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Dean was ready to carve his eyes out with a spoon. He felt like he had been staring at the laptop screen for days, and it may have been true. He slammed the screen down when he found himself reading the same sentence for the tenth time. He lifted up his beer bottle, disappointed to find it empty.

“You okay?” Sam asked.

“No, Dean replied. “No, I’m not.” They had been locked in the cabin for over a week trying to plan their next moves. As much as they wanted to keep going on the regular hunts, they knew that they couldn’t continue doing that while the Leviathans ran rampant. They had to prioritize. That left them to doing research on how to kill the Leviathans while Bobby organized and went on hunts with whatever spare hunter he could find.

They hadn’t made any progress in the days they were there and it was taking a toll on both of them. “You—”

“No, we’re not going to talk about it,” he said. He did not like how much talking Sam expected him to do while everything was going to shit. He didn’t want to talk about Bobby’s miraculous recovery from his near death experience. He didn’t want to talk about if Crowley was involved or not even though everything in him screamed that he was. He didn’t want to talk about the Leviathans.

Dean stood up and walked into the kitchen. He needed another drink.

“You aren’t drinking anymore.”

“Why not?” Dean snapped. He knew it was probably the best idea if he didn’t, but the alcohol was helping him deal.

“Because it’s eleven in the morning.”

“New record,” Dean replied, continuing to the kitchen. He grabbed a beer and popped it open with the edge of the counter. “Have you found anything?”

“What do you think?” Sam replied, throwing the pile of papers he was reading on the couch.

“This is ridiculous. How are we supposed to fight monsters that God had to tuck away in their own little jail cell?” The situation became bleaker with each passing day they didn’t finding any useful information.

“I don’t know, Dean.” His brother’s despair was contagious.

Dean took a sip of his beer and set it down on the kitchen table. “We’re running around with our thumbs up our asses. Yeah, we got one break with the borax thing, but now that the Leviathans know we know about it, how often do you think we’ll be able to use it?”

“I don’t know, Dean,” Sam repeated, irritated. He couldn’t take his brother ranting at him anymore. “But we…” His voice trailed off when he heard a sound he’d never thought he’d hear again. He looked up and stared at the stranger in the living room. “Dad?” Sam asked.

“That’s not dad,” Dean said. The man in front of them could have been their dad if he was shorter and scrawnier and alive, but he wasn’t their father.

“I’m not your father,” Michael replied. He raised his hands up to show the brothers that he wasn’t a threat to them.

“Then who the hell are you?” Dean asked. He pulled his gun out of his waistband and pointed it at the stranger in the living room. When he didn’t get an answer soon enough, he took the safety off the gun.

“Michael.”

“Michael,” Sam said. “Like the same Michael who is supposed to be locked away in the cage right now?” He slowly pulled his gun out and pointed it at Michael too.

“Well, I’m not at the moment.”

“Obviously. Okay,” Dean said, cautious. “So, what are you doing here?”

“Someone needs your help.”

“Well, we’re busy,” Dean said. They couldn’t exactly take a break from finding a way to kill the Leviathans to help someone who wanted to destroy the world a year ago. Especially since that someone wanted to use his body to do so.

Michael sighed, knowing that the brothers would be difficult in having to deal with him. He knew that he needed to earn their trust, though he didn’t have time for that. He’d earn it later. “Gabriel. Balthazar.”

The two angels appeared in the living room with Balthazar carrying an unconscious Castiel in his arms. “Hello, boys,” Gabriel said.

“Cas?” Dean whispered. He could not believe the scene he was looking at. “Is that Cas?” He ignored everyone else in the room. Castiel was more important than the two angels that were supposed to be dead and an angel who was supposed to be in a cage in Hell standing in the living room. He felt like he was going to be sick.

“Yeah,” Gabriel said.

“What the hell happened to him?” Dean said, putting his gun down and stepping forward. He could see the injuries that coved Castiel’s body. He stopped when his brother grabbed his arm. He spun around to glare at him.

“I need a place to set him down,” Balthazar said. It wasn’t that the body he held was heavy; he was an angel. Castiel didn’t look comfortable in his arms.

