kristin: (supernatural: anna in blood)
[personal profile] kristin
Pinch hit fic for [ profile] spn_reversebang. Made for [ profile] lessrest's beautiful prompt which can be found here.

Title: Pull Me Out from Inside
Fandom/Genre: Supernatural
Pairing(s): Gen
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 6,235
Warnings: strong language, violence, brief mentions of torture
A/N: Thanks to [personal profile] ailelie and [ profile] novembersmith for their audiencing and enthusiasm. ♥ Also, many thanks to [ profile] everywherestars for betaing. You all are all freaking amazing.

Summary: Season 4 AU - Castiel fell in search of feeling something more. Anael went into Hell to bring back a righteous man.

Anael saw the red haired girl live and die in the blink of an eye. Saw the possible futures weave through the universe, the snags and whorls of the thread of her human life catching against the strands of all the humans covering this little Earth. Saw them all unravel as she said yes. She broadcast her accomplishment in a voice tinged with pride.

500 miles away, Cas Milton blinked.


Laura's face was scrunched up in disapproval. While he had zoned out, some of the papers that coated her desk had drifted down on the floor. He didn't think he had moved them. But, fuck, at this point anything verged on possible, no matter how improbable.

Fugue states now, maybe. None of them had ever been so clear before, so close. The murmurs had grown from trickle to stream as word spread of someone, Anael, raising Dean Winchester from hell back to his grave.

"Sorry, long night." Cas pulled out his best downtrodden expression, looked up through his lashes. That look had gotten him out of trouble more times than he could count.

"I need you here. Not off in your head or back in Afghanistan. You said you were up for this." She got out from behind her desk now,circled until she was framed by the doorway as she bent down to scoop up the fallen papers. "If not, I need to know now so I can get someone else to cover your hours."

Cas slid his chair back and echoed the achingly clear tones that had rung out so loudly through his mind. "I am ready."

It was the wrong thing to say. Cas could feel it as soon as the too formal words escaped him. He pasted a grin on, caught her eyes to cover his mistake. He needed this, couldn’t go back and sit at home. It helped, sometimes, to have something to concentrate on besides the voices. He waited until Laura returned his smile before standing to leave, consciously slouching. There was no need to parade rest here.

"And Cas? Don't come in here hung over again or I will send your ass to human resources." He paused in his walk to the door. Cas brushed deliberately against her, smiling. She shivered the tiniest bit, but didn't seem to notice as he snuck the prescription pad from her pocket. Maybe tonight he could sleep. He had already gone through his samples.

His phone rang loudly as he walked past the nurses' station down to his office. One of the snot filled patients there to see Laura glared at him. Cas smiled broadly back, not touching the phone until he had reached the sanctity of his office. Before checking it, he pulled the tiny notebook from his coat pocket and recorded the voice from today.

There were murmurings in his mind almost every day now. Little whispers and conversations that all spoke in voices of insanity in his head. Lucifer and seals and Winchesters and demons all noted in emotionless tones, growing ever stronger. He jotted them all down, cataloging his descent. He glanced down at his phone's persistent bleating, pushing himself to listen to his mother's call. Well, if the voices in his head were to believed, it was his father who he should be heeding.

He laughed a bit, hearing the bitterness that seeped in to his tone. It seeped into everything these days. Jenny knocked on the door, informed him of a patient in exam room B. She ignored his laughter. They all thought they knew what this was.

He pictured the scenario, walking into the room to see a small dark haired man, wrinkles already set around the eyes, back almost preternaturally straight. A veteran returned from Afghanistan, unharmed and discharged, left without orders. Complains of voices in his head and describes brief fugue states in which the voices are so clear he is seeing beyond himself into what they describe. Friends and family had noted extreme mood swings and depression, asked him to seek care. Currently self medicating with uppers and copious amounts of liquor. (Not to mention the sex. He has fucked more people in the past few months than the rest of his life combined. It does not distract him enough, and stopped after the time he ended up whispering about murdered angels instead of sweet nothings against his fuck buddy's skin.) Has also taken to yoga in order to strengthen mind and body. This is working about as well as the fucking crystals he picked up last week in a drunken haze.

