Dying didn't hurt the way Castiel had expected. It wasn't pleasant, of course, but for something humans spent their entire lives worrying about he had imagined it to be a lot worse. Perhaps it was because Raphael had obliterated him; one second he was there and the next he just wasn't. It was a difficult thing to process, even for an angel, to realize you simply didn't exist anymore. Of course, that led to the interesting question of how a supposedly non-existent Castiel was thinking about anything at all.
"You're going to sleep the whole day away, Castiel." His eyes snapped open, the bright light nearly blinding him as he jumped to his feet. No longer was he in Chuck's house, about to face an archangel, but instead, he found himself back in the Green Room. He spun around to find someone lounging on one of the couches. Castiel knew he had to be an angel but he couldn't immediately tell who. The angel locked eyes with him, a tiny smile on his lips, and it suddenly clicked which of his brothers it was.
"Michael?" Castiel asked confused.
"I was worried you might not recognize me, given your…condition." Michael's eyes racked up and down Castiel's form, lips twisted down in mild disappointment.
"Condition?" Castiel questioned. He looked down at his hands – his vessel's skin showed no signs of the damage it had received at the hands of Raphael's wrath. "What…what's going on?"
"It seems whoever glued you back together missed a few pieces." Michael answered. Castiel simply stared at him blankly. Michael sighed and shook his head at his little brother. "You're human, Castiel."
"Unfortunate, I know."
"That's not possible."
"Evidently, it is."
"But I didn't…You can't just lose your grace," Castiel insisted. "You have to cut it out, or die, it doesn't-"
"You did die," Michael interrupted. "It was rather messy too; the Winchester's found you splattered around the prophet's walls."
"Sam and Dean are they…"
"Intact? For now yes, though I don't know how long they'll remain like that with Lucifer running around."
"So we failed."
"Don't look at it like that. Really, there was no way you were ever going to succeed." Michael rose to his feet and stretched. Castiel looked at Michael's vessel. It certainly wasn't Dean's; the only person who was supposed to contain Michael's grace.
"John Winchester," he offered as an explanation, sweeping a hand up his chest as if admiring his vessel's fine craftsmanship. "I need a temporary vessel while I wait for Dean. John didn't mind, not after his unit got caught up in a hail of gunfire. Vietnam wasn't quite the easy battle he had been hoping for, though, technically he had wandered into Laos at that point."
"I don't understand," Castiel said.
"Laos is a country next to-"
"No, not that," Castiel snapped but lowered his voice at the harsh look Michael sent him. "I don't understand why I'm here, why I'm…"
"You're here because you've made a series of bad choice, you've disobeyed orders, and you've sided with the Winchesters to try to stop a battle we've been waiting for since before they discovered the wheel."
"Millions will die during your war."
"Millions die every single day; you're missing the big picture." Michael kept his cool even while confronted with Castiel's continued insubordination, his eyes stony despite the calm façade he tried to mimic. "As to how you're standing here today, I can admit, I have absolutely no idea. Raphael is certain that there should be no possible chance that you were able to walk away from your little encounter. God, Lucifer, reapers, whoever or whatever brought you back, it doesn't really matter. All that matters is that I have a use for you."
"What could you possible want with me?"
"Let's just say I have certain back up plans in case Sam and Dean need convincing when it comes to playing their part."
"You can't use me against them," Castiel scoffed.
"Perhaps," Michael leaned against the table next to Castiel and crossed his arms over his chest. "Perhaps they won't be willing to give up anything for one fallen angel but you're simply one pawn on an entire chessboard."
Castiel flinched at the word fallen and turned away from his brother. He eyed the paintings that covered the walls of a room that, not long ago, he had used to lock Dean up in and thought bitterly that the tables had certainly turned. His gaze fell upon the portrait of Michael defeating the dragon; it reminded Castiel that the archangel would gladly step on any of his brothers in pursuit of his mission. "So I'm just supposed to be imprisoned here until you find a use for me?"
"I think most prisoners don't have the luxuries you have here." Michael grabbed Castiel's shoulder and forced him to turn around. "Youshould be thanking me. If I hadn't brought you here, all of heaven and hell would have been after you."
"You'll forgive me if I don't show my gratitude."
Michael smiled at him, though Castiel wasn't foolish enough to think that Michael was being anything but patronizing. "I'll be seeing you soon."
Michael disappeared, off to fight the war he'd started, leaving Castiel alone to try and grasp his new situation.
Being human was harder than Castiel had thought. It was as though he were living under a whole new schedule – he had to remember to sleep, had to remember to eat and even just knowing the difference between being sick and being hungry was a difficult task. Logistically, he knew the human body needed seven to nine hours of sleep, but he was often too high strung to remember and even when he did, the experience of actually falling asleep was absolutely terrifying. He'd begin to drift off and jolt awake as his mind fended off what was happening; he'd wake up gasping for air not sure what was the nightmare and what was the waking world.
