"Et tu, douchebag?" Dean spat at Crowley.
"You've caused me a hell of a lot of trouble, pardon the expression," Crowley said calmly.
"You haven't seen trouble yet, you fucking accountant."
Castiel rubbed his eyes. He regretted very few things about his fall into humanity, but the one thing he would appreciate right now was the angelic ability to see beyond the material plane, to see the true face of monsters and demons.
Because now, with his limited human sight, the only thing bound to the wooden chair in the bunker's dungeon, writhing and cursing and occasionally actually spitting, was Dean Winchester. He couldn't see the demonic truth of what Dean was, he only saw the planes and hollows of a familiar human face. The only way he knew it wasn't really Dean was the seething hatred sparking through the thunderheads of his malice in those bright green eyes.
"You're upsetting the balance," Crowley said, sounding more like he was disciplining a slow cashier than a Knight of Hell. "You're stirring things up too much, giving my people ideas above their station. I like hell the way I've arranged it, and your ideas are too wild, too ambitious."
"Spoken like a truly spineless pissant," Dean said. "You don't have the guts, Crowley, you wouldn't know how to kill angels if I wrote the directions on a hooker's ass."
Crowley examined his fingernails, unimpressed. "Rest assured that I'll be personally checking every hooker's ass for reading matieral. In the meantime, you're more useful to me as a human."
"And you think these assclowns can do the job?" Dean jeered. "An overgrown Star Trek fanatic and a baby in his boyfriend's flannel?"
Dean quirked an eyebrow, their only warning before Cas and Sam were lifted bodily and flung against the walls of the dungeon. "You should start hanging out with the cool kids, Crowley."
Crowley twitched a finger, releasing Sam and Cas.
"Dean, this isn't you." Sam hovered at the edge of the Devil's Trap, the circles under his eyes dark as bruises.
Dean rolled his eyes and continued to address Crowley. "For fucks sake, this is going to be excruciating. You realize what happens if by some chance he completes the ritual, right? That hell's gonna close up shop and your pet moose here is gonna bite the dust?"
"Hell's doors closing would make things problematic," Crowley allowed. "That's why Castiel's going to be our blood donor. Not a part of the trials, just one small ritual by itself."
Dean's laugh sounded as malevolent as a curse. "Well you guys have been tons of fun, but don't kid yourselves, Cas isn't gonna do it."
"I assure you, Dean -"
"Because I'm not gonna let him," he finished, as if Cas hadn't spoken. "Fine. Fine. Let him give it his best shot, but don't wander off. You'll need to come pick up the sobbing, shrieking shell of him in a couple hours."
Something broke behind Sam's eyes at this declaration, and that more than anything is what prompted Cas to do it.
His measured steps echoed in the dim dungeon, a wordless sentence full of threat and intention, as he closed the distance between himself and the abomination wearing Dean Winchester's skin. The sentence ended with the decisive exclamation point of flesh meeting flesh as his fist caught Dean right across the jaw.
He looked at his bloody knuckles, then at Dean's equally bloody mouth, and said evenly, "You always did underestimate me."
Dean just smirked, like a bad poker player who'd just gotten dealt a pair of aces, sharp and ominous and full of promise. "Atta boy, Cas. I know you like it when we play rough."
His eyes were gleeful as Cas found himself flung against a wall again. This time Cas spun around like a top, smashing the wall at every turn, Dean's laughter ringing in his ears.
"Enough," Crowley ordered, and Cas spilled to the ground. "Are we ready?"
Cas nodded. He'd already spent a good hour completing the necessary confession to purify his blood. Shameful as it was, the majority of his confessions had dealt with one sin.
Forgive me for failing Dean Winchester. Forgive me for betraying Dean Winchester. Forgive me for putting Dean Winchester above so many other things. Forgive me for never pausing, for never thinking, for never counting the cost of all the harm I've done to save Dean Winchester. Forgive me, Father, forgive me, for the terrible and broken ways in which I have loved Dean Winchester.
