It takes two full days for the other shoe to drop.

Dean and Castiel are sitting at the dinner table. The scene is wholesome, normal, and a perfect reflection of how Dean sees his relationship with the boy. He's smiling at the boy, telling him about his day at the shop he works in, when he's interrupted by a sudden pounding on the front door.

He puts his knife and fork down with a sigh and stands. "Whoever heard of someone knocking on the door at this hour?" he mutters to himself.

The second he unlocks the door Sam bursts into the house, pushing Dean aside. He looks around, striding through into the dining room and stopping dead when he sees Castiel still sitting at the table, cutting his steak into bite-sized pieces. Castiel stops and looks back at Sam warily, expectantly.

"He doesn't exist," Sam says, looking back at Dean as he points at the boy. "And don't try and bullshit me Dean, because I know you aren't registered with any community or volunteer groups. There are no boys of his age and description listed in any of the foster homes in this county, in fact, there are no boys named 'Castiel' in the entirety of the United States. No birth certificates, no registered immigrants, no records whatsoever! Except at one school, where 'Castiel Winchester' is currently enrolled. So I called dad back in Lawrence and asked him to look through the church records and do you know what he found? One name, only this time it's 'Castiel Novak', written there clear as day with the rest of the boys choir from four years ago. Just before you left."

Dean was silent. He had no defence, nothing he could say.

"Someone has done their homework," Castiel pipes up, sounding much calmer than Dean was feeling. "I suppose you tried looking up my parents and found that the Novaks never had any children."

"Dean," Sam says, ignoring the boy, "tell me you didn't leave the church because you kidnapped an eight year old boy."

"Twelve, Sam." Dean says, his voice coming out rougher than usual. "The boys choir is for ages ten to fourteen. And I never left the church."

"You left your job!"

"I'm still a priest."

"Jesus, Dean! You're delusional." Sam runs a hand through his hair, tugging on the strands between his fingers so that they stick up in all directions. "Look, it's alright. We can still sort this out. I looked it up, and the maximum sentence for kidnapping isn't that bad - if you get a good defence you'd only serve ten years before parole - worst case scenario. That's still plenty of time to get on with your life afterwards. If you give yourself up... Dean, if you give yourself up it can only help your case."

"No, Sam."

"Dean." It's Castiel who speaks, pushing himself away from the table and coming to slip one of his hands into Dean's own. The boy squeezes Dean's fingers, strokes his fingertips over Dean's palm, and smiles up at him. "I'll handle this." The smile fades from Castiel's face as he looks at Sam instead. Dean knows, without needing to look, that the boy's eyes have turned dark, black without iris or whites. "If you take him away from me, Sam Winchester, I will kill you."

Sam looks uneasy, his eyes flicking between Castiel's stoic, black-eyed gaze and Dean's stony face. "Dean...?"

"I'll kill anyone you send," Castiel continues, his voice somehow just a little mocking, "police, social workers. I'm a good boy for Dean, Sam. I'm only good because he takes care of me so well. You don't want to know what I could do if I was bad."

"Just go home, Sam."

Sam is staring, looking back and forth between them like he's on the verge of some kind of terrible epiphany. Dean knows he'll get there eventually, knows that he's losing his brother... But he'd abandoned his family when he'd left Lawrence, had turned his face from God and embraced his sins. Dean had come to grips with the idea of never seeing Sam or his father again a long time ago.

Castiel wraps his arms around Dean's waist, pressing tight against him. He smirks at Sam, helping the final realisation along with a very unsubtle push. "He fucks me, you know. I want him to. This body feels so good when he's inside me. Dean knows where he's going now, when he gets there I'm going to be there with him to hold him tight."

Sam's catholic upbringing doesn't fail him, despite years of not actively going to church, despite claiming that demons were actually representations of mankind's abstract fears. "Christo," he says, almost choking on the word.

The boy flinches away from the word as if it could physically hurt him. Dean holds him close, stroking the boy's hair soothingly. He doesn't look at his brother as he speaks; "I think you should go now." He doesn't look up until he hears the door close.

The rest of the evening passes with a terse silence. It's not until Dean turns off the light and slips into bed, Castiel already lying there under the covers, that either of them says anything.

"I meant what I told your brother," Castiel tells him, rolling onto his side and propping himself up so he can look down at Dean's face in the dark. He sounds odd, the tone of his voice weighing heavier than usual. "I'll hold you, Dean. I'll look after you."

"Once I'm in hell," Dean answers, shifting to let Castiel mould against his side, "once I've said yes."

