Umm...don't judge me? Please? It's a sickness and an evil that distracts from other things, but I keep having ideas and...well, this is where those ideas lead.
Dean gets the call via com while he's up on deck staring out over the churning waves and trying to keep hold of his sanity. Figures Zachariah's new pet scientist couldn't handle things down below, not that he disliked Chuck but the guy seriously wasn't built for this. No one was, that thing was just too crazy for words.
He arrives back in his lab to find his notes disturbed, his reels of footage in disarray and the tank in the middle of the room churning as a pissed off pile of inky tentacles lashes out at everything within reach, sending water, weed and grit over everyone in the room.
Specimen 001. The first proof of the missing link. Frankly it's just an amazing thing to look at, though it does make his head hurt in some ways. A half man, half octopus hybrid, with a human torso atop glistening coils of black tentacles. It was an awesome discovery, and sure to make the career of all involved in its capture.
He ducks another explosive wave of water. He was right about Chuck not being up to containing the thing. They've only had it a few days and Dean's been shooting it up with sedatives the whole time, so this is the first time he's seen it awake and moving.
"Get it under control!" A soaked Zachariah orders as he flees the lab, Chuck hot on his heels.
Dean dutifully picks up his tranquilizer gun and approaches the tank. The waves die down and he sees a flash of pale skin in the murky water as the creature observes his surroundings. It's only when he gets closer that he sees the thing in its entirety, and he gets a shock when he does.
Specimen 001 is cowering in the far corner of the tank, tentacles furled around itself, arms over its head as it curls into the smallest possible ball.
It hadn't been fighting, it had been panicking.
Dean taps his knuckle curiously against the glass. Clucking with his tongue gently. The creature stirs minutely, shifting its limbs to peer at him.
"C'mon...let's see you." Dean says, mostly to himself. But the creature uncurls and moves across the floor of the tank, its dark nest of limbs pressing to the glass as his face closely inspects the pressed shape of Dean's hand against the surface of the tank. It swims upwards and when Dean hears it break the surface of the water he backs away.
Pale skinned and soaked to his core, the creature looks down on him with inhumanly blue eyes. His hand rises out of the water and he curls it around the edge of the tank, where a few tendrils follow after a seconds pause.
Dean clutches the gun tighter. The things eyes track the movement, and quick as a blink he's gone, retreating to his corner again in fear.
Knowing that this is the stupidest thing he could possibly do, Dean approaches the tank again, only this time he reaches up and dangles his fingers over the edge, splashing a little to get the things attention. The dark shape at the base of the tank moves and Dean feels a light pressure against his fingers as exploratory tentacles slide over them, one at a time. The touch recedes and after a few seconds he feels fingers twining with his own, drawing his hand gently, further into the water. He holds back for a second, feeling fear as the chill hand grips his own. Then there's warmth, heat on his hand, and he realises that the creature has his fingers in its mouth only when its tongue sweeps between the digits. The touch is curious and not threatening, but still Dean pulls his hand away. Shocked when the thing pops above the surface again, looking curious and a little upset by his sudden withdrawal.
It extends its own pale hand for Dean's inspection, one tentacle wrapped along his arm casually.
Dean touches the fingers reluctantly, but the flesh isn't slimy, it feels like a regular human hand, only wet and cold. The blue eyes are bright on him, its head turning this way and that as it looks at their hands. He moves to touch the tentacle but it is withdrawn sharply, the creatures face marred with a scared, shocked look.
"Sorry..." Dean says without thinking, realising too late that the creature won't understand. It blinks and its hand moves in his as it frowns, trying to fathom the word. Dean squeezes its hand before letting go.
The creature stares at him a moment longer, not breaking eye contact as it sinks beneath the water.
Dean leaves the room in confusion to note down his findings.
Castiel crouches in the corner of his enclosure watching the thing work. He's seen this creature around the place before and remembers him from the day he was captured. He vaguely recalls him along with the sharp pains that yielded him unto sleep again.
He's still less frightening than the glowering wrinkled one and its cur of a subordinate.
This thing has been nice to him so far, in that at least he hasn't yelled at him or hurt him on purpose, like his companion tried to do moments ago with a long steel pincer. Castiel hugs his tentacles close, hurt that the creatures who've captured him want to touch them – they're private, and it feels like a violation to have hands stroking them, touching him so intimately when he hasn't even been mated yet.
He watches the thing play with the flat white things in front of him, scratching them with a stick and looking tired. He wonders what his intention was when he tried to touch him, he'd looked only curious, while the others had seemed afraid and disgusted in equal measure.