Sam handed him a syringe, and Dean spoke just as he slid the needle into his vein.
"Cas, you poor dumb son of a bitch." He paused for a response but Cas was stonily silent. "You really think you're just gonna follow the directions on the box, hit me with a dose every hour, and at the end of it you'll have your pretty little Ken doll back? The mean old demon will just disappear and a grinning ball of daddy issues will be sitting here thanking you for saving him?"
Cas swallowed. "That's the plan."
"Well, you can put down the crack pipe," Dean sneered. "I'll never thank you for taking this away from me."
"Taking what away from you?" Sam interjected. "You're a demon, a burnt out shell."
Dean's eyes never left Cas, slowly approaching with the syringe, as he answered. "Feeling nostalgic for the good old days of guzzling blood and having some real power, Sam? Don't you remember the purity of it? The simplicity? Do you remember how easy it is to be a demon? All of the guilt, the pain, the hero complex...it's all gone. I'm free."
"The amorality of monsters is not freedom," Cas said harshly, shoving the needle into the side of Dean's neck.
Dean winced, but recovered immediately. "That tickled, bud. So we good for now? Who do I have to fuck to get a cheeseburger around here?"
He followed the question with a wink in Sam's direction, and Sam furrowed his brow in irritation. "Somewhere in there is my brother, and whatever you say, he's glad we're saving him."
"Not a single cell of this body is glad about this, Sammy," Dean responded. "You have no idea what it's like to live without all that bullshit. I do what I want, when I want, to whomever I want."
Sam started to speak but Dean bulldozed over him. "Hey, wanna hear a story? Three days ago, I went to a bar. There were some hot bitches, sure as shooting, but there was also this little nerdy dude in a trenchcoat. It was the trenchcoat that got me, gotta be honest. Love a trenchcoat."
Cas turned away, wished he could close his ears as well as his eyes.
Dean slapped the arms of the chair cheerfully. "You know what I did? I took him out back and fucked him so hard he saw God. Left him laying there wearing nothing but my spunk and a smile, then went back inside and had another beer. Crossed that one off my bucket list. Do you know how it feels to not care anymore? To just do what feels good and screw the rest? It feels like Christmas every damned day."
Sam's mouth was opening and closing but he couldn't form words. Crowley was staring at the ceiling, looking supremely bored. Cas wondered if it was even possible to shock Crowley after all this time.
"If that's the best you can come up with," Sam finally said, anger in his voice, "I have to say I'm disappointed. You were a lot scarier as plain old Dean. Saying shit just for the shock value? That's pretty childish, even for you."
Unfortunately, Dean took that as a challenge. For the next hour, they got to hear all the stories of every horrible thing he'd gotten up to as a demon.
"That angel was dead before he hit the ground, the self-righteous asshole."
"I bet he thought twice before he overcharged the next guy for beer, if he lived through the gaping hole in his belly."
"The whole nest, one go...took out the houses on either side but it's so much more fun with a little collateral damage, don't you think?"
If he thought they weren't paying enough attention, he'd bounce them against the wall for a while. Crowley protected Cas when he approached with syringe number two, but otherwise didn't seem too bothered by Dean's telekinetic shenanigans. Luckily, after a third dose of demon blood, the wall-flinging became mere shoving. Dean was losing his power.
Sam's mouth was tight and his eyes were full of pain not caused by busted ribs. Cas pulled him aside.
"Just go, Sam," Cas said gently. "He wouldn't want you to see him like this. If he...Well, he'll be sorry when he's back."
"If you have to listen to this, I'm going to be there too," Sam replied stubbornly. "He wouldn't want you to see him this way either. We're all in it together."
Cas placed a hand on Sam's shoulder. "I've seen all this before, Sam. I've pulled your brother from hell once before. Do you think this is the first time he's spit invective at me? Railed against his own salvation? I've already seen those eyes turn black, and I know the man underneath. You're his brother, he wants to be your hero."