“Is… is he in danger?” Dean asked.

“No,” Balthazar replied. “I need to put him somewhere.”

“Bed, second room on the…” Dean stopped talking when Balthazar vanished from the room. He would never get used to them leaving without warning. He turned back to Michael and Gabriel. He didn’t want to think about how battered Castiel looked even if it was the only image in his thoughts at the moment. He needed to take his mind off of Castiel for a second. He had a lot of questions that needed answers. First he needed to get information out of the archangels. “How do we know you guys aren’t the ones who did this to him?”

“Think about what you’re asking, Dean,” Gabriel said. “Really think about it.”

“I’m thinking that you guys are punishing him for stopping your Apocalypse.”

“You know that I didn’t want the Apocalypse to happen, Dean,” Gabriel yelled.

“Yeah, but what about the stoic man next to you? He was all gung-ho to use me and destroy the planet.”

“I thought those were my orders,” Michael replied.

Dean rolled his eyes. “Yeah?” he challenged. “And what are your orders now?” If their new orders involved hurting them or Castiel, Dean was ready to trap those angels in Holy Oil and stab them in their throats.

Michael looked to the floor. “To help Castiel.” He shook his head and looked at Dean, hoping to make eye contact. He needed to make sure Dean understood. “Our orders are to help Castiel.”

Goosebumps formed on Dean’s arm as he listened to the conviction in which Michael spoke. “So why bring him here?”

“Because it’s what he wanted. He said you needed him. He said you’d been calling for him.”

“Why would I—”

“Michael!” Balthazar yelled from the other room. “Cassy, calm down.”

Before Dean could say anything, Michael and Gabriel disappeared from the living room. Dean and Sam looked at each other before they ran to where Balthazar put Castiel. They were blocked from getting into the room by a wall of angels. “Move,” Dean said, pushing past Michael and Gabriel. The archangels stepped over, but Dean didn’t move further into the room.

Dean stared at a naked Castiel who stood on the other side of the bed, as far away as possible from everyone in the room. His eyes were wide and unfocused, like a wild animal. “I… I killed you,” he said to Balthazar. He brought his hand to his chest and saw that he was bleeding again. He reopened his wounds.

“You did a really bad job at it,” Balthazar said.

“How?”

“Don’t worry your pretty little head about it now, Cassy. Just get in bed and sleep. When you wake up, we’ll explain everything.”

Castiel shook his head. He couldn’t sleep. Not yet. Not when he was free. He had too much to do. “Is Dean all right? Michael said he’d bring me to Dean.” It was the last thing he remembered before he was put to sleep.

“He’s fine,” Michael replied.

Castiel looked over at his eldest brother. “I… I need to talk to him.”

“What could you possibly talk to him about right at this second?”

“Balthazar, please,” Castiel said.

“You can talk to him when you’re feeling better,” Gabriel said.

Castiel looked to the new voice in the room. “Gabriel? You’re alive too?” His mind had to be playing tricks on him. It had to be another one of Nybbas’s illusions.

Gabriel nodded. “Yeah, bro,” he replied. He stepped forward to stand next to Balthazar. “So, why don’t you crawl into bed so we can talk about it when you’re thinking straight.”

Nybbas. Jezebeth. Please, stop.” Castiel let out a shaky breath. He brought a hand up and massaged his temple. “This is too much. How have they imitated your grace?

Castiel, listen to me, you’re safe,” Michael said, stepping toward Castiel tentatively. He didn’t want to scare his brother any more than he already was. He was almost thankful that Castiel’s wings were injured so he couldn’t fly away. “Father brought us back to help you.

Father is gone.”

He’s not, Castiel,” Michael pleaded. “You have to believe me.

I can’t anymore, Michael. I do, and it always ends the same way. Just more pain,” Castiel replied. “I can’t anymore.”

“Castiel!” Michael yelled, shaking the entire room. “You listen to me. We got you out. You asked us to bring you to Dean, and we did. Look.”

