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Stairway From Zion 1c/6 (SPN, R)

Title: Stairway From Zion
Rating: So R
Warnings: Mentions of torture. Violence, war scenes, cursing, drug withdrawal, medical experimentation, species prejudice, sex.
Wordcount: 63k (oh my god what is wrong with me)
Summary: Orwellian AU. During the same raid that had Castiel crashing through the windshield of Dean’s getaway car, Dean loses both Sam and Anna to the hands of the angels. Human and angel should hate each other as circumstances dictate, but life has a funny way of changing the preordained path.

GAAAAH LJ ENTRY LIMITS ARE DRIVING ME NUTS.

~*~

1.4: Dean

Gabriel’s waiting for him when Dean arrives at Castiel’s door bearing a tray of cafeteria’s finest. Dean curses to himself and tries to shoulder Gabriel out of the way and key in the numbers one-handed. “Look, I know you’re trying to be all manly and ignore me, but can I just say that it’s so sweet how you’re feeding him personally?”

“Fuck off,” Dean says, brushing him aside.

“Since when did you start babysitting duties? Aren’t you supposed to be out with Rufus or something?” Gabriel says, leaning nonchalantly against the doorway.

“Aren’t you supposed to be lounging around like a useless ingrate?” Dean retorts.

“Nice word of the use ingrate. I didn’t know that word was in your dictionary to begin with.”

“Go to hell,” Dean snarls as he pushes past Gabriel into Castiel’s room. He kicks the door shut behind him with a satisfying bang. As he slaps the tray down onto the table, he can feel Castiel’s eyes on him, watchful and inquisitive. “Guy’s a pain in my ass,” Dean says to him. “Is it just him, or do all angels not know when to fucking shut up already?”

Castiel doesn’t say anything, and Dean sighs, a little ruefully. Well, there’s his answer, then. He pushes the tray over to Castiel and sits down in a chair opposite the bed. “I don’t know why I’m here,” he says as the silence stretches on. “There’s stuff I should be doing. And much as I hate to admit it, Gabriel’s right. I made Rufus take my place on the patrol.” He closes his eyes and leans back, thumping his head lightly against the back of the chair. “Normally, Ellen would yell my sorry ass off, but she’s being all thoughtful and leaving me alone. They all are. On one hand, it’s fucking annoying, but on the other hand, I don’t give a shit.”

Silence greets this monologue. Dean opens one eye to check on Castiel’s reaction. Castiel tilts his head, bright blue eyes watching Dean in a way that’s slightly unnerving. Dean’s had more than enough contacts with angels since then to recognize the sharp, sweeping gaze that carefully analyzes him from tip to toe.

“So,” Dean says quietly as Castiel’s eyes finish their inspection and flick back up to meet his. “Ready to talk about Anna?”

It’s a hunch, but he somehow manages to hit perhaps the only chink in Castiel’s armor. The corners of Castiel’s eyes crinkle very slightly, but he might as well have gasped out loud. Dean feels his heart leap in his chest; he takes the opportunity and goes for it. “When angels land on our getaway car, generally either the angel or the car dies. Or, you know, the people in the car,” Dean says, keeping his voice light and conversational. “But somehow both made it through, and the only reason you’re not dead is because Anna asked me not to. We’ve killed other angels before, so it’s not really a question of old sibling sentiment. You knew her, didn’t you? Personally.”

Castiel’s still enough that he might be a statue. He blinks, the sweep of his lashes the only movement he makes.

Dean stares at him for a moment and feels his hands clench into fists. Damn the angels. How can he just sit there, unmovable and emotionless, when Dean’s lost everything? “What do they do to angels who leave the Host?” he says, anger turning him vicious. “Especially one who betrayed them. What’re they doing to Anna, huh? We’ve had to abandon our old exits and fortify our defenses, because there’s no way that the Nest of Love is going to let her sit quietly in prison when they can torture her. You soulless pieces of shit, you’ll rip out a child’s intestines and feel nothing, won’t you? That’s what they’re doing to Anna, except even worse, because they’re not going to let her die that easy. And you’re okay with that?”

