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Castiel paced. The uncharacteristic anxiety the angel was experiencing made clear to his invisible observer in his twitchy movements and in the flicking restlessness of his blue eyes as they continually searched the darkness around him. Eyes narrowed thoughtfully for a moment, before the watcher made his decision.

“Hello, kitten.” The voice sounded out into the darkness just as the watcher allowed himself to become visible within the center of the devil's trap in the center of the darkened warehouse. A confident smile touched his lips as he watched the angel spin to glare at him.

“Crowley.” The name was a growl, Cas' voice roughened and deeper than usual. The angel clenched his fists, his jaw working as he tried to control the wrath threatening to overtake him. It was several moments before he got himself under control enough to speak again, time that the demon used to observe with a smirk the emotions evident in the angel's eyes. It was important that he not threaten the King of Hell in any way, not if his plan were to succeed.

“I want to make” Castiel almost choked on the last word, the last deal with Crowley still fresh in his mind. Slowly, he unclenched his fists, letting his hands fall limp to his sides.

Crowley was silent for several moments, his now-red eyes narrowing as he considered this development. In all the scenarios he'd considered when he'd felt the summon from the angel, this one hadn't even remotely occurred to him. “You want to make a deal? With me?” He allowed a soft chuckle to bubble up into the darkness. “You're an angel, you have no soul to deal with.” The words were an intentional echo to the previous deal between the two beings, and Crowley was rewarded with an almost imperceptible flinch from the angel standing before him.

“This is...different.” Castiel held Crowley's gaze steadily, despite the hesitance of his words. “I have been searching for months for a...way. For a solution. I finally found it. But I need your help.” Finally, he let his eyes drop from the demon's, his feet shuffling anxiously.

Crowley's eyes narrowed again, considering the angel's words carefully before replying. Months, Cas said. Like the months since Dean had been trapped in hell, perhaps? Yes, probably. “You want your hunter back.” It was very much a statement of what he was certain was fact, not a question. The angel went still, then nodded slowly, but said nothing. Crowley smirked. “Why not just go raise him yourself, angel boy?”

Castiel's eyes flicked away from Crowley's before he answered in a rough, tortured voice. “I found a spell. I need your help,” he repeated, though it grated on him to ask the demon for help in any way. This was more important. Dean was more important.

Red eyes slid down to the devil's trap painted onto the smooth concrete beneath the demon as he remained silent. 'Let the angel sweat,' was his first thought. Crowley found he was quite enjoying this. But, at the same time, the curiosity for what the angel had planned to save Squirrel burned at him. Finally, he let his face settle on a more serious expression as he turned his eyes back up to Cas' still form.

The angel wanted to deal. Cas must have something he believed Crowley would want in exchange for the hunter buried deep in the Pit. Time to see just what that could be. “Alright, kitten. Let's talk deal, then.” He paused, letting his gaze fall to the trap beneath his feet again before dragging it slowly back up to rest meaningfully on Cas. “After you break the trap. You have my attention.”

Castiel swallowed, his tired blue eyes flicking between the painted trap and Crowley's waiting form as though trying to understand what was being asked of him. After a few moments, he nodded slowly and stepped forward. It only took a simple scuff of his boot to smear the trap into becoming nothing more than meaningless paint on the floor of the warehouse, and when it was done he stepped back warily.

Casually, the demon sauntered away from the former trap and started to pace a wide circle around Castiel, never taking his eyes from the angel. He observed Castiel carefully, trying to decide just how desperate the angel truly was; trying to decide how much he was truly willing to sacrifice for the deal he was going to offer. His searching gaze flitted over the angel's torn and frayed trenchcoat, the ragged striped tie, the dusty dress pants, and the dirty and wrinkled white button-down shirt. Piercing eyes took in every sign of exhaustion and grief and guilt and pure desperate determination on the angel's face and in his bearing. And then, he came to a stop in front of Castiel, holding his gaze as he finally spoke. “What could a broken, fallen angel possibly have to offer me?”

Cas swallowed again, looking for all the world as though he were trying to muster some sort of courage. His earlier rage had already spent itself, leaving him with nothing but bone-weary exhaustion. “I want to trade places with Dean,” he said quietly, his rough voice dripping with sorrow. “I found a spell. More of a curse. It...could work. It should work. A curse to trade away my grace, to make me human.” He took a deep breath and squared his shoulders, for one brief moment looking more like the angel he was than the broken man he'd become. “I want you to clear the way for me to pull Dean out of Hell. In return, you can have me. I want to trade the soul I'll gain for Dean's life, for Dean's freedom from the Pit.”

“Hmm.” Crowley considered the angel standing before him, quietly awaiting his response. “And why this way to save your pet hunter? I mean, not that I don't enjoy the delightful image of you willingly submitting to a curse for your boyfriend. But, really, darling, why aren't you just raising him from the Pit yourself?” He chuckled softly before continuing. “Wouldn't be the first time, now, would it?”

The defeated air crashed back down onto Castiel's expression, his shoulders slumping slightly. “That was when I had the Host of Heaven behind me,” he said, his voice almost a whisper now. “Now, I am alone. And I need your help.”

'The angel's serious,' Crowley thought. 'Castiel is serious.' Despite his surprise, he maintained his smirk. “Well, well, kitten. It seems you have something I want after all. I believe we can come to an arrangement,” he said, satisfaction twining through his smooth British accent.