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Crowley doesn’t kill her, the bastard. She comes to with some pimply teenager hanging over her face, asking if she’s okay. The fuck she’s okay. She got stabbed with an angel blade a quarter inch shy of her vitals. It’s a wonder puffs of black smoke aren’t leaking out with every breath. Or maybe they are; she can’t be bothered to sit up and check just now.

She might have said something to that effect, only the kid wanders off again before she gets the chance. She hears words - hurry and how soon - and she realizes she’s had a regular ordinary ambulance called to her aid, her own private chariot.

She needs to get out of here. “Castiel,” she mutters. She’d say it louder, but her throat’s not working right. “Get your feathery ass down here.”

She tried praying before. She tried for months, a word or two every so often, when Crowley or his grunts weren’t around to hear. Pleas at first, until she got tired of hoping the knight in armor would show. After that, she prayed postcards to him, vapid snippets of imagined scenery and sunburns. She always finished with, Wish you were here. Fucker.

It works as well now as it ever did then. Probably it’s because she’s a demon. Fair enough, she supposes.

The kid’s back now. “Castiel,” Meg says.

“It’s okay, lady. Paramedics will be here soon.”

“Castiel,” she repeats. “You gotta pray for me.” It’s hilarious, is what it is. She’d laugh, only she doesn’t have the breath.

“Uh,” the kid says. God, he’s annoying. “My name’s Donnie.”

“My angel,” she says. Then she chokes on her own blood awhile, and there are sirens, and fuck she doesn’t want sirens. “Castiel’s my angel, and you gotta pray to him, okay? Tell him I gotta live, so I can see Clarence.”

“Uh...”

“You got a woman dying in the street, and you won’t even pray?”

The kid coughs. “Dear Castiel...?”

“You’re doing good, kid.” She’ll come back later and squeeze his scrawny little throat in. See if she doesn’t.

“Castiel, please help this lady so she can see Clarence.”

It takes a moment. The sirens get closer. The kid stands up to look. A quantity of air is displaced near Meg’s shoulder, and a heavenly shiver burns through her. Meg closes her eyes.

--

The next time she wakes up, there’s a ceiling overhead. It’s stained, and a fan hangs from it, turning round and round and round. A gal could spend a long time watching those blades spin.

“How are you feeling?”

She turns her head, and there’s Castiel on a chair, leaning toward her like a retriever on point. Goddamn, she’s glad to see him. She’d like to answer his question, but her throat’s dry. He sees her mouth working. He reaches past her line of sight and returns with a glass of water. He holds it to her lips, and she chokes at first but eventually she gets enough down to speak, anyway. “I got skewered,” she rasps.

“I see that,” he says gravely. “I’m sorry.”

Meg snorts. The effort sends tendrils of pain coiling into all her soft places. “Yeah, I’m not thrilled about it, either.”

Castiel bows his head. “I thought the Winchesters would take care of you.”

“You’ve got it wrong, sweet cheeks. I took care of them. Distracted Crowley, won them their getaway.”

“That was admirable of you.”

“The hell you say.” Meg screws her eyes shut, as much against the sudden spike of pain through her skull as for any other reason. “Don’t ruin the moment.”

“If you insist.” He’s smiling. She can hear it.

--

“Where are we?” she asks later that day, when it occurs to her to wonder. It’s a distraction from Castiel fingering entirely the wrong hole, blood gumming up under his fingernails as he cleans her kebab wound.

“Magnolia, Arkansas.”

“Why?”

“Because no one has any reason to look for us here.”

Meg opens her eyes and gives him a careful look-over. He might be applying a little bit more concentration than necessary to the gaping hole in her chest, but it’s hard telling. “Just who are you expecting to come looking for us? Crowley?” The prospect doesn’t worry her overmuch. In a knock-down drag-out, her money’s on the angel any day. Especially, let’s be frank, with her well-being at stake to keep him motivated.

“Or heaven. Or Dean.”

“We running from Dean now?” she asks carefully. “What a rip-off. Thought fighting the bad guys kept you safe from the good guys.”

He flicks a glance in her direction. “Dean and Sam won’t harm you. I can leave you with them, if you prefer.”

“So it’s just you running from Sparky the Wonder Hunter.”

His eyes drop. “I’m running from everyone.”

She doesn’t heave a sigh, because she’s learned better over the last half day. “What’d you do now, Clarence?”

“Nothing, I didn’t...” He meets her gaze, almost unwillingly. “I have a mission.”

“What, another one?”

“I don’t have a choice,” he says.

