{A.N. Sorry about the horrendous wait! I'm a terrible person and started two fics in the same week! And got a little obsessed with the other one, but here is the long-awaited seventh chapter! Thanks again to all your wonderful reviews! Xreme619: hurtCas with protectiveDean is just so addictive right! If you want to read To Save An Angel, it's already up so just check it out on my page or search for it (I've since realized there's another fic out there called the same thing! Oops! Hadn't seen it before I started writing!) so yeah check it out if you like this one, although it is AU and Destiel...Guest: Hey thanks! No worries, go ahead and put it in that community and no, there won't be any slash in this one. : yeah I do like my twists. And cliffy's haha! FeveredDreamscape: I know! I'm horrible! I'm sorry! But here's more! CaptainAlias: Garth may pop up sometime in the future...}

Chapter 7: Painful Healing & Dangerous Plotting

"What have you done to him? Tell me right now, or I swear to God, I will cure it out of you!" Dean shouted at Crowley as Sam rushed over to the now-unconscious Castiel, checking his pulse and breathing.

"I did exactly what you told me to, you knucklehead," Crowley sneered. "I healed him. Somewhat anyway. I just neglected to tell you that the spell kinda hurts."

"Define 'kinda hurts'," Dean demanded, slowly pulling out Ruby's knife.

"Hmmm, let me see, imagine being burned alive whilst being ripped apart by hellhounds," Crowley offered. "But, trust me, works like a charm. Still remember the first time mumsy laid it on me. Oh boy, that was bad. He'll probably be unconscious until at least tomorrow afternoon."

"You son of a bitch," Dean snarled angrily, brandishing the knife. He stalked around the table until he was face to face with Crowley and brought the knife up under his chin. "You neglected to tell us that? You saw how much Cas has gone through and you put him through even more agony!"

"To heal him," Crowley insisted. "I guarantee that when he wakes up tomorrow, all his open wounds will have closed up and his ribs won't be anywhere near as bad as they are now."

"And mentally will he be okay?" Dean asked. "He thought we were helping him, goddamnit!"

"You are helping him, you moron," Crowley maintained, prodding Dean in the chest. "Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind."

"Not with Cas! He won't get it! He'll think we're continuing the torture," Dean replied. He turned to Sam who looked up at him with a questioning look. "Abaddon must have fed him a bunch of lies while he was there about us. He thought we abandoned him there on purpose. That we didn't come for him immediately because of what he'd done. He practically blames himself for getting into that situation."

Sam shook his head sadly. He and Dean hadn't had a moment to themselves to debrief after they'd rescued Cas, and, reluctantly, Crowley, from the warehouse in Missouri. So Sam had no idea about how Castiel was feeling about the whole thing.

"He blames himself? That's ridiculous," Sam said exasperatedly.

"Not really, he's been fed all that 'penance' crap from upstairs for millennia. He thinks that we left him with Abaddon so he could 'make amends'. He still thinks he's of 'no use' to us. That's the only reason he let Crowley do this stupid spell I'm pretty sure," Dean said, running his hands over his face.

"He thinks he's worthless to us?" Sam asked.

"Yeah, he doesn't have his angel mojo and he's all banged up, can hardly walk, so, yeah, he thinks he's pretty much worthless to the cause," Dean replied. "Come on, let's get him back to his room. Tomorrow afternoon you reckon?" Dean asked Crowley, his anger slowly dissipating. If Crowley's spell worked, he supposed he'd have to thank him, as hard as that sounded.

"I can't see him waking up any sooner," Crowley said, grimacing at Castiel's still form.

"Alright, help me out, Sammy," Dean murmured, putting away Ruby's knife and walking back around to Cas. The two brothers half-carried, half-dragged Castiel back to his room and laid him down gently on the bed.

"Do you trust Crowley?" Sam asked his brother.