Dean finds that he’s shouting, pushing the chair back and letting it fall to the ground with a sharp clatter. Anger sweeps through him, hard and dark, and for a moment Dean wants to give in to it. He’ll take Lilith back up on her offer, and they’ll see just how long an angel can stay silent. He can almost feel the hard steel of the razor under his palm, the cool edge against his wrist that promises pain and pleasure all at once, Alistair’s arm wrapping around him as the demon whispers into his ear—

Dean jerks himself up and away from the bed, stumbling back against the wall. He shakes his head frantically to get the vision out of his head, to get Alistair’s voice out of his mind. The demon’s hiss haunts his dreams often enough, but that doesn’t mean that he has to give into it while awake.

He’s better than that. He hopes that he’s better than that.

There’s a slight rustle from the bed. Dean glances at Castiel and sees that the angel’s shifted position—not a lot, just into a more alert position on the bed. “What?” Dean snaps. “I didn’t torture your sorry ass, but that’s the end of it, all right? I’m not going to stoop to your level. I’m not.”

He doesn’t know quite who he’s trying to convince, Castiel or himself. As the silence stretches on, Dean finds the anger draining out of him, leaving nothing but weariness in its place. “Look,” he says finally, rubbing the bridge of his nose. “I don’t know if you knew Anna as an angel. I guess it doesn’t matter, since we’ll never see her again. Or Sam.” He clenches his teeth as the still-raw wave of pain washes over him.

“Your brother,” Castiel says abruptly, looking up. Dean glances at him, surprised. “He uses Croat?”

“You’re breaking radio silence to ask me that?” Castiel stares back at him impassively, and Dean sighs. “Yeah, he uses Croat. I’m trying to get him off it, because honestly, it’s a fucking addiction sold by the demons. Since when have the demons ever had our best interests at heart? Not to mention that one day he’s going to overdose and die by it.” Dean presses his lips together in a hard, thin line. “I mean, if the Nest doesn’t kill him first, I guess. Which they probably will.”

“You didn’t give it to me during the detox.”

“I thought you didn’t want it,” Dean says, raising an eyebrow.

“Exactly why you should have administered it.”

Dean looks at him, trying to analyze his posture for clues. “Jo wanted to give you the Croat because it helps with Grace detox,” Dean says slowly. “Not because she’s sadistic, Castiel. We’re not like that.” Well. He hopes that he’s not like that.

Castiel’s silent for a long moment. “You should send me back,” he says finally, with a quiet solemnity that sends chills down Dean’s spine. Castiel’s shoulders slump very slightly, enough that he doesn’t seem hostile anymore, just…tired. “I don’t belong here.”

“Neither does anybody,” Dean says. He rights the fallen chair and pulls it up to Castiel’s bed, keeping a close eye on the angel as he does it. “Hasn’t stopped us so far.”

Castiel’s steady gaze falters. Skips away, aimlessly trailing up to the ceiling. Dean feels the window closing, and he feels himself get strangely desperate to open it back up. “Look,” Dean says. “It gets better. Really. Most people who come here are human, but even angels find it much easier after initiation. Okay, the only angel besides Gabriel here is—was—is Anna, but she got along great with everyone. It sucks now, but…it’ll get better.”

Not a ringing endorsement of the rebellion, but hey, Dean doesn’t work in propaganda for a reason. Castiel doesn’t seem convinced as his eyes continue to track the ceiling. Dean looks up at it just to check that nothing’s there.

“Anael was a traitor,” Castiel says. The words would normally be enough to get Dean angry again, but there’s something about Castiel’s flat tone of voice that stops him. “As is Gabriel. They betrayed the Father, and they deserve their fates.”

“If you go back,” Dean says slowly, “they’ll kill you. Won’t they?” He takes the silence as confirmation. “They won’t care that you were loyal, Castiel. They’ll kill you anyway because that’s what the Host does. The Father left you a long time before you left Him, Castiel.”

“Treason,” Castiel says softly.

“Truth,” Dean replies, just as soft.

