Title: When All is Lost
Author: apokteino
Rating: NC-17
Genre and/or Pairing: Dean/Castiel
Spoilers: up to 5.22
Warnings: semi-graphic rape, abuse, and death of a major character - dark!fic.
Word Count: 3400
Summary: The end of 5.22 takes a slight AU turn, and Dean takes it out on the only person left - Castiel.
A/N: This has been edited down to fit ff.n's standards (mostly). Original version is in my livejournal. Sequel will follow shortly!

Bobby's body is near Castiel when he wakes. His eyes are closed, and the damage had been done so quickly there was no physical sign of the broken neck. If not for the absolute stillness, the slightly pale cast to his skin, Bobby could have been sleeping.

Castiel turns to see Dean, kneeling, slumped, face bruised and bloody and alone, and he instantly understands that Sam did it he overcame Lucifer, and dragged the both of them to the pit, to Lucifer's cage. The world hasn't ended, even if Dean's has. Michael, he notes, is gone as well, and no battle between Michael and Lucifer has occurred. Has Michael returned to heaven? Or more likely, he had joined Lucifer, or Castiel would not be alive right now. And Castiel ... well, Castiel's been remade exactly as he died: human, not angel.

Castiel gets to his feet, and reaches Dean, who looks at up him.

In an instant, Dean rises and hits Castiel. Hard. Hitting, again and again, breaking Castiel's perfectly remade skin, screaming through the blood in his mouth, "Why you! Why you and not them?"

While Dean's face has been healing, Castiel's condition has been getting worse. Although he's stopped hitting Castiel in the face, he still hits Castiel in drunken rages, kicking once his hands are bruised enough to hardly curl into a fist. Dean has not chosen to fulfill the promise Castiel knows he made to Sam, to live a normal life. They've been hunting, if rather awkwardly, given that both of them are nowhere near their physical prime, and bruises are hard to explain when pretending to be any kind of authority figure or reporter. Castiel's ignorance of human nuance doesn't help.

They are squatting in a house somewhere in Illinois. There's an old, king-size mattress on the floor, with a sheet they'd found thrown over it. Dean usually sleeps in it. Castiel has taken to a once fully-stuffed armchair. He's curled up in it, finding the ability to make himself small useful, comforting.

He hates being human. His body always hurts, always requires some need - sleep, food, warmth.

Dean will hardly look at him. That, too, hurts.

"You get food?" Dean asks tiredly.

Castiel points with his chin, at the bag near their duffels. He's already eaten. Dean walks over, takes out a smaller bag and finds the burrito. He stuffs it into his mouth with the air of taking on a duty, rather than pleasure. Finishes it and throws the wrapper at the bag.

He lays on the mattress, staring blankly at the ceiling, and eventually falls asleep.

Castiel stays awake - he often prays when Dean sleeps, probably uselessly, but he prays on Sam's behalf, hoping, some last thread of faith left - so he notices when an hour later Dean starts twitching, moaning, finally jolting upward with Sam's name on his lips.

Castiel learned quickly saying Sam's name was not done, mentioning Sam utter wrongness, and so offers Dean nothing as he wakes. He will not take any comfort Castiel can give.

Dean pants, staring blankly, then looks at Castiel. "Why you, huh? Why'd God put you back, and not Sam?"

"I don't know, Dean," Castiel says carefully.

"Fuck you!" Dean snarls, leaping to his feet. "That's it? That's all you've got to say? No bullshit about how we won 'cause the Devil's back in hell? That Sam sacrificed himself willingly?"

In truth, Castiel simply doesn't know. He doesn't know anything anymore, why his continued existence matters at all, and why Sam is still gone when he has been returned. It's senseless, from what he can tell. That's what it feels like. As a human, he has no purpose, except whatever he can give to Dean. But that is no answer that will satisfy Dean, so Castiel says nothing, as he's said nothing for weeks now. Only the beatings satisfy something in Dean, quiet the rage after it's been spent and re-formed into bruises on Castiel's skin.

Dean wipes his face, jaw clenching. He has deep circles under his eyes, and Castiel knows how little sleep he's been getting. Castiel sleeps more than Dean does, the brief oblivion almost craved. So he's not surprised when Dean gets to his feet, jerkily, and starts walking around aimlessly. Eventually, though, he nears Castiel.

