» Rating: T
» Classification(s): Alternate Universe - Trickster!Cas, Episode Remix, Episode 2.15: Tall Tales, Vessels are Angel Catnip
» Summary: "The wicked must be punished for their sins, and if Castiel delights in being the instrument of their downfall, relishes the planning and fruition of his creative, inventive, sometimes cruel traps— well, is it not written in Ecclesiastes, "Lo, I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoyhiswork, because that is his lot" ?

And Castiel enjoys his work so very much."

Request!fic for impavid-incondite.

"They are a peace offering," Castiel tells the hunter, thoroughly enjoying the way the man whips around at the sound of his voice. "I know what you and your brother do. I've dealt with your kind before."

An understatement to end all understatements; Castiel has been dealing with hunters and their ilk since the Sundering, and the exercise never gets any less tedious or annoying.

The hunter, base instinct-driven animal that he is, can't quite stop himself from glancing back at the lewdly displayed women on the stage, but he turns to face Castiel head on. Stupid, as well as base.

"Well, then you know that I can let you keep hurting people."

Castiel snorts and folds his legs under himself, sitting as a yogi master in the temple might. "Your protectiveness is misplaced, as I think you well know," he says, making a show of his relaxation, his unconcern for this Dean Winchester's weapon and presence. "Those people certainly deserved their fates. But, you and—" The tainted Lucifer vessel. "—Sam. I like you." He cares nothing for them. "So enjoy yourself, as long as you want. Long enough, at least, for me to take my business elsewhere."

His business, his calling. The millennia have reduced Castiel, never mighty and now so weak, to these small, spiteful tricks and killings, the only avenues left to him to carry out his Father's will on earth. The wicked must be punished for their sins, and if Castiel delights in being the instrument of their downfall, relishes the planning and fruition of his creative, inventive, sometimes cruel traps— well, is it not written in Ecclesiastes, "Lo, I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoyhiswork, because that is his lot" ?

And Castiel enjoys his work so very much.

"Sorry," the hunter shrugged, broad smile still in place below eyes gone hard and cold. "I really can't let you that."

The former angel feels a petulant pout gathering force on his face the longer the hunter stares at him. Castiel worked very hard on the simulacra currently cooing and posturing behind the man, lovingly crafting their unrealistic proportions and vulgar clothing to appeal to this Dean and others like him, and the hunter still had eyes only for him and his perceived transgressions. Annoying.

"I don't want to hurt you," he says, allowing his tenor to slip towards threatening. "And you know that I can."

"Don't get me wrong," and there was that sparkle in Dean's eye, that cheeky grin. Annoying. "But I can't let you go."

"Too bad," Castiel sighs. "Your brother was right, Dean—you shouldn't have come alone."

The grin grows sharper. "Yeah. I gotta agree with you there."

At that moment, Castiel hears the soft scrape of boots on the auditorium carpet behind him, and feels a surge of indignant rage that this ant, this squabbling little mud monkey, thinks for one second that he's gotten the best of Castiel, once the foremost warrior of Michael's 600th garrison.

A thought half-formed and a snap of his fingers produces a vaguely scarecrow-shaped entity that proceeds to attack the older hunter and Lucifer vessel. Dean is not so lucky, and the simulacra attack him with giggles and fists with thousands of pounds of force behind them. Usually he tries to avoid killing hunters. They, too, work in service of his Father. For the brothers and their companion Robert, however, the road has come to an end.

Castiel stands and watches as his creations playfully toss Dean back and forth between them, breaking bone and bruising every inch of him. Eventually, they throw him at Castiel's waiting feet, and he crouches to look the battered man in the eye.

"Dean," he says with a rueful smile that sits on his face like paint. "Dean, Dean, Dean. I did not want to do this." He's wanted to do it since they stumbled into town and started their ham-handed investigations and interrogations. He fists one hand in Dean's coat collar and hauls him up, raising two fingers to press them to Dean's forehead. He will send this hunter and his companions to their eternal rewards, be it in Heaven or Hell that they find themselves, and move on from this place before the sun rises.

The tips of his fingers touch skin, and Castiel freezes.

For one brilliant moment, it vibrates through his body as if he were a string harshly plucked: the Song of the spheres, the many and myriad Voices of Heaven, blending joyously one into the other in the unending hymn of praise that has so long been denied to him. The Song is light and glory, the Singers the brethren he has not seen in so long, and he stops, held utterly captive by it.

Castiel catches sight of the tossed stake too late, and in an instant it is in Dean's hand. In the next, it is buried in Castiel's chest.

"Yeah?" Dean, container of the celestial Song, snarls up at him, and grinds the wood in deeper until the tip grates against the inner curve of Castiel's rib. "Me either."

Castiel stares at him, eyes huge and lips parted in astonishment. His own Voice, ragged and cracked with disuse, struggles to rise up in harmony despite the long, wearying mortal years he's spent in silence, in solitude. The air wavers and the room shakes.

It is too long a distance, feeble as his Voice has grown, and the Song is already fading away, melody sinking deeper into Dean Winchester's flesh as the hunter pulls back. Castiel's Voice dies away he allows his body to fall limply backward as the stake is wrenched out, not at all injured but stunned all the same.

The illusions flicker and die, snuffed out by his inattention. The hunters banter among themselves. "—liked his style," Dean is saying, tone bright with satisfaction and a kind of glee. Then they make quick exits, citing fear of local law enforcement.

Castiel waits for the doors to close and their steps to fade away into the distance before sitting up, curling his knees to his chest. A snap of his fingers, and there is a cake covered in elaborately-patterned buttercream and marzipan oranges at his elbow. He drags his fingers through the thick sweet frosting and brings his hand to his mouth, lapping the sticky stuff away as he stares meditatively into the dark.

Is Dean a fallen angel, as is Anael who now walks the earth as Anna Milton? Does Dean share his brother's fate as a vessel? For God's grace to resound so loudly in him, for the hymns of angels to be written onto his very bones, surely he is not also destined for Lucifer. But it also cannot be because he is a holy man. Castiel has witnessed his anger and his arrogance, the covetous way he stared at Castiel's simulacra, his joy in killing.

Dean Winchester is no saint. But he is something, holds some connection to the Choir. And Castiel, who fled the final battle of his brothers and now dies inch by inch on this dreary, dull clod of earth their Father called the jewel of His creation, will find him again.

"Alouette, gentille alouette," he sings to himself, abandoning the cake and moving swiftly. The fragments of his Grace still left to him throb fiercely in his chest. "Alouette…"

It is a child's rhyme, a poor imitation of real Song. When he rends the skin and sinew from Dean's body and can read the script carved there in its entirety, perhaps he will be able to do better.

"Alouette, je te plumerai!"

gentille alouette

Little lark,
pretty little lark

je te plumerai

Little lark,
I shall pluck out all your feathers

(attn: not a literal translation, but a properly poetic one)