On cue, Sam pushed his brother forward. Dean stumbled for a couple of steps before he regained his balance. “The hell, Sam?” Dean growled. His anger quickly receded when he looked at Castiel. It didn’t make sense to him how Castiel was still on his feet with the injuries that he had.

“Dean?” Castiel said, surprised, relieved, and scared. He held his hand out and an angel sword appeared out of thin air. Castiel slowly limped his way to Dean.

“Cas?” Dean asked. He was scared, but he could not move away from the oncoming danger. He held his breath when Castiel stopped a couple of feet in front of him.

Castiel held his sword out with a shaky hand. He flipped it around so the blade faced him instead of Dean. “Don’t worry. Manifestation or not, I would never hurt you.”

Dean reached out and grabbed the handle of the angel sword. Once Dean had it firmly in his grip, Castiel let go. “Cas?” he whispered. He had no idea what Castiel wanted him to do with it.

Castiel stepped forward and put his hands around Dean’s hand. He looked up and into Dean’s eyes; eyes that he’d looked into so many times before. He would convince himself that this moment was real. He desperately needed it to be real. “Make the pain stop, Dean,” he whispered. “Please.” He slowly walked to Dean.

“Cas. I don’t know what I can do.” He watched as Castiel kept moving toward him, ignoring the blade between them. “Cas, what are you doing?” He tried to pull his hand out of Castiel’s but the grip was too strong.

Castiel opened his mouth, preparing to answer, but before he could, he collapsed with the sound of a snap. Dean looked around and saw Gabriel with his hand up. The archangel did this.

“You could’ve caught him,” Gabriel said.

“You could’ve warned me you were going to knock him out,” Dean countered.

“Stop it, both of you,” Michael said, putting himself between the two of them. He had been with Gabriel for an hour at the most and he was already tired of his antics. “There were other ways to go about this, Gabriel.”

“You heard what he was saying, Michael,” Gabriel argued. “You know what he was asking Dean to do.”

“He’s not in his right mind, Gabriel. For all he knows, this could be another vision. He…” His voice trailed off when Sam walked through the archangels and knelt down next to Castiel.

He pulled a blanket off of the bed and threw it over the sleeping angel. Then he gently picked him up. He put him back on the bed. “You guys can’t heal him?” Sam asked.

“We tried and made it worse,” Michael replied.

“I’ll grab some stuff so we can patch him up.” Sam spun around to look at Dean who was still standing in the same position he had been since he pushed him, staring at the figure on the bed. Sam walked over to his brother. He needed to snap him out of the trance he was in. “Dean?” he asked, putting a hand on his brother’s shoulder and shaking him. He needed his brother’s help to fix Castiel’s wounds.

Dean shook his head and blinked a coupled of times. He looked up at his brother and almost jumped back to see him so close to him. “Keep this away from him,” Dean said, grabbing Sam’s hand and putting the angel sword in it. He ran a hand down his face then turned and left the room.

“Where are you going?” Sam asked.

“Out. I’ll be back in a couple.”

“Of what?” Sam asked. “Dean?” He followed him, but was unable to catch up to him. Dean slammed the front door in his face. “Dean!” he yelled after he yanked it open.

“You still think bringing him here was the best for him?” Gabriel asked, watching Sam chase after his brother.

Michael looked at Castiel then at the door Dean just walked out of. “Yes. I do.”

--------------

Hours later, Sam finished turning Castiel into a mummy and Dean still hadn’t returned to the cabin. Sam took his time cleaning up the mess in the guest room. He did not want to talk to the angels without anyone around. He was glad that they gave him his space as he sewed and cleaned and bandaged the injured man.

He put away the medical supplies, making a note of what he’d have to get more of the next time they went to the store. When that was packed away, he grabbed all of the blood-covered washcloths and tossed them into the nearest bathroom. He’d bleach them later.

He stepped into the living room and saw the three angels reading over the papers and articles and books he and Dean had left lying around. “It’s amazing the information humans have,” Michael mumbled. “In the entire existence of the world, humans only take up a handful of moments, if that. Yet you have so much information about things before you.” He was in awe.

“Is Cas still an angel?” he asked, setting the medical kit down under the coffee table that Gabriel rested his feet.

