Title: I'm The One Who Gripped You Tight To Screw Over The Other Guys (Part Fifteen)
Author: HigherMagic
Pairings: Dean/Castiel, Sam/Ruby
Rating: PG-15
Word Count: WIP
Spoilers: Castiel, but different. Season 4 premise spoilers.
Warnings: canon character death, Cerberus!Cas, language, collaring, violence and torture.
Summary: The idea is simple: find Lilith, kill her, and stop the Apocalypse. If Dean or Castiel could pull their heads out their asses for five seconds, it might actually work.
Notes: Unbeta'd. All mistakes are my own.

It took two days before Sam's symptoms began to get worse. Dean, of course, was helpless but to simply care for his brother, bringing him food and water while he began to sweat out the fever and staying by him as he began to slow, painful detox that was his body ridding itself of Ruby's poison.

Although Castiel lacked the emotional bond and loyalty that kept him invested in Dean's wellbeing and his future, he did care for Sam in the same way one might care for a distance cousin – largely uninvolved, but sympathetic and willing to help should trouble befall them – and he felt, with each passing hour as he watched Sam deteriorate and Dean begin to grow desperate, his hatred for Ruby growing as well.

The demon was insufferable, to put it plainly. He was starting to deeply regret using his own stomach as her prison until the plans with Lilith were finished with. Sam's pitiful calls for her blood that slowly turned into pain-wracked screams made his spit taste like bile and churned his gut in a way he had not felt since the first time he'd ripped a Fallen's throat out with his teeth – the mixed loyalty, the betrayal he saw in Dean's eyes, the distrust slowly brewing, it hurt him in a way he could not put words to, even if he'd wanted to.

"I must leave," he said, finally, when Sam had to be relocated to the panic room in the basement because his psychic abilities were far from gone; like a caged animal lashing at the electric prod, he kept fighting and Castiel felt the pull towards him singing in his own blood as though he were the one to have poisoned him in the first place.

Dean looked at him, disbelieving. "You're fucking kidding me, right?" he demanded, slamming the book he'd been reading closed and standing. In two quick strides he was right in Castiel's face, pinning the dog between his own body and the wall. "You think you can just waltz in here and keep fucking everything up and leave again? What the Hell, Cas?"

The creature frowned, lowering his eyes because he hated the pain he could see in Dean's face. "I'm sorry," he said, voice heavy with sincerity, and it caused that tight, painful knot in his chest to throb when Dean snorted, turning away. "I mean it – I truly am. But I can't…" He swallowed, hesitating. "I can't stay here, Dean."

"Why not?" Dean rounded on him again, distrusting. Castiel could hear the stutter in his heartbeat, the bitterness in his scent as his eyes looked Castiel up and down like maybe he could see beneath the vessel into all the dirty, dark secrets Castiel had been hiding.

And really, what could Castiel say to him? He wanted, so badly, to be able to tell the truth – if only he knew how Dean would react, what to do or say to make him okay, make him accepting. With his old master, Dean in Hell, it was easier – give him a fresh body or a project and he was so happy, so easy to please, and Castiel merely had to come when he called to appease his master, but now? Life was so much more complicated than he had ever known it. He hated it. He hated this.

For a long moment, they merely stared at each other, before Dean deflated, rubbing his hands over his face and sighing hard. Up here Sam's screams weren't as loud, but they were still audible, and Castiel had no doubt that they were wearing Dean's already-frayed nerves even thinner. "What do I have to do, Cas," Dean said, sounding so tired and so worn out and Castiel hated it, hated every single weary line he could read in Dean's posture, hear in his voice, "to get you to let me in, huh? Just…fuck." He turned away, kicking at one of the chairs loud enough to knock it back onto two legs and over, and Castiel flinched at the resulting crash. Dean was running his fingers through his hair, and shook his head. "I'm so fucking sick of this. You should have…"

Jesus, you'd think he was the one sweating out demon blood.

Shut up, shut up, shut up!

"You should have just left me down there to rot."

Castiel snarled, stalking towards Dean and turning him around with one strong hand to his shoulder. His fist was flying before he could stop it, connecting with Dean's jaw, but his other hand caught the man before he could fall to the ground, fists closing tight in his clothes and shaking him. "Don't you dare say that to me!" he shouted, his eyes glowing white around the edges, bright and pleading. "Don't you fucking dare!"

