Going to the Mat

"Dean."

The soft, nearly inaudible rasp along with the abrupt presence in the room woke Dean instantly. He sat up, one hand shoved under his pillow, gripping the knife he knew would be there until he realized who he was looking at.

"Cas?"

He was dripping with blood that soaked his hands, face and clothes, patches of his clothes charred, skin on his hands puckered from burns that continued up where Dean couldn't see. His eyes were clouded and red rimmed, filled to the brim with tears of pain and relief. He swayed where he stood, shivering, trying to form words. "Cas, what's wrong?" Dean started to stand, seeing the angel teetering.

"D-Dean, I-" he croaked, trying to stay conscious and fighting his legs' urge to give out on him. "Help."

Dean barely got up in time to catch him, wincing when he broke into a coughing fit.

"A-angels," he wheezed, trying to find the strength to look up at him. "E-everywhere. I fought-" He was coughing again, so broken and beaten. Dean could feel the pain practically seeping from his bones, moving over to the bed so he didn't drop him.

"Shh, it's okay, it's okay. Don't worry, it'll be alright. I'm here, okay? I've got you," he assured, keeping a firm hold on him. He held him close, watching his bloodied and battered face, pained. "Just relax. I got you. I'm gonna take care of you, okay?" Castiel nodded weakly, limp in Dean's arms, strength gone.

"Thank you, Dean." Dean cautiously set about removing the layers of clothing draped over the angel, patiently taking off the tie and working the buttons open on his shirt. "Wh-what are you doing?" He muttered, confused.

"You're covered in blood, I need to get you in the shower, okay? I can't patch you up if I can't see what I'm doing," he explained. Castiel nodded, missing the blush that had slowly risen to the hunter's ears. "Alright, let's go." As painlessly as he could, Dean picked him up, half-dragging him to the bathroom, sitting him on the toilet, steadying him with one arm he fell into. He held him so close, stroking his hair briefly before he realized what he was doing.

He worked the shirt off him, tossing it out into the other room, wincing at the netting of burns, electrical by the looks of them, that met him. Patches of his skin was charred and cracked. They oozed and bled, his body trembling in the painful cold that brought almost unbearable waves of tremors and gooseflesh with it. Black and blue bruises decorated his ribs and collarbone, claw marks and cleaner ones from what he assumed was angel blades adorned his chest, arms and his belly. Nothing was healing, not even close to, and it scared the hell out of him.

"Jesus, Cas, what the hell did those sons 'a' bitches do to you?"

"Th-they wanted me to turn against you. To t-turn you over to them because I'm close to you. I-I refused. They k-kept me alive to s-send a message," he gasped raggedly, leaning against him, weak. "Don't go to punish them, Dean, it's what they want. They want to hurt you, Dean. You and Sam; don't go."

"Shh, hey, I'm not. I'm not goin' anywhere, I'm staying here with you. I need to get you fixed up, okay? I'm gonna fix this and it'll be alright. I promise."

"This pain, Dean…I feel sick," he gulped.

"How'd they do this, Cas? How'd they hurt you like this?" He asked, desperation in his eyes, gingerly touching a network of burns blossoming from his shoulder. He flinched when the angel cried out, shrinking away from his touch. "Sorry, I'm sorry," he whispered, cupping his neck, guilty. The angel closed his eyes.

"Th-they beat me first, cut me, continually forced me out of my vessel only to immediately drag me back in," he breathed, chest hitching.

"So they-?"

"They brought me to the brink of death and hurtled me back into life, Dean," he gasped, tears in his eyes. "You can't imagine how, how painful it is to almost extinguish an angel's grace over, and over and over again. And my wings…" He shuddered, feeling the blood dripping down his back.

"Your wings?" Dean blanched , confused. "You actually have those?" He nodded wearily.

"I used to," he whimpered, tears streaking his cheeks. "D-Dean, they-" He cried aloud, trembling. Dean looked at him for a moment before holding him, allowing him to rest his head against his chest, clinging to him.