It's a thing like him but warm and small, with only two protrusions like big arms to walk around on. It should be hideous, but Castiel is struck by his resemblance to the thing, wondering if it's some bygone part of his own race.
Dean sleeps in his quarters, restlessly and without much actual relaxation. In the morning he enters the lab to work with the creature again, eager to get some results to present to Zachariah, who wants Chuck back on the case as the most experienced lab coat aboard ship. Never mind that his experience came more from books and simulations than actual contact.
And it's not like they've seen anything like this before anyway.
Dean taps on the glass of the tank and the creature hesitantly stirs and comes to see who it is that's woken him. When he presumably recognises Dean he stays in front of the glass, swaying a little and waiting for his next move.
Dean proffers the fish he's brought down.
The creature follows the fish up behind the glass and surfaces to prod at it with his fingers. His face forms a moue of disgust.
"Not a fish fan?"
The creature seems to respond to the questioning tone, batting the fish away and scowling irritably.
"Well...what do you want then?" Dean asks, trying to forget that the creature probably can't understand the specifics of what he wants. The creature's fingers return to the fish, stroking it before he snatches it away and with a series of precise gestures jerks off the head and removes the spine, separating two fillets to hand back to Dean carefully, and dropping the discarded bones and skin into his other upturned hand.
Dean frowns, trying to work this out. Then he walks over to his desk, sets the butchered fish aside, wipes his hands and returns with some lumps of tuna from his lunch salad. He offers them to the thing in the tank, and the creature takes them gratefully, eating them quickly and then smiling slightly.
Dean smiles back.
"The creature from the black lagoon doesn't do raw fish." He mutters, then frowns. "We still have no idea what to call you, aside from Specimen 001 I mean." He says conversationally. He pauses, then figures that maybe the whole Tarzan-Jane bit could be useful here. So he points at himself and says "Dean".
The creature looks intent, but none the wiser.
"Dean." He says again, then points at the creature. It points back at him hesitantly.
"Dean." He repeats, voice fathoms deep and rough with disuse.
"Yes!" Dean yells, nearly startling it away again. He points at the creature and makes a questioning face. The thing suddenly looks very excited.
"Castiel." It insists, pointing at itself. Then it extends its hand to him again, and Dean takes it, feeling the curious finger stroking his own.
The creatures who captured him seem at least to be intelligent. Despite the boundaries of language he has been able to communicate with the nicer one, the 'Dean' creature who brings him cooked fish in the mornings and who hasn't tried to touch him anywhere but his hands as yet.
With only a little struggle Castiel is able to communicate with him – an extravagant shrug for 'I don't know', raising both hands questioningly for 'Why?' pointing and primitive mimes help to make specific questions and though conversation is impossible, Castiel cannot help but be intrigued by their progress, as indeed is Dean.
He still wishes to be free, and fears that before too long the creatures will step up their attempts to fathom the nature of his body, but for now he is quietly content, as far as he can be at least, moderately comfortable and interested in what 'Dean' will do next.
For a couple of weeks Zach seems content with letting Dean observe Castiel (a name which he is keeping to himself) and make notes on his behaviour. But soon he becomes impatient and decides that if Castiel cannot be coaxed from the tank voluntarily for more detailed examination, then there is only one solution.
They do it while Dean is ashore for the day.
He arrives back to find the boat surprisingly quiet, that is until he goes below deck and finds his way to the lab. Zachariah and Chuck are standing over the unconscious body of Castiel, laid out on a gurney and with most of his tentacles strapped down. They're talking excitedly and making notes in between running probes and swabs up under the still mass of Castiel's lower body.
"What the hell are you doing?" Dean grinds out, moving to drag Zach's hands away from Castiel's drugged body.
"We decided an in depth analysis was unlikely to occur if the creature was conscious." Zach shrugs off Dean's grip and takes up a set of large steel tongs. "And we have been able to discover a lot about the specimen in your absence, for example-" He uses the tongs to nudge aside some tentacles and grasp something beneath the protective layer, pulling it into view. "We appear to have discovered the means of reproduction."
It's quite possibly the most appalling thing Dean has ever seen, Zachariah holding the organ for his examination, tongs winking in the fluorescent lights as he turns them slightly to get a better view.
"Stop this, now." Dean demands, and Zach's pleased expression dissolves into supreme displeasure.
"I will do no such thing, we haven't yet begun to..." but whatever he was about to say is lost in the awful sound that comes from Castiel as the drugs begin to wear off. It's somewhere between a moan of pain and a growl with some sort of high pitched shriek woven through it, like three throats working at once to show their fear and anger.
Zachariah pitches away from the bound up creature, Chuck following as Dean darts forward to look Castiel in the eye.
