A/N: There is mention of child neglect/abuse in this chapter. Tread carefully if that upsets you. On an unrelated note: Chapter title comes from Shoots and Ladders by Korn.


Then

He didn't like it here. The people had ugly faces over their normal ones and they smelt funny. They reminded him of smoke. And they were mean. They would call him names, say things he didn't understand, pull at his wings. One had even tried to kick him once. It'd found itself halfway across the room on its back a second later. He hadn't known he could do that. Throw them around if he thought hard enough. Whatever-they-are never tried to hit him again after that. They were afraid of him as much as he was afraid of them.

He fiddled with the chain connecting the metal bracelets around his wrists to the floor. They'd 'leashed' him, they'd said. Wouldn't allow him to leave the small area the chain allowed. Like a good little pet. He didn't think he was a pet, and they were terrible owners anyway. They wouldn't feed him as often as they should or give him water. When he complained, they would sneer and say he didn't need it. But he did need it, didn't he? He was a growing boy and he needed to eat. That's what his momma always said.

He missed his momma. They had taken him from her. She was screaming and crying the last time he saw her. Thinking about that always made him sad, though, so he tried not to. Whatever-they-are didn't like it when he cried. It made them meaner. He hated them. He wasn't supposed to hate, but he hated them.

A visitor was coming to see him today, he'd been told. He was to be on his best behavior, or else. The 'or else' part, he thought, wouldn't be something he'd like very much. Because they wanted it to happen. Anything they wanted couldn't be good. They weren't good.

He knew the stranger had arrived when he saw the whatever-they-ares stand up straight. He'd seen that in a movie once. Soldiers stood at attention when their boss came around. So, he was meeting their boss? He felt his feathers rise on his wings. They always did that when he was anxious.

The man that entered the building sure carried himself like a boss. He had short, blond hair, blue eyes, and was dressed in simple clothes. But those weren't the things that he focused on the most. It was the shining halo around the man's head—just as he had seen angels have in the books his momma would look at—and the tattered pairs of glowing wings on the man's back that drew his attention. He gasped at the sight.

The man frowned at him as soon as he spotted him. When the angel walked towards him, because he had to be an angel, he spread his many wings wide. They must have sensed him do it because all of them shifted uncomfortably. The angel didn't care, though, and neither did he. Even with the bright light pouring off of them, he could tell what color the feathers were. They were silvers and pinks and blues and greens, all at once. Like the insides of pretty seashells and clams. Even with so many feathers missing and bone sticking out in places, the wings were still beautiful. Desperate to please the angel, he stood quickly and raised his own wings. He wanted to know if his were considered as pretty as the other's.

The angel's frown deepened, but then he smiled pleasantly as he came to stand in front of him.

"And who do we have here?" The angel asked as he looked down at him.

"Lemuel," he replied, smiling back.

"Hmph. 'Devoted to God.' How fitting."

"What's your name?" Lemuel asked as he reached out to touch the angel's bottom wing. He jumped when he felt a cold hand grab his arm just below the metal bracelet.

"Never," he commanded, "touch an angel's wings without permission."

Lemuel's vision became blurry as he fought back tears. He wouldn't cry in front the angel, no matter how scary he was, though. When his wrist was released, he dropped his arms.

"And lower your wings. To raise your wings is a symbol of strength. Do you think you're stronger than me?" The angel asked curiously.

Lemuel shook his head vigorously and pulled his wings in tightly against his back. He wasn't trying to start anything. The angel smiled again and knelt in front of him. With his wings still raised, though, he didn't appear any smaller.

"Good boy," he said.

Lemuel chewed on his bottom lip. He nodded towards the angel's pearly wings, "Does that hurt?"

"Don't worry about them," he said. "You see, Mary had a little lamb. And he's going to make everything better."

Lemuel nodded, though he didn't really understand what the angel meant. Whatever he was talking about seemed like a good thing. At least, his voice made it sound that way.

"My name is Lucifer. Do you know who that is?"

"No."

Lucifer's eyebrows rose, "Really?"

