The first night, a week after Castiel receives Dean's confession, he has Dean sit in his office and list his triggers. This is harder than expected. What Castiel remembers doing as a teenager is listing all the things that aroused him, or things that represented a temptation. Dean stares at the blank pad for a long time, then rubs his knuckles across his closed eyes.
"I can't do this."
"Yes, you can." Castiel soothes him, then rips a sheet from the pad and selects a pen for himself. "Start with the first thing you remember, the first time it happened." Dean looks at him for a long moment and Castiel wonders if Dean is recalling a fantasy about him, then the boy sets to his paper and Castiel begins the exercise himself. It never hurts to remind himself that he is weak, even now.
They write in silence for a long time, the electric light overhead glowing yellowish in the shadowed office. Castiel completes his list and gets up, going to his kitchen and returning with tea for both of them. Dean barely looks at the drink, sipping in between noting point after point on his pad.
"Done." He says, finally, setting his pen aside and looking anxiously at the priest. "Do I have to..." he motions with the paper.
"I don't have to read it if you wish to keep it to yourself." Dean frowns at the piece of paper, anxiety evident on his face. "Dean." He looks up. "It really is your decision, and it's ok if you wish to keep the list private."
He holds out the paper, eyes on Castiel's. "Read it."
Castiel takes the list and reads it in silence. Most of it is what he expected, Dean responds to suggestive music, to images designed to be received sexually, present on billboards and in magazines. He feels uncomfortable in the locker room when with his team mates; he is excited by sex scenes in movies and in literature, and seeks release accordingly. He fantasises and masturbates habitually, and admits on paper in cramped, embarrassed handwriting, that he pleasures himself anally.
Castiel reads the list without expression, knowing that much of it is common, expected almost, given the nature of Dean's fixation. Near the bottom of the page Dean details his fantasies, clearly paired down and stripped of anything resembling lewd detail. There are three of them, and all of them feature Castiel himself. He reads these with as much detachment as he can force on himself, because despite the clinical nature of their description, God help him he can see them.
I fantasise that Father Novak kisses me, that I'm naked and he touches me.
I fantasise that Father Castiel performs oral sex on me, in the sacristy.
I dreamt that I sodomised a man, and when he said my name I realised it was Father Novak. (This was just a dream, but I was aroused, I don't know if that counts)
"Yes it does." Castiel says. "Though such things are beyond your control in a way your own thoughts are not."
Dean blushes, knowing exactly what Castiel has read.
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have written..."
"You should confess to anything that stands between you and being healthy." Castiel says softly. He pushes his own list towards the teenager. "When we are alone we see who we truly are, marrying that with confession is how we know who we should strive to be."
Dean reads the priests list with a growing sense of empathy.
"Is all of this true?" He asks finally. Castiel nods. The list is much the same as Dean's in terms of the effects of outside stimulus. He has also listed arousal from being touched by men in a platonic sense, such as when he has his hair washed and cut, and from being seen in a state of undress, whether at the leisure centre or working outside. His fantasies are few and far between as they are something he learnt to control in his adolescence. The only one he lists, the only one he still has trouble with, is the idea of being attacked, held down and forced into intercourse. He realises that this relates to his own desire for blamelessness in the act of fornication and tries to deal with it whenever the thought arises.
"How do you take it?" Dean asks. "It feels like it's there, all the time, and the more I try to ignore it the more I can't help but see..." he exhales. "I feel like a perv the whole time." He frowns at the desk top.
"You're not." Castiel looks at the boys bent head and feels a pang of compassion for his suffering.
"I just told you I fantasise about sucking your cock." Dean snaps his mouth shut and the anger drains from his face. "Shit, I'm sorry Father."
Castiel's dick jumps at both the profanity and the imagery. He digs his nails into his thigh unseen and squeezes until he feels the skin give. He struggles to keep his face and voice impassive.