“He still has his grace,” Gabriel said, putting down the paper he was reading. He remembered seeing it try to escape his vessel when Michael tried to heal him. “It’s pained, but he still has it.”

“Okay,” Sam said with a sigh. The information relieved him. He wanted to ask more questions about the angel, but he knew his brother would be the one to do so once he returned. “So, God tells you to come down and help Cas, and you just do it?”

“Yeah,” Gabriel replied.

“Where was He?”

“That is a good question,” Gabriel said with a clap of his hands. But it was a question he did not want to answer. “Balthazar?”

Balthazar shook his head when everyone in the room looked at him. “Don’t look at me,” he said. “Today was the first day I’ve seen our Patriarch’s face. If anyone knew where Father’s been hiding, it would be Michael.”

“I don’t know,” Michael replied. “I’d never seen that location before today.”

Sam was ready to press for a deeper answer, but he heard how dejected the oldest Archangel sounded. He felt sorry for the archangel. He knew all of the bull Michael had gone through because he thought he was doing the right thing. “Okay. Next question. Which one of our relatives are you wearing?” he asked. He could see some familial resemblance between his dad and the man Michael was using. He had never met anyone from their dad’s side of the family, so the man in front of him could have been anyone. It could have been his uncle.

“His name is Harold Atkins. He’s your dad’s second cousin. They share the same grandfather.”

“So, why did he say yes?”

“He has nothing anymore. He lost his job, and his wife took his three children away because he wasn’t able to provide for them. He sees them maybe three times a month. He was also addicted to gambling.” Michael stood up from his seat, closing the book he was already more than halfway through reading. “He was turning his life around. Wanted to dedicate his life to God.”

“No better way to do that then become a vessel for an angel,” Sam said, his tone painted with sarcasm.

“He said yes, Sam,” Michael replied, the sarcasm and irritation not lost on him. “I don’t take anyone against their will.”

“Not anymore.” It was hard to forget that this calm and serene angel was the same one who wanted to use his brother to fight an Apocalypse.

“I would have never taken your brother unless he said yes.”

“You were just so keen on breaking him that in the end it’s what he would do.”

“But he didn’t.” Something inside of him knew that Dean never would.

“Yeah,” Sam replied. “Because Dean—” He was cut off by the sound of the front door swinging open and slamming against the wall. “Dean?” He stared at his brother who looked worse for the wear than when he left. “You’ve been drinking,” he stated, smelling the alcohol when Dean walked past him.

Dean turned and glared at him. “And what?” Of all things he wanted to get a lecture from his brother about, he thought his drinking would be one of the last things on the list.

“Were you driving like this?”

Dean did not want to answer the question because he knew Sam already knew the answer. He grew tired of the conversation and turned his anger on the archangel. “What the hell happened to him?” he yelled. He looked into the bedroom and saw Castiel still lying on the bed. “Tell me what happened to him.” His entire body was shaking as he spoke.

“Are you able to take care of him?” Michael asked, calm. It wouldn’t do anyone good if he became angry and frustrated with the situation.

Michael’s demeanor only made Dean angrier. Maybe the alcohol was a bad idea. “You can’t just drop him on Bobby’s doorstep, looking like he’s been through a blender, without telling us what happened.”

“You left before we could tell you anything,” Balthazar replied.

“Well, I’m back,” Dean replied. “And I want some answers.”

“He asked us to bring him here.”

“Then do something and heal him.” He yelled, but he was begging too. If this was real, and Castiel was back, he didn’t want to have to look at him while he looked so broken.

“We can’t,” Balthazar said, irritated. Surely, Dean had to think they tried it already.

“Or won’t.”

“We already tried,” Michael said, still so calm.

“Where the fuck has he been?” Dean asked.

“The Leviathans had him,” Gabriel answered.

Dean felt his heart drop to his stomach. He blinked slowly. “So, he wasn’t dead.”

“No.”

“They had him this entire time?” And that was enough to break Dean down. Sam rushed to his side and helped him over to the couch. He rested his elbows on his knees then buried his face in his hands. “He died,” Dean whispered.