"Am I supposed to know?" Lemuel asked, brow knitting in confusion.

The angel laughed. It was a good laugh, a happy one. But there was a hint of another laugh behind it. One that sounded like music. It almost made him dizzy trying to hear both at once.

"I should say so," Lucifer replied.

The angel reached his hand out and brushed it against Lemuel's cheek before raking it through his hair. Despite how cold Lucifer's hands were, Lemuel leaned into the touch. It felt like it'd been so long since anyone had shown him any form of kindness or love. He missed being held. He missed goodnight and good morning kisses.

"Tell me, Lemuel: Do you know who your father is?"

He blinked his eyes open and looked back at Lucifer, "I don't have a father."

The angel smiled with only one side of his lips, "Everyone has a father, little one."

That's not what his momma said, but… "Are you my father?"

"Heh," Lucifer laughed as he stood, pulling his hand away. "No. I'm more of…an uncle."

Lemuel grinned up at the angel. He knew what uncles were. He'd seen them on TV. They were family members who would take you out and do fun stuff, or give you gifts, or tell you stories.

"How old are you?" Lucifer questioned.

"Two-and-a-half," he said proudly, his wings puffing behind him. "I'm a big boy!"

"Really? I should say so; you look all of five-years-old."

Lemuel beamed. He liked that he looked older. He also learned faster than other kids his age. It felt nice being better than them. Not that he'd say that out loud. Last time he did, he got scolded. It wasn't nice to call people dumb.

But, wait, if Lucifer was a family member, then…

"Am I an angel?" He asked. "Momma always called me that, but I didn't believe her because angels come from Heaven and I didn't come from Heaven."

His uncle smiled, "No. You're a nephilim. Well, a mutated one, really, but still a nephilim. You have an angel's influence in you, though. That's why you have wings."

"Oh," Lemuel said. Looking around at all the whatever-they-ares, he whispered, "Can I come to Heaven with you?"

Lucifer's face and wings twitched as his smile dropped, "What's the matter? You don't like it here?"

"They're mean!"

"Well, that's because they're demons."

He gasped and stepped away from Lucifer, the chain connected to his wrists rattling loudly in the near silence of the room. Lemuel knew what demons were. He'd heard about them. If you knew about angels you had to know about demons. Their faces made sense now. The twisted, smoky face was the demon. The normal face was the person they were possessing. Because that's what demons did; they possessed people and made them do bad things.

Lemuel lunged forward and grabbed onto Lucifer's shirt, "You can't leave me here!"

His uncle frowned, "Now, Lemuel. They won't hurt you."

"He tried to kick me!" He shouted, pointing at the demon.

Lucifer's frown grew angry. Lemuel watched in awe as the light behind the angel grew brighter. A small ribbon of light came out of his back. It twisted up through the air like a snake behind Lucifer's shoulder. Then, lightning fast, the ribbon headed for the demon.

"Why you little—!" Was all it got out before the ribbon stabbed it in the head.

For a split second, its eyes shown bright. The demon fell to the ground slower than it took for the ribbon to go back inside Lucifer. The demon didn't have any blood on its forehead, which seemed odd to Lemuel, but its evil face had disappeared. The other demons all shifted, like they wanted to run away, but they didn't. Lemuel looked back up at Lucifer.

"There," his uncle said sweetly, "now he won't bother you anymore. And neither will the others."

"How do you know?" He asked grumpily.

"Because they do what I tell them to do."

He shook his head angrily, "No! Demons are bad guys and angels are good guys! The bad guys never listen to the good guys! They always go behind their back and do something horrible, and then the good guy has to clean up the mess! If you leave me here—"

Lucifer grabbed his hands and pried them off his shirt, "This isn't your Saturday morning cartoons, Lemuel. This is real life. The demons will obey me because I'm stronger than them. I will kill them if they are disloyal. To go against my orders, to hurt you, means that they will die. Do you understand, Lemuel?"

He nodded reluctantly but mumbled, "They'll still be mean."

