Cross To Bear

Take Care of Them

The skies had darkened since that morning; clouds overhead were normal but not the kind that Cas was seeing. The world below him was shrouded and ahead of him was starting to look like more of a haze. He wasn't used to flying, he wasn't used to his wings but luckily enough the ability seemed to come to him like all the others. Healing people by accident, healing himself, glowing eyes and losing sleep, all of it just came to him whether he wanted it or not. Every now and then he faltered; he'd get confused and wind up flapping ridiculously through the air until he levelled out again.

It felt good to be in the skies, though. It was a freedom he'd sought for so long without really knowing it. All those minutes turned to hours staring out a window, up at the free air high above him made so much sense now. And what a difference it was, being on the ground with no responsibility but wishing you could be up there. Compared to what he had now, it sounded like a daydream. He could fly but the weight on his shoulders altered him.

How much would he change? When this knowledge Death spoke of developed in him, what would it do? An angel would have knowledge of the world, of the universe, of beings that he previously knew nothing about; would he still be the same? Or would those things have to come with time and the only knowledge he'd receive would be of his own physical body, the ability to control it and all the powers he'd have? How much responsibility did an angel have?

Cas shook the thoughts from his head and angled down toward the ground, he was closing in on the school. From above it was a horrific sight; the ground was caved in, the school partially crushed with walls and chunks of roof missing in several areas. But the worst part was the wash of red he could see. The demons painted the yard with bodies, bodies of students, teachers, and passers-by. It was a massacre and he felt like he wanted to throw up, but this was the perfect place to find the grim reaper.

The area was quieter now; demons had taken off – probably because their prey wasn't hanging around. Cas landed and took in the carnage, just looked at it and let his heart sink with it. He wanted to save them. He wanted to resurrect them like he had Dean, to get them to walk again like Nikki. And why couldn't he? This disaster didn't have to stay the way it was, he didn't need to leave them.

As he reached for someone a familiar hand caught his arm, "Don't do it." Meg was standing next to him now; he was almost too scared to look at her face. She had a much stronger presence than he remembered, she wasn't hiding anymore.

"Why not?" He asked angrily, still looking at the turned over corpse but not moving any closer to it. He was close to healing them, fixing them and his mistake. They wouldn't be dead if he hadn't been there…

"Death wouldn't appreciate it." Meg walked around him and wandered aimlessly in his vicinity. "He's a busy guy, and when you mess up his work it takes him longer to finish. I mean, you healed Dean a few times already I can imagine he isn't too happy with you."

Cas frowned and glanced down at the person in front of him, maybe that was why he couldn't see Death anywhere. Was he not planning to help? Over something Cas knew so little about? No, that couldn't be it. But maybe he wouldn't need Death.

"Meg…" Cas lifted his head to look at her, from behind he could see the shape she should've had mixed in with her human form. She could hold herself as a human girl but that wasn't what she was. "Why? Why have you been around me all this time?"

"Can't I just like hanging out with you?" She mused coyly.

"You know what I mean. Demons are trying to catch me but you…" He trailed off, what had she done? She saved him and Dean, gave him the distraction they needed to run. She stood up for him against her own kind. The situation was difficult enough to understand without someone switching sides part way through.

"Don't seem to fit the same bill, do I?" She smirked and he nodded.

"What are you here to do?"

"My mission was to find you," Meg sighed and sat on a half destroyed table in the front of the school. "My family was part of the remaining demons on Earth, when it all sealed up one day. There had been an angel sighting in this town just before it all happened so we stationed ourselves here. Several demons took up different jobs, took over different hosts in the hopes we'd find what that angel left – theory was that heaven had a new fledgling."

Castiel rose to his feet and turned to face her, "You didn't attack me in the end, are you… on my side?" He was hopeful and her expression didn't make him feel any differently.

"You're the only one who can open heaven and hell…" Meg was looking down, her eyes on the ground and the scattered limbs of people she might've known. "And at the moment… you're the only one who can redeem a soul."

Cas stopped his train of thought right then and there, she gazed up at him in silence and for the first time he understood her. She was ordered to find him and drag him with her to open the gates but she didn't want that. "How long have you felt this way?"

"I didn't know it was you at first, I just thought you were some dumb guy and the normal girl thing to do was try and go out with you or something. Bela and Lisa liked Jet and Dean so obviously you were the leftovers for me." She rolled her eyes and laughed at it, "Stupid, that's what it is. Like it's the only thing I can do as a girl to fit in, I have to like a guy and try to date him and I can't be pushy about it… it's complicated, especially if that boy turns out to be the angel you were looking for."

