There is a quintessential moment in every man’s life when they are asked to do the hard thing, to do the right thing. Whether that is to make up for a mistake they made before or because no one else will do it is irrelevant in the end. For the way they will be remembered hinges on this singular choice, this event horizon where past and future and present merge and they are judged. When placed in the scales, will they be found wanting? Some men, whether by luck, fortune, or destiny, find their moment in a second chance, in a moment of absolution and restitution.
Castiel found his moment in the act of sacrifice to repair a travesty that he had wrought on another man’s soul.
But perhaps it is unfair to judge Castiel by the morals and limitations of mere man, for he was an angel of the Lord, a great and fearsome warrior. A soldier. And in war there will always be casualties. The tragedy was that the casualty that he very nearly caused was a dear friend, brought to the point of death because of a selfish action of a capricious angel who still had so much to learn about the world. The best of intentions, after all, pave the road to Hell.
He was the youngest of his garrison. He was a bright and shining example of all that an angel should be; trusting, fearless, and absolutely loyal. But the course of life is long and no one is safe from the influence that knowing others places works in us. Castiel, who had watched over the Earth without acting, a silent, unknown observer for thousands upon thousands of years was one day selected for a mission of utmost importance. He was to guard the Righteous Man.
No one really specified what was supposed to be done with the Boy with the Demon Blood.
And perhaps that is why he was the one who would be Castiel’s undoing.
Because the Righteous Man loved his brother, and they were both influences, and Castiel had never been briefed on what happens when the humans started to mean something to you. No one had warned him what it was like to doubt, what it was like to choose to fall for two human men, and no one had warned him what it meant to be the unmaking of a man.
In his arrogance, filled with souls and monsters and voices in plethora, he had thought nothing of the simple action of placing two fingers to a forehead and pulling down a wall that would have been better left untouched. He had thought absolutely nothing of it.
So when he was given a second chance, reborn after his defiance, remade after his self-destruction, he knew just enough to make it right, and take the madness he’d unleashed unto himself.
The madness of a tortured soul, the madness named Lucifer.
“Good morning, Castiel.” Lucifer said as pleasantly as he ever did, voice grating on nerves like fingernails on chalkboards. The fallen angel was sprawled on the small table, one of the only items of furniture in Castiel’s Spartan room. Apparently furniture and décor were not high priorities inside the locked ward. “Tell me, how are we feeling this morning?”
Castiel turned vacant eyes towards his brother, “Good morning, Lucifer. I am… adequate. Did you know that zebras are actually black with white stripes?”
“Talking to him again?” Meg drawls from the doorway, hands on her hip. “Come on tree topper, time for you to go to the garden.” The words have barely left her mouth when she’s staring at an empty room, the sound of angel wings fading into silence. “I really hate the disappearing act Clarence…” She mutters as she makes her way outside to watch over her dysfunctional angel.
As Castiel follows his favorite honey bee throughout the garden, Lucifer lounges on the bench beneath an old willow tree, the overhanging branches secreting him away from the outside world. When Castiel has traced a route between flowers and trees, blades of grass and fallen leaves, he appears at Lucifer’s side; the small honey bee resting on his hand, antennae waving in constant motion. “Tell me a story.” The demented angel asks softly, eyes still firmly fixed on the insect.
“Alright.” Lucifer never tortured Castiel as he tortured Sam, knowing that it’s all pointless for a being that needs neither rest nor sanity to function. No he treated him with a distant sort of interest, humoring the angel more often than not. So it isn’t startling when the fallen turns to look at Castiel with a cruel smile and starts to speak. “Have I told you about how much Sam loves blood? Not just the demon blood, the whole aspect of bloodletting and drinking it just excites him. But he’s always felt guilty about it. Perhaps it’s part of the trauma wrapped up in how Dean denounced him after he found out about his love affair with a demon. The blood and sex becoming a hedonistic worship on the sacrificial alter of their bed. Or perhaps it was simply the pressure of years of social norms relegating that action to the realm of the horrific, the monster, the vampire.”
Castiel’s eyes follow the bee as it flies off, but he stays rooted to his seat. “The demon blood was what we worried about in the beginning. Dean was so angry when we warned him to stop Sam.”
“Because it was demon blood?” Lucifer asks, always asks, even though he knows the answers full well.
“Of course. The pleasure that Sam was deriving from the action itself meant nothing to Heaven.”
“What if someday Sam got his hands on some angel blood, what do you think Heaven would think of that?” Lucifer purrs the question, all arsenic and lace.
The dark haired angel stares at the bending canopy of the willow tree and tilts his head to one side. For a moment he considers the way that the atoms in the willow tree dance around each other, knowing nothing and fearing nothing. Then his mind remembers and returns to Lucifer’s question, “Heaven would have no way of knowing now. No angels watch over the Winchesters directly.”
“Hmmm, I think he’d like angel blood. Mine would have been better, fallen as I am, it’s closer to the vintage he prefers. But yours… well, there’s something to think about.” And having said his peace, Lucifer stands up and walks off, a smirk on his face at having planted another seed into Castiel’s most pliable mind. It’s only one thought in a long train that he’s been cultivating.
Castiel sits on the bench for a long time after Lucifer leaves, playing over the idea of giving Sam pleasure through a gift freely given. He had never stopped to think that Sam enjoyed the action, not only the substance. After everything that Castiel has done to hurt Sam, he can’t help but wonder if there aren’t more ways that he can set this right, and perhaps Lucifer gave him a small hint in the right direction.