Castiel is a weapon, a warrior of God forged with the indiscriminate purpose to serve His will. He is dauntless, fearless, an avatar of purpose and of sheer will. He is determined and sure, and he will not falter until his goals have been met.
All of this is made more difficult, he knows, when he confronts the fact that he is slowly falling apart.
A rooftop is not a standard place for a human to perch, or even a being that resembles a human, but Castiel finds it beyond himself to care. He sits on the edge of a temple roof, feeling the gold and red tiles warm underneath him as the sun casts its way over distant mountaintops to fill the sky with deep, scarlet red hues. At the edges of the reds are blues, and all around is the crisp scent of pine trees. Somewhere inside the temple, children are laughing, and the tinny call of music plays. Castiel lowers his head and slowly takes in a breath.
He can feel the sun burning his skin, this fragile human shell, and gives up a tiny portion of his rapidly dwindling energy to heal it. The strain to do so comes from deep inside him, warring against his common sense to heal the larger wounds first, the ones that are causing him to bleed on the roof and through his clothes, the ones that throb like Grace being torn apart. His hands are sticky with sweat and blood, and his breathing is shallow. With effort, he shuts his eyes to the beauty around him so that he can focus on healing the damage within.
There is so much of it, he barely knows where to start.
The heart, he thinks, should come first. It is beating slowly and stuttering, sending shivers of numbness up and down his limbs. A valve has ruptured. He concentrates until the walls have sealed, the heart beating smoother. Remaining is the knife in his stomach. This must be removed physically.
He takes hold of the hot roof with one hand, and the glistening, cold edges of the hilt with the other. He is able to remain still, but cannot help the sound of pain that hisses through his teeth when the wound is empty again. The knife, he drops to the ground, where it clatters against the temple's marble steps and rolls down them, into the grass. He has no interest in retrieving it. It is unimportant, and for the most part, harmless.
Free from the mortal weapon, his stomach starts to stitch itself up, but the process is far slower than it should be. He has no mark upon his Grace, no mortality leaking into him, and yet such simple acts of healing have become so difficult. He hardly sees the use in bothering anymore. He will become injured within days of any healing he attempts on himself. This has become, frustratingly, a given. He thinks that this cannot go on much longer. He thinks that he has so much farther to go, and does not understand the tightness that fills his throat, his chest, his arms when he thinks of this. He does know, however, that things are not going well.
He swallows deep, feeling the strained muscles in his throat burn at the use. He has been shouting too much lately, so many sounds of rage leaving him, but still that rage, no matter how many times released, thrives inside the caverns of his body and mind. Above him, the sky is silent and empty, not a cloud in sight, only steadily increasing shades of red and purple as the lightness drains away. Castiel takes another breath, holding it in until his wounds ache, a jagged pain that he can focus on as he clears the damage away.
When he is fully healed, there is still pain in his chest, making it difficult to breathe, but he sees no cause for it. Only a smudge of red remains on the rooftop to declare he had ever been hurt. Absently, he runs a hand over the blood, feeling his fingers slide through dirt and dust and remembering how he had once been fascinated by the sight of this fluid as it left his body. The roof tiles are hot enough to burn his fingers, but this is not the only reason he withdraws his hands to fold them in his lap, tightly.
He exhales, the breath shaky on its exit. In the stillness after, he barely breathes, only listens to the sounds of children playing in the temple beneath. He wants to move closer, to watch them in their joy and feel some semblance of camaraderie, but it is not his place to do so. So much of his existence has become about hiding, and it tires him.
The wind touches his face, brightening the sensations of something cold slipping down his cheeks. He grinds his palms into his eyes, replacing the cold with a stinging pain. He looks up, feeling his eyes burn. The sky appears endless, but Castiel knows it does not go on forever. Somewhere out there is an end.
“Are you even…” His voice is rougher than normal. Castiel licks dry lips that taste salty from the heat of countless deserts and the sweat of battle. He marvels at how he thirsts, even now, as an angel, “Are you still there?”
The sky has no answer, and neither does anyone else. For all that Castiel knows, he is, and always has been, alone.
His neck is sore when he leans forward, so he rubs it. His stomach has healed, as has his heart, and so he stretches out his wings. A dry wind drifts across them, rustling their essence, and he leans into it. On impulse, he shoves off the roof. Before he flies, his human body falls.
The stairs below fill his vision, old marble and dusty cracks, and he thinks he hears a child scream. Before he can be sure, he is gone.
Alone, but at least no longer bleeding, he flies.