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Until we bleed

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¿Mi tierra?
Mi tierra eres tú.

¿Mi gente?
Mi gente eres tú.

El destierro y la muerte
para mi están adonde
no estés tú.

¿Y mi vida?
Dime, mi vida,
¿qué es, si no eres tú?

 

Luis Cernuda: Contigo

 

His back is numb except for a deep, tingling sensation that still sends sharp, ice cold pangs of pain through his body once in a while. It’s preferable to the searing, burning pain from before. At least he can breathe now, and he has stopped screaming his throat sore.

The soft, comforting touch of a hand sliding across the stitches covering his left shoulder blade is hardly perceptive through the thick fog of half-consciousness, but it is there, and Castiel inhales with a hiss.

“There, there,” Dean says gently, patting the wound. Castiel bites his lower lip to keep himself from crying out. “You’re doing great, baby. Almost there. Now we only have to take care of the right wing. You can take that, right? You want this, don’t you? You want to make me happy, don’t you?”

“Yes,” Castiel gasps. “Yes. Anything!”

He cannot do much, but he can do this. He can make Dean proud of him. He can make Dean happy. If Dean is happy, he is happy. There is nothing he wants more in his life than to see the spark of excitement, pleasure and arousal in Dean’s life, and the pain is a small price to pay for this.

“Look at me, Cas.” It’s a command, softly spoken but authoritative. It sends shivers down his spine. God, but he loves this voice.

He can hear Dean shuffling, and when he blinks his eyes open, Dean is crouching next to the bed he is lying on, his face so close that he can see the reflection of himself, pale-faced and wide-eyed, inside the sea-green irises.  The room is dark, only lit by a dull, weak bedside lamp, but it’s enough for him to be able to trace the smooth line of Dean’s full lips, stretched into a beautifully dark smile, detect the pattern of the freckles covering his perfect skin, the tender look mixed with infinite pride.

“Good,” Dean mutters, and presses a soft kiss to his temple. He pulls back to bring his fingers up to Castiel’s face, running them along the hairline and pushing back a strand of hair that is covered in sweat and blood and plastered to his forehead. “God, you’re beautiful like that,” he murmurs, moving his hand down to his neck, massaging it, rubbing small circles into his muscles that make Castiel forget the echoes of the pain, and the pain that is about to come, and arch into the touch.

“Dean!” he whines, and he knows how much Dean will like his begging. “Dean, please.”

Dean throws his head back and laughs. “Dammit, Cas, but you are a little slut.” His hand moves lower now, his fingernails scraping over his vertebral column and over the stitches, not so gently anymore. He runs his other hand through the white but blood-splattered feathers of Castiel’s remaining wing and yanks.

Castiel buries his scream in the pillow, but a few grunts escape his lips anyway and suddenly, Dean’s breath is hot and heavy on his ear. “I could take you like this,” he says, his voice a low rumble that goes straight to his groin. “Half bloody and weak and screaming in pain. I could rip your wings apart while I fuck you into the mattress and you would love it. You’d get off on it, wouldn’t you? You would beg for it. You are begging for it.”

“Yes,” Castiel gasps, helplessly trying to find a balance between arching into his touch and grinding his hips into the mattress to get more friction. “Yes, Dean, please.”

But Dean straightens to his feet and moves away. Castiel misses the touch immediately, yearns for the pain and the heat and the love Dean is giving him. He keens, thinking that Dean will leave him to go outside. He doesn’t think he can stand being apart from Dean now, not even for a second. Then he hears the loud, distinctive clink of metal against metal and equal part relief and horror flood through him. Dean is not leaving. He will finish what he started. There will be pain, unendurable pain, but Castiel can take it for Dean. And Dean will love him more, and he will never leave him.

“We’ll make this nice and slow, okay?” Dean whispers in his ear. “Drag this out. You like that, don’t you? You like it when I slice you up.” He runs the blade over the wing’s humerus, cutting lightly through feathers and skin and making blood well up.