His uncle leaned towards him to ask, "Do you remember Mary's little lamb? Good. Well, his name is Sam, and he's going to help me fight the real bad guys. And when we're through with them, we'll come back and get you. Then you'll never have to worry about the demons again. I expect to you behave yourself while I'm gone. Am I clear?"

Lemuel nodded again.

"Good boy," Lucifer said, ruffling his hair almost too hard.

The angel walked away from him and to the nearest demon. Lemuel knew that demon was the boss of the others because it was always telling them what to do. But, his uncle was the boss, too. Lemuel frowned as he tried to figure out how there could be two bosses at once.

"Put up wards to block out the angels," he heard Lucifer say. "The last thing I want is someone discovering our little pet and taking him from me. And, if I hear another demon laid one finger on him, I will murder all of you in ways you can't even imagine."

Lemuel sat down, his chain jingling, and smiled at the demon his uncle was talking to. The creature looked like it wanted to pee its pants. It was funny. That's what it got for being so mean to him. Lemuel was glad he had an uncle like Lucifer. Lucifer was willing to kill for him. That meant he must love him, because his momma did and she always said she'd kill anybody if they tried to hurt him.

Lucifer looked at him over his shoulder and told the demon, "Give the dog a bone, while you're at it. He's looking a bit thin. I can't do much with a twig."

He watched his uncle walk away, headed for the door. Lemuel didn't want to stay with the demons, but he wasn't as afraid of them anymore. He knew someone would protect him. And, after Lucifer had fought the bad guys, he would leave with him and never have to look at another demon again.

After the angel had left and the demons settled down, Lemuel began to sing.

"Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb. Mary had a little lamb whose fleece was white as snow."

Now

The first thing he noticed was the ever present pain in his wings and shoulders, though it did seem duller. The second thing he noticed was his stomach desperately trying to eat itself. He hadn't been given food in weeks. Not that he needed it all that much, but since they'd placed him inside that ring of "holy" fire, his human-based needs seemed more pronounced. Not that the demons had cared.

The third thing he noticed was his position. Gravity wasn't pulling him down anymore. Something hard was pressed against his side. His wings weren't being stretched out, painfully held in place. His arms were in front of him, not forced over his head. No weight was on his wrists and no heat was licking his legs. Whatever he was lying down on was moving.

When Lemuel opened his eyes, he was surprised to see the white, metal interior of a vehicle. But it was a dull sort of surprise—the kind that's felt when nothing matters. He looked down at himself. Sure enough, his wrists were free of the cuffs that had been on his wrists since he was a child. Looking over his shoulder, he saw wings free of hooks. They were healing, he could see, but they still ached deeply. Fresh blood had oozed over his golden feathers, coloring them copper. He tried to reach over his shoulder to touch them but pain shot through him, radiating from the top joint down to the tips and it pierced into his back. The whimper he made came before he could think to stop it.

"Oh, hey, you awake back there?"

Lemuel froze at the sound of another's voice. Even if there was concern and sympathy in that voice, it still put him on edge. Of course someone was with him. Cars didn't drive themselves. He was an idiot for ever thinking he was alone. He was an idiot for letting his guard down. What feathers could rose up on his wings. As slowly as possible, he pushed himself up, simultaneously pushing away from the passenger's seat that his head had lain behind.

The sight that greeted him caused him to go into a full-blown panic. The kind, hazel eyes glancing worriedly at him meant nothing to him. Not compared to the skeletal wings fading in and out of existence, like a mirage, on the man's back. He'd seen wings like that once before.

Lemuel cried out, flailing arms and wings painfully, this way and that, as he tried to back away from the angel. Adrenaline numbed the pain and spiked his fear, causing him to forget his injuries. All he cared about was getting away. He turned towards the back of the van and clawed for the handle. When he found none, Lemuel cried out again.

"Hey, hey!" The driver shouted at him. "Calm down! I'm not—!"

