Castiel moves out of the way just before the car hits him, more out of instinct than out of willingness, the black Chevrolet driving away leaving behind the echo of a honking sound and a few colourful metaphors regarding his mental state.
He didn't really listen to what the driver was shouting at him though. He didn't care.
Looking ahead, he keeps on walking like he had done for the past three days, not really minding the glances people shot at him. He could understand of course, he was aware of his appearance. He had not slept, eaten, or drank at all, although being human it was something he needed to do. He'd felt hunger for a while, but soon the need was gone and again he didn't care, and now his skin was pulling on his bones, the clothes Dean had given him before telling him he had to leave hung loosely on his body.
When he lost his power the only thought that gave him the strength to keep on surviving was knowing he had a place to return, the bunker, and someone who was waiting for him.
Evidently that wasn't the case.
The moment Dean told him "you can't stay" he'd felt a huge hole opening in his stomach. Without an explanation he was put to the door, and for the first time he felt anger towards the man he'd raised from hell. But even his anger was short lived and soon he felt nothing. He realized he didn't care if he lived or if he died. Apparently, no one else did.
When two figures drag him away from the open street to a dark alley, he does not put up a fight.
"Well well" one says, before punching him in the stomach. Castiel grunts, bending forward, his knees giving up immediately, feeling the acid taste of bile coat is throat
"C'mon angel! Let's have some fun!"
The other kicks him on his side and Castiel rolls on the ground.
"What's wrong? Cat's got your wings?"
Castiel doesn’t bother to move, hoping they would just stab him and go on with their lives.
"Wait a second..."
After a moment of silence, one yanks his head back by his hair, forcing him to look up, but his mind was so unfazed, he didn't actually see their faces, only two blurs.
"Are you... well I'll be damned if this is not the famous Castiel!"
"Yes... I can't believe we're so lucky! We get to kill him!"
One of the two puts his foot on his neck, heaving him down and he finds himself face down on the ground again. He closes his eyes waiting for the stab.
"Wait... I've got a better idea..."
"Just listen! Let's take him to the king. You know he's still deciding on the punishment for those who betrayed him... this is our golden ticket! He hates this angel as much as he hates the Winchesters!"
"I don't know..."
"Would you prefer to die?"
"But why should Crowley be the only one who can have fun?" whines one of them.
"Because he's the one with the power now! Besides... I didn't say we can't have a little bit of fun before we bring it to him..."
Castiel hears them laugh, then the first blow comes. Soon enough he falls into the darkness.
Crowley stretches on his throne, pleased with the flinch he causes in at least three of the demons gathered around him.
It felt good to be king again, and if it wasn't for the annoying feeling in the back of his head, caused of course by the influence of human blood that still cursed through his veins, he was sure he wouldn't have been so shocked when two demons entered the room strutting, dragging behind them a very bloody, very swollen Castiel.
He quickly takes control over his facial muscles again, turning his surprised gasp in a pleased smirk.
"Well well well... what do we have here?" He asks, shifting to lean on the right side of his throne.
"My king... we brought you a gift"
Crowley quickly glances at the demon who had spoken. Larry... something. He didn't care to remember their names.
Larry continued, this time with less emphasis... since he obviously hadn't received the reaction he hoped
"The angel Castiel! We thought you would be pleased to kill him yourself... So we brought him here as soon as we found him..."
Crowley scratches his beard
"And did you find him at the bottom of a cliff?"
He sees fear flash in their eyes, and both of them were soon enough launched in a long digression on... something, Crowley had stopped listening. He was too busy observing the angel, on all four on the ground. He knew of course about the fall... so he probably didn't have any powers. But he always put up a fight, even when he was powerless, even if its extent was just a sarcastic remark. Now... all Crowley could see in his eyes - in one of them since the other was too swollen and bloodshot - was... well, nothing. They were dull, disconnected, and if not for the demon who was still clutching at his jumper's collar he would have collapsed faced first. Why was he alone? Why wasn't he with the Winchester? And why was he so worried? He loathed the angel.
Stupid human blood.
Still... it wouldn't have hurt to have some answers.
He raises a finger and Larry stops his blabbering.
"Very well. I'm actually impressed... I will keep everything you just said in mind while thinking about the future of my kingdom" he lies.
Larry seemed pleased, and Crowley smiles. He still got it.
"Now... since we have a guest, I think it's only polite that we show him our best room. Juliet!"
Crowley snaps his fingers, and a low growl raises from behind the throne. Five demons make several steps back.