"Then be fucking straight with me!" Dean yelled, recovering quickly and shoving Castiel back, sending the dog staggering (though Dean suspected Castiel let him, and was even angrier at what that implied). "My brother is down there dying for all I know and you won't even tell me why! And you're just…just leaving? No. Fuck you, Castiel. I don't owe you this kind of loyalty, you got me?"

"Dean -." But the man was already turning around, shoving him away, and Castiel reached for him, desperate – his fingers hooked in the sleeve of Dean's shirt and pulled him to a stop. "Please, Dean – please don't be angry with me. I just…I gave Sam my word -."

"Your word?" Dean's expression – disbelief and disgust and anger – made Castiel want to tear at his own skin if it would make Dean stop. "Your word's lookin' more and more like a steamin' crock of shit, Cas! What promise could possibly be more important than Sam?"

Castiel sighed, swallowing hard, and ducked his head so that Dean might not see how much those words hurt him. "I will go to him," he said, breathing deep to try and get his emotions under control before he lifted his chin to look Dean in the eye. "I will ask his permission to tell you what's wrong."

Dean rolled his eyes. "Fine, Cas. Go. I'm…I'm gonna take a walk." He had turned away before Castiel could protest, and though he ached to follow Dean and urge him to stay inside where it was safe and where Castiel could protect him, he knew Dean would only do that if Castiel could tell him what, exactly, was happening.

He had to go to Sam.

Castiel was unprepared for the surge of memories that Sam's screaming brought onto him – red-marred images, flashes of torn flesh and bloodied bodies surged into the backs of his eyelids, and he grimaced, hand tightening on the stair rail and hesitating on the third step from the bottom. He could remember, of course, and knew the scent of every soul that had passed under his belly to get into Hell – even Ruby's ash-stained essence held a certain familiarity to him. The scent that lingered here was pure death, decay in its most awful form and Castiel felt sick with it. The screams raised the hair on the back of his neck as though confronting a threat, and God – if it was this bad for him, who had done nothing ill towards the terrified souls damned to Hell, how bad must it have been for Dean, who had not only welcomed them with open arms but had seen to their punishments and tortures personally?

He was sure he could not hate himself any more than he already did before he heard Sam screaming. As he approached the door it lessened, and when he peered inside he was glad to see that Sam, at least, was still in his bonds, chains around his ankles and wrists and a spit-soaked piece of linen in his mouth which did little to stifle his sounds.

He drew back, sucking in a deep breath, and twisted the locking mechanism open, and did his best to step inside without much trouble. Ruby's demon soul inside of him made his skin burn slightly at the barrier of iron and salt, and he felt physically sick as he crossed the barriers as though he was going to throw up, but at least he was inside – and he sealed the door behind him, garnering Sam's attention.

Sam looked awful, to put it plainly – his shirt bore yellowing sweat stains, and his skin was sallow and pale. Dark circles under his eyes took up most of his face, his lips dry and cracking, hair dark with sweat. His wrists were rubbed raw from the manacles and Castiel was sure his voice was hoarse from shouting.

When Sam turned to look at him, his eyes didn't focus and they were fever-bright, but that wasn't what shocked Castiel the most. They were black – black as a demon's, but thin so that Castiel could see his real iris and pupil roving wildly underneath as though he was trying to follow swirling colors, dizzy and fast.

His stomach turned at the sight of the tortured soul, and he hesitated on the threshold, just inside the shut room, when Sam's mouth parted around the gag and he uttered a single, cracked word; "Ruby?"

Castiel hated that demon – he hated her with every fiber of his being. "No, Sam," he said, shaking his head. "She's safe, but she's not the one talking to you. I am."

"So…" Sam's fingers flexed, knuckles white and hands shaking. His entire body arched like he was trying to reach for Castiel and the lights in the room flickered. "So thirsty, Ruby. Please."

Castiel sighed, licking his lips, and moved away from the door to a small bowl sitting under a faucet, which he filled, along with a dirty cup that was sitting alongside. He supposed he should wash the cup – Sam didn't need to drink something and get sick when his body was already so weak – but he had no soaps and he didn't want to stay down here for longer than necessary, so he instead rinsed it several times under the dripping water until it looked decently clean, and brought the bowl, cup and a small rag to Sam. He knelt by Sam's head, holding the cup to his lips.

