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Genuflection

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Castiel leaves them there, the Winchesters and Bobby Singer, defeated and on their knees. The vastness inside him, the power, obliterates any prior connections, any paltry angel concerns, any pathetic myths of friendship and family.  He is everything, everyone. A part of and yet so high above it all.  He is a god.

He is God.

Forget Father and his empty promises, his sterile, lonely heaven. The earth will be Castiel's paradise. His garden.

So much to do. Infinite power, crackling at his heart, in his fingertips.  Days turn to weeks turn to months as Castiel reshapes the faith of billions of humans.  They fall into line promptly. It's not the betrayal of their faiths, but an evolution. Castiel has something so much better to offer.

 There are a few protests of course. A failed nuclear strike here, soldiers amassing on a border there.  A single woman, her face a dark cloud of fury, with an upturned fist.

All dissolving into burning ash.

No one dare stand against him.

It takes so little, for humanity to come around and worship him, obey him.  They want order and meaning.  Peace.  They're tired of crying out to a cold and absent god.  Instead they now have Castiel, coat tails flapping like a superhero's cape, smile soft and warm and loving, walking amongst them.  Curing the blind, kissing babies, smiting rapists.  He drinks in their bowed heads, their grateful eyes, their tender, grasping hands. Castiel demands obedience above all else, but also kindness and tolerance.

Their love is a heady thing.

Slowly, Castiel designs this new religion, his very being at the heart of it, throbbing with the glow of so many minds, sending thoughts of adoration to him. He takes what was and makes it new, depending on his fancy. He wants them to bow and pray, five or more times a day.  To burn incense and candles and hold his image in their minds. He likes the stained glass windows of the old Christian churches.  He rewrites himself into all the scenes.  All the boring old tales, with Castiel quiet and submissive on the sidelines, are wiped away.  Instead, the story of that first fish, of Castiel's awareness of the importance of humanity's evolution and existence, plays a central role.  Flattering as well, to the humans who adore him, and why shouldn't they have that praise, that pleasure and importance?  His beloved worshippers.

Castiel crafts himself an elaborate palace of white stone.  A house fitting for the god of mankind.  Pilgrims come, to kneel and to pray and to kiss the hem of Castiel's coat.

Things are going well and Castiel is very happy and very busy.

He's never too busy, though, to not keep a tab on Dean Winchester's mind.

Castiel senses exhaustion mostly.  A jaded weariness, glazed over with the blur of cheap alcohol. Physical pain almost an afterthought to the fear and despair rushing through Dean's mind.  And above all, an absolute fury.

Castiel waits.  He soars around the globe, healing and blessing and smiting, and he waits.

It's a full six months into Castiel's godly reign when Dean Winchester gets down on his knees and prays.

"Castiel, you sonafabitch—"

He doesn't make Dean wait.  There's little right now, that demands his attention; with a flutter of wings he is there.  It's a cheap hotel room, the carpets dirty and threadbare.  Dean sits on the bed, head in his hands.  Beside him is Sam, trembling and pale, eyes closed.  Sam's mind pulses with almost inconceivable pain.  The scars of Hell and the cage and Lucifer. The old God and the old ways.  A stupid, useless prophecy.  Castiel is beyond all that.

"Kneel," Castiel murmurs.

He sees Dean hesitate, struggle with it.  Funny.  Daddy's perfect little soldier, so resistant to worship and prayer, to belief. Cynical and faithless.  Castiel need not threaten or demand.  He waits. There is one person for whom Dean will do anything.

Sam.  His mind buckling under the strain of his shredded soul.  Castiel's sweet broken boy. Punished.

Dean goes to his knees.

"Cas—"

"Hush." Castiel stalks across the greasy shag carpet.  Dean is below him, his head bowed, his green eyes wide with fear and anger.  Castiel reaches out to pet Dean's soft golden head, and Dean flinches.  Then he makes himself hold still.  As he should.  It's every touch that Castiel ever held back, every way that he kept himself aloof and separate.  But now, everyone belongs to him. Dean, stubborn, vulnerable Dean, is his to touch as he should choose.