Castiel’s hands twitch slightly, and Dean tenses. The moment stretches on, and Dean knows that something’s tipping within the angel. Crap, he thinks a bit ruefully as he waits for the breakdown—tears, shouting, the whole nine yards. One of the last things he wants to do is to get caught pants-down in an angelic initiation. He doesn’t do this wishy-washy psychology crap for a reason—

Or maybe not.

Castiel relaxes suddenly, some inner decision made. His face smoothes over, the tension vanishing from his eyes. He looks indifferent, even a bit bored. The stone angel’s back.

Dean feels something clench inside of him with something peculiarly close to disappointment. Damn it. Be careful what you wish for and all that.

Well, maybe it’s for the best, he thinks, tamping down the wave of frustration. Anyway, he isn’t paid enough to delve into angel psyche without some heavy machinery. Change the subject, Dean, talk about something else… “So, uh,” he says less-than-brilliantly as the silence stretches on. “Initiation. Did Gabriel try that out on you yet?”

No response. “Mine was music,” Dean says, more to fill the rather unnerving silence than anything else. “Course, I was a kid then, so I guess it was less…you know, traumatic than an adult’s and everything. The detox wasn’t half as bad, either, although I did have to deal with the detox from the Croat they gave me to ride out the Grace detox.” He snorts, vaguely amused by the contradiction. “Take it from me, man: drugs fucking suck, no matter who they come from.”

From the bed: nothing. The soft rise and fall of Castiel’s chest as he breathes is his only movement.

Dean rubs his hands through his hair. “You know, it’s fine if you want to talk,” he says after a moment. “No one’s going to bitch at you. I mean, Sam’s always been better with the wishy-washy stuff, but, uh—” he falters. “I don’t bite,” he finishes lamely.

This doesn’t seem very reassuring, judging by the flat silence that stretches on. Castiel’s face has closed off once more, wiped free of any movement or expression. Dean might as well not be in the room, and Castiel’s eyes look straight through him.

Honestly, Dean can’t even summon up the energy to be angry anymore.

~*~

1.5: Castiel

Late at night, he thinks about Anael.

She was a good leader. He served for years in her squad, promoted to leader only when she left—no, when she Fell. When she betrayed them. Obviously, she deserves to be Loved for that, but Castiel can’t help but think that—

No. No. He can’t. He won’t. He’s not like them; he’s an angel, and that carries a greater burden of responsibility than the rest of humanity.

He turns his mind to other topics. Judging by his trip with Gabriel that day, the complex is seated deep in the heart of Oldtown, the slums that the angels have condemned. He doesn’t know the specifics about the heart of Oldtown, and judging from the gaps in his knowledge, it’s perfectly possible that the slums may host an entire city. The demons have their headquarters situated here as well, controlling the depraved human population with their propaganda and lies. Chaos threatens to overrun Oldtown at any moment, and the Republic waits for those who would repent with open arms.

But even if he goes back, the Republic won’t welcome him. His place in the Host is gone. His name is erased from the Nest of Memory. Another will have taken his role, and few outside of his squad will note his absence, and even Uriel and the others will have short memories. That’s the way the Host works—efficient and emotionless, with no place for the Fallen. Castiel closes his eyes as a sudden wave of nausea rises up at the thought. It’ll be as if he was never there to begin with. Dean and Gabriel were right, what exactly is he holding onto for anyway?

Because he hasn’t Fallen. Castiel holds onto this thought, repeating it in his mind over and over again in a desperate mantra. He’s served for his entire life. He knows that the humans lie as easily as they breathe, and Gabriel, as a renegade, no doubt Fell to their temptations long ago. Don’t doubt, he tells himself. Have faith, don’t ask questions, just do as you’re told. You’re an angel; who are you to question the will of the Father?

He turns over in the bed restlessly, his hands clenching at the covers in their search for an anchor to hold.

~*~

Castiel trails behind as Gabriel ushers him through the cafeteria line, noting only detachedly the way that Dean scowls when Gabriel slides into the seat next to him with a smile that’s too big to be real. Castiel sits down next to Gabriel and lets the hum of the cafeteria surround him. He closes his eyes; his one refuge from the world and its paradoxes. He doesn’t want to observe the rebels at work or to analyze the way that Gabriel and Dean are glaring at each other. He doesn’t want to want at all, and yet he wants Grace so badly that it hurts. He wants to be back in the Host, with nothing to worry about so long as he obeys.

