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Title: Worth the Pain
Author: trickylady
Artist: sphinx_face
Genre: AU - canon, H/C, whump, pre-slash.
Characters, Pairing(s): Sam/Cas, Dean, Zachariah.
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 2098
Warnings: angelic violence, spoilers probably.
A/N: I'd like to thank my betas - rock_chick_333, nicole_sill, verucasalt123 & kimberlelly.
Summary: It took five actions for Sam to finally understand Castiel.



One

Castiel is sitting at the foot of Dean’s bed, but his mind is always preoccupied with someone else. It’s not because he feels more comfortable with Dean, can tell him more of what he’s feeling, that he spends so little time by Sam’s side.

Dean is someone Castiel remade with his own grace; he was, and still is, Castiel’s responsibility. He was a burden that Castiel used to regret taking on, but that he’s since grown to care for and feel protective of. When it comes down to the truth of it all though, the reality behind their friendship, Dean was just a daily task Castiel had to check off his growing list.

Sam, however, is something else entirely.

Castiel had no need to interact with Sam, wasn’t required to tell Heaven about any and all threats to Sam’s life, and certainly didn’t need to risk his vessel’s safety or his grace to ensure Sam continued to live.

But since Dean is an unruly charge, and loves Sam very much, Castiel was forced to expand his role as a protector to include Sam’s wellbeing.

---

Castiel looks over at Sam, his arm thrown over his eyes, his mouth slightly parted, his tongue darting out to wet his lips, and Castiel feels a tug at something deep inside of him. His vessel’s always felt a bit inadequate, too small to fit comfortably. But this sensation, this burning, it’s a hell Castiel has never known, even when he searched in the actual place for Dean’s soul.

Sam’s chest rises and falls, calm and steady. His breathing is almost too soft to belong to such a large presence. Castiel can’t even remember why he appeared in their motel room, but that seems to be the norm for him recently.

Sam is always making Castiel think, do, and say things he doesn’t mean to.




Two

Love is the strongest of all the emotions Castiel has felt.

He wants, craves, and needs love. It burns him up, drives him into frenzy, leading him into unknown territory. It makes him unsure, but utterly terrified.

Weak. Mortal. Human.

He’s never felt quite as flawed as he does now – falling in love with one of them.

Sam is always the first to call Dean out on his childish or harsh behaviour. He’s always the one defending Castiel’s honour – which would even make Castiel’s most serious brethren laugh – when Dean crosses a line, treats Castiel with disrespect or unkindly. Sam is always prepared to fix the mess that Dean makes, even if Castiel isn’t particularly bothered by Dean’s quips.

But when Castiel tries to do the same, glaring or crossing his arms at Dean, Sam misinterprets it each time. He backs down, afraid that Castiel will smite Sam for bothering his charge. And that isn’t how Castiel thinks at all. If anything, Castiel would be more likely to physically harm Dean – has done it in the past, even – than to lay a finger on Sam. But Sam doesn’t think he’s worth much, and that is the only thing he and Castiel will never agree on.

Castiel thinks Sam is precious, important; a good friend, and an even better comrade. Anyone would be lucky to have him on their side. To have him by their side.

And, it may have taken Castiel some time, but he finally understands why Sam is such a big part of Dean’s existence. He would gladly lay down his vessel, his life, his wings, even his grace – all of it – to keep Sam’s final breath from escaping.



Three

Sam, who is filled with hope - so devastatingly so - is always willing to risk his skin; to give himself until there’s nothing left. He does this for humans, demons (unfortunately) and harmless supernatural creatures alike.

Sometimes Castiel cannot be that kind. Dean often cannot put strangers before his family. Sam, though, is the one to usually put everyone before himself. And there’s always a price.

---

When Sam is bleeding out of a wound in his abdomen, Dean trying to carry him, his hands slippery with Sam’s blood, Castiel realizes just how much Sam means to him.

Heaven had told Castiel many times that Sam was none of his concern; that it would be in Heaven’s best interest if Sam died, so that Dean would be more obedient, more willing to go along with their plans. But Castiel can’t listen to them this time.

Castiel appears next to the Winchesters, pressing both palms to Sam’s wound, and sending the warmth of Heaven through the injury in hopes that he isn’t too late. Sam coughs violently, crimson sputtering out of his mouth, but when Dean lifts Sam’s shirt, the skin is slowly regenerating, locking together and sealing up.

Dean thanks Castiel since Sam’s mouth is too full of blood to say it. Castiel bows his head, pretending it’s nothing, forcing a tight smile for his charge. But this is something; he’s ignored the orders he was given – again. There will be a price to pay.

---

Castiel hears Sam calling him the next morning, telling the skies that he wants to thank him. It’s unfortunate that Castiel cannot answer his prayers, though.

Zachariah scoffs when he catches wind of Sam’s words. He presses his knee against the back of Castiel’s neck, ripping out another handful of black feathers from Castiel’s right wing, throwing them away carelessly.

“This’ll teach you,” he says, unrelenting. “You can’t pick those savages over us, Castiel.”

The ache in his back and spine is nothing compared to the regret he feels for not being at Sam’s side.



Four

Castiel isn’t ashamed to admit he had his doubts about Sam at first. But Sam doesn’t let you hold on to a bad opinion; he strives to prove you wrong, to show his strengths, to make it obvious how valuable he could be – if you just believe in him.

And Castiel believes him because Sam has convinced him. And Sam is undoubtedly an angel who’s yet to gain his wings.

That is where Castiel likes to imagine Sam will be in the future: in Heaven, serving God along with Castiel.

They couldn’t be together otherwise.

