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Castiel was cold, and soaked. The Leviathans had pulled him from the water and dragged him to shore. He didn’t know how long he was underwater. It could have been days. It could have been years. He tried to stand up, but his limbs were too heavy from the cold.

He worried that he was human.

One of the Leviathans stood in front of him and began to speak. He could not understand a word. When the Leviathan smiled, he felt the same fear he felt when he realized that the Leviathans had held on after Purgatory was closed off to him.

Then a man picked him up and threw him over his shoulder. The blood rushing to his head clouded his vision. He could not think.

He looked down his arm and saw black cloth instead of tan. He wondered where his trench coat was.


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

Castiel woke up in a room with no furniture, no windows, and one door. He would have tried to leave if he weren’t surrounded by a ring of fire.

He didn’t know how long he had been unconscious, but that didn’t matter as soon as he saw demons and angels walk in together.

He braced himself for the inevitable pain.


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

He knew better than to count the every time the whip landed on his skin. But he could never help but count out the first few lashes as the whipping began. He’d always stop at fifty, or sixty, or forty.

He always had an estimate by the change of the sounds of the whip hitting flesh, then muscle, than bone.

The sound of his heartbeat slowing down and his blood dripping to the floor was always louder than the crack of the whip.

He knew something was wrong when he found the sound calming.


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

Dean burned him today. He hung him by his wrists from the ceiling for Sam to use as a punching bag. Once Sam broke all of his ribs they just stood and listened as Castiel struggled to breathe.

Nybbas and Jezebeth let their meatsuits’ faces slip through for a few seconds.

Castiel tried to keep his body from shaking so much. Every movement shook his shattered ribs. “Nybbas. Jezebeth,” Castiel rasped out.

The demons looked at each other. Nybbas reached up and slapped Jezebeth in the back of the head. “You idiot, you look like you,” he said. “Turn back into Sam.”

“Well, you don’t look like Dean right now,” Jezebeth growled.

The two demons changed back into the Winchesters. They tried to use the faces of the vessels of Michael and Gabriel and Balthazar, but those didn’t affect Castiel at all. They didn’t fool him. As long as they couldn’t mimic his brothers’ grace, they could only hurt him physically.

Nybbas picked up the heated metal rod and pressed it against the angel’s hip.

Castiel’s body jerked when the metal seared his skin. He bit his lip hard enough to draw blood. He had to force himself to breathe through his nose when Nybbas put a matching burn on his other hip.

Even though he knew it wasn’t really Dean, just seeing him, even though he was the source of his torture, brought him comfort.


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

Castiel lay in the center of the fire, shivering. There wasn’t enough blood in his body to keep him warm. His eyes followed the demons in the fire, trying to figure out their next move.

“Father definitely made us stronger before the fall, didn’t He?” a small female with long black hair and tanned skin said.

“Well, that’s how He works, Leliel,” a tall, blonde hair and hazel eyed man replied. “Something happens, He creates something weaker.”

“I suppose that’s true, Bernael,” Leliel replied. She strolled over to him and wrapped an arm around his waist.

The third man outside the circle had a disgusted look on his face at the other two angels’ show of affection. He was shorter than Bernael and the last man, but he was more muscular. He ran his hand through his shoulder length brown hair. “So, little brother,” he said with his raspy voice. “How much weaker than us are you?” He looked to the last angel in the room. “Any guesses, Belial?”

“He doesn’t have to answer us, Satan,” Belial said. “He’ll give us the answer eventually. Won’t you, Castiel?”

Castiel knew better than to respond to them. He knew that they couldn’t touch him from outside the circle, but Belial was a smart angel. He’d find ways to make it worse for Castiel without having to lay a hand on him.

Castiel kept his mouth shut as Bernael and Lelial passed an angel sword over the fire to the Vetis, Nybbas, and Jezebeth.

It was more difficult to stay quiet as the blade cut through his skin and grace.


