Taking A Beating
More echoing gunshots outside the room felt like an entirely different world from where he was perched. Cas stared down the silhouette of the soldier that had taken care of them despite his orders, took them to a place to help defend against demons, and now harboured a demon inside him. Fate was cruel.
Castiel's stomach flipped and knotted itself as he stared into the darkened eyes of the captain. He'd seen that look before, the one that watched him like some kind of animal. It was venomous and murderous, and it was after him. Cas slumped back and wished with everything he had that he was somewhere else.
Shimizu used to have such a friendly aura but it was smothered and Cas couldn't tell at a glance if it was still there or if it'd gone away completely. The demon inside him smiled, stretching his face and splitting the skin, like it didn't know the limitations of a human's body. That was the first and only moment Cas missed the ability to throw up, maybe that could have alleviated some of the pressure and ill feelings in his gut.
"Am I the first possession you've seen?" Shimizu asked and it sounded wrong, it brought back memories of the past immediately and how Cas hated being called an angel in the first place. The intruder's steps were slow as he walked closer to Cas' cornered position, shoulders hunched forward and eyes lacking every piece of life that used to be there. The pipe in his hand dripped rhythmically, the source of fluid drying up and slowing down its flow. "Can't be though; your grandpa was worn for a while, wasn't he? And that teacher of yours?"
It couldn't have been a coincidence that random demons knew about that, but Cas chose not to believe that someone else could have told them. He would have confronted that thought a little more if it weren't for Shimizu closing the gap between them. The closer he came the more Cas could see of him, his face twisted in the same sick way Caplan's was almost ten years earlier.
Cas remembered seeing through the veil on his grandfather, a nightmarish Christmas with a demon's mask. Shimizu's face was less and less his own the longer that demon held his body hostage; deformities of his limbs wouldn't be far behind. Whatever might be left of Shimizu inside his own mind, Cas doubted he'd live through this. He'd never been able to sense the host during a possession before, he'd never tried and he wasn't sure he wanted to start now. But part of him had to know. He needed answers; he needed to know if his friend would make it through this.
"You're stalling." Shimizu whispered, enjoying every second of Cas' cowering and savouring it.
Castiel had to know what a mind went through and if there was a way to save someone under that kind of hold. He pushed into Shimizu's mental space, forcing himself to stay level-headed as it pushed back. It was similar to when he'd try to see into Meg's mind, except she was a lot stronger than what he was facing.
The captain opened up to him and Cas reeled when he encountered the putrid sights of what was left. His senses were knocked around immediately by false scents of decay. He knew it was an impossible smell but his brain gave him the sensation regardless. Cas had seen the minds and inner beings of people before, he knew what he should have seen but nothing like that met his gaze inside a possessed host. Cas hadn't known rot like that, he couldn't have prepared himself for the mutilation and mutation of Shimizu's mind. The demon had reached deep into him, leaving partially devoured pieces and corruption in its wake. Internally, spiritually, Shimizu was taken apart and ground down into what Cas would have described as a dark paste, discoloured with a texture beyond anything in his vocabulary and smeared on the walls.
Shimizu was dissolving away under the pressure and poison of this monster inside him, but the captain was still in there. He was struggling and in so much mental agony that Castiel couldn't continue viewing it without feeling sick. Shimizu needed help, but what could Cas possibly do? His senses were the only thing open to him; everything else felt like he'd drain more than his slowly replenishing grace, his entire life's energy would go with it.
The most Castiel could find to do was try and ease Shimizu's pain. He found the source of his new friend's inner self, it was beaten and over half devoured. Cas tried to soothe the parts that burned and lift the diseased soul from its rotten prison. Shimizu didn't recognize his presence, didn't even acknowledge that Cas was there with him; he probably didn't have the ability to do that anymore. Cas' chest felt heavy as he took mental steps away from Shimizu, watching a new friend writhe with nothing more than a comforting energy to offer him.
"I can see you trying to come up with a way to stop me," Shimizu continued after Cas' silence and raised the pipe, directly above him now. Castiel tried to move; he scurried along the wall and took a hit to his back. It was a sick, dull sound and it knocked him to the floor face down. He kept crawling; panic and adrenaline were all he could rely on. It happened so fast; the sudden shock started to fade and left a small ache between his shoulders. His quick healing was already slow, fast enough to keep him in his right mind after that attack but not enough to get him on his feet.
Shimizu laughed disturbingly.
Another dull smack echoed in Cas' ears and left them ringing, that time it'd struck his head, which promptly repeated the sound by cracking into the cement floor. Castiel stopped moving then, his eyes wide open and staring blankly across the room. Nothing registered like it should have.
Cas' body shifted, a vibration on his chest.
Again he was displaced; it was like some kind of compression of his ribs.
Thud. Thud thud.
It was speeding up, the way his torso moved it was almost as if there was a small child jumping on his back.
