Violence and New Wings
If there was one certain thing that Hell placed in Castiel it was the feeling and realization of how small he was. He felt insignificant in all the mess and gore he'd seen, he was unable to heal anyone, unable to save them. He remembered what Meg had said, how she wanted to be redeemed and that made him think she expected him to be able to do it. He wondered if she knew how, that if she could show him would he be able to save the people trapped inside Hell's many levels?
The hall continued on for ages, Castiel could hear the roars of monsters that started to get the picture that an angel was flying through. Their orders couldn't be clearer; stop the angel. Cas would make it back to Earth, part of him was certain that a door to Heaven was open somewhere along the way but he couldn't be sure where. Regardless though, if he did make it to Earth he'd be able to reach Heaven. The demons would be trying to thwart him and stop him from unsealing the gates. It wasn't going to be easy and he knew better than to drag Dean through it with him. Of course, that didn't seem to stop him, did it?
Behind him he heard a thunderous sound, something was following him. Creatures burst through the walls and just barely missed him as he soared into the next open space. Cas had to take immediate action as guardians of that area lunged for him. Enormous mouths opened and shut just barely missing him; he curled his wings in and dove between the demons that moved in closer. He felt his feathers graze the side of a particularly gruesome predator; slime from its skin burned him. It soaked through to the skin underneath, the pain dissipated quickly but it left him with the very real idea that these things could do serious damage to him.
Cas pulled Dean in closer and picked up as much speed as he could, when his life was in danger he was always surprised at the amount of extra strength he'd pull out of himself. His body glowed lightly and his wings shone with every forced move. They cut through the air and past demons like a bullet. Cas only briefly wondered how he was able to control himself, how his reflexes were somehow fast enough to make the manoeuvres possible. But that was a passing thought, he didn't have the time to sit and contemplate his weirdly growing abilities.
Below him he knew people were suffering, above people were suffering, and all around him people were dying for eternity. They lived through their worst fears, the worst pain, and all for being created that way.
Castiel glanced back at a demon that was gaining on him, it was fast and it meant business. "You aren't getting away, angel!" Its voice wasn't like anything Cas had ever heard before, in fact those didn't even seem like words he knew and yet he understood them.
"Try and stop me, asshat!" Cas shouted back, and turned his palm back toward the demon reaching for his legs. Nothing went through his mind as the light pooling all around his body poured into one single point; it sparked around his hand like lightning. Images from video games and movies came to mind and he launched the energy from his palm. It exited from his fingertips first, spiking and sizzling through his blood until a thunderous clap echoed and Castiel saw the monster with a hole in its head. It crashed to the ground and he turned away, that was the most he wanted to see of it.
The room ended just ahead of him, he felt Dean's fingers digging into his skin, his brother's face buried against him and pressing hard. Castiel kept the protective barrier around Dean but limited it to Dean's body. If he created it too big he'd lose energy and as proven by the last few seconds, he'd probably need as much as he could get.
"I've got you, Dean." He uttered with a reassuring squeeze. It didn't seem to make a difference in Dean's mind, terror still overwhelmed him and it was almost like he hadn't heard a word Cas said.
He wished he had time to comfort Dean more but he couldn't. Castiel abruptly changed his direction and swung around the room, his body close to the wall. Another demon in pursuit couldn't switch gears quite as fast and crashed into the wall before scrambling after them. Cas glanced back at its horrendously long arms, a jaw that hung too low and torso skeletally thin just before bloating into some kind of bulbous back end. He didn't want to look at it any more than that, its hands stretched out for him and he turned away, feeling the narrow miss as a breeze on his back.
Cas circled the room once, passing by the doorway they'd entered from. In that time he looked around the area, the space separated into three different tiers. The more he looked the more he realized that time and space was different where they were. From his position at the edge of the room he could see the different levels clearly but they couldn't possibly be so small. Was he just moving that fast when he passed through them? In the center of the room a desert took over the first tier, fire rained down from above and there were people littering the sand. They were tiny, Cas realized better from where he was. There was no way he could see details but somehow he knew where each person stood. Was that part of an angel? Or was Hell messing with his perceptions?
The center tier was surrounded by horrible plants, the first fly through Cas thought he'd seen a face on one but he wasn't paying enough attention to know for sure. And on the outskirts, the third tier was like a river, a boiling red river that Cas didn't want to have anything to do with. People were falling into it, being thrown into it and they were boiled alive.
He angled away from the edge of that level as another demon burst through the wall. It just missed him like they'd all been doing, Cas started to believe that maybe he was just barely fast enough or that moment they needed to grab him slowed them down a little too much. Either way it resulted in the same, his heart pounding and his mind terrified.
As he flew over the first tier he watched it stretch out before him, he hadn't paid attention to the previous levels but he was certain that they must've been similar. It was why he felt slower than he was, why he thought it was taking longer than it should have. Perceptions were lied to over the punishment levels; life was meant to appear faster or slower depending on what you'd done.
Another sweeping glance of his immediate surroundings he noticed something coming from the passage he'd entered from. Demons were swarming up from below, they poured out of the hall, some flying and some just crawling. But while he thought they'd go straight for him they didn't, in fact they passed by and went up the wall to a ledge above them.
