Title: The Curse of Bittersweet Kisses
Summary: AU: As a god, Castiel does care for his subjects. He bestows gifts to those who are faithful and after considering Dean's words, he decides to give Dean a gift to display his own benevolence.
Disclaimer: Supernatural was created by Eric Kripke. No disrespect is meant with this work of fan fiction.
Castiel was pacing the room, looking it over. This was only one of many surprise visits in the first couple months of Castiel's reign as a god.
Dean stood very still beneath his scrutiny. They were all walking a tightrope at present. It had been weeks now and he, Sam, and Bobby had only the barest idea on the full extent of Castiel's powers. He had the angel powers, they did know that, and he had others that were manifesting. He showed no compunction about using them either, all hint of common sense gone. Dean's own words about him being a child were chillingly true. He was a child with terrible power, ignoring everything Dean had ever tried to teach him.
Perhaps he was possessed by those things he'd taken in from Purgatory. Dean would feel better if that was the case, if Castiel was somehow possessed and being controlled, but he had a terrible suspicion that this was the new Castiel. He wasn't possessed, he'd simply become corrupted like so many humans had over time.
The scariest part was that Castiel knew all of them well. He knew their habits and the places they favored. Whenever they arrived at Bobby's, he wasn't far behind, making it clear that he could still stand just out of sight watching them. Spying, though he wouldn't call it that. Cas didn't like that word. Spying. It made him angry and the childlike former angel with nuked up powers wasn't a pretty sight when angry. Bad things tended to happen.
Castiel was always sorry after his temper exploded, fixing things, and telling them they shouldn't have made him do those things he'd done.
How did they stop an abusive relationship when the abuser had god-like powers?
Clasping his hands behind his back, Castiel looked at him. "I've made a decision, Dean."
It was too much to ask that he'd release the souls back into purgatory. He was intolerant of the idea and wasn't going to give them up willingly. Cas liked how he felt with them there inside him. He liked the sort of power he now had. He was top on the totem pole and loving it. According to him, the remaining angels in heaven had bowed down to him and were doing whatever he told them to without question, carrying out his orders like they'd once carried out Michael's.
Of course, he'd had to discipline them first, weed out the ones who'd been loyal to Raphael. Dean just assumed that meant Castiel had killed most of the angels. They'd also learned Balthazar was among the dead angels. Castiel had a lot to say about the ones he considered to have betrayed him.
"What would that be?" Dean kept his voice as neutral as possible. It hurt that Castiel's presence brought back memories of the worst encounters he'd ever had with various beings, from Azazel's manipulation, Zachariah's self-righteous scheming, Michael's cool attitude towards all things human, and the arrogance of the demigods. It was all there, wrapped up in a former ally. The end vision Zachariah had given him had come true in a way, for Castiel was far from his angelic beginning. His new self was worse than love-guru, orgy-holding human Cas. Dean would give almost anything for that version of Castiel now. At least that one he wouldn't have to figure out how to kill.
It was no longer a case of if he had to kill Castiel. It was a certainty. It was a 'when'. For the sake of the world, he had to rid it of Cas and the necessity of that clawed at him.
Castiel's small smile was chilling, as was the smug tone he affected. "I've been thinking about what you said. About what you've talked about losing. An entire family thus far. Mother, father, brother, lover, child. That is a family." His head tilted slowly to one side, just like it used to when he hadn't understood something.
A burst of utter wrongness worked through Dean. This should never have come to pass, but looking back, he couldn't see any point where he or Sam could have changed this course. By the time Dean had returned to the game, Castiel had already been headed down this path, deep down it in fact. Dean could see it now in how he'd behaved. The road to hell was definitely paved with good intentions, though Castiel didn't yet realize he was heading there, if he ever had at all. His good intentions had twisted him into…this.
It hurt to see the former innocent, righteous angel so far changed from what he'd been, a stark reminder that they were all changed for the worse by the time and events that had passed.
"You do still have Sam." His head turned, gaze fixing upon Sam, voice slipping into boredom, then taunting. "You may try it, Sam. If you like. It won't work." He spread his arms and faced Sam. "Get it from your system. I'm like nothing you've faced, nothing that's been faced. Your books will tell you nothing and even the full library of heaven would be of no use, but as I said, you're welcome to try."