Again, Castiel can only agree. The contrast of his hot skin and the cold knife, the thick, warm liquid running down his feathers, Dean’s rough clothes rubbing against his skin and his teeth grazing over the shell of his ear...it’s bittersweet, and he couldn’t protest if he wanted to. All his senses are hypersensitive now and it only serves to build up his lust.

Dean laughs again. “Okay, baby,” he says, pulling back a little so he has better access to Castiel’s wing. “Relax.”

He brings down the knife, and Castiel screams.

 

 

“You can’t be serious, Cassie!” Balthazar stares at him incredulously.

Castiel blinks, frowns, and turns to face his friend. “Of course I am. Why would I not be?”

“You can’t just go to earth and-“

“It is fate, Balthazar,” Castiel reminds him softly. “It has been decided. I had thought you would be happy for me.”

“Happy for you?” Balthazar echoes. “Oh, I would be, if you hadn’t been bound to a hairless ape! I can’t believe you don’t even question this!”

“Why would I question the decision that the Gods have made for me?” Castiel asks, genuinely bewildered.

“Because no angel has ever been chosen to be a human’s partner before. There must be something wrong.”

“How can you say that? How can you doubt that they know what they are doing?” Castiel shakes his head. “No, Balthazar. It is the Gods’ will, and it is just. I have been chosen for Dean Winchester and he has been chosen for me. You must understand, brother, this is a gift.”

Balthazar eyes the red thread that has wound himself around Castiel’s wings and body with contempt and fear. “It’s not a gift, it’s a curse. No angels can fly with his wings bound.” He swallows heavily. “I’m begging you brother, don’t leave.”

Castiel sighs. “It is done, Balthazar. I could not escape if I wanted to. You know what the strings mean. They bind two souls together for the rest of eternity, in love and devotion. And you know they never break. Some have tried it before, you know that as well. It never ends well.”

“So you are afraid.”

“No,” Castiel blinks. “No I am not. I have never been happier.” Balthazar looks stricken, and Castiel smiles. “I wish you could feel it too, brother. The love spreading inside me? I have never felt anything purer, or more beautiful. I do not want to fight it.”

“It’s not real!” his brother rages.

“Of course it is,” Castiel contradicts. “It is as real as everything the Gods make.  It’s as real as my love for you and our brothers and sisters.”

“This human – he will corrupt you. His soul was tainted in hell. He isn’t worthy of you.”

“God thinks he is,” Castiel says calmly. “I think he is. I knew he was worth it the second I laid eyes on his soul in hell, blazing with the light of a thousand suns. I knew he was worth it before I even saw him, because the Gods would not have ordered to raise him from perdition otherwise. This is their will. I am bound to him, and he is bound to me. Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. I will not stay here, Balthazar. How could I go against the will of the Gods in this blessing?”

Balthazar is shaking by now, but he composes himself and nods. “Very well, brother,” he says. “I wish you all the luck in the world. Just….please, be careful that he doesn’t drag you down.”

His brother has always worried too much about him, Castiel thinks fondly. He will miss Balthazar, but not as much as he misses Dean already. The distance between him and his other half – because this is what they are now, two pieces of the same being, woven together inextricably and infinitely – is so great that it hurts. Right now, Castiel wants nothing more than to reach him, leave his brothers and heaven behind and crawl into Dean’s skin, carve a whole into his body and built a nest and stay with him forever. The bond is strong, and he can feel Dean’s excitement, his strength, the warmth of his soul. He wonders what Dean will look like in the morning light when the sleep is still heavy in his eyes, how his eyes sparkle when he smiles, whether he bites his lip when he is deep in thought. He wonders whether Dean will love him as much as Castiel loves him - and there is no reason why he shouldn’t. The read thread is a powerful sign of union and love, basically inescapable.

And Castiel will make sure Dean loves him. There is nothing he wants more, and there is nothing he wouldn’t give for Dean.