---

Sam is cold when Castiel finally returns to Earth after having healed enough to fly. It’s understandable that Sam is mad, of course, especially since Castiel can’t say where he’s been. Sam ignores Castiel when Castiel asks where Dean is, continuing to click through screens on his laptop as though Castiel isn’t standing there.

Castiel watches Sam for a while longer, silently admiring him, until Sam looks up, frowning. Castiel doesn’t really care about the answer, but… “He went out to hustle at pool,” Sam says, curt.

“I see. Thank you,” Castiel replies, sitting on the edge of a bed.

He realizes it’s Sam’s bed after it’s too late, but Sam doesn’t say anything. He just keeps clicking links to recent newspapers on his laptop.

For once they’re alone, and Sam wants nothing to do with Castiel.

Sam sighs when Castiel doesn’t leave right away. “Did you need help with something?”

Castiel shakes his head, standing. “Call for me if you need my aid.”

“Because you always show up when I call, don’t you?” Sam mutters bitterly under his breath.

“I promise I will come, Sam.” And Castiel disappears.

---

Sam calls Castiel a day later. Castiel knows Sam’s life isn’t in peril, that there’s no reason to arrive in a hurry, but Castiel does anyway. He gave Sam his word.

“I just wanted to apologize for yesterday,” Sam says, lips upturned at the corners. “And thanks for not letting me die. I know you didn’t need to show up.” He scratches his arm, seeming oddly nervous.

Castiel nods, returning the smile. “I did not need to, but I wanted to.” Just as he has appeared now without permission from his commanders in Heaven.

“So, would you like a drink?” Sam asks, hopeful. Tilting the bottle he stole from Dean towards Castiel, he adds, “My treat?”

Castiel approaches Sam, taking the glass from him. “I would very much like one.”

Sam’s hair is covering most of his face, but Castiel can still see the flush colouring his cheeks. It’s a nice look, Castiel decides.

It’s worth Heaven’s wrath.




Five

Castiel has this family to thank for many things.

Dean for setting Castiel free, for giving him a place to stretch his wings, for allowing him to be who he pleases, and for being his first friend in a sea of lost souls. But, most of all, Castiel is grateful for having found Sam through Dean.

---

It must be Dean’s influence, but Castiel wonders if Zachariah doesn’t find some sick sense of pleasure in hurting his lower-ranked brothers.

“I warned you about disobeying us, Castiel,” he grits out, tearing every single feather out of Castiel’s back. “And now you’ve done it. You only have yourself to blame.” Another handful of feathers lands in the grass next to them. Castiel winces when Zachariah reaches for the ones close to his shoulder blade. “This is the easy part, you know. Wait ‘til I start cutting out your grace.”

Castiel closes his eyes and imagines how nice it was sharing a drink with Sam the other day. It’s still worth it. He’s still worth this.

---

Castiel only has a few things when he falls to Earth. The clothes Jimmy wore when he took him as a vessel, an angel blade he’d taken on his way down, and a cellphone Dean bought for him.

It’s odd knocking on the door of the motel room, but Castiel presumes he’ll get used to it. His home is with these humans now, and he’s never going to leave again. He’s been banished, anyhow.

“Why’re you knocking? Trying to be polite for once, Cas?” Dean teases. His smile fades when he notices how pale Castiel looks, and how much blood is smeared all over the trench coat. “Jesus, Cas. Is that your blood?”

Castiel hadn’t really noticed the mess Zachariah made, but now he does. It might have been shocking to a human, but Castiel still doesn’t react the same way one does. “Yes, Dean.”

He nearly falls over, and Dean catches him, a hand pressed to Castiel’s chest. “What happened to you, man? Did you have a fight with the dicks upstairs?”

Castiel hums, closing his eyes when Dean drapes an arm around his shoulders. Dean helps him inside and sits him down on a chair.

“So?” Dean asks, impatient as ever.

“I disobeyed too many times. They did not appreciate my attachment to you already, but then when I did not ignore Sam’s calls, they became angry.”

Heaven wanted Castiel to only focus on Dean, but Castiel couldn’t. Dean should understand that, seeing as he’s risked his life countless times for Sam.

“What are you saying?” Dean mutters, voice softer than usual. “You got punished?”

Castiel’s head tips to the side, contemplating that. “Yes. I’ve been stripped of my wings and my grace.” Zachariah had said Castiel would be trapped with the creatures he loves so much for all eternity. Or until the remnants of Castiel’s grace faded completely.

Sam had been quiet until now. He looks upset when he tells Castiel, “You shouldn’t have done it. I never would have wanted this to happen. I thought you just hated me, Cas.”

But Dean doesn’t say a word; he and Castiel think the same way when it comes to Sam. Sam is an important person; he matters a lot more than he thinks, and to a lot more people than he can imagine. He brings the good out of everyone, makes mistakes and then redeems himself ten-fold.

Dean leaves the room, holding his head. He can’t handle the news Castiel just dropped on them. He slams the bathroom door, but they can both still hear him cursing through it.

“Just tell me why you did it, Cas. Why didn’t you tell me about this?” Sam pleads, holding Castiel’s shoulders when he sways forward.

He kneels down in front of Castiel, looking up at him with such sadness in his eyes that Castiel almost feels like he’s done something wrong. But he knows he hasn’t. This is the perfect solution, the best way, for them to stay together.

Castiel smiles, finally giving Sam all the attention he deserves. “I love you, Sam Winchester.”

Sam doesn’t say anything, his heart banging in his chest. But after a moment, his fingers tighten on Castiel’s knees, and he smiles, too. “Thank you, Cas.”




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