Castiel strokes once, twice, hair rifling through his fingertips, thumb trailing along the tip of one warm, flushed pink ear. Dean doesn't deserve more. Castiel then steps past to regard Sam on the bed, insensible.  Lost in hell memories.

"Help him, dammit."

"Why should I?" Castiel knows he sounds bored, absent. Superior.  He can feel the heat of Dean's anger.  But his attention is all on Sam.  Even from here, he can feel Sam's torn soul, writhing, desperate.  It's calling out to him.

Such a shiny, broken thing.  A bright, earnest light, smeared with pain and filth.

Despite what Castiel has said about Sam, his darkness and corruption, he's always known.  The goodness in Sam, the self-sacrifice.  His soul glows.

Castiel plunges his hand into Sam's chest.

Sam's hazel eyes slam open, he gasps in pain, hands reaching.  There's a scuffle from Dean, but Castiel holds it all back with ease.  Insects, scrabbling over his skin, harmless.  Insignificant.

Sam's broken soul is a marvel.

Castiel strokes it, reaching out to gentle it, soothe its tortured writhing.  He can feel it, beaten down, small and defenseless, curled up in his grip.  Waiting, for more pain, more suffering.  Waiting to be violated, broken into even smaller pieces.

None of that now.

Demanding, Castiel bids Sam's soul to unfurl, to offer itself, to be vulnerable, receptive. He strokes it open, bright little bit of pain, as the body that hosts it writhes below him.  So much suffering.  He pulls, gentle, inexorable, and feels that bright spark of soul come to heel.

It loves.  Sam's soul.  Finally, it has found a kindly master.  It pulses with relief and love and then quiets.

Beneath him, Sam's eyes flutter shut.  He sleeps.

Castiel withdraws his hand.  On the bed, Sam rolls onto his stomach in sleep, settles into a more restful position.  His silken mouth is lax.  Castiel draws a fingertip over all that damp pink.

"What did you do?"

Castiel turns to Dean.  Rakes his eyes down Dean's standing form, radiates disapproval.  He jerks his gaze to the floor.  Flushing, Dean again resentfully kneels.

"Next time, you will pray to me as you should.  Polite and grateful.  I've spared your lives and soothed Sam's pain.  Next time, you will show me gratitude as you should."

Castiel is gone in a rush of wind, before Dean can protest, rebel, ruin everything with his stubbornness. His cursing falls on deaf ears.

So much to do.  So much love to give and receive. The world is his.  Castiel can wait.  Dean will come around.

One day, Dean will kneel willingly.

It's only a week later that Castiel feels the call.  His name, in Dean Winchester's mind.  He flies across space and time into another small, pathetic hotel room.

One day, he will take Dean and Sam to live in his palace. His favorites, once they learn the proper obedience.

Inside the room, there is a tiny altar.  Candles, smelling beeswax sweet. Dean sits on the bed, face a mulish mask.  Beside the small shrine, Sam kneels. There are deep circles under his eyes.  He trembles on the edge of madness.

His smile is radiant.

"Castiel," Sam whispers.  It is everything. His voice says god and master and love and lover.  It's everything.

Castiel reaches out, grasps Sam's sweaty hand.  Pulls him gracefully to his feet.  Sam bends his shaggy head, curls into Castiel's shoulder, pressing chest to chest.  Deep inside, Castiel can feel Sam's battered soul straining eagerly towards him.  He can't wait, to feel it pulse in his hand again. To soothe its pain away.

"Sam," Castiel says. Gentle, approving.  With a flush of victorious pride, he sees Dean slide resignedly to his knees.

"Please," Dean whispers.

And why wouldn't Castiel? His favorites are rebellious, proud, but they will learn.  There is nothing in this world but Castiel and his reign.  They will soon learn.

"Of course.  For you. Dean," Castiel says.