 

 

The darkness is so overwhelming, Castiel could drown in it. It’s comforting, too, warm and calm and surprisingly familiar, so he sighs and lets himself sink deeper.

Suddenly, a sharp pain explodes on his cheek right below his ear.

“Cas!” Dean bellows above him. He would know that voice anywhere, at any time. “Cas! Come on, man, wake up.”

Castiel forces his eyes open. It’s not easy; it’s like they are encrusted, his eyelashes sticking together. It hurts when he finally breaks whatever adhesive mixture plasters them together, the fine hairs being partly plucked out. He blinks until his visions clears and he can focus on Dean’s worried expression, his face just inches from his own. Immediately, he feels safe.

“You had me scared for a second there, baby,” Dean admits, smoothing the lines from Castiel’s forehead. As he is brushing his fingers along his eyebrows, little dark red crumbs fall onto the dirty sheets. He realises that it is dried blood, and swallows. He must look horrible. “I almost thought that maybe you where too weak. Or that I’d made a mistake.” His voice is trembling with fear and anger. “Don’t do that to me again, do you understand?”

“I will never leave you Dean,” Castiel promises. This is what Dean fears, he knows. He knows Dean better than anyone. He knows what Dean needs to hear, and he knows he has to do everything in his power to make him believe it. His voice is raw and coarse and he thinks he can taste the metallic, dark flavour or blood on his tongue. “The world could burn and I would not leave your side.”

Dean smiles, his beautiful, earth-shattering, dark smile that is the most fascinating thing Castiel has ever seen. “I know.”

Castiel desperately wants to shut his eyes and rest, slip away into the world of dreams and recuperation, but an equally big part of him will not have it, wants to cherish every moment he has with Dean and not waste a single second of it, not a heartbeat, not the blink of an eye. He is tired, so very tired, and his body aches all over, even his grace feels warped and twisted and damaged, now that a great chunk of it has been ripped from its centre when Dean removed his wings, but he refuses to succumb to the weakness of his vessel and the depletion of his strength. With a slight groan, he lifts his head to capture Dean’s sinful lips with his own, but he stops halfway when something in the corner of his eye catches his attention.

Dean follows his gaze and smiles even wider. “We could hang them on the wall,” he quips.

Castiel just stares wordlessly. There, on the floor, are his wings. Grand and beautiful and a spotless white. Here and there, you can still see the cuts, the spots where chunks of feathers were torn out, but Dean has cleaned them, washed off the blood and arranged them so that they look spotless, just as perfect as they were when they were still attached to his back. When they were still a part of him. They shouldn’t look that unmarred. In his mind, Castiel traces every cut, every slice, every piece Dean carved out with unsurpassable precision. A surgeon cutting open his patient on the table, just with much more enjoyment, much more love and much more cruelty. 

His breath gets stuck in his throat and the pain burning on his shoulder blades becomes more prominent and noticeable. He feels it now, the part that was taken away from him. In a far, small corner inside of him, a part of him grieves for what he has given away. But mostly, he doesn’t care. Dean asked for it, to be closer to him, and he is happy to give this to him. What does he need his wings for now anyway, when he knows he will never return to heaven, never leave his lover’s side, not for a second?

Above him, Dean is still smiling and running his fingers through Castiel’s unruly hair.

“I am not an angel anymore,” he points out somewhat shakily. He doesn’t think he wants them within eyesight. He doesn’t want a reminder of what he used to be. He just wants a reminder of who he is now, and that is easily defined:

He is Dean’s, nothing more, nothing less.

“No, you’re not,” Dean agrees. “But it would be a nice reminder, wouldn’t it? I think I like them like that. I like that I can show everyone that you belong to me. That you would do everything I ask. I want them all to know just how far you will go for me.” His voice has dropped into a lower timbre, thick with possessiveness and lust. He grabs Castiel’s shoulder impatiently and hauls him up, turning him around until they are both kneeling on the mattress, face to face. “You are mine,” he growls, and the words make Castiel’s world explode with light and joy and love and he forgets about the pain, forgets that he is tired and cold and still partially covered in his own blood, because Dean loves him and he is as radiant as the sun.

