Another lazy autumn afternoon is passing in the manner best spent; sitting on a bed and staring out of a window at the drizzle outside. Of course, Castiel’s bed is an uncomfortable, lumpy thing, and his window is placed high in his padded walls with great bars over it, but he can still see the rain. Some days, like today, he’s more lucid than others. Of course that runs away as soon as anyone approaches, his timidity breaking whatever hard fought sanity he’s earned in the quiet hours of the night. He’s not truly gone, just shattered, broken into tiny pieces, like shards of glass or a house of cards.
Today he’s feeling better, though, can remember who he is and that the world was damned by his actions, and it’s a wonder that he ever tries to remember these things, instead of watching his lovely bees and quietly sitting beside Lucifer on the benches outside. No, today he’s a little more together, and when he is, he resents Lucifer, stops accepting him with that childlike innocence.
So when he feels the slight distortion in the room as Lucifer displaces the space around him, he turns a cold, blank stare towards him, wrenching his eyes from the window. “Please just leave me alone, Lucifer. I have no wish to speak with you today.”
And Lucifer can instantly tell that Castiel is having a good, bad, lucid day, and the small smile that had been in his eyes instantly vanishes. “Oh?”
“Yes. Whenever you come, you tell me terrible things that I shouldn’t know, or you try to convince me that you aren’t, weren’t, evil. My head hurts after listening to you, and I’m never certain what to believe.” Castiel complains, his posture too stiff, his clothes too white, and everything is painful inside his head.
“Well, unlike some angels I wouldn’t leave you alone to rot in a cage for all eternity, taking away the only thing that made it bearable.” And they both know that Lucifer isn’t talking about Castiel in this ward, but it serves well enough as a parallel. Because, as often as Lucifer treats Castiel well, he bites and tears at him with words that reflect his own pain and misery; never tortures, just speaks in words as dangerous as blows.
‘Madness, that’s all he is.’ Castiel tries to remind himself. However, he still rises to the bait, still stiffens his back and replies while looking the Devil dead in the eye. “I would rather have deafening silence than listen to you Lucifer.” Honestly, he’d rather listen to the bees, but this makes his point rather well.
“I wouldn't do that to you. Force you to listen to the void all by yourself.” Lucifer responds smoothly, not at all offended by Castiel’s abrasive attitude. “After all, we all know that angels are social creatures. And without your connection to the Host anymore, how long do you think it would be before you snapped that last little bit? I mean, you're already carrying Sam's madness on top of your own." Leaning forward he adds. "You might not realize, but I'm doing you a favor. Just the sort of favor you deserve." And that final word that comes from his mouth is practically dripping with bitter resentment.
Castiel flinches at his words, not wanting to be here, not wanting Lucifer to be angry at him. He simply can’t handle that anymore, because people’s agitation, anger, and malice roll through him now, in great, crashing waves. When he broke, he lost his ability to guard himself against emotions, too great and vast and varied for his angelic mind to process. “Lucifer…” He says with a hint of warning in his voice, that he’ll either run away or bite back, and he’s not quite sure which.
And the feigned innocence in Lucifer’s voice is what finally tips him over the edge; and all the lights in the ward suddenly blow and he’s shaking slightly. He can’t argue that he doesn’t deserve this, doesn’t deserve worse than this after what he’s done to the Winchesters, to the world, but no. Just no. The bees are gone today and he knows what he’s done and he can’t seem to hide in that childish place where all the pieces have fallen down. That’s all he wants to do, hide away and let the world forget him. But Lucifer won’t let him forget, won’t forget him.
“Oh, really, now?” Lucifer looks about at the darkened room and delicately picks a shard of glass out of his hair. “Temper, temper, little Sparrow. You’ll make me feel unwelcome.”
“You are unwelcome. You are only an afterimage from Sam’s mind, his pain tormenting him, that I absorbed. You should still be alone in the Cage for your sins and your designs to destroy the Earth.” Castiel says, head feeling fuzzy at his own disjointed emotions that he can’t parse, can’t understand.
"Now that, right there, is slander.” Lucifer replies, finger pointing at Castiel accusingly.
“I don't want to destroy the world at all. Why, in the name of all that is Holy, would I want to damage a single blade of grass on this amazing planet? The last, perfect creation of our Father." Lucifer asks, head canted to the side even though Castiel has looked away from him. "I just wanted to rid the world of the six billion or so humans who are using this planet up. I would have created a fresh paradise on Earth, a new Eden, returning this world to its former, untouched glory." he says, a quiet hatred simmering. "Tell me, is that so wrong? To want to protect this amazing planet from the humans who so readily abuse it?"
