Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Supernatural. Buffy belongs to Whedon, and Supernatural belongs to Kripke. No money made.
A/N: Okay, so yeah, spoilers for SPN season 7. At least, part of it. They're kind of important, but if you don't want to know anything at all about what happened last season, don't read this. Meanwhile, this is set post S7 of Buffy, disregarding the comics—save for a few ideas, perhaps, plucked from here and there. Please enjoy!
"So, I hear, through the grapevine, that you're the best," Meg said, leaning against the cold stone of the cell—sorry, room—in the asylum.
"I am," the red-haired witch said, taking her supplies out f the leather bag she had carried in with her. The woman—Willow Rosenberg, as anyone who was anyone inside the magical community knew of this witch well—raised an equally fiery brow at the demon, "Nurse Masters."
Meg smirked. She'd only known Willow for about .05 seconds, but already she kind of liked her. She was kind of no nonsense when it came to her magical ability. And she was confident, very confident that she could do what Meg had asked of her. Of course, if what Meg had heard about her was true, then she had reason to be. After all, it wasn't often that one heard of someone who was, for all intents and purposes, not a demon or an angel successfully raising the dead. But Miss Rosenberg had. And, according to what she had told Meg, she had done the spell the demon now required of her before too.
"A mind walk, through the mind of this—" Willow paused, gesturing to the wide-eyed, catatonic Castiel sitting, stiffly upright, on the meager cot the asylum supplied their rooms with, "angel?"
"You don't have to sound so skeptical," Meg drawled. "He's the real deal."
Willow shrugged. "If you say so."
Meg smirked. "Cross my heart."
The witch scoffed at that, setting a candle down on the end table she had pulled to set between her chair—the only other seat in the room—and Castiel on the bed. She lit the candle with a muttered word in Latin, and if that was supposed to impress Meg, it didn't work. Then again, the demon noted, Willow didn't even pause to glance at her. So, in the end, she just supposed that Willow had forgone matches or a lighter out of habit, rather than to make an impression. Didn't matter to her.
All she wanted, all she had called Willow in for, was to get Cas back. To shock him back into wakefulness, and maybe—just maybe—do something about that damned wall problem. If Meg was ever gonna deal with that smarmy bastard Crowley, she had to have Cas on her side. Otherwise, her and her fellow rebel demons didn't stand a chance against the newly reigning King of Hell.
"How long will this take?" Meg asked, pushing herself off the wall to where Willow now sat.
"I don't know. Depends on the condition inside. Also, he's an angel. Never done this with an angel before," she answered. "Now, shush. Gotta concentrate. Also, make sure we're not disturbed."
Meg arched a questioning look. "Will something bad happen?"
"Not necessarily. Not unless there's something else at work than what you've told me. I'll just have to start all over, and the Goddess freakin' hates that."
Meg laughed. "Tell me about it."
Willow looked up at her, frowning. It looked like she had a question, something probably on how Meg knew of the Goddess. But before the witch could ask—and her face was just quivering with the question, the confidence Willow had had up until this point utterly gone—Meg answered. She patted Willow on the shoulder with a snide smile in place.
"Don't worry, honey. I'm gonna figure you've used your magic for very, very different things than what I did."
Willow sighed, relieved, and the confidence was back. "Okay. Now, just keep an eye out."
Willow leaned forward, chanted a bit, and locked eyes with Castiel. After a few moments, she stopped talking. And moving. She was as still as Castiel, locked eyes with the angel, unblinkingly. Meg leaned forward, waving a hand in front of the witch's face, careful not to touch. When nothing happen, Meg nodded.
"Good luck," she said, and she moved to stand by the door once more.
"Well, all right, then. Is this good or do you want the whole forehead-to-the-carpet thing?"
Willow paused, looking around the room she now found herself in. It appeared to be a medical facility of some kind, and it was all covered in blood. She recognized the angel, dressed in a suit—tie eschew—and a trenchcoat. There were three other men she did not know standing before him, and the one who had spoken—the one who looked like the epitome of "old, redneck hunter"—was now kneeling.
Whispers filled the air around her, and Willow spun, looking for the source. But no one in this memory—because that was what she was in, Castiel's memories, his mind—was speaking now. Instead, the other two men—both dark haired, one massively taller than the others—were starting to bow.
The whispers were continuing, and it was enough to drive Willow bonkers. If this was what the angel was still hearing, then she couldn't really blame him for the catatonic state.
"Stop," Castiel ordered.