"Take our guest in our best cell"
Castiel felt slick saliva trickle down his neck once the hellhound let him go with a growl, after it had dragged him in a dark humid room. Having lost his grace, he couldn't see it anymore, but he could still feel it, huffing and grunting next to him.
He waits for it to attack him, laying still on his back, but the beast doesn’t move.
Every inch of his body ached, and his head was pounding painfully. He just hoped the hellhound hurried to finish him.
Castiel recognizes Crowley's voice.
"So... Castiel. What brings you here?"
He tries to open his eyes, only succeeding in part at it. The king of hell was standing right next to him.
"Not talking? You know I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve that would make you change your mind."
Castiel looks up, his breath quickening, despite the fact that he was glad it was almost over the thought of being tortured before being killed affected him, and he could not control the tremors that started shaking his body. Crowley squinted his eyes and Castiel averted his face.
"Are you… Are you scared?"
He doesn’t answer.
"Well, you should have thought about it before running around without Moose and Squirrel! Do you realize in what kind of uncomfortable situation you're putting me into? I will have to kill the guards that I'll put in front of this cell because 'they let you escape', and don't get me started on the paperwork! I swear if those two lumberjacks shoot me after I bring you back to them..."
At those words Dean's "You can't stay" echoes in his mind.
"Just kill me" he croaks, his throat stinging after days without water and in complete silence. Opening his mouth, he tasted blood.
"And have those two dumbasses hunt me down? No thank you!"
"They won't care"
It hurt, saying those words, and not only because with every breath he could feel the ache of all his wounds. Admitting it out loud made it even more real.
"Spare me... you're their favourite pet!" Crowley insists, ready to snap his fingers. Maybe because of the tingling sensation the human blood gave him, the demon couldn't think clear. A year ago he would've already been sticking needles in the angel skull. But he just couldn't bring himself to do it.
Why wasn't the angel even looking at him in the eyes? Why was he shaking? Fair enough, his body seemed a little broken, but he'd been worse and still had the energy to fight back! And what did he mean the boys wouldn't care?
He watches the angel a little closely... he wasn't looking good. And not just because of the beating.
He shakes his head, the sooner he got the angel out of there the faster he could go back to be a real demon
"Listen" he says, spreading his arms, "I have things to do, a kingdom to run, I don't have time to babysit you. Once I zap you outside the bunker you'll have to crawl to your favourite humans by -"
but he couldn't finish the sentence. Castiel had grabbed him by the ankle with a shaky and way too cold for a living creature hand, forcing him to look down, and he didn't like what he saw. Castiel's eyes were sunk deep into his skull
"No... kill me" he pleads.
Crowley had heard those words only from people he'd tortured, people who were so broken and desperate they preferred death to what they would feel if they stayed alive. The apathy he saw in the angel eyes felt wrong, and something inside of him cracks. He was a demon sure, lost souls were what he made a living on. But he was going to help that one. Then he was going to possess a therapist because he needed to know what the hell was wrong with him, he was the king of the crossroad, for crying out loud, he didn't help people he condemned them!
Castiel was still holding his ankle, and Crowley sighs
"Not this time feather."
Then he snaps his fingers, and both of them were gone.
First, he felt the pain. Then the cold. He starts to shake, violently, and that's when he feels something warm and heavy being laid on his body.
Surely death was a lot more painful that he had expected.
Castiel tries to concentrate his sloppy brain on his surroundings. He was lying on something soft; he could see a faint light through his eyelids. His lower lip stung, and he felt a numb ache raging through all his body. His head was still pounding, and so was his left cheek and his right side every time he took a breath.
But if he was breathing... how could he be dead?
"When was the last time you slept?"
Crowley's voice came from his right side, and he forces himself to open his eyes, turning his head towards it. The demon was standing beside him, hands buried in his pockets.
"You were gone for quite some time, at one point I actually thought you were dead"
Castiel starts to shake again and Crowley huffs
"Oh would you stop that! What are you, a dog that chewed on something he shouldn't have? Why are you acting like someone is gonna hit you on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper?"
Cas swallows, and immediately chokes on his saliva, his throat too dry. He pushes himself slightly up, the duvet sliding off his chest, and that's when he realizes that besides his boxer and his socks he was naked. He looks down at the dressings on his two deeper wounds, one of his upper arm and one of his abdomen, eyes travelling his body, blue and green bruises were starting to appear. He turns to the demon
"Don’t get the wrong idea, I had someone patch you up. Playing doctor is not one my fantasies."
