Title: Tastes Like Forgiveness - 1/8

Summary: Season 7 Rewrite. After releasing Leviathan, Castiel is pulled from the reservoir fully human. With only the men he betrayed to rely on, Castiel does anything he can to redeem himself, especially to Dean.

Spoilers: End of season 6, throughout season 7

Warnings: Spanking, CBT, humiliation, angst, everyone's mean to Cas, potential domestic abuse triggers

AN: This is not a WIP. The story is finished and will be released each week.

The Leviathans walked Castiel's body into the reservoir, seeking the water that was their natural habitat. Dean ached as he watched his friend submerge, saw the explosion of water and black ink that came to the surface. He scanned the water as the ripples stilled and went calm, searching for his friend, trying to brace his heart for what he knew the outcome would be.

Dean was about to turn away, as his brother and Bobby urged, when the surface of the water broke again, gentler this time, and colored tan, though unmoving. Without a thought, Dean slogged into the water, well above his waist, reaching out to pull Castiel close to him, and dragged him back to shore.

Soaked, bruised, and broken, but whole and still breathing, Castiel was pulled from the water and carried home.

Castiel spent several days bedridden, recuperating from the stress he had put on his body, and the revenge it was taking out on him for being so arrogant. Even once he was mobile again, he still ached, with bruises and some broken bones. They would take even longer to heal.

Now that he was human.

Castiel knew it as he breached the surface of the water, despite the pain and confusion that wracked his body. He was cut off. His grace was gone. His power depleted. He was no longer an angel, and he suspected he never would be again.

The hunters took a little longer to realize it. They watched him warily, distrust in their eyes, but it turned to relief as they saw him groaning with pain, covered in bruises that would not fade, and screaming when Dean reset his broken fingers, splinting them as Castiel passed out from the pain.

Looking back, those three days in bed were the best so far.

Once he was able to move around Bobby's house, he wished he couldn't. Whenever he entered a room, he felt everyone's unease, anger, and distrust. It wasn't hidden. Sam often left the room as soon as Castiel entered, leveling a glare at him so that he would know he was the cause. Bobby often ignored him, talking to Dean like he wasn't there. Dean afforded him the most attention, but it was curt and rude, more so than Dean's usual manner, and consisted mostly of commands. Reminders to eat, to take medicine, to shower, to change his clothes. Things he suddenly had to do, all at once, that he could barely grasp.

When Castiel tried to speak, the words died on his lips. He wasn't sure what to say. An apology seemed worthless compared to all he had done. Begging for forgiveness seemed selfish. But he didn't know what to do. They had brought him home, put him back together, but he didn't know why.

It wasn't until a week had passed, aching with pain and silence, that Castiel found the most suitable words to say.

"I want to help," he said to Dean, his voice weak and raspy from disuse.

Dean glared at him. He looked offended that Castiel had even dared to speak, and Castiel was already regretting his words, shrinking back, ready to retreat to the bedroom they'd put him in, so he could hide from the accusing eyes.

"There's dirty dishes in the sink," Dean said dismissively, and then he turned away, going into Bobby's library, where they had been researching the monsters Castiel had unleashed into the world.

Castiel stood there, frozen, his mouth open to word a protest before Dean had turned away. It wasn't what he meant. He wanted to help them research. Fight. Save the world. Do good. Washing dishes was an insult.

He felt anger curling inside him, the strongest emotion he'd felt besides misery since he'd entered the house. Left as a weak, powerless, broken human, he had no purpose anymore, no use for Dean.

Offended, Castiel's fists clenched without him realizing it, and it took him a moment of effort to uncurl them. He took a deep, cooling breath, darted an angry glance at the door of the library, and then went back upstairs, to stay in his room until his body grew hungry again, signaling that it was time to eat the evening meal.

Dean would call Castiel for dinner, but then Castiel would wait twenty minutes or so before creeping downstairs to see if the kitchen was empty. If the clatter of plates and brusque talk was gone, he would take what food was left, eat it quickly, and retreat back to his room, so as not to bother anyone, or be bothered by their looks. No one seemed to mind. No one urged him to eat with them, and he was not surprised. On one or two occasions, when he had come down too early, he had back-peddled furiously out of Bobby's kitchen as three angry eyes turned to him, a cold silence filling the room.

But that night, Dean came upstairs an hour earlier than usual. His boots stomped loudly up the steps and he shoved the door open. His eyes were hot and fiery as he glared at Castiel. Castiel sat, frozen on his bed, startled by the unexpected intrusion and the wild look in Dean's eyes.