"He will," Cas assured him. "In about five hours."
"This is all very touching," Dean yelled from the center of the room, "but a) I can hear you and b) You can take your Pollyanna bullshit and shove it up your ass, Castiel."
"Crowley," Cas growled, "get Sam out of here. Go get a drink, distract him. You've proven yourself useful for that much at least."
"Don't look at me, mate," Crowley said, "Dean makes his own trouble." But he shooed Sam out of the room and Sam allowed it, casting a backward glance at his brother before the door shut behind them.
Cas stuck the needle back into his vein a fourth time and pulled the plunger.
"How many times does this make, Cas?" Dean asked quietly, his voice almost a caress. "How many times have you saved me? Raised me from perdition, locked me in the panic room to keep me from Michael, molotoved your own brother, shut me up in this very dungeon? You hit Jesus-level on the angel-ometer yet?"
"Jesus wasn't an angel. He was a mortal man as I am now, as you will be again soon," Cas responded. "So I suppose I consider that a victory."
"You ever heard the term pyrrhic victory, Cas?"
Cas put the cold steel against the skin of Dean's neck. "I witnessed Pyrrus' defeat of the Romans in Asculum."
"Kind of missing the point here, Professor X," Dean said with a shake of his head. "Sometimes the cure is worse than the demon. Isn't it time you stopped fixing me? Stopped saving me from myself?"
Cas stabbed the needle into Dean's neck without warning. Over Dean's string of blackest curses, Cas calmly responded, "I will never be done saving you."
When Dean regained his composure, he tried a new tactic. "Hey buddy," he began, too normal to be trusted. "I've been thinking. What do you say we stab Crowley in the face and call it a day?"
Cas didn't deign to respond.
"I'm serious, man," Dean said, sounding so much like himself that Cas had to dig his nails into his palm to keep from reaching out. "I'm the devil you know. I'd be a better king of hell than Crowley ever was. We'll pluck you some new wings and you can set up shop topside. With you watching over heaven and me keeping tabs on hell, the earth would be all set. Sam could get some sleep, marry a hot blonde, and even make a few newer-model Winchesters just to keep us on our toes. We could get everyone together for a backyard barbeque every few months, what do you say? Apocalypse averted, peace on earth, all that crap. I'll even let you flip the burgers."
"There could be no peace with you in hell," Cas said. "You think I don't know what you've been up to just because I'm human now? You want to make war on the angels."
Dean smiled. "Don't take it personally, man. I mean, you're not even an angel anymore. Besides, I'd behave myself if you were in charge upstairs. But that's only if you can learn to love the new Dean." His eyes flashed black for an instant before he offered up a grin of pure Midwestern charm. "You break me, Cas, and you get nothing but Consolation Prize Crowley for all time. You break me, and the opportunity for real peace is lost."
"I don't care about anyone else's peace anymore," Cas told him, and went to wait in the hallway.
When he returned in an hour, Dean was draped bonelessly in the chair, head lolling, eyes blinking owlishly. When he saw Cas, he lifted his head. With a wolfish grin, he planted his elbows across the armrests and spread his thighs, taking up as much space as possible. Well-worn denim stretched enticingly across the muscles in his thighs and Cas looked pointedly at a distant spot on the ceiling.
This was a mistake. Dean was observant. Dean sensed his weakness and went in for the kill. As Cas went through the motions of filling the fifth syringe, Dean started in on him.
"Castiel," he said, voice low and full of gravelly need that almost didn't sound false. "You know what I regret most?"
Cas didn't even bother turning around. He squared his shoulders for the onslaught.
"I regret not realizing, when I was still man enough to appreciate it, everything you did for me."
Ah, there it was. A solid kick in the gut.
