Title: Until Everything Is Perfect Again
Author: HigherMagic
Artist: demonichate
Fandom/Genre: Supernatural, Family/Romance
Pairing(s): Dean/Castiel, canon marriage pairings, Sam/Ruby (mentioned), unrequited Mary/Azazel.
Word Count: 23,214
character death, angst, wing!kink, soul bonding, schmoop
Summary: In a world where Angels and Demons have been tamed to use as pets and Hunting companions, Castiel and Ruby are both friends and protectors of Sam and Dean. We follow Castiel and Dean's life through the Angel's eyes as they track down the Yellow-Eyed Demon after Mary's death, and how Dean will never let Castiel close in the way the Angel so desperately wants until he is dead.

Written for the DeanCasBigBang over at Livejournal. Enjoy!

The world is small, warm and dull.

I don't have very many memories of my time in my egg, up to when I opened my eyes for the first time, but every moment since then has been utter clarity. We never forget, we never move on. I suppose we're like dogs that way; loyal to the Hunter we're bonded with until the very end and yet at the same time all connected, bound to something higher. Angels and Demons alike are used as tools, weapons for Hunting other things with our partners, but we're treated…well, we're treated like pets. Like we're not intelligent, like we're here to be ordered around and told what to do.

I never really had a problem with that until I was older. Because my Hunter…Dean…he didn't treat me like a pet. He treated me like a partner. There are instincts inside of me that I have to admit are very animal-like, like wanting to sleep near my Hunter at all times, and not necessarily as a human…in a way a human would. I don't really know how to explain it. Dean has always been there; I hatched from my egg the exact same moment he was born, and we were both laid together in the nursery cot in the hospital. His mother, Mary, didn't like Angels very much; she had a Demon who'd served her family very well already named Azazel, but John had insisted on me for Dean, and I'm grateful for that otherwise I would have woken up to a very different lifestyle, perhaps, and would never have known what I do now.

I love Dean. There's no two ways about it, but it's so wrong. Sinful and goes against everything I am; my breeding, my nature, my species. I am not Human, I am not a Woman, and therefore I should not be with Dean. I've never heard of an Angel getting so attached to his or her Hunter that their thoughts were straying to become less like a partner or a pet…but to a lover's. I had begun to stay further and further away from him, lest my instincts and my desires overwhelm me. As an Angel I'm not used to experiencing anything other than loyalty to my Hunter, his family, and to my species, and so feeling such complicated things as jealousy and love and anger are so foreign and terrifying that I have to run sometimes, or fly.

My world started out small and warm. I remember feeling like I was encased in jelly, warm and almost liquid, so that I could move around. I remember stretching my wings out slightly behind me, knowing they were growing all the time, and feeling them come up against a slick, hard shell of resistance. I knew I was in an egg, an awareness that had been bred into my species, and I knew that one day I would get too big for this egg and have to break out of it. That was what the long fingernail on the first finger of my right hand was for; to claw my way out of the shell when the time came.

My world started out dull; there wasn't much to entertain me once I started to become aware of my surroundings. I knew such sensations as being carried, laid down, and rolled around in my little cocoon. I became used to the feel of increased patches of warm every now and again, what I now know were hands holding me, and muted voices talking to me or over me, and I would listen. I wanted to know the language I was being born into.

I knew the time had come when I tried to flex my wings – little appendages built of purely white feathers – and found they couldn't stretch out behind me. I knew it would get uncomfortable if I tried to stay inside, and so I figured it was time to break out now. So I began my work; I clawed at my eggshell with a sadness born of hurting something so familiar, knowing that what lay outside would be so utterly different, and breaking what had been keeping me safe for the past few months. But I knew it was time to come out and accepted that with clarity, feeling immense joy flood me when I scratched through enough to feel cold air. I would miss the warmth but I knew this would be so, so much better if I could get there. I took advantage of the weakness and pushed, muscles straining in my arms and wings to split the egg in two, only to quickly give up; that wasn't the best way of getting out of this prison anyway. So I tried a different method; I began to scratch some more at the gash, and was afraid to open my eyes when light met me on the other side. I was afraid I would be blinded.

There were voices though, on the other side, and I reached for them. The eggshell pieces seemed to fall away from me and I stretched, feeling the glorious freedom as I pulled out my limbs. My wings fluttered uselessly behind me, heavy now that they were no longer suspended in the liquid and my eye-lids felt heavy. I sucked in a breath like I had spent the past few months preparing to do, and the air was cold and crisp. Somewhere, distantly, there was a smell that was hurting my nose, and there were noises, still-muted from the feeling of being partially deaf for so long. I was unprepared for the rush coming from the senses, and I still hadn't even opened my eyes.