“So have five out of the six people in this house right now,” Gabriel replied.

He looked up at Gabriel, glaring. “The Leviathans said he died.” That’s why he hadn’t even thought about looking for him. He just accepted Castiel was dead. How messed up was that?

“They lied,” Gabriel said each word as if it were its own sentence. “Seriously, Dean. Haven’t you learned anything?”

“They had him this whole time?” He couldn’t imagine the Leviathans holding Castiel all this time and him not having a clue. They didn’t even think to look for him. And while he and his brother were dealing with everything else, Castiel was being tortured.

“I don’t know.”

“Do you know what they did to him?” Dean could have figured out most of it from just looking at Castiel’s body. He recognized burn patterns, the size of the stab wounds, the shapes of bruises. He was all too familiar with it. He hadn’t had the chance to check Castiel over himself, but he wanted to know if the angels knew something he didn’t.

“I don’t know,” Michael repeated. He hadn’t had a chance to check Castiel’s mental state, but from what he’d seen so far, it wasn’t good. He could have easily read Castiel’s mind, but he was not going to invade his brother’s privacy that way.

“Well, will he be okay?” He asked because he knew there’d be a direct correlation between Castiel’s well-being and his own.

“Dean, I don’t know.”

“Then what the fuck do you know?” Dean yelled.

“Dean, calm down,” Sam said.

“Don’t…” Dean made a fist and pressed it to his lips to keep him from saying something he’d regret later. He swallowed hard, trying to keep down all the grieving that was threatening to surface. The alcohol in his system was not helping. “Why did you bring him here?” he asked, his voice shaky.

“He wanted to see you,” Balthazar said.

“Then you should have brought him here after you healed him.”

“We can’t heal him. And besides, he didn’t want that,” Michael replied. “The first thing he wanted to do when he found him was see you.”

Dean did not want to hear about Castiel asking for him after being tortured. “You’re his brothers,” he said, jumping to his feet. “You’re supposed to be looking out for him.”

“Well, we don’t have the luxury of having the relationship that you have with your brother,” Balthazar said. “And we like to do things rationally instead of trying to sell our souls every time the other dies.”

By then, Dean had calmed down and sobered up. He looked back into his room, wondering if all of his yelling woke Castiel up. He was glad that Castiel hadn’t moved. Then he realized how morbid the thought was. Just looking at Castiel was enough to pacify him. He knew he had enough pent up aggression to be angry and frustrated for days, but now he just felt tired. “So, you’re going to hole up here until Cas wakes up?”

“Yeah,” Gabriel said.

“Then what?” Sam asked.

“We won’t know until Cassy wakes up.”

Dean sighed. He didn’t want to be in close quarters with the angels. He still didn’t trust them. But he knew that they had to take care of their brother. “Well, you guys might as well be useful and help us find a way to get rid of those Leviathan bastards.”

“Yeah, we’ve got nothing,” Sam added, picking up a couple of books.

“We can do that,” Michael replied when Sam put the books in front of him. He held one of them out and Balthazar grabbed it. He took one and flipped to the first page.

--------------


Three days later, Bobby returned to the cabin. Even though Bobby was informed of the newcomers, he was still surprised to see the angels sitting in the living room, reading, and looking strangely human.

After Bobby put away his weapons, he went into Castiel’s room. He stayed in there for a couple of minutes to check over Sam’s wrapping and for signs of infection, even though he knew Sam did a good job. He needed the excuse to stay in the room a little longer.

When he left the room, his eyes were red, but no one mentioned it. He was glad to see the angel. It wasn’t the same reaction as when Castiel sent the souls back to Purgatory and survived, but he was guarded. He didn’t want the relief and happiness to be ripped away from him again. Castiel was one of his boys, and he did not know if he could take it if he lost him again. “So, how is he?” he asked Dean.

Dean could only shrug. He hadn’t been in the room since Castiel gave him his sword and asked him to kill him. At least, that’s what he assumed he was asking him to do.