She remembers him once upon a time, ringed in fire that was barely a flicker compared with the purpose burning in his eyes. But things consumed from within eventually become hollow, she’s learned, until they’re just burned-out husks like the one she’s looking at now. She can’t see even a spark of whatever puny purpose he’s found.

“If it’s all the same to you, I’ll stick with the guy that gives a damn about me,” she says.

--

When Castiel talked about running, he meant actual forward motion, it turns out. “This is the life,” Meg tells Castiel as he shoves their pitiful overnight bag of necessities into the bus’s overhead luggage.

“It’s necessary,” he grunts, unmoved by her sarcasm. He scowls and reaches above her, making some minute adjustment.

Their only other luggage, which Castiel refuses to part with even to put it in the overhead, is the canvas shopping bag sitting in Meg’s lap. She hasn’t had a chance to look at it before. She peeks inside, but there’s nothing to see but a mass of brown paper and duct tape. A heavy mass. A tablet-sized mass, say. Really, there is not a long list of possibilities here. “You brought rocks on our vacation?” she asks as he drops down into the seat beside her.

He eyes her, unnerved, and then he takes the bag from her and clutches it to himself like a child with a teddy bear.

--

“Why can’t we just beam there?” She asks eventually, when the monotony of oak trees and kudzu and Walmart-brand semis gets to be too much.

Castiel looks up from his minimally disguised tablet of divine revelation. “Beam where?”

“Wherever we’re going.”

“I don’t know where we’re going.”

“Excuse me?”

He eyes her suspiciously, like she might be making fun of him. “I shouldn’t beam anywhere,” he says finally. “It’s too easy to trace me. But if I stay too long in one place, they’ll get a fix.”

“They.”

Castiel leans toward her in the least casual gesture known to man and whispers, “Heaven.”

Meg processes that awhile. “So you have to stay in motion, but you can’t fly Angel Air. Hence the Greyhound.”

“Yes.”

“But you beamed in and picked me up.”

His chin drops, and he gives her a shamed, sidelong glance. “I shouldn’t have.”

Oh. Well, then.

--

Meg tells herself she’s just been tortured for a year; she can deal with sleeping on a bus. Then again, it turns out getting tortured for a year doesn’t do a lot for your stamina. Kind of the reverse, actually. Meg holds out as long as she can, but after thirty-six hours she’s desperate. “Clarence, I gotta get on some solid ground and a bed that’s horizontal. You can drop me somewhere and circle back around in a week or two, if you feel like it.”

“I won’t leave you alone,” Castiel says. Of course he does.

“Nobody’s gonna stumble across me in Podunk, Iowa.” It’d be safer, too, she thinks; Castiel’s a whole lot hotter a property than she is these days.

But the look he gives her is all full of dewy-eyed feeling, and that’s that. Meg rolls her eyes.

--

They get off the bus just inside the Minnesota border and walk a couple of blocks to exactly the kind of fleabag inn the Winchesters always seem to bed down. No doubt that’s the reason Castiel chose it. One of these days Meg’s going to teach him some better taste.

Next week, though. Today she follows him into the lobby, her meatsuit sore and aching and wobbly in all the wrong places. She can’t remember what it’s like to shift matter with a curl of her fingers, to flex power like a muscle. These days flexing her actual muscles is work enough.

The man at the counter eyes them both, disinterested, and hands Castiel a form to sign. Meg watches with interest as he smoothly fills it out, never hesitating over the address (Illinois) or his name (Castiel Angeles; she stifles a snort). He offers the man cash instead of credit and pays the additional twenty-five percent required without complaining.

He’s not so bad at playing human, ‘Castiel Angeles’ notwithstanding. He manages to look moderately competent, even.

She keeps on following him, one foot in front of the other, outside again to the orange door at the end of a row of other orange doors. Castiel fits the key in the lock and turns it like he’s never walked through a wall in his life. He holds the door open for her, and Meg would make fun of him for it, but she’s too tired. She flops gently onto the nearest bed – the only one, she dimly registers – and closes her eyes.

--

When she opens them again, hours later judging by the light, Castiel is there, scowling. As if he’s been just waiting for this moment, he says, supremely aggrieved, “I can’t heal you.”

It makes Meg smile, which hurts less now than when she fell asleep. “We had this conversation already, remember? When you played doctor on me.” In that woman’s house, while Laurel and Hardy pretended to strategize. It happened less than a week ago; Meg barely remembers what the place even looked like. “You’re stuck waiting on hell's healing timetable."

“If you were a vampire, I could give you blood,” he continues, as if she hadn’t spoken. “An angel or a human, I could make whole with just a, a single touch of my grace.”

“Sounds kinky.” His scowl deepens. She shifts herself upright – that’s not so bad anymore, either. Progress. “I wouldn’t turn down a beer if you had one.”