"Everything you did was for me. I didn't know why, and man, it is way beyond me now, but somewhere along the line you decided that everything and everyone else could go to hell as long as I was okay. And I took that for granted," Dean continued, his voice a low rumble like the purr of an engine. "Like it was my fucking right to have an angel at my beck and call. You did something I didn't like? I acted like a Disney Princess until you begged my forgiveness. And when I realized that I was the one who should be begging, when it was finally me on my knees, I told you we were family. Family, Cas. You and me are the kind of family that ends up on Jerry Springer, you know? V.C. Andrews writes about family like ours."
Cas realized that his hands were very slightly shaking. "Stop it."
"I don't want to be your brother, Cas, and I never did. Even in my uptight, vanilla dreams I knew that what I really wanted was for you to knock my boots out from under me and take me to heaven. You knew that, didn't you? Tell me. Tell me you wanted me the same way."
"Leave it alone, Dean."
"I don't hear you denying it," Dean looked Cas over from head to toe. "Did you know right away? Was it love at first sight? Or did I grow on you, all those nights you watched me sleep? Damn, Cas, did you even know what it was you wanted? What did all that pent-up lust feel like to an angel who didn't have a clue what it is to be a man? I can show you. Even now - especially now. Because let's face it: human Dean isn't going to give it up to you. Human Dean has his charms, sure, but he is one deeply conflicted son of a bitch. He'll tell you you're family until you both shuffle off this mortal coil. Why don't you put away your needles and I can really show you how to play doctor."
And there it was, the false note that stopped the shaking in Cas' hands and gave him the strength to turn around and face Dean. But it was only a twisted shadow: flushed, spread-legged, pouty-lipped and looking at him with heat in his eyes.
"That won't work on me," he said roughly. "You're not my Dean."
This time Dean screamed when he shoved the needle into his neck. It was probably a good sign.
The next time he came into the room, he was silently praying that Dean would be on to the next mode of torture, but he had no such luck.
"The silver lining of keeping this particular meat suit - aside from the obvious physical advantages - is that I still remember everything in technicolor detail," he started. "I remember what it felt like to be tossed around like a ragdoll by something as powerful as you. And then to know how far you could go in the other direction, that filthy sweetness in your voice when you said my name. When you say my name, Cas..."
Cas willed his feet to move towards the table but they remained planted inside the doorway. He couldn't turn away, either. Dean's eyes practically pinned him to the wall, green and full of spite and lust.
"Oh, angel," he said, making the word a caress and a sting at once. "The things you did for me. The things I wanted you to do to me that we never had the chance to try. I don't know why I'm even trying to explain. You couldn't begin to understand."
Cas' feet finally obeyed him, but as he reached the table his mouth betrayed him. "I'm not an idiot, Dean. I assume you're referring to copulation."
"Fucking," Dean corrected, his mouth warm and soft around the word. "Dirty, wet, desperate, sweet sweet fucking. Confession time, Cas. You wanted that, didn't you? Push me up against a wall? Say my name? Grip me tight and raise me all over again? I'm man enough to admit I wanted that. We could still have it. I could do things to you that would make you scream. You'd cry and not know if you were crying because you wanted it to stop or wanted more."
Cas filled the sixth syringe. He felt lightheaded for reasons completely unrelated to blood loss.
Dean's voice was low and seductive when he said, "When you're inside me, you won't even remember what you saw in weak, limited, human Dean."
The idea was so repellent that Cas went from distress to anger in under a second. Dean saw it. That's probably why, as he was leaning over to slide the needle under Dean's skin, the trussed-up demon lifted his mouth and pressed it to Cas' own, hard and unapologetic and hungry.
Because Cas could only see the material plane, it was impossible for a moment to process that Dean wasn't doing this, that it wasn't really him. For a brief moment Cas let himself forget.
Their mouths crushed together, Cas' free hand fisted in Dean's collar, and a rush of heat shot through Cas all the way to his toes. His mouth dropped open and Dean launched an assault with tongue and teeth and hot breath. But when the corners of his mouth curled up in the tiniest of smiles, Cas gasped and drew back.
"No," he said, anger lending weight to the word. It was the only word he could manage so he was pleased it sounded so authoritative.