Always.” He whispers the promise into the juncture of his neck and shoulder, right above the collarbone where Dean keeps all of Castiel’s whispered secrets and vows, and Dean makes a desperate, choking noise and pulls him close quickly, not caring about the tender and aching wounds on his back and kisses him roughly, bites his lips and his tongue and his neck with reckless abandon, and Castiel drinks it all in, every touch, every breath, every pang of pain and desire and every demonstration that Dean belongs to him just as much as he belongs to Dean.

This is how they feel alive.  

 

 

Dean knows him when he first appears in front of him. He doesn’t even flinch when Castiel appears out of thin air, like he’s known he would come all along. Maybe he has. Maybe he has known since Castiel raised him from hell. Maybe it’s because of this that he recognises Castiel, or perhaps it is because of the threads, it doesn’t matter. What is important is that he not recoiling; on the contrary, he looks like he will embrace this turn of fate as much as Castiel does.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” he says, and Castiel’s grace pulsates in rapture and delight. A lot of humans are unaware of destiny and fate. They don’t see the red threads like angels do. They feel drawn to their partner in ways they cannot put into words and much less escape, but most never know why. They know nothing about being made for one another, not really. But Dean...Dean is different. He is special.

He is also the most beautiful creature Castiel has ever laid his eyes on. It is true, what Balthazar suspected: his time in hell has left its marks, dark shades twisting inside the core of his soul, but that doesn’t make him any less fascinating, or any less loveable in his eyes. Castiel is overcome by an unexpected surge of jealousy and possessiveness. The thought that other people have been loved by Dean, have gotten to share his body and soul makes him want to hurt someone.

His mate, he thinks, is perfect beyond words, and he silently thanks the Gods for the privilege of being allowed to love him, and have Dean love him back. He isn’t sure he deserves such an extraordinary soul bound to him and he decides, right there and now, that he will do anything to prove himself worthy of Dean.

The slightly predatory and covetous look that Dean gives him makes shivers of excitement run down his spine. “Hello, Dean,” he says and Dean groans.

“Holy fuck,” he murmurs. “I think I can get behind this.”

In his eyes is a hunger that speaks of eternities of starvation that Castiel thinks he understands. He hadn’t noticed, not until he woke up one day, unexpectedly, with the thin but strong strings wrapped tightly around him and a kaleidoscope of feelings slamming into him with the promise of love and bliss and completion, how lonely he was, even with a myriad of brothers and sisters in heaven. There had been no warning, no preparation, no hints that he would ever receive such a gift, but he thanks the Gods every day. He doesn’t know why they chose him for Dean, why they chose Dean for him, but he knows one thing for sure, Balthazar was wrong, he is not holding him back nor dragging him down. On the contrary, he makes his grace sing with infinite mirth. The strings do not hinder his flight, although they do seem to always pull him gently into Dean’s proximity, but he cannot find it in himself to complain about this, because really, what reason would he have to ever want to leave Dean’s side?

Dean must see it in his eyes, the desperate need to give himself up entirely, give himself over to Dean until there is nothing left of him, because the next thing he knows Dean has moved with the agility and speed of a wildcat, right up into his personal space so that he can feel his hot breath fanning over his lips. Dean grabs him by the collar of his vessel’s trenchcoat and yanks him forward. The kiss is all teeth and greedy hands, falling, falling and clawing their ways inside each other. Castiel has no idea what he is doing, but either Dean doesn’t notice or he doesn’t care, wasting no time in marking him, claiming him in every way possible. Castiel doesn’t mind. He doesn’t want him to stop, he doesn’t want him to slow down.