He taunted Sam a lot and, when he was in a certain sort of mood, he'd poke Sam until he pushed him into what Bobby thought were psychotic breaks. When those breaks happened, Sam was lost in his memories, reacting while awake to things only he could see. Usually that was a bad thing and twice Dean had had to handcuff him to a pipe in a motel bathroom for his own safety and the safety of others.
Castiel called it 'helping Sam work through the lingering issues'. Dean called it 'messing with his brother in a way that guaranteed Castiel's death at a later date'.
Sam slammed the book closed and looked away, lips tightening into a thin, angry line. He should be resting, but he kept insisting he had to do something. No way Dean could stop him from trying.
"Nothing to say? Are you certain?" When Sam didn't move, he returned his attention to Dean. "You have Bobby. He's like a father."
Bobby wasn't here right now. He took every opportunity he could to get away from Castiel and when Dean and Sam were there, it was almost a guarantee Castiel would follow. Dean hoped Bobby was having some luck with his sources, maybe finding out some sort of obscure information that might help them.
"What remains? What's still missing for you? I've given this question much thought. You were unable to keep Lisa and Ben. They didn't fit your life and never will."
He wanted to tell him to never speak their names again, like he had Sam, the ache of losing them completely still festering. He remembered Lisa and Ben and they would never remember him again. With their memory of him erased, it was like losing over a year of himself, like it had never existed. No matter how it had ended, there should be something remaining and all there was were the memories he had. The words stuck in his throat. Castiel would allow no rebuke of himself, claiming that he now answered to no one because no one was higher than he was.
How had things gone so wrong? Was there any way out?
"I thought to myself 'who would fit Dean's life?' It can't be a civilian, obviously. The Lisa experiment proved that."
Experiment? It had hardly been an experiment. He'd tried to retire. He'd tried. He curled his hands into fists.
"Your available pool of women is a bit lacking at present." He paced again, steps slow. "Who would understand the sacrifices you make and the choices? Who would accept all that you are?" He looked at Dean from the corner of his eyes, a sly glance. "And it came to me, right from the blue, the thought popping into my head. I knew then exactly what I had to do for you. It was a clear thought, like a voice telling me what I needed to do."
And did that voice answer him when he talked to it, Dean wondered. Was he beginning to hold conversations with that voice in his head? A sure sign of obvious madness…and one he was regrettably seeing from Sam. Castiel had ripped Sam's mind wide open and refused to fix him, leaving him broken and, Dean hated to even think it, beginning to drown in the madness that action brought on.
Sam was drowning. Sam was broken. Sam was never going to be the same again.
Dean's indrawn breath sounded choked to his own ears and he blinked quickly, his own sense of hopelessness increasing.
Where was the real God and why was he letting this happen? Was there ever a point where this would end?
Castiel stopped pacing and faced Dean. "You're going to be happy, Dean. I guarantee it. I've made this decision for you because it's the best thing for you." He said that as though he really did know what was best.
The triumphant, pleased gleam in Castiel's eyes sickened Dean and he swallowed hard, tasting bile. Why couldn't this all just go away? Why couldn't they have something good instead of crap, crap, and more crap piled on them in an unceasing shower of the stuff?
"I only want you happy." Castiel snapped his fingers. Two figures appeared and Dean stumbled back against the table.
Ellen and Jo.
The sick taste in his mouth got worse. Was this a joke?
They were wearing the clothes they'd died in. Funny how he remembered that with such clarity. He remembered the shirt Ellen had worn, and the shirt and jacket Jo had on. He remembered the colors of the clothes, how the blood had soaked Jo's shirt, and how he'd known in a single second that there was no way she was going to live from her wounds. He'd known and that day remained crystal clear in his mind, refusing to dull with time. Instead, it had only gotten clearer. Jo and Ellen were among the faces he saw in his nightmares.
Confusion, panic, and fear tread their faces, their mouths moving, and no sound emerging. Their bodies jerked and it occurred to him that Cas must be holding them still somehow.
He heard Sam gasp and his chair scrape back on the floor.
"Oh God, no," Dean murmured, which prompted Castiel to put his arms around Jo and Ellen's shoulders and smile. Castiel wasn't supposed to smile and now he did easily.