With a guttural roar, Lemuel slammed himself into the doors. They didn't budge, so he backed up and did it again, trying to use his wings as propulsion. This time, the door dented a bit. He ignored the angel shouting at him. He threw himself against the door again and, when it refused to open, he threw himself against the sides of the van. That yielded more favorable results. The van rocked and swerved. Lemuel tried again. He would get out, even if he had to wreck the vehicle.

"Okay, okay, no," the driver said.

The van started to slow down. Lemuel guessed the angel was pulling over to stop. He growled lowly, gave the wall one more half-hearted slam, and then crawled to the back corner. He was trapped. No way would the angel open the back doors to subdue him, he'd come from the front and box him in. Lemuel wondered briefly if he could charge the bigger male. Probably not. His panic was quickly morphing into rage.

When the van had come to a complete stop, the angel unbuckled his seat belt, slowly pulled himself out of his chair, and eased his way into the back. He was holding his hands up in surrender, his eyes pleading.

"I'm not here to hurt you."

"Liar," Lemuel seethed, bawling his hands into fists.

"No. I'm not," he replied. Putting his hand to his chest he said, "My name is Sam."

Sam. His blood boiled at the name. Of course. Why wouldn't they send Sam? With an enraged cry, Lemuel grabbed the nearest object lying by him and threw it at the angel. Said object just happened to be an empty bottle of oil which was easily smacked away before it could hit Sam in the face. That didn't stop Lemuel, though. He grabbed at anything not bolted down and threw it at the stunned angel as he screamed and prayed his hands would find a wrench.

"Liar! You're a liar! You're no better than him! You're just like Lucifer!"

Sam, who had dodged all of his attacks, gasped at the accusations. He gave Lemuel a look of pure confusion and hurt. Not that he cared what the angel felt, but that was not the reaction he was expecting.

Suddenly, Sam's eyes glowed with a blue light. His face became blank, his back straightened, the wings on his back solidified—as much as light could—and a dim halo formed around his head. Lemuel didn't know what was happening. And then Sam was charging him.

Lemuel squawked and tried to get away but, before he could, a large hand wrapped around the back of his neck and squeezed. He felt the angel's power enter his body, felt as it caused his whole body to go numb and limp. Lemuel snarled at the passive face staring into his.

"I am not Lucifer," the angel said. He sounded different from before.

Lemuel smirked up at him, "Oh, I know. Lucifer's wings were prettier."

"My name is Ezekiel. The man I am possessing is named Sam Winchester. He is truthful when he says he means you no harm. But if you persist to fight him and harm him I will harm you."

Lemuel's brow twitched as he frowned in confusion, "Possess?"

The angel, Ezekiel, frowned in turn, "You know of Lucifer. I assumed you would know angels take Vessels."

"Take?"

The gears turned in his mind. A vessel was something that held something else, like a cup or a boat. Possession was what demons did to gain a person's body and use that body against the person's will. If possession was being used with taking a 'Vessel,' then…

Lemuel's eyes widened, his desire to flee rising higher. But his arms and legs refused to move, no matter how hard he tried to fight the tingling sensation of the angel's power. His wings only twitched minutely when he tried to use them. He may not be in chains, but he was still bound. So, Lemuel laughed. What else could he do?

"It all makes sense now," he mused. When faced with Ezekiel's confusion, he explained, "Why the demons listened to Lucifer. It wasn't because he was stronger. It was because he was one of them. He took a man's body and forced him to do things he didn't want to do. All you angels do. You all probably think that your light and your pretty wings make you better than them. When, really…you're just a glorified demon."

Ezekiel looked away from him. He stared at the van wall for a long second before looking back at Lemuel.

"Perhaps," he replied. "I will not lie and say that Lucifer or some of my brothers and sisters did not do horrible things while in a Vessel. But, whereas demons take Vessels forcibly and without permission, angels require permission to inhabit a Vessel. The human must say yes."

"Do you tell them what you plan to do with their bodies?" Lemuel asked cheekily. When Ezekiel narrowed his eyes in response, Lemuel said, "That's what I thought. Point remains."

