Tears of An Angel

It's late at night and Dean can hear Bobby's snores coming from his bedroom. Sam still occupies the library and reads a book about ancient summoning spells, which he found in the afternoon.

Dean can't sleep. He lies in bed staring at the ceiling. His mind buzzes; thousands of thoughts roam through his head and they are all about one person – a man with a beige trench coat. The thoughts are not happy; they are bitter and worried.

The hunter closes his eyes. He feels emptiness that eats him up from the inside. Its teeth are sharp, venomous. Piece by piece, they tear his soul, claws scratching and leaving bloody marks on his heart.

"Cas, where are you?" Dean whispers into the darkness. "Are you alive? You better be, you son of a bitch."

Dean rubs his eyes when they start to sting and sits up on his bed. He won't be able to sleep tonight, he knows that already. Not when he's worried sick about the angel. His angel. Yes, the hunter knows that he's fallen for those crystal clear blue eyes. And he's fallen hard.

His train of thought derails when there is faint fluttering of wings and Dean's head snaps up. The hunter's eyes widen and he lets out a shocked gasp when he sees the exact person he had been worrying about.

Castiel barely stands on his feet. His clothes, including the trench coat, are torn and hang down his body in shreds. The angel is covered in blood. So much blood.

"Cas…" Dean jumps and catches him before the angel hits the floor. "I've got you, Cas. I've got you…" The older Winchester helps him to the bed and Castiel sits on it, motionless. "What happened, Cas?" Dean sits beside him. He knows that something bad has happened to the angel and he feels a huge lump in his throat.

"I'm punished," the angel answers simply and lowers his gaze. Dean can see the angel's trembling hands resting in his lap.

"Punished? What do you mean? What did they do to you?" Dean doesn't understand.

"They are doing it now." Castiel whispers the last word almost inaudibly, but Dean's heart skips a beat after hearing it.

The hunter wants to say some comforting words, but something touches his hand and Dean has to look down to see what it is. It's a feather, a black feather, softer than velvet and warmer than fleece.

"What's happening?" Dean rasps and takes the feather in his hand.

"I am losing my grace. It's leaving with my feathers," the angel answers quietly.

It hurts. Seeing Castiel like this, always obedient and adjusted to his fate, is painful. Dean would rather see him shouting, cursing, and yelling than like this.

"I am useless, Dean," Castiel murmurs and finally looks at the hunter. There is a surging ocean in his eyes that promises a flood soon.

"No. You're not useless. You've never been useless, Cas!" Dean gets up and kneels in front of the angel.

By that time, there are more black feathers on the floor. Dean cannot stop it and it's heartbreaking. He feels like sobbing and screaming at heaven.

With each fallen feather, a single tear rolls down the angel's cheek. The hunter doesn't know what to say to him and he acts instinctively. Dean slowly takes Castiel's trembling hands into his and rubs his thumbs soothingly over his skin. "It's gonna be alright, Cas. We'll find a way to get your grace back. I promise." He gently kisses Castiel's palms, which feel burning hot against his lips. "Come here," he whispers, not trusting his own voice, and pulls the angel into his lap.

Castiel wraps his arms around the hunter's neck and buries his face into the crook of Dean's neck. The hunter can hear the muffled sobs and it's too much to bear. "Shh, I've got you, Cas! I'm right here." Dean wipes his own tears away with his free hand while with the other hand he caresses Castiel's messy hair.

When Sam Winchester finally decides to go to bed and opens the door of the bedroom that he shares with his brother, he freezes to the spot.

There are hundreds of black feathers scattered around and the floor is completely hidden under them. In the center he can see his older brother, who is holding someone in his arms. Sam squints his eyes and his mouth falls open when he realizes that it's Castiel. With his sixth sense, Sam understands that the feathers are Castiel's and there's something major and ominous happening to the angel as Dean holds him in a tight embrace and whispers soothing words.

Dean notices his brother, but doesn't say anything. He has no words. He just looks at his baby brother, and as they do so often, the two of them are able to have a silent exchange with their eyes and Sam knows that something is really, horribly wrong. Sam understands that he will have to sleep downstairs tonight, but doesn't mind. He just hopes that his brother and Castiel will be alright.

"Is he alive?" Sam mouths at his brother and after a nod he lets out a shuddering breath. "I'll sleep downstairs," he whispers to Dean and shuts the door behind him.

Meanwhile Castiel looks more relaxed, but he doesn't want to leave Dean's embrace. It's like a safe shelter for him.

"No matter what, I'll always be with you, Cas. Do you understand that?" Dean places a chaste kiss on the angel's forehead.

"Yes, Dean," the angel murmurs in reply.

Castiel knows that his grace is probably gone by now, but he has gained something new tonight – the love of his human charge.