"About as far as I can throw him, but if Abaddon is planning on sending some demon smoke after Cas then he needed to heal up a little faster, otherwise he'd be too easy for her," Dean replied. "But I'm afraid we've done more bad than good."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, Cas, he…he seems different," Dean said, sitting down on the edge of the bed and surveying the passed out ex-angel. "I mean, he's human and all that, but I mean…he's seems, well, depressed."

"I suppose that wouldn't be too big of a jump," Sam said, leaning up against a chest of drawers. "He was tricked by Metatron into expelling all of the angels from Heaven. Then he was abducted and tortured by Abaddon who spun a web of lies for him about us not caring. Now he finds out that Abaddon is sending demons out to use his own family as meatsuits. The guy's gotta feel pretty bad."

"I know but…" Dean sighed. He didn't want to bring this up. He'd never told Sam about 2014 Castiel. That particular Castiel was only six months away now. "Remember when I told you Zachariah zapped me into the future so I could see how it all ended? Trying to get me to say yes to Michael?"

"Uh, yeah, couldn't really forget that one."

"Well, I didn't tell you about Cas."

"What about him?"

"He was organizing orgies, was stoned off his head, popping pills on the way to the big Lucifer showdown"-

"Sounds like a good change," Sam joked quietly.

"No, it wasn't," Dean replied firmly. "He was…broken inside. It was like he couldn't deal with life anymore and just buried himself in a pile of drugs. It was sad to see. I'm just worried this could be one of the things that leads him closer towards that."

"But Dean, we stopped the apocalypse. No Lucifer, no Michael, no Croatoan virus," Sam said, determinedly. "So, by that logic, no junkie Cas."

"Maybe," Dean, murmured, lost in thought. "Maybe not. We better let him sleep it off though."

Sam nodded and the two of them left Castiel in the darkened bedroom, Dean taking one last look at the unconscious man before he closed the door over.

Crowley was right on the money for once. The next afternoon saw Castiel emerge from the bedroom, partially healed from the spell. The Winchesters looked up as soon as they saw footsteps coming from the hallway into the Men of Letters' main room. Cas looked so much better than when they had first rescued him from that abandoned factory. He didn't seem so pale anymore, the bruises on his face were half-faded and he wasn't unnaturally hunched over due to injured ribs. Dean still helped him over to the table and into a chair before sitting down himself. The three men looked expectantly at Castiel.

"What?" he asked them, nervously, his head cocked to one side.

"Well, how do you feel?" Crowley demanded.

"Much better now," Castiel replied haltingly. He still didn't trust the demon at all. "My ribs still ache but the majority of my wounds have healed."

"Yeah, doesn't quite work all that well on broken bones, but at least your face is almost back to it's pretty self," Crowley smirked.

"Thank you," Cas replied, a little confused. He turned to Dean, "Any news on Abaddon?"

"She's jumped five more angels," Sam said, opening his laptop back up. "At least we think she's behind it."

"What do you mean?" Castiel asked.

"Well, we've been wondering," Dean said, "if maybe Metatron would have anything at all to do with this."

"Metatron? Help Abaddon possess the angels?" Castiel asked, and Dean couldn't help but notice a shudder go through the man. "He could be. He certainly resents every single one of us for forcing him to leave Heaven."

"Why don't you just ask her?" Crowley said.

"What?" Dean and Sam both asked in unison.

"Why. Don't. You. Ask. Her," Crowley repeated, "morons," he added.

"Ask Abaddon?" Sam said.

"Yes! Give the moose a gold star! Why don't you figure out where she'll be and ask her? Or ask one of her mooks," Crowley said. "And while you're at it, surely there's gotta be a section on the 'Angel' tablet that'll tell you how to cram all those angels back in Heaven again."

"We've got Kevin on it," Dean said. "Well, Sammy, where will Abaddon be next?"

Sam turned his laptop around so they could see a map of the contiguous US states. On it were about fifty red dots situated mainly in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan. They were almost in a perfect square.

"These are all the attacks that Garth and I have been able to find footage of. There's probably been more but these are the ones we know of for sure," Sam said.