Since then, only the angels and Sam had been in the room. They were never in there long. Sam would go in to check and change the bandages when they were soaked with blood. The angels would go in the room to send Castiel into a deeper sleep when he sounded like he was waking up in pain.

Dean wondered if Castiel had nightmares. Then he thought about how horrible it must be to have nightmares only to be sent further into them instead of having to deal with real life pain. He didn’t know which option would have been better.

“He’s healing,” Sam answered.

Bobby didn’t have any more questions about Castiel since Sam briefed him on the situation a few days ago. “So, have you found anything new about the Leviathans?”

“Nothing,” Sam replied. “The books just keep repeating the same things. A few details here and there are changed, but nothing relevant.”

“And what about you guys?” Bobby asked, turning to the angels. “You don’t have anything to add?”

“No,” Michael replied. “They were put away before we were created. And all we’ve heard were stories. We don’t know how to defeat them.”

“Well, that’s just great,” Dean said.

“Dean,” Sam said.

“Why is this our problem anymore?” Dean knew he sounded irritable. He was. He was glad that Castiel was back, even he wasn’t willing to accept it just yet. He, like Bobby, was cautious. And he was tired. And frustrated. And he didn’t want to have to deal with any of it anymore.

“Because those things are killing people,” Sam replied.

Dean let out a deep sigh that seemed to deflate his entire body. “I know, I know,” he said. It sounded apologetic enough. “I’m just…”

“You should go see him, Dean,” Michael said.

“This has nothing to do with him,” Dean said convincingly enough. They were talking about the Leviathans. There was no reason for them to bring Castiel into it.

“Dean, pull your head out of your ass and go sit with him,” Sam yelled. He was tired of his brother’s bullshit. “You haven’t been within ten feet of that room since they brought him here.” He knew he was aiming below the belt in revealing something that only he was aware of, but he knew what was best for his brother. And he knew Bobby would support him after learning how stubborn Dean was acting.

“What?” Bobby asked. He could not believe what he had heard. “Boy.”

It was all Bobby needed to say and Dean got off the couch. “Fine,” he hissed. He walked into the room and slammed the room door shut behind him.

He flinched when he realized it could have been loud enough to wake him up. He looked at the bed and realized that Castiel wasn’t waking up any time soon.

He looked around the room for a chair or something to sit on, but found none. Rooms in the cabin were mostly used for sleeping. If someone needed to sit, there were enough couches and chairs in the living room and kitchen. He settled for sitting on the bed. He was content with sitting in the room if it meant he didn’t have to deal with everyone outside ganging up on him. It happened way too much the last few days and he knew that it’d only continue since he wasn’t going to fight back. He deserved all the crap they were throwing at him.

After a couple of minutes, he finally looked at Castiel. For the first time since Castiel was brought to the cabin, Dean was able to catalogue what happened to him. Most of the injuries were covered in bandages and wrappings, but Dean remembered what was under them. He tried not to look before Castiel passed out, but there was so much blood that his eyes kept going to Castiel’s body. He never thought Castiel was capable of bleeding so much. That image stuck with him.

He pulled the blanket down to Castiel’s waist. He lifted up one of Castiel’s hands, and saw the wrist bandaged up. He could tell he was restrained. And he struggled and fought. He set the hand back down on the bed. He saw how tightly Sam wrapped his chest and knew Castiel had a few broken ribs, which meant there would be bruises on the surface. He noticed the drops of blood seeping through the bandages in a straight line down the middle of his chest. He didn’t want to know how deep that wound went.

He wondered if Castiel actually felt the pain the Leviathans put him through.

He leaned forward and took Castiel’s chin in his hand. He moved his face from side to the other. The swelling around his eyes was going down. The bruising on his jaw and neck was also fading. The cuts on Castiel’s lips were slowly healing too. He had an urge to put some chapstick on him because the state his lips were in made him look dehydrated.

He stood up and pulled the blanket all the way off. He was thankful that someone had the mind to give him a pair of boxers so he wasn’t lying in bed naked. He saw that Sam had wrapped both of Castiel’s ankles. He remembered how Castiel struggled to walk over to him those days ago. Hopefully they were just sprained and nothing was broken.

