No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of Light.
--2 Corinthians 11:14
It was strange being in a vessel again. He felt weighted down and stiff and dirty. Blood and mucus kept running down the vessel’s nose, down its chin. Human bodies were disgusting, constantly leaking fluids from every orifice. Mud monkeys, all of them, decrepit lifeforms, born from shit and clay. It was only proof of Father’s cruelty that he needed to occupy such a flawed container to interact on Earth, the biggest insult.
This was not his vessel. He could already feel the skin beginning to peel and decay. This vessel was weaker than Nick’s had been. This vessel would not last as long. Castiel’s grace was trying desperately to repair the damage being done to its true vessel, but Lucifer’s would win out in the end. He would burn the body from the inside and then he and Castiel would have to find a new vessel. He would take Castiel with him wherever he went. As long as they were bonded, Lucifer’s grace would keep him alive, even if the vessel didn’t survive.
Lucifer felt such sorrow for his brother. Castiel’s consciousness lay dormant, deep inside his mind. Lucifer had to search for it after killing the whore witch. Lucifer approached it cautiously and he let his grace intermingle with what was left of Castiel’s.
“Oh, brother,” Lucifer said, reaching down to curl his fingers in Castiel’s hair; Castiel had become so attuned with his vessel, he had begun to envision himself as it. He felt Castiel’s revulsion at the touch; Castiel pulled away and hissed.
“Snake,” he said.
“Don’t be like that, Castiel,” Lucifer said. “I can taste your pain. It’s so bitter it makes my heart swell. It goes so far back. I’m so sorry, Castiel, but I told you this would happen.”
In the months preceding the final showdown, he had. He offered Castiel to join him, or risk becoming Heaven’s Most Wanted. And now look what happened.
“You should have said yes to me back then. You could have spared yourself this agony.”
Castiel jerked away, but Lucifer grabbed back tighter.
“Look at what these mud monkeys have done to you. They’ve broken you. Used you as a tool, only picked you up when you’re needed.”
Castiel whined quietly as Lucifer flushed his grace into Castiel’s; it wouldn’t heal it, but it would take some of Castiel's near constant pain away, at least for a little bit.
“We’re not all that different, you and I. We both just want to be loved.”
Lucifer walked around Castiel and knelt in front of him. He held Castiel’s face in his hands. Castiel grabbed onto Lucifer’s wrist and tried to yank them away, but Lucifer tightened his hold.
“I love you, Castiel. You’re my brother; nothing will ever change that. I love all of our brothers and sisters, and our Father. And I was punished for it.”
He still reeled at Michael’s betrayal; could still feel the burning in his heart where Michael had struck him with his flaming sword before casting him into the pit. He had spent that first century in the Cage sobbing. How could they have done this to him? What had he done wrong? Father asked them to love the humans more than Him, but Lucifer couldn’t. They were thieves, murderers, liars, adulterers. Abortions. They were faulty. He couldn’t even love them; how was he supposed to love them more than Father? He had to prove to Father how flawed they were. Taking Adam’s first wife, Lilith, and corrupting her was easy. She melded to his will like water in his hands as he reshaped her. If she had been as pure and good as Father claimed, how could he have taken her from His path so easily?
“Look,” Lucifer had said then, proudly. “I can create too. Look at my creation and listen to me when I tell you to love it more than you love me.”
And Father had him locked away for it. Father called him disobedient and sought such a horrendous punishment, complete isolation for eternity. How did the punishment fit the crime? Where was the justice?
Castiel was shivering in front of him. “Snake,” he said again. “Snake with a silver tongue.”
“Is that what they say of me?” Lucifer asked softly. He felt tears peek out of the corners of Castiel’s eyes and he gently brushed them away. “What about what they say of you Castiel? I’ve only been re-connected to the Host for such a short amount of time, but oh, what do they say of you?”
Castiel closed his eyes tightly and more tears raced down his face. Lucifer continued to brush them away with a tenderness he didn't know he had.
“Whore,” Lucifer said. “They call you a whore. Dean Winchester’s bitch. We’re not that different, Castiel, we’re really not. You only want to be loved.”
Lucifer pitied his brother. He could see the wear his brother had endured, read it in the cracks of Castiel’s grace. Oh, the difference five years had made. The Castiel that had stood up to him in Stull Cemetery had been defiant, confident. This Castiel, though, was insecure, complacent. Clearly, Heaven’s abuse could not hold a candle to the abuse Castiel had endured at the hands of Dean and Sam Winchester. To think that an agent of Heaven would be so overcome by a couple of apes was the true blasphemy.
“Dean Winchester,” Lucifer said, “does not love you.”
Castiel let out a small breath. He was cold beneath Lucifer’s touch. The fire of his grace had been extinguished long ago. “That’s not true,” Castiel said softly. “You're a snake with a silver tongue.”