"Drink," he urged. It was awkward with the gag in his mouth – which was little more than a shredded and useless thing now, so Castiel quickly took it in hands and ripped it apart, pulling it out of Sam's mouth before holding the cup to his lips again. Sam drank eagerly, so Castiel dipped the cup into the bowl and nursed it into him again and again until the water bubbled up at the corner of Sam's mouth and he couldn't swallow anymore. "Good. That's very good, Sam. Well done," he praised quietly, like Dean had done for him so many times; it had never failed to settle warmly in Castiel's stomach and gotten his tail to wag.

Sam had fallen silent, his head rolling back and forth along the thin pillow, and Castiel sighed, soaking the cloth in what little water remained in the bowl and dabbing at Sam's sweaty forehead. The entire process felt awkward to him – he was a soldier, not a caretaker, and certainly no friend of Sam's if their shaky interactions were anything to go by, but he thought of Dean and how grateful he would be and that settled something inside of him that hissed at being so close to Lucifer's Chosen.

"Sam," he said after a few long moments of silence, the man's attention flickering to him briefly in the form of a soft hum. "I want to tell Dean why you're sick. He's very worried about you."

Sam laughed, loud and pained. "Dean," he sing-songed, rolling his head away. "Dean doesn't worry about much of anything, Ruby. He's dead!" His laugh, this time, sounded far more hysterical, and the scent of salt became sharper as tears beaded at the corners of his eyes. "He's dead and the only thing left now is Lilith. We have to – I have to kill her."

He turned, suddenly, the fragile metal bed skating alarmingly as his large body jolted, turning back around and fixing wide black eyes on Castiel's face. "Will you help me?" he asked, his fingers twitching like he'd be reaching for Castiel if he could – though now the dog knew he didn't see Castiel. Not really. "I need to kill her. For Dean."

"Yes," Castiel replied, voice soft and coaxing as he used the cloth to wipe Sam's hair from his face, where it was sticking to his temples and his neck. "For Dean. I understand."

"I gotta…" Sam swallowed, the tears starting to leak out, tendons straining in his neck as his body arched and shuddered from another hot flush of the poison clinging to him, desperate to hold onto its host and fight back. "Gotta make it up to Dean."

I hate you, Castiel snarled, trying his best to keep his expression impassive but he wasn't sure how well he was doing – the colors had sharpened, red and orange standing out in the way they did when his demon vision was at the forefront, black concealing his eyes. If I hadn't promised you safety, I would have ripped you to pieces just for this.

We're in a war, Ruby snapped, rolling inside of Castiel's stomach in a way that made him gag. Soldiers die. There are casualties.

I hate you, Castiel said again, taking the near-empty bowl and emptying it down the small gutter at the edge of the room, setting the cup inside. He wetted the cloth again with new, cool water from the faucet and folded it before carefully placing it on Sam's forehead. "You are strong, Sam, and you can fight through this," he said softly. "For Dean."

"For Dean," Sam repeated, soft sobs racking his body as he turned his face away. Castiel left the room swiftly, unable to bear the sounds of Sam's tortured screams and the way his anguish tainted every single sound – it was awful, had Castiel collapsing against the rail and dry heaving onto the stairs below him, sick to his stomach and angry beyond belief.

His snarl echoed around the basement, his teeth bared and eyes shining with hatred. Ruby's essence was coiled tight inside of him, pulsing anxiety and fear. Good. She should be afraid of him – because he was going to make her pay. Every single slight she had made against Sam and against Dean, he was going to make her regret it tenfold and grind her into dust beneath his feet.

Hey, now, there's no need to get annihilistic on me -.

"Don't -." Castiel swallowed, snarling over his shoulder as though she was standing right behind him. It was a habit from when he had more heads than one, able to look into his own eyes and rage at what he saw. Heaven, Hell and Earth were not meant to exist as one thing. "Don't say another word to me, or I swear -."

You'll what? Eat me? You already did that, mutt. Guaranteeing a demon's safety doesn't leave you with many options now, does it?

Castiel paused for a moment, forcing himself to calm down as he lifted his eyes to the door leading out of Bobby's basement, cracked open so that he could come and leave as he pleased. The memory of Dean locking him in here not even a week ago surged in his brain, and he chuckled, shaking his head. "No, you're right," he said, hefting himself up the stairs and ascending swiftly. "You are safe from my hand until Lilith is dead, and then you are free to go on your way."