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

Castiel looked back and forth between Belial and Abbadon. The demon held a knife to his wrist. “Belial, don’t let them do this.” He wasn’t pleading. He would never plead.

“I can’t do anything from outside the circle, Castiel,” Belial replied. He didn’t sound too heartbroken over it. “What would you give me to make them stop?”

Castiel thought for a second. What did he even have to give to Belial? He had nothing. But if he did, how much of it would he give the other angel. “I wouldn’t give you anything,” Castiel growled.

Belial charged up to the circle, getting as close as he could without burning himself. “You’ll give me everything before I’m done with you,” Belial hissed. He looked at the four demons in the circle. “Begin.”

The demons forced Castiel onto his back. Abbadon stood over him while Vetis held his ankles, Jezebeth knelt on his chest, and Nybbas pinned his wrists. Abbadon forced Castiel’s mouth open and dripped his blood into it.

As soon as the first drop touched his lips, Castiel felt his grace flare up within him.


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

“Father,” Castiel coughed. “I’m sorry.” Blood that wasn’t his own spilled from his lips. That was the more common occurrence these days.

“It’s ridiculous to pray to someone who doesn’t exist, Castiel,” Satan said. They decided to take a break from the torture today. It wasn’t fun when the little angel was unconscious the entire day before.

Castiel dug his fingers into the incision on his chest. His fingers coated with the mixture of demon blood, sulfur, and Unholy Water. He could feel it spreading through his body.

What’s worse was that he could feel his grace wanting to leave but having nowhere else to go.


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

Sometimes, Castiel would dream. He’d dream of Heaven, and of his brothers, and of Earth, and of Dean. He would dream of every decision he made over the last year. He would dream that everything turned out different.

His dreams were usually short and always interrupted by a shock of pain.

Today wasn’t any different. He opened his eyes and saw that he was above the ground. He looked around and saw that he was on a table. Then he saw that the ring of fire was gone. Belial, Bernael, and Leliel stood around him. This was something new.

“You look confused,” Leliel said.

“What do they mean?” He stared at the cuffs that Bernael held in his hand. The glowing etchings on them were in a language that Castiel didn’t know.

“You don’t recognize the carvings?” Bernael asked. “You may not since a lot of these were created before your existence.”

“Bernael, don’t.” He knew that if it was something created before his creation, it wasn’t good for him.

“Don’t worry, Castiel,” Belial said, lifting up one of Castiel’s hands. “It won’t make you human.” When Bernael clamped the cuff onto his wrist, Belial let go. He reached over and grabbed Castiel’s other hand and did the same. “Just… gives us more to play with.”

When they cut him open, it hurt Castiel a lot more than he remembered it should have.


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

Castiel closed his eyes and tried to imagine himself anywhere but the room he was in. He’d tried it many times before today, but today he needed it the most. He did not want to be there mentally as this happened to him. Especially when the demon was wearing Dean’s face.

He was glad that he had the sense to send Jimmy Novak to Heaven when he returned to it two years ago. He would not have let the man who let him use his body to fight a war endure this.

The unnamed demon had him bent over and tied to a table. He could hear the sound of the demon undressing behind him.

“What are you doing!” Belial yelled.

Castiel turned his head and saw the angel standing in the doorway. He wasn’t sure if he was delusional or not, but he could have sworn that Belial was angry with the demon.

“He’s so pretty, Belial.”

Castiel shivered as the demon ran his hand down his side.

“I can’t leave you cretins alone with him for five minutes,” Belial growled. He swiped his hand and the demon flew across the room. He flew to the other side of the room and held the demon against the wall by the neck. Once the demon hit the wall, he stopped using Dean’s face. “We break him, but not this way.”

“It’s so much quicker this way,” the demon said between breaths.

Belial let go of the demon and watched him crumple to the floor. He wiped his hand on his slacks. “It won’t break him.” He knew Castiel was stronger than that. He knew what he’d take to break this specific angel.

“You never know.” The demon stood up, his hand rubbing his throat.