I was afraid to be blinded.

"Castiel." That was a murmur I recognized, and a word I knew as well. Somehow, I knew it was my name and I turned my head instinctively towards it, trying once again to flex my wings, to let them know that I'd heard them. But I couldn't and so instead I settled for something vocal; a highly-pitched whine that was soft but carrying. "Shh…Castiel…. Don't worry my son." Another one I knew, the male voice that was always around me. "Come on; let us take you to your Hunter."

I was still afraid, I didn't want to be moved again so soon, but I was tired from breaking my way out of the egg and really…I wanted to know the feeling of my Hunter, even if I refused to open my eyes. A bond between Angel and Hunter is all the more strong if it starts right from birth, and it was then I knew that he must have been born as well. And so I did not protest when I was picked up, but I felt like I should have been smaller; so used to being in the cramped and warm space of my egg, and I was picked up and it felt like I had expanded in just that short amount of time. Was I meant to grow this quickly? Maybe if I opened my eyes…

But I was still afraid.

"Mary, John, this is Castiel…he hatched just a few moments ago." That female voice again, and I felt the cool breeze of her stride as she carried me over to what must have been the parents of my Hunter. I keened lightly again, reaching out blindly to try and find him or her. I wanted to be near my Hunter as soon as possible, already drowning in the loyalty of my species. A small laugh echoed from above me and I turned my blind sight to see who was laughing…only to know the fruitlessness of an act. I would have to open my eyes.

"Is he blind?" asked who I assumed to be Mary and I tilted my head at her. I was not blind. Merely afraid. A few hairs ran themselves along my forehead as the woman holding me shook her head 'No', undoubtedly smiling from the sound of her voice.

"No, he's just young. If he doesn't open his eyes by the end of the day we should check it out, but I think for now he's just afraid. A hospital is a scary place to wake up in." At the end of that note I could detect just a little something…something I was too young to know about but now I realize was bitterness. Bitterness for where I was born? For my situation? Did this human not approve of Hunters, or Angels? Maybe another biased woman, but I didn't mind. I just wanted to see my Hunter, to be near my Hunter. I whined lightly, wanting to push myself out of this woman's hold but her arm was around my wings and anchored me there. I whined again, more loudly this time, pulling on the skin of her arm.

I heard someone move, perhaps the male who was with the female carrying me and again I was airborne, being carried over and laid down. I was about to let my disappointment and anger at being denied my Hunter known, before I was aware of body heat next to me. There was a soft gurgling sound, and it was then – only then – that I found the strength to look over to my left side, letting my eyes slide open and view the world.

The first thing I saw was green. His eyes were intense, especially for somebody so young, and I know now he gets that from his father. The baby was wrapped in white and blue blankets to keep him warm, and even as I looked at him I received one of my own. I wrapped my wings around myself before they curled me in the blanket, looking over the both of us – me and my Hunter. There was a redheaded woman and an older, balding man smiling just a little, like a job well done or like someone does when they are searching forever for the right key to a lock and they manage to find it after hours of searching. Then, letting my eyes wander, I saw an upside-down mother looking back at me. She was next to a man who I knew was my Hunter's father from his eyes, the same color, and he had dark hair that almost completely covered his face in hair and a beard. The woman was blonde and my Hunter had a few wisps of the same color clinging to his head. Maybe it would darken in time, maybe not, but I was sure of one thing.

This was perfect.

The world was perfect.

I blinked once, twice, lazily getting used to the push and press of my irises and pupils, getting larger and smaller to compensate for changes of light and then I rolled to look back at my Hunter, who had fixed his intense eyes on me again. He gurgled like babies do, happily, reaching a hand out to me. More like flailing it, but I knew the feeling; my wings felt twitchy and like I couldn't quite control them yet. But I would get there, I knew I would, just like my Hunter would.

"So, what's his name?" I didn't bother to look up at who'd spoke; my eyes were riveted on the man I was destined to share the rest of my life with, Hunting…even then I'd known what I was built for, what I was meant to do and I didn't have a problem with that. I would be honored to spend my existence protecting and serving my Hunter.

"Dean," came the reply, and immediately I felt my lips move, to try and emulate that sound. It wasn't very complicated, but I found myself unable to speak and that annoyed me, worried me. After all, I may have been young but speech is essential! How could I communicate with my Hunter if I couldn't speak?