The moment froze. And somehow, Willow doubted that his memory had played out this way. Another man had entered the scene, dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, and an over-shirt of some kind. He was blond, his face somewhat squarish, and the flesh visible looked… deteriorated. Like something was eating away at it.
"Look, brother," he said, motioning to the frozen men that were mid-bowing.
Castiel blinked, his eyes flying between the three men and the new arrival.
"Wasn't this fun? Having these… hairless apes bow to you?"
"No," Castiel said, and his voice was a bit more gravelly than before. Like he was fighting.
And he was. Willow could feel it. But she remained silent, watching. Waiting. She needed to know why Cas was stuck the way he was before she could fix it. But something told her that this new arrival, Cas's "brother," was part of the problem. A big part.
"They're my friends," Castiel said, looking away. "And I almost killed them. I unleashed something that will kill them. I didn't want this. I wanted to save them."
The blond man clucked his tongue disapprovingly. "I think you're lying. I think you wanted all of it. That you loved the power those souls of Purgatory gave you. Well, if it wasn't for the leviathans, you would be God. Isn't that what you wanted?"
"No," Castiel spat.
The scene changed, and Willow followed right along. Now Castiel, bloody and looking deteriorated himself, was standing in a room where two of the three men—his friends—were sitting around a laptop.
"Help me," he said.
He began to fall, and both men rose to catch him. And the scene froze again, save for Castiel, who hit his knees. The blond man was back, circling him like a vulture.
"Help me, Sam. Help me, Dean," the man mocked. "Oh, how pathetic. That you, the man who would be God, needed these mortals' help. Makes me sick."
"Be gone, Lucifer," Castiel moaned, resting his forehead to the floor.
Willow's eyes widened. Lucifer. The Lucifer. Meg had warned her of this, of the Wall that was once in a man named Sam Winchester's head that held back a flood of Hell-tortured-by-the-devil memories that was now in this angel's head. The Wall, the broken, cracked Wall, was the problem. It couldn't be mended. That's what Castiel had told his friend, Dean—and what Dean had told Meg.
Lucifer laughed. He knelt, playfully pushing Cas's shoulder, which sent him tumbling the rest of the way to the floor. "Poor, poor, Cas. You really are a waste of space, aren't you? Why, I have no idea why our Father even made you. Look at yourself."
Castiel did as ordered, his eyes closing right after. Willow's lips pursed, trying her best to hold her ground. There was more to be seen. She hadn't figured it out yet.
"You can't be an angel. Got too much doubt for that. Can't be God because you just aren't strong enough. What are you, Cas?"
And the memory switched again, and they were back in the weird medical-factory place. But the redneck was back, the tall guy was missing, the shorter guy was there, and there was Castiel. Castiel was facing a strange, runic symbol written in blood on the wall. He turned, weary. His ocean blue eyes locked on the younger of the two men.
"I'm sorry, Dean."
For the first time, Willow noticed that the older man was chanting, and then a light, brighter than a thousand suns, shone forth from Castiel, into a hole in the wall where the symbol had been. The memory blacked for a moment, and there was nothing. No Castiel, no Dean, no redneck-man, no Willow, nothing. But then, it returned. They were still in the medical place, but it seemed like a moment had been skipped. Castiel was back, his flesh healing instantly. He sat up, blinking.
"That was unpleasant," he muttered as Dean and the other man started to help him to his feet.
"I'm alive," the angel muttered, unbelievingly.
"Looks like," the older man said.
"I'm astonished. Thank you. Both of you."
"You were, mostly, trying to save the world," the older man continued.
Cas bowed his head. "I'm ashamed. I really overreached."
"You think?" Dean said.
"I'll find some way to redeem myself to you," Cas said, locking eyes with Dean.
Willow cocked her head, listening.
"Oh, well, one thing at a time. Come on, let's get you out of here. Come on," Dean said, moving to take one of Cas's arms.
"I mean it, Dean," Cas said, resisting the help just ever so.
"Okay," Dean said, reaching for him again. "But let's go find Sam, okay?"
Suddenly, Cas lurched forward, clutching his stomach. He shoved both men forward, shouting, "You need to run! Now! I-I can't hold them back!"
"Hold who back?" Dean demanded.
Castiel groaned, obviously struggling. "They held on inside me. Dean… they're so strong."
"..the Hell?" the older man muttered.
"Leviathan!" Castiel yelled.
And the memory froze. Suddenly, there was a different Castiel, standing on Willow's right side. He was dressed in his asylum shirt and pants, the trenchcoat—still a little bloody—on his shoulders.
"They killed me," he said, not looking over to the witch.