He shoved the needle in and pushed the plunger, but his eyes met Dean's and he saw it. Behind the anger and calculation and the sardonic glee, right before the blood hit his system, he saw a brief flicker of something human. It was quickly drowned out in a scream of pain.
As the screaming subsided, Cas leaned against a wall. Dean finally caught his breath and looked over at him.
"Come on, where' s the dramatic exit?"
Cas didn't respond. There was still too much demon in there to put a single iota of trust in this man. But from here on out he'd stay in the dungeon. There was a spark of Dean's humanity coming to the surface and Castiel, who had raised this man from perdition, would bear witness to his pain once more.
It seemed that this new seed of humanity did nothing but infuriate Dean. He was seething, formulating a new list of ways to torture Castiel. With the experience he had in torture, Cas was not looking forward to the newest salvo.
"You prissy cunt," Dean said finally, on the heels of a laugh. "You really think you can sit here with your anger and your love, and will me to be human? Shove your blood in my veins, mark me again?"
Cas felt his shoulders twitch as he tried not to respond.
"Yeah that's right," Dean taunted. "Sit there, be my punching bag some more. That's what you're good at, isn't it? Pouring your love all over me and getting shit-all back for it?"
"I didn't get shit-all back," Cas said on a growl.
"That's right, you got friendship and marching orders. Cas, buddy," Dean's voice went comically low and gravelly, imitating himself, "I need you, we're family. Now give me the angel tablet, now come save Sammy, now rebel against heaven and help me out of this clusterfuck, c'mon man, we're family."
"We are family," Cas protested.
"Sammy was my family," Dean said venomously. "You were a means to an end. Always."
Cas conjured up an image of Dean as he was in Purgatory: filthy, pure, and refusing to leave without him. He would not let this Dean get in his head and pervert the things he knew to be true.
"And you just roll over, every time. They must have taught you how to get reamed real good up at Angel Camp," Dean drawled. "If you were going to be such an easy little bitch, you could have at least offered to suck my dick. Might have let you stick around more if you'd made yourself useful."
"Shut up," Cas snapped, and Dean laughed, low and vicious.
"Did I hurt your feelings, angelface?" Dean blinked up at him. "You gonna run off now? Cry to my brother about how the mean demon made you cry? Or Crowley? Doesn't it strike you as a little hypocritical that you and Sam are still circle-jerking with Crowley while I'm getting zero dark thirty-ed in here?"
"You don't scare me, Dean."
"I should, sweet angel," Dean replied evenly. "Everything you loved about Dean Winchester? I burned it down. Whatever pathetic torch you're holding is gonna snuff out no matter what. All the good stuff is gone in ashes and fire, but I can wear his wholesome, freckled face and pretend if you still wanna play pizza man."
His eyes, full of amusement, flicked black for a moment as he watched Cas. Cas tried not to break but he felt his breathing hitch automatically. Dean flashed that calculating grin, the one that said he'd already won and was waiting for Cas to tally the points and realize it.
Cas leaned down and put one hand on either armrest, his face inches from Dean's as he glared at him.
"Easy there, Clarence. I know where that mouth has been," Dean teased.
"You listen and you heed, demon," Cas hissed, something of the skyscraper of celestial intent threaded through the billows of his anger. "This is not a joke. This is not a game. Your storm and fury signifies nothing, and at the end of the night I will have Dean Winchester back."
"You'll have a rotting corpse," Dean promised. "A broken shell of him at the very least."
"The dregs, the mere essence of Dean Winchester would be a better man than most," Cas growled. "I know you're in there, Dean. I know the real you is in there and I need you, you ass. Don't be scared to come out. You will always be the best man I know and I want you back."
His eyes searched Dean's, watching the struggle between human and demon as it played out in the flickering expressions chasing themselves across that freckled face. He seemed to have momentarily flummoxed Dean, whose eyes kept changing from green to black as he struggled to get a hold on himself.
