Title: Beauty and the Beast
Pairing: Castiel/Dean Winchester
Word Count: 11,500
Summary: Who is the mysterious creature who lives behind the high walls of Messenger Manor? Dean Winchester, an apprentice hunter, is determined to find out.
Notes: Written for the AR/Fusion Challenge, prompt #29: “SPN/Beauty and the Beast: Would prefer Castiel to be the ‘Beast’. Slash, please.” Thanks to for beta. The Beast’s appearance is inspired more than a little by this fanart by .
The Beast said softly, “And then you came to take his place. The most beautiful boy I’ve ever seen. Not only that, you’ve brought life to this house, with your energy and your games and your laughter and your music. Don’t leave me, Dean. Please don’t leave me.”
“I won’t,” Dean vowed. He stood and patted Goliath’s nose, and then held out his hand to the Beast. He said softly, “Beast, will you share your bed with me?”
The Beast placed his hands in Dean’s and laboriously stood. “Yes, Dean,” he said, and for the first time his voice held a note of hope.
Dean started to light a lamp, but the Beast said quickly, “No. No light.”
“But I want to see you,” Dean said.
The Beast turned his head away, and then slowly, reluctantly, removed his cloak and let it drop. His eyes shone in the darkness like stars. Dean lit the lamp and put it by the bedside, then quickly removed his clothes and helped the Beast remove his linen shift. “Come on,” Dean whispered and pulled him to the bed.
The Beast groaned as if in pain and climbed into bed beside him. Dean covered him over and wound his arms around him with a muttered, “I’ll keep you warm.” Dean ran his fingertips over his cheeks and forehead and neck, even when the Beast whimpered and hid his face in the curve of Dean’s shoulder. “Do you believe me when I say you’re beautiful?” Dean said, and the Beast shook his head. “Try,” Dean said. “Try to believe me.”
“I can’t,” the Beast murmured. “Please blow out the lamp. I can’t stand it when you look at me.”
“But I like looking at you.”
“Why aren’t you afraid? I’m a monster.”
Dean smiled at him. “Because I’m a hunter, and I know what monsters look like. More than that, I know what they do. Monsters maim and kill and slaughter. While you used magic to protect yourself from the people you knew would hunt you.” The Beast’s eyes finally met his. “You sat in a dark room so I wouldn’t be afraid of you, and watched me play in the snow through a window.”
The Beast looked away again and sighed.
“Monsters sometimes have human faces,” Dean said. “Stands to reason the opposite could be true.”
“So you do think I’m a monster.”
Dean closed his eyes. “I think it’s going to be very hard to walk in the town square holding your hand.” He slid his hand down the Beast’s arm and lifted the Beast’s hand. “Does it hurt?”
“Yes. It aches when it’s cold.”
“And your feet? Do they hurt?”
“Yes. They ache. And my wings hurt when they come out, and they’re heavy. And sometimes my eyes ache as if I’ve been reading in the dark.”
“And it hurts to speak,” Dean said. “I can tell.”
“But you do anyway. You talk all the time.”
“I have nothing to give but stories.” He exhaled slowly and laid his arm over Dean’s waist, his head on Dean’s shoulder.
“You’ve given me so much more than that,” Dean whispered and kissed his forehead, just above his second set of eyes.
The Beast did not take Dean that night, nor the next, nor any night that followed. They slept side by side like brothers, sometimes holding each other close, sometimes not touching at all. Dean wished he understood why: he made no secret that he desired the Beast, that he found nothing repulsive about his skin or his hands or any aspect of his body.
The weeks passed. The Beast watched Dean eat, slept at his side, limped alongside him as they went for short walks around the property. And they talked, how much they talked, Dean told him his stories about werewolves and vampires and wicked fae, and the Beast told him about his family, their fortunes and times.
Once upon a time they had been nothing more than peasants, he said, and then one of his ancestors was loved by a good fairy. She gave him gifts, riches beyond imagination, and taught him to use magic. This knowledge was passed down from son to son, and while in his other life the Beast had scorned this knowledge he found it invaluable now. All the fairy had asked in return, from her lover and from the children that followed, was to share their good fortune with those in need.
“This is where I failed,” he said and hung his head, and Dean held him and comforted him.
Sometimes Dean still dreamed of the beautiful man, but they said little to each other now. In his dreams now, he kissed the beautiful man, touched his body, said “yes” again and again as he was taken and used and left sated.
Sometimes in the morning the sheets bore evidence of his dreams. The Beast said nothing about this.
After the year turned, Dean said to the Beast, “It’s my birthday today.”
“How old are you today?”
“You will always be so very young to me,” the Beast said softly. “What do you desire for a gift?”