Right, Ruby said, a little hesitantly, sensing the calm inside of the dog now and not liking it one bit.

Castiel hummed, climbing up the last few steps and closing the door to the basement behind him. Dean's absence in the house unnerved him, but Castiel forced himself not to follow his scent and track him down outside like the ridiculous overgrown house-puppy he was. He could already hear Dean's teasing, and he vowed not to antagonize the man further since he had not gotten Sam's explicit consent to tell him the reason his brother was sick.

"You know," he mused, climbing up the stairs towards Dean's bedroom, needing the familiar scent of his master around him to settle his wild emotions and churning stomach, "demons go missing all the time. Die all the time – by other demons or hunters…" He paused at Dean's door, lightly tracing his fingertips over the brass handle before turning it and stepping inside, leaving the door wide open. He walked over to the window, glad that he could actually see Dean if he braced his shoulder against the glass closest to Dean's bed and leaned his head against the cool surface. The Hunter was pacing outside, clearly agitated. He looked like a prowling beast, an animal, and Castiel bit his lower lip, eyes dark as he watched, able to see the Hellfire crawling just under his skin.

Dean was a phenomenon, a fire and flood, cleansing and purifying and Castiel missed him. He missed him and needed him and wanted him so damn much it was downright sickening.

Ruby's voice pulled him away from his vigil; I'm smarter than you give me credit for, mutt.

Castiel nodded, pursing his lips. "You are smart," he said, "I already acknowledged that. Your schemes for Sam were almost perfect – they were perfect, should I say, had I not gotten in the way of them." He folded his arms across his chest, sighing heavily. "But I never said I had to be the one to kill you. Tell me, how do you think Dean will react when he finds out you're the reason for his brother's suffering?"

Ruby's essence froze. He can't find out, she hissed, 'cause your loyalty's got you tongue-tied, and he can't kill me when I'm in you, and by the time you let me go, I'll be in the Matrix, mutt. You'll never find me.

Castiel smiled, but didn't answer. His eyes were drawn to Dean abruptly stopping in his pacing, chin raised as he stared at something that was behind a pile of cars, so that Castiel couldn't see. The dog straightened, nostrils flaring as though he could scent the air even though it was impossible from his position.

He watched as Dean shied back, reaching for his gun, before an arm reached out and both Dean and the mysterious figure disappeared. Castiel snarled. Angels. Fuck, he knew he shouldn't have let Dean go outside!

He turned, running for the door, only to have it slam closed, sealing him inside. "Damn it, no! Dean!" He slammed his hand against the door, frustrated and helpless. Sam couldn't let him out this time, and Bobby – where was Bobby? Had the Angels dealt with the older Hunter as well? Was he simply out on a food run? It didn't matter – there was no telling what they could have done to Dean while he was stuck in here. Every second he wasted was precious now – God, no, they had taken Dean, they'd…

He sucked in a breath, trying to still his flying heart and get control of himself. Now was not the time to lose his head, to lose focus – he'd already let himself slip, arguing with Ruby and stepping away from Dean, and now Dean was gone and he was trapped and -.

You know… Ruby's voice was an unwelcome intrusion into his thoughts and he snarled at her. Those sigils don't ward against me. I could let you out.

Castiel laughed. "Do you take me for a fool?" he challenged.

It's either that or let them rip your precious Hunter to shreds trying to get him primed and ready for Angel dick. Which would you prefer?

Castiel's fingers curled into his palms, nails biting hard enough to draw blood. No. No. Dean would never forgive him for something like this – the Hunter was strong, he could fight. Castiel knew he could fight.


They could tell him things – lies, slander, half-truths to spin his story. They could distort and mangle his character and his mission to twist Dean to their side. Castiel had seen it happen before, it could happen again. They would stop at nothing to get Dean willing and ready, an eager accomplice to their cause.

But to let out the demon who, whether Dean knew it or not, was responsible for his brother's suffering? Who would surely use her freedom in some way to fuck up whatever tenuous head start Castiel had gotten on the competition? Could potentially cost everything he'd fought for, bled for – everything that he had managed to build with Dean, rubble in her wake?

Your choice, mutt.

Castiel closed his eyes, and breathed out.