"Two objects equally charged will repel themselves..."
The air felt charged, like the very particles of every single item and person in that room were coming apart. Electrical bonds broken, atoms torn asunder.
And yet, all stood still.
Two years ago, they had prevented Lucifer from turning Mankind into dust...
"I am your new god... a better one," Castiel quietly said, looking directly at Dean. "So, you will bow down and profess your love unto me, your lord... or I shall destroy you."
... and now this.
Dean woke with a start, jumping from where he'd been lying down, too quickly for his muscles to catch up. His whole body ached.
The whimper that escaped his lips was a foreign sound, a weak protest that he could not recognize.
He tried using his arms to get himself off the cold floor, but the second he strained his right arm and put the slightest of weight on it, he was back on the ground.
Arm clutched to his middle, knees drawn up, Dean screamed; a stronger noise than the whimper of before, a more pronounced statement that he was there. That he hurt with every fiber of his being.
The offending limb was throbbing, mocking his pain by looking misshaped and swollen. Like something obvious that he should've noticed before but had failed to see.
Sam woke with a start, jumping from where he'd been lying down, too quickly for his muscles to catch up. His whole body ached.
It was not pain born out of bruised or tired muscles. It wasn't even pain born out of physical injury. It wasn't physical pain at all.
His mind hurt, burned.
He remembered everything now, even if parts of it where... out of focus, blurry, even in his mind's eye.
He was back inside a cage.
Sam thought that, wherever he was now, it couldn't be worse than the time he had spent locked with Lucifer and Michael.
When Dean's image, like a giant canvas, filled the left wall of his cell, Sam knew he was wrong. Dean was screaming, and Sam knew that was just the beginning.
Bobby woke with a start, jumping from where he'd been lying down, too quickly for his muscles to catch up. His whole body ached.
He wasn't as young as he liked to think anymore. There was no shrugging off a car flip and a flight down the stairs like those he'd recently suffered. His kneecap, the traitorous bastard, felt out of place, grinding against his leg's bones.
Groaning, he lay back down, slowly, until he was looking at the ceiling instead of the closed door. The bars on the door, the ones he had briefly glimpsed, were too unbreakable and depressing either way.
The ceiling was beautiful, like a dark aurora borealis that shifted colors at each blink of the eye. Like a living thing, gazing down at him.
If this was Castiel's idea of punishment, Bobby was fine with it.
Until the image changed, like a flickering TV screen and what appeared to be live images of Dean, laying in a cell much similar to Bobby's, replaced the pretty colors of the sky.
Castiel knew him all to well. He knew them all too well.
For the first time in his life, Bobby wished that his skin was being flambéed or his nails pulled out, one by one. Either would have been less painful than this.
Anything. But this.
"Your arm is broken," Castiel said the first time he visited.
"Where's my brother? Where's Bobby?" Dean had spat out, body colliding with the cold bars as he tried to get nearer to the smiling angel and failed.
"I could mend it for you," Castiel went on like Dean hadn't opened his mouth at all. Like he wasn't hissing in pain, clutching his arm close to his chest.
"Yeah... and I bet that in return you want nothing but a back rub," Dean spat, turning away from his former friend. His pain was much too easy to read in his face either way; he was safer with his back turned.
"I ask only for which is my right to ask, Dean," he said, that sapient tone of voice that he had taken to use every time he talked, making Dean want nothing more than to shove a boot down Castiel's mouth. "You should, at least, recognize that."
Dean resisted the urge to turn and scowl at Castiel's all-knowing face. He'd already given up on trying to reason with the former-angel. There was no point in trying further, not when Castiel had gone this far.
"Why won't you just kill me?" Dean asked instead, finally facing the former-angel. "I'm sure you have more important things to do than this."
He'd seen the easiness with which Castiel had evaporated Raphael. And that had been an archangel.
As Castiel so much liked to point out, Dean was just a man.
"There is no lesson to be learned in death, Dean," Castiel pointed out, the bars of Dean's cell opening at the swipe of his hand as he walked away. "And as to my other businesses, don't worry. My presence is now... everywhere."
Dean looked at the opened door in suspicion, Castiel's megalomaniac words registering only at some lower level. It was a trick, Dean was sure. Still, he could not ignore his chance of escape.
The second his feet stepped out of his cage, Dean was free falling.
His lungs constricted inside his chest to the size of peanuts. There was no up, no down, no bottom, no ceiling. Just endless darkness and wind rushing by.
He was surrounded by nothing but empty air and yet, try as he may, Dean could not take a breath.