"Dean…The Angel's name is Castiel. In a few months you'll need to come back and have his voice-box clipped, so that he doesn't damage anything, and if you want we can sign him up for a Training Program, but until then I think we'll be able to discharge the both of you tomorrow or the day after. I'm sure the two of them will be a great pair."

"I'm sure." The murmured reply was John; that much I know. I don't know, nor do I really care what they thought when they looked at me and Dean, who were locked in a staring match so intense I doubted an earthquake would have broken it. Staring at each other as though trying to communicate through our minds, our expressions. Dean looked peaceful and that made me relax; I didn't have to protect my Hunter today. At least, I knew I wouldn't have been able to, and so I was glad that I didn't have to. A soft smile was on my face when his eyes closed and I let mine follow, instinctively drawing myself more closely to his warmth. I managed to untangle a wing from around myself and the blankets, curling one over the both of us with Dean's face turned very slightly to rest against my collarbone. I almost wanted to purr, I was so content, but I kept silent because I didn't want to wake him.

I felt a hand caress Dean's head gently, and then my own, and it was only then I finally let sleep take over, because I knew that when I was fully grown I wouldn't need to sleep at all. I would be able to protect Dean all of the time.

I was tired from the break-out of my eggshell, tired from meeting Dean, the intense feeling of being bonded already growing inside of me, and I was just tired from so many new sensations after months of deadened sound and sight and smell. I fell to slumber immersed in the scent and sound of my Hunter, dreaming gently next to me.

And for that moment, the world was perfect.

I was three months old by the time I said my first word. Pretty average by Angel standards but I had a photographic memory, I never forget, and for the first few weeks, months, years of my life, the world was happy.

I soon learned to stay by my Hunter at all times; I wanted to be near him all the time and to be honest…well…the family Demon upset me. I didn't like the way Azazel was constantly watching over Dean and Mary like a housecat with those weird, unblinking yellow eyes and his forked tongue and that tail…It made my skin crawl to look at him. It still does. I didn't like the fact that he was so…inhuman and human at the same time. Take away the tail, the forked tongue and his eyes; he'd just be another person on the street. But he was so dark…a Demon's essence, its soul, for lack of a better word – it's so completely blackened and it makes me angry, riles against my very nature to see it in the same house. Although…I suppose I was the one to originally encroach. Azazel has a good fifty years on me.

I was happy until Sam Winchester was sixth months old.

Mary had put her foot down, gotten Sam a Demon companion. The thing had already hatched – she obviously didn't share the same connection to wait for Sam that I had for Dean – and was prowling around the waiting room while Mary's quiet groans of birth echoed down the sterile corridor. Dean and I were four years old at the time and I have to say, Dean was remarkably patient. Azazel was antsy, hissing quietly if anyone came too close to us – I have to admit that he reminded me of a feral cat – and obviously irritated at hearing his Mistress in pain and being unable to help. The hospital had a strict policy against Angels and Demons in the ICU. I guess we're dirty or something. Only John was allowed in there.

With one wing, which had begun to darken as I aged, black at the roots but still white towards the tips, I wrapped Dean up close to me, soft purr ringing from my system as he wrapped an arm around my waist and held me close. In my arms I held the Demon chick and wrapped my second wing around her, feeling the weird stretch and extension of my muscled wings. Ruby was whining quietly in my arms, obviously not understanding what was going on but still wanting to be a part of it. I wanted to know. I wanted to see my Hunter's younger brother.

But I knew we'd be allowed in eventually.

"Castiel." My head snapped around to my Hunter's voice, searching for his eyes at the sound of my name. I would never get over how green his eyes were. I would remember that color, that exact shade and blend of hues for the rest of my life, I was sure of it.

Looking back now, I know that was my first warning sign – the weird obsession I had with my Hunter's eyes – but I was still young, hardly old enough to understand human emotions, let alone the more complicated lack of them that was bred into my species, aside from loyalty and trust and faith. An Angel was killed if it didn't have faith.

"Yes, Dean?" I hadn't been able to speak for a while; Mary had gotten my voice clipped so that it didn't sound like the ear-piercing whine that most humans heard, so that I was able to speak at a human level, and even then three years later it still hurt to talk, but I got around it for the most part. I cocked my head to the side at seeing the innocent worry, the ignorance in my Hunter's eyes. I knew what he was feeling; "Your mother is going to be fine. She went through this with you too; she loves you and she's going to bring your brother into the world soon enough. You'll see." By the end of that my voice was raspy and my mouth felt dry and I quickly swallowed. Azazel had moved over to us, sitting himself cross-legged on the floor and desperately – for I had to have been desperate to want a Demon's help – I looked to him to affirm what I'd already said.