Castiel look at him warily.

"S'pay," Dean says. "Only fair. Some fucking angel you are. Useless." He drags Castiel out of the chair. Castiel fights - oh, he always does, but he's no soldier in this human body, so dissimilar from his own, and what skills he's learned are no match for Dean's lifetime of experience. So Dean drags Castiel, who's struggling to twist out of his grip, and throws him on the mattress.

Castiel lays there a second, surprised. Usually he's thrown into a wall, not a bed. Then Dean is on him, straddling him, one hand forcing Castiel's wrists above his head, the other undoing Dean's own belt. Dean pulls it out and ties Castiel's hands, moving his thigh in the way when Castiel tries to knee him in the balls. Castiel grunts, and Dean's breath is hot against his face.

Then Dean kisses him. It's all teeth and no mercy, and Castiel instantly feels his lips split, the bitter taste of blood filling his mouth.

Then he's yanking at Castiel's jeans - who is not wearing shoes - pulling at the waist, then switching tactics and pulling at the zipper first. Castiel's stunned, uncertain if his fear is correct, thinking, Surely not. Surely not this.

Then Dean gets his pants off entirely, and cups him roughly between the legs, only the thin cotton of Castiel's boxers between them. He stares into Castiel's eyes as he does it, and Castiel cannot read the look on his face.

Has he been working himself up to this? Castiel wonders, shocked into stillness. Starting by softening Castiel up first, inflicting the physical pain, making sure Castiel will just take and take it because what else is there for Castiel? - then ...

Castiel takes his bound hands and manages to land a blow across Dean's face, enough to stop him for one second as Castiel tries to move backward, push with his legs to get out of reach. But the next moment Dean grabs his bound hands, forcing them down. Castiel gets a glimpse of Dean's face as he struggles, a look of concentration in his green eyes, biting his lip. Something akin to lust, but darker, has settled on Dean's features.

Castiel feels a surge of fear, knowing what's coming next, understanding the concept, fearing the reality. Dean strikes Castiel across the face, stunning him momentarily, then strips off Castiel's boxers with one hand and rolls him onto his stomach. Castiel thinks to himself, tells himself, it's really just a matter of a different bodily configuration. Not a spiritual violation, not even a mental one. Just physicality pressed against physicality. Human bodies slapping against each other.

He returns to reality when Dean spreads his legs with his knees, hearing Dean pull his own zipper down.

Castiel screams when it rips into him, large and invading and painful, and knows, knows this is more than a violation of the physical, feels it strike against his soul and knows it will burn a mark there forever, a horrifying match to the one he left on Dean's shoulder.

Dean leans over him, and Castiel feels the press of his lips at the back of his neck, which transforms into a bite that makes Castiel loose a grunt as warm blood drips. Dean's hands smooth upward from Castiel's lower back, pressing hard. Every moment when Dean's as far in him as he can be Castiel whimpers, uncontrollably. He closes his eyes, but that only serves to focus him on the sensation of being raped, hurting in a way he didn't think a body could hurt, so he opens them to see only blurriness of the abandoned house, peeling wallpaper a few feet from his face. He's suddenly glad Jimmy is gone. He blinks and his vision clears for a moment as tears fall.

Dean stops and slumps over him, panting roughly. Castiel is utterly still.

"Sammy," Dean mutters, brokenly.

Castiel knows Dean is not thinking of Sam here, not like that. Castiel is just a thing to him right now, a useless thing that didn't save his brother and didn't save Bobby.

Maybe that's all he's ever been to Dean.

Dean rises to his knees. Castiel slowly turns over, back and ass burning, the muscles in his thighs shaking from all the effort Castiel expended trying to scissor his legs shut. There's blood. He sees Dean walk over the bag of food and pull out a tepid beer, twist off the cap and take a deep drink. He doesn't look at Castiel.

Castiel doesn't leave, because he has nowhere else to go.

Castiel wakes - new bruises on his wrists, a dull ache in the rest of his body - to Dean curled up by his side, his eyes closed, head resting on one of his hands. He doesn't stir when Castiel shifts.

Castiel has woken up more than once to find Dean curled into his side in the past few weeks since the ... change in their relationship, and every time this happens, for a moment, Castiel sees the old Dean. Perhaps that is part of what still binds Castiel so closely to him, regardless of the pain.