He grabbed the edge of the blanket and pulled it back up Castiel’s body. He got the blanket up to his waist when a hand on his arm stopped him. He immediately let the blanket drop and looked up to Castiel’s face.

Dean saw Castiel’s eyes open, but there were glazed and unfocused. “Cas?”

“Dean,” he said with a smile. He blinked a few times to clear his vision. “It’s nice to see you again.”

“You okay, Cas?” Dean knew Castiel wasn’t in the right state of mind from the way he was acting.

“I’ll be fine until you do something.”

“What are you talking about?” Dean asked. What did Castiel think he was going to do to him?

“Using his face is becoming tiresome, Jezebeth,” Castiel said.

“Cas, I don’t know who you think I am, but I’m real. I’m Dean.”

“You’ve said that so many times.” Maybe one day, when they’ve actually broken him, he’d believe it.

Dean didn’t know what he could do to make Castiel believe him. He had no idea how to convince the angel that he was real. “Cas, you’re safe,” Dean replied. He was shaking. The bastards that were torturing Castiel had the gall to use his face while they did it. If things weren’t personal before, they definitely were now.

“Until your next torture.”

“Damnit, Cas,” Dean said, sitting on the edge of the bed. He reached over and grabbed Castiel’s right hand. He brought to his left shoulder; the shoulder where his handprint was. “It’s me,” Dean said. “There are no demons that know about this. Only you, me, Sam, Bobby, and maybe a few angels. But you know your own handprint, Cas.”

Castiel’s hand shook against Dean’s arm. He tried to pull his hand away from Dean’s arm, but the grip on his wrist was too tight. Finally Dean let him go, but Castiel kept his hand on the shoulder. He rubbed his hand against the raised skin. “Dean?” he said in the same exact tone that he said it the last time he was conscious.

“I’m getting tired of your questioning if I’m me, Cas.”

Castiel swallowed hard and stared at the ceiling. The placed the hand that Dean held over his heart. “Dean, why didn’t you save me?”

Dean froze in his seat. He wanted to jump off the bed put a lot of space between the two of them, but he couldn’t move. “I… I don’t know,” he replied. Because honestly, how the hell was he supposed to answer a question like that. “Cas.” He thought he was dead. If he had known Castiel was still alive, he would’ve found a way to help him.

Castiel reached forward and put a hand on Dean’s. He squeezed it. “It’s okay,” he said with a smirk. “I don’t think I deserved it either.”

“Cas.” Dean was about to say something else, but Castiel turned on his side and started coughing. “Cas?”

“Nybbas. Abbadon, stop,” Castiel gasped.

“Cas?” Dean shouted. He grabbed him by his shoulder, trying to help him through the fit. He didn’t know what else he could do as Castiel curled into himself and started to throw up blood. “Hey, Cas, you have to breathe.” He looked up when he heard the sound of wings flapping in the room.

Balthazar pulled him off the bed while Michael and Gabriel tried to treat Castiel. “Why didn’t you tell us he was awake?” Balthazar hissed.

“Well, you know now,” Dean growled. He walked out of the room, sending one more look to the bed as Michael and Gabriel tried to calm Castiel down before he slammed the door behind him.

--------------

Dean didn’t go back into the room again no matter how many dirty looks he got from everyone. He couldn’t. Not with the fear of triggering another bloody vomit attack. He convinced himself that being in the same room as Castiel was detrimental to his healing. Once Castiel was back to his angelic self, then he’d go and see him.

A week and a day after they first brought Castiel to the cabin, Castiel walked out of the room with the help of Gabriel. He looked out into the living room, nervous that all eyes were on him.

“Hello, everyone,” Castiel whispered after Gabriel leaned over and whispered something to him. Castiel nodded. Whatever Gabriel had said to him calmed him.

“Hey, Cas,” Sam said. He stood up from the kitchen table, the article he was reading forgotten. He walked over to Castiel. “It’s good to see you up and walking,” he said.