That's when the demon decided to really piss him off. He was quiet for a while, and Cas stared at the floor enjoying the momentary peace. Then he launched his next wave of vitriol.
He began by rolling his shoulders, twisting his head from side to side to stretch his neck. "Sure is uncomfortable in this chair, angel." Apparently angel as an endearment was a mode of torture that was here to stay.
"Two more hours and you can get right up," Cas said, his irritation making him sarcastic.
"I think what I'd really like is a little stretch," Dean said, and suddenly the handcuffs were off. Cas started up from his position against the wall.
"Don't worry, Blue Eyes," Dean said on a laugh. "I still can't get out of this devil's trap." He made quite a show of stretching his bunched muscles.
"How did you -"
"You can take the Winchester out of the family business, but you can't take the family business out of the Winchester." Dean grinned over at him, pointing at the lock picks next to what remained of the sole of his boot.
Cas entered the devil's trap, intending to kick the accoutrements aside, because he was so damn stupid. So jangled were his nerves that he only remembered that he was human and Dean was not when he felt hands around his arms.
He went perfectly still.
Dean didn't kill him, didn't break his neck immediately even though he was strong enough to do so. Cas heard Dean's low chuckle, his breath hot on the back of Cas' neck. He turned Cas around, hands rearranging their grip on his upper arms.
"Glad you could make it," he whispered, leaning in close. "I lied about the guy in the bar. It wasn't the trenchcoat that did it for me. It was his damned slutty mouth."
Cas read the intention in his eyes and could only work up a strangled, "Dean -" before the demon's lips smashed down on his. It seemed that the parts of Dean that were human and the parts that were demon were in complete agreement on this subject, as he didn't hesitate at all.
Determined not to repeat earlier mistakes, Cas remained unresponsive, letting the demon get the torture out of his system. Regardless of the fact that he'd been alone in this body for years now, Jimmy Novak sent to heaven when Lucifer blasted Cas to smithereens, he had less control over it's actions than he thought.
That was the only explanation for the flush that crept up his chest and bloomed across his neck and cheeks as Dean's stubble-roughened jaw nipped down the side of his throat.
"Cas," he said roughly. "Cas, come on, it's me." He was trying to sound like Dean but couldn't quite hide the thread of dark amusement in his voice. And apparently blank non-responsiveness wasn't the reaction he was looking for, because the next thing Cas knew he was flat on the ground with Dean on top of him.
The breath was knocked out of him, he was dazed, that's clearly the only reason why he moaned into Dean's mouth when it settled over his again. Surely he could also be excused for the way he clutched Dean's hips as they rolled against him. He was, for the time being, only human.
Dean whispered some kind of demonic benediction against the curve of Cas' neck, his quick clever hands reaching downward, the heel of his hand pressing against the place where Cas had no idea he'd wanted Dean's hand until just then. His hips bucked upward automatically and Dean's triumphant chuckle was drowned by a strangled cry from Cas.
Dean's hand mysteriously disappeared from the bulge in Cas' crotch, but the mystery of its absence was soon solved when Cas heard the telltale click of a pair of handcuffs. It was then that a single sunbeam of logic pierced the fog of his need to remind him that Dean was a demon he was trying to cure.
Too late, as it turned out, since he was already handcuffed. Dean had worked the chain around the leg of the chair, which was bolted to the ground in the middle of the devil's trap. Now he sat back on his heels, surveying his catch with pride.
"Very clever," Cas said, and was dismayed to find that his attempt at being sardonic came out shaky and weak.
"Angel wings, you ain't even seen clever yet. Do you know what five years of existential angst and gay panic does to a man with a vivid imagination?" His voice was expensive whiskey in a broken glass, smooth and sharp. "I have a couple carefully-planned scenarios in mind for you, that's for sure."
His eyes raked Cas' body and Cas shuddered. "Dean, don't do this. You're still the Righteous Man somewhere in there."
Dean's palm cracked across his face hard enough to make his nose bleed. "Don't call me the Righteous Man, you prick."