"Dean..."

"Don't." Dean gropes for Castiel's mouth with his own, presses his lips against the boy's and rolls him onto his back. "Just let me fuck you. Let me pretend."

Lithe, slender legs open up for him, letting him press down and grind their still-clothed bodies together. Castiel raises his hands and runs his fingers through Dean's hair, pulling him down for wet, steamy kisses. "I'm not pretending."

"Don't," Dean says, pushing his own boxers down to his thighs. He doesn't want to hear about promises they both know are fake. "Castiel, don't."

"I'm not."

"Please..." Dean silences the boy with more kisses, stretching him open with his fingers and marvelling at how the boy is still so tight, so perfect. Pristine every time, as if he's never been touched before. He lines himself up, pushes slowly until the head of his cock pops inside, swallowed up by the beautiful heat of the body beneath him. Castiel gasps and pants with every push inside. He's honest in his pleasure, honest about this. After four years Dean can tell when the boy is lying.

Afterwards, as he lies naked and sticky under sheets that always need to be washed, Dean sighs. Castiel stretches languidly beside him, then rolls onto his side and curls around a pillow. Dean follows automatically, wrapping an arm around the boy's waist. Short moments later a small, smooth hand lands on top of his.

Dean has forsaken family to lie in the devil's arms.

The house is quiet the next morning, when Dean has one of his rostered days off in the middle of the week and Castiel has gone to school to pretend to be a normal boy, armed with a thick Russian novel that even Dean would have trouble reading through. It's ten o'clock, Dean is drinking hot coffee and watching the morning news when the phone rings.

He answers it with a polite 'hello', assuming that it was either the store asking him to fill in for someone or the school wanting to ask him if he was aware of his son's intelligence.

He hadn't been expecting to hear his brother's voice on the other end of the line.

"Dean, don't hang up."

Dean contemplates doing it anyway, but eventually sighs and asks; "What is it, Sam?"

He can practically hear Sam's crisis of faith, can clearly picture him pacing back and forth just from the noises coming through the phone. "You're living with a demon," Sam says, sounding as if he doesn't quite believe it, "Dean. A real demon."

"You sound shocked," Dean says tiredly. He rubs a hand over his face, leaning back on the couch. "Does this mean you won't be calling child services?"

"Is this why you left the church?" Sam demands. "You left the church because a demon - Jesus Christ - a demon wanted you to?"

"That's a simplified view of things, yeah." Dean winces at the string of cursing that reaches him through the phone, but it wasn't the bad language that was bothering him, it was the tone of shocked disbelief, of fear, in his brother's voice. "Sam. Sammy, listen to me. It's ok. I know what I'm doing. Nobody's getting hurt, ok? As long as I'm looking after him the demon has no interest in anyone else."

"So you're, what, damning yourself for the good of others?"

"Yes." If he weren't already assured a spot in hell by his actions, Dean's lies would have sent him there anyway. "Now listen Sam, because this is important. You can't tell anyone what's going on. You can't tell Dad, you can't tell anyone from the church, not your girlfriend, not even your therapist if you got one. You start talking demons and they'll think you've gone nuts."

"So what do I do?" He imagines Sam running a hand through his hair, pulling on the ends. "I have to do something."

"You do nothing. You forget what you saw and whatever you've dug up and you leave me with my burdens. I'm not dragging you down to hell with me and that's all your interference would do."

"Dean..."

"Call me again and I'll pack up and leave, and doing a nationwide search for 'Winchester' won't help you find me." Dean hangs up before Sam can say anything else. He rolls his head back against the couch cushions and stares at the ceiling for three full minutes before he picks up the phone again and dials the number for Castiel's school. He leaves a message with the administration that there's a family emergency and he'll be coming to pick Castiel up as soon as he can, then finds his wallet and hops straight into his car.

When he arrives at the office Castiel is looking suitably worried, acting just like a preteen boy who's just been told that there's a family emergency and his father is coming to get him. Dean doesn't need to work at it to look serious. He just takes Castiel's hand, thanks the woman behind the admin desk, and takes the boy out to the parking lot.

"What's the emergency, father?" Castiel asks, the fake worry replaced by a small, puzzled frown.

"Get in the car," Dean replies. "We're going to the waffle house and getting icecream sundaes. Then you're sucking me off on the way home."

Castiel slides into the front passenger seat and buckles his seatbelt. He places a hand on Dean's shoulder as the priest starts the car, giving him a sympathetic smile. "You must have had a bad morning."