"They're for you. Aren't you happy? You've wanted them back. You remember?" One hand touched Jo's hair, the other slid down Ellen's arm. "Titanic?"
The confusion on both women's faces deepened.
"I remember. We," he gestured to Sam, "remember. You wouldn't let us forget."
"I saw, Dean. You were happy with them alive, working the cause alongside you, so I'm giving them to you. I'm giving them back and I can make it so they stay as long as you want. They won't die. I'll keep it from happening for you. You see?" He glanced at Sam and slowly back at Dean. "I'm a benevolent god. I know you don't believe that, but I am. Why would I give you this gift if I wasn't? You won't lose them ever again."
Why would he give that gift? To control Dean somehow. To distract him. To add another threat on the table, the threat that he could take them away on a whim. This wasn't about giving a gift, it was about control over Dean. "Cas, please. Not like this."
"Then how? Tell me." His tone was earnest, waiting for instruction. "I'll fulfill it for you. Your reunion with them should be perfect. How can it be? Ask and you shall receive."
He didn't know what to say, how to diffuse this without Ellen and Jo being hurt again. They were alive, here, now. Castiel removing them would be killing them all over. Again. A third time. How could he think he was doing good? How could Dean live with himself if Castiel took them away now? If Cas took them away, it'd be directly on Dean's head and that…. He felt a very real tight sensation in his chest.
Dread. Dean felt dread. He was responsible for them now, really responsible.
The crap just kept coming, didn't it?
Cas squeezed Ellen's arm. She flinched. "You have a mother figure back to balance Bobby. You need a mother. And…." Releasing Ellen, he grasped Jo's arms and forced her forward, holding her up when she stumbled and shoving her close to Dean.
Neither woman made a sound. Jo's chin trembled, her gaze bewildered and very frightened. She'd stopped trying to talk and when she tried to move, her body jerked, as though she was a puppet and Castiel held the strings.
"It really isn't good for a man to be alone." Castiel appeared breathless, reaching out, grabbing one of Dean's hands and placing Jo's against it. Cas closed both his hands around theirs. "Dean Winchester, I give this woman to you. Jo Harvelle, you're meant for this man."
Jo's breaths were so fast he thought she might start hyperventilating. She glanced at Castiel like he was out of his mind - which he was.
"You see? I know you both." Castiel's hands were cool, strangely cool, with an almost reptilian feel to his skin.
Dean's skin felt like it was crawling under the touch. When he looked down, he half expected to see snake skin where human skin should be on Castiel's hands.
"I know what's best. You'll take care of each other. She understands you, Dean."
"Let her talk," Sam said, moving a step closer. "Let them both talk and move."
"Oh that." He snapped his fingers again. Dean had never hated that gesture like he'd come to. "There. All fixed."
Jo pulled free, retreating back away from them. "What the hell is going on here? No one gives me to anyone."
"Cas?" Ellen remained standing where she was, watching, studying carefully.
In three long strides, Castiel was in front of Jo, grasping her jaw, his fingers digging in. She struggled, then abruptly stopped, making Dean think Castiel had rendered her unable to move again. "Who raised you, Jo?"
"You did," she whispered in question.
"I did," he confirmed. "I raised you for Dean. Do you understand me?"
"I guess." There were questions in her eyes that she didn't ask.
"You don't and I admit I've been somewhat vague. Allow me to correct that. You're Dean's mate, Jo, raised for that purpose, to be the healing balm he needs after being out hunting. You will -"
"I'm not a whore." She gritted out the words between clenched teeth and Dean had to admire the fire in her eyes even as he waited for whatever Castiel would do as a matter of discipline. "No one tells me who I have sex with." Her cheeks were turning red, whether from her anger or from the embarrassment of having her mother hear all of this. "I decide -"
"And you'll decide to do the duty you were raised to perform. You'll give him comfort and be fruitful and multiply."
Her look of disdain would have withered a human male. "I'm not a brood mare."
"You are if I raise you to be one."
"You can't -"
He leaned down until it looked like his nose was touching hers. "I'm your god, Joanna Beth Harvelle. You will show me respect or you will be disciplined. Even God disciplined His subjects, until He decided to leave. Read the Bible for His ideas of punishment. I'm here to take His place. If you fear, respect, and love me, you'll find yourself very blessed." He leaned back. "Do you fear me?"