That was the exit, that was the next way out and Cas would be damned if he just circled around and waited for it to be clear. He had to get Dean out of there, he had to get home and make sure everyone was safe.
"We're going up, Dean." He explained before launching into the stream. His eyes were like fire and his touch enough to disintegrate. The Hell-spawn screeched and pulled away from him, he wasn't going to let them stop him. He was scared but that wouldn't get in his way. Some of the stronger demons were able to grab at his limbs, one smacked his wing and he tumbled.
It happened so fast, like the snap of someone's fingers and he was falling. Cas' breath caught in his throat – wait, had he even been breathing lately? In fact, was his heartbeat necessary? Did angels have those?
Cas spread his wings again and curved up, gaining speed as he went and blasted through the hordes. An opening ahead of him made by his own hand, he took it and flung himself into the next level. It was like a tunnel of wind in there, he could hear the howling of people, monsters, and those somewhere caught between being both. His heart wrenched inside his chest and his mouth tasted like vomit. How long had they already been down there? Time didn't pass right. Dean didn't seem aged by any of it, yet he hadn't moved much recently.
They were going too fast for Dean to be able to lift his head. The only thing keeping him conscious was Cas' barrier around him; Dean couldn't muster up the energy to speak. He was scared out of his mind and Castiel didn't blame him. Each time it occurred to him that Dean was suffering he didn't fault that fear, he never looked at Dean for being any less than what he always was. He was sure that his brother was crying, his shirt felt wet – but then he could have also been sweating from exertion and heat.
Things were too messy in his head, making sense of the situations he found himself in weren't part of his options. It was just a sense of dread as he pushed himself further and nothing made sense anymore. Dean wasn't going to make it. He told himself that and he hated himself for it. Dean would die in there because of him. If he'd gone back, listened to Death and chose Heaven first Dean might've made it, wouldn't he? Cas didn't know, he didn't know but what he knew and what he could do were the same. Get Dean out alive. Get himself out alive, those were the only options. He had no more opportunities to just stop and think. Castiel felt reality bearing down on him, something stirred inside his mind and core until it buzzed with life. It was something he couldn't hold back, much like his wings he had no choice but to just feel the oddity that it was.
He crashed through so many demons and saw more of them ahead. It was a flying river with a single lightning bug zapping its way through. Castiel prayed he wouldn't drown as he let go.
And just like that he felt a spark inside him; the light that shone through his eyes grew and encapsulated them both. It was too bright for Dean, that much Castiel was aware of.
His body felt different and for a few seconds he thought he was detached. He could see what his body was doing but he felt like control was beyond him. He sped up; he was moving faster than before and faster than he thought he could. Cas worried about Dean but his brother's life didn't waver, it remained constant as if Dean was unaware of the sudden change of pace.
More or less anyway, he did react a little bit but Cas was pretty sure it wasn't about their speed. Dean's heart rate increased and his thoughts confused. Castiel made a note to address it later, at that moment he was busy getting them out of there.
Castiel felt as though he watched himself react, watching how he dove out of the way of larger creatures and burst through the passage way to the next and hopefully last space. He watched as his arm swung out and smacked aside a few demons to make way for them.
But wait. That couldn't be right; one swing of his arm swatted several demons?
Castiel furrowed his brow and looked down at himself, at where Dean was supposed to be. His body was different. He could see down but he could also see ahead, and behind him at the same time if he wanted to.
He had more than one head. Cas' eyes widened, all of them widened as he came to realize just what had happened to him. Meg mentioned she could see his real face, she could see something in him once – was this it? He had a different form just like she did; he had an angelic body just like the demonic.
Dean was scared out of his mind, Cas finally noticed. Dean had seen the change in him, had felt the shift in Cas' body size. But how big was he? Where was Dean? Castiel lifted his arm a little to follow where he'd been concentrating the protective barrier. Dean was tucked neatly in his hand, protected and safe, the perfect size to fit comfortably for Cas to hold him close. It was so odd to see those hands holding Dean that way, they were so large and not nearly the same shape he was used to. They were hands but they were still different.
Castiel felt the connection to his body again the more he realized how different it was. There were more than just the two wings on his back, he wasn't entirely sure how many he'd gained but certainly there were more than two. He could feel the different heads, he could feel his own facial muscles and he wanted to know what he looked like. He wanted to see a mirror at the earliest convenience because while he was sure it was cool as hell, it was probably terrifying to look at.
He took up more space than before and each stroke of his wing pushed him further. He covered nearly 10 times the distance he had moments ago and that was the best result he could have asked for. Demons barrelled out of his way, those that didn't were smitten and all but exploded. The weaker evaporated when they came too close to him and if the stronger didn't move aside, or even lunged after him, Castiel took care of them.
The wisdom and mind of an angel hadn't come to him yet. He didn't know secrets of the universe like he figured other angels did, but he was at least starting to figure himself out. The knowledge of what to do came to him faster, rather than fight with himself over how to heal someone he could just do it. His world opened up inside him, opening his mind to what he was and something new would come to him, one thing after another. How to create a barrier to keep Dean safe, making it smaller and more efficient, concentrating energy into one point and even being able to smite from whatever form he was in. It wasn't enough to be good at fighting but as far as survival went Cas could make due.