"It's ok." He tries to soothe him but Castiel is awake and confused and hurt, so he isn't fully focusing on Dean. Dean watches his tentacles strain against their bindings as Castiel tries and fails to cover himself, he makes the sound again, only lower and more like a sob.
"Shhhhh..." Dean weaves his hand into Castiel's hair, stroking it as he slowly releases some of his tentacles, allowing Castiel to quickly cover the central organ that Zacharaiah had uncovered. Dean takes hold of the tongs, now protruding from a mass of shaking tentacles, and opens them as gently as possible, drawing them away from the creature and putting them to one side before unbinding the rest of his limbs and lifting him, carefully transporting the huddled body back to the tank and lowering it in.
Castiel retreats to the far corner, wrapping himself so small that Dean can barely see him in the dark.
He turns to Zachariah and Chuck, standing a safe distance away.
"From now on I think all tests should be conducted by me." He grinds out.
They don't argue, but they don't seem to like it.
Castiel lies coiled within himself at the bottom of the tank. He feels both angry, intensely, murderously angry, but also frightened and vulnerable in the wake of the assault on his more intimate body parts. The tentacles range from being like second limbs on the outer circle, to becoming more sensitive the closer they are to the hidden organ itself, finer and more dextrous. And, those two creatures had tied them down and touched them, running their hands, covered in thin, tacky, fake skin, over his private areas, nerve endings sending confusing waves of pleasure and violation with every touch. And then the cold pressure of some kind of instrument on him, lifting the flesh for inspection, pinching it tightly while he was unable to fight them.
Had Dean let them do it? Why? Why would they want to touch him in that way, to learn of him and his kind? The frustrating thing is that he would answer their questions if he understood them, but they treated him as an animal, mute and defenceless, without feeling or dignity.
He can still feel the cold touch of the instrument on him, and he curls tighter into himself. Hating everything and pining for his freedom.
Dean stops sketching the diagram of Castiel's anatomy, leaving much of it unfinished. As brief as the examination had been, he had enough to go on and he knows that it will be repeated, at length if he cannot record some of the detail.
It still makes him uncomfortable.
He looks down at the rendering, the upper body paid out in casual lines, the tentacles noted more as an impression than a detailed mass, and finally the reproductive part, nestled beneath the layers of coiled limbs, but in this case shown more at the fore. An organ similar to that of a human, but with a wider opening at its end, a tight pucker of flesh concealed partly beneath a fold of skin that gloves the thing in its entirety.
He surmises that the creature might well be hermaphroditic, if the opening can be accessed by another male of the species.
He lays his pens aside and puts his head in his hands.
He wonders how Castiel is, after his ordeal, and why the idea of drawing a diagram of his particulars to show to untold people makes him as uncomfortable as it does.
Because Castiel isn't an animal, he's a person and a hell of a lot more human than others he could name.
He puts the sketches aside and wanders back over to the tank, tapping the glass softly.
Something thick and black strikes the glass hard just beside his hand.
"Castiel, I'm sorry, they didn't tell me and...and you have no idea what I'm saying." He sighs, hand stroking over the glass. He steps up onto the ledge that runs around the tank and dips his hand into the water gingerly. Nothing happens for a long, tense moment.
He wriggles his fingers.
A tentacle wraps around his arm, pulling it into the water as Castiel rises from it, bringing them nose to nose. Castiel looks furious, his eyes almost black, lips drawn back and revealing his double row of teeth. He hisses, low and resounding.
Dean brings his other hand up to cup Castiel's face. He maintains eye contact, careful not to struggle.
"Castiel." He says, and tries to inject all the feeling he can into that one, shared, word.
Castiel withdraws his tentacle and covers his teeth, curling in on himself again. He makes a sad sound, like a purr mixed with a whimper and a soft cry.
"I know." Dean strokes his wet hair carefully. "Won't happen again."
Castiel looks at him mistrustfully.
Dean sighs, points at the door and cuts his arms in a sharp 'X' for barred entry. Then he returns to stroking Castiel's hair. "They're not getting back in." He murmurs. "Just Dean, ok?" he winces, realising that referring to himself in the third person is a little juvenile, even for this conversation.
Castiel lights up with understanding, a careful tendril protruding from the water and snaking amongst his fingers.
"Just Dean." He repeats, frowning a little, not looking entirely convinced.
"Just me." He insists. Then, leaning to one side, cautiously, he snags the probe Zachariah used. Castiel instantly snarls and backs away, eyes wide with fear, but Dean holds up a hand to still him, and then breaks the probe in half, right in front of him.
That at least, Castiel seems to understand.