Then the angle of his head changed abruptly as a loud, echoing ring of metal on concrete deafened his ears. He watched the bloody pipe lift away; it must have just grazed him.
Cas could see the door now. It was bright and blurry until something darkened it. Footsteps and shouting blended together as one sound in Cas' ears. He could have sworn it was Dean's voice, though.
Another set of footsteps joined the mess of sounds, he squinted and wanted to look up but he couldn't find the focus. It sounded like a struggle and he was sure someone was fighting with his attacker but god, he had no idea who. He couldn't think straight; he wanted to know if Dean was okay, he wanted to know if his mom, dad, and Sam were okay. Who was still alive? Was anyone still alive? Were they possessed too?
Something or someone ran up to him, small hands pulled at his shoulders and touched his face. They said his name, he didn't hear it properly but he knew it was his name.
"Cas! Cas!" Over and over. Was that Sam?
Cas closed his eyes and felt nothing.
"He's not getting up!" Sam shouted, kneeling next to his brother, "He's not moving!"
'Goddamn it!' He didn't have time for this. Dean held onto that goddamn pipe for dear life, face to face with the horrific demonized captain that was doing its best to rip off his arms to get its weapon back. Dean had lost contact with the ground several times and all he could really think was that he was glad for Jet's sudden assistance. It was amazing the kind of strength people could have when they didn't care for their own physical health. He was certain Shimizu had torn every muscle in his arms during the scuffles that had taken place already.
"Knock him down!" Dean shouted and Jet immediately went low, an instant alone felt like eternity as Jet brought Shimizu to his knees. Dean didn't hesitate and swung around behind, pulling the pipe against Shimizu's throat. "Sorry about this," he ground his teeth and pulled as hard as he could, choking out the body of a very helpful man.
Jet lifted an empty rifle and struck the soldier in the face with the butt end, and did it repeatedly until the captain slumped in Dean's grasp. Dean saw a level of wrath in Jet that he rarely saw even when they got into fights with Gordon and Kubrick. Hell, he couldn't believe his own anger, either he'd just strangled someone to death or Jet killed a man by bashing his head in. Each option could have been the likely cause, which made Dean feel a little better about it.
"You okay?" Jet gasped the words and Dean nearly missed it, slowly lowering Shimizu's body to the floor.
"Yeah… I think so." Both of their chests were heaving, sweat dripping down their faces. Before Dean could ask his friend the same, Jet lifted the rifle again and beat Shimizu's head a few more times for good measure. It was the only thing Dean heard, he'd immediately held his breath and watched in a weird combination of relieved horror until Jet was finished.
"Are you okay?" Dean asked hesitantly and his friend nodded, dropping the gun and stumbling backward.
"Cas isn't responding," Sam said again, this time quieter. "He's warm, though. So I think he's okay."
"Good," Jet looked out toward the main part of the shelter, "I don't hear much, I'm gonna check it out."
"Alright, I'm coming with you." Dean got up and turned to Sam, "Stay here, watch Cas." He quickly followed after Jet's footsteps; they'd left Cal up to the others. As it turned out, a possessed demon in the body of a veteran was a force to be reckoned with. Dean didn't know the extent of the damage done, but he did know that the only one who managed to stumble inside the shelter sane was his dad. However John wasn't unscathed, he was incapable of lifting a rifle or even keeping his eyes focused. Mary and Nikki stepped up when Shimizu and Cal entered in their less than amiable states of mind; it was Sam's idea to split up the work. Taking on Shimizu was left to Dean and Jet, their moms faced off against Cal.
Dean rushed into the other room and saw his mom standing defensively over his dad, shotgun in hand ready to shoot the unfortunate vet. Meanwhile Nikki was wrestling Cal to keep him away from the kids, it only took seconds to cross the room but Jet joined the fray as soon as he was able.
"Mom!" Dean rushed to her side, "Is dad okay?"
"He's hurt but he'll live," She didn't look away from the fight as she spoke, "How're your brothers?"
"Shimizu hit Cas pretty bad, Sam's with him now."
Mary grit her teeth and handed Dean the shotgun, "Guard your father." She instructed, Dean started to protest but she gave him that look only a mom could give.
"Yes mom." He aimed his weapon and waited; Mary rolled up her sleeves and stalked to where Jet and Nikki were starting to get the upper hand on what used to be Cal. Dean exhaled slowly, steady and prepared to fire. Killing someone hadn't been on his list of things to do that day, Shimizu was easily his or Jet's fault, but Dean would what he had to. It was a demon now, Cal wasn't in there anymore; telling himself this helped.
He watched the scene unfold like a surreal movie experience; Cal was nothing like fighting Shimizu. The captain went down as if part of him was holding back, somewhere inside him he tried to hold on. Cal was gone, all that was left was demonic and it nearly sent Dean into a panic as he remembered his grandfather.
