Without sleep, without rest, the mind goes on forever. Every single possibility for anything at all lingers in the soul, captivating in its own dark sense. There had always been doubts. There had always been fears, twisting around in Castiel's being until he finally shut them all down. As an angel, it was his job to carry out his Father's wishes with mindless obedience – never questioning, never doubting, and never thinking for his own personal benefit. Mentioning doubts would have meant blasphemy, which was something so unspeakable that Castiel had never really considered the risk worth it. In every way, Castiel was a soldier – perfectly capable of going through with any order, any command, with only mindless faith leading him through the dark patches of his mind.

That was, until one particular order had commanded him take a trip downstairs, into Lucifer's domain. He remembered his brother; the fallen brother who had questioned their Father, insisting it was only out of love. Ridiculous. Lucifer was blasphemous, and most certainly deserved what he got.

This order however, seemed simple enough. "Retrieve the soul," he'd been told, "of Dean Winchester. That is our Father's wish." More information followed, of course; Lilith, the seals, Lucifer, the apocalypse, Sam, Michael. For most, it would have resulted in some sort of informational overload; but for Castiel, large amounts of information were commonplace.

Castiel could still remember Hell.

The screaming had rippled through the pit and pierced him, his deep blue eyes troubled as the other angels and himself fought to locate the righteous man. The task was daunting – never before had it been so vital to rescue a soul, so pivotal to stop it from turning. However, the demons were relentless in trying to delay them, and the second the blood was spilled, the pit rocked, and the angels knew the apocalypse had begun.

For some reason, the blood spilling was not what troubled Castiel the most; moreover, he found himself concerned with the question of how this man – Dean – would handle knowing what he had become in Hell. Was it right to rescue him, and leave his memory intact? Would it not be much more just to erase the horrors, erase the pain, and let him continue living?

But there were no questions allowed in regards to Heaven's orders, and so Castiel did as he was told.

Castiel could still remember Hell. The blood. The agony. The demons. The evil.

It had been years since he'd seen it last, but the angel found himself wishing he had stayed put. Then, in his mind, he would never have been able to cause the destruction of Heaven and Earth.

"Talk to me."

Dean's voice brought Castiel back to the present, his mind snapping back to full attention. He was so close, across from him, his green eyes light with concern, but dark with worry. That was Dean – always thinking everything was his fault. Always thinking that, for some reason, he was responsible for everything.


Cas' shaky hands put down John Winchester's journal, before he finally met Dean's gaze. "Dean –" But how would it be possible to make him understand? To make this man understand all the devastation his own mistakes with Crowley had caused? "The death toll, in heaven, on earth – Dean. I can't go back. I won't go back."

"The angels will kill you?" Dean's tone was matter of fact – proud, as if he'd thought that was all there was. Cas found himself smiling, in spite of himself, wondering if it could ever be that simple. If Cas thought the angels wanted to kill him, he would have returned long, long ago. But they wanted him alive – that much he knew. So really, his only fear…

"Dean, I'm afraid I might kill myself."

The words were quiet, but the truth in them was obvious. After all, Castiel had stayed in Purgatory to punish himself. And now he was contemplating putting himself up on the rack, to do even more penance. And yet, Hell seemed like nothing compared to the hurt, the flash of mortification that crossed Dean's features. The man was about to say something, but the angel pressed a finger to his lips, sensing Sam Winchester's presence.

"Soon, Dean. All in good time." Dean was about to argue – his mouth was opening, his eyes hardening with that stubbornness that had won Castiel over in the first place. "I promise," he added, the door to the motel opening just seconds later. Shaky hands picked up John Winchester's journal once again, and the angel was too afraid to meet Dean's eyes. He waited until the two brothers were talking before drifting back into his mind again.

Castiel could still remember Hell. And it was less than he deserved.