"They tore off your wings?" He whispered, seeing the blood and gashes just on the insides of his shoulder blades. He stroked his hair, thumbing tears away from his eyes. Castiel sniffed, not fighting him, hopeless and in more pain than he should ever have to endure. "So…so are they gone? Like, for good?" He asked warily, not wanting to upset him again. He failed. Castiel shook his head, still hissing and wincing in pain.

"They do not have the authority to t-take them. They will reg-regrow…If they don't I…I can never return to Heaven," he whispered, shaking.

"Shh…" Dean soothed, holding his face still. "Cas, if that's how you get around, how'd you get here?"

"I walked," he shuddered. "I wanted- I needed you."

"I'm here. I can't believe you almost killed yourself to get here, but I've got you, Cas. It's okay now. You're safe." He waited a moment before turning on the shower, trying to hurry and give him some peace. He started to work off the angel's pants, taking his time noticing the heat against his neck was Castiel's blush. He tried not to smile, considering. "Cas, this is really not the time to be shy." He flushed deeper.

"I just-" His breath hitched, a soft moan jumping from his throat, almost collapsing entirely before Dean held him.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, hey, stay with me, Cas, it's okay. I've got you, it's okay. Come here; let's get this blood off you. This should help."

The angel was still blushing wildly once he was naked, still leaning against the hunter.

Dean carefully pulled his own shirt off, not letting him go or allowing him to fall, and got him into the tub under the stream of water. Castiel screamed through gritted teeth, fingers digging into Dean's skin so tight he was afraid he'd make him bleed. "Dean, it hurts," he trembled.

"I know, I know it does, it'll be okay. It'll stop." The angel ground his teeth, bow clenched, forehead pressed hard into Dean's shoulder.

"Shh, I've got you. I've got you. I know it hurts, it'll be okay." Dean took a washcloth from the edge of the tub, soaping it with the bar he'd left beside it when he and Sam had arrived, and started to clear away the dried blood and dirt from his skin. Castiel hissed and moaned, hot tears streaking down his cheeks.

"Dean, I-I'm not healing," he breathed. Dean flexed his jaw, hiding his worry from him.

"I know. But you're gonna be fine. You're gonna be fine."

"Dean." He stopped, the gravity of his tone forcing him to look at him. "If I don't make it, if I…" He looked at him, biting through another wave of pain. "I need to tell you-"

"Cas, stop," Dean spat, looking at him finally. "You're not goin' anywhere. You're gonna be fine. What do you need, huh? What do you need to fix this?" He shook his head, the bottom of the tub still painted red. "Don't give me that crap, don't act like there's isn't somethin' I can do."

"I can't ask that of you," he breathed, head lolling some kind of shake, sniffing, trying to lose himself in the soft warmth of Dean's skin against his cheek. "I won't. Dean…please, continue what you're doing. This, right now. Please." Dean finally forced himself to look at him. His expression was so raw, so tired and pleading. He sighed, deciding to appease him for a moment. He continued to clean him off, rinsing his hair, softening the skin on his burns, anything to help him.

He held him much more tenderly than he should have, hands too gentle, their embrace too intimate to be friendly. But Castiel was exhausted, weak, his mind muddled past obeying Dean's boundary rules, and the hunter wasn't exactly fighting back. And Dean…Dean was almost sure that he didn't care anymore.

"It's okay, shh…I've got you. I'm here."

"Dean," the angel choked the word out, looking up at him. "I-I may not…If I don't-"

"Cas," Dean warned. He shook his head.

"Listen! Just or a moment, please," he begged, piercing gaze silencing him instantly. "May…may I ask for something? Just in case. May I ask just, just one thing of you, Dean? Please?"

"Yeah, Cas," he nodded, brow creased, concerned. Castiel nodded slowly, still staring at him.

"Okay."