This was why Dean hated flying. The sense of having no where to grab on to, the feeling that all control was out of his hands; the knowledge that, at the end of the ride, there would be a quick stop and a slow, painful death.
Dean screamed. He couldn't help that, not when the fall was pushing all the air out of his chest.
Dizziness set in, the insane twirling of that absence of everything making his head spin, his stomach turn.
He felt like he was falling forever, his chest burning at the lack of air. The irony of dying of thirst surrounded by water worked just as well with oxygen.
And then it was over.
Dean's body collided back with a flat surface with a powerful smash. His already broken arm shattered on impact. Dean passed out, but not before realizing that he was back where he'd started.
Bobby yelled at empty air, screaming at the top of his lungs all the things that he thought about Castiel's methods, lineage and places where he could shove his self-righteousness.
"Your arm is broken," Castiel said the second time he visited.
"Bite me," Dean managed to whisper. He could barely feel his arm anyway. If he avoided looking at the bloody, mangled mess hanging limply from his right side, he could even put it out of his mind completely. "Where's Sam? Where's Bobby? What have you done to them?"
"I could set your arm for you," Castiel offered again, eyeing the misshaped limb with compassion. "One touch of my hand, and all your pain would go away. All I require is one gesture of obedience, one sign of repentance."
"Repentance for what?"
"You turned your back on me, Dean," Castiel supplied, his eyes becoming stormy and harder, far from the benevolent appearance he had been keeping up until now. "After all I did for you, you betrayed me."
"You betrayed yourself," Dean said before turning away and easing himself down on the floor. "So, joke's on you, pal."
He didn't look up when, once again Castiel pulled the cell bars opened and dangled freedom in front of Dean.
He wasn't going to fall – literally or figuratively – for that one again.
Instead, Dean just sat against the wall, gently rocking himself back and forth, hoping to pass time quicker, hoping to numb the pain. He'd lost track of how long he'd been there.
There was no sun light through the window bars; there was no noise outside or coming from the other cells.
Only Castiel's footsteps, slowly walking away.
And then the worst sound that Dean could dream of filled his ears. A sound coming straight from his childhood nightmares.
Tiny feet, claws scraping against the ground, running towards him. Squeaks of joy and hunger as hundreds of furry beasts came closer and closer to the wide open cell door.
When the first rat breached the entrance, Dean already knew how this would end. More and more would come, and they would keep on coming until there was nothing more left of him.
Dean looked around in panic. There wasn't a single thing in his cell that he could use to defend himself. There wasn't a cot that he could use a crowbar; there wasn't a pee-bucket that he could use to bash their skulls in.
Just his bare hands and feet.
The rats were big, with red, infected eyes that seemed to glow in the perpetual gloom of his cage, dirty fur going from brown to black and all the variations in between.
It was easy to get rid of the first couple; heavy boots stomping and kicking until the tiny space suddenly filled with squeaks and hisses of angry, dying rodents and Dean's harsh breathing.
Still, Dean knew that it was only a matter of time. Outnumbered and hurt, he wouldn't be able to keep it up for long.
One stinky rat fell on top of his head, sharp claws digging into his scalp, slimy tail flapping against his face. Dean yelped, his body chilled to the bone at the contact.
He hated rats.
When Dean looked around and saw the whole floor and walls undulating, seemingly covered in grey fur and bearing teeth at him, he knew that there was nothing he could do.
Still Dean fought. It was impossible to sit still as razor sharp teeth sunk into his ankles, into his arms and neck. When a particularly nasty bite cut through his Achilles tendon, Dean sunk to his knees, unable to resist the onslaught any longer.
There on the ground, he jerked but did little else; there was no room to move, there was no freedom to fight. Dean tried to ignore the tear and pull of muscle and skin that had expanded to his whole body. It was impossible, not when his whole body felt like it was on fire.
He begged for it to end.
But not once did Dean call for Castiel.
Sam rocked back and forth, his side pressed against the far wall, his hands over his ears.
Lucifer too had tried this. He had grabbed Sam's hand and showed him all the vile things that were happening to Dean while Sam was away; he had showed him all the blood that Dean was shedding at the demons' hands. And when Lucifer's imagination ran dry, Michael would pick up the slack and showed him how imaginative Heaven could be.
The third time that Castiel came, he didn't asked for anything. He just opened the door to Dean's cell and crouched on the floor near him. The rim of his trench coat was red from touching the soaked ground around the hunter.
"Just kill me," Dean whispered without opening his eyes. "Why do you refuse to kill me?"
Dean felt dead already. He knew he should be dead.