He doesn’t notice it at first when Ellen Harvelle enters the cafeteria, but he does open his eyes when she sits down across the table from him, next to Dean. “Am I interrupting something?” she says, looking from Gabriel to Dean and back. “Your face is going to get stuck if you keep glaring that way, you know.”

“Ellen,” is Dean’s growled reply. Ellen’s warning notwithstanding, he’s still glaring daggers at Gabriel as he jabs his fork back into a pile of green mush.

“Ellen, you look more gorgeous every day,” Gabriel says. His lips curve into an even wider smile as he tilts his head back to look at her. “What can I do for you?”

“Can it, Gabriel,” Ellen says. She looks at Castiel briefly before reaching into her coat and pulling out a small square box. “Thought you boys might be interested in seeing this.”

“We’re watching Republic Network now?” Dean says, his eyebrows raising. “What the hell are we going to learn from Heaven’s propaganda?”

Ellen hesitates. “Maybe you should leave him out of it,” she says, gesturing at Castiel. “Why don’t you come with me to SR ,and I’ll show you there?”

“Oh, come on,” Gabriel says. “He practically grew up on this stuff. Trust me, the Nest of Peace is the Nest of Enlightenment’s biggest fan. It’ll be like a letter from home. You know, if angels ever wrote letters.”

Ellen still looks uncertain, but Gabriel reaches over and pulls the monitor closer so that all four of them can see it. Ellen pauses one moment more before finally giving in and pressing some buttons on the flat black surface. The dark screen jumps to life: blurry at first, but slowly clearing up to reveal—

“Anna,” Dean breathes. Castiel focuses his gaze on the monitor, a strange sensation twisting the base of his spine as he looks at his former squad leader. She doesn’t look much different from his memories of her. Well, a few things are different: her hair is out of its former military cut and falls to her shoulders. She’s not wearing the squad uniform, either, she’s wearing a dirty gray tunic that has clearly seen better days. There are two angels on either side of her, gripping her arms and pulling her forward.

Anael’s movements are jerky and slow, and even with the poor quality image, Castiel can pick out signs of wounds underneath her garments. The two angels on either side don’t stop or slow, and their movements are brusque as they chain her to a large metal cross, fending off her struggles effortlessly. Her breath comes in short, fast pants. Castiel finds himself breathing in tandem with her, the sensation in his spine growing with a frightening intensity.

He’s seen this before. He knows how this will end.

A voice emanates from the speakers. “Anael, you have been judged and found wanting. You have been convicted of treason against the Father and the Republic of Heaven, and for your sins, you are sentenced to a cleansing by fire. May the flames burn away the darkness within you, and may the Lord have mercy on your soul.”

The camera lingers on Anael’s profile as the two angels step off the platform. White shows around her eyes as she pulls uselessly against the restraints. Her eyes, seeking and wild, look at something right behind the camera—Castiel knows from experience that she’s looking at an image of the Father in his glory, omniscient and ever-present. “Go to Hell, you bastard,” Anael spits. “Take your mercy and shove it up your ass.”

And then—

then—

—the fire begins.

Anael’s screaming, her head thrown back in agony as she writhes against her bonds. It’s surprisingly loud, though, and it takes Castiel a moment to realize that he’s screaming as well. Something burns at his stomach, wanting out, out, OUT, clawing its way up his spine and into every fiber of his body. The screen falls to the floor, and Castiel attacks it again and again as if the actions can undo the images on the screen.

Strong arms wrap around his chest and pull him back; Castiel fights them, thrashing against them as if they were Anael’s chains. He’s not nearly as strong as he used to be, but he’s a trained angel, weakened or not. Castiel slams an elbow into his attacker’s solar plexus and bursts free, only to be stopped as another arm wraps around his shoulders, holding him tight. He rages, unable to form more coherent words around the rawness in his throat.

“Castiel!”