“I don’t.” Of course not. “I can’t do anything for you. My touch would only burn.” Below his sober gravity, he sounds positively resentful.

“Really,” Meg says. “That’s all it can do?”

“I just said—” Meg cuts him off with an eyebrow, and he gazes at her, uncertain.

Meg scoots forward a little on the bed, taking some deep, exploratory breaths as she goes. “I can think of other things you could do. To me.”

He catches on faster every time; it only takes maybe two seconds for his eyebrows to rise. “You’re not well.”

She’s felt better, but who doesn’t like a little pain now and then, for flavor? “I’m bored,” she tells him. Oh-so-carefully she untangles her foot from under the sheets and slides it behind his knee. His attention snaps down to her foot and then up to her face again. “You said you knew how to make a girl all dewy. Put up or shut up.”

“Are you sure—”

She doesn’t so much straddle his lap as lurch onto it, and yeah, she’s still got some gears slipping. But he’s solid beneath her – like granite, some might say, but she knows different – and he’s staring at her with eyes that were made for wantonness. She leans in, and obediently he opens his mouth for her.

His lips are electric to the touch, like a static shock; he tastes of iron. Do all angels taste the same, or only him? It’s like kissing lightning, and the buzz goes straight to her bones. Castiel’s hands slide up her arms to her shoulders and he kisses back, thorough, bruising. She bites at his lip and draws blood. He groans. It is not an unhappy groan.

His hands roam as though he wants to touch her everywhere at once. She doesn’t disapprove, but when he reaches her crotch she pushes against his hand, and he pauses his investigations long enough to pull back from her mouth and sneak her the sly little grin of the boy who’s run off with the cookie jar. Then he starts rubbing his thumb up and down the seam between her thighs, and when she humps his hand, he only rubs harder.

“Good boy,” she says. Out comes that grin again. She puts her arms around his neck, biting distractedly at his neck as he massages her through her jeans.

She’s coming off a year’s drought; she doesn’t last long. She clutches at him through the orgasm, and afterwards she hangs onto his neck and says, “So you do know how to do that.”

“I said I did.” He is unbearably smug, and she straightens to scowl it right out of him, but then she gets a look at his face and he looks so damn pleased that she hasn’t the heart to. Then he takes a sniff and frowns. His hand comes up and presses against her stomach, and a pain she’s been ignoring sharpens. “You’re bleeding.”

“Yeah.”

“If you’ll move to the bed, I’ll get the bandages.”

Meg doesn’t move. “We’re not finished yet.”

“You can introduce me to carnal pleasures later,” he promises.

“The things you say, Angel,” she says, and unbuttons his ever-so-professional slacks with one twist of her fingers. He’s got boxers on underneath, or his vessel does. She slides her hand under the waistband and gets a grip, and he lurches under her, his head falling forward to gasp hot air on her neck.

It doesn’t take him long; he was already primed, which is gratifying. At the last moment, she wonders if his eyes will light up or the electrical will short-circuit or if he’ll just burn her right out of this meat suit she’s wearing. Worse ways to go, she supposes.

But Castiel only shudders forward with a single, sharp huff of air, gripping her shoulders bruisingly, and then he sags. No lights blow out, and Meg remains geographically intact. “Worth waiting a few millenia for?” she asks, although really, even Castiel couldn’t have gotten through all this time on earth without a little personal exploration. Surely.

He doesn’t move. For a moment she thinks she’s lost him. Then he says, “I don’t know. I would have to investigate further.”

“Good boy,” she says again, delighted. “Some angel you are.”

He straightens, and she sees that self-satisfied little grin again. Then it turns down, and he says, aggrieved, “Now will you let me rewrap your bandages?”

He’s swaying by the time he finishes. She pulls him down onto the bed, and he lets her without much protest. They don’t cuddle, thank you, but he does end up nearer her than is strictly warranted. She doesn’t push him away.

--

She wakes up before he does and spends the time contemplating the wrinkles being pressed into his suit even as she watches. When he finally stirs, she scoots over to whisper in his year, “So, what are you planning to do with that angel tablet, Clarence?”

Castiel stills. After a moment, he rolls over to to search her eyes. She doesn’t squirm. The longer she holds his gaze, the less certain he looks. He licks his lips, and he says, “I don’t know.”

Meg’s still not ecstatic about roadtripping with a word of God and the guy topping both heaven and hell’s most wanted lists. But. Well. She hasn’t even fucked him yet. She reaches across the narrow strip of bedspread and pats his shoulder. “I’m sure we’ll think of something.”

[end]