It’s needy and it’s rough and it’s utterly perfect, and when he wakes up the next morning to an empty bed but to the scent of sweat and sex lingering in the air and the faint remnants of bruises that Dean’s hand dug into his skin covering his body, he smiles contentedly for the first time in his life.

 

 

Phantom pain, Castiel discovers, is anything but pleasant, to say it nicely. On the other hand, it’s easier to endure than the actual amputation of two essential – yet now useless – limbs, and he thinks he handles it pretty well. At first, he’s not sure whether to hide the attacks from Dean or not. Dean might not enjoy it, the reminder of Castiel’s past, or maybe he will, but Castiel has no way of knowing. He knows Dean better than anyone, every dark secret of his heart, every atom and fibre of his body, every inch of his skin, every shard of his soul, and still, Dean remains a mystery, unpredictable at times. Castiel likes it that way, but what he never wants is to disappoint Dean, and sometimes, not being able to foresee his reaction makes him anxious.

So he tries to hide the attacks of crippling pain coming out of nowhere and disappearing just as quickly. He manages for two whole days until there is another violent surge while Dean is in the same room, and of course, his lover doesn’t fail to notice his body jerking and his teeth clenching.  

“Ah,” he says, watching impassively as the pain washes over Castiel with the force of a tsunami. “I was wondering if you’d get that. Guess I got my answer now.” There’s no pity in his voice, nothing but scientific interest.

“I’m sorry,” Castiel whispers, too afraid to look up. What if he does and finds that Dean looks at him the way he looks at the other persons and creatures he kills, with disgust or disinterest, like a subject of a study? Dean has always taken pleasure from his art, from sinking a sharp blade into soft skin and watching the blood well up and the life seeping out of the bodies, but with Cas it has always been more than that. What if he has ruined it now? What if Dean doesn’t want him anymore? What if that is the reason Dean hasn’t touched him since the last time right after?

Castiel chokes down a strangled sob.

“No,” Dean says, loud and clear and rough. “No, Cas, don’t. Don’t be sorry.”

“But you won’t touch me.” Cas swallows. “You won’t take me. Tell me what I have done wrong.”

Dean looks taken aback, for the first time in a long time. Castiel hasn’t been able to provoke this particular forceful reaction since the first time he was on his knees in front of Dean, begging him to fuck his mouth until he couldn’t breathe anymore and pressing his cheek into the cold steel of his own will. He remembers how Dean’s breath had hitched in shock and desire, remembers how Dean had done exactly what he had asked for and then some.

“Cas, baby, you’ve done nothing wrong. It’s just...you don’t heal as fast anymore. I wanted to give you some time.” Dean is laughing now, like he realises how stupid that thought is.

“Oh.” Castiel frowns. “That’s really not necessary.” He takes a step closer, slowly, seductively, and sneaks his hands under Dean’s shirt. “I like the pain,” he murmurs into his skin. “You know I do. I want it. I want you. Nothing will ever change that.” It’s almost exhilarating, knowing that Dean loves him enough to hold off his desires for a while for him, but Castiel really wishes he didn’t. He only ever wants what Dean wants. “And what I want is for you to fuck me hard enough to make up for two days without you.”

A blink of an eye and his back is slammed into the wall, making him groan. The impact hurts, and the rushed movement of his back against the hard bricks makes some of the stitches tear. He can feel the blood welling out, trailing slowly down his spine.

Dean’s hard in his jeans already and Castiel wants to laugh, stupidly, happy for no other reason than the obvious proof that he has just as much control over Dean as Dean has over him. He’ll make sure Dean doesn’t hold back, not now, not ever, just the way they both like it.

“Just for the record,” Dean says before he goes and rips Castiel’s T-Shirt to shreds, “I fucking love it that even when I’m not with you, you can feel what I am doing to you.”

When he looks at it like that, Castiel thinks, he is almost excited for the next time the phantom pain comes back.  