"Funny how one bad phone call can ruin your whole damn day."

"I'll make it better for you, Dean."

Dean glances at the boy in the passenger seat and smiles at him. "I know, baby. Having you around makes everything better."

-


-

Castiel was eighteen - or should have been - when he convinced Dean to start preaching again.

"It's important," he says, worming his way onto Dean's lap on the couch. "You need to send a message out to the people."

"What kind of message?" Dean asks, placing his hands on the boy's hips to keep him from squirming and distracting the priest. He didn't need the distractions right now.

"An important message. The kind that millions of people need to hear. The kind you won't be able to send if you go back to small-town churches." Castiel smiles, leans in and puts his arms around Dena's neck and kisses him until his lips are pink and glistening. "You'll have to lie, Dean. Can you do that for me? Can you pretend to be something you're not so that the masses will listen?"

"I pretend all the time, Castiel. What message?"

"Tell them that the apocalypse is coming, that the sixty-six seals are going to break, and Lucifer will be set free upon the world again."

"Am I going to be telling the truth when I say that?" Dean asks, watching Castiel's face closely for any sign of a lie.

The boy gives him a sympathetic smile. "No." He's lying.

Dean thinks it over, his thumbs tracing circles on the boy's skin. Hell, he thinks, why not? Dean, no longer thinking of himself as a priest, unzips the jeans that Castiel is wearing and somehow fits one large hand inside to touch the boy, fingers kneading and stroking and sliding agianst the boy's skin. "Why the fuck not?" He asks aloud, and catches the boy's mouth in a searing kiss. "If I'm going out, I'm going out with a bang."

He's not sure why he associates donning the mantle of priest again as meeting his end. Castiel doesn't correct him, letting the knowledge sit heavy between them as he rocks his hips into Dean's hand, breath coming out in short little gasps against his mouth.

Over the next couple of months Dean pulls Castiel out of school and they set about making the necessary arrangements. Robes, location - complete with a new house that Dean fully intends to default on when the time comes, advertising (which Castiel called, with a wry little smirk 'spin doctoring'), and finally securing the one thing that is guaranteed to make people come. A genuine faith healing franchise.

Castiel sets up the altar in the master bedroom, where guests will never go. He shows Dean what to do, what words to say, to trap the creature that will be doing the dirty work for him. He doesn't lie about this, tells him in explicit terms what will happen when the altar is dismantled. Dean just smiles at the boy, ruffles his hair, and tells him that he knows where he's headed and has done for a long time.

He performs the first healing in a supermarket, and a woman in a wheelchair walks for the first time in thirteen years.

It's easy after that, way too easy. He takes Castiel's advice, gets people hooked with his falsely sincere sermons and his apparent ability to cure any ailment just through touch. By day he become the same smiling, faithful man he'd been before he met the boy. By night he makes the most of the time he has left when he touches the boy, sucks on his skin and worships his body against a backdrop of red wine and clean cotton sheets.

Dean waits until he's approached by a camera crew, just three months later, and readily agrees to let them sit in on one of his sessions. He lets them search through the tent from top to bottom, lets them interview the audience full of hopefuls and true believers, even invites them into his house for tea while Castiel lurks silent in the bedroom.

He waits until he hears them discussing how they can't find anything suspicious, then gives them a show to remember. After healing a man with an inoperable tumour and dooming an innocent soul to die, Dean receives a vision from God. He makes the act as good as only a professional liar can, speaks right into the camera, and disappears out the back before anyone can corner him with questions.

Dean destroys the altar. He burns all of the evidence and replaces it with a clean cloth and a statue of the virgin mother, a well-thumbed bible sitting below her downturned gaze. He sits on the bed then and waits.

Castiel comes first, climbs into his lap and kisses him. Holds him when the reaper comes. "I love you," he whispers into Dean's ear, and the priest can't tell whether it's a lie.

-


-

It's dark when he wakes up, naked and stretched out on a cold metal slab, his wrists and ankles cuffed in place. Shadows, semi-formless around him, part to reveal a being in the figure of a man who smiles at Dean with pointed teeth and eyes that burn red. "Hello, Dean," the figure says, selecting a long, thin, serrated knife from thin air. "I've been waiting six years for you."

He leans down over Dean, trailing the tip of the serrated blade lightly over Dean's chest. Smiles right into his face. "Are you ready to get off the rack?"

Dean's face twists into a grim smile. He remembers what Castiel had told him, had paid for his answer with six years of sin and bliss. "Yes," he says. And the first seal breaks.