"New rule," Dean growled, glaring at Castiel. "I give you an order, you do it."

It took Castiel a moment, but he realized Dean meant the dishes. The ones he had not washed when he had asked to help. His wide-eyed surprise turned to annoyance and he narrowed his own eyes at Dean, glaring back at him.

"I'm not a… a maid," Castiel said, his anger making him stutter. "I want to help you hunt. I want to fight."

"You want to fight? You?" Dean barked out a laugh, and it was cruel. It made Castiel even angrier, but he didn't have a moment more to think about it, to spit back more angry words, because Dean was on him already, having moved faster than Castiel could see, now that his senses were dulled and slow.

Dean hauled Castiel up by his arm and then twisted it hard behind his back, pinning him. Castiel let out a squawk of surprise, and then pain, as Dean twisted his arm further. Unbidden, tears sprung from his eyes, and he was left gasping, the pain leaving him breathless. His other arm flailed uselessly against Dean. He couldn't concentrate hard enough to even form a fist.

"There was a time," Dean said, giving Castiel another jerk, wrenching out another shriek of pain. "When if I hit you, I could break my whole hand. Now, you pass out if I set your fingers."

Dean released him suddenly, and Castiel dropped boneless to the floor. Achingly, he pulled his arm to his front and cradled it, his whole body trembling. His face was hot with tears, red with embarrassment.

"You're not a hunter. You're not a fighter. Not like this. All you're good for now is cleaning up after us. You want to help? You want to be useful? Then you fucking do what I say. Clear?"

"Yes," Castiel said quickly.

"Good. After dinner, do the fucking dishes."

"Yes," Castiel said again, nodding pitifully as Dean stormed out of the room and went back downstairs.

An hour and a half later, Castiel crept downstairs silently. He ate the last of the meal Bobby had prepared, and then set about washing all of the dishes, from their previous meals, this meal, and all the pots and pans that were required in its making. He carefully scrubbed and rescrubbed each dish, making certain they were clean, and neatly stacked them on the drying rack, making as little noise as possible. As an afterthought, he also cleaned the counter and the table they'd eaten on. Hoping Dean would be pleased with his work, Castiel crept back up to his room for the night.

Dean was not pleased with his work, but he was not displeased, either. He said nothing about it whatsoever to Castiel. The next morning went as it usually did, with the slight change that as the breakfast dishes collected in the sink, Dean gave Castiel a meaningful look.

So this was his new task in life. Keep the kitchen sink free of dirty dishes, silverware, and glasses. It was tedious, and he was starting to understand why the dishes piled up so quickly, with four grown men eating three times a day, and no one wanting to clean them. But, this was the new rule. Follow Dean's orders. So he did.

That lasted for two days, and then he got a new order; Follow Bobby's orders.

Castiel had finished cleaning the dishes, and tidying up the kitchen. He went to throw away an empty milk carton, but the garbage under the sink was full, already so packed down tight with other trash that he couldn't get the carton in without it falling out again. For awhile, he just stared at it, unsure what to do.

"The trash ain't gonna take itself out," Bobby growled, looking at Castiel like he was an idiot. Castiel just looked back at him, feeling like an idiot anyway.

"You take the bag, tie up the top, and carry it to the garbage cans on the side of the house," Bobby said, rolling his eyes and letting out an exasperated sigh.

Castiel was about to tell Bobby to take out his own trash, his anger and frustration flaring up again, when he caught Dean's eye.

"Do what he says," Dean ordered, and the anger flooded out of Castiel in an instance, leaving him cool and submissive. He tied up the bag, and carried the trash outside to find the cans.

The third order Castiel had to follow, was one he gave himself, though he was sure that if Dean had thought of it, he would have ordered it, too.

It had been two weeks since the Leviathans had left Castiel's body. Two weeks in Bobby's house under the severe oppression of three angry and betrayed hunters. With Dean, he had an understanding, and though it was not the friendship they once had, and likely never would be again, Castiel could at least exchange words with him civilly.

With Bobby, he had never been close. They had fought together, but he hadn't spent much time with the hunter before to develop the bond that he had with the Winchesters. Perhaps that was for the best. Bobby treated him warily, but he did not look as hurt and betrayed. He tolerated Castiel being in the same room with him, and when he grew tired of him, told him to go do something useful. It was usually some sort of degrading manual labor, but, Castiel had his orders to follow.