Castiel coughs one last time, letting himself fall back against the bed frame. From what he could see they were in a motel room.
"So," Crowley continues "care to explain what is going on? Why can't I dump you on the Winchester?"
Castiel casts his eyes down, biting the inside of his mouth.
"Ok... then let's start with something else. How long have you been wandering, before my demons found you?"
He turns to look at the Demon, confused. How did he know?
"Please... you look like crap. You're dehydrated and your stomach was making the same sound Juliet does when she charges at a damned human"
Almost to prove his point Castiel's stomach growls loudly, churning.
Crowley hums, amused, and when the angel doesn’t answer he continues, pointing with his chin to the nightstand next to the bed
"Drink some water"
Castiel turns his head to the glass of water sitting on it, a red straw sticking out it.
His first reflex is to swallow. But somehow, he couldn't bring himself to pick it up.
"Oh for Hell's sake!" grunted the demon, grabbing the glass and holding it in front of his face. That's when Castiel sees old blood stains on his fingers. His blood.
He raises an eyebrow, looking at the king of hell, that in response raises his shoulders
"A paper cut made you bleed that much?" he asks, his voice strained
"It was a very big piece of paper. Now drink!" Crowley replies, thrusting the straw in his mouth.
Castiel begin to suck, the water stinging as soon as it passed his throat, and he soon realizes he could not stop himself, his body craved water in a way it never did before since he became human. That's why, when Crowley retrieves the hand holding the glass he felt a sudden anger surge in his chest
"Give it back" he growls, raising a shaky arm to try and grab it.
Crowley, takes a step back, eyes not leaving him
"Why? is this some kind of new torture? Give it-" but he couldn’t finish the sentence. His stomach churned and he leaned on his right elbow just in time to avoid vomiting on himself
"That's why" Crowley snapped his fingers and the mess disappeared.
"Seriously wings. What the hell happened?"
"It's none of your business" he breathes out, clenching his fists to try and stop the tremors.
"I mean squirrel wouldn't have let you get this bad... Why are you alone"
Castiel clenches his jaw. Every inch of him hurt, he was cold, and his head was pounding so much his eyesight was effected
"If you're not going to kill me then got to hell"
"Very well" Crowley hummed. He raises one hand, and Cas closes his eyes, ready for all of that to stop, ready to die.
But when he opened them again after a few seconds he was alone. Crowley was gone.
Letting out a breath he didn't know he was holding in he falls back on his side closing his eyes, slowly but gratefully fading into unconsciousness.
It was the cold that woke him up again, the duvet only up to his side, leaving his torso exposed. He felt even worse than before, shaking uncontrollably to his very core. He was cold, but he felt hot, and couldn't tell for how long he'd slept. Then he realizes he had to relieve himself, and the tremors were not helping him hold it in.
Opening his eyes, he pushes himself in a sitting position, putting his feet on the floor and clenching his mouth, hoping the room would stop spinning in all directions soon. Glancing at the bathroom door he got up, but as soon as he took the first step his knees buckled, and he would've found himself on the floor if a hand hadn't sustained him, tucked under his armpit to keep him upright
"Aren't you tired of falling?" Crowley teased, pulling him towards the bed again, but Castiel placed a hand on his shoulder, both to try and stay up and to stop him
"Oh for Hell's sake, just sit" Crowley insists, but Castiel tightens his grip, getting impatient, it was mandatory that he reached the bathroom soon
"No I need..."
"Let's just say that if you don't help me to the bathroom you'll have to clean a different kind of mess" he growled, his voice filled with urgency
He watches Crowley squint at him, then a soft "oh..." escapes his lips.
"Right... you're human now. I forgot".
The demon accompanies him to the bathroom door, stopping at the door
"I'll wait here if you don't mind, let's keep some mystery between us".
Fortunately, the bathroom was so small he always had something to lean on, and once he was out Crowley was waiting for him
"You washed your hands, right?"
Castiel leaned on the door frame, feeling completely drained, not even bothering to respond, but the demon didn’t seem to be waiting for a reply.
"Alright, let's go"
Crowley grabbed his arm again, but instead of taking him to the bed he guided him to a small table near the door, forcing him to sit with a hand on his shoulder. Castiel noticed a bowl, and whatever was in there smelled incredible.
"Now... remember what happened with the water? This time I'm not clean after you. Small bites."
