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The Fathom Line

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It wasn’t until he was free of the pit that Castiel learned he had been down there for three years. Dean told him this and then looked at him like something was wrong when Castiel didn’t react to the news. The way Castiel understands it, three years is apparently a long time to a human. He wonders sometimes what that must be like.

In the dark at night, when he’s left alone and the camp is sleeping, Castiel walks for miles along the dirt roads and deer trails in the woods. He could fly if he wanted to, but he’s developed a less than angelic affinity for the earth and its solid planes. He still hears the voices of people who are not there whispering to him, just like when he used to hold conversations with them in the deep hole at the bottom of the pit before Sam came. He hears them the most when he goes for his lonely walks, but he doesn’t answer now because all he has to do is look around to know that he’s alone. Still, sometimes when Dean or Sam or Bobby say something to him, he is slower to respond. He isn’t always sure they’re really there.

He sometimes thinks--but does not say--that three years is not a long time, but it’s still long enough to leave an impression.

On Castiel’s third night of freedom from the demon pit Sam catches him behind one of the cabins before he can start his walk and he’s shaking. He crowds Castiel up against the side of a propane tank and his eyes are wild and oil-slick black.

“Cas, I want… I need,” Sam says. He’s gasping a little, his breathing hard and throat constricted.

Castiel tilts his head to one side and looks up at him, unafraid and, really, unsurprised. “I know,” he says simply.

He gives Sam his arm and Sam takes it, fingers lightly tracing over his wrist, tickle soft. In a sudden, smooth movement, Sam takes a knife from a sheath on his arm and slices Castiel’s wrist open. Castiel doesn’t flinch or jerk. He cares nothing about the pain. When Sam lowers his mouth to suck and lick at his blood before the flesh can heal, Castiel pets his shaggy long hair back from his face and smiles gently down at him.

There haven’t been many demons to kill or to capture since they came back. Castiel’s not completely sure that it would matter if the countryside were teeming with demons. He can smell him and there is more desire on Sam than genuine need when he comes to him.

And he does come to him. Sometimes Sam waits until nightfall, but other times--they’re becoming less and less rare, these times--he finds him during the day and it is all he can do not to grab Castiel and cut him open right there in front of whoever may be watching.

Castiel would let him, too. That’s part of it. That’s a very big part of it.

They’ve been back in the camp a week when Sam follows Castiel into the woods. Castiel knows he’s there and he meets him just inside the deeper shadows of the tree line.

“Again?” he asks, because he’s already given Sam his blood.

Sam doesn’t pause when he sees him standing there waiting, he keeps coming and this time he does surprise Castiel. He cups Castiel’s face in his long fingered hands and coaxes his head back as he leans down to kiss him. It’s not like the first time at the bottom of the well at all. That had been quick, barely there before it was gone, and Castiel had kissed him, though if asked he could not have given a reason why. Sam’s kiss is remarkably, stomach-droppingly different. He slides his tongue into Castiel’s mouth and licks with deep stroking presses over his tongue and against the roof of his mouth. He sucks at Castiel’s tongue when he dares to become curious enough to try mimicking him and then he bites--he bites--Castiel’s lip.

Castiel clutches the front of Sam’s shirt and he can feel the heat of his heart, his host heart, beating so rapidly that it makes his throat feel tight. He can feel Sam’s fingers where they have slid around his neck and into his hair and it makes him shiver.

It’s carnal and forbidden.

This is why they fall, Castiel thinks, and now he knows. He knows and it does not comfort him at all.

He gently but very firmly pushes Sam away and steps back.

Sam leans against his hand on his chest and Castiel flinches back from him. “I can’t,” he says roughly.

“You were doing alright,” Sam says, deliberately misunderstanding him.

Castiel tastes blood in his mouth. Sam had cracked his lip when he bit down on it. He licks it away, eying Sam with caution and a kind of wonder. He would let him have this, too, and Sam knows it. If the fight did not need him, if people, humans that he knew by name, would not suffer for it, he would give even this to Sam Winchester.

“I can’t,” Castiel says. He stares up at Sam, unblinking, back straight, and shakes his head once from side to side. “It is forbidden. Since the last days of the nephilim, it is forbidden and I can’t allow it.”

