Codes: Castiel, Castiel/Lucifer, Dean/Castiel, Dean/Other
Spoilers: Through current season, not very specific
Summary: This is not about snow.
Author Notes: Thanks to niqaeli for pre-reading and thoughtful commentary and transtempts for encouragement.
The slow drizzle of rain hasn't let up since he emerged from the monastery, soaking the broken pavement of the sidewalk that stretches along only one side of the street, turning the dirt squeezing up between the cracks into mud. Castiel steps carefully; he's still remembering the limits of the human form, the myriad ways it moves in unexpected ways, momentum that can carry him forward when he would have stopped, the heaviness of exhaustion when he's pushed his vessel's body too much.
Something's pulled at him for hours, driving him from quiet contemplation in the monastery into the wet evening, a unfocused restlessness shot with old pain that shattered his peace.
Hours that should have been seconds, wasted as Uriel watched him with disapproving eyes and wordless censure, the heavy reminders of status and duty and obedience spoken with a twist of his mouth and narrowed eyes.
"There is no danger," Uriel had said when Castiel finally rose from his knees, breathing his final benediction and reaching for the coat folded over the foot of the bed. "Your--affection blinds you. This is not within your duty."
It is, though Uriel has had two thousand years to forget what they had been, the purpose of Castiel's existence. Castiel held countless hands as their lives moved from flesh to spirit, comforted those left behind to wait until they could join the ones that went before, eased the pain of men injured in war and women in childbed, watched over their lives from their first breath to their last when they finally passed from his care to their Father's.
They have changed, Uriel had told him with curled lips, narrowed eyes. They have grown far from our Father. Castiel thinks he's never seen a people come so close to what they were meant to be when he looks around this world shaped by man's hands, the gift of Creation that was their birthright creating buildings that touched the sky, ships that could cross oceans, that will one day cross the vast distance between the stars.
Castiel wraps himself in the silence born of the thousands of years he waited to return to the people he'd been forbidden to serve, his weapon of choice against Uriel's honed contempt, emerging into the night and closing his eyes, finding the bright ribbon of need that he can finally, finally answer.
A bar, like a thousand others that spread through the state, warmth and light pouring from dusty windows to pool on the ground outside. The simple pleasures of companionship that humans always seek fills the building, but beneath it there's a taste of something rancid, a slow poison that raises irritation to anger, hurt to depression, and pleasure to resentment.
Opening the door, Castiel surveys the room, invisible in the way that human eyes slide by him as searches through rising anger and contentment rotting to bitterness.
"That took long enough. Some things remain the same, I suppose."
The bartender smiles at him with white teeth and eyes like a starless night.
Abruptly, a chair tumbles over, and Castiel watches the flash of a gun pointed at a reddened, enraged face, the fumble for a knife. Instinctively, Castiel reaches for the minds with a thought, pulling the sickly thread of hatred free and murmuring his apologies for the hard floor as they sink into sleep.
"And then again, maybe they change." Setting down the beer bottle, he leans his elbows on the bar watching the men like a child would a bug they had just dismembered. A flicker of light, and the eyes are green and familiar, and though the body's not familiar, the resemblance is a message all in itself. "Suppose with nothing else to do, you had to learn something new. God was never big on personal growth, though, if I remember correctly."
"Where is he?"
"There is always time for courtesy, brother," he answers, mouth curving in a smile like a bleeding wound. "Or have you forgotten?"
Castiel breathes his gratitude that Uriel didn't insist on accompanying him, letting the silence stretch between until the smile fades, green eyes narrowing.
"I could have cut the wings from your body and chained you to my throne for all of time," he says. "Don't tempt me to rectify my mistake."
If he could, he would; Castiel has no illusions what passes for mercy among the damned.
"Return him to me."
And Castiel hears his mistake; speaking without thought with one who uses words as weapons will only delay this further. "His blood is mine, freely given. Dragging him from hell didn't negate the contract. I'll have him when your use of him has passed." Straightening. "But I can accept a loan. Though I wonder that the host is so thin that they recruit from the damned."
Castiel doesn't bother with a response, forcing down the desire to pull this building apart board by board. Turning away, Castiel looks at the lingering customers. "God go with you," he says; he can't violate free will, but suggestion has never been forbidden. Obediently, they rise, filing toward the door to return to their homes, their beds; as they pass, Castiel eases the taint from their thoughts, leaving peace behind they'll take into sleep. They'll awaken tomorrow, never remembering they'd spent an evening with the first and most beloved of God's angels before he Fell.