“Do not even think about doing that to him.”

“Are you protecting him?” the demon spat.

“There are worse tortures than what you know. That might work for other angels, but not this one.”

“Then this won’t matter.” The demon tried to step around Belial and get back to Castiel.

Belial snapped his fingers and the demon turned to ash. He stepped forward and began to work on the ropes that tied Castiel to the table. He could have easily disintegrated the ropes with a snap of his fingers, but he took the time to actually take apart the ropes. Once Castiel was free, Belial grabbed him by his fractured wings and stood him up. He leaned forward, putting his lips as close to Castiel’s ear without touching it. “I will break you, Castiel. Not that way.”

Belial stepped away from Castiel. Without him to hold up the younger angel, Castiel collapsed to the floor. He pulled a lighter out of his pocket and relit the ring of fire.


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

Castiel could barely keep his eyes open. It was much harder today than any other day. He couldn’t remember ever being so tired. It probably had a combination to do with the blood loss, and the demon blood pumping through his veins, and the sulfur and unholy water in his stomach. He was falling apart faster than he thought he would.

“Enough,” Belial said.

“What? Why?” Lelial and Bernael asked. They stepped away from Castiel, taking their swords with them.

“Give him some moments of respite then it will hurt much worse when you start again.”

“Or…” Leliel returned to Castiel’s side and started to retrace over some of the sigils she’d already carved into his torso. “We could keep increasing his pain tolerance so we can try new things with him.” The idea excited her.

Belial flew to Lelial’s hand and lifted it away from Castiel. “Once you touch an angel’s grace, that’s the end. There is no greater pain. So leave him alone before you break him too soon.”

Lelial pouted. “But he looks so pretty when he is in pain.” She reached up and ran her fingers through his sweat-drenched hair.

“Bernael. Leliel. I swear. Do not damage him.”

Bernael set the sword down on the table next to the table Castiel was strapped down on. “It is disturbing the lack of faith you have in us, Belial.”

Belial punched Bernael hard enough that when he hit the wall, it broke. He then grabbed Lelial by her hair and dragged her over to Bernael as he climbed out of the wall. “You were brought here to take my orders. If you don’t listen to me, I will make one of you take the youngest’s place.”

“You wouldn’t do that, would you, Belial?” Leliel said, blinking her eyes flirtatiously as if it would work on the Crowned Prince.

“Would I?”

Bernael and Leliel disappeared from the room as soon as the threat was made. Castiel would never say it out loud, but he was thankful to Belial for the moment of rest.


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

Castiel opened his eyes and saw Satan and Belial standing in front of him. His arms were numb. The demons didn’t take him down after whipping him the night before. He could tell that the whips had gone deep enough to make it to the bone.

He wondered if he’d ever run out of blood to bleed.

Belial reached up and tipped Castiel’s chin up with just a finger. “You’ve been a nuisance since your creation, youngest. To think that you were supposed to be a replacement for what Michael lost.” He wiped the blood on his finger on Satan’s shirt.

“It’s funny, though, how he rebelled like Lucifer did.”

“Not quite like Lucifer,” Belial replied. They both rebelled and the comparisons stopped there.

Satan shrugged. “Rebellion nonetheless.” He dug his finger into one of the wounds in Castiel’s side.

Castiel gasped. “No,” he whispered.

Satan twisted his finger and scratched against the inside of the wound, ignoring Castiel’s request. “I wonder if he does any tricks,” Satan said, curious. “There had to be a reason for his creation besides becoming Michael’s replacement. I wonder why Father felt the need to create him instead of just create the humans.”

“Why do you care?” Belial asked, slapping Satan’s hand away from Castiel.

“I don’t,” Satan answered. “I’m just curious. Thinking out loud.”

“Well, don’t.” Belial snapped his fingers and the chains that held Castiel up disappeared. He was disappointed, but not surprised when Castiel didn’t make a sound. “Soon, Castiel,” he whispered. “Soon, you won’t be able to stop yourself from screaming.”