His skin felt raw, chewed over and spat out, laced with acid. He dared not look down on himself and see the damage that the pack of rats had left behind. The last time he'd tried that, he'd lost his stomach's contents right there where he lay.
"Like the God you knew before, I too am benevolent," Castiel said, carefully analyzing the mess before him. "This is your chance of redemption. It's more than your previous God gave you."
Dean opened one eye and peered at Castiel's face, blurry and wavering above him. "What do you want from me?"
"We were once friends, Dean… I want you to have a chance to reconsider your actions and your decisions."
Dean turned his head to the side, his body screaming in agony at even that small movement. Hidden beneath his body, Dean had put to good use all of the blood he had shed.
His bloody palm hit the sigil that he'd drawn on the ground, the only weapon that he could still use to fight Castiel.
Dean instinctively closed his eyes, expecting the usual burst of light that came with banishing an angel.
This time, however, there was no light.
Tentatively opening his eyes again, Dean saw Castiel, still looking down at him. The same benevolent look in his blue eyes, the same feeling of staring down at a small ant, squirming under his thumb.
Dean hated that look.
"I told you I am no longer an angel," Castiel said, coming. "But you did not believe me, I see."
Dean shivered when he felt a cold palm resting against his feverish forehead. He thought that this was it. That Castiel had finally grown tired of games and was going to obliterate him, burn Dean out of this plane of existence.
Dean opened his eyes when a familiar scent registered in his nose.
It was that unique mixture that he'd come to catalogue as the clothes-softener that Lisa used in her laundry and the perfumed lotion that she always put on after taking a shower. A perfect mix of vanilla and coconut that had always made Dean think of exotic places and sand.
It was the smell of their room; the smell of the bed they had once shared.
Lisa was alone, sleeping, tanned form standing out from white sheets.
Dean could feel the desire to touch her stirring inside of him, to reach out and caress her soft skin.
The pang of hunger hit him stronger than before, the smell of fresh blood, pumping from her heart eclipsing all other smells.
Dean remembered this. He remembered the night when he had come to say goodbye to Lisa and Ben and how he had ended up almost killing them.
From inside his head, Dean felt himself move forward, a cold detached feeling growing inside of him that he couldn't remember from before.
When Lisa woke up and pressed Dean for answers, Dean pressed her back against the wall.
Unlike before, however, he didn't even try to resist the call for blood, the lust for her body.
Dean screamed inside his own head while this Dean, this dark version of himself, feasted upon Lisa's blood, weakening her, robbing her of all strength to fight... and the he started to feast upon her body. Savagely, without consent, without mercy.
Betrayed so vilely by the man she had entrusted her heart, Lisa's spirit broke even before Dean sucked the rest of her life out through her neck.
After that, killing Ben was just dessert.
The silent screams that had been muffled inside his head as he watched himself defile and kill the ones he had grown to see as his family, suddenly exploded from Dean's mouth.
It was like a TV stuck on mute where the sound had finally been turned up.
Dean vomited on the cell floor. He could still taste Lisa and Ben's blood in his mouth; he could still discern the scent of sex on his skin.
When there was nothing more that his stomach could produce, not even bile and spit, Dean sagged against the mess he'd made.
It hadn't happened like that, he tried to remind himself; Lisa and Ben where safe, alive... Lisa and Ben didn't even know who he was any more.
This was just Castiel fucking with his mind.
Only... Castiel had god-like powers now. And Dean had no idea how far the former-angel could change the past.
The tears that fell from Dean's eyes then weren't of pain or sorrow; they were of anger and frustration.
He laughed. Dean laughed because his throat was too dry to scream anymore.
Bobby covered his eyes when he saw what was happening inside Dean's mind. It was too private, too intimate, too horrible for him to pry.
Still, the sounds of Lisa and Ben dying reached his ears with ease. And the most horrible of all sounds was Dean's laughter above it all.
The forth time Castiel came to his cell, he told Dean that Bobby and Sam had been far less difficult than him and had already bowed down to him.
Dean managed to find the strength to spit on Castiel's polished shoes and tell him he was full of crap.
The next thing he knew, Dean was back at Starlight Cannery, the place where they'd lost Rufus; the place where he'd killed Gwen and tortured Bobby.
It was even worse this time around. This time, he had time to kill them all before the bug was done with him.
The time after that, Dean destroys the whole world. Michael rides him to the final confrontation with Lucifer and the battle lasts for millennium, until nothing else breaths but the two archangels.
Dean loses track after that. Sometimes the terrors he saw were inside his cell; sometimes they were inside his head.
He couldn't remember the last time food had touched his lips, he couldn't remember the taste of water.