 

 

There has never been anything gentle about their relationship, or their sex, or their anything, and Castiel likes it this way. He likes that Dean is never scared of breaking him. He likes that Dean knows exactly how much he can take, and he likes that he tests his limits, and he likes that he is the only one Dean treats as an equal because he understands.

The first time Dean cuts him is only two weeks after being bound to each other. He doesn’t ask for permission, doesn’t ask whether Castiel is okay with that, because Cas has never protested before and it’s unlikely he will start now. Castiel remembers how, before, Dean would dig his fingers deeper and deeper into Castiel’s skin, purposefully, experimentally, and then watch with sharp eyes as the bruises faded completely come morning light. He remembers the spark in Dean’s eyes, that quenchless hunger growing more and more until finally giving into it. When he does, Castiel has known this was coming for a long time.

He is not afraid.

Dean is sitting with his legs on either side of his lap, pinning him into the mattress, and looks at him, contemplating whether or not to shackle him. Castiel thinks he might like it, but they should save it for another time. Dean apparently comes to the same conclusion, because he reaches to the nightstand and grabs the small dagger that has been lying there, waiting, for some time now. The first cut is right below his left nipple, drawing a small, breathless gasp from Castiel.

Dean smiles his beautiful predator smile and leans down to lick the blood away and if he hadn’t known it before, it’s in this moment Castiel would have realised that there is no going back, no leaving Dean, not ever. He keens and arches into the touch and Dean throws his head back and laughs and cuts again, on the other side, just a little deeper, and starts carving a beautiful, symmetrical pattern into his skin while Castiel gasps and winds and grinds up against him and desperately searches for release, lost in the whirlwind of sensations.

It’s the first time they do this, and Dean lets Castiel enjoy it, letting him come first and continuing to lick the mix of sweat and blood off his torso. It’s better than heaven.

When they wake up in the morning, the wounds are healed, and Dean’s soul shines both a little darker and a little brighter.

 

 

After that first time, Dean knows he can’t hurt Castiel, not really, not permanently, and he lets himself give into the dark desire he has carried with him since his time in the pit. From that moment on, the blood play isn’t reserved solely for the bedroom anymore. Dean binds Castiel completely, binds him to a cross the way two millennia ago the son of God was chained to one, just because he can, and sets to work. It becomes an obsession, finding out how far he can go, what he can do, whether maybe, just maybe, he’ll find a way to actually hurt Castiel. He’s testing out the borders still, going further and further every time.

What he learned in hell, he perfects on Castiel. Dean is a master of his craft, a true artist when it comes to blood and flesh and meat and bones. Souls, of course, aren’t quite the same as human bodies on earth, but even so, he knows exactly how to draw it out as long possible, how to cut and carve and slice out the pieces and he learns how to make Castiel scream within minutes.

Dean likes hearing him scream, so usually Castiel doesn’t hold back, but he makes sure Dean earns the screams. It’s a play, a challenge, and Dean enjoys it like nothing else.

He is beautiful like this, Castiel thinks, more beautiful than ever, splattered with gore and grinning while he runs his tongue over the blade to taste the angelic blood, humming to himself as he works. And he wants Castiel like this, so who is Castiel to deny him this pleasure?

“So pretty,” Dean mutters and twists the knife. Castiel bites his lips so hard he draws blood. “Gods, I swear, the things you do to me, Cas.” His voice is both silk smooth and rough with arousal, and Castiel thinks he could come just from listening to him talk. “All spread out for me like that, just for me, letting me do whatever I want...” His gaze falls on Castiel’s crotch, and his grin widens. “Wow, you little slut, you really are enjoying this. That’s kind of sick.”