Castiel shivered on the floor. He knew they were close and it was only a matter of time before they broke him.


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

Castiel opened his eyes and found himself staring at the ceiling. When the blurred edges of his vision began to clear up, he saw that he was surrounded by both demons and angels.

“Good to have you back with us,” Satan replied.

“Remember to breath, Castiel. It probably won’t help, but it will help us know that you’re still alive,” Belial said standing over him. He ran a blood-covered hand through Castiel’s hair.

Castiel couldn’t keep his eyes open. He could feel the demon blood coursing through him. It made him hyper-aware of everything.

He could hear the demon blood coursing through Abbadon and Vetis. He could hear Satan and Belial’s grace ebbing and flowing through their vessel. The smell of blood, both human and demon, in the air was so strong that he could taste it. He felt more pain than he could imagine as Vetis cut a straight line down from his sternum to his belly button.

He pulled at his bonds and found that he didn’t have any strength to lift his arm further than an inch off the table.

He felt hands force open the wound, exposing muscles and organs inside of him. He bit his lip to keep him from making a sound. He couldn’t give them the satisfaction. “No,” he moaned as he heard and felt a few of his ribs crack open. He felt blood making it’s way up his throat.

“Are you ready, Castiel?” Belial asked. He waited a second for a response. “It doesn’t really matter if you are. This is happening regardless.” He ran his hand along Castiel’s side, coating his fingers with blood.

“Belial,” Castiel whispered. He coughed and blood spilled from his lips. He was scared he was going to choke on it.

Belial grabbed Castiel’s chin with his bloodied hand. He turned the youngest angel to face him, even though his eyes weren’t open. “Beg for me to stop this, Castiel. Plead.”

Castiel struggled to open his eyes. Once he did, he looked straight into Belial’s brown eyes. “I’ll die before I beg for anything from you.”

Belial grabbed Castiel’s neck and squeezed. “I’ll keep you alive long enough to hear you beg.” Then he let go. He looked over to Abbadon and nodded.

Castiel’s eyes slid back closed. He had heard stories about this horror. He knew what was about to happen, but he didn’t want to see it.

He heard the sound of sizzling when Abaddon’s fingertips pressed into the wound. The bonds and hands held him against the table tight enough that he couldn’t arch away from the oncoming pain.

When he felt Abaddon’s entire fist under his ribcage, he had to swallow his screams. The pain was so intense that tears fell from the corners of his eyes. He fought to regulate his breathing. He wondered if this was what it felt like every time he reached into a human to touch his or her soul.

He wasn’t sure if they actually got him to scream before he was unable to stay awake any longer.


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

A demon sticking its hand into his chest and squeezing his grace happened more often that Castiel thought it would. Once Abbadon was able to hold an angel’s grace in his hand, Vetis, Nybbas, and Jezebeth wanted to see if they were capable of doing it too.

They got nothing from being able to touch the angel’s grace but the feeling of being more powerful than an angel. They had time to find ways to be able to use the angel’s grace.

Castiel wasn’t sure he had as much time as the demons thought he did.


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

The fire was put out around him. The demons and angels had left him.

Castiel didn’t know how long he’d be left alone.

He crawled to the corner of the room furthest from the door. His wings were too damaged for him to be able to fly, but even if they weren’t, he didn’t have the strength.

When he reached his destination, he leaned against the wall, whimpering when his torn back touched the cold concrete. He let out a shaky breath, tilted his head to the skies, and closed his eyes. “Father, if you’re there. Please, keep Dean and his brother safe.” He swallowed hard, his throat burning. He coughed a few times and blood spilled from his lips. “I’m sorry,” he whispered to whoever was listening.

A minute later, he was staring into a familiar bright, green light.


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

Michael and Lucifer’s hands fell from Castiel’s temple at the same time. Their chests heaved as they tried to replenish the air their lungs seemed to have been deprived of the entire time they were in Castiel’s memory.