Psychotic break possibly precipitated by PTSD. Recommend immediate psychiatric evaluation and inpatient care.

But no, this patient was easy. Simple case of the flu. If only his self diagnosis was so simple. Or even if it was, there was no way he would seek treatment. It wouldn't stop the voices. They clung to him no matter what drugs he tried. Anti-psychotics left him groggy, but still cognizant enough to hear them. They were becoming more frequent now. Before it had only been hints of syllables, not even enough to be called words. Now there words and plots and wars running through his mind.

Cas wasn't quite in a stupor when his liquor supply ran out that night. He reached onto the shelf and pulled out the hollowed out Bible Tim had given him as a 'fuck you' to the church a few years back. But even the back-up bottle he stashed there had run out. He pulled on his trenchcoat and hunched up his shoulders as he walked out the door. Sneaking his hand into his pocket he felt the weight of a handgun in the pocket. Cas had slipped it there in a fit of paranoia, words of demons spinning in his head.

There were a couple of drunk co-eds walking down the street towards them. He put on a wild grin and barked out a laugh as they hurriedly sidestepped to the extreme edge of the sidewalk. He gave them a jaunty, if very weak, salute.

"Very smart of you, ladies. Mad man with a gun here," he whispered to himself. "Just what the lovely girls like you need. And for a bonus, he is a drunk one too." He could barely hear himself though. A seal was broken and witnesses were rising, apparently.

The whispers paused, and he heard it. The clattering of the heels against the sidewalk were growing louder, not softer. He turned his head, then shook it. In the dark of the night the girls' eyes looked all pupil, completely blown and beyond that even, until all the whites were coated in a film of shadow. Another delusion to add to his notebook, or maybe just a trick of the light.

Even so, he sped up a bit. He kept his eyes to the ground and watched as the cracks in the sidewalk were swallowed by his steps. Another seal saved whispered the voices. Anael, whose voice always rang clearest was receiving orders. She was going to slip back in time, instruct the Winchester. No need to bother taking the tainted one.

Taint. He could feel it drawing closer, even as the thin hand touched his shoulder, too strong for its size.

Cas spun on his heel, tried to duck down out of the grip. It was those same girls, their drunken strides changed now to straight and purposeful. Without thinking, he grabbed the gun, sliding the safety off as he did.

"Shut up."

The street was quiet. The words echoed around, harsh and brittle. The neon sheen of the signs in the corner store window illuminated the scene.

"Oh my, what a big gun you have there." The one who was a few steps back spoke. Her voice was high, piercing. But the words. They were black and smoke that Cas could taste under his tongue. Wrong wrong wrong.

"Whatever have we done to you?" The second girl reached toward him again.

Cas aimed.

She was so close that even in the dim light he could see that she/it/whatever the fuck was pretty. Her hair was pulled back, tons of tiny little braids twisted into a knot. She teetered on heels too high and sharp for these run-down streets. But most of all, she was young. No lines on her face, no life lived. But the eyes had been no trick. This was where the smoke seeped through. But still, a beautiful girl.

Cas fired right into that eye.


She didn't fall, didn't react beyond a smile. Blood trickled down her face, the bright red of it making her lipstick seem faded and dull. A tendril of dark smoke drifted out of the hole where her socket had been blasted away.

Cas ran.

Anael slipped into Dean's presence with a whisper of feathers. He didn't startle. He was becoming more and more used to her entrances, to her. This was a good thing. They needed him, this righteous man. He was staring out at the playground, at the children playing she supposed. Their souls were bright pinpoints now, had not died down to embers yet.

"Ana." She nodded, acknowledging the diminutive. She had earned it, she supposed. Won by letting her skin touch that of the one who would be Lucifer some day if they failed.

But he was still Sam, now. And that mattered most. "I do not like taking orders."

"Really, now. I never would have guessed it by the way you flutter the hell away whenever I try to ask you a simple question." Sarcasm. A petty humor of reversing words from meaning.

"You do not understand. I don't like taking orders. But I didn't burn the town." She leaned back, inclined her form to align with the back of the bench. "I did as you commanded."

