Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural. I don't even own a rain coat...


The rip was audible and somehow louder than the roar of wind off the poltergeist or the groan of furniture sliding across the second floor or the crash of portraits flying off the walls. But, still, he ignored it, concentrating on his wounded arm. The skin burned where the broken banister had snagged him, catching him before he could fully tumble down the stairs like the last unfortunate owners of the house.

Cas didn't even register the tear in the fabric until the hunt was over and done and he was walking one step behind Sam and Dean. He glanced down and saw it, a flap of beige missing right across the upper arm. Spots of blood, each marking a splinter, seeped into the cloth surrounding it.

Still, he didn't consider what it meant until they were cleaning up at the rest stop over the state line, discussing a possible meal at the closest 24-hour diner.

"It's probably time you retired the coat," Sam noted. He splashed water onto his face, dabbing off the streaks of musty dirt with a wad of paper towel, and gave the mirror a sympathetic smile, directed at Castiel's idle form.

Dean shoved past them, back into a too-bright world littered with pamphlets.

"Dean," Sam said, catching up once they were outside, "could you tell Cas…"

Dean snorted. "It's seen worse," he interrupted.

Cas remained quiet, behind them, poking a finger through the hole in the arm.

Sam sighed. "Dean, it's starting to reek."

"We'll wash it."

"Those stains are never coming out."

"You doubt my laundering skills?"

"He looks homeless in it."

Cas paused there, casting Sam a narrow-eyed glance, before slipping into the back seat of the Impala. By the time their old baby groaned with the weight of the two brothers, the angel-that-was had already taken his coat off and folded it into a small bundle at his side. The Winchesters gave him a worried glance.

"I didn't mean it, Cas," Sam finally said, a few miles down the road. "The part about you looking homeless. I really didn't."

"I am, Sam," Cas replied. He tilted his head back against the seat, staring up out of the rear window at a starless night.

Cas knew it didn't make sense, the loss he felt without the weight of it on his shoulders. It was somehow more important than the suit and tie he'd long since folded away, to be replaced by jeans and flannel shirts that Dean said he buttoned too high. This, his coat, was his last identifying marker. What was he without it? What was he beneath it? Cas wasn't sure anymore.

They reached the bunker by morning, and he left the coat sitting in the car and headed down to the sleeping quarters, pretending to forget it. Sam and Dean had allowed him to stay here, in their home, to even retain a room of his own, beside Kevin's. It was small and plain and temporary as any motel room.

Over the past few months, though, the space was a comfort. Rest was a comfort. Tonight, it was stifling, and he couldn't sleep, despite his weariness. Only he must have, because he awoke, eventually, to the sound of knuckles raking against the door and a call, "Grub time, Cas."

His eyes adjusted to the lamplight, and then he saw it, right beside his door, standing as if were awaiting his attention. The coat rack was old, wooden, probably simply shifted from one dusty room into his. Hung from its top peg was his coat, there in full view.

The color was brighter, and he could smell the hard soap from his bed. The damaged fabric along its sleeve was mended together with thread he recognized from the stitches in Dean's thumb. Sam's handiwork. The stains were still there, if faded, the edges too tattered to repair, but then, armor was meant to be battered.

Cas ran a hand down its rumpled form, smiling softly, before leaving it behind.