Castiel was right; Michael did not like what he saw. Michael looked at his youngest brother’s face and saw streaks of tears down his face. “Castiel.” He reached up and wiped them away with his thumbs.

Castiel shook his head out of his brother’s hands and swallowed. “I’m okay,” he lied. There was a pressure in his head. His hand went to his nose when he felt something dripping out of it. He looked at it and saw blood. “I should clean this up,” he said.

“Sit,” Michael said. “I’ll get it.”

“I’m fine, Michael,” Castiel said. He would have rolled his eyes but he was afraid it would make his headache worse. He stood up before his brothers could say anything else.

He made it halfway to the kitchen before everything darkened around him.

“Cas!” Dean yelled when he saw Castiel crumple to the ground. He rushed to the angel’s side.

“Lucifer, what did you do?” Gabriel yelled. Balthazar flew out of the room, unable to watch whatever was happening to his brother.

“Nothing.”

“Bullshit,” Dean said. He stared at Castiel on the floor as his entire body tensed. He wanted to do something, but he knew better than to touch someone having a seizure, if that was what Castiel was having. “Cas, come on, man. You’re scaring everyone.”

“Sam, blanket,” Bobby said.

Sam grabbed the blanket draped over the couch and threw it at Dean who caught it, folded it, and carefully put it under Castiel’s head. “Cas,” Dean whispered, somber. “You have to stop doing this, man.”

“Sam, time,” Bobby said.

“Forty-two.”

“Are we even sure this is a regular seizure?” Dean asked.

“We’re going to hope so,” Bobby said.

Dean agreed, because if it was a regular seizure, that meant it wasn’t going to last much longer. But he knew they were never that lucky. So he prepared to wait this episode out no matter how long it took.

“One minute,” Sam said, and whatever was happening to Castiel continued. It didn’t look like it was going to stop any time soon.

Dean looked up at Michael and Lucifer and glared. He was ready to grab an angel sword and stab both of them in the chest. “What the fuck did you guys do to him?” he yelled.

“Nothing,” Lucifer said. “His memories were there, we just looked through them.”

“There wasn’t a wall?” Sam asked. “One twenty-eight.”

“Of course not. So, we didn’t do this.”

“You fucking better have found something useful,” Dean said under his breath. If they didn’t, then they caused Castiel more pain for no reason.

“Maybe,” Lucifer said, then he disappeared.

Dean was going to say something about Lucifer leaving, but he couldn’t drudge up any more anger. He wanted Castiel to wake up. He may have been reaching for something, but the episode looked like it was close to ending. “It’s okay, Cas,” Dean said. “Just ride this out.” He watched as Bobby and Sam rolled Castiel onto his side.

“Two minutes,” Sam said.

Dean wanted it to end soon. He hated that he couldn’t do anything as Castiel’s skin turned blue right in front of him. “Cas!” he yelled when he couldn’t see Castiel’s chest moving. He wanted to roll Castiel onto his back and start CPR, but he knew that it sometimes happened. He just needed to wait a few more seconds. If he didn’t start breathing again, he’d do what he needed to do.

“Two forty-one,” Sam said.

Dean felt like it was so much longer than that. “Cas, cut this shit out now,” he demanded.

He didn’t know how much time passed, but he put his hand on Castiel’s shoulder and was ready to roll him over. It felt like Castiel hadn’t been breathing for minutes. He felt arms around him to stop him. He tried to fight it.

“Dean, no,” Sam said, tightening his hold on his brother.

“He isn’t breathing, Sam,” Dean argued.

“Give him a few more seconds.”

“No.”

“He’s breathing, Dean.”

“No, he’s not.” He struggled against his brother’s hold. He needed to get back to Castiel’s side.

As soon as those words left his mouth, Castiel’s jaw clenched. He took in a deep breath, then let it out slowly and shakily. Dean saw drool drip out of the corner of Castiel’s mouth. He hoped it meant that the episode was close to ending.