Lucifer doesn't look surprised; it's strange, how anyone could look into his face and not see the immensity of his age and power, no matter how young and fragile the vessel.
"You, Castiel, are a spoilsport." With more grace than Castiel has ever managed in any human body, Lucifer vaults the bar, landing cat smooth, comfortable in his stolen skin. Green eyes slide down his body, leaving the impression of filth wherever he looks. Stepping closer, one slim, black-nailed hand reaches out, the smirk daring Castiel to move away.
"You stink of humans, brother," he whispers, hand curving cold and damp around the back of his neck. Leaning closer, beer-scented breath brushes his cheek, lips like cold meat pressing against his jaw. "Do you taste of them, too?"
"Let him go."
The hand tightens, suddenly sharpened fingernails gouging the skin at the back of his neck, blood running hot and wet to soak his collar. Alestar broke his spine and Dean slid a magic-laced knife into his chest; if Lucifer thinks pain in this form will cow him, he just hasn't been paying attention.
Frowning slightly in disappointment, Lucifer pulls away and licks blood slowly from each finger, eyes holding Castiel's as his tongue flickers obscenely over each nail, sucking the tips with luxurious abandon.
"You don't know, do you?" he says softly, jerking Castiel from the hypnotic movements of that pink tongue. Blinking, Castiel focuses on the odd smile, aware of an odd restlessness that's fracturing his concentration, irritating the worry that Castiel's finding it harder and harder to control, the desire to reach out and--something.
"Where. Is. He?"
Lucifer watches him for a few more seconds, then turns, booted feet silent on the stained wood floor. "Come with me, if you insist. Though I think tonight's lesson may be more--interesting than I had anticipated."
With a smile, he closes tight fingers around Castiel's wrist and the room dissolves around them.
Perhaps Uriel's presence would have been welcome, after all.
The drizzle's almost completely stopped, a light fog taking its place, moist and unpleasant with a taste like rotting meat. Castiel finds his balance with a stretch of wings, left deliberate inches above the ground and hitting asphalt awkwardly with a snapped ankle. The pain's easy to ignore, the twisting burn of healing a background buzz because distraction with Lucifer is always a mistake. Looking around, he identifies the parking lot behind the bar, one lone car remaining that Castiel recognizes as Dean's.
Dean himself isn't anywhere in evidence, and that bright thread of need is darkening, edged with blackened, burned edges of shame and horror, self-loathing mixed with sick pleasure; Castiel draws in a breath, wondering if Lucifer's strength on earth in this form could possibly have been strong enough to block him from feeling that.
"No," Lucifer answers with a frown, surveying the empty lot with a frown. "Not yet, anyway. Give me time."
"You will not have it."
Lucifer rolls his eyes; it's odd, to see these too-human mannerisms, his ease wearing the flesh of the creatures he considers so far beneath him. Lucifer catches his gaze. "Two thousand years is a long time, Cas. Everything changes."
"Yet you have not." Castiel tries to follow the sense of Dean, but it's muted, diffused, with something beneath it that he can't quite interpret.
A hand slides beneath his coat and shirt, cold and wet against the bare skin of his back; Castiel can't stop the shiver, wanting to pull away and knowing that Lucifer will take it as weakness. "You know so little of these bodies," is breathed into his ear, as smoothly thick as silk. "So many uses, and you use them for mere transportation. Haven't you ever been curious? Wonder what makes them so very special?"
Two thousand years of trained patience are surprisingly easy to fray; Castiel feels his fingers clench into fists. "He called for me--"
"Ah. No, he didn't; I did. He was very--adamant against it." A sharp chin digs into Castiel's shoulder, another hand resting with paralyzing strength on the other one; abruptly, Castiel can't move. "There we go. You were always very trusting, Cas. Humans, angels, the law, God. Which is the only explanation that makes Uriel make any sense at all--or Dean, for that matter." The chin digs deeper, impossibly scraping against the fragile bones of his collar. "There's something I think you should learn."
A low moan slides through the air; Castiel follows the sound to see Dean emerge into existence from the fog. His jacket is gone, but physically, he seems unharmed, though pale. He moves slowly, almost clumsy, then the green eyes find them and clear abruptly, stumbling against the side of the Impala. "Son of a *bitch*, get the fuck out--"
"Enough of that," Lucifer says in amusement, breath cool against Castiel's neck. Dean's mouth snaps shut. "You should hear him. His command of profanity is quite impressive, though that seems the limit of his verbal skills. But you know that, don't you? You've seen his soul."
