Title: Illusions of Sunlight. (from Shattered by Trading Yesterday)

Summary: The cracks are unnoticeable, at first. But when Dean finally realises something's wrong, it's not just broken. It's shattered. And if you try to fix something that's shattered, all you get are bloody, broken hands. And Dean finds out the hard way that he'd made Castiel so much more than just broken.

Yeah… so this happened. IDK, just roll with it.

And I've lost who I am,

And I can't understand,

Why my heart is so broken,

Rejecting your love

But I know, all I know,

Is that the end is beginning.

Castiel ended his frantic search for hope on the day it became clear. It was a hope of the worst kind – hope with the power to lie that someday his wishes may have come true. He lay with his emotions bare for all who cared enough to look, hoped that someone would care. Someone would see them. See him.

It was in vain. To the one person he wished most would understand, his plight remained invisible.

So he trudged on, searched for something to erase his pain, some small hint of treacherous hope that maybe, just maybe, Dean would see.

But every single time he held some sort of fragment of elusive hope in his hands, it slipped. It fell to the ground and cracked. It wasn't even particularly noticeable in the beginning.

And, at first, cracks are all they were. Small, hair-line fractures, branching out from the smooth façade of hope. He dealt with those.

They were unobtrusive imperfections, the hope itself intact.

Because cracks were fixable, and if anyone had cared enough to try and mend him, they could have succeeded.

The fractures grow larger so slowly that Castiel didn't even notice until the lines broke out more and more, into ugly jagged scars.

With every put-down, every joke, every mean, nasty thing Dean said or did, with every time he used Castiel, the cracks spread. They left a bitter, reviled feeling where affection used to stand.

Still, they were not a problem. Cas gave an air of indifference, said he would do as Dean wished, protect him. Dean took it for granted, but really, he only saw what he wanted to. Dean didn't see the blemishes in the hope. He didn't even see the hope itself, not even when Castiel presented it bare for him to see.

And then inevitably the cracks splintered and shattered to a million pieces, and Castiel was left in the dust, abandoned by the side of the road, with tiny shards of hope that could never be whole again.

The tiny fragments that pierced him had hurt, physically hurt, in that odd, detached way he felt pain, clouded through his Grace. Rejection burnt in the very core of his being, and it cut deeper than it had any right to.

The broken hope brought on more pain and suffering, instead of the delights it once promised.

And, with the renewed agony came sight. He realised something so extraordinarily simple that that he was surprised he didn't know it all along. Lucifer had always known, it was the reason he Fell. Michael hadn't, for a long time, but he did in the end. Gabriel pretended not to recognize the truth. Balthazar had some idea, but it never took hold. Crowley remained oblivious. Likewise, Bobby would never even think about it. Sam realised it for a short while, before forgetting again.

Dean never knew.

Because once Castiel transcended beyond the blissful ignorance, beyond the blind faith he had put in his Father for so many millennia, beyond the childish, materialistic things Dean so believed in, he knew. He knew hope ceased to exist.

He knew that hope had never truly existed in the first place.

How many things existed just because people believed in them?

Hope is just a word, with no real meaning, told to children from a young age, to break the monotony and conformity of their lives, to create some sort of feeling of unique individuality.

A myth.

"Damn it Cas, we can fix this!"

"Dean, it's not broken!"

It's shattered.

If something breaks, you can fix it. If you try to fix something that's shattered, though, all you get are bloody hands with the shards embedded in your flesh. And Dean finds out the hard way that he'd made Castiel so much more than just broken.