A Brand on the Soul

By CastielLovesDean

A/N: This fic is a request for Lizzy0305, who wrote the 75th review for Cas's Logical Suggestion: Dean finds out that he owes Castiel a souldebt for rescuing him from Hell. The concept is based on the fact that in some cultures, if someone saves your life, you must be their slave until that debt is repaid. That's why Chewbacca's always hanging around Han Solo, in case anyone cares.

WARNING: Spoilers for season 6! Inspired by Sam and Castiel's exchange in "The Third Man," aka Season 6 episode 3:
_Cas: When a claim is made on a living soul, it leaves a mark... a brand.
_Sam: What, like a shirt tag at camp?
_Me: Or like a red handprint on the shoulder?
_Cas: *air quotes* "Maybe."
_Dean: What?
_Cas: -_-;; I wasn't gonna mention it...

That's enough rambling for now. On with the story!


Just days after Bobby, Dean, and Castiel fixed what was wrong with Sam – who was now back to his normal, emo self – the Winchester brothers were enjoying a brief respite from their dangerous career/lifestyle. Sam had gotten Dean the DVD box-set of the latest season of Dr. Sexy as a thank-you gift and agreed to watch it with Dean, letting his closet-dork of an older brother explain everything to him. Dean had just finished his third soliloquy about the things that make Dr. Sexy sexy and taken a bite of his Reuben sandwich when an unexpected voice startled them both:

"Hello, Dean."

Sam fell off the full-sized motel bed in shock, and Dean started choking. He recovered quickly enough without help, spitting bits of corned beef and sauerkraut on the stained motel carpet. "What the Hell, Cas?" he scolded the forlorn Angel. "Ever thought about using a freaking door?"

"No."

Dean and Cas had a bit of a staring contest then, Dean's wildly irritated expression contrasting Castiel's blank one. "Well?" Dean demanded. After another moment, he added, "Can I help you?"

Even Cas could tell that Dean wasn't really offering his help with anything. "I have no need of your assistance."

"Uh-huh. Then why are you here? Just come to hang out?"

"No. There is something I need to get off my breast."

Dean blinked. "You mean your chest?"

Cas sighed, frustrated with mortal idioms; they never worked out right. "Yes, my chest."

Sam, who had long since gotten back on his bed, finally chimed in, "What's that, Cas?"

Cas gave the Sasquatch a barely-noticeable annoyed glare before re-leveling his creepy stare on Dean. "Perhaps we should speak in private?" he suggested.

Sam scoffed in indignation.

Dean turned and looked at his offended brother. "Whatever you have to say to me, you can say in front of Sam."

Cas nodded. "Very well. Several weeks ago, I was reminded of one of the more... unique aspects of our relationship. One of which you may not be aware."

Dean immediately looked uncomfortable. "Look, Cas... it's okay."

Castiel cocked his head. "It is?"

"Yeah, of course," Dean reassured him with a cocky grin. "I mean, come on: I'm funny, I'm cute, I kick ass with a shotgun... it's perfectly normal to have a little man-crush."

"Dean-"

"And, you know," Dean interrupted, "I'm flattered. Really."

"Dean," Castiel tried a little more insistently.

"But I don't play for that team, man. Now, if I did, I'd totally hit that. But I don't."

"Dean," Cas finally got to explain, "I have not come to you today to confess to a 'man-crush.'"

Dean felt silly. "Oh." It was his turn to blink. "What did you come to confess, then?"

"I own your soul."

"Seriously?"

Dean turned around to pause Dr. Sexy, then turned back to give Cas a look of confusion. "Is this one of those 'key to my heart' metaphors?" Dean wondered.

"I was not speaking metaphorically, Dean. I. Own. Your. Soul. It belongs to me. It's why you have my hand-print branded on your arm."

Dean's face fell in horror as he protectively covered his scar. "What? Give it back!"

"I can't," Cas swore regretfully.

"Why not?"

"It doesn't work that way."

"Oh, it doesn't?" Dean mocked.

Cas gazed dejectedly at the ground.

Since Dean was busy fuming and Castiel was inconsolable, Sam tried speaking up again, hoping to be a calm voice of reason. "Cas, why do you own Dean's soul?"

Cas lifted his head again, but avoided eye-contact. "Because I raised him from perdition. It is written, 'He upon whom deliverance is granted from perdition shall henceforth be enthralled to the Grantor until his debt is repaid.'"