Chapter Text

And after that, Castiel's time with the Winchesters become somewhat routine. No matter what Castiel is doing—and creating a new world order is no joke—his mind is always attuned to the prayers of his favorite humans.

Sam’s mind is a steady hum of love and devotion, just—cas, cas, cas, cas,—through his waking hours, Castiel’s name spaced out in a count like rosary beads. Castiel’s name an ever-present balm to the madness and terror. Castiel's name rising in a fever pitch the longer he goes without the care he needs.

Castiel would be flitting to Sam every moment of every day if he paid any heed to Sam's endless prayers.

But Castiel waits for Dean.

Dean’s grudging prayers are always rough and desperate and ugly.

 Sometimes when Castiel arrives, after he has laid Sam out and stroked Sam’s soul into submission, Dean pleads with Castiel to see reason. Sometimes he argues. Curses Castiel, curses himself and his own powerlessness. Twice he’s rushed Castiel as soon as he entered the room, a weapon in hand. Once, Castiel entered to Dean chanting, a metal bowl smoking with some tawdry little spell, and a surprising amount of pressure hemming Castiel into the hotel room. Making him the Winchester's prisoner.

Castiel broke that spell with more effort than he would like to admit.

Sam's guilty eyes spoke volumes on that particular occasion.

And then Castiel had to threaten them, to go away for a while and let Sam spin and spin in his madness.  To let Dean's unanswered calls become more shrill, more despairing.  It was for their own good.

Tantrums. The growing pains of living under a new God. Castiel can afford to be patient.

As long as Dean remembers he must always kneel.

Then suddenly, it all changes. One evening Castiel alights in the Winchester’s room. Dean and Sam are on their knees—one of Dean’s more obedient days, Castiel notes with approval—and the room is lit with candles. Dean’s face is turned to the floor. Resentful then, Castiel notes, but quiet with it. Sam must be in quite desperate need. 
Abasing himself, Sam crawls to rest a hand on Castiel’s shoe, head bowed, radiating love. His mind feels fetid and hot when Castiel brushes against it, but he smiles when Castiel reaches down to tilt up Sam’s chin.

“Cas.” Barely a whisper of breath.

On his back on the bed, Sam arches up as Castiel plunges in his hand. Sam whimpers, eyes clenched tight in pain. His soul throbs in Castiel’s grip. He looks beautiful spread our beneath Castiel. 

Castiel has healed many. He knows he could take Sam’s pain permanently. With all his power, he could absorb Sam’s madness, wipe it clean. Bring him a permanent respite from all this pain. Despite that one failed attempt—and now that it's over, Castiel can admit a certain pride in his pet's ability—Sam has been nothing but obedient and worshipful. Castiel can fix him.

Castiel knows he won’t do that. Not when Dean still rebels, his eyes hard, a mix of hope and anger making his face a rigid mask.

Not when Dean is still fighting, disobedient as he should not be. 

Castiel turns his focus to the pleasurable feeling of being deep inside Sam. Of the lightness and goodness throbbing in a tortured beat. Sam's soul at his command.

Sam’s eyes slide open, just as Castiel withdraws his hand.

Sam’s eyes are hazy with relief, tear bright at the dark lashed corners. The pain of Castiel's penetration is receding and Sam smiles up at Castiel. One knee rises, then the other, and Castiel is bracketed by Sam’s warm, lean thighs. A heaving sigh and Sam’s chest lifts, then settles, his body open, receptive. He turns his head and bares a sweat-damp throat. Every inch of himself offered up.

Things shift, realign. A god’s breath should not catch in a god’s throat. Castiel places one hand on Sam’s exposed neck.

 A rush of movement and Castiel is up, his body colliding with Dean’s as Dean flings himself angrily at Castiel, rough, wordless protests issuing from Dean’s lips. They are across the room and Cas has Dean’s back against the wall, both hands on Dean’s wrists. Castiel keeps one eye on Sam, still reclining on the bed, watching them anxiously. Sam may appear docile, but Castiel knows this Winchester madness goes both ways.

