It's during a conversation like any other they've had. Castiel's head isn't in the game, and it needs to be. Something has been wrong for a long time, something neither he, nor Dean or Sam, can figure out. Whatever it is, it's big, and it could cost them dearly if left unsolved. Castiel is still just Castiel, but there is a murky unknown hiding somewhere beneath the surface. Out of sight, but certainly not out of mind. And so it stays, a haunting entity, at the back of their thoughts.
It's not unlike the human error of remembering something forgotten, only to not know what that something is. But Castiel isn't human, and he shouldn't be forgetting. So why, then, did he forget what and who he was, upon walking out of that river? Why did the memories escape him, as the missing pieces do now?
Why did he kill Samandriel?
He knows why: Samandriel attacked him. Samandriel was compromised.
But why would his brother attempt to do him harm, so soon after rescuing him? Samandriel, of all the angels?
"Cas, are you listening?"
"Yes. I'm sorry."
Dean's tone is rough, but the lines around his eyes soften out. "Look, man… I know you're just as freaked as we are right now. But you gotta stop feeling sorry for yourself. It isn't gonna help anybody, alright? You need to pull it together."
Castiel bristles defensively, feeling a swell of frustration well up inside him. "And do what, Dean? I wish I knew what this was, but I don't. The mere matter of my being useless is not going to change simply because I stop feeling sorry for myself. I am a danger to everyone right now, until we're able to discern what's causing me these memory lapses."
"Then what do you suggest?"
Dean's shoulders square, chin jutting out. "Start getting mad. Get pissed! All this guilt you still have over the waste job you pulled in Heaven isn't helping. What you did to me and Sam? That's over. Done. We forgave you a long time ago. So get over it. You weren't yourself. You had all those chompers inside of you, pulling the strings. Even before that, you had Crowley dicking around in your head—"
"What did you just say?"
Dean abruptly cuts off, blinking at the suddenly gawking angel. "Wh… huh? What do you mean?" The hunter rolls his eyes. "You're seriously gonna get on me about vulgarities right now? C'mon, Cas—"
His friend silences, expression falling serious at the grave importance carved into the angel's.
Castiel's mind races, thoughts warring.
…pulling the strings…
…in your head…
They're controlling us, Castiel!
Castiel's lips part around silent revelation, in muted horror, as he begins to piece together the puzzle. His eyes are glazed, staring into nothing. A memory triggers.
So, you see… I saved you.
You doubted me. Fought against me.
You will bow down… and profess your love, unto me, your lord. Or I shall destroy you.
Unless I ring my bell, you will stay out of Heaven.
Cas, come on. This is not you.
The Castiel you knew? Is gone.
Be thankful for my mercy.
That cold, calculating voice. So different than his own. So different, even, than the crazed derangement of the Leviathan's when it had taken over.
He was compromised.
You've done Heaven a great service.
What a brave little ant you are.
That perfect smile, with the menace shifting beneath the layers of beguiling charm.
You will report in to me regularly, and you will never remember having done so.
Once, you were my favorite pets, before you turned and bit me.
WHO ARE YOU?!
My name is Naomi.
Castiel's eyes snap open, wide and blue.
"Cas," Dean grates out, taking a step towards his friend. But Castiel is gone in a harsh pounding of wings.
Naomi looks up, brow knitting in startled disapproval. "How did you get here?"
But Castiel has become a fierce display of incredible wrath, the white surroundings beginning to quake at his arrival. Dean wanted him to get angry. Castiel's grace burns hot inside of him, as a star before bursting, and he feels what it is to know true fury. "When I was working with Crowley… that was you, wasn't it?" Voice lowering to a gravelly snarl, he goes on. "You told me to make that deal."
There is a beat of silence as Naomi regards him evenly.
"You told me to break Sam's wall." Several light fixtures above their heads explode out of the sockets, raining down glass.
The female angel, if she is an angel at all, offers him a tight smirk. "Avoiding blame now, are we? Those were your own actions, Castiel."
"Enough!" The ceiling rattles above them. "I don't believe that. Not anymore."
Castiel looms over the desk, the white of the room beginning to turn a very dark gray. Naomi stares levelly back, expression void but for that fleeting tip of lip.
"You had me do those things, let me become possessed by the leviathans, so that when I came crawling back, so consumed with guilt, I would do whatever you asked." A tremor of Castiel's true voice slips through, glass rattling dangerously. "So I wouldn't fight you. But I've fought it before, haven't I?"
Naomi smiles a little tighter, gaze dropping briefly to her hands. When her eyes return to his fiery glare, they are complacent and full of arrogance. Amused, of all things. "Yes," she admits finally. "During Lucifer's rising. Before, when you'd stumbled, Zachariah endeavored to set you back in line. Then, it had worked. But after that, there was no swaying you. You were too powerful, your will too strong. We needed leverage."
An observation spoken as though no more remarkable than the time of day.
The glass tabletop shatters, debris falling at their feet. "So you used me against my friends? You used me to hurt them."
A heavy ringing takes up in the air, ominous as a death knell, which Naomi ignores. "You were too strong, Castiel. A loose cannon. We couldn't control you anymore." Naomi stands. "You are of the most powerful among us. More powerful than the Host of Heaven could have ever predicted." The ginger haired angel takes a coaxing step forward, glass crunching underfoot. "You can do things I could never. Your resistance of our compulsion is extraordinary. I think, perhaps, my superiors were wrong to deny you this knowledge. We must harness this gift you have, in service of the Host."
"Why was I able to fight it?"
Since she's begun speaking, Castiel has felt an uneasy weight growing in the pit of his stomach. At his back, the wings nestled there begin to fidget. Anger and dread mesh unpleasantly inside him at the foreboding silence, because Naomi looks all too pleased to fill it.
"Because, you weren't always just Castiel." Her head tilts, almost in a parody of fondness. The smile that splits her face is wider than ever. "You are essential to the safety of the compendiums. Therefore, I think it's time you start remembering everything we've kept from you, Metatron."