"They're all the places where ex-angels have been possessed by demons?" Castiel asked softly.

Sam nodded in response. "I've been plotting them on the map ever since they started. Now it might be a rookie mistake on her part, but I've got to theorise that Abaddon's headquarters are in the centre of that circle."

"Theorise?" Crowley mocked under his breath but was silenced by a glare from both Dean and Sam.

"So, what's in the dead centre?" Dean asked.

"Well I made a rough border focusing on the attacks that were the furthest out," Sam said. "Rock Rapids, Iowa makes up the top left corner, Joplin, Missouri is the bottom left, Nicholasville, Kentucky is the bottom right corner and Ionia, Michigan is the top right corner." Sam typed on the laptop then turned it around so they could clearly see a square forming with the top line technically running straight through Lake Michigan. Sam turned the laptop back around. "And in the middle is…Bloomington, Illinios." The laptop was turned back around so that Crowley, Cas and Dean could see where four lines leading from the four towns joined in the centre.

"Bloomington, Illinios, it is then," Dean said. "We'll leave tomorrow morning. Sound like a plan?"

"Sounds like a suicide mission but sure," Sam said, shrugging. "But, what the hell are we going to do if we meet up with her?"

"Those devil's trap bullets worked like a charm last time," Dean suggested.

"Guess that's what we're doing tonight," Sam replied.

After carving out a few dozen devil's trap bullets, Sam made a run into town for pizza for their dinner. While Dean was examining the CCTV footage of angels being jumped by demon smoke, Castiel wandered up to him. Dean looked up to see Cas waiting for him to finish what he was doing and was disturbed a little by the ex-angel's new meek behaviour.

"Hey Cas, what's up?" he asked with a smile, wanting the ex-angel to feel comfortable around him. Dean had the distinct impression that Cas still felt like he owed them something for his rescue.

"I just thought…your note the other day said I shouldn't take a shower because of the bandages…" Cas trailed off, looking up at Dean hopefully.

"Oh, that's right. Look how about I check out your wounds, see how healed everything is and then you can have a steam shower. Trust me, they're awesome."

The two of them went back into Castiel's room, ignoring Crowley's joke about them taking some time out to 'bond'. Castiel tugged his borrowed shirt off and Dean unwrapped the bandages from his wrists and from his back and sat behind him on the bed to study the lash marks that the demons had caused.

"Well, damn, would you look at that?" Dean breathed. Cas craned his head looking back at Dean.

"What is it?" he asked.

"Your back, it's still bruised but all of those cuts and gashes, they're gone. The bruises on your ribs are looking much better too. Not all black like before, and your wrists just look a little rope burned," Dean said, astonished.

"So, the spell worked?" Cas asked tentatively.

"Sure did," Dean replied. "Did it…did it hurt a lot?"

Castiel swallowed thickly. He didn't want to say anything negative about it to Dean, considering it had been the older Winchester who had persuaded him to go ahead with it.

"It's okay, you can tell me," Dean added softly.

"It was the worst pain I've felt since becoming human," Castiel whispered. He flinched slightly when Dean's hand came down gently on his shoulder.

"I am so, so sorry you had to go through that Cas," Dean apologised. "And don't go thinking we made you do it so you'd become useful to us again. The only reason I wanted to go ahead with it is because Abaddon is out there. And she's hunting ex-angels. I needed you healed so we could protect you better."

"That's alright, Dean, I understand," Cas said solemnly. He stood up and grabbed a towel that Dean had brought him. "I might take that shower now."

"Last door on the left," Dean directed. "Have a nice long one, relax, nothing can get to you in here, okay?"

Cas nodded then turned back to Dean. "Thank you, again, for everything," he said.

"Anytime, Cas, but go have that shower then we should all get an early night," Dean said, "so we're primed for some Abaddon-hunting tomorrow."

{A.N. Hey guys! Tell me what you think! Hit that review button NOW!}