"Don't worry, Dean," Azazel purred lightly, brushing a hand over the boy's leg. I stiffened a little, frowning that the Demon would touch my Hunter, but I let it go. The only sign that I had been annoyed was the slight tightening of my wing around Dean, one hand moving to rest against his thigh on the scratchy, plasticy uncomfortable hospital seats. There was a surge of something, something that made me want to take Dean into my arms and fly as fast and far away as possible, and I think I definitely would have done it if my wings were more developed, able to support such weight…but I didn't. I couldn't. And that knowledge…it hurts me, the What Ifs I would never come to know. "Your mother is a strong woman from a long line of Hunters. She will handle your little brother just fine." And there was a smile on his face, the curve of his lips meant to be comforting, but I just found it sinister. It was like the inbred hatred between rats and cats, cats and dogs. I hated Azazel and I was intimidated by him, just as I now am by him…and my own kind.

I was silent, my throat aching from what little I had spoken that day and so I merely pulled myself closer, practically perched on Dean's shoulder and enveloped him in the soft, still-downy feeling of my wings. I knew I would start to malt soon, get rid of all my baby feathers to let loose instead my adult wings, which would be almost six times my current height, awkward and heavy but it would only make my body stronger, stronger so that I could protect my Hunter like I was supposed to.

We had to wait another hour or so before John returned. Ruby had stirred to wakefulness in my arms at the scents that covered him; he smelled of hormones and blood although neither coated him…at least not in the physical sense. It was then that I knew Sam had been born. The smile on his face let us know he was alive and well and although I did it reluctantly, I let Dean slip from beneath the cover of my wings and run over to his father, who knelt down to his height.

The world was happy, then…but lonely. There was a little rift building between Dean and me the night his little brother came into the world. I love Sam like a little brother, for whomever Dean loves I love as well…but that boy has made things very difficult for me and Dean, and I am obliged to begrudge him for causing grief to my Hunter. Slowly I closed my wings, plastering them to my back as I tended to do when I was tense, unsure, and Azazel strode ahead of me, eager smile on his face at seeing his Mistress again. I could see John's expression darkening, just for a moment, on Yellow Eyes. I was glad that John seemed to share the distaste I had for Demons, but we were outnumbered in the Winchester household; the only reason, really, I was still here was because of what had happened the last time Mary had tried to take Dean away from me.

It was years ago, when Dean was starting to become an independent toddler, walking and running and speaking and playing with me all the hours of the day. I hadn't meant for it to happen, but it had. We'd been sitting outside, and I'd been looking up at the birds circling above us, unable to wait for the day when I would finally be able to fly, or carry Dean around with me. Apparently, though, the laws of Physics don't apply to those our age, and so when Dean had suggested that he wasn't very heavy and neither was I and therefore the both of us should be fine, I had begun to relent. When I'd met his gaze and seen the hope in them, the dark green brightening to grass I had broken under the wish of my Hunter and attempted it. We'd gotten almost ten feet in the air before I fell, my wings weak and unable to support the combined weight of two bodies. Mary had come outside just in time to see my fall and thought that I would have injured Dean – she hadn't given me another glance; it was John's job to take care of the Angel, after all.

I'd never seen her so angry, or so afraid. It was then that I began to see what humans call 'being irrational'. I hadn't fully understood it then but I do now; when humans are angry or scared they tend to think or act differently. That was why Mary had demanded I be taken out of the house, put up for sale, anything. 'He's not getting near my baby boy ever again.' Those words had pierced something deep inside of me; I'd understood them even if I wasn't cognitive enough to come up with more than a one-word argument, but it didn't matter. I would not be separated from my Hunter, or he from me. Ever.

She couldn't deny me my Hunter.

I wanted to fight her, launch myself at Dean and curl around my Hunter's body and never, ever let go. I could feel the pain of separation already, only growing when Azazel slinked out of the house to stand beside his Mistress, blinking his large yellow eyes at me in clear disinterest, as though he didn't have a care in the world if Dean and I were separated. John had followed just a minute later…just in time, for I fear that if we had been left in the precarious stand-off, something would have given and it sure as Heaven wouldn't have been me.