"Leviathan?" Willow asked.
Castiel nodded. "Yes. But I deserved it. I unleashed them. It was quick. It was… more than I deserved. And then I was back. Crawled out of the water. Found by a wonderful, Godful woman who fell in love with me. I had forgotten who I was, what I was. And then I remembered. Remembered how I broke Sam's wall. It was killing him, you know."
Castiel turned to face Willow. Willow didn't reply. She waited, seeing what Castiel would reveal to her next. He continued, staring on at his frozen self.
"I was killing him. You know, Dean said that maybe I had come back to fix all of this."
Again, Willow stayed silent. Lucifer took this moment to appear.
"Do you believe this crap?" he said, his eyes on Willow. "Come back to fix it? Yeesh. Brother, you came back to finish it. Actually, no, I'm wrong. You came back to be punished. To see what you've done wrong. And that's why I'm here. Because I'm what you deserve."
Willow scrunched up her eyes and nose, shaking her head at the image—the memory of a memory—of Lucifer.
"In the words of a friend of mine, actually a couple of friends of mine: get bent, Luci," she said.
Lucifer looked down right flabbergasted. Castiel turned, looking very confused.
"I know what your problem is," Willow said. "It's clear. And you know, it's not all that different from the last time I had to mind walk. You think you aren't strong enough. You think you're weak."
"I am," Castiel said, averting his eyes.
"You're an angel! One that beat the damn apocalypse! The one who helped beat this loser," she said, jerking a thumb at Lucifer.
"Excuse me," Lucifer said.
And he was going to say more, but Willow raised a finger.
"No. You're a memory. You're a memory of a memory. You're done talking now," she said, turning back to Castiel. "This isn't real. Not him, at least. And the only reason you're trapped in here is because of what you are thinking. Nothing more. You're trapped by nothing but yourself. This wall is nothing compared to you. You're an angel. You can vanquish this."
"How do you know?" Castiel said. "You've never met me."
Willow shrugged. "Call it faith. Or, more accurately, call it based on the testimonies that I've gotten about you. From a demon, no less. If a demon is gonna stand up for you, I'd say you must be pretty spectacular."
"Meg," Cas muttered, and Willow wasn't sure if it was just a statement or a question.
"Yeah. Meg. She sent me in to call you out. But if you're going to continue this whole woe-is-me crap, then you're hopeless."
"This is my punishment. I deserve this."
Willow took two steps forward, smacking Castiel squarely about the face. Fake Lucifer laughed.
"Shut up," Willow groaned at him. To Castiel, she added, "If you think you deserve this, then fine. But I don't think you do. And your friends miss you. They need you. To fix the mess you started, if you really wanna look at it that way. Are you just gonna leave them out there, alone?"
Castiel's brow furrowed, and he looked away. Willow turned, making her way toward the door of the memory room.
"Where, oh where, are you going, Willow, dear?" Lucifer sing-songed after her.
"Out. I've done all I can do. Castiel, if you're half the angel I think you are—that your friends think you are—then you should come with me. This dude? He isn't really Lucifer, and you know that. The only power he has over you is what you give him. You've already given up enough power," she said, gesturing the memory still frozen around her. "How much more are you going to give?"
With a gasp, Willow blinked, causing Meg to jump. The demon rushed forward, staring expectantly at Cas. But Castiel was as unmoving as ever. She glared down at Willow.
"It didn't work," she said through gritted teeth.
Willow stood, extinguishing the flame of the candle between her thumb and forefinger. "No. It didn't."
She loaded her supplies back into her leather bag, shutting it with a snap. Then, she began to move toward the door of the room. Meg stood in her path.
"Wait. What the hell? What happened? Why isn't he back?" the demon demanded.
"He wasn't ready," Willow said.
"And what the hell does that mean?"
Willow glanced back, grinning at Catatonic Cas.
"It means he still has a lot to learn. But, I'm confident. You'll get him back, Meg. He just has to do it on his own. It's his punishment, I think."
Willow took a half step forward, but Meg didn't move. Willow rolled her eyes, and with a nonchalant wave of her hand, Meg flew to the side.
"Have a little faith in him, Meg, if that's even possible for you. Cas'll be out in his own time. I left him with a lot to think about," Willow said.
"Wait!" Meg growled, but a cloud of smoke surrounded the witch.
When it cleared, Willow as gone. Meg rested the back of her head against the wall.
"Well… damn," she said, looking over at Castiel. "Looks like it's just me and you again."
And, to her great disappointment, Castiel remained silent.