Nikki had been thrown to the ground and Mary was lifted in the air by her throat. Dean's finger twitched on the trigger but didn't pull it; Jet leapt up from behind and hauled Cal to the floor. Mary was dropped but quickly had her feet under her again, going to Jet's aid as the teen was struck in Cal's retaliation. She drop-kicked the demon right in the face, it screeched once and grabbed at her leg – missing, luckily for her. Dean's mouth was dry and his heart rested in his throat, he wanted to just shoot the thing but he couldn't risk getting the others.
Jet was laid out, his nose bleeding and his arms weakly lifting up to touch the sudden and possibly worst head injury he'd ever sustained. Dean's stomach turned, his best friend sprawled on the ground like Meg and John, and very much like Cas. He gripped the shotgun tighter; those goddamn sons of bitches were going to get what was coming to them.
The door behind him slammed open, Dean turned hoping to see Bobby or Karen but instead he stared into the disturbing face of another monster. Its mouth was small but it peeled open, blood dripping from revealed fangs, and a familiar hat. Dean felt nothing but numbness when he saw it, he was sure he'd throw up but nothing came to him, nothing but one reaction. He turned the shotgun and fired, it recoiled and he knew he'd feel it later but in one shot half the creature's head was blown away.
Dean snarled and snapped back to look at the fight his mom and Nikki were facing, ready to shoot this time – but he didn't need to. Across the shelter was a light coming from the storage room just before Castiel wandered through the doorway, Sam right on his heels.
Cas practically drifted along the floor, his eyes were bright but his body language suggested no one was home. It was like he was on auto-pilot, it actually felt eerie to see his light footsteps slide him forward. He caught Cal's next move seamlessly, the veteran's wrist started to sizzle from his touch. Castiel didn't say a word, he twisted Cal's arm around and folded his body like a pretzel. Except unlike a pretzel, Cal's bones snapped and the demon gurgled and shrieked, a sound only a monster could have made since Cal's vocal chords didn't work.
Dean stared in disgusted awe as Castiel melted this man away from anything recognizable, no demon and no human remaining. "Cas?" Dean whispered but Castiel didn't reply. "Cas, can you hear me?" He stepped closer and reached for his boyfriend's still body. Cas' grace zapped back to life, Dean had no idea how but it wasn't like he ever understood how long it should have taken in the first place.
Castiel tilted his head once; angled Dean's way first then to the others around the room. He still said nothing. His entire body glowed brighter, like his skin was made of light itself. His wings re-emerged, this time slowly and with grace, as if the first time was enough for Cas to learn how to do it.
"What happened?" Jet asked wearily, confused and mumbling his words.
"Death," Sam answered shakily. "He walked in, told me who he was and said he'd save Cas."
Sam stared up at the older man, someone he'd heard of through Cas but never imagined he'd see. "Save him how? Why?" He wasn't sure where the strength to speak came from but he managed it.
Death exhaled calmly and looked down at Castiel, "I've been watching him for 16 years, he's strangely likeable, as well as a last hope for this world." He was a being of few words, that much Sam understood from Cas' stories. The horseman raised a hand over Castiel, as far as Sam could see nothing happened but he could feel it. The energy in the room shifted, it felt off and for a moment Sam thought maybe he'd just dreamt the whole thing up.
Except Death was still there as Castiel's skin started to glow, his stance shaky as he stepped back and slumped down against the wall. He looked as though he were sleeping.
Sam looked back at Cas to see his brother's eyes open, body slowly shifting into a sitting position. "Cas?" Sam whispered but the angel didn't reply, eyes fixed on Death's still form across the small room.
"Then he got up," Sam looked at Dean worriedly, "He hasn't said anything yet, I have no idea what Death did."
Dean looked back toward the storage room door, somehow knowing that he'd find the sleeping body of the grim reaper in there sent chills down his spine.
"Cas?" Sam reached hesitantly for his brother's hand but Castiel walked away from him before he could touch.
"Don't do it," Nikki warned him, "Don't touch him, he burned Cal with just skin contact and we don't know if that's just a demon thing." She was kneeling next to Jet, her son's head cradled in her lap.
Mary didn't listen to the warning and stepped in front of Cas' path, she placed her hands on his shoulders with no repercussions visible. "Sweetheart, can you hear us?"
"Please move," Cas whispered, his voice sounded different, like it had new power behind it. "I have to leave." He stepped around her and walked toward the door, past Dean without a noticeable glance. His eyes were too bright to tell if he had looked, but Dean knew Cas was aware of him.
Dean wanted to say something, to tell Cas everything and to stop him but there wasn't anything he could do that would help. "You're going to come back, right?" He asked solemnly, his expression serious and his eyes tearful.
Castiel stopped just outside the door, he turned his head to look over his shoulder and despite his glowing skin Dean could see a small smile on his lips. "I'll do what I can, I promise."
In a flash Cas was gone, Dean was left standing there with a mouthful of words and a single thought left in his mind in Cas' voice;
'I love you too, Dean.'