“Thank you,” Castiel replied. His gaze dropped to the floor, unable to look at Sam after all the pain he caused him. “And thank you for ministrations that you have provided for me. Gabriel told me that you were the one who did this.” He ran his hands over the bandages on his chest.

“Yeah. They said that they couldn’t heal you, so I figured you probably needed some human treatments.”

“Thank you. It helped.”

Sam nodded. He grabbed one of Castiel’s arms, ignoring how he tensed under his hold, and helped him over to the couch. The same couch that Dean sat on. Dean was lucky Sam wasn’t a dick and had the thoughtfulness to put a cushion between them.

Dean looked over and saw how exhausted Castiel was from the short walk from the bedroom to the couch. He wanted to tear Gabriel a new one for letting Castiel out of bed before his body was ready. The archangels had only let Castiel regain consciousness three days ago. It was too soon for Castiel to be walking around. He decided against starting an argument with the angels. He’d wait to see how the next few minutes played out and if he still felt the same way, he’d wait until Castiel was back in his room sleeping to let the angels know what he was thinking.

Dean watched Castiel who kept his eyes they entire time. “You still think I’m an illusion?” he asked.

Castiel shook his head. “Gabriel has assured me that everyone in here is real.”

“Good,” Dean replied.

Then he got up from the couch and everyone was afraid that Dean was going to go out to the bar and drink like he did every time he didn’t want to deal with something. He surprised everyone by going to the kitchen.

Sam and Bobby watched him to make sure he didn’t reach for a beer.

Dean reentered with two bottles of water. He sat back on the couch. He opened one of the bottles and held it out to Castiel. “Drink,” he said. “You... your vessel looks dehydrated.”

Castiel’s gaze went from the water bottle to Dean, then to Michael. He had no idea what was going on, but then he saw that Dean was doing something nice for him. He reached for the bottle and accepted it with a shaky hand. It shook violently enough that some of the water sloshed out and onto his hand. He held the bottle for a moment, taking a few breaths to calm himself down. He was about to take a sip, when he looked up at the mention of his name.

He saw Dean standing over him. “Yes?” he answered, knowing that Dean was the one who called him.

Dean put his hand on Castiel’s and put a straw in the bottle. “Before you spill it all over yourself,” he said. Then he sat back down on the couch.

Castiel brought the straw to his lips and drank down half the bottle in one go. He hadn’t realized how thirsty he actually was. He set the bottle down on the coffee table in front of him. “I should be back to my normal state within a week.”

“Don’t rush it, Cas,” Bobby said. “Take all the time you need.”

“Thank you, Bobby,” Castiel said and smiled. “But I think it would be best if you were able to resume what you were doing without needing to tend to me.”

“Cas, it’s okay,” Sam replied. He knew the guilt that Castiel was feeling, but he had forgiven him for everything months ago. Castiel stopped the Apocalyspe. Sure, he let the Leviathans out, but at least they didn’t have to deal with them on top of angels trying to destroy the world. Looking after him while he healed was the least they could do.

Castiel looked at Dean. “I know,” he replied. “But you have things to do, and so do I.”

“What do you have to do?” Dean asked. He looked at Castiel, not surprised to find the angel staring at him. He held the angel’s gaze. He wanted answers.

“It’s none of your concern,” Castiel replied.

“Cas,” Dean warned. He didn’t want secrets between them. The last secret Castiel kept from him put them in the situation they were in. He was shocked when Castiel broke eye contact first. He could have sworn he saw Castiel’s eyes darken before he looked away. “Cas,” he pressed.

“Michael, I think I’m tired,” Castiel said, ignoring Dean.

The tension in the room increased. Everyone knew what the action meant. Michael walked over to Castiel and put a hand on his shoulder. The two angels disappeared into the room. Gabriel flicked his wrist and shut the room door.

Dean looked at the people left in the room. None of them met his gaze. He suspected he’d be alone in trying to figure out what was wrong with Castiel.

But he couldn’t deal with it now, so he picked up a book that Gabriel had stolen from a library in Egypt and flipped through it. Dean needed to work on a problem that he could actually solve.

[Prologue] [Masterpost] [Chapter 2]

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dauntperplexity

August 2012

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