Cas was still gasping in pain when he felt rough fingers trace the waistband of his jeans. "Don't. Don't you dare -" he choked, but Dean put his other hand over his mouth to silence him.
"There's nothing I don't dare," Dean said dangerously. His fingers skated upward, dragging the hem of Cas' t-shirt with them. His searching fingers found one of Cas' nipples and pinched hard, sending Cas' hips bucking again against the better judgment of his brain.
He dropped his mouth down to repeat the punishment, biting gently on the delicate bud and less gently on the side of Cas' ribs. His free hand slid back down, and Cas felt the sudden slackness that meant Dean had unbuttoned his jeans.
He was deeply, deeply ashamed of his ragged breath, his throbbing cock. He was sure he was going to feel a deep sense of remorse any second now, once Dean's mouth stopped nipping at his hip.
Sensing his lack of protest, Dean removed his hand from Cas' mouth so he could use both of them to rack Cas' jeans down his thighs. As his dick sprang free, exposed in the cool dungeon air, Cas let out a strangled noise somewhere between a protest and a plea.
Dean murmured blandishments against him, his breath puffing over the heated skin of Cas' sex, his nose in the dip of Cas' hipbone, and he chuckled to himself as he looked up at the angel. Their eyes met, and locked, and so it was that Cas ended up looking into ink-black eyes as Dean's mouth slid down around his cock.
A real sob escaped Cas' throat, so exquisite was the wet heat surrounding him as Dean smiled around his dick. Dean's mouth twisted around his head as his tongue trailed the opposite direction and Cas nearly came undone right there.
"I need," he choked.
Dean let Cas fall from his mouth, working him with his hand as he asked, "What do you need, angel?"
"Let me touch you," Cas panted.
Dean's eyes flared black again, knowing he'd won. Cas was terrified and ashamed, but he let Dean see the blatant desperation in his eyes. Dean removed the handcuffs, half-kissing and half-biting Cas everywhere he could reach as his hands stretched up to flip the switch that would set Cas free.
As soon as his hands were free, Cas dropped them to the bulge in Dean's pants. A sharp hiss of breath validated his eagerness, and Dean let him flip them so that Cas was on top.
At that point it was easy enough to slap the handcuffs shut around Dean's own wrists, wielding his useful trick against him. Cas pulled back, ignoring the heat in his face and the rawness of his lips to crack a small smile.
"You've got a little game after all," Dean said with a suggestive roll of his hips. "You got about ninety seconds until I spring these cuffs, Casanova. How are you gonna use 'em?"
Cas rolled to his feet, hiked his pants back over his thighs, and went back to the table to get another syringe.
As the needle slid in Dean was babbling, "Cas, don't, you can't, please don't, oh fuck - "
The blackness receded from his eyes, the sardonic tilt left his lips, and a shudder went through his body. He lay still, prone on the floor, for such a long time that Cas crept up to him and pressed a finger to his throat to feel the pulse beating there.
Dean turned his face into the touch and sobbed against Castiel's hand. "Stay away from me. I'm a monster," he said hoarsely.
"You're a good man, Dean."
But the dam had broken, and Dean started sobbing and shouting, the sounds mingling and echoing around the dungeon. Cas caught the isolated litany of, "Sammy, Sammy," amid the babble, but the rest was incomprehensible.
He sat cross-legged next to Dean's shoulder and put a hand on his chest. The screaming seemed to go on for days. Finally he was able to make out more than isolated words. "I'm so sorry, I'm so so sorry Sammy, I'm so sorry Cas."
"Don't," Cas said firmly. "Don't you apologize to me."
"The things I've done -" Dean choked out.
"There is nothing you've done in which I don't share some blame. Did you kill innocents, seek power for the sake of power? Were you greedy, vainglorious? Welcome to the club."
"It's so much - it's worse than that, Cas."
"Worse how? Did you kill more than I did, Dean? Did you keep track, should we compare numbers? I'll ask Sam to bring in a calculator."
