze was lucid as he looked at Castiel.
"Stop freaking out, and come here." Dean said in a low voice. He sounded tired, but not incapacitated. Castiel stepped forward, still holding the med kit. "Now, here's what you do."
Dean coached him what to do to prepare, how to get the supplies ready, and how to clean the wound thoroughly. Dean's voice was steady, though tight with pain as Castiel did as he was instructed, removing the cloth that covered the wound, and cleansing the scrape with water and antiseptic. Dean's back was tensed, and he flinched at some of Castiel's movements, but he made little noise as Castiel tried to get all the dirt and grit out of the long cut.
"Okay," Dean said, pain making his voice hoarse, and tight. "That done?"
Castiel's stepped back. "Yes," He said, sure that all the foreign debris was out of Dean's flesh.
"Okay, now how long and deep is it?"
Castiel leaned closer, measured.
"About nine inches long, an inch deep." Castiel said, frowning. Dean groaned, raising himself up on his elbows.
"Son of a bitch. You're gonna have to stitch it."
Castiel felt some alarm rise within in. "I've never stitched anything before, Dean."
"Yeah, well, I'm not too happy either, but I can't reach it." Dean shifted, his muscles tense with pain. "Alright, get that suture kit. I'll walk you through it."
It was simple enough in theory, use the thread and needle to sew the edges of the skin together and close the wound. But when his washed and sanitized fingers held the ugly curved needle, he couldn't stop his stomach from twisting with nervousness. Back when he was an angel, full of power and purpose, he could have healed this wound with less than a thought. Now, he sat, useless, with only a needle, and a few bottles of alcohol to work with, while Dean bled.
"Cas," Dean said, his voice rough and low. He took a swig of the liquor and turned his head towards Castiel. "Come, on man. You can do it."
Castiel leaned forward, and set the point of the needle against Dean's skin, at the narrowest part of the long cut. He pushed it through, and brought it to the other side of the cut, pulling the skin together. Dean stiffened, but made no sound. That done, he brought the needle up, and tied off a knot, cutting it close, but not too close, as instructed. One done.
The minutes blurred after that, as he concentrated on the sickening slide of the needle through skin and the feel of the blood encrusted thread as he tied the knots. The gaping skin closed, and Dean twitched, but made no noise at each of his movements.
Finally, the last knot was in place, the wound was closed, and Dean was panting in pain. He poured some of the cleansing liquid over it, washing away blood, and eliciting a stifled groan from Dean. Then he laid a clean piece of gauze over top, taped it, and stepped back.
He was done. Dean had stopped bleeding, and all would be well.
So why did his insides flutter and his hands tremble? Why couldn't he look away from the blood that stained his fingers?
Dean lay still after Castiel stepped back, then in the continued quiet, he slowly turned his head to see meet Castiel's eyes. The pain lines around them softened, and he looked at Castiel in a way that was almost fond.
"Thanks for patchin' me up, Cas." Dean murmured, the alcohol and the shock making his words slur for the first time since he'd been hurt. Castiel took a deep breath, and stepped closer, laying a hand on Dean's forehead, almost like he was checking for fever, but closer to the motions he'd make if he were sending him to sleep as an angel. He could no longer do that, but Dean still closed his eyes gently.
"Sleep, Dean." Castiel said, eyes lingering on the breaths, on Dean's blood free bandaging, on his closed eyes, no longer tight with pain. He sighed, and stepped back, needed to go clean himself up. Dean was safe. Even without his powers, he'd managed, somehow to save him once more. He could only hope that he kept being able to do so.
He remembered piecing Dean back together after Hell, placing his soul gently into the newly repaired body, perfect in every way. It was vague, now, like it hadn't really happened to him, but he'd never forget the wonder he felt as Dean took his first breath, gasping in the darkness of his own grave. He'd not been permitted to help, but seeing Dean crawl from the earth filled him with joy.
And now, even with these hands that weren't truly his, with his grace dormant and broken, he still was putting Dean back together. And as long as in the end Dean was in one piece after, he couldn't say he really minded.