“You’re at war against Heaven already,” Sam says, opening his hands palm-up in a helpless gesture. “What could they do that they haven’t done?”

“I am not at war with God, though, am I?” Castiel snaps, anger flaring for a moment. “That is God’s word. To protect all of you from all of us.”

Frustrated and, God help him, tempted in spite of what he knows, Castiel draws the knife from Sam’s wrist sheath himself and cuts open his hand. He holds it cupped and offers it to Sam, raises it to his mouth. “I can give you this,” Castiel whispers. “I can give you as much of this as you want, but I can’t give you me.”

Sam’s eyes slide to the full cup of blood in Castiel’s hand and they spark to black with his hunger, which is never far away. He licks his lips and touches Castiel’s wrist like he’s going to bring his hand to his mouth to drink. Instead, he takes Castiel’s hand and grips it, his fingers sliding through his fingers, their hands slipping together, tacky with blood. The blood Castiel offered to him slides cool and slimy down their arms. He backs Castiel up to a tree beside the path and holds his cut and bleeding hand back against it as he leans his body tight against him.

“What if I take it?” Sam asks him. He lowers his head to breathe against the side of Castiel’s neck and whisper it in his ear. “Take you? What if… I just take you? Will you still fall for me if I don’t let you consent?”

Castiel closes his eyes and sighs. He can feel the cut in his palm reknitting under the pressure of Sam’s callused hand. He can feel the entire fever hot, solid form of Sam’s body along the length of his own and he wants to. He has always liked Sam’s company, Sam’s personality, Sam’s great intelligence, Sam’s everything… even when he knew he shouldn’t because Sam was an abomination of the flesh and soul. He isn’t afraid of him, not before and certainly not now, and if Sam were to take what he wants from him, Castiel is certain that the only thing that would make it an act of rape is that Castiel would tell him to stop and Sam wouldn’t.

“Yes,” Castiel says. He opens his eyes and stares straight into Sam’s face, into his dark matter eyes. “Yes, I would still fall.”

Sam takes his free hand, the hand not holding the back of Castiel’s healing one to the tree, and he touches his face. It is surprisingly gentle how he touches him. He is fairly vibrating with restrained desires, but when he puts his fingers to Castiel’s cheek, the touch is so light that it’s like the tickle of static along his skin. The backs of Sam’s knuckles graze over the rough, unshaved place along his jaw and Castiel huffs out a soft, expectant breath. He waits for Sam to push it, maybe to even do what he has suggested he is thinking, but he doesn’t. He clenches his hand into a fist and his tension is visible in the way it shivers up his arm when he lowers his hand, releases Castiel, and steps away.

“I’m sorry,” Sam says. He drags a hand through his hair and his fingers catch in a tangle before he can get them loose. “I didn’t mean that, you know. About… I wouldn’t force you, man, you know that right?”

Surprised by his apology, Castiel frowns at him and tilts his head. He’s been told--by Dean, mostly--that it makes him look silly, but he can’t help it and under the circumstances, he feels his utter confusion is warranted. “Would you not?”

“No,” Sam says. “Maybe. Fuck, I don’t know. It all gets a little crazy…” He gestures at his own temple with a wave of his hand. “Up here. It’s pretty nuts up here sometimes, dude.”

“Here as well,” Castiel says. “I will not fornicate with you. I can’t.”

Sam laughs a little at that. “Yeah, I remember,” he says. “’I am not going to fornicate with you, Sam Winchester,’ that’s what you said in the pit. Too bad, I didn’t even have designs on your panties back there.”

Castiel nods and stands away from the tree at last. He looks at the blood turning black on his hand and forearm and wipes it on the thigh of his pants. “You are welcome to walk with me,” Castiel tells him. “I am going to walk down to the lake.”

The lake is actually more like a really wide pond with aspens growing on the far bank. The water is still good there, though, and that’s where most of the water in the camp comes from. Castiel loves the way it looks at night under the moonlight.

“I don’t think so,” Sam says. “Go… You go ahead. I think I’ll just go sleep it off.”

“Perhaps that is best,” Castiel says. He wonders if that ever really works for anyone.

Sam leaves him then and Castiel watches him go, slipping as silently as any wild creature through the grass and the baby pines until he’s gone out of sight. An owl screeches overhead and Castiel looks up, then turns to continue following the path deeper into the woods.