"I understand how frustrating it can be. But I am not going to tell you that you're a monster." Dean's face takes on such a grateful, relieved expression that Castiel has to look away. The idea of this boy needing him, wanting his approval, does not sit well with him in his current state. "You have an obsession, an illness...and that it not your fault." He says softly.
"Thank you Father." Dean's youthfully strong frame is curled in on itself in the hard chair, exhaustion and emotion evident in his every movement.
"I am doing comparatively little." Castiel shrugs off the soft words of gratitude and hands Dean back his list. "You've identified these weaknesses in yourself, now you have to find ways to avoid temptation altogether, or confront it successfully."
"How do I do that?"
"Well, we can try something. Think about..." Castiel casts his eyes to the list. "Think about something that would usually arouse you." Dean looks at him sharply.
"I thought you said I should avoid..."
"Overcoming the desire to succumb to temptation is incredibly difficult." Castiel says, voice low and earnest. "If you can identify the point at which you lose the battle with your better nature, you can stop a situation from getting that far."
Dean still seems nonplussed, but closes his eyes anyway.
"OK." Castiel guides him through the exercise briskly. "Think of something that would usually cause you to gratify yourself." Dean opens his eyes to look at him doubtfully, but complies anyway. He closes his eyes and a crease forms in his brow. Castiel has done this exercise himself, the point of it is to create temptation and then deny the impulse, the theory being that a desire you create yourself is easier to squash than one that arises unexpectedly.
Dean's breath comes in a rush and Castiel snaps back to attention, realising that he's been looking at the wall behind Dean rather than at the boy himself. Dean worries his lower lip with his teeth, hands resting on the edge of the desk in front of him. "OK." His voice is dry, shaking a little. "What do I do now?"
"Nothing." Castiel murmurs. "That's the point."
Dean makes a sound between a whine and a muffled grunt of discomfort. Castiel flexes his fingers, digging his nails into a fresh patch of flesh, he can do this, he can cope with this.
"It's not that difficult to not touch yourself." He mutters, voice low and hypnotic. "It won't kill you."
Dean swallows noisily.
"Think of something else." Castiel continues, his tone soothing. "It gets easier."
"Can you..." Dean swallows again. "Your voice isn't helping."
Castiel's nails pierce the skin in their bruised crescents. At the back of his mind the Lord's Prayer starts up of its own accord.
"I'm sorry." Dean says after a few quiet seconds.
"What were you thinking about?" The question comes from nowhere and for a second Castiel wonders who asked it, before connecting it to the movement of his own throat, to the heat flaring over his face.
Dean's hands tighten on the desk, knuckles white with effort.
Castiel is appalled with himself. "You don't have to...that was remiss of me."
He watches Dean in silence, wondering for the first time if this task is even within the bounds of what he can achieve.
"You're in the sacristy." Dean says, and something hot and heavy lands in Castiel's abdomen, a kick of blood working through him. "And I've come to see you...I don't know why, but then you..." he inhales shakily and the bottom drops out of Castiel's stomach. "you get down on your knees in front of me...you open up my pants, and you suck me."
Castiel can't move, can't feel save for the throbbing pain in his thigh and the matching ache in his groin.
"I've had that one before." Dean murmur's, his eyes still closed. "It always...I can never not touch, Father, when I think of you, like that."
"Dean." Castiel's voice is strong and it surprises him because he feels anything but strength in his veins. "Stop."
The boys eyes open and the green of them is drowned in pupil, his lips bitten red and sweat showing at his temples. Shame and grief contort his young features.
"I'm sorry, Father." Castiel wills his own arousal away, flinging his will up as a wall through which Dean's soft words cannot penetrate. He refuses to look at the bulge in the boys jeans, the one he knows will be there. He does not need that image to torment himself with.
"Try to avoid the situations you find stimulating." He gets out, keeping his voice steady and authoritative. "You should come and see me again if you think it will help you to overcome your difficulties."
Alone that night he plunges himself into the cold water bath, stomach empty of food because he has denied himself supper.
He prays Dean will not return.