Sharp fingernails slide up and down the length of Castiel's spine beneath the shirt, trailing heat with every light scrape. "Now, you have a choice. You can fight me and we both know you'll lose, because the guardians of men aren't what anyone would call God's best and brightest and even in this form, I'm stronger than you could ever dream of being. As you well know. And I claim him before I finish picking my teeth with your bones. Or. I promise you both leave here uninjured and can go on your merry way to preparing for a war we both know you cannot hope to survive, much less win." Castiel opens his mouth, but abruptly, Lucifer's standing before him, one finger pressing against his lips. "Pride, Castiel, before the Fall. You know I can't lie." Removing his finger, Lucifer leans closer, their lips less than a breath apart. "Not to my brother."
Castiel draws in a breath, almost choking at the scent of rot, then nods. Lips press against his, a quick brush that grows longer, a cool tongue pressing against his MOUTH as a hand slides into his hair. Castiel doesn't have context other than observation for this, but this body seems to know what to do, and Castiel lets it, feeling odd tremors of something he can't quite recognize with every flicker of that tongue.
Then Lucifer draws back, mouth swollen, licking his lips with a look of satisfaction; Castiel reaches up, touching his damp lips, tasting something sweet like decaying fruit.
"Now comes my favorite part." With a flick of his chin, another slim figure materializes from the fog; Castiel watches the painted red lips smirk as she crosses the lot toward them before veering toward the dumpster nearby, leaning bonelessly against it, eyes fixing on Dean with something predatory in their depths.
"May I?" she asks, voice subservient, but her eyes are on Dean, tongue wetting her lower lip.
Lucifer's hand rests warningly on the back of Castiel's neck, sharpened nails pressing brutally into the thin skin, before Castiel even realizes he's moved. "Your choice," Lucifer says softly. "Think of it as the temporary gift of free will that you scorn."
Castiel looks at Dean, perfectly still, then takes a deep breath, nodding slowly.
"Good boy," Lucifer murmurs, thumb rubbing gently over the scratches. "You know your place. You may begin."
"Kneel," she says, and Castiel watches Dean fall to his knees with a crack of bone against asphalt, legs parted, palms pressed to his thighs, head bent in abject submission.
"I taught him that." Gloating satisfaction fills his voice, filled with memories that are shared without mercy; Castiel watches the origin of the nightmares that stalk Dean's sleep, raw, glaring scenes of all that hell could do to the soul of a man, and the rack was the kindest of them. It's when he rose from it that Dean's real hell had begun.
"Crawl," the girl says, lips parting wetly. "You remember how much you liked it?" Castiel watches her ease her skirt above her hips, baring her sex, lazily parting long legs as Dean crawled ten feet of asphalt and waits between her legs. "Lick me."
"Perhaps I was wrong. Humans are useful after all." Castiel shudders at the fingertips suddenly dragging across his belly, Lucifer's leaning over his shoulder again; Castiel doesn't remember him moving, but the stroking fingers distract him, pressing him further into the flesh he wears. He ate when hungry, slept when tired, followed the biological urges as they came with little attention and less interest, but this is unlike them all, making him aware of the rush of blood and the hard beat of his heart, faster than he thinks it's ever been, the sound of his own breath, quick and shallow and heat curling through him despite the coolness of the night.
Castiel jerks his eyes from Dean, mouth buried in the apex of dark hair between her legs, tongue flashing pale pink, to the girl that pets his head, crooning obscene praise as she arches, head tilted toward the sky, red-tipped nails leaving gouges in all the unprotected skin she can reach.
He's not ready for the hand that slides down past cotton and wool to curl around him, startled at the flash of glittering heat that seems to light every nerve in this body. Lucifer laughs softly, tongue thrusting abruptly into his ear, and even that feels different, the wet, squirming cold somehow adding to the warmth.
"And you're hard just watching."
Castiel feels a rush of blood to his face as the girl moans, hooking a leg over Dean's shoulder, the spike heel of her shoe pushing into his back, blood welling sluggishly around it. Abruptly, Castiel's aware of the body pressed against his back, something hard against the small of his back that he doesn't recognize (*cock*), the hand on him rubbing in slow counterpoint to the cadence of the girl's sounds.
Cold lips press against the side of Castiel's neck, and Castiel leans into it, the evening air chilling against the sweat he can feel breaking over his skin. Lucifer eases his coat from his shoulders, lips pressed against the open wounds in the back of his neck that Castiel somehow--forgot--to heal, and Castiel forgets to fight it. The girl scratches casually across Dean's neck, and something less than lust, more base than desire, wrapped in possessive anger that erupts with every touch of the girl's hands, every moan the girl breathes from the use of Dean's mouth.