Dean shook his head. "Okay, I didn't understand any of that."

"It's a lifedebt," Sam explained, his inner nerd clearly aroused by the chance to show off his encyclopedic knowledge.

"A what?" Dean asked.

"In some cultures, if someone saves your life, you have to be their slave until your debt is repaid. It's usually honor-bound instead of strictly enforced. It's why Chewie's always hangin' around Han Solo."

Dean was too irate to pay attention to that last bit of nerd lore. "Is that what you're trying to say?" he raged, rounding on Castiel. "That you dragged me out of Hell, and now you expect me to be your slave? I don't think so, buddy!"

"It's not like that, Dean," Cas promised. "I expect nothing from you. The fact is: I own your soul because I rescued you from Hell, regardless of how either of us feels about that situation, and I will continue to own it, and have all the privileges associated with owning it, until you have done something for me in turn."

"What privileges?" Sam questioned.

Cas looked even more uncomfortable than he had to date. "None that I would enforce."

"Cough it up, Cas!" Dean commanded. He hated the very idea of authority figures, and having someone 'own' you was about as much authority as there could be, but he had to know just how bad the situation was.

"Well, I don't need your permission to use you as a vessel, and I can read and control your thoughts and actions."

Okay, so it was worse than he thought.

"But like I said, I would not take advantage of my power over you. The fact that I own your soul should not impact your life in any way you'd notice."

"Then why are you telling me about it?"

"Because it will impact your afterlife. If you have not repaid your debt to me by the time you are dead for good, your soul will spend the rest of its existence following me around. It is not as bad as Hell, I hope, but nor is it Heaven, which is where I believe you'd spend the afterlife if you can earn your soul back."

"All I gotta do is repay the debt?"

"In a manner of speaking, yes."

"How much is that?"

"It is not a matter of human currency, but of actions that equal the worth of raising someone from Hell."

Dean sputtered. "Wh- I can't repay that! There's nothing that valuable!"

"The value of actions varies from person to person, Dean."

"Fine. What can I do for you that would be worth as much as not spending eternity being tortured and mutilated?"

"Nothing I would ask of you."

Dean blinked, hopeful. "But there is something."

Cas gulped. "Perhaps."

"Tell me!"

"I cannot," Cas cried, blushing.

Sam jumped in in an attempt to help his irked brother. "Cas, just tell him. Let him decide what's worse – having his soul owned by you, or whatever it is you can't seem to ask for."

Cas closed his eyes but acquiesced. "Remember when Dean thought I had come to confess... something else?"

"Yeah?"

"He wasn't incorrect in his assumption. I have been... enamored of him for a long time."

"Ha!" Dean shouted triumphantly. "I knew it! Wait... what?"

"You gotta sleep with Cas," Sam clarified for him.

"That is not what I want."

"Really?" Dean asked.

"I want something more meaningful, Dean, not just the right to tell people I'm not a virgin."

"You're a virgin?"

Dean rolled his eyes. "Not now, Sammy. It's a long story." He focused back on Cas. "What do you want, Cas? Be specific."

"I want a kind of relationship with you. I know you said you don't bat for my team, but I want the opportunity to convince you that we could be happy together."

"So, what, you wanna be my boyfriend?"

"I think 'husband' is a more accurate term."

Dean gulped and contemplated his options.

"Dean, I don't want you to be miserable with me. You're my friend, and I want you to be happy. But I believe to my very core that you could be happy with me, and what I want is for you to give 'us' a chance."

"Okay."

"Okay?"

"Yeah. Maybe."

Cas frowned. "Maybe."

"Can I think about it?"

"Take all the time you need."

"Thanks."

"Dean?"

"Yeah?"

"I'm not trying to coerce you into anything, but you should know that if I die while in possession of your soul, it, too, will die, and you will cease to exist."

Castiel disappeared without a goodbye.

"Great." Freaking Angels.

"What're you gonna do?" Sam asked.

"I really don't like the idea of being owned, Sam," Dean bitched. "Good guy or not, he can pretty much make me do anything he wants. That sucks."

"So you're gonna date him?"

Dean sighed in defeat. "Yeah, I guess. He didn't say it had to work, right? Just that I made an effort? What's the worst that could happen?"


A/N: Please, review!