The angel sighed, "You are obviously not going to agree with me. However, I will tell you that I am within Sam to heal him. His survival depends on me…and that he never knows that I am within him. Before you speak—" he continued quickly to head off Lemuel's interruption, "—it was his brother's decision to erase Sam's memories of me. If Sam finds out I am here, he can eject me and, when he does, he will die. Know that if you reveal me you will kill him."

Lemuel frowned, "Why should I care? I don't know him."

"I do not know. Perhaps you should ask yourself, seeing as how you already do care, or you would not hate me so much for taking advantage of him."

He glared at Ezekiel. He was right, and Lemuel hated that. He didn't know Sam, but he knew of him. He'd thought he was one of Lucifer's lackeys for years; one that, like his boss, had forgotten him. Left him to the demons. But now…

Lemuel knew what it was like to have your freedom taken from you. He'd seen what could happen to Vessels. Lemuel wanted nothing more than to rip Ezekiel from Sam's body. To force him to pay for tricking the man. There had to be some reason—a bad reason—that the angel was hiding within him. Why else would he be so secretive when he had been given permission? But, despite his desire to punish Ezekiel, he couldn't hurt Sam. Not if he didn't want the guilt of murdering an innocent man, anyway.

He snarled, his wings twitching once again as he tried to move. Ezekiel studied the movement for a moment before focusing back on Lemuel's face.

"I am going to release you," he began, "and, when I do, I suggest that you do not move against me. I will allow Sam to take control and he will remember none of this. You will do nothing that will make him suspicious of how he perceives things. Am I clear?"

"'Am I clear?'" Lemuel mocked. God, how he hated that phrase. "Perfectly."

Ezekiel nodded once. The angel's power withdrew from his limbs, moving from his feet and hands, up his body, to gather at the back of his neck. It faded completely when Ezekiel removed his hand and moved away. Lemuel repositioned himself as the angel stood. Ezekiel went back to where Sam had been. After a stern look, those hazel eyes flashed with light and Sam reappeared.

It was unsettling watching the shift, watching the remorse flood into the man's whole body. Sam looked like he felt trapped, his mouth working on words that wouldn't come. Lemuel suddenly felt like crap. He'd called the man horrible names when Sam could very well have been in the same boat as Lemuel once. And, now, Sam was just as trapped as he was, even if he didn't know it.

"Look," Sam said shakily, "I don't know what Lucifer or—or Crowley did to you. I can imagine. God, can I imagine. But, I'm not like them. Me and my brother just want to take you with us. We've got a place, underground. A shelter. It's got food, showers, beds, anything you need. We don't want to hurt you, we want to help you."

"Why?"

Sam, surprisingly, didn't look confused by his question. "Because you need it. I'm not going to lie and say we knew you were in that warehouse and we came to save you because we didn't. We thought there was a weapon in there that could help us defeat demons. But, we found you instead, and you needed help, so we helped."

Lemuel smiled, but it was broken, "You don't get it. I'm the weapon."

"No," Sam replied. "You're a person."

He flinched at the surety in Sam's voice. They hurt. Words calling him anything other than a freak or a toy hurt. Because he knew better. He knew better but he still hoped to be all Sam thought he was.

Lemuel jumped at the sound of music suddenly filling the van. Sam stuck his hand in his pocket and pulled out a phone. Looking at the screen, he swore and then answered it.

"Hey, Dean. Yeah, no, I'm fine. Just…he woke up and kinda freaked out. …Well, if you woke up in a strange place, you'd freak out, too. Hold on, Dean. " Sam motioned towards him with his hand, "Just try and stay still. Please. You'll hurt yourself more if you move around too much."

With that, the man slowly turned and sat back in the driver's seat. As he continued his conversation with whoever Dean was, probably his brother, Lemuel slunk back to the floor and curled up. His muscles ached again, his wings, the bruises forming from when he'd slammed into the doors and walls. He was still hungry. But now he was miserable for a whole different reason. Fisting his hands into his hair, he wished, not for the first time, that everything would just go away.