 Castiel’s been stabbed in the back before.

 “You don’t touch him like that!”

“He belongs to me,”Castiel says coolly, “As do you. As does everyone. I will touch him how I please.”

“That your religion now?” Dean’s voice is shaking. “You got a ranch somewhere, bunch of brainwashed chicks in prairie skirts you keeping as sex slaves?”

“Should I?” Castiel responds, brow cocked in amusement.

“You can’t do shit like that!  You can't do this to him! Sam doesn’t need another person pulling his strings and making him dance!”

“And yet it was your prayer that called me here, ”Castiel counters, voice silky. “Big brother knows best. It is past time to put out of your mind the idea that you are calling the shots.”

Castiel can identify to moment Dean shifts gears, his mind working How to draw the perceived threat away from his brother. To sacrifice himself, to protect Sam.

Sam whispers Dean’s name from the bed, shaking his head. Their devotion to each other is so predictable.

Castiel is braced for another fight. Child’s play. Tedious.

His eyes fly open in shock when he feels Dean’s hand against his cheek. The rasp of Dean’s palm against the roughness of Castiel’s cheek sounds impossibly loud.

“Cas,” Dean whispers. He leans in, body tight with tension, offering. He squeezes his eyes shut, turns his face away.

Everything and nothing Castiel wants.

 Castiel recovers quickly, lets anger cloud his eyes, grabs Dean’s wrist, twists. Brings the other man to his knees. One warning glare at Sam as he attempts to get off the bed, and then he has Dean in his sights again. Dean, on his knees, lips white with pain. His mouth is level with Castiel’s belt buckle. Castiel feels that surge of want. That feeling he had shoved away, ashamed, he now realizes, of how much it reminded him of before, of his limitations and weakness. Of wanting and denying himself.

Watching Dean, and wanting him.  Knowing he could never have him.

Before he learned to carve out the world and just take. 

Things he wanted before that he still wants now.

“You forget yourself, ”Castiel says coldly. 

“Damn you Cas! Don’t hurt him—“

“Any more than I already have? I’m God, Dean. Your God. His. A god may demand whatever he likes from his subjects.”

“Didn’t figure you were that hard up. Saw the news and it said at least a dozen sex cults sprang up in the past week, all worshipping you.  Buncha orgies in your name. What’s the matter, harem not putting out?”

The slap across the mouth is carefully controlled. Only the lightest spray of blood, and Dean’s head rocked to the side by the impact. 

“You will learn obedience to me, boy,” Castiel growls.

A flutter of movement from the bed and Sam is approaching. He’s on his knees, crawling slow and carefully, his arms out, hands empty.

“Dean,” Sam says. He kneels at Dean’s side, nudging at his brother. Dean looks up, eyes wet and humiliated. “It’s okay, Dean.”

“Yeah, well,” Dean sniffs, wipes at his bloodied nose, “it’s really not. Just because you drank the Kool-Aid, Sam—“

“I want to stop fighting. Hurting. Dean, you’ve seen the news. If Castiel is making things better—“

“‘Team Free Will’, remember? It was supposed to be us, fighting for the right not to be some asshat's puppet. There’s gotta be a better way. Castiel, this isn’t you...”

Castiel sighs, tunes out. It’s been a while since Dean has launched into this tired speech trying to convince Castiel that his path is wrong.

 With a thought, he stops their voices.

Dean gasps, trying to spit out his cut off words. Sam just bows his head, shoulders hunched.

 “Enough.”

Castiel reaches out and runs his thumb over Dean’s jaw, his lower lip. Feels Dean sway forward, before he flinches away, jaw mulish.

 “Only a fool would argue with God.”

 Castiel turns his attention to Sam. Strokes a lock of hair off Sam’s face. Feels Sam press into his touch.

 “I won’t be denied, Dean. You will know your place.”