For the first time in thousands of years, Castiel, the Angel of Thursday, has descended to Earth on a mission from Heaven. He flies quickly, landing in the nondescript desert sand with almost no sound. Just ahead sit the headquarters of a certain cult that is the starting point for his mission.
The headquarters are relatively modest, although they've managed to take over the area around an oasis for their use. Most of the buildings are single storey constructions. There is not a wall around it - the desert would act as barrier to anyone wishing to flee, and it wouldn't be neighbourly if anyone came seeking refuge. People can be seen making their way around the small village - it isn't quite large enough to be called anything but that - busy going about their day-to-day duties.
There does not, really, seem to be anything immediately obviously out of the ordinary about them.
This place wasn't just an uninviting, dreary village, though. Underneath all of that was the reason Castiel had landed in the middle of nowhere, and the reason he was about to gain access to the base of a hyper religious cult.
Well, there's this kid, who's doing his best to seem completely unobtrusive while moving heavy looking boxes off the back of a truck. There's a man perched in the back of the truck, watching him closely, but not moving a muscle to help, occasionally barking something.
(And is that a hint of flame that just wrapped around one of the boy's hands? Briefly, and garnering a panicked look from the boy, but otherwise, completely unnoticed.)
Castiel approaches the compound, careful to stay out of sight when he can, and reaching out with his Grace to check for any sigils or marks that would stop him from getting in. He notices that there are quite a few sigils against angels in multiple buildings, but they don't make much sense, as if they've been drawn incorrectly. The angel doesn't pay them much mind, but stops when he nears the edge of the compound to search for his new charge, a young human being held by the cult.
The boy drops the box he's carrying, one hand batting at the other which is very definitely apparently on fire. The flames flicker out quickly, but the man on the back of the truck saw it - as did the other people scattered around. They're regarding the boy with distinct wariness, almost fear. The man jumps off the back of the truck.
The boy skitters backwards, definitely scared. (The rest of the people seem to have decided this isn't worth their time, that the situation is under control.)
The man catches the boy's collar, and pulls him close enough to deliver and open-handed slap across the face. "You know better, boy," he snarls, then shoves the boy away. "Get outta my sight until you can control it. And don't think I won't tell the Elder."
The boy nods hurriedly, mumbles an apology, and hurries away, towards the edge of the settlement, where there is a narrow gap between two buildings that is probably just wide enough to constitute an alleyway.
Castiel flies to the opposite side of the compound, landing almost instantaneously right outside a small side alley when he notices his charge start to move in that direction. He hesitates a moment, but steps into the alley and stops, waiting.
The boy stumbles into the alleyway, obviously a little dazed from the blow, but does not immediately respond to the other presence.
Castiel steps forward again, reaching out to grab the boy's arm as he comes near.
The boy flinches back, not quite enough to completely evade the grasp, and then goes perfectly still.
"Sorry, sir," he manages, voice slightly hoarse, from lack of speech and fluids. "Didn't- Sorry."
"Why are you apologizing to me?" Castiel peered down at the boy, confused. "You have not done anything wrong."
He keeps his head ducked, searching for an answer to that - there's normally an answer, he normally had. "I- disturbed? You? Sir? Not normally anyone here, sir." (He's trembling slightly now, though that seems to be because his muscles are held too tight, waiting, anticipating something.)
Castiel frowns and shakes his head in disagreement. "You are not disturbing me." He notices the sound of voices getting nearer to their hiding place and starts to move towards the end of the alley that opens into the desert. "We need to go, now."
"W-what?" the boy's head lifts slightly. "Go where? Can't leave." (He is almost painfully thin.) "I-" he half gestures back towards the mouth of the alley. "Elders'll get mad."
"You want to stay here? They're obviously abusing you. I assumed humans had at least some self-preservation instincts. Besides," Castiel adds, almost as an afterthought. "You are now my charge, so it is my duty to keep you safe."
"A-abuse? No! It's not like that! I-I mess up. I lose control. They're just trying to help me. To save me!" It's half-desperate, parroting back something he's obviously been told (too) many times before. (It looks like he would be retreating if not for the grip on his arm.)
Then he processes the rest of what was said. "I- Y-your charge?" He looks almost lost at that. "I- they-" Then his shoulders slump slightly. "Yes sir," he mumbles.
"Yes, you are now my charge. And it is my duty as your guardian to keep you from harmful situations, like this place, and to teach you to control you abilities." Castiel loosens his grip slightly and peers past the boy towards the mouth of the alley. "But we need to leave now. Your Elders will try to stop us otherwise."
"Oh," he says quietly, not moving to escape the grip. He's confused about why the Elders would try to stop them, but... "Yes, sir," he says again, pliant and waiting for further instructions - they're in the middle of a desert, he has no idea where this guy intends for them to go.
Castiel stills, focusing on flying them both out of the compound, but he can't reach his Grace. The sigils that had appeared to be so harmless earlier are the cause, it seems. He turns to the boy. "It appears it will be more difficult than I thought to get out of this place. They have sigils in these buildings specifically warded to allow angels in, but not let them out. I'll have to destroy them before we can leave."
The boy tilts his head, still scared and now very confused, but trying to focus through that. "...Angels? Sigils?" His brow furrows as he thinks. "There's the..." he makes a gesture in the air, sketching out a symbol. "Everywhere."
"I only need to destroy the ones in the center of the compound. Those are the ones preventing me from accessing my Grace." Castiel pauses. "Do you know where those are?"
The boy nods. He's silent for a long moment.
Just as that's verging into uncomfortable he shifts slightly. "I can-" he gestures 'show'.
Castiel steps forward, moving to leave the alley. Just then, a group of cultists armed with guns march past on patrol, but he doesn't seem to care that they could see him if they turn even slightly towards the alley.
The boy moves quickly, tugging the man backwards into the alley. (The patrols were not people he wanted to encounter even when he didn't have a threat of due discipline hanging over him.)
The moment he's sure the man isn't just walking out of the alley, he skitters away, closing in on himself again. "Sorry, sir, sorry," he mumbles. "I can. This way better?" he gestures, half starting in the direction of his gesture.
Castiel nods, turning to follow the boy. "You know the way better than I, I'm sure. Can you get us to the center of the compound quickly?"