Some days, Castiel just collapsed from exhaustion.
Food would come a few times a day. Sometimes, it was just suddenly there when Castiel turned around, other times, angels brought it, all the while keeping their eyes to the ground and ignoring Castiel completely. He didn't eat the first day, but the next morning, he hesitantly sipped at the soup he was left and promptly burnt his tongue. The feeling was unpleasant enough that he ignored all the other plates of food for the next few days. Eventually, though, he couldn't ignore the pain in his stomach and he finally broke down and ate. But it turned out the human body didn't just have an on-off for hunger and by the time Castiel's body told him to stop eating he had consumed far more than he should have.
He didn't eat anything for the next two days. The very idea of eating made his stomach turn with the memory of the pain he had felt the last time he ate. Apparently, he was so ill adept of caring for himself that Michael decided to make an appearance.
"You need to eat," Michael said, appearing in front of Castiel with a plate full of noodles. "Here, they're from Florence."
"I'm not hungry," Castiel mumbled. Michael ignored him and dropped the plate down on the table. It clattered and sent a few of the noodle tumbling over the side, leaving a trail of sauce behind. The angel stabbed a fork into the centre of the heap and pushed it towardsCastiel expectantly. "I said no."
"Castiel," Michael sighed.
"I don't like this."
"How would you know? You've never even had it." Castiel didn't reply. He fixed his gaze on the tiles by his feet and crossed his arms over his chest. Michael frowned and he picked up the fork and held it up like a parent trying to feed a stubborn child. "You need to eat."
"I'm not hungry," he repeated.
"Fine," Michael snapped. He stuck the fork back in to the noodles and picked up the plate. "Starve for all I care."
Castiel knocked the plate over but Michael had already flown off again.
Castiel had no concept of days in the Green Room. It was always bright and there were no windows for him to chart the sun's movements. He had no idea if he'd been there a few weeks or a few months but he'd long given up any hope that he was going to be released. With nothing but his own increasingly fractured mind to keep him occupied all those days, Castiel was sure he would go insane any day.
"I can't be wasting my time trying to keep you alive." Castiel didn't even bother to turn and look at Michael, he just gripped the tiny pillow he was holding and stared stubbornly ahead.
"Leave me alone."
"Oh, is that any way to treat your host?" Castiel could hear the mirth in Michael's voice, but it only infuriated Castiel more. "Humanity doesn't seem to be treating you well."
"They should have just left me dead."
"So morbid, little one," Michael chastised. He stood next to the couch and Castiel finally glanced up at him.
"Brother," Castiel whispered pathetically. "Please, I can't stand this."
"I'm afraid I can't let you go until I'm done with you," Michael said with something close to, but not quite. sympathy.
"Just not here," Castiel clarified and sat up. "This place is driving me mad."
"There isn't anywhere else to put you." Michael shook his head. "No one but me will tolerate you."
"Please," Castiel tried again. Michael rolled his eyes and turned, Castiel quickly reached out and grabbed him. "Michael-"Castiel was thrown back, hitting the couch and knocking it down so that they both tumbled over. Dazedly, Castiel rose to his feet and clutched his head, at first thinking that Michael had been the one to toss him aside but he found that Michael looked just as confused as he was.
"Did you do that?" Castiel asked even though he already knew he hadn't.
"That's not possible," Michael said more to himself then to Castiel. He looked up to the ceiling as the whole room began to shake. "No one else knows about this place."
Michael walked towards the door, steps slow and calm even as the table suddenly flew across the room. It was almost as though an earthquake was tearing the room apart but Castiel knew there were only a handful of creatures capable of breaking through the Green Room's defences and with a sick feeling he realized who was the most likely canadate.
"What's going on?!" Castiel shouted. The walls shook harder and harder, statues fell and crumbled while the paintings were ripped from their hooks. Castiel instinctively went to Michael's side. The angel stood still with his lips turned in a sneer.
"Dammit," he bit out, fists clenched at his side.
"Michael! What's happening?" Castiel grabbed his brother's arm but the angel just pushed him away, sending him tumbling to the ground. Castiel cried out as his elbow slammed against the stone tile and the broken bits of the statues tore into his skin.
"This is too soon." Michael's voice was barely a whisper and Castiel strained to hear it. "What is he thinking?"
"What's too soon?" Castiel tried asking again, though he had given up hope of Michael ever answering. He pushed himself up and cradled his injured arm, pulling out a particularly large shard from his skin. Michael shot him a sideways look, eyes tinged with the blue white of his grace that grew brighter and brighter until it began to burn just to look at him. Castiel threw an arm up to shield his eyes and then the ringing started, whoever was on the other side of those walls was speaking in a way that Castiel couldn't understand anymore.Castiel ducked down to the ground, attempting to block out both the overwhelming noise and painful light and failing miserable. He heard a loud crack; their attacker had broken through whatever barrier Michael had put up.
Thankfully, that was when he passed out.