Castiel frowned down in determination at the egg he was frying. He had yet to master the art of flipping them without bursting the yellow yolks. It seemed like the factors to successfully cooking a fried egg were always changing. The amount of heat, oil, depth of the skillet, type of spatula—metal or plastic, force used when turning over the delicate food, all of these things contributed to how good one did when cooking eggs. Much to Castiel's dismay, and despite all the years he'd observed humanity perform this tiny feat, he just could not do it himself.

Yet, he was stubborn, if he was nothing else, and Dean had asked him to prepare something to eat for the angel they had recovered from Crowley's old warehouse. So, come Hell or high water, Castiel was going to fry an egg. (He wasn't entirely sure on where that idiom had come from or what had inspired it—the Biblical Flood, most likely—but he'd heard one of the old, homeless men he'd encountered on his travels say it often. He liked it.)

The angel's need to eat had thrown him at first, but Dean had clarified that they were dealing with a special case. He wouldn't reveal much after that. Just, 'You have to see him, Cas. I don't know what to make of it.' Castiel figured that, perhaps, his brother had been injured in The Fall. Castiel remembered when his Grace had suffered damage, by his own hand, and he'd woken up sore with a bug bite that refused to stop itching. It wasn't unheard of for an angel to require sustenance when extremely weak.

Pulling his thoughts away from his earlier conversation, he took a deep breath and carefully wiggled the plastic spatula under the frying egg. He wound up chasing it around the skillet for a second or two as it slid around on the oil. But, once he had it cornered up against the side, Castiel managed to flip it. The yolk remained intact. The grin that spread across his face was probably the biggest one to ever grace his lips.

"Hey, Cas," Kevin's voice came from the side, "I— Wow. Someone's happy."

Castiel's grin smoothed into a small smile. "Yes. I have successfully flipped an egg without damaging the yolk."

"Oh," the young man replied. "Congrats. …You do know you could've cooked something else if the eggs were giving you so much trouble? Since you've wasted, like, three."

Castiel frowned as he looked over at Kevin. The prophet was peering into the trash can.

"Isn't it customary in American culture to serve eggs for breakfast?"

"Well, yeah. But so is serving cereal," Kevin said as he walked over to him.

Castiel's frown became one of annoyance.

"Uh. But, I'm sure eggs and—and bacon and toast will be more filling for a hungry angel than plain ol' cereal."

He sighed, scooping up the egg and placing it gently on the plate he'd prepared. He then picked up a few pieces of bacon and placed them within the skillet. The popping oil caused him to startle. Castiel had already encountered hot oil once; he did not wish to do so again.

"Humans are confusing," he complained. "I always try and fit in, adjust to your customs so that I don't stick out as much. But I have so many customs running through my head, stuff I remember from millennia ago, and I don't know what's…in style anymore. I don't know if I'm going to say or do something considered strange. I find it surprisingly unnerving that I'm unnerved about making a faux pas."

"Ah," the prophet nodded in understanding. "Embarrassment. Wait until you experience secondhand embarrassment. 's when someone else messes up but you wanna crawl in a hole and die."

Castiel tilted his head in confusion. Why would anyone think up that phrase to explain such an emotion? It was horribly morbid. Poking idly at the cooking bacon, he tried to clarify what he meant.

"It's not the feeling of embarrassment I'm afraid of. When I was an angel, I didn't have to worry about seeming otherworldly. I was otherworldly. I didn't care if someone saw me fly away or heal. I didn't care if I told someone I was an angel. I— They couldn't do anything to me. But now…with all of Heaven after me… I can't afford to come across as strange.

"I didn't think anything of it at first, watching what I said to humans. I mean, I told a complete stranger I would gladly accept his ride because I couldn't fly anymore."

He looked pointedly at Kevin. He wasn't surprised by the look of incredulity that was focused on him. In fact, that's what he was aiming for. For someone else to understand how ignorant, how naïve, he had been, and be just as confused by his behavior as he was.

"Yeah, that's not smart, dude," the prophet replied.