"Oh, whoo-dee-do. You showed some personal growth. Or angelic growth. I suppose that is worth big bird whining about not getting to raze this town, these people." His voice crescendoed towards the last word. Emphasis. Dean caught himself, changed tactics. "I don't suppose that growth means you want to try another human thing that grows."

She ignored him. "I am not human. You want me to what, feel empathy for you? For them? Or just to feel your penis?" Dean sputtered. "That was not the point at all. You understand nothing of angels."

"Well, I guess I can fall back on all my angelic experience. Because you guys sure as hell haven't been around working miracles that I can remember. So maybe some explanation would be nice, Ana."

"This wasn't your lesson to learn. That is what I am trying to tell you."

"Bullshit. This isn't a lesson. This is life. Look at those kids. See that? They are real, not some freaking angel possessed redhead with color from a bottle. You are the one who doesn't understand."

"This isn't about understanding, Dean. This isn't about life. This is about obedience. This is about doing what you say. If you had told us to smite everyone in this town we would have done it. We would have razed ten towns. Because not everything is about you, Dean. You were only the example." Dean was glaring now. His downtrodden slouch had straightened with righteous anger. "Do you think I would enjoy razing this place? Destroying children, families, as you say?"

"Answer me." Ana stood, turned so she was facing him. She deliberately caught his eyes and stared down into them. She stepped forward, put a hand on his face. "Or do you not want to know the answer?"

Dean jerked his hand back. "Yes."

She could have asked for clarification, then. Made him say exactly which phrase he was agreeing with, but she could see the answer there, shining out of his soul. He believed it all.

"You are wrong. About all of it. I would not enjoy crushing human civilizations and lives to dust. These are all my Father's creations. But I would not hate doing so. Or question it.

"The point, Dean, is that I wouldn't care. The point is that I obeyed you, was humbled before you. And I did it all without feeling or doubt." She silenced the response he was about to give with a glare. "I almost fell once. I wanted to be able to feel. We don't, generally, feel emotion the way you humans do. All immediacy and overwhelming desires."

"I'll let you feel a human desire right here." Dean's grin did not reach his eyes. Apparently he couldn't handle a female vessel, or maybe just wanted to handle it too much. He coughed a bit as she kept staring him down. "Uh, sorry, angels are Spock."

Anael raised her eyebrow, wondered why that made him laugh. She continued past what she assumed was some pop culture reference. "But as I felt it, that insidious desire to fall, I realized how ridiculous it all was. I felt that desire, was feeling. I wanted to fall. There was no need to become human when I was already wanting. I just felt less than you would, trapped as you are in one of these," she gestured down to her vessel's flesh, "meat. My desires are too global to be concerned with feelings as humans do. I desire to obey, to serve my father. I obey. This was my test. One of my fellows fell not long ago, I needed to prove myself stronger."

"So this whole seal, this town, these families, they were just a freaking obedience test. Oh! Ana obeyed the puny human; full points to her." His voice was lowered and rough.

"I chose to obey you this time. My superiors gave me that task. But remember, I chose to, and I can change my mind and let Uriel smite whomever he so chooses. But for what it is worth, I am glad these lights weren't extinguished."

Cas shifted against the cold metal of the folding chair. He could smell it wafting over the scent of the flowers decking the altar. Smoke. It had been days since he had felt it last, before he was found and sent here. They had to. Crazy veteran with a gun shoots two teenage girls. All caught on security tapes and sent to the evening news. He popped another Valium he had lifted. Cas didn’t want to be fully present when he died.

The news did not, could not, explain how the then frail bodies hadn't fallen for blocks, outside the chapel where Cas has sought sanctuary. They couldn't explain in court, so here he was, rather than a jail cell. Here where he was caught up in a haze of prescriptions and meds they thought rendered him harmless if still full of delusions. But least he had thought himself safe from the smoke, if not the voices that still buzzed through his brain.

But apparently not, because it was here too. Demon, he guessed from the words being calmly recited in his head.

"Oh, hi."

Cas started, jolted from the angelic update. He whipped his head around. He is intruder was tall, almost ridiculously so. He had that hang dog look that Cas would have assumed was due to sneaking out from actually seeing his crazy relative. But judging by the knife in his hand, he was guilty about something else entirely.