All he knew is that he was fighting for something, something important –even if he no longer remembered what that was- and that Sam and Bobby, like him, would never stand down.
Dean's body hardly felt like his own any more. When he looked at what was left of it, he couldn't recognize it as even human.
The doors to his cell opened one more time and Dean didn't even bothered to look up. This dance was getting old and he was tired of listening to the same old music over and over again.
"You are too stubborn for your own good."
The voice was new. And it was definitely not Castiel.
Dean opened his eyes, the only part of him still working. More or less.
The older man staring down at him with sad brown eyes was familiar. Joshua, Dean remembered.
From the Garden.
"Came to piss on me too?" Dean rasped. He couldn't remember the last time he had used his voice either.
"I came to help you," the gardener said. "You and your friends have been trapped in here for long enough. God has grown tired of this charade."
"Castiel?" Dean spat out.
"No, Dean," the older man, the angel, said patiently. "God."
Dean scowled. Every intervention of God and fate in his existence had resulted in nothing but blood and pain in his life so far. Old God, new god... it was all the same ache for him.
"I would appreciate the door opened and nothing outside to bite my ass off when I try to leave," Dean offered.
"Dean Winchester... do you even know where you are?"
Dean looked around, resisted the urge to be an ass and reply 'a prison cell'.
The eyebrow that rose in the angel's face made it clear that Dean's unspoken sarcasm hadn't been as stealthy as he'd thought.
"You are in Heaven. Heaven's prison, to be more precise."
Dean looked around again, re-accessing the place. It looked like any other cell he'd been before. "Why? Why here?"
"It is the one place where Castiel can exercise full control over you, while still keeping an eye on the war he started. He is a busy... god these days."
"Can you get me out? Sam and Bobby?"
The gardener smiled at him. Reaching into his pocket, he offered a red apple to Dean.
Dean's stomach churned at the sight. The vision of that shiny apple was all it took for his body to remember once again what food was. The apple looked delicious.
Still, Dean did not pick it up. "What am I, Eve?"
"You are far too acerbic to be Eve," the other man said, his serious glare more for show than scorn. "And I am too old for the contortionisms of a snake."
"So what am I supposed to do with that?" Dean asked, finally picking up the fruit. The smell alone was making him dizzy with its sweetness.
"Remember what happened to Adam and Eve," the older man said enigmatically. "And it will come to you."
Dean was sure that this was madness; that he'd finally succumbed to the mind games Castiel had been playing on him for far too long.
The desperate man, however, grabs onto whatever hope he can find. And Dean's rested on an apple, of all things.
The next time that Castiel walked into his cell –Dean had lost count how many it had been now- he found Dean on his knees, head bowed, waiting for him.
"Have you finally come to your senses?" Castiel asked, hopeful. Victorious.
Dean looked up, allowing his emotions to run free through his eyes. There was love and devotion there. Faithfulness.
Castiel wrongly assumed that they were for him.
"You have bowed down, Dean... do you profess your love unto me?"
Dean didn't say a word. His face was open and free of masks, his lips slightly parted and vulnerable. When he reached up and pulled Castiel down, the former angel followed without resistance or fear.
The kiss was chaste, a mere touch of breathes, until Dean parted his lips further and pressed something inside Castiel's mouth.
Castiel's eyes widened in surprise. Not because of the intimacy of the gesture -a god was, after all, above all that. No... what surprised him was the sweetness that invaded his mouth.
He bit down, soft pulp and sweet juice coating his tongue. "Apple?"
"Straight from the Garden," Dean said with a wink.
Castiel backed away, horror and incredulity plain on his face. And then it hit him.
Reality as it was.
Castiel saw his actions through the eyes of others, through his own eyes when he was still innocent. Flashing before his mind went the faces of all of those he had wronged, all that he had hurt, all that he had killed. All the wrong decisions that he had made and to which he had blinded himself from.
His intentions, masked by the glitter of pride, suddenly were clear for what they were: personal glory. The exaltation of veneration.
The last face to flash before him was Dean's. The equal force that had stood against him, even though their powers bared no comparison.
Man versus the would-be-god. Equally charged forces of implacable will.
It was the last thing Castiel understood before light exploded from inside him, an eruption of power and energy. All the souls of Heaven, all the souls of Purgatory, free of imprisonment in a wrongful place. All gone, until Castiel was empty.
Until he was Castiel again.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Story written for a promp by Tifaching, who wanted something to deal with the aftermath of the season finale. Many thanks to Jackfan2, who swiftly betaed this story for me. All remaining mistakes are mine.