"No. It isn't. And that wasn't the last time I asked stupid questions," Castiel continued as he flipped the bacon. "And then April happened, and…"

Kevin frowned at him. Castiel had told him about the incident with the reaper. The prophet had surprised him with his reaction. Whereas he, Dean, and Sam had laughed the situation off, Kevin had become angry. Castiel had been confused, at first, but then Kevin explained how he'd been used. Of course, Castiel knew this. The reaper had explained that their coupling had been a form of entertainment for her before she killed him. But, after Kevin helped him see just how horrible April's actions had been, and the more Castiel had thought about it the next day, the angrier he became—at himself and the dead reaper.

"I should have known better."

The prophet sighed, "It wasn't your fault."

"No," Castiel agreed. "I'm slowly starting to understand that. But I still feel horrible."

Kevin shrugged, "Understandable. Very human of you."

Castiel chuckled humorlessly as he moved the bacon from the skillet onto the plate. He was still uneasy with his humanity. Sometimes he would be excited by the idea. He could try so many different foods and appreciate them, he could try so many different frivolous activities and not worry about anything other than having fun, and he could, finally, just do nothing at all. Other times, he would curse his mortality. His bodily needs were monotonous and demanding, he couldn't fight like he used to, and, more often than not, he felt useless.

"Anyway," the prophet began, "I was wondering what to expect with this angel Sam and Dean are bringing in."

"Other than he is injured and requires food and refuge, Dean didn't inform me of much. He did say I would have to look at the angel; that he couldn't explain the situation," he replied as he removed the skillet from the stove's eye.

Kevin frowned, "You all have dealt with plenty of angels before, right? What could throw them like that?"

"What are you suggesting?"

"I don't know, honestly. It's just… Crowley told them to go pick up the guy. Crowley. He doesn't do anything out of the goodness of his heart. He doesn't have a heart!"

"You think we should be cautious? That this angel could be a spy?"

Kevin shrugged, "Wouldn't be the first time. Maybe we should put up wards or something?"

Castiel frowned, "No. If the angel is as injured as Dean says he is wards could make his condition worse. But, it wouldn't hurt to be ready. I still have my angel blade, should it come to that."

The young man nodded, but he didn't seem reassured. Castiel's phone rang. Dean had given it to him just before they'd left a day and a half ago. Flipping the device open, he greeted the hunter. The conversation was very brief. Dean had only called to inform them they had arrived and were on their way in. He wanted Castiel to meet him in the library and to, 'please, bring the food.'

"Dean and Sam have returned," he announced, pocketing his phone.

"Yay," Kevin cheered sarcastically.

The prophet pushed himself away from the counter he'd been leaning against and made for the door. Castiel grabbed the plate of food and went to follow him. His nervousness at meeting a brother almost made him forget a fork. Spinning around, he placed the plate back down. Luckily, he already knew where the silverware was kept. Grabbing a fork, he shoved the drawer back in with his hip, grabbed the plate once more, and stepped into the hallway.

When he reached the library, the sight that awaited him almost caused him to drop the food. Dean and Sam were, thankfully, uninjured. But the creature suspended between them was certainly not. The requirement for sustenance was glaringly apparent, as the young male's ribs were too pronounced to be healthy. However, it was the wings that caught most of Castiel's attention. Not because they were dragging uselessly behind the male but because he could see them at all. That wasn't possible. No angel's wings could form on the physical plane. At least, not made of flesh and bone.

"What," Kevin squeaked from where he stood near a bookshelf, "is that?"

"He's an angel," Dean groused, trying to maneuver the creature into a chair. "What else does he look like? Food, Cas."

Castiel eyed the male warily but complied. He set the plate in front of him and then quickly backpedalled. The creature didn't seem interested, at first, but he must have realized how much he needed food. The speed with which he tried to devour what was on the plate betrayed his previous displeasure.

"Uh, you might wanna slow down. You'll make yourself sick if you eat that fast," Sam cautioned.