"Hi, there yourself. I haven't seen you around here before. Something inspire you to confess your sins?" A smile firmly in place, Cas nodded down at the knife. "I'm Dr. Milton." No need to mention his current status as patient.

"Sam," he said. He kept glancing over his shoulder, waiting for something. "I don't suppose I could convince you that you never actually saw me in here, or, at all?" His eyes were pleading and too kind to coordinate with the knife.

"So, Sam. You brought a big knife to a hospital chapel. I had always thought this place was rather peaceful. Way to prove me wrong on that score.” Cas laughed. Maybe it was more of a stoned giggle, but he justified it to himself with the thought of all the drugs pumping through his system.

“Well, sorry for that, I guess.” Sam’s smile looked rather strained. The angels were whispering about a fallen brother. Cas wanted to pinch his cheek and stretch the smile up.

Sam’s that is. The angel probably wasn’t smiling right now.

“Do you believe in angels, Sam?" Cas said. He turned back around to face the puny little altar. "I got word a few days ago that my parents had been killed. A bloody scene, apparently. And now I am sitting here wondering about angels." He could feel the taint drawing nearer. Might as well try to explain it all before he the same fate. Better than thinking about phones unanswered.

"I always have. More so nowadays." Metal squeaked against linoleum as Sam took a seat behind him. Where does the giant with the big-ass knife sit? Wherever the fuck he wanted to, which seemed to be within striking range of Cas' throat.

"What do you know about angels?"

"They are fighting a war. Demons are breaking the 66 seals so Lucifer can waltz back up out of hell, and apparently they like to keep me updated on their battle status." Cas was feeling chatty in the face of death by demon, apparently.

The metal screeched again. Sam must have stood up forcefully to send it flying like that. Cas didn't look back to confirm.

“Cas, where are you?” Ah, the dulcet tones of his own personal Nurse Ratched. He risked a glance back at Sam, whose knife was held at the ready. At least it was pointed at the door, rather than him. Cas supposed that earned him a good turn.

“If you duck down behind the little riser thing you can probably avoid anyone else seeing you, or at least I can. You are rather gigantic though, so it might not work,” Cas said. As Sam didn’t appear to be moving he continued, “If you are worried about me talking, just remember, I have angels talking to me. No one will believe a word out of my mouth.”

“You are coming with me now.” Sam grabbed Cas’ arm and began pulling him out of the chapel. Cas was going to make a witty remark, possibly about hostages but maybe about manly knights, but he was forestalled by the stench of smoke in the hall.

Two orderlies were striding towards them, their eyes demon black.

Anael does not like the discordant whispers. She has been tracking them, tracing their trails when not stuck looking after the Winchesters. She does not know where, or who, they are coming from. But she knew it was there. Echoing in her mind was the constant presence of all the hosts. But some of the voices were muddied now, voices muted into minor tones.

She had sought revelation, but no answers arrived to guide her.

Angelic purity. It is an unattainable goal for any who walk the earth, even for angels themselves. There are too many distractions for simple, complete devotion excluding all other things. But this, this was too far from heaven even for earthbound. It clashed with good, with the father's command. None of her garrison she had spoken to thus reported being approached by dark filled fallen. It was time to seek council with her peers. If only the closest was not Zachariah.

Brash and loud, his mind greeted greeted hers with a roar of sound. She opened up her recent thoughts to him. Anael kept all shadings of personality and opinion back. It would not do show any divide from the host. But he was the one who broke it off before opening his mind to hers.

"You know our goals, Anael." From one second to the next his vessel appeared beside hers. His human voiced echoed out over the stones of the deserted cove. "You were right to bring this to my attention. You handle the Winchesters, make sure they are ready." The vessel's face was a jovial mask, moving yet revealing nothing.

"Bring it to your attention? Do not forget who I am, Zacharaiah. I have led garrisons and walk with saints. I have your same rank, even if my role is different."

"Ah, yes, your role. See, the thing is, your role is why I should handle this. You walk down here with the humans. Your garrison has been observing far longer than any other. You have become, let's say, close, your whole garrison has. Any darkness has to be seeping up, not down." He spread his arms wide. Ana didn't understand why he indulged in such a human gesture when only she was here. She kept her flesh still, not bothering to respond.