He used whatever was left of his continually diminishing strength he had to grab the back of Dean's head and tug him to him, pressing their lips together, kissing him. Dean's brows shot up, his initial reaction to push away and get away. But he couldn't. He couldn't deny Cas this, and he couldn't lie to himself and try and say he didn't want this. God did he want this. He carefully, slowly wrapped his arms around him, kissing him back. The angel relaxed, kissing deeper, relieved.

He broke away moments later, heart thundering. "I-I'm sorry if that was-" Dean caught his lips to silence him, feeling his words die to a hum. He kissed him as gently as he could, desperate to be near him, finally letting himself fall apart and give in to what he'd been fighting for months now. Castiel melted again, shaking and gasping in both pain and an overwhelming swelling in his chest. He kissed him back, he was holding him, and kissing him and not rejecting him like he'd feared. He hadn't been pining, falling and loving for no reason.

"Dean," he whimpered once they broke apart again, faces pressed together.

"Cas, let me help you, please," he said softly, pleading with him. "Please, I'm not gonna let you leave, okay?" He shook his head again.

"I can't, I can't hurt you," he choked.

"And I can't lose you, got it?" He shut the water off, hastily grabbing a towel and wrapping it around him. Dean helped him out of the tub, taking him into the next room and setting him down on the bed bundled in towels, smoothing his hair.

"Tell me now, tell me what to do, Cas. Please." The angel sighed, looking at him, wincing, coughing.

"Your soul," he groaned. "I need to touch your soul or I won't…"

"I want you to," he assured. "If that's what you need to do, then do it, okay? Just do it. Please."

"Dean-"

"God damn it, Cas, do it!" He barked, holding his face. "I'm not gonna let you die, damn it, now just do it!"

The angel looked up at him, leaning against his shoulder, hanging onto him. "This is going to be very painful," he warned, trembling hand against his hip, trying so hard to breathe properly. "And I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, Dean."

"Cas…" Dean leaned into his face, kissing him deeply again. "Don't make me say it again."

Castiel reached toward Dean's stomach, hesitating only a second longer. Dean fought a scream, clenching his teeth, guttural sounds rumbling in his throat and his chest, tendons wound, veins bulging in his neck. The light that shone up into his face only lasted a second, the pain fading to an echo in an instant. The angel gasped and shuddered, collapsing against him while Dean caught his breath, struggling to hold him in his own wave of weakness.

The blood had stopped. His burns were scarred but healing cleanly along with the deep gashes that had been there before. The scrapes and bruises were gone, the bleeding had finally stopped on his back, with his wings. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry."

"It's alright," he coughed, smoothing his hair, still taking heaving gulps of air. "It's okay, it's okay." He looked down at him, at the partially healed wounds, frowning. "Why aren't you healed all the way?"

"I only did what I needed to survive, Dean," he breathed, sluggish. "I-I don't like hurting you." He shook his head, frustrated with him. He took the towel off his shoulders, digging around his duffel for clothes that would fit him.

Castiel sighed, the soft fabric of the T-shirt enveloping him that smelled like Dean, and it was wonderful, comforting.

"You can sleep if you need to, right?" He asked, one hand on his cheek, not allowing himself to think about what he was doing and just do it. Castiel nodded, leaning into his caress. "Alright, come on. Let's go."

Castiel allowed himself to be laid against the pillows, blankets tucked around him with Dean's warmth beside him to soothe him. "You're being affectionate with me," he nodded. Dean shrugged, looking down at him. He was tired, hair mussed from the shower, blinking slowly at him in clothes just a bit too big. Damn it, it was cute. Like actually cute, too cute for Dean to say it wasn't. So naturally, he didn't say anything about it.

"It's not against the law, is it?" He whispered. "You said you needed me, here I am."

"But, you've told me before-"

"I was scared," he admitted, voice soft and gentle. "Still scared. But…"

"Sam's not here," he concluded, looking up at him, understanding in his tortured eyes. He didn't answer, deciding to press a kiss to his forehead instead, giving it to the angel anyway. He shut his eyes, terribly weary, the horrors of previous events keeping him from sleep his vessel demanded. "I don't want to sleep, Dean. I'm afraid." His heart clenched, feeling the slight tremble coming from him, lips in the same state.