"Why are you doing this?" Castiel asks, eyeing the demon
"Well you're no use to me like this"
Cas squinted his eyes
"I'm never 'of use to you'. I tried to kill you. And I will probably try again if I survive"
"Aww don't make me blush. But you see a future where you try to kill me. I say you're already feeling better"
Castiel tilts his head, and Crowley points at the bowl with his eyes adding
"Eat. Small bites"
Castiel felt too tired to try and wrap his mind around his words, so he just shook his head, regretting it immediately since his ears rang and the room spun. When the walls went back to being straight he took the first spoonful and had to resist the urge to just slurp up whatever kind of soup that was. His hunger angrily presented itself again and his stomach contracted painfully, but he paced himself.
"So... why are you not with the Winchester? Couldn't get to them after the fall?"
"I told you. None of your business"
"I see... then I guess I'll just ask Dean directly"
Castiel drops the spoon, widening his eyes
Crowley raised an eyebrow
"I see... Something happened, hasn't it?"
"I... Dean asked me to leave"
Castiel finally confessed, not sure why.
"I don't know"
Crowley opened and closed his mouth a couple of times before speaking again
"So you're telling me he told you to go and didn't tell you why? No explanation? Nothing? And you didn’t ask?"
Castiel looks up at him briefly. The Demon seemed genuinely confused
"What a dick move" he finally declares. Castiel didn't reply. If he talked, he would've probably agreed. Maybe because he was starting to warm up, maybe because his stomach wasn't trying to eat itself anymore, but his head was clearer, and the anger towards Dean was surfacing again.
Before he could wrap his mind around it Crowley spoke again, getting on his feet with a grunt.
"Well... Goodbye wings"
"Of course. I've got things to do, and I told you, babysitting isn't on the list. Just... stay here. Don't roam around, if one of my Demons drag your ass back to hell again I will have to kill you"
Castiel raises an eyebrow at him
"Why did you help me?"
Crowley avoided his eyes
"I told you. You're no use to me like that. Also you're no fun."
Castiel blinks and he was gone.
The former angel spent the following two days in bed. Somehow, every time he woke up food was sitting on the table, so he just slept and ate, feeling his strength partially return. He didn't know why no one checked the room, but he didn't care enough to investigate.
Then the third morning he opened his eyes only to find Crowley at the foot of his bed
"Crowley" e deadpanned, not bothering to move.
"Wow control you excitement"
Castiel rolled his eyes, and the demon continued, throwing a brown paper bag at him
"Get dressed. We need to go"
"Where?" he asked, sitting up and taking out the clothes one by one but not moving
"Well for a start we need to leave this place. The owner is starting to wonder why every time he comes to the door he forgets why and walks away"
"It was you? And the food... that too?"
"No, it was your fairy godmother" Crowley replies with a small twirl of his head, sarcasm pouring out of his every gesture "now get dressed".
"A... convenience store?" Castiel asks, once they disappeared from the room and reappeared in front of a small store.
"Go in and say you're the new part timer. They're waiting for you" Crowley replied, his hands in his coat's pockets
"Did you hypnotize the owner?" the angel accused
"Well, your resume wasn't really up to date" Crowley rebutted.
"Just... try and stay alive until you get back together with your boyfriend and his moose"
At that Castiel exhaled, closing his eyes
"That... won't happen"
Crowley smiled, sardonically
"Of course it will..."
"Had his reasons... I'm sure"
Castiel tilts his head. That wasn’t what he was going to say.
"Are you... justifying him?"
Crowley turned to look at him
"Absolutely not. You're the last person that deserved that kind of treatment. Even I know that. But he wouldn't have done it if he didn't have a good reason. I'm sure of that, like I'm sure you know it too. Still" he raised one finger "when you run back to him, give him a little hell before letting him walk all over you again. He deserves that much"
"Why are you doing this? Why didn't you just kill me? Why did you help me" Castiel asked again after a moment of silence. He just couldn't understand the Demon's motives.
"I don't know..." Crowley replied, and for the first time in his life, and his death, he was sincere "I just... remember seeing the same look you had in your eyes in other thousands of souls. And it bothered me. Almost all of them deserved the treatment they were about to get. At the end of the day, they did make a deal with a demon. But you didn't. You didn't deserve to feel that... emptiness. You should remember that"
Castiel was taken aback, but before he could answer the sardonic smile was back on the demons face.
"Or maybe is just the human blood. Who knows" he continued, raising his shoulders.
Crowley winked, and in the blink of an eye he was gone.