"You should have let me die. Everything I love ends up broken," Dean said, but he seemed to have little more of a hold on himself. He got the whole sentence out without choking off into a sob. "I don't deserve any of this."
Cas wasn't quite sure what made him say it, only that Dean was breaking apart in front of him and he could not for a second ignore his primary motivation, which has always been to piece Dean back together.
So he said, "Save the hallmark. Nobody gets left behind."
But Cas couldn't stop, suddenly the words were pouring out. The words Dean taught him, the ways Dean demonstrated how to show love without showing it, every moment Cas has stored up in his memory he returned to Dean, slathering it on the hurt places.
"I need you. We're family."
"Cas, don't -"
"We can fix this."
"Cas, please -"
"Don't ever change. Because you know what? I'd rather have you. Cursed or not."
Dean laughed but it was more of a sob, and the sound broke Cas' heart. He remembered the last syringe. Dean's eyes watched him quietly as he drew his blood into the eighth and final vial. He tilted his head sideways as Cas walked back, offering up his neck, wanting to be human, but when Cas emptied the syringe into his neck he screamed like he was being flayed alive.
When Cas muttered the incantation to complete the ritual, Dean's eyes flashed, black and green and black again, and the previous shudders became full on seizing, his body jack-knifing against the concrete floor.
"Dean!" Cas yelled, dropping to his knees. He freed Dean's hands so he didn't dislocate his shoulders, but by then the symptoms were subsiding. Dean caught his breath, sat up. He rubbed his raw wrists, looked down at himself, then turned to Cas.
"Did it - did it work?" Cas asked.
Dean's laugh was harsh and guttural. "I don't think so, man. Because I'm still angry."
"What are you -"
"How could you be so stupid?" Dean shouted. "What the hell is wrong with you, you dumbass? Don't you know what I did to you?"
Cas really hoped the snorting sound he made sounded derisive. "I'm aware, yes. I didn't miss a minute of it."
"Well I can't take it back now," Dean said, his voice tipping over the edge into rage. "I don't feel any less like killing things, but hey! At least I got to completely destroy the only real friendship I ever had. You won't ever look at me the same again."
Cas stood up, suddenly angry. "And how do you imagine you look to me, Dean?"
Dean jumped to his feet too, spitting mad behind eyes that were a touch too glossy. "I'm a fucking prize, Cas. Dean Winchester: Poster boy for healthy living and a true blue friend, as long as you don't mind a little raping now and then!"
Cas stepped toward him. "Don't - "
Dean jerked backward, clearly not wanting to let Cas near him."Oh, come on, Cas! You want to act like nothing happened? You want to chalk it all up to big bad demon Dean? Too fucking bad, man, because that shit's been simmering on a low burner for years. Oh, I would never have said it out loud; I sure as hell wouldn't have done anything about it, but I've got to own that crap. That crap is my crap. It was all me."
"I know you, Dean," Cas said, stepping toward him again. "I know you better than you know yourself, I built you from the ground up. I'm not afraid of anything you throw at me."
Dean's back hit the wall. "You should be. I'm a little afraid of me right now! Because it didn't fucking work, did it? Your little ritual. All that effort put into mayhem and molestation for nothing."
"Let's get one thing straight," Cas said, putting as much Righteous Warrior of God into his voice as he could muster. "No, I'm not going to act like none of it happened, and yes, I do chalk it up to big bad demon Dean. And no, I don't think I'm in danger from you now anymore than I have ever been. You're still you, though I'll admit you've looked and smelled better."
Cas looked down pointedly. So did Dean.
They were outside the circle of the devil's trap.
"I don't understand. How could I get out of the trap? I'm still, you know - I'm so fucking pissed, and the things I just said to you -"
Cas leaned in and rested his forehead against Dean's. He let out a long sigh before saying, "You've always been kind of an asshole, Dean. Did you really think being a Knight of Hell would improve your disposition?"