"Humans are our Father's most loved creation. You know that," Castiel replies quietly, his head pounding and drowning out so much. "Yet you wish to destroy them. This is why you Fell. You feel above them, but they're better than us. They can do things we've never dreamed of, and no matter the circumstance, they don't give up. They try, and they try again." Castiel swallows. "They are greater than any angel…"
The words bring forth the memory of another angel, another time and place, another betrayal. "Is that what you believe? What you've seen through your rose tinted glasses after all the billions of years you've been stationed on Earth?" Lucifer replies darkly. "They covet and they whore, they burn, rape, and pillage. They were born into Original Sin so that they would need to seek Him out for salvation, but what do they do? They create their own gods, idols of bronze and gold, clay and wood. Or even worship demons parading as gods. They murder a family, but leave one alive to feel the loss of being left behind. They lie and serve their own interests. Their motives are not the freshly driven snow you seem to think. I’ve seen what humanity becomes when the fetters are removed, and it was no great and glorious, better existence.”
Lucifer continues to draw out Castiel’s doubts and fears, digging so deep into his mind that he is sure the other angel must actually feel the cold tendrils rooting about in there. “And why, if they are so beloved of Father, has He not stepped in to help them, to stop the atrocities done in His name and against it? Even your Winchesters, how often did they call on you for aid, but offer none in return when you humbled yourself to ask their assistance? Hmm?" Swinging his legs around the chair, he stands up and walks over towards Castiel, cold permeating the room in waves from his presence.
Lucifer’s words and emotions cause a physical pain in Castiel, a burning over his flesh and a crawling fear under his skin that itches. The very act of opening his mouth feels tremendously more difficult than it should be, but somehow he manages it. “And who created the demons, brother?" He asks in a low tone, slowly forcing the words out. "You were jealous of the light a human soul holds. You created the first demon by ripping that light from a human. It was you who created demons, who lives to tempt man away from God because of your petty jealousy."
The seraph clenchs his fists. "You were jealous, are jealous. That was your undoing and that is why you will fail, have failed." The lower angel takes a deep breath, fixing his eyes on the barred window. "Father is gone, Lucifer. No one knows where. You argument is moot." He can feel the chill as the Devil approachs, and he can't help but shiver.
"Oh yes, because it wasn't Father's plan that I Fell, that I showed who was worthy of His unending grace? Think hard for a minute Castiel. Father did everything for a reason. Have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, He was testing us as well as his dear humans?" Lucifer reaches out and trails the back of his fingers over Castiel's neck. Leaning in, he whispers into the angel's ear, breath fogging from his cold; "And if God is gone, as good as dead, then what's the point of us soldiering on? We're denied Heaven, but humans aren't. So just let me kill them and we could have Earth as our paradise, a runner up prize."
He can't look at the Devil, so he closes his eyes. "You Fell for yourself. You were selfish, so you were cast out of Paradise. Whatever test Father put forth, you failed. You didn't follow His will. You couldn't follow His will. You didn't Fall for love, Lucifer, because you don't understand what love is. You've never felt it, that's why you are cold. That's why you reign in Hell, and that's why demons are as you created them."
"Is that so? I don't know what love is? I'd ask you to show me, but I doubt you'd be willing to expend the energy on a rebellious degenerate like me, whom you so obviously hate." Lucifer's fingers continue their slow path over Castiel's skin, skimming from his neck down to his collarbones and out to his shoulder, leaving goose pimples in his wake even through Castiel's shirt. "And don't presume to know what I do or do not feel, little Sparrow. I Fell for many reasons, and I won't deny that jealousy was one of them; but I have lived far longer than you, and in conditions far worse."
Removing his hand, he sits down a little ways away on the edge of the bed, staring at Castiel's closed eyes. "And you are so ready to credit the demons to me, but you seem to be willingly ignoring the fact that after I tempted Eve, I was thrown into the Cage where I had no contact with the outside world, not Heaven, not Hell, not Earth, for billions of years. I made Lilith, but what she did with the demons after I was placed in the Cage is her own burden to bear; hers and the other fallen angels’."
Castiel shivers at Lucifer's touch and tone. He tries to steady his breathing, but it is so hard when all his lungs receive is frigid air. His blue eyes open and focus on the far wall. "If you believe all of this," He begins, trying to keep his voice from wavering. "Then why are you telling me? Shouldn't you be out, trying to convert people to your cause? Or maybe to tempt Sam into being your vessel?" The seraph ran a hand through his hair.
"Demons would not even be in existence had you not created Lilith, so yes, I do credit you for their existence, and their spread. I also blame you for whatever evil they commit, because it all stems from you Lucifer. Your Fall caused all of this." Castiel shakes his head, words pouring out of him faster and faster as he becomes more confused, firing off like buckshot to defend himself from all the terribly confounding things that Lucifer never ceases to say. "The Holy Wars turned brother on brother, and those who followed you fought against those who stayed true to Father. So tell me," he looked over his shoulder at Lucifer. "Where was the 'love' in that, brother? I only observed hate, and darkness, selfishness, and sin. I witnessed the bloodshed of innocents and chaos among the garrison. And what was it all for?" Anger lighting his blue eyes like fire.