"It's been a long time," Lucifer croons into his ear, sharp teeth closing over the sensitive lobe. "And you always did your duty, didn't you? Never take a single step from narrowest path." The stroke over his cock makes him gasp, leaning into it torn between horror and the rising feeling that his body cannot bear to lose this. "Where were you, when our brothers looked upon these children, made mothers of the daughters of men? Did you never wonder what drew them? What draws us all?"
"It's--my purpose." Purpose seems far away, subsumed beneath each new sensation; he's not sure what purpose there could be that isn't this. The girl tilts her head back, moaning as her leg tightens, riding out her pleasure. He doesn't recognize his own voice when he whispers "Get her away from him or I will tear her apart," but he means every word.
The girl jerks, looking up, face flushed and eyes heavy with satisfaction, then pulls back her leg, kicking Dean away before turning on a heel, skirt still pulled up around her waist. Smiling, she sways toward him, narrow waist and the rip curve of her hips and breasts beneath the thin band of material that conceals them, hard nipples pushing eagerly against the cloth.
"They were born of dirt and return to it at their deaths; they should worship at our feet." There's a breathless pause before Castiel feels the hand against his jaw, turning his head into a kiss that tastes of ashes and burning flesh, the despairing screams of countless voices and the joy taken in debasing the children of men. Castiel sees Dean, stripped naked, pale skin lashed to ribbons of red and blue and black, abasing himself in trembling despair before he was led away, walking through fire to emerge perfect and *wrong*, sent to inflict his unending pain on all who crossed his path.
He was brilliant and ruthless, merciless and creative, a hunter who turned his birthright into a weapon that even in the pit became the stuff of legend. When Dean Winchester walked hell, there were few that would stand against him; fewer than would ever dare to. A torturer of his own kind and a plaything for the creatures that ruled hell, whose greatest pleasure came from teaching him to crave his own debasement.
It's nothing Castiel didn't know, read from Dean's broken mind, burned into him so deeply that nothing could erase them.
"You know." The purr slides like fur over his lips. "You want him. All of them. My army swells daily and when we take this earth, I will place you among them as their god. They'll be yours and yours alone, to do with as you will. That I will give you if you abase yourself before me in worship."
There's a terrible kind of temptation in that; even the Prince of Lies wouldn't break a promise to a brother who could join with others to cast him aside. Two thousand years of watching human suffering and being unable to help could change with a single thought; all of the power of Hell turned to nurture these small, *stupid* children, subject only to the will of one who loved them and would care for them in every way, asking only obedience in return.
"My gift until all the people of the earth are given into your hands, I will give you the child you ripped from hell."
Exiled from them, imprisoned by the decree to never do more than watch them die uselessly, *pointlessly* in petty squabbles that could be ended with a word, watching them live useless lives when they could be so much more, build an earth that would rival Heaven itself in splendor.
"Dean," Lucifer says, voice filled with bloating joy. Dean's head snaps around, looking at them with eyes black with resigned horror, despair, the creature Castiel snatched from hell before him again. "Come here."
Shifting on his knees, Castiel watches in sickening pleasure as Dean crawls toward him, hair clotted with blood, mouth swollen red and raw, head bowed in subjugation. He pauses inches from Castiel's shoes, head hanging heavy between his shoulders, body pliant, shirt clinging to the sluggish gouge from the girl's heels.
Shaking off the clinging, cold hands, Castiel crouches, reaching to jerk Dean's head up, looking into the dull green eyes that promise perfect obedience and perfect faith for all of time, and Castiel thinks of all the ways temptation looks so much like reason, how he has prayed that Dean's pain will one day be eased.
"Dean," he murmurs, waiting until Dean focuses, mouth working uncertainly. "Who am I?"
Dean blinks sluggishly, eyebrows twitching together in confusion, before he licks his lips, wincing in pain. "Castiel."
Easing him back on his knees, Castiel looks at the torn, bloody palms, the swelling of broken knees, and leans forward, brushing a kiss against sweaty, blood-slicked skin and breathes his apology before he turns to look into a wide, white smirk and eyes that promise Castiel all the horror of becoming something not fit to exist in any world.
"I kneel before God alone," he says, forcing the words past numb lips. "We're leaving."
Lucifer grins. "Some things really don't change?" Lucifer reaches out with casual malice and jerks Dean's head up, looking with amused pleasure into the glazed eyes. "And you really think I brought you here for that? You're not that important, or that interesting."
Castiel watches in sick horror as Dean blinks his way back from wherever he was sent. For a second, something looks out that Castiel hasn't seen since Dean was returned to flesh, something forty years older who held broken souls in his hands and laughed. Lucifer grins back. "Now you remember."
