Castiel is drowning and Sam Winchester’s forehead is on the Devil’s shoulder.
That isn’t right—it isn’t right, Cas thinks in some hopeful, wild appeal to ideals he knows that Lucifer does not possess. Sam doesn’t know any better. He doesn’t know that it is his tormentor and not his lover rubbing circles on the small of his back, and he doesn’t seem to notice the fingertips pressing just this side of too hard. This is all Cas needs to know that Sam is not in his usual headspace and that he won’t be able to observe like the hunter he needs to be right now in order to keep from becoming the prey.
This is not what I agreed to, Castiel tries again, his voice a whisper-scream in his cavernous mind. If Lucifer hears, he doesn’t care. Just leave him out of this. Please.
“God,” Sam chokes out a groan, dry and self-effacing, as he steps back.
Cas would breathe out relief if he could. His body and its human mechanisms would push that out of him, but he’s no longer the one at the helm. Still, maybe Sam knows, somehow. Or will realize in time enough to protect himself; protect them both. Castiel knows, despite his hopes, that Sam is in too much sharp, arctic grief to notice the wrongness of this scene; yet he hopes, impossibly. The younger Winchester has always been remarkably intuitive, for any other flaws of character that may, at times, exist within him. Even more, he has always had a capacity for exceeding Castiel’s expectations, similar to his brother in that regard. That should count for something.
“Sorry; I don’t mean to, uh, lay all of this on you,” Sam says, motioning vaguely to the tear tracks drying on his face as he does, “I just… seeing him was a lot. I mean, I guess I knew it would be, but. Still.”
A hot, nauseating wave of pleasure that Castiel doesn’t own rolls through his stomach. (And though he’s felt guilt for Jimmy Novak in the past, back when this was still a body borrowed and not remade for Castiel’s personal use, never before has he felt this sorry or understood the invasive nature of possession as he does in this moment.) He wants to move; he tries to move. He tries.
Cas doesn’t like the way his mouth curves then, nor does he like the false sympathy dripping from the words that come out. He hates that he hears an echo of himself in the words; he hates that these are things he would conceivably say.
“It’s no trouble, Sam, truly. You can cry if that's what you need. You’re safe now; it’s alright.”
“It’s just—Cas, what if Lucifer was right? What if he really was our only shot at beating The Darkness and I blew it?”
This low, contained phantom-laughter rumbles throughout Castiel’s body, buzzing with sinister intent all the way to the beds of his nails, deadly silent. But it isn’t his. It doesn’t belong to him.
The Lightbringer thrives on the misfortunes of irony.
“No, Sam. We will figure this out, but you did the right thing. There’s no point beating yourself up about this, as you Winchesters are so prone to doing even though it rarely helps matters.”
It’s only a small error; Castiel has made comments not unlike it before, and he can certainly be blunt and even unintentionally cold at times. But he’s truly improved in that regard, and even besides, he has never had this cruel desire to mock Sam or his insecurities; not in this small, bare, intimate bedroom (one of the few places Sam will readily lower his guard even a fraction) or anywhere else. He can feel how much Lucifer loved getting that dig in. He can taste how much Lucifer is holding back in order to play his self-assigned role.
Cas has to believe that it is a testament to Sam’s trauma and state of mind that he doesn’t question that small biting quip. It may be selfish, but he has to.
“But you can’t know that, Cas! Can you?” Sam says, a crescendo of panic in his voice and not knowing what to do with his hands. They twitch at his sides. He is too lost to look for the signs. “Can you promise me no one else has to get hurt? Because of me? Because—”
Lucifer kisses him, then, abrupt and bruise-inducing and damning.
Castiel is drowning and the Devil is kissing Sam Winchester. They both need something to hold onto, but Sam doesn’t know he’s in any danger and so he is holding onto this gruesome, gilded nightmare, and Cas can’t reach, bones too stiff with the heft of Lucifer’s power.
The kiss is rough where Cas would choose tenderness, but Sam melts into it with surprise, helpless against his own desire for comfort in any form. If he let himself, Cas could forget the weighty presence of the Devil and the state of the world and it could just be two of them together and Cas could give him what he really needs and love him the way he deserves. Cherish him.
But it’s not just the two of them. He has to hold onto that.
“No one else has to get hurt, Sam. I can’t promise that, but I believe it. You are not at fault for not letting Lucifer in. He would have ruined far more than he saved,” Lucifer says, sounding out a parody of the truth. Castiel doesn’t understand how his words can sound so sincere yet taste so vicious. How he can say something so gently that he means as cruelty.
Angels don’t scare easily, but then, archangels are near-impossible to frighten, which means the balance has shifted. The fact of the matter is that it scares Cas to know how good at Lucifer is at imitating his manner and presence. It scares him to see that he knows exactly what to say to lull Sam into this false sense of security.
Sam nods wordlessly, tired and slightly sluggish, and lets his head fall back onto Lucifer’s shoulder in embrace once more. Lucifer whispers into his hair, some suggestive remark that they should ‘take his mind off things,’ and Castiel’s whole being drops.
Castiel screams but no sound erupts; he feels sure that, were he in control, the lights would have gone out from the shriek of angelic disturbance. Of course, his mind supplies uselessly, if he were in control, this would not be a problem. If he were in control, Sam—who only wants to help, who is still so shaken from both the memory of the abuse he suffered at the hands of Lucifer and so guilty at the thought that others might hurt because of him—wouldn’t be the one about to be harmed.
Castiel just wanted to be useful. Now he is being used against someone he loves more than he can bear or even describe.
It isn’t as though Cas has never hurt Sam before. Breaking his wall is still one of Castiel’s deepest regrets, despite Sam’s ready forgiveness. But even that was different; it was terrible and cruel but felt practical at the time. Justifiable, somehow, in the grand scheme of things. It was a horrible choice to have to make, but a choice all the same.
But this is mindless—Sam is in the dark and Lucifer is hurting him and using Cas to do it and there is nothing he can do. Castiel is a warrior; he is made for action. And yet there is no way to stop this. He doesn’t know how to take control back; in this moment, he doesn’t care about the Darkness. All he cares about is Sam’s watery eyes and the way he leans into a touch he doesn’t know will scar him. That might break him; that might break them both.
Sam, he tries, he practically begs, heedless of angelic custom. But that isn’t how things work—Sam can’t hear a prayer, for Sam can’t be prayed to. It’s Castiel that’s supposed to protect his charges, but now things are in such disarray. Still, he must try. Sam, Sam—
You really don’t want to watch this, brother, the Devil assures him, the echo in his head gravel-rough and sickly sweet.
Everything stills. The room goes dark and quiet, save for a static crackle.
Castiel is drowning in a familiar kitchen and the Devil is leading Sam Winchester by the hand.