Rather than lay still in the darkness, Castiel rises to his feet and goes to the nearest window that isn't boarded up. He can see a sliver of the night sky from this position, the faint sprinkle of stars.

The sexual encounters have become part of the routine. It's more punishment then pleasure, Castiel is fairly certain, a matter of Dean returning to the ways he learned in hell to cope with the pain of loss. But if that is the case, then it is strange that the purely physical abuse has stopped entirely. In a way, though, it has been replaced with something worse, an intimacy Castiel doesn't want. He knows that a normal human would leave Dean for this, that self-preservation demands that such a betrayal be met with abandonment. But abandon Dean for what? Where would he go? Bobby was the only other hunter Castiel knew and trusted, besides Ellen and Jo, who are equally as dead. In heaven, no doubt, but that is a place he will never see again, so it doesn't really matter. Dean will see them again one day, but the one time Castiel made that point Dean hit him and said only one word. A name, that also makes Castiel feel the ache of loss.

So Castiel stays. When Dean forced him again, after the initial pain and horror, he tried to reconcile himself to it. Castiel gave all he had and it wasn't enough. Useless, as Dean has said. In a way, he feels like the torment is him atoning for the sins of his brothers and sisters for putting Dean and Sam in this position in the first place. Castiel has come to represent the heaven Dean is so angry with, even though he has never been farther from it.

He stops fighting and adjusts. The bruises fade, for the most part. Adjusting has meant other changes, however. Castiel slips in and out of awareness with startling ease, now. One second Dean is inside him, the next Castiel is somewhere else, curled into the corner of the room or sitting in the bathtub at the latest abandoned house. (Dean refuses to go to hotels. That one name, again.) Dean stops taking him on the parts of hunts that require human interaction, so besides Dean, Castiel only talks to monsters or unsettled ghosts as he vanquishes them. Castiel isn't sure if this is Dean's way of keeping Castiel close.

The faint sound of footsteps - bare feet, walking - warns Castiel of Dean's approach. Still, he doesn't turn away from the window, not until Dean's hand is around his wrist and pulling. He leads Castiel to the collection of old sheets and blankets that is 'their' bed, and begins mechanically stripping Castiel, before pushing him to the floor.

Castiel looks at the ceiling, and fades out.

A light slap brings him back, and Dean is above him, in him. Castiel's on his back, legs lifted and spread, muscles twinging. Dean's cock is like a hot brand in him, but it's not as painful as it usually is; perhaps Dean took the time to ease the way first, more than normal. It doesn't matter either way; it hurts. Dean's eyes look black, the light casting across his face leaving them in shadow.

Dean thrusts, shallowly but forcefully. "Goin' to hell," he mutters, and Castiel wonders briefly who he is referring to. Dean's face twists, then he throws his head back as he comes, breathing harshly.

His head drops, eyes half-closed, slipping out. But he doesn't leave instead, after a long stare into Castiel's eyes, he fits himself into Castiel, laying his head, turned to the side, on Castiel's chest. He moves his right arm down by Castiel's side, fingers touching Castiel's wrist where his arm lays limply by his side, never raised in defense. Castiel's left hand moves of its volition and settles on Dean's head, and he can feel the soft strands of Dean's hair. He feels very much in his body at the moment, and so completely unlike an angel.

He almost fades out again, uncomfortable, but then Dean gets off of him, and Castiel can see a streak of blood on his dick.

"You forget how to speak?" Dean suddenly asks, turned away, gazing at nothing as near as Castiel can tell.

"Didn't think you'd listen to anything I had to say," Castiel says hoarsely, voice so often unused.

Dean glances back, but so quickly Castiel doesn't see the expression on his face.

Finding his feet is difficult, but Castiel does it, sluggishly, and heads for one of Dean's ever-present packs of beer. He goes for the opened one, takes a bottle out.

Dean is suddenly there, snatching it out of his hands and dropping it to the floor. "You don't drink. Ever."

Castiel stares at him. "Why not?"

There's no answer. Dean grabs hold of him instead, forcing him back to the bed. Castiel rolls to his side, and Dean settles behind him, not touching him. He hears hitching breathing, choking noises from behind him, but does nothing.

Eventually, he falls asleep.

So it goes.

One day, Dean and Castiel are sitting in the living room of an abandoned house, a fire between them for warmth - it's October - and an angel appears.