"I'm gonna kill you," Dean whispers, spitting blood. Lucifer jerks back with a frown, raising his hand to lick the blood away. "I swear to God I will hunt you down and forty years will just be how it *starts*."
The frown fades; Lucifer's head tilts. "Perhaps you could. I shall look forward to when we meet again." Taking a step back, Lucifer looks at them thoughtfully, mouth quirking in a smile. "What did you learn, Castiel?"
Castiel opens his mouth, but the words won't come; there aren't words he knows for this.
"You protect these creatures. Now you see what they are. And what you are when you wear their skin. Do you find them so beautiful now?" One hand brushes through Castiel's hair in an absent caress, like a man petting a dog. "I'm glad we could have this chat, brother. And you performed admirably. Even willingly, I'd say. Rather eagerly, to tell the truth. The bargain is complete. You may go."
Dean draws in a breath, head bent; Castiel can't read him at all. He thinks vaguely he should heal him now, but he can't trust himself to touch him. He can't ever imagine touching anyone again, not wearing this flesh, knowing this.
Slowly, painfully, Dean reaches out, and Castiel's unable to control the flinch when Dean's hand rests on his shoulder. As Lucifer and the girl begin to walk away, Dean leans close, hot breath panting against his cheek with two words: "The knife."
Castiel doesn't think about it this time; Dean's mind shows him where, and he pulls it from the back of Dean's jeans, feeling the weight of magic-infused metal, the hilt warming to his hand, fitting as naturally as if it were made for this body, for him.
Standing up, Castiel takes the two steps that separate them, waiting the eternal second it takes Lucifer to hear him, turn around, face still alight with smug triumph, and slides it smoothly into the flat belly to the hilt. The green eyes go black in shock, and somewhere distant, Castiel thinks someone screams, high and terrified, but he doesn't care; nothing matters but the rush of fresh blood over his fingers, before he twists it, jerking it up until the blade grates against bare bone and slices open the beating heart.
For a second, they stand there, Lucifer hanging on the knife, and Castiel reaches out, holding him in the body when the blade would have cast him out, making him feel it, a fallen angel who had worn flesh but never known pain, silencing his instinctive scream with a thought.
Then he pulls it out, watching as the body collapses, heart still beating out blood in vivid, obscene splashes of red. Castiel watches dispassionately, waiting until he feels the heart stop before letting Lucifer go.
The black eyes fade to green, glazing in death, and Castiel instinctively breathes a prayer for the passing of the innocent soul before he turns to Dean, who's somewhat upright, pale and thin-lipped but on his own feet.
Castiel wonders if Dean were still kneeling, if he could bear to touch him.
They look at each other for a second; for once, Castiel does not search the quick surface of his mind. "Don't move," he hears himself say, concentrating; the wounds were superficial at best, and heal easily.
He feels more exhausted than if he'd healed a hundred death wounds. Distantly, he wonders how long Uriel will wait for him.
Dean stares at him with an expression Castiel can't read. "Cas, he--you can't let him--"
There's no apology he can make than can ever encompass this; it would be obscene to try. Taking a deep breath, Castiel reaches out, ignoring Dean's dawning realization, stopping him with a thought before he forces himself to touch, flesh sticky as he sends him to sleep. "I'm sorry," he tells Dean, catching him as he falls. "I am so, so sorry."
Uriel doesn't look up when he returns, ignoring him while he puts away the clothes now pressed clean. Castiel's grateful for the silence until he turns, catches his reflection in the mirror.
The expanse of flesh is as unmarked as it was before he left, but he can still see the places Lucifer trailed his fingers, the places on this body that enjoyed the touch and reacted to what he was forced (wanted) to see.
The revulsion is so powerful he flinches, and Uriel abruptly is standing before him, face transforming from anger to concern. "Did something happen with your charge?"
Castiel looks back at him, words frozen so far in the back of his mind that he can never pull them free, the memories winding through him, tainting everything they touch. He can't imagine looking at a human being again and not remember Dean on his knees and his own pleasure in it, the nauseating lust twisting through every nerve of this body.
"You were correct," he hears himself say from somewhere far away, miles from the heavens he suddenly longs for with all his heart, stripped of this sickening flesh and everything that accompanies it. "I should be more--objective. I will not forget my duty again."
Uriel frowns, opening his mouth, but Castiel turns away, wanting suddenly to wash clean of this, even knowing that no matter how much water he stands beneath, nothing will wash away the filth that coats this skin.
He doesn't look at Uriel again as he closes the door between them.