“Oh Castiel, such a little dreamer. Haven’t you heard of something called personal responsibility? Or first and second causes? Ford invented the Model T, and yet no one blames him for every car crash since. Better yet, Father created me. Would you blame Him for my sins and the sins of my protégées? And as for where the love was in my falling... I knew that Sam was coming, would come. But in Heaven, we had no need for vessels...”
“Let that sink in for a moment, little Sparrow.”
“My Father told me of my fate long before he made you, back when there was only Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and I. He had planned for me to Fall. So yes, I care nothing for Heaven, Hell, Earth, Purgatory, the countless deaths that resulted from my actions, or any of the rest of it. Because there was one solitary gift that my Father decided to grant me, and I had to damn us all to be able to hold that Soul within my Grace and finally feel whole."
Castiel looks up at the Devil blankly, letting it all fall into place in his mind. He had long ago realized that the Fall was in God's plan all along, but he hadn't known Lucifer knew about it. Who would have ever guessed, ever thought for a moment that the exalted archangel knew his fate and embraced it with open arms?
The lesser angel clasps his hands and looks down, even more confused than before, head spinning and spiraling in circles. "What was it all for, then? Your rebellion? If you knew your fate, if the Father told you, why cause so much pain and suffering? And it seems that you still fell for the same reason I stated before. You were selfish. You sought something outside of the Father's love to satisfy you. Was this what you wanted, Lucifer?" He dares to look into his brother's eyes now. "Is this what you thought you would find on Earth? Because you failed. You lost Sam Winchester and he will not agree to be your vessel again, not as long as he and his brother keep fighting." Castiel stands. "And they will always keep fighting."
"You think I had a choice? A great, ineffable plan from Father, and I'm supposed to have a choice in that? No Castiel, free will is an illusion granted to those with limited perspective. As long as you don't know the plan, you can make choices, but the minute something is revealed to you..." There is an ancient bitterness in his words. "He didn't see fit to tell me everything, of course, so I had no notion of what the inside of the Cage would be like, or how perfect Sam's Soul really was, or what it would be like to come out of the Cage after an eternity - only to find that He had removed my vessel from my grasp once again, or the pain of losing everything, time and time again.”
“I don't ask you to see me as some tragic character whose fate was cruel from that start, I simply ask that you see me for who and what I am." A portion of his old vessel's veneer wears away and a preternatural light, cold and distant like the stars, shines through his eyes. "I am old Castiel, and I do not apologize for the actions I took, nor would I recant them. But know that I will never give up on Samuel Winchester; not for you, not for his brother, not for Death and Father and all of the Host."
Then the veneer returns and Lucifer just looks like a wearied human who has lost everything. "I wasn't made whole, Castiel, you were."
Castiel’s view of the Devil hasn't suddenly changed. He is still evil incarnate to the seraph, but there is something else too. Something that reminds Castiel that Lucifer is indeed his brother. He is reminded that Lucifer is indeed an angel, even if his Grace is black, battered, and broken. He is an Archangel, once best loved by their Father. No, Castiel doesn't forgive him, doesn't view him as a 'tragic character', but he can see his angelic nature. He can remember now, if he strains his memory back far enough, Heaven, as it was before the Fall, can remember Lucifer as he was. Castiel himself was but a fledgling then, but he can remember the shining glory that was an Archangel's Grace.
"I don't believe any of us were made whole Lucifer," Castiel admits, feeling himself slipping away again. Crossing his arms, he holds himself. The stance isn't loose and has a defeated look about it. "I am not...perfect," he begins. "I have my doubts, I've gone against Heaven's will." He takes a slow breath. "I do not fault your intentions brother, but your unrepentance and the actions you took." Then he falls silent, in mind and body.
The fallen archangel looks at Castiel and notices the vapidity had returned to his eyes. His brother’s moment of clarity is gone as swiftly as a summer rain. Not for the first time, Lucifer wonders if Castiel remembers anything from these flashes of clarity, but he supposes it mattered little.
“Lucifer, did you know that when glass breaks, the cracks move faster than 3,000 miles per hour? To photograph the event, a camera must shoot at a millionth of a second.”
“No…” Lucifer sighs as he sits down beside Castiel, “no, I didn’t.”
Lucifer will likely never say it aloud, but he has always hoped that he would have found a kindred spirit in Castiel, before everything went wrong. The sad part of it all is that they are never closer than when Castiel is completely lost.