At her silence, he continued, "Why, didn't one of your garrison fall? Little Castiel. Where is he these days?"

"He fell to humanity, not to hell."

"Of course, of course. But he was always your little pet. And if he could do something like shed his grace, well, just imagine the kind of things some of your other lieutenants are getting up to. Maybe a little too much smiting? But anyway, you are too close to see it. Let me handle the angels. The Winchesters are too important for you to waste your time on something like this."

“We could just kill them and concentrate on own own corruption. The final seal has not been broken, cannot be broken without Sam Winchester,” Ana said.

If his vessel’s face reflected his mood at all, Zachariah was shocked by that. “It is divine prophecy, Anael. The hordes of Lucifer will come and the Righteous Man will defeat him. It will happen. You can’t stop it. No one can stop it.”

Ana was unconvinced, but smiled in response. Zachariah seemed to be embracing human emotions this millennium. “Oh, and Anael? If you find him, little Castiel? Kill him. We can’t have a liability like that lying around now can we?”

She stood there, facing the surf, as he slipped away with an ostentatious fluttering of his wings. Time to get back to work.

Cas runs.

Ok, so he tries to run. Sam's grip on his arm is preventing him from actually moving very far, but he is thinking very hard about running. Sam, on the other hand, Sam of the hand gripping onto his arm, seems to have plans. So many rhymes. Possibly brought on by the so many drugs in his system right now. Lots and lots of everything. Especially terror. That he could feel pouring through him carried by the dark smoke demons right in front of him.

"Sam? While I admit I was pretty close to accepting my fate in there, could we, I don't know, try to get away?" The orderlies both snickered.

Cas recognized one of them. Roy had brought Cas' breakfast tray the first week, then must have switched to the evening shift. His voice had also gotten considerably smokier. “Get away? I don’t think so. No, Alistair would have too much fun plucking your feathers, little birdy. I think you’ll be going with us.”

"Oh, we will get away," Sam said decidedly.

And then he tossed the knife to Cas and raised his hand towards the others.

The others. The enemy. Those were people Cas had to face to get through this alive. It was all another war and he had to stop fucking around like a pansy ass and fight. He raised the knife and prepared for battle.

Or maybe just to watch as the orderlies choked. They spewed it all out the smoke, the taint. He could still smell the remaining haze, feel the oily residue but it was gone. As, as it were, the orderlies. He crossed himself, whispered a brief prayer under his breath while Sam knelt and checked in vain for a pulse. "Dammit," he said softly.

"Is it time for running now or are we waiting for more demons to appear?" Cas asked hopefully.

"Running, definitely running. And when we are done you are going to explain exactly how you know about angels and demons."

"That's an easy one. I'm crazy, what's is your excuse?"

They rounded a corner and plowed out through a fire door. The alarms began to screech behind them in waves of high pitched fury. Sam began making a beeline to the visitor parking lot, with Cas trailing in his wake. They didn't stop running until they reached a pristine muscle car, glowing in the hazy halogen parking lot lights.

"Where is Dean?" Sam paced around the car before pulling up the front seat and gesturing Cas into the back. He settled in next to a box of shell casings that appeared to be leaking salt. Cas had an awful feeling of he knew where this was going.

"Wait, Dean Winchester?"


"Uriel." She nodded at him before continuing. "I have heard whisperings, dark smoke within the host. Is it you?"

He laughed and shrugged his shoulders. "So direct. No weasel words from you."

"That was no response," Ana said. She shifted the blade into being at her side. He echoed the movement.

They stood there together in the park, both gazing out towards where the lights of the city could be seen even by her vessel's eyes. Time passed, the amount inconsequential. She reached out him, started to speak with Her voice, not her vessel's when he burst.

"The darkness and filth of this place is affecting us all. Why should we care about these mud monkeys? Look around at this blood and death, greed and fornication. What makes them worthy of being saved?" Uriel's voice was loud and harsh but all else remained still there among the trees.

"They are the creation of our Father."