He'd heard Mary shouting, had seen what happened, and thankfully didn't need to be caught up. He knelt in front of me, so much care and affection on his face that I wanted to cry; he treated me like a son, like an equal to humanity. I always felt like I owed John for that; Mary just thought I was a pet, a Hunting companion like the dim-witted, evil Demons were supposed to be. Supposed to be. We were both intelligent species, filled with bred-in knowledge beyond anything Humans could accomplish, and yet we were bound to protect them and serve them and I wanted that. I wanted to stay with Dean. He reached a hand out to brush some hair from my eyes and I could see and hear Mary's snort of derision, as though I wasn't worthy of the small amount of affection I was receiving. The feathers of my wings rustled in discontent, hating the fact that my Hunter was currently in his mother's arms, apparently not feeling very disconcerted that I wasn't near him.

That was the first time I felt…that feeling. I didn't know what it was, but it was like…anger…annoyance that someone else was touching my Hunter…my Dean…and they had no right to. Of course Mary had a right to – Dean is her son – but still…I didn't like it. At all. Not one bit. I wanted to tear my Hunter away from her, but I was still young and small and if I focused on John the feeling went away, and so I did; forced myself to relax as I looked into the brilliant green eyes of my Hunter's father, the genetics that I was glad he'd passed on to his son.

Once I relaxed I was aware of Mary speaking; John straightened and turned towards her, leaving me to stand and cower behind his leg, awaiting my judgment.

"I told you John…I told you! No Angels in my house! My family has never had an Angel and now we get one and look what you've done! I want that thing out of my house tonight!"

I could feel it. They'd clipped my voice but I could still feel the strength of it in my vocal chords, building like the pressure of a heart attack in my chest. If I shouted loudly enough they wouldn't dare take Dean away from me. My throat was raspy from being clipped but as God was my witness, I was going to scream if it meant they didn't take Dean away from me.

"Mary, he's an Angel. Of course he's going to want to learn how to fly. And you saw it; Dean isn't hurt, neither of them is hurt. Nothing happened." John was trying to be calm, placating, but I could tell Mary was still being…irrational.

"Then I want its wings clipped. Damn it, John!" I winced at the curse, flinching and my wings flexed slightly out behind me. Later on in life I would have to get used to curses and swearing but for now while I was young, they hurt my sensitive ears and set my teeth on edge. "And we're sending it to the Goddamn –" another wince "- training facility that Bobby recommended before it gets anywhere near Dean again, do you hear me? I won't let it back in until it's trained."

"Castiel has a name, Mary." I looked up instinctively at my name, only to lock eyes with my Hunter's mother. Salt Water met Ice and I froze over, breaking the gaze almost instantly as the words sank in. I set myself on the ground, curling my wings tightly around myself in an attempt to shut out the high-pitched keening in my head, the harsh denial that they were taking Dean away from me…or rather, sending me away. I didn't want to go; I'd behave, I would, if they didn't send me away.

Turns out after they left me alone outside John had managed to let me get away with just getting my wings clipped; he'd said I was too young and Dean and I were already so strongly bonded that it wouldn't be humane – she'd laughed at the word – to send me away before we were both old enough to realize what that meant. I know now; sending me to a Training facility, so I would learn everything I needed to know to be able to protect and serve my Hunter. I would have done that if they'd explained things to me, but Mary obviously didn't think I was smart enough to understand.

Turns out I get the last laugh.

Or I would have if I had a sick sense of humour.

There were speed bumps, crossroads and many arguments after that. My wings felt weird, unbalanced after being clipped, and my voice hurt to talk so I didn't much. Mary no longer let me sleep next to Dean; I had to be kept in a separate pen on the side of his room. Like an animal. She also made sure it was high so I couldn't jump it or climb it, crawl to my Hunter during the night. For the first week or so Dean would cry, and then he'd fall silent once I began to answer him, let him know I was still here. More often than not I woke up with my back to the bars, the body heat of my Hunter lying down beside me with one of his small hands buried in the dark feathers of my wings.

I would merely smile and go back to sleep, feeling with each passing week how much less of it I seemed to need, until I could spend all night softly singing to my Hunter until he fell into slumber, and then whenever he'd wake up during the night I'd be there. By the time Dean and I had turned three I was able to leap over the walls of my pen and crawl over to him, and since I didn't need as much sleep anymore I was quick to go back before Mary woke up. Maybe during the night she tried to catch me in the act, but she never did.

I'm quite smug about that.

But not proud, because if it hadn't been for me and my absurdly weak emotional spot for Dean, as well as the strong hard-headed nature that he carried with him well into adulthood, I never would have flown with him and endangered his life. I am ashamed that I did so, that I did not wait until I was old and strong enough to support him, but hindsight is perfect.

And the moments when I lay in my Hunter's arms, or he in mine while he slept…that was perfect.

The world was perfect, and happy, and full of contentment and good dreams.

At least, until Sam Winchester turned six months old.