But Sam was another matter entirely. Sam had admired him, and looked up to him and treated him with more respect than Dean ever had. And Castiel had repaid him by breaking down the delicate wall in his head that kept the insanity at bay. Now, he was plagued by his memories in Hell, and hallucinations of the devil tempting and tormenting him. Perhaps worst of all, Castiel hadn't done it to hurt Sam, but to hurt Dean, to stir that protective obsession he had for his brother, to distract him. It was a double betrayal to Sam.

Sam would not speak to Castiel. Wouldn't look at him. He would leave the room when Castiel came in, or ignore him so ferociously, that Castiel would get uncomfortable and leave, feeling relief fill the room as he left.

After his progress and understanding with Dean and Bobby, Castiel felt confident enough to approach Sam, alone, in the library where he was pouring over books. Bobby was working the phones, and Dean was putting the Impala back together again, after it had been smashed up during the last battle.

He approached Sam in the library, and could feel the hunter tense, but he said no word, and did not acknowledge Castiel's presence in anyway.

"Sam, can we talk?" Castiel asked, and he saw Sam flinch, but the man just ignored him, and violently flipped a page in his book.

"Please, Sam, I just want to-"

"No," Sam growled, cutting Castiel off sharply, and Castiel jumped at the sound of anger in Sam's voice.

"But if you just let me-"

"No!" Sam growled again, louder, and this time he looked up at Castiel, and Castiel shrunk back at the hatred he saw in Sam's eyes. He'd expected hurt, and anger, and betrayal, but not hatred. And he realized why Sam had never so much as glanced at him in the entire two weeks he had been there.

Now Castiel understood the story the brothers had told him of the Mystery Spot, and the game Gabriel had played with them, still in his guise as the trickster. He'd always had a hard time imagining gentle, caring, understanding Sam on a long and bloody vendetta to avenge his brother's death. He'd never understood how Sam could have killed a man that looked like Bobby, believing with his whole heart that it was the trickster.

Eventually though, Gabriel had given Dean back. And he had allied with them, if only briefly, against Lucifer. He had sacrificed himself in order to protect the brothers, to let them go on and fight the fight, and win. Though Sam did not speak glowingly of Gabriel, that last act seemed to earn his forgiveness for the hundreds of colorful murders he forced Sam to witness.

Until Castiel could do so much for Sam, to make up for his crimes, he knew that hatred would not fade. Not on its own. Not while he was around, constantly reminding Sam of the cause of his torment. So, Castiel left the library quietly, and formed the new rule for himself. He would not try to speak to Sam again until he had something to offer him in amends.

The third week after the Leviathans had dumped Castiel's body in the lake, Dean came into his room and dropped a brand new duffel bag on Castiel's bed. Castiel gave it a cursory glance and then tilted his head up to Dean, curious.

"Pack what little shit you have, and get it in the car. We're leaving in an hour."

"Where are we going?"

"Hunting. Leviathan research is a dead end, so we might as well make ourselves useful. We got a job lined up in Missouri."

"Why are you taking me with you?" Castiel asked, and there was hope in his voice.

"Because Bobby doesn't want you here," Dean said, and he walked out of the room.

The hope floundered in Castiel's chest, and he tucked it down deeper, to protect it. Promising himself he would be more careful not to let it flutter loose so easily again.

The car ride was agonizing. Neither man felt inclined to talk to Castiel, and Sam wouldn't talk in front of him, even if it was just to Dean. The tension was tight and hot in the car, and no matter how many heavy metal cassettes Dean played, none of them filled the anxious void.

After a 10 hour drive, the men pulled off the highway to rest for the night in a motel. To Castiel and even Dean's surprise, Sam went up to the lobby desk and quickly asked for two rooms, before Dean could say anything. Once outside the lobby, Sam led the way to the rooms, and Castiel barely overheard their whispered argument.

"We can't afford two rooms every night," Dean said, calmly. "We can just put him on the floor."

"I'm not sharing a room with him, Dean. I don't even want to be in the same car with him."

"We can't leave him at Bobby's. What are we supposed to do with him?"

"Drop him off at an animal shelter. He's useless to us, Dean. You said so yourself."

Castiel wanted to be shocked that Dean had said those words to Sam, but he wasn't. He already knew what Dean thought of him, and he was aware of his own lack of prowess as well, sometimes achingly so.

Sam disappeared into one room, giving Dean a final disapproving glare, and then Dean and Castiel went on to the next room and settled in for the night.