Castiel thought he had not a lick of grace left in him, but he knows what she is instantly when she walks into the light of the fire. "Angel," he says, and Dean jerks, hand reaching for a weapon in his sleeping bag.

She is an older woman, with an odd, gray gaze that she aims at Castiel, then at Dean. "I am Haniel," she says. "I have a message for you. Your brother waits for you in heaven."

"What?" Dean demands, leaping to his feet, Castiel's knife in hand. "Sam's in heaven? How do you know, bitch? Why the fuck'd you care?"

"A message from Gabriel," she replies calmly. "Our Father heard your prayers, Castiel. He answers those with faith. Sam is saved and at peace."

"You're lying," Dean finally manages, voice soft, almost stuttering.

She tilts her head. "Why would I lie?"

"She wouldn't," Castiel says. "She's right, there's no reason for it."

"To fuck around -"

"They wouldn't care enough to do that, Dean," Castiel interrupts.

Haniel nods. "That is the extent of my message," she says, and turns to Castiel. "May you one day return home, brother," and she vanishes.

Castiel feels his lip split, fresh blood spilling as his cheeks pull on them, drawing his mouth into a smile. Sam is - Sam is in heaven. Heaven. He doesn't know how long he repeats that, but he distantly hears Dean's voice saying Sam's name, a broken voice but a healing mind, Castiel is certain.

He eventually looks at Dean, still smiling, and does not see what he expects. There is numb shock, a blank cast to Dean's eyes. He looks up, and Castiel knows he's looking for Sam in heaven, imagining him there. Then Dean drops the knife, and is out the door so fast Castiel doesn't even catch the look on his face. A familiar feeling, even if half the time it is Castiel's inability to read human expressions more than Dean running off.

He's gone for hours. While Castiel waits for his return, he thinks. Dean is happy that Sam is well - he must be - but he is also distressed. Perhaps because all of Dean's actions since that day at Stull Cemetery have been based on the idea that Sam is in hell, and would be for eternity, and he has found out that is not true. He thinks of Dean's comment about going to hell, that perhaps Dean has been preparing the way to go there - or thinking heaven with no Sam was no heaven at all. Sam and Dean are bound up in ways Castiel will never fully untangle.

Then, he dares think Dean's reaction may be because of him. Castiel. That the inflicted pain has same meaning to Dean, some weight. Castiel feels like a beaten cur begging for scraps when he thinks that might heal some of the damage done. And the rest, well. The lack of control over his own body, his own destiny, is settled into his bones, the pain a natural consequence of that lack of control. Control he'd given over to Dean, however unwittingly, that first day when Castiel rebelled.

The door creaks open, and Castiel raises his head. Dean is there, a shadow figure first, then gold falling across his face as he approached the fire still going. He doesn't see Sam as the only thought on Dean's face, instead there is a growing shadow of something else, some other thought given priority.

"You prayed," Dean says, voice uneven, eyes intense on Castiel's. Castiel stares back, trying to understand what he sees, decipher the clues wrapped in riddles on Dean's face.

He did. Silently, sometimes, not often. He knows Dean well enough to realize that Dean had never bothered. Why pray to nothing? Why pray to an absent father who doesn't act?

"Dean," Castiel says, and then, maybe, he understands.

The rape was easier to comprehend, but the encounters afterward truly held the secret. Maybe it had started out as mere violence, a way of hurting Castiel, but it hadn't ended that way. Dean had wanted comfort, and taken it violently. Perhaps he hadn't known he'd only have needed to ask. Castiel would have liked the option of saying no, even if he always would have said yes. Then.

At the same time, Castiel sees it in Dean's eyes at last: the knowledge, the terrible knowledge of what he's done, and for no reason at all. Punishment exacted for something that wasn't real. Sam in heaven, at peace, and Dean still striking out at others. At Castiel. The evils he has branded into Castiel's soul and skin, the evils Castiel still feels.

Dean reaches out for Castiel with his hand, and Castiel flinches back.

Dean flinches in return, in reaction, then stops, stilling utterly as remorse claws it's way up into him, practically visible to Castiel's eyes as his eyes become bright, but no tears fall.

Castiel wraps his arms around himself, stares into the fire rather than Dean's guilty eyes, and Dean does nothing.