"Hey, don't be scared," he assured, holding him tighter. "Nothing can hurt you, not while I'm here, okay? No one's gonna come near you with me around. They can't touch you, Cas."

God, how he wanted to believe it. How he wanted so desperately to think he and Dean were safe. He wished the circumstances were different and he wasn't so injured, fighting sleep just to look at him for a few seconds more. If sleep weren't necessary at present he'd stay awake all night, even if Dean didn't, just to look at him without being awkward or "weird" as he would call it. He didn't think it weird to look into his eyes and try to count each fleck of gold in them, he didn't think it weird to watch his lips form each word as he spoke, or study the crinkles in the corners of his eyes when he smiled. He just wanted to see him, to know him, to know every line and feature of his face because it would be a crime not to.

He leaned into his chest, allowing the comfort he was offering, never wanting it to stop, finally falling asleep after being in ungodly agony for what felt like weeks.

Dean watched his face, thumbing his cheek, watching the steady rise and fall of his chest as he rested, wounds still healing. His body was so tattered, so worn and beaten. For him. For him and Sam, just like always. The unyielding loyalty he had for the both of them was dizzying, and his chest was tight just thinking about it. In his sleep, the angel stirred, holding onto Dean tighter, clinging to him like a lifeline.

"Shh, I gotcha. I've got you, Cas." He wasn't sure if angels could have nightmares, but his might be having one and he wasn't leaving him. "It'll be better when you wake up. I promise."


"I said…no," He heaved, blood dripping from his lips, shaking, sweating. He screamed when the blade sliced at him again, scarring straight through to his grace. "NO! I SAID NO!" He bellowed, shuddering. The angels holding him gripped tighter, straining his vessel's bones and tearing at his skin. "I WON'T BETRAY MY FRIENDS!"

"You don't have to lie to us, Cassie," Zachariah grinned, grabbing his jaw, hard. "We know what Dean Winchester is to you. I've seen all those nasty little thoughts in your head. All the…" He chuckled, stroking his chin. "Unholy things you want to do with him. Hm? The worst part is, you can't even tell him how you feel. You're a coward, Castiel. A coward, a traitor and pretty soon, a dead man."

He screamed and shuddered and shrieked, naked as the day his vessel was created, crying openly in pain. His body stung with the echoes of burns and weariness of being thrown to the brink of death over a dozen times for sport.

"Let m-me die, pl-please. I-I won't give in to you. I'll n-never give in. Just kill m-me," he coughed. "I-I'm through with Heaven's b-bidding."

Zachariah smirked, twirling the blade in his hand. "Maybe so," he chuckled. "So, I suppose if you don't want us around then you don't want to be anywhere near us, hm?" He grinned at him, laughing. "Turn him around."

They spun him around, grinning, laughing while he squirmed.

"I think it's high time someone clipped your wings, Castiel," he chortled.

"No," he whimpered, fighting hard, tears streaking down his cheeks. "No, please, please, don't do this. Not my wings, PLEASE! NOHOH, PLEASE! PLEEEAAAAAAAAAASSEEEEEEEEE!"

When it was done, when blood coated and covered the floor and he was a limp, sobbing mess in their arms, Zachariah came around to face him, grinning at him, sword bloodied.

"Is the pain really worth it, Castiel?" He asked, holding his face to force him to look at him. "Is all of this worth it? Is losing your wings, losing your family and everyone who cares about you, is it worth it?"

He took shaky breaths through his sobs, thinking of Dean's smile, of the sheer beauty of his life. His and Sam's.

"I have a family," he whispered. "I have someone who cares about me more than any of you ever have. Their lives…" He smiled. "Yes," he sobbed, still grinning. "It will always be worth it."


A/N: Please Review