"Really? That is the answer I would expect from a lower angel, even a cherubim, not you. Tell me, Anael, Ana," he stressed the last syllable, stretching it out until to a growl, "When did you last see him? When did any of you see him? Raphael hasn't, Michael is too busy playing with the angelic hordes, acting the general, while Gabriel disappeared soon after God did.

"Maybe he is dead, too."

"You will take those words, those thoughts, and you will remove them from your mind. God is not dead. His will is what made and sustains us. You think any of this would work without Him? He might not be speaking, but He is not dead."

"You will take those words back now."

"And if I won't?"

"Then you will die," Ana said as she pressed the tip of her knife against the skin of his throat.

"Lucifer is going to rise. He will remake this world into his domain. He will, Ana. I have been fighting his taint so long, on behalf of these feeble little creatures, and I have seen him where I have not seen God. And I would rather fall and find something to believe in than follow a fiction."

He sounded defeated, dark, but this was not it. This was rage, this was pain. It was not insidious smoke winding and twining to twist up angelic voices. It was a darkness, but not the one she sought. It was pure. Pure anger, pure betrayal, but pure, not putrid.

"Who told you about God being missing?"

"You aren't denying it," Uriel said. His voice remained as calm as hers, even as she gently pulled the knife from his hand while keeping her own blade steady.

"Do you know what I have been doing these days? Why I have been searching out angels from other garrisons? Listen to the host, Uriel. Go beyond your own rage and hear as I do." She slowly dropped her knife down to her side, blades now in both hands. "The taint is not coming from without, or even below. It is coming from us.

"And I am going to find the source. Who told you about God not appearing? You are too junior to know it for yourself."

He said the name. She was right. Now was the time to fight.

"You're sure he said Alistair."

"No, Dean, I am suddenly less sure than the first five times you asked me that same question."

Cas tucked his chin closer to his chest and listened to the Winchesters argue in the front of the Impala. The Winchesters! Cas was more gleeful than he had been in, fuck, years. They were real. Dean was real. That did bring up the point that not only angels and their favorite topic of conversation were a matter of nonfiction, but demons too. But Cas deserved this moment to revel in his own sanity, even if the petty argument between the brothers threatened to send him back down that road.

"Roy did say Alistair, or at least the smoke did," Cas said. He got twin glares in response.

"Yes, because I'm supposed to take the word of the nut my brother just kidnapped from the psych ward. That's a great idea." Dean added an eye-roll to his sarcasm.

"Dean, he knew about the the 66 seals, he knew your freaking name. Do you really think he is actually insane?"

"No, he isn't." The voice was all too familiar.

"Jesus Christ, don't do that, Ana!" "Dean watch the road!" "What the hell is going on here?" Dean, Sam and Cas all spoke at once.

Cas would have jumped, but the bulk of the man who had appeared next to him prohibited it. Plus, the way the car balked when Dean hit the breaks was probably enough evidence of shock. Cas peered up into the features of the black man sitting beside him before catching a glimpse of red on the other side.

"So, the nutjob back there isn't insane, which means Alistair is actually here too. Plus, I have an angel infestation in my baby. This is turning out to be just about the best day ever. I'm so glad we decided to go looking at that hospital, Sam. Aren't you?"

"I do not like your tone, boy. We came here to work with you and this is how you greet us? I thought you might have picked up some manners along the way, if not respect." That voice was recognizable too. Uriel turned to Cas and nodded. "Castiel."

"Calm down, everyone. Dean, did you say Alistair?" Anael's voice was just as commanding outside his skull. After Dean's nod she continued, "If you don't want us in your car, find someplace to park. We have plans to make."

"So, I was really hearing you? How does that work, am I like a psychic tuned into your heavenly frequency or something?"

"You are no psychic."

"Okay, nice as this chat has been, there will be no pulling over until, no plans, until I get some of my questions answered." Dean glared around the car, catching everyones eyes in turn. "Let's start with our feathered friends there. Why did you show up? For Alistair? A seal?"


"What about him?"

"We came to kill him. Hi, little brother." Uriel smiled.

Cas tried to shrink back into side of the Impala. Of course the Winchesters were too cool for four doors, but one would be really useful right about now. "Wait, little brother?"

