When Castiel opens his eyes light comes streaming into his face, momentarily blinding him. All he can make out is the silhouette of Dean Winchester towering over him.
“Get up,” comes the brittle command.
Castiel makes no move, trying to remember how and why he’s stuffed into this small space as his eyes blink and notice the darkness around him. The back of his head is throbbing, but before he can piece his thoughts together he feels himself being yanked out of the trunk of the car. The sound of silver rattling pulls at his attention and he notices the Enochian cuffs around his wrists. He lifts his head he comes face to face with the copper muzzle of a rifle. It’s one of Bobby’s weapons, brought back from the Apocalypse World. Filled with angel-killing bullets.
It comes back to him now. The pearl. The spell. Sam and Dean. John. Mary. He feels the ache of cuts on his neck and arms, most likely from the fight back at the Bunker. They don’t seem too serious, but with the cuffs on he can’t heal them.
Dean’s finger lightly grazes the trigger. “Walk.” He nods towards the wooded area behind them.
One careless move on Dean’s part and Castiel will try to stop him with something non-lethal like knocking him unconscious; one wrong move on Castiel’s part, though, and he’ll be dead. Or dead faster than he’s already going to be.
So he walks. The gun digs into the back of his neck as Dean follows behind him. Low-hanging leaves slap against Castiel’s face and branches scratch at his cheeks but he keeps moving and hoping that Mary isn’t also marching to her death with the younger Winchester. He hopes she managed to overpower Sam and recite the undoing spell. Back at the Bunker he had reached for her when she’d fallen down, and it was that moment of taking his eyes off Dean that had lead to the blow on the back of his head.
After walking for about a mile Dean issues another command: “Stop.” He pivots Castiel roughly with a hand on his shoulder and levels an icy glare on him. “You know, I should have killed you back at the Bunker. You come after my brother, you tell me my dad doesn’t belong here--my own father--and then try to brainwash my mom into thinking you’re part of our family?”
“Dean, it’s not--”
A hand slams over his mouth and Castiel finds himself being shoved up against the nearest tree, rough bark scraping against his spine. “But then I realized my dad was right,” Dean goes on, hot breath in his face. “He always is, you know. Creatures like you never learn. I need to send them a warning message. I want them to find you here and know what we do to monsters like you.”
Dean reaches into his pocket and pulls out the keys for the cuffs. For a second Castiel is foolish enough to think the spell is broken, but as soon as Dean tosses them aside he steps back and points the gun towards the ground at their feet. “Dig.”
“Dean, just listen to me--dig what?”
A slow smile snakes up one side of Dean’s face. “Your grave.”
Castiel stares at him, disbelieving.
The gun slants downward and Dean fires. Pain rips up Castiel’s lower left leg and he collapses to the ground, biting back a yelp of agony.
“Dig,” Dean repeats. “Now.”
The dirt gets stuck in clumps under his fingernails; orange and black beetles scurry between the ruptured earth and sharp pieces of rock cut into his fingertips but Castiel digs and digs and tries not to pray. It takes every ounce of control inside him not to think of Jack, not to think Jack I’m so sorry Jack please don’t hate him. If Jack comes here to his rescue Castiel is going to have to watch his son be murdered and he’d rather die a hundred times than witness that. So he focuses his thoughts towards those he knows cannot hear him: Sam. Mary. Dean, even. You mustn’t blame yourself, he thinks as the earth caves under his fingers. You didn’t know it was me.
“Enough,” Dean finally says, kicking his hand aside.
Castiel starts to stand up. It’s a wobbly ascent with the wound in his leg but he manages to get upright by leaning a hand on the tree beside him. “Dean, please, think about it, you don’t--”
Dean cocks the gun. “Kneel.” His voice is rigid, absolute; his green eyes bright as a blade.
Castiel studies Dean carefully. He can see the gleam of an angle blade tucked in the back of his pants and the distinct outline of another inside his jacket. The Winchester is armed to kill a whole horde of angels. If Castiel did manage to knock the gun out of his hand he would still be killed immediately. With his injured leg running away isn’t even an option.
His knees bend slowly. When he hits the ground the wet grass soaks into his pants legs. “Dean.” He looks up, putting all his hope behind that word. “Just listen. You have to believe me.”
The flash of brass knuckles fills his vision before they connect against his cheek violently. The taste of blood floods his mouth.
“Don’t you fucking look at me,” Dean spits. “Scum.”
Castiel bows his head. He’s said everything he could, begged in every language of the heart, and nothing has been able to get through to Dean. This is going to be the end, and the knowledge of that almost takes his breath away. “Dean,” he gasps, keeping his head down. “Wait. One last thing, and it’s not about me. There’s a boy named Jack. You might meet him and not remember him, but he’s just a child.” A sob breaks over his lips. “Please, please don’t hurt him. He’s not human but he’s not evil. He’s your family.”
“Liar.” Dean crouches down and tips Castiel’s chin up with the tip of the gun. “I already have my family right with me, and I’ll get rid of anything and anyone that tries to get between them.”
“I forgive you,” Castiel whispers hoarsely. If Dean gets out from under this spell and realizes what’s he’s done Castiel wants him to remember that, more than anything.
Dean laughs, a sharp, cruel sound. “I thought only God can forgive sins.” His finger moves to the trigger. “Not that I want His mercy anyways.”
Castiel shuts his eyes. He doesn’t want the bitter disgust in Dean’s eyes to be the last thing he sees. He thinks of Jack, of the boy’s young soft smile, and prays. Jack. I’m sorry. I love you so much.
A heavy sound echoes through the woods, but it’s not a gunshot. Castiel opens his eyes to see the tall blurry form of Sam at the side. He's pinning a shouting Dean to the ground and reciting a string of words.
The undoing spell.
Then there’s movement to his left and before he can turn around Mary is kneeling in front of Castiel, her hands grazing over his leg and then the lump of her jacket presses over the gushing wound.
“Cas? Cas, oh my god, are you alright?”
“Mary.” He gazes into her eyes, bright with worry and not a trace of hate. “Mary.” His lungs finally release a breath of air and he leans forward and buries his face in her shoulder.
Mary gathers him into her arms. “I’m here. I'm here,” she repeats, rocking slightly back and forth. “It’s over.” She keeps her arms tightly wrapped around him, a promise to never let go.