He wants. He’s never wanted before, but the sheer intensity of desire is raging through him now, and he can’t stop it now that it’s out. He wants to kill, wants to rip apart, wants to destroy those who’d dared to lay a finger on Anael and all those who stop him from trying. As if sensing his intentions, the weight on him grows; now there are two pairs of arms, three, four, all conspiring to hold him down. Castiel fights them the best he can—Anael needs him, he can save her, he can revenge her if only they’d let him go. Despite his best efforts, the restraints remain, and now he can feel the fire burning him as well, wrapping around him with a greedy appetite.

“Castiel!”

Dean’s face is in front of his, forming words that he can’t hear over the roaring in his ears. Castiel thrashes against the hold, fighting to break free. His movements are growing slower, though, despite his best efforts to stay strong. No, no, something’s wrong. He whips his head around to see a hypothermic needle sticking out of his sleeve. They’ve drugged him, they’ve killed Anael, the liars, the traitors, and for that, he’ll kill them

~*~

Chapter 2a

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Jul. 7th, 2011 12:18 pm (UTC)
Okay- officially hooked and continuously refreshing this page. This is amazing. like, so amazing I am having trouble articulating how amazing it is. Castiel is WONDERFUL, Gabriel is fabulous, the humans are a blanket phenominal, and Cas's reaction to Anna's death gave me chills.

Please, please, please write and post more soon!
daymarket
Jul. 8th, 2011 01:31 am (UTC)
*hugs* I'm glad you like it! Next chapter's up!
honeylocusttree
Jul. 7th, 2011 03:43 pm (UTC)
Well.

Don't make use wait too long for the next bit, okay? Otherwise I might have to hunt you down.

What I'm saying is, "Auugh! Cliffhanger auugh!"

Hope there's more soon! ;)
daymarket
Jul. 8th, 2011 01:32 am (UTC)
MEA CULPA MEA CULPA I'm terrible at updating my other fic, I know. *hangs head in shame* BUT! This fic is done. (Really!) It's just that LJ posting drives me nuts (seriously, it took me an hour yesterday to post one chapter because I kept having to chop it up into smaller entries), so I'm doing it bits at a time to save my sanity. XD Next chapter's up!
honeylocusttree
Jul. 8th, 2011 01:58 am (UTC)
WOO! \o/
ghostyouknow27
Jul. 7th, 2011 04:07 pm (UTC)
Ooh! Ooh! An Orwellian dystopia with mind-control and brainwashed!Castiel? I love it!

I'm very interested to see what happens next (if this is Castiel's initiation, he seems to be blaming the wrong people for Anna), and Dean's back story is intriguing as well. I think the angelic Grace vs. demonic Croat as addictive substances is very cool as well.

My only complaint is that I have to wait to read the rest! ;D
daymarket
Jul. 8th, 2011 01:34 am (UTC)
I think the part that gripped me most about 1984 was the way the language was structured to be benign and harmless when it fact, reality really wasn't. So yeah, that kind of percolated in my brain until it stewed out into this fic. Next chapter's up!
(Deleted comment)
daymarket
Jul. 8th, 2011 01:35 am (UTC)
*pokes* Next chapter's up! I thought Equilibrium was awesome, too, although I think if anyone tried gun-kata in real life they'd get their brains blown out in two seconds or less. Thanks for reading!
mulder200
Jul. 7th, 2011 08:19 pm (UTC)
Oh! I just love that you wrote more in this verse! I can't wait for more.

And I loved the way you used Grace and Croat as drug addictions. Nice idea.

And just like in canon, I like the way that Cas and Dean have this something going on even if they are unaware of it.
daymarket
Jul. 8th, 2011 01:35 am (UTC)
Hahaha, I'd have to thank SPN canon for the drug-addiction bit, seeing as Sam's thing with Ruby totally smacked of some guy desperate for his next hit. (I like Sam/Ruby, really, but there was that underlying definition to their relationship.) Next chapter's up!
cotymundi
Jul. 17th, 2011 08:22 pm (UTC)
This is mesmerising stuff. I'm really annoyed that the dinner's ready and I have to go and eat instead of reading more of this!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )