Cas was crawling towards his master when his world exploded.
It was pure agony to drag his leg behind him, while trying desperately to not call attention to it. He was pretty sure it was broken, and few masters kept a gimp slave around for long. Broken slaves were used for target practice or just plain tortured to death.
Master Alistair was known for cutting them up into ever smaller pieces till there was nothing left besides a room bathed in blood, and he wanted to evade that for as long as humanly possible.
Like any good slave, Castiel kept his head down while he obeyed every single order he was given. Used, punished, and sold as his masters pleased … he just wanted to serve and stay out of the line of fire.
But the line of fire seemed to have it out for him. Literally bursting through the windows with a shower of glass, light, and smoke. Guns out and screaming orders he couldn’t understand over the ringing in his ears.
The guards were quick to respond, and Castiel was more than happy to drop to the carpet and cover his head.
Obedient to a fault.
“FBI! Drop your weapons!”
He didn’t know exactly who the invaders were, but they looked and sounded official enough. Which meant they were police.
Boots thumped by his head, and Castiel one hundred percent expected a bullet. That’s what the police did. They raided the houses of masters who’d broken some law and destroyed property and slaves, or took slaves away to torture and question before returning them to their owners.
He’d never been a part of a raid before, but if they realised he was already damaged, there would be no mercy.
Something exploded, the shock rumbling through his already weak body.
Maybe the bullet would be the mercy?
A cantister spewing smoke rolled past him, and he tried to crawl back away from it; smoke already catching his breath. His leg and several broken ribs got in the way. Struggling, and hands still securely on the back of his neck Castiel didn’t see the thing that hit him. Everything went dark.
“This one’s still alive!”
Barely coherent, Castiel could feel the press of fingers around his throat.
They were going to strangle him.
They were going to strangle him and he didn’t even have the brainpower or breath to beg for mercy. Wouldn’t get it anyway. No one cared about slaves. Certainly not the government.
He opened his eyes.
The man was government.
Castiel averted his gaze, closing his eyes as he waited for laborious breathing to turn into nothing.
There was too much sound, grating on his nerves and he was unable to focus on any certain bit of it. Just a wall of sound falling onto him brick by brick. He hoped to God the officer wasn’t talking to him. Every so often some sounds peeked above the cacophony.
The fingers left. No bullet followed.
Castiel whimpered when his leg moved. Glad to just be left alone for now, he dared opening his eyes again. Mostly just watching the floor, watching the grit and the feet through the leftover smoke.
More people flitted in and out of view through the cracks of his eyelids. Three stopped.
He sobbed, closing his eyes again and trying to not imagine what they would do to him.
With his leg weighing him down, and his head throwing everything out of focus, he couldn’t resist if he wanted to.
Hands descended on his, patting across his exposed body..
Castiel knew what it was. Slaves were often given a once over to see if they were still in service condition, and he prayed the noise covered his pained whimpers. If they deemed him completely useless he’d be dog food.
Somehow, he passed their test, rolling him over onto a strange looking platform. The straps that locked him in place were the most comforting part of the entire interaction. He couldn’t move. No one would ask him to move.
He’d been seized.
And yes, it was humiliating to be tied down like a runner without having even been given the chance to crawl like an obedient slave, but he’d never have been able to crawl properly anyway.
Wheeled out of the house and into the cold night with the officer who’d decided he was worth keeping alive - for now - trailing behind them. He recognised the man’s uniform, helmet in his hands and messed up hair; worried eyes. Maybe he thought taking him had been a bad choice.
The van they put him in was too bright, and he squeezed his eyes shut; hoping unconsciousness would take him again. But the pain radiating from his leg, and head kept him awake. And with what he’d always learned about the government, the pain wasn’t going to be getting better any time soon.
Castiel curled his hands into fists against the plastic platform, willing his body to remain in place and obedient despite the panic running through it. They had every right to touch him. Every right to stick electrodes to his skin, and the very threat of shocks had him keep very, very still.
They milled around, doors slamming shut and locking him inside of the vehicle with the people who’d started assessing him. Fingers tugged at his collar, brushed over his collection of brands, prodded at his bruises.
“His leg’s broken.”
Castiel whimpered as someone manipulated his left leg. It had been broken for at least a day. Maybe two.
The beeping, rhythmic and steady till now grew faster.
A plastic package crinkled loudly somewhere to his right, and the van jolted into motion. Risking punishment, he opened his eyes just a tiny bit. The light hurt his head, but they were fussing over his leg and he desperately needed to know what they’d do before they even started questioning him.
The first thing he could see, was a gloved hand reaching into a bin and pulling out a packaged scalpel. Alistair loved scalpels.
Unable to hold back his fear, Castiel jerked against the restraints.
The beeping grew louder, faster still. Threatening him with punishment and shocks and yet more pain, but the words clawed their way out of his mouth.
“Please. Please, no. Please.”
Everyone shot into action, holding him down and God they were going to cut his leg off! He’d be next to useless with only one leg. Master Alistair would turn his knives on him the second he was dropped back into his care.
“Please. Please. I_”
He didn’t know what to offer them. Didn’t know what they’d want.
A mask pressed down over his face, and he breathed like they wanted him to. Tears sliding down old tracks as they gassed him.
“Everything will be fine. Just breathe.”
He hiccoughed, tugged weakly against the straps, and breathed deep again. Obedient to a fault, he breathed.
“Deep breaths. There you go.”
Giving in, giving up, he welcomed the darkness that crept in around the edges.
The beeping slowed.
He woke slowly, the telltale haze of drugs still weighing down his brain like a wet towel had been shoved inside his skull. It had been a long time since he’d been drugged, but no slave ever forgot the feeling.
Breathing slowly - no need to exacerbate the pain caused by whatever they’d done to him while he was out - he wriggled his extremities in turn.
Left hand. Fine.
Right hand. Fine.
Right foot. Fine … he was still in a bed, Castiel froze. Breath caught, he wriggled his fingers again.
Yep. Definitely sheets.
Whoever had used him while he was unconscious had done so in comfort, but staying in a bed while not in use was a punishment worthy offense. It didn’t matter if you were unable to realise where you were, or even if you were tied down. Beds were not for slaves.
Praying to god his bedmate slept through him moving, Castiel slowly slid to the edge of the mattress. Only to fall out as a heavy weight around his left foot dragged him down way faster than he’d expected to go.
He bit back a frightened yelp. He didn’t even whimper when his exceptionally heavy foot hit the floor and sent a shock of agony into his system. Silently whimpering, he was stuck hanging oddly off the bed with his right hand pulled short above his head.
Something was stuck inside his arm, and the short lead kept him kneeling awkwardly on one leg.
His left didn’t want to work correctly, and when he looked down he could see it was wrapped in a thick cast.
People burst through the door just as last light’s memories rushed back.
The fear of amputation.
And now the team of people dressed in white smocks reaching for him. He ducked his head, and waited for pain.
“Are you ok?”
He didn’t answer. No one asked a slave that, they had to be talking to each other.
Arms hefted him upright, the cast around his foot slipping on the tiles, and if they dropped him again he’d be totally unable to hold himself up. His arm was still attached to something, so that would hurt again once they threw him.
“Can you hear us?”
A hand waved in front of his face, and he flinched. His tongue was sticking to the roof of his mouth, so he couldn’t accidentally bite it off at least.
“Ok, let’s get you up. One. Two. three. Lift.”
They had him back in the bed in seconds. The blankets still warm as they tucked him underneath them again.
“Ok. Can you look at me, please?”
One of them still had his left arm, checking the thing that was stuck onto it. Obediently, Castiel looked up. It was obvious he wasn’t anywhere on Alistair’s property now that he saw where he was being kept. No bit of the slave quarters on the property was this well maintained.
The walls were clean and white, as was the floor; gleaming in the muted light.
“Hi, thanks.” The man looked at him kindly, which meant he might be a slave or a servant himself. “So you can hear me just fine, right?”
The other person tugged at his arm again, and Castiel took the safest route; subservient and polite.
“Ok. Can you follow my finger?”
They didn’t correct him, which meant they were servants or higher up. Certainly not slaves. The man held his face still while he moved a finger back and forth. Castiel followed it with his eyes, though looking to the right was harder than looking left.
“Ok. Good. Were you a little disoriented when you woke up just now?”
Glad to have them provide the answers, Cas nodded.
“Ok. So you didn’t tear out you IV, so that’s good.”
Cas looked over to the other person - a woman - as she put his arm back under the sheets, and nodded.
“You were sedated when they brought you in, so someone will stop by later to talk you through everything, ok? Just stay put. Would you like some water?”
“Yes, please, sir.”
The man gave his leg a little pat above the cast, and when he left the room his companion did the same. Now that he knew he was alone, Castiel took the opportunity to look around him.
The room was plain. White and cream the only colours around, except some vibrant buttons on the walls and the machine sitting next to his head. Two doors, one of which led out into a hallway. When it came to cells … this wasn’t a bad one.
The door pushed open again, and Cas was quick to lower his eyes again.
“Let's get you sitting up a bit straighter.” the man grabbed something hanging from the bed, and with a clunky buzz, the bit of bed his back was on lifted till he was almost sitting upright. “There we go. Oh, and here’s your water.”
Quick, well practices movements produced a table that rolled around from behind the bed. Castiel watched quietly as it was moved to hover conveniently over his lap, holding nothing but the single cup of water on it. The man stepped back, waiting expectantly.
Castiel stared at it, even more aware of just how dry his mouth was. No permission had been given. And as far as Castiel knew he was on government property, in government hands, and this man worked for that very same government while he was a slave confiscated during a raid awaiting interrogation.
No way was he going to steal water while an official was watching him. He wasn’t quite that stupid.
“Um. You can drink it, dude. No need to stare at it till it evaporates.”
Cas blinked, but reached for the cup.
“Thank you, sir.”
He’d expected to be given a task or two at the very least, but if this man wasn’t going to make him beg for a drink of water he wasn’t going to ask him to. Hands shaking more than he’d expected, he drank it all. Clean and not too cold, it was the best water he’d had in days … more water than he’d had in days too.
“Ok. Well. You just sit tight and someone should be right by now that you’re awake.”
He nodded, sitting where he’d been placed as the man left again. It was testament to how exhausted he was, that he fell asleep again. Something he would have never done under normal circumstances.
He’d just been told someone would wish to speak to him.
But sleep he did, and when the man he’d been warned about came in he was just as disoriented as he’d been last time he woke up in this new, strange place.
Tears - there were always more tears - streaming down his face as his leg protested being smacked against the floor for the second time today, and his arm throbbed around the thing that was still inside of him he teetered on one knee. Always just waiting for pain or orders, and now there would be nothing but pain. He’d been told to wait. He’d been told to stay in bed. He’d been given instructions and he’d thrown them in the wind and now there would be consequences.
Just as helpless as before, people in white clothes hauled him back onto the bed.
Someone pulled his head up and his left eye open, shining a bright light into it. He was released before he could jerk back himself, which was very very fortunate. He cringed. Trying to make himself as small a target as he could. Not that he had much room to hide. Stuck under clean sheets and hobbled … he was a sitting duck waiting to get batted around by a fanciful cat.
Somewhow. Cas had no idea why . But somehow , no pain followed.
They gave him a solid once over, and then filed out. Leaving him alone with the man who’d probably woken him up. Dressed in white but different than the others, he had more accessories hanging off his clothes.
“The nurses say that this is the second time you’ve fallen out of bed?”
He looked even more official than the people in the white uniforms - nurses, probably. Cas kept his sorry head down.
There was no reason to lie. It would not save him. It would only cost him dearly. Lies were beaten out of a slave, or they died for them. That had been one of Abadon’s lessons; reinforced and ingrained through pain and loss.
“We’ll have to take another x-ray of your leg to make sure nothing’s moved around.” The man - not a nurse - pulled the sheet off of the cast. “It should be just fine, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Right?”
“Hmmhmm. I’ll schedule the x-ray sometime later today perhaps tomorrow. Now. You have a couple of broken ribs.” The soft pressure against his side didn’t hurt as much as he expected it too. “But there’s nothing much we can do but keep you on a nice steady drip and wait for them to heal.”
The man whipped an instrument that had been hanging around his neck up, pressing the metal bit to his exposed chest, and Cas knew there was only one reason for anything to be covered in metal. He flinched; fully expecting a shock.
“Yes, yes. It is a bit cold. Breathe deep for me, please.”
Hoping it would stave off the electrocution and burns he breathed.
“Perfect. Heart rate is up a bit, but your lungs sound fine.” the thing hung harmlessly against the man’s chest again, and Cas breathed a sigh of relief. “Sometimes, people start breathing shallowly because of the pain and they end up with lung infections.”
Castiel wondered what sort of circumstances had people walking around with broken ribs. Slaves did it all the time, but people?
“Now try to not tug on this too much. I know it’s in the way, but it’ll be just as annoying on the other side.”
The bandage that kept whatever it was that was inserted into his arm in place had a tube running out the other end and the man followed it up to a bag full of what looked like water; fiddling with a little knob.
“Ok! Looks like you’re all set. So just press the button if you need anything.”
Making a note on a clipboard Cas hadn’t noticed till now, the man made his exit. Leaving Cas shook but almost completely pain free.
Sitting up in the bed - odd, but orders were orders - he waited. Breathing, looking around him, and poking at the solid cast. It itched a bit around the edges, but the simple fact that the leg didn’t hurt anymore was worth all the itching in the world.
No matter how terrible the interrogation would be, if the leg was given the chance to heal completely he might not be taken to the knife room. Master Alistair might be merciful, might understand that he’d not chosen to be taken. God he hoped he’d be merciful.
Cas’s heart sank, when someone honest to God knocked on his door. The advanced warning told him he was meant to be getting in a position, but he had no idea what position that was.
Castiel’s knew his life had never been predictable. As a slave he had no agency, and his masters decided when he slept, what he ate, who he belonged to. But the weird turn his existence seemed to be taking was the oddest one yet.
Over the next few hours, people brought him food and water, washed him, and poked and prodded him without ever making him scream, cry, or even beg. By the time someone came by to give him a last snack, turn off the lights, and order him to sleep he was dead tired.
None of the nurses seemed to want to hurt him, which in itself was puzzling.
But the abundance of food was making him nervous. Nothing good ever happened to a slave without it turning right back around to bite him in the ass.