He is right. He is being cut to pieces, but he is hard, harder than he has ever been, because the Gods help him, Dean is everything he ever wanted and he wants him, and it doesn’t matter that it hurts, it doesn’t matter that it’s unhealthy, it doesn’t matter that this is what Balthazar warned him about, because there is nothing he wants more than for Dean to want him, to have him, to own him, in every way possible. There is nothing Dean could ever do that Castiel doesn’t enjoy as long as it gives him pleasure, even if he has to withstand the pain. He doesn’t mind the pain so much when, like now, he can see the utter joy that makes Dean’s soul shudder.

Castiel quirks an eyebrow, cockily, because he knows Dean likes this. “It’s not sicker than you getting off on this,” he remarks, and Dean laughs and buries his fist in Castiel’s jaw, and then fucks him dry and without preparation until Castiel is a sobbing mess, whimpering please Dean please oh Gods please like a mantra and he can’t remember whether he wants him to stop or go on anymore, because Dean’s hands are rough and merciless and he keeps twisting the knife and that doesn’t hurt half as much as Dean’s cock up his ass, and for a second he wants it all to stop but Dean’s soul is pulsating with light and happiness and such intense pleasure that Castiel comes just from that, harder than he has ever come before.

This is when he learns that nothing satisfies him more than making Dean happy. This is when he starts enjoying the pain in unfathomable ways.

The next day, his wounds are healed again, and Dean cuts deeper and hits harder and laughs when Castiel begs for more anyway.

“You are mine,” he repeats, over and over again, and he doesn’t settle for accepting that the red treads makes Castiel his anyway, he reclaims him, every day, every minute, writing his name all over his body and soul in blood and steel and love and pain. He forgets his name, sometimes, and he forgets heaven and his family and everything he used to be. It’s taken away and he is hollowed out and filled again with Dean’s name, only Dean’s name, and he knows that from now on, this is all he ever will be. Dean is his home and his family and his love and his life and his blood and his breath and his water and his food, and if he has to be apart from him just one minute, he thinks he will die.

 

 

Dean likes that he can’t hurt him, Castiel thinks. He likes that he can lose control without having to care about the consequences. 

But then, sometimes, it’s not enough.

That is why he asks him one day if there is any actual way to hurt an angel, and Castiel tells him without hesitation that his wings are the only part of his essence, his grace, that Dean can cut and hurt. Dean’s eyes light up with curiosity and craving, and Castiel knows what he is going to ask him to do next.

Of course, he says yes.

Because Dean likes to break him, and Castiel likes to be broken.

 

 

He lies in his lover’s arms, sleepy and sated and hurting all over, but it’s a good hurt, not sharp and piercing but slow and burning. Dean is tracing patterns on his back, without a knife for once, and picks at the stitches with affection. Blood pearls up and Castiel can feel Dean growing excited again, so he swats his hand away lazily, just to see the reaction this provokes.

Dean just looks at him pensively. “You think that maybe now that you can’t heal that fast anymore I can actually carve my name into your skin?” he asks casually.

Castiel inhales sharply and shudders. The tiredness is gone.

He has Dean’s name written all over him anyway already, but he thinks he would like that. Wordlessly, he reaches under the bed where he knows Dean stores his impressive collection of weapons – they always need to be within reach, always – and searches for Dean’s favourite knife, the one with the ragged edges. When he finds it, he presses it into Dean’s hand and covers it with his own, holding it right above his heart.

“We can try,” he says, and thinks that if there is any way he can ensure that his body will be scarring permanently although his grace isn’t afflicted like it was when Dean cut off his wings, then he will do it. Maybe the chunk of grace that got torn off with his wings is enough to make the vessel scar now. He hopes so. Castiel doesn’t want the only scars on his body the ones that don’t belong to the vessel but himself, the angel, he doesn’t want the only scars to be the ones that remind him of what he used to be. He is not an angel now, not without his wings, even if his grace prevails, rooted deep inside of him. He wants human scars. He wants Dean’s scars.

Dean swallows heavily. “Okay,” he says, but guides the blade away from Castiel’s chest and to his own. “But you go first.”

So Castiel does.

His wings still lie abandoned on the floor.