The young male glared at the tallest Winchester with an intensity that stunned Castiel. Yet, he complied, almost mocking Sam with the slow movements he now used to rip a piece of bacon in two.

"So, what? Fallen angels have wings now?" Kevin asked.

"He is no angel," Castiel replied carefully.

Dean tensed at his words, "What do you mean? He has wings. He was in a ring of holy fire when we found him. Angel warding was all over the walls. How is he not an angel?"

"He's a nephilim, isn't he?" Sam asked.

"Yes."

"No."

Castiel frowned at the young male and he, in return, narrowed his eyes at Castiel. Sam's gaze quickly bounced between the both of them, obviously just as confused as he was as to why he and the 'nephilim' had differing answers.

"Wait, what's a nephilim?" Dean asked, holding up his hands.

"It's a child between an angel and a human," Sam replied.

Dean was only more confused. "I thought angels were junkless?"

Sam stared blankly at his brother, pointed at Castiel, and retorted, "He has a penis, Dean."

The eldest Winchester spluttered, obviously uncomfortable with Sam's crass approach to the subject of his anatomy. Castiel wasn't completely comfortable with it either. He could feel himself blushing. It seemed becoming a sexual creature made one awkward about such topics. He used to not care what genitals his Vessel had. Dean flailed wildly.

"Dude, no! Just…no. Okay? I got it. So, angels can inhabit someone's body and make babies." Dean turned to face him, "He looks like the very definition of an angel baby. How is he not one?"

"Because I've seen a nephilim before, Dean," Castiel replied. "They don't have wings. On any plane of existence."

The 'nephilim' hummed in amusement, "So that's why I'm a freak."

"What?"

"Lucifer and the demons," the young male explained as he cut into his egg, "called me things like 'mutant' and 'freak'. I'd always assumed it was because I wasn't human or angel. No. Seems like I'm just not a normal nephilim. A freak of a freak."

"Lucifer? He visited you?" Castiel asked.

"Once upon a time."

"Why? What is it, Cas?" Sam questioned.

"Lucifer wouldn't waste his time on something he didn't find interesting. He also wouldn't lie. If he called this young man a nephilim, then he's a nephilim. What is your name?"

"Lemuel," the nephilim replied around a mouthful of food.

"Hello, Lemuel. My name is Castiel. The silent, young man in the corner is Kevin Tran. He's a Prophet of the Lord. I'm sure you already know Dean and Sam."

Lemuel's gaze passed, uninterested, over Kevin as Kevin waved. But when it settled back on him, the nephilim tilted his head. A small smile graced his lips. Castiel frowned. He didn't understand why the youth would look at him like that.

"So, um, Lemuel," Sam began. "Do you happen to know who your father was?"

The smile quickly dropped and those amber eyes became guarded. Lemuel pushed the empty plate away with from him.

"I'm tired. You said there were beds here. I wanna go to sleep."

"Now—"

"Dean," Castiel stressed. He knew the nephilim was upset and he didn't want the hunter making it worse. "Kevin, can you show Lemuel a spare room and make sure he has everything he needs?"

"Uh. Yeah. Sure. I guess."

The nephilim stood from his chair. Sam and Dean watched him closely, probably to make sure he was strong enough to walk. The food seemed to have helped him replenish some of his energy. Or perhaps it was his will that kept him on his feet. Kevin awkwardly escorted Lemuel away, golden wings dusting the floor behind him. When the two were gone, both Winchesters turned on him.

"What the hell, Cas?" Dean questioned.

"You upset him. He's a valuable person to have as an ally. Letting him calm down before asking anymore questions would benefit us more than hounding him, which risks him refusing to help."

Dean sighed and scrubbed at his face. He turned his attention to Sam.

"And how did you make the nephilim connection?"

Sam shrugged, "He reminded me of Gabriel."

"Seriously? He looks nothing like the guy. His hair's way too blond and—"

"Sam is correct, Dean," Castiel interrupted. "I've only seen those wings on one other angel. I'm not sure how, but Lemuel carries the archangel's Grace inside of him."