The second Castiel’s entire body relaxed, Dean took in a deep breath, not realizing that he wasn’t breathing during the episode. He could feel his heart ramming against his ribcage. He tried to calm down by taking slow and deep breaths. He didn’t want Castiel to see how panicked and worried he was when he woke up.

Now all they had to do was wait a couple of minutes, he hoped at the most, for Castiel to wake up.

“You can let me go,” Dean said when he felt Sam’s arms still around him. He knew Sam could feel how badly he was shaking.

“Sorry,” Sam said. He let go of his brother and put space between them.

“No,” Dean said. “Thanks for that.” He was glad his brother was there to stop him from doing something stupid. There was no telling what damage he would have done if Sam hadn’t stopped him from attempting to perform CPR.

“Yeah, no problem,” Sam said. He stood up and brushed himself off. He disappeared into the kitchen. A few seconds later, he returned with a beer in hand. He held it out to Dean. “Here,” he said.

Dean sat back to lean against the side of the couch. He stared up at the glass bottle. “You encouraging my drinking now?” He remembered Sam chastising him for his alcohol intake only a few weeks ago.

“You haven’t had a drink since Cas came back. At least, I haven’t seen you take a sip.”

“Me neither,” Bobby replied.

Dean couldn’t remember the last time he had a drink. He took the bottle from his brother’s hand and popped the cap off with the side of the end table. He took a long gulp from it. As much as he didn’t want to need alcohol in him, he needed help calming down.

He finished the beer in record time. He needed another one, but he couldn’t make himself move. He didn’t want to be far when Castiel woke up, whenever that was. He just hoped it was soon because he didn’t think his back would be okay with him sitting on the floor for too long.

He sighed and leaned back. He didn’t know how much time had passed when he saw Castiel stirring.

Castiel let out a shaky breath. “Please. I can’t.”

“Fuckers,” Dean mumbled. He was having another nightmare. Michael and Lucifer should have been the ones to help him through it.

“No,” Castiel moaned.

“Cas, hey,” he whispered, running his fingers through Castiel’s hair. “You’re in Montana.”

Castiel opened his eyes and stared at Dean who was sideways. “Dean?” he replied, tired.

“You’re safe. Those were just memories, nothing else.”

“Dean,” he repeated, this time in recognition. Quickly, he remembered where he was.

“You know where you are?” Dean asked.

“Yes,” Castiel replied. He tried to move around so that Dean wasn’t sideways anymore, but he found he couldn’t. “How did I end up here?”

“You don’t remember?”

“What… what happened?” Castiel asked.

“Nothing.”

Castiel frowned. He would have been more upset, but he knew the answer was completely something Dean would say. “Then why am I on the floor?” He braced his arm to push himself up.

“Don’t get up yet.”

Slowly, his memory came back. “Did you find anything useful? Michael?” Castiel looked to Michael who was standing over Dean’s shoulder. The archangel shook his head. He was about to ask his eldest brother another question, but the archangel vanished before his eyes. He finally understood why Dean hated whenever he’d disappear in the middle of a conversation. He turned to the only angel in the room, hoping that he wouldn’t disappear too. “Gabriel, what happened? What did I do?” He tried to sit up again, and was glad that Dean was there to help him to a seated position.

“Nothing.”

Castiel let out a shaky breath. He would have shook his head, but he was afraid that he would have thrown up if he did. “I warned him.” He hated that he caused his brother so much grief.

“You know how Michael is when it comes to listening to his younger siblings.”

Castiel brought a hand up to the bridge of his nose and rubbed it. He wanted to reach through his skull and massage the ache he felt in his brain. “My head hurts. Feel dizzy. Sick.”

“You just had a seizure. Sort of,” Dean said.

“I see. Why is Michael acting this way? Did he say anything about what he saw?”

“I don’t know, Cas,” Gabriel said. He was torn between wanting and not wanting to know what Michael and Lucifer saw. He saw how Michael reacted. He wasn’t sure if he was strong enough. “The only people that do decided to high wing it out of here. Let me take you upstairs.”