"Sounds rough."

She grinned; he knew if she'd been right next to him he would've received a punch to the shoulder or something similar. "Yeah, I guess. Your situation hasn't been too easy, has it?" Meg paused and made eye contact with him, "You came here to ask something, didn't you?"

"I was looking for Death," he realized how it sounded the moment it left his lips so he quickly added; "the horseman."

"I know who," Meg laughed at him, it felt natural but their surroundings made him ill. Maybe it suited her once but the Meg he knew didn't look right laughing among corpses. "Like I said, he's been busy, what do you need to know?"

Her words and the way she said it made him think twice about where Death might've gone. The grim reaper wasn't around, though Cas didn't always see him he expected Death to at least be at a massacre. Maybe the demons were keeping him away.

"How do I get to Purgatory?" Castiel decidedly didn't doubt her, whatever her reasons for being there in the start weren't part of her anymore. Whatever reason Death couldn't show up wasn't in her agenda, she just knew about it. She'd saved him and Dean, and that was all he needed to worry about.

"Why?" She raised an eyebrow at him, her eyes skeptically glancing him over.

"That's where they took Dean." He felt his heart break a little more as he said it. "I don't know what they want from me; they assume I have this angel thing down…"

"Well you did manage to kill the biggest guy we had on the surface." She joked a little but Cas didn't offer a smile for it. "My guess is that they knew they couldn't drag you to hell's gate so they'd have to force you to do it on your own."

Cas squinted at her, "Why haven't the demons unsealed hell already? Shouldn't you guys be able to do it?"

"We thought so too but it has to be an angel, and not a fallen one. Your Daddy really pulled a number on us; we thought we had Him for sure." She stood up again and walked up to him, "Getting into Purgatory is the easy part. Demons can get you inside from here but as far as I know there are only two ways to get out;" she lifted her index finger closer to her face, "the first is with the help of a reaper."

"A reaper? You mean Death?"

She shrugged, "Sort of. Death is the reaper but he has others that work for him. Kind of like angels follow God, or demons follow Lucifer; reapers follow Death."

"I think I get it, and what's the second way?"

"Through Hell." Meg's smile helped him understand a little better how the slaughter around them suited her. "There's a backdoor into the deepest level of Hell. Once you cross that threshold you unseal it, but then you have to make it out of there, all the way up."

Castiel sighed heavily and tried to prepare himself, "I need to do it." He ignored the voice in his head not to. It told him to unseal Heaven first, that the smartest move was to get the angels before waking the rest of the demons. But he couldn't do it that way; they'd kill Dean before anyone could reach him.

Meg bit the inside of her cheek; her expression was disapproving at best. "Cas, you know that if you do this you might die." She didn't want him to go, she didn't want to lose him but he couldn't do what she wanted, not that time.

"I have to, if I don't do it now then Dean's going to be-"his tongue stopped working and his chest ached instantly. He did his best not to pay attention to the memory of a bloody Christmas. "It doesn't matter. Dean's going to live, I'll save him."

"Okay then…" She walked around in front of him and lifted her hand, "I'll open it for you but I'm not coming with you."

Castiel smiled and touched her arm gently, "I was actually going to ask you a favour."

Meg's eyes lit up and she blinked at him curiously, "What the hell for?"

"Could you please look after my family while I'm away? I know things will get crazy, I'm sure I don't even understand it yet myself, but I'd really appreciate it."

The simple act of trusting her with that task nearly brought a tear to her eyes. Cas could sense her for the first time; she wavered in that brick wall that blocked him from her mentally. It meant a great deal to her that he'd even think to say it, let alone actually asking her.

"Yeah," she shrugged it off, her barrier back up. "They're probably with Jet so I wouldn't worry. That guy rode a demon to chase down another demon, just to save Sam."

Cas paused and stared at her, "Is that how he got up so high?"

"Yep." She laughed, a short sound that came off a little awkward. He stepped forward and hugged her; she froze up in his arms.

"I'll be okay," he didn't know if that was a lie or not, but he meant to be alright at the end of it all. "You'll be okay, too."

Meg hugged him back and dropped her head against his shoulder, "Just get out of here, you idiot." She smiled and shoved him backward.

Cas thought he'd touch ground but he didn't. She and the world around him vanished in a rushing noise, like an underwater current that just swept him away.

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