"Are you freakin' kidding?" Her eyes opened wide, that disdain disappearing and the terror returning.
He released her jaw, fingers brushing her hair from her face with a touch that looked gentle. "Good. Do you love me?"
Her gaze darted to Sam, Ellen, then to Dean. He nodded, urging her to lie. She swallowed hard and looked straight up at Castiel. "Yes."
His smile was amused, a frightening thing to see. Castiel amused was nearly as bad as him throwing a tantrum. "Liar, but you will love me soon. Once you realize what I've given you, the love will come. You'll see how indebted you are to me. Obedience will be blessed. You're here not as a hunter, but as the family Dean craves. You'll give him a family. I think you'll appreciate the change of pace once you accept your new role." He took a few steps back and surveyed the room with a satisfied gleam in his eyes. "I'll leave you for awhile to become reacquainted."
In seconds, they were alone. Maybe.
"Is he gone," Ellen asked, dropping more than sitting on the couch.
"Off the deep end." Jo snorted.
"Sshhh." Sam held up both hands and joined her, his voice dropping. "We don't know. We never know. So just…."
"What happened to him," Jo asked, putting the entire room between herself and Dean and crossing her arms. She looked uncomfortable, like she thought that he'd asked Castiel to bring her back.
"Power happened," Sam said, sitting on the couch beside Ellen. "Raw power and we don't know how to stop him."
"He could explode," Dean suggested, crossing his arms, "or he could manage to contain it all for longer than we have left alive. We just don't know."
"Or we could figure out how to make him start bleeding out that power." Sam shrugged. "Problem with that is who knows what'll come flying out of him when it does start to go."
"Where did the power come from?" Ellen turned on the couch, adjusting her position.
"Purgatory. He took in every last monster's soul there. That's what's powering the Cas battery these days. That and the tainted souls he got from Crowley."
They related the entire tale to them, Dean stumbling a little verbally over Lisa and Ben and why Castiel had brought Jo back. In order for her to understand, he had to talk about them and when he was done, Sam took over, talking about his soulless self and the fact that his marbles were just as loose as Castiel's at present, if not more so.
Dean noticed a flash of relief on Sam's face when Ellen didn't move away from him. Instead, she reached out and grasped his hand. He watched Jo, trying not to be too obvious. She moved restlessly about the room and it occurred to him that she and Ellen must be hungry. They hadn't eaten in…years. "Hey, you hungry? We could order a pizza or go in to town and get something."
Ellen started to get up. "I'll see what Bobby's got."
"No." Sam kept hold of her hand, tugging her back onto the couch. "You just got raised, Ellen. You don't need to make anything. Let us take care of it."
She let him draw her back down beside him. "Okay, Sam. You boys do the cooking."
"What are you in the mood for," Dean asked. He glanced up. Jo remained by the fireplace, her arms crossed and gaze on him. He recalled those days after they'd first met. She'd watched him there at the Roadhouse with interest in her eyes and later, her interest had been tempered with maturity. What he saw now was wariness. She looked at him like he was a stranger she didn't really know and wasn't sure she wanted to know.
What was she thinking? Did she pity him for not being able to retire with a family? Feel sorry for him for having to cut Lisa and Ben loose? Or did she understand? Did she, as Castiel maintained, get him and how he had to be for the life he led?
The wondering made him uncomfortable and he was glad to leave the house and the tension that was rising as minutes passed.
One moment Jo Harvelle was dead and the next she was alive, immobile and mute, being controlled by Castiel. The angel's behavior bewildered her and she slowly understood that he'd been changed for the worse somehow. She remembered dying and being dead. He didn't take that from her and, from the expression on her mom's face, he hadn't taken it from her either. Why had he left those memories?
She listened carefully to what was said, trying to put together the pieces and make some sense of what she was seeing. At first she was shocked by what she thought was happening. Then she grew angry with Castiel and, somewhat irrationally, with Dean. Jo knew it was irrational, as Dean was a friend, yet she couldn't help the feeling.
The angel said Dean wanted them back. He'd brought them back from the dead for Dean and brought Jo back as….
She glanced at her mother and hated that Castiel laid out without one doubt that she was supposed to be Dean's whore. Castiel didn't say that word. He said it in other ways, but it all boiled down to one thing: she was supposed to have sex with Dean. That was the reason she was alive again, not because she was a hunter and the world needed hunters, but because she was a woman hunter Dean had known and been attracted to. She'd understand his life.
