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A single bar of red-orange sunlight slants through the heavy curtains, splashing the floor just beyond his bare feet. He’s fascinated by the motes of dust caught in the beam; if he relaxes his gaze just a bit he almost can imagine he’s on the edge of some vast nebula, deep in space, one with the stars and a part of the universe once again.


Cas’s head falls back onto the pile of pillows behind him; instead of the dust in the air he stares at the rough-hewn beams of the roof of his cabin. He knows every whorl in the bark, every knot, every slash made by an axe in days gone by. He spends a lot of time lost in nothingness, and memorizing the beams is as good a way to pass the time as any. He doesn’t want to remember the stars, the feeling of being even a small piece of something bigger than himself. It’s easier to forget.

The pillows scratch at the bare skin of his back, but they hold his body as if they know him. And they do; he rarely sleeps in his bed. He reserves his bed for other things. But that’s another thing it’s easier to forget, so he pushes it out of his mind. He’s gotten fairly good at forgetting.

There’s a twinge in his back, near his shoulder blades, and he flexes his wings. Only he doesn’t have wings anymore, so the ache remains. Phantom pain in phantom limbs. He can almost hear the whisper of feathers.

He must have slipped into sleep, because he starts awake when the cabin door slams closed. “Hello Dean,” he says, not opening his eyes. No one else visits, not without an invitation. He knows they murmur about him, wondering what to make of the almost angel who is nearly always high. They don’t know he’s just trying to erase the memories, to figure out how to fit into this small body, this tight skin.

“The Croats are getting closer,” Dean says, not bothering with a greeting.

Cas flutters a hand at him, eyes still closed. “You’ll figure something out. You always do.”

Dean slams his fists down on the small table Cas used to sit at to write or draw. He doesn’t even eat there anymore. The floor is better.

“Don’t you care about anything?” Dean’s voice is harsh, sandpaper rubbing his ears raw.

Cas doesn’t flinch. “I try not to.” He finally opens his eyes, sees Dean glaring down at him. “You should try it sometime. Trust me, everything is easier this way.”

And then Dean is on top of him, straddling his hips, fingers digging into the tender flesh of his upper arms. There’s a gleam in his eyes, frustration and lust and anger muddled together.

Cas raises an eyebrow. “Here? On the floor?”

A growl rises in Dean’s throat. “I don’t know what happened to you. You used to be something. Now you’re just an empty shell.”

This is the only time I feel anything at all, Cas does not say. And it is more painful than anything I’ve ever felt, more painful than my grace leaching from by body, more painful than my wings being torn away. To almost have the only thing I ever wanted, to have you above me, inside me, but with no hint of love in your eyes… There could be no greater punishment. No greater pain.

Instead he says, “I used to follow heaven’s orders. Now I follow yours. Tell me what you want, Dean.”

Dean doesn’t speak, just grimaces, at war within himself. Then he crushes their mouths together, biting Cas’s lip so hard it nearly draws blood. Cas moans, full of anguish and pleasure and pain. He opens himself to Dean, gives him what he wants but cannot ask for. He is clay in the hands of the potter.

He follows Dean’s orders.

Later, on the bed, with Dean snoring softly beside him, Cas stares at the beam of moonlight that splits the cabin in two. He does not think about moonlight gleaming on feathers, does not think about soaring through the clouds, tiny drops of water peppering his wings. He thinks instead about the bruises on his arms, the heaviness of his body, the ache behind his eyes, the sounds of restless sleep that will slip away before sunrise.