Title: Number 1

Author: the-poette

Genre: Gen

Characters: Cas, Naomi, Dean
Summary: The first cut is the deepest.
Rating: PG-13
Warning: Spoilers 8x17 major character death depicted. psychological torture. angst!
A/N: ficlet because it didn't hurt enough.

He runs, corner to corner like a rat in a maze. Heart beat echoing along the corridors like a trail of breadcrumbs. A rat in a maze. Because that's what this is. A maze. A gathering of corners that lead nowhere.

No, not nowhere.

Nowhere would be preferable. Nothingness would be preferable.

And the rat has run out of corners; shaking fists that displace his anger, the thrum of disbelief that crosses his face as he crosses the threshold of a metal door to find the same corridor. You grab the edge of his jacket, stir the leather, wrap it around a hand and wedge yourself in his careful space.

"Cas, don't…please…"

At that first note, you break hold as if he burned. You remember who he is.

"Dean…" your lips vibrate along the syllable, this word of comfort that has come searing into your mind.

What is he doing here?

He looks on you with hope restored. His prayers answered. The light of his eyes is wrong; you'd know this in absolute. The hand that held him in place draws back with broken lines. You shake under uncertainty. You need to take him away from this open space, keep him safe, take him—take him now!

Castiel

"Naomi…no…"

Kill him, Castiel.

"I can't—"

Choking in a vessel, tongue swollen from the pain. You've manifested the blade. It's frozen in your hand, stuck to the skin of this bloodstained palm.

"Run!" Push him away from you, the force gathering around your mind like a halo of acid as she whips out in displeasure. "Run, Dean!"

That's not how this works.

Falling to your knees, pressing the cool metal of the hilt to your eye, hoping it will freeze the agony. Stop it in its tracks.

I give you an order.

She squeezes harder, reining with her control. Drilling. She drilled something into…into your—

You follow.

You stand before him; the speed with which you've found him is like a whiplash.

"What was that?" he asks, his hand outstretched. It's a pliant weight against the cloth of the overcoat, gentle, searching in its place of rest along your arm. Where it fits. Where it all fits together. "Hey, you ok? Cas? Come on, man. Please…answer me."

"I'm fine," you say but don't feel.

He gives off relief freely in a way he shares so little with others, and stares—wrong. It's wrong. He releases you, hand unclenching. It brushes down, fingers still holding on to the tactile. And then he realizes his mistake.

Too late.

You run him through, splitting him red down the middle. His eyes go first, but the light in them was wrong to begin with. He collapses at each joint, no longer held up by that ever-vibrant wire of energy. Humans. So frail, so easily…

What have you done..? What have you done now?

"Dean..!"

You gather him before he touches the floor. The weightless thing in your arms, blood in your hands. Again. It hurts in a way nothing else has. Not Hell. Not death or Leviathans or the other ways you have destroyed yourself.

"Please…"

Who are you begging? What ear is open to your cries when you've done so much to break the world, to plague it, as you are plagued now? This…this thing in your chest goes off like an explosion. A chasm opens in you.

"S-sorry…I'm so sorry, D-Dean…"

Fingers trail along the skin of his eyes, that jut of bone that pronounced his emotions like fire signals. He's still, despite the fact you're shaking. And you cry like a human child. You cry with tears that burn like hot metal down your face, they must flash cool and stiffen the expression of the face you wear. Horror waxing out to despair, this must be what these eyes bear out with unfathomable tears.

And you scream his name, to the hollow pipes overhead. And the echoes shout back at you, searching for his answer. You hold him, the inverted scene of his rescue. But you can't raise him, though you try.

"Please…"

You beg and force what's left of your wounded grace through your pores, but it only extends your hemisphere and doesn't bring back his warmth, his light. You follow the gravity of his body, downward. You must sink into his bones. You must sink all the way to perdition. And there's no one to raise you now.

"There," she taps into view as the overhead lights go bleak white. She doesn't kneel to his level, she doesn't go that far. "That is what our purpose here is..." She stares dispassionate, not sharing in his grief. She stares at hands that try to staunch the blood, not understanding. Incapable.

His actions are long past illogic. But he weeps so openly, if she couldn't peek under the layer of fabric and flesh that house the grace therein, he'd easily be mistaken for...

"What I mean to repair in you, Castiel," she toes the blood, hovering in his proximity as he grabs the protruding blade stuck along a human sternum. "You do see now what is broken."

She snaps her fingers. He screams and drops the weapon, his eyes rolling white and empty for his disobedience.

She can see his rage now burning along the fuel of his grief. It is rage pointed only to himself. He bleeds it out like the body sliding red along his knees. He weeps with red hands as the floor of this corner of Heaven gets further sullied. He has brought the color here to their doorstep, and now she makes him wear it full circle.

"That was number one," she says and snaps her fingers.

He runs, corner to corner like a rat in a maze. Heart beat echoing along the corridors like a trail of breadcrumbs. A rat in a maze. Because that's what this is. A maze.

A gathering of corners that lead nowhere...