"What, you thought your were just some psychic. Or maybe just a bitter insane old veteran," Anael stated. They weren't questions. "Still a soldier, Cas."

"Wait, this guy is an angel? An amnesiac angel?" Sam's voice was eager.

"No, a fallen one," said Uriel. He inclined his head down and placed fingertips against Cas' forehead. Cas held himself steady, ready for what might happen.

"Go to sleep now, brother. Remember, for we have plans for you when you wake."

Cas woke up with a clear head. The fog of prescriptions had rolled off. But that was less surprising than the fact he awoke at all. No one wanted to leave a fallen angel alive. The angels wouldn't want him spilling their secrets, while the demons would find ways to tear them out of him. Uriel should have killed him. (But could he kill a brother? Cas looked at him now and was not sure.)

Fallen angel. He remembered now, could almost feel it. The glory and grace that coated his soul. Remembered the voice of his brethren singing out and simple ache of envy that made him fall. He had wanted to feel, wanted to care. Wanted meaning for himself, not just for God's glory.

He remembered the pain.

He shook his head, tried to clear it out. He saw Uriel's eyes on him, watching carefully. Cas smiled brightly at him, projected the joy of knowing his brother once again.

Uriel simply nodded. Human, Cas thought, I am human.

He could still hear the host, though. Seals and battles plans poured through his head, but he tuned them out. Apparently there were battle plans being made here, too.

"Ok, so you want to capture Alistair? Do you realize how freaking insane that is?" said Dean (the Righteous man, that once-forgotten memory prompted). "And what the hell are you going to do with him, if, by some crazy chance, we actually get him?"

"Dean, stop yelling at the angels, please. One of them might go off script and smite you one of these days," said Sam.

It almost covered up Anael's cool response of "Torture him."

Cas sat up from where someone must have deposited him on the sofa. "Torture sounds fun and all, but I am still kind of hung up on the point where you were sent here to kill me. Because if I am supposed to be your practice dummy for the torture I'd prefer a quick death, Anael."

"We have different plans for you. You are going with Uriel."

"There is no arguing with you. I remember that now," he tacked on an insouciant, "boss." He was still human, after all.

Uriel fluttered up next to him and placed a hand on his forehead. "This is getting to be familiar," Cas said.

When Uriel's hands dropped they were standing in front of an oak.

"Does the host really want me back?"

"No. Anael and I need you. But not yet."

Ana stood shoulder to shoulder with Uriel. She could hear them, through the thin barn walls. Alistair drawling and tormenting Dean with his presence while Cas and Sam played the almost human hostages. This trap had been set well.

"Will it work?"

"You seem to be doubting everything these days, Uriel."

"We are preparing to hunt our own, and you want certainty and trust from me? Zachariah is spreading his dark whispers through the host while Raphael passes on his words.

This is not a time for blind faith."

"Remember what you are, Uriel. You came so close to falling into the demon pit. But you hesitated. I found you before you killed one of your own brothers, one of my garrison. Trust me, even if you no longer trust in our Father."

"I don't see why we don't just kill the mud monkeys and derail their plans. Leave Castiel be, if that is what he wants." Emotion tinged Uriel's words. He was closer to human than he thought.

"It will not work. Cas will be a target. Now that the demons know what they are they will never let him be, as you say. But Castiel can protect him. And this way, he can help spring the trap."

"And as for the Winchesters?"

"They would bring them back, you know it. I will not let you them kill them for fun, not unless you want to face Hell to bring them back. Besides, we need to know more before making any decisions. Alistair can let us know if they really are the ones breaking the seals."

"They would never fall that far," Uriel said. His voice was loud, but luckily covered by the confrontation inside. It would not do to be known too quickly.

"Now who falls back on faith in their brothers? We need to be sure."

Inside the yelling was becoming more fevered until light began pouring through the cracks in the walls and shouting could be heard in an angel's true voice. The demons began fleeing.

It was their time now. Together, the angels took flight to follow.

Cas saw the life he could have had flash by in a blink of light while the Grace crawled back into all his veins. And then he saw more and more, sprawl of universe and the path his Father set for him. He reclaimed his wings and heeded call of the rest of the host.

Castiel opened his eyes.


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October 2015

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