“Okay.” He let Gabriel take his arm and help him to his feet. Once he was standing, he swayed for a second before he regained his equilibrium. “But we’re walking.”

“Walking? That’s so human.” He reached out to fly Castiel upstairs, but stopped himself when he saw Castiel’s eyes widen. He sighed and let Castiel have his way. “Okay, lead the way.”

Castiel nodded and headed toward the stairs not looking back to see if Gabriel was following him. Gabriel flew to his side when he stumbled and needed to grab onto the railing to keep himself standing. “Thank you,” he said as Gabriel held onto his arm.

The moment the door upstairs closed, Balthazar and Michael flew back into the house. “You…” Dean coughed a few times when he realized how hoarse his voice was. “You guys need to let me give Cas his grace back.”

“Why?” Micahel asked.

“He needs it.” He wouldn’t have gone through this if he had his grace back.

“He is not ready to get his grace back,” Balthazar replied.

“Then I don’t want to be the one in charge of it.”

“Why not?” Michael asked.

It was too much pressure. Dean could not watch Castiel go through any more pain. He was ready to give Castiel back his grace the second he collapsed. If these moments kept happening to Castiel, he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to stop himself from handing the grace over the next time something occured. “There has to be someone more responsible than me.”

“It has to be you,” Michael said.

“If he asks me for it, I’m giving it back to him.” He would not be able to deny Castiel something that belonged to him.

“Dean,” Balthazar said. He couldn’t blame the human for what he was feeling. If he were the one in charge of Castiel’s grace, he would have given it back to him as soon as he asked for it when he regained consciousness all those days ago.

“I don’t want this responsibility of knowing that he’s hurt because he doesn’t have it back yet.”

“He doesn’t want it back,” Michael replied.

“What are you taking about?” Dean asked.

“Dean,” Michael started. He remembered some of the memories in his youngest’s head. There were moments when he felt everything Castiel felt. “He doesn’t think he deserves it yet.”

“But he’s getting better,” Dean replied.

“He is,” Michael agreed. He could not ignore how much better Castiel was from just spending time with Dean.

“Then why wouldn’t he want it back?”

“Making mistakes are hard,” Balthazar whispered. “Especially when it causes you to lose someone you care about.”

Dean knew Balthazar wasn’t talking entirely about him. It did nothing for the guilt he felt about everything. “But he didn’t,” he whispered.

“He probably doesn’t know that,” Michael replied.

Dean sighed. “He does. I’ve told him.” Not in so many words, but he thought that Castiel understood. Then again, he was talking about Castiel. He probably had to spell it out from him to make him understand.

“Dean,” Michael sighed. He knew that Dean was lying to himself to make himself feel better.

“Fine,” Dean said, knowing he was caught. “So, when do… I don’t…”

“You’ll know when to give him back his grace. It’s part of the connection you have with him.”

“Sure thing,” Dean replied, unsure of how to respond to that. People talking about the connection he had with Castiel always made him uncomfortable.

Balthazar saw how embarrassed Dean was, and as much as he wanted to sit and enjoy it a little longer, he didn’t want to torture the human. “We should see how Cassy’s doing,” he said.

“We should.”

Dean heard the sound of wings flapping. “I recommend walking up the stairs.”

“Walking?” Balthazar repeated, disgusted.

“Cas made Gabe walk.”

“Well, I’m not Gabe,” Balthazar said. He was about to fly off, but Michael put a hand on his shoulder to stop him. “Fine,” he easily conceded. The two of them made their way up the stairs.

Dean stared from the bottom of the stairs as the angels disappeared upstairs. As soon as they got to the second floor, Dean walked into the kitchen. Bobby and Sam stared at him, trying to figure out what was going on in his head. He wouldn’t have been able to give them an answer. “I need a hunt.”

[Chapter 6 Pt. 1]   [Masterpost]   [Chapter 7]

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