That was where the real anger began to grow.
No. Not going to happen. No one was going to tell her who to have sex with, even if it was an angel who had somehow become a god.
She found herself backing down however, suddenly terrified that Castiel would hurt her if she didn't tell him she understood. She backed down because of what she saw in his eyes, or rather what she didn't see. There was no compassion, no affection, or anything to indicate that he was the same Castiel she'd met. He was an alien creature that merely looked exactly like Castiel and had every single bit of his knowledge.
Was he possessed somehow? She couldn't reconcile the angel she'd met with the creature before her.
The story Dean and Sam told after Castiel left didn't shock her or surprise her like perhaps it should have. Without Sam, it didn't surprise Jo that Dean had tried to leave hunting. What did surprise her was that he'd managed it for an entire year.
It was a relief when Dean and Sam left to buy food. Her mother got up and went into the kitchen. Jo curled up in one chair, wrapping a blanket around herself and closing her eyes. She heard glass clinking and liquid being poured. Who would have thought that being raised from the dead was tiring? She was exhausted, ready to lie down and go to sleep. Maybe the world would be different in the morning.
Something tapped her arm. "Here. I think we both need this."
Opening her eyes, she found Ellen holding a glass out to her, a second one in her other hand. It was a regular drinking glass half full of amber liquid. She took it. A sniff told Jo it was Jack Daniels. "Mom?"
"Drink up, Jo."
She took the glass and sipped. Warmth slid down her throat and curled in her belly. "I won't do it." She shook her head. "I won't go to bed with him."
Ellen sat on the arm of the chair and laid her free hand on Jo's back. "You may not have a choice."
"No. To be brought back for that? It's insulting. I'm a hunter, I'm not…." Wet drops spilled onto her hands and she realized she was crying. "I'm not a slut. I don't give it away." She wiped at her cheeks with one hand and took a long drink.
"I know, baby."
They sat in silence, drinking their drinks. Jo found it funny that, despite being dead for well over a year, she apparently still had her tolerance. "I can't," she repeated. "How can Castiel think I'd just roll over and let him decide my life?"
"I don't think he particularly cares what any of us think and as he reminded you, he raised us." Ellen moved, crouching down in front of Jo. She set her drink down and reached out, touching Jo's cheeks with her fingers. "At least I get to see you alive again. My heart ripped outta my chest when you died beside me, Jo." After a moment, she retrieved her drink and went to the couch, stretching out there. "You're mad at Dean."
"No, I -"
"Jo. You know he didn't tell Cas to do this."
"No, but he wanted us back and Cas did it. He wanted us back."
"Don't be mad at Dean for liking us enough to grieve our deaths and to miss us."
She ran a finger along the rim of the glass. It was hard to explain why she was upset. Maybe if Dean hadn't liked them as much, Castiel wouldn't have brought them back into this world and brought her back to apparently be a throwback to the past. "I'm not a gift he can give to Dean."
"Castiel thinks so. That's basically what he did." Ellen sighed. "Calm down, Jo. What do we need to do here? Think about it. I finished your training. Give me our actions."
A tension headache throbbed in her temples and across her forehead. "Um… Assess the situation, find out everything possible before taking action." She shook her head again. "What if Castiel demands I go off with Dean tonight?" If she'd thought her mother wasn't bothered by the turn of events, she was wrong. Her glance showed Ellen trying to hide an uncomfortable frown and not succeeding.
"Then you go and…work with Dean to diffuse this somehow, come to some…arrangement between you."
Jo bit her lip and set the remains of her drink aside. She probably shouldn't drink the rest, not if she wanted to keep a clear head. "Arrangement," she repeated.
"Whatever the two of you think is best for the situation." Ellen hurried to drink, taking a gulp of the liquor.
She was afraid that she already knew what was going to be best, especially if Castiel's presence was as pervasive as she suspected. Jo looked around the room. Little had changed except there were even more books piled around the rooms she'd seen so far. "Where do you think Bobby is?"
"Don't know. Alive somewhere I suppose. I think they would've said if he wasn't."
Leaning her head back, Jo dozed until Dean and Sam returned.