a.n. Okay, this is my first completed fic in a looooong time, and my first supernatural one every (yay!). What I would like to have happened after 'The Great Escapist' because while I'm okay with Destiel, Sam is kind of ignored a lot of the time and damn it, he's Cas's friend too :(
a.n. Nope. Not mine. Nope. No.
Dean floored the brakes the second he saw a figure lying on the road. He couldn't see yet, Castiel knew, he was just avoiding an obstacle. Despite the immense pain he was in, despite the strain it had taken just to get him this close to the Winchesters, despite the fact that he was so weak he could barely move, Castiel was scared. He didn't know how many things Naomi had made him do only to wipe his brain clean, but the one he remembered, so clearly, was hurting Dean. Almost killing him.
And now he was going to ask him for help?
The angel heard the car doors opening and looked up at them. The Winchesters. A single glance at Sam told him that the younger Winchester was neck deep in the trials. He glanced at Dean, his vision blurring already, and tried to push himself up, only falling back onto the rough asphalt again, his arms giving out under the strain.
"Cas?!" Dean's rough voice tore across his subconscious, forcing Castiel to stay awake.
Trying not a cough up blood, the angel managed to get out, "A little help here." Then struggled to remain conscious. He saw the brothers hesitate and averted his eyes. After everything he had done he wouldn't be surprised if they left him lying on the road.
He was so weak he didn't even notice them approaching until arms lifted the angel up and started to carry him to the car. "Cas, Cas!" Dean yelled, "What happened, are you okay?"
"Don't ask stupid questions." He muttered weakly before falling into unconsciousness.
Castiel woke in a soft motel bed, in the dark, covered in heavy blankets. He groaned softly and tried to sit up, noticing his shirt and coat had been removed, white bandages wrapped around his wounded torso. Blinking heavily, he pushed himself into an upright position, gritting his teeth to stop himself from crying out and waking the others, who he assumed were asleep.
Maybe almost all asleep. "Sam." He said, his voice cracking as he shifted painfully, trying to hide his concern at Sam's state. The hunter was sitting in the desk chair at his laptop but had turned when the angel woke. "What happened?"
"Uh, I dunno, after we found you on the road, you just fainted. We got you here, didn't think you'd wake up for a while." He looked a little sickened, "What the hell happened to you? Your insides look like they've been put through a mixer."
Castiel grimaced ruefully and scratched at the bandages. "Crowley. He found me." He sighed shamefully, "Sam, he has the angel tablet."
Sam's eyes widened in panic before his rational side kicked in. "He can't read it though, right?"
"Not yet." He admitted, "But I'm sure it's just a matter of time."
"Well that's time we've got to get it back." Sam said, trying to be positive, because the angel looked even worse than him, which was saying something. "How'd he get it anyway?"
"I hid it."
Sam rolled his eyes, "Yeah, I figured that, where?" Castiel didn't reply, but the averted eyes and the hand at his stomach said all he needed to know. "Are you serious?!" He said, voice bordering on hysteria, "Are you freaking joking Cas?"
The angel still refused to look at the hunter. "I needed to keep it safe."
"You couldn't have buried it or something?"
He shook his head, "No, I... didn't want to risk it."
Sam put a tired hand to his head, "Risk what?"
Castiel twitched uncomfortably, "Naomi, her control of me was broken when I touched the tablet, when-" He broke off.
"When you were beating the crap out of Dean?" Sam asked, moving to sit at the end of the angels bed.
They both observed Dean, oblivious to everything happening, peaceful in sleep. "Yes." Castiel said quietly. "And I didn't want to risk it happening again."
"Cas." Sam sighed, "You don't have the tablet now."
"And, correct me if I'm wrong, you're not going on a psychotic rampage."
The humour made Castiel feel a little better. "No." He said, the hint of a smile touching his lips.
"Could it have been something else that freed you?" The question seemed so simple, but Castiel knew the only other thing it could have been, and apparently so did Sam if the mischievous glint in his eyes was anything to go by.
"I don't know." He said after a pause, ignoring Sam's teasing look. If he had enough blood in his system he might have blushed.
Sam smiled and let it drop. "How did Crowley find you anyway?"
Castiel shrugged, hissing in pain the second he did so. "He didn't find me, he found Naomi, she found me."
Sam leaned and grabbed a bottle of painkillers from the desk, "Here, take a few, they're industrial strength."
"Thank you." The angel muttered, taking the bottle but then just staring at it.
Castiel knew he wasn't talking about his physical wellbeing. "The wound is quite painful, Crowley melted an angel blade to make the bullet he shot me with, but it won't kill me."
"That's not what I meant."
"I know." He said quietly, then fixed his eyes on Dean.
It wasn't difficult for Sam to see what was worrying him. "He knows it wasn't you, you know."
Castiel shook his head. "I don't understand how you can both be so forgiving. Everything I did..."
"Hey," Sam shook the angel gently to get his attention. "I jump-started the apocalypse, and I did it by drinking demon blood. We've all done things we regret." He smiled a little, "We forgive because you're our friend Cas."
"Angels don't really have forgiveness you know." He said after a long pause, sitting up a little straighter. "If we do something wrong we do our penance, and continue."
Sam felt a twinge of sympathy, not only for Castiel, but for every angel. Even Lucifer. "It's a good thing you're running with the mortals then." Castiel gave a small smile. "What?"
"Do you know what Naomi said to me today?" He asked rhetorically. Sam shook his head in confusion. "She said that she thinks I came off the line broken." He chuckled a little. "She said I've never followed orders."
Sam laughed a little too. He and Dean had been called all such things so many times that they lost any impact. Broken. Wrong. It seemed team free will had turned those words into compliments. "See? We were all meant to be."
"Even I know that's cheesy." Castiel said, smiling a little. "I'd always suspected that there was something... wrong with me." He said, "But from what I gather Naomi's been around for a long time, so I couldn't remember." Sam leaned forwards, drinking in the angel's words. "I can remember one thing though." Here he stopped.
"What?" Sam asked, hanging on every word.
Sam couldn't be sure but it looked like the angel was biting the inside of his lip. "Do you promise not to tell Dean?" He asked, and when Sam nodded he sighed and said, "I was instructed to raise Dean from hell." Castiel paused again, "But not as soon as I did."
Sam frowned. "What do you mean?"
"Well, initially there was legions of us trying to save Dean before he broke the first seal, but after it was broken the others wanted to wait until Lucifer was free. We had no need of him before then, you understand."
Sam nodded. He didn't like it, but he understood.
"Once the first seal was broken, Dean wasn't guarded much at all, hell had no need for him either, so the others gave up and went back to heaven, and I was instructed with extracting him when the time came, when Lucifer was risen."
Sam had to stop for a moment to process this. Castiel saved his brother. It had been almost a year between Dean being released from hell and Lucifer rising from the cage. A year. Dean had suffered so much in hell, and he had only been there for four months. What sixteen would have done to him...
Without thinking he pulled the angel into a hug, and Castiel had the tact to hold back the small groan of pain. "Thank you." He said softly, and the angel returned the embrace. It meant a lot to him to hear this from Castiel. That the angel was broken, defective. Because he was still Sam's friend, and if he was broken, then he always had been, and it didn't change anything. Broken, unclean. They were just labels.
"You're welcome." He said.
Neither of them noticed, for he was facing away from them, Dean's eyes wide open, the look of gratitude in them, the shine of tears behind them, or the hand, clasping at his own shoulder, where the hand print remained burned into his skin.
a.n. Let me know how epically I failed in your reviews