“I’m so sorry, brother.” And he was. Castiel had hardly been more than a child; had discovered the awful truth that their Father did not care. He latched onto the nearest substitute for God he had, Dean Winchester, and everything he did had been with the intent of love, in the vain hope that Dean Winchester would love him back. He emphasized with Castiel. He had been in Castiel’s place once, an eon ago. His heart broke again at the pain Castiel had endured. It was the pain Lucifer endured at the loss of their Father, but Castiel endured it over a mud monkey, and that was so much worse. Seeing Castiel go through it, Lucifer felt as though he were enduring it again for the first time.
“Dean can only love Sam. He doesn’t even love himself, but he loves Sam. There’s not room for anyone else. You know it.”
“That’s not true,” Castiel insisted. “Dean’s love cannot be quantified, he loves so many and so much—“
“But does he love you?”
Castiel closed his mouth and shuddered again.
Lucifer put his hand on Castiel’s chest; he could feel where Amara had burned her essence into him. “Did he show any concern for you? Did he even notice the pain you were in?”
It was a fresh wound in Castiel’s mind, and Lucifer had easy access to it. The horrendous pain Castiel had been in as he shoved himself through the gates of Hell once more to reunite with Dean, the effort it was just to stand, the shame at revealing his wound and the knowledge that the Darkness was still alive.
And did Dean even react?
“If you’re going to kill me,” Castiel snarled, “do it and be done.”
“I’m not going to kill you, Castiel. Why would I do that? I’ve told you, I love you. You don’t have to believe me. It’s okay if you don’t. That doesn’t mean it’s not true.”
“Then what are you going to do with me?”
Lucifer smiled; his grace tickled inside him at the warmth that spread through him, and he shared his warmth with Castiel. “I’m going to spend as long as it takes to convince you I love you. You aren’t expendable, Castiel, not to me. You’re my brother and you will always matter to me.”
He had access to Castiel’s thoughts the moment he entered the vessel. It was heartbreaking, but also reliving, that Castiel was finally coming around to the truth. To the Winchesters, Castiel was just a tool. It wouldn’t save him the heartbreak, but at least Castiel could accept the truth. He wouldn’t move on. He could never move on. Lucifer also knew that from experience. His heart ached at his Father’s betrayal every day. Castiel would be no different.
Castiel was hardly even an angel anymore. Not an angel, but not quite a man. Some in between abomination, with crippled wings and blinded eyes. Human enough to consent to being his vessel, but angel enough that he could not retract it. They were bonded now, in a way angels never had been before. All because of Dean and Sam Winchester. Castiel’s mere existence would be a reminder to himself every day of the pain he endured. But at least Castiel would have one thing Lucifer did not have.
Castiel had Lucifer. Castiel would never have to be alone as he was. Even when Michael joined him in the Cage, Lucifer was alone, Michael having succumbed to his insanity the moment the bars slammed shut, not once speaking to Lucifer in the six hundred years they spent together in the Cage. Even with company, he was still alone. But Castiel didn’t have to be. Lucifer had no intentions of ever letting his brother go.
“The Darkness,” Castiel said. “You said you could defeat her.”
“Oh, yes,” Lucifer said. “About that.”
He saw it in Castiel’s eyes before he spoke the words aloud. Sam Winchester had been right; he alone could not defeat the Darkness. The first time, it had taken him, and his brothers, and God to seal her away, and even then they had only barely managed it. Lucifer by himself was indeed no match against her. But he needed to be free.
“I lied,” he said, exhaling deeply. He was free, and it was all thanks to Castiel. Lucifer would never be able to repay his brother for freeing him. He would always love Castiel for freeing him.
Castiel’s fear became palpable, beating inside Lucifer's mind. Lucifer knew he had to shush that. This wouldn’t work out if Castiel feared him.
“Don’t be afraid,” Lucifer said, pulling Castiel’s face to his. “I’ll never hurt you. I love you.” He kissed Castiel on the lips, swallowed Castiel’s sobs down his throat and probed Castiel’s mouth with his forked tongue. Castiel trembled violently. He tried to push away at Lucifer’s chest, but Lucifer reached one hand to the nape of Castiel’s neck and pulled Castiel back, so close their noses touched. Tears raced down Castiel’s cheeks and he kissed them away, relishing the sweetness as he dug his claws into the skin of Castiel’s nape, holding him in place.
“Snake,” Castiel hissed. Lucifer kissed him again and Castiel turned his face away, trying in vain to shove Lucifer away. “Silver tongued beast.”
“I love you, Castiel.”
Even if it took until the end of time, Lucifer would convince his brother of that. And he would make the Winchester brothers pay for daring to hurt Castiel.
Castiel fell forward, his entire being wracked by his sobs. What a painful sight it was, that Castiel didn't believe him. But that was okay. Lucifer had all of forever to prove to Castiel how loved he was. Lucifer twirled his fingers in Castiel’s hair and whistled softly.