“Nothing,” Dean said and kissed the Beast’s shoulder. “I have everything I want and more.”
“But it’s customary. What do you wish for? There must be something.”
“Well, a wish is different than a gift. I wish . . .” He lay his head down to think. “I wish I could see Sam. That’s what I want most.”
“You love him most?”
“I love him a lot,” Dean said. “He’s just always been there, every day since I was four years old. I’ve looked after him since I was old enough to be left alone with him.” He paused, smiling to himself. “It’s kind of weird being away from him, actually. It wasn’t too long ago that we were still sharing a bed like babies.”
The Beast was quiet. “Out of all the things you could have asked for, that is something I can give you.”
Dean sat up. “You can? Really? You can take me to him?”
“Not exactly,” the Beast said and got out of bed more slowly and carefully. “But I have a way for you to see him. Get dressed. I’ll show you.”
Dean threw on his clothes and helped the Beast with his — the cloak was the most important thing, he felt the cold keenly — and the Beast took him up to the third floor and one of the locked rooms. Inside, he uncovered and unlocked a trunk, knelt in front of it and took out items Dean recognized: talismans and amulets and charms, centuries’ worth of powerful magic, things hunters would die to possess.
He gave Dean a round mirror. “Think of him,” the Beast said softly. “Think of him with all your heart.”
Dean closed his eyes and thought of Sam. He thought of his weight and scent as a baby, of the roly-poly little boy who used to run after him, of the way they had played and tumbled together like puppies. He thought of Sam as the young man he was becoming, his legs long as fence posts and his mind so sharp and clear. Show me Sam, he thought, and when he opened his eyes he could see Sam in the mirror.
He almost dropped the mirror, because Sam was sewing up a wound in John’s leg as blood gushed, making the needle slippery. “Father,” Dean gasped and looked up at the Beast with despair. “He’s dying.”
“Do you wish to go to him?”
“Yes, God, please,” Dean said, his eyes stinging. “I can’t let my father die.”
The Beast pushed aside various artifacts until he found a particular one: a tiny amulet of a head, strung on a leather cord. He hung it around Dean’s neck. “Hold it in your right hand and think of where you want to be,” he said slowly, and then put the mirror in Dean’s other hand. “Come back to me soon.”
Dean looked at him, then took hold of the Beast’s head and kissed him. “I’ll be back soon,” he said and took a step back, grasped the amulet and thought, Take me to my family.
When he opened his eyes again he was in a tiny cabin, somewhere it was bitingly cold, and Sam stared at him with his mouth open. “Dean?”
“Hi,” Dean said and knelt at John’s side. “Hi, Father. Let me do that, Sam.” He took the curved needle and pinched the wound closed.
“Dean,” John whispered and touched his hair. “You’re alive.”
“I’ll tell you all about it later,” Dean promised. “First let’s get you fixed.” He smiled reassuringly at John and set about stitching the wound closed.
Once this was done and John was made comfortable, John said, clasping Dean’s hand, “Don’t disappear while I’m sleeping.”
“I’ll be here,” Dean said. He kissed his father and once he slept, washed the blood from his hands in the wash basin. He and Sam sat close to each other on the other side of the fireplace and spoke in low voices to keep from waking John.
“It was a ghost,” Sam whispered. “It’s been killing people for weeks with the same knife it was killed with. It screamed so loud, Dean, but Father fought it off and I burned the bones. It was buried in the walls of its house. It was a woman.” He stopped and wrapped his arms around his folded legs. “Her husband killed her because he thought she was unfaithful.”
“I don’t think so. I think she wouldn’t have been so angry if she had been.”
“I’m glad you got it, Sammy.”
Sam frowned and nodded. “I wasn’t fast enough. If I’d been faster it wouldn’t have hurt Father.” Dean put his arm around Sam and hugged him, and Sam said against his shoulder, “I missed you.”
“I missed you too.”
“You’ve been a prisoner at that manor this whole time?” Sam whispered.
“Yeah. It’s been pretty good, actually. Not really a prison, just isolated. And the person who lives in it, he’s not a demon. He’s cursed. He’s actually really great. He takes care of me and we talk about everything, and I . . .” He stopped and bit his lip. “I want to stay with him forever.”
“And be away from us,” Sam said.
“Everybody does it eventually,” said Dean. “Everybody leaves their family someday, and goes off to make their own.”
“You want to make a family with this thi — creature?”
Dean nodded slowly and looked at the fire. “I think I already have.”
Sam shook his head, but smiled at him. “Leave it to you to find some other way than marrying a bar wench and having lots of fat babies.”
“You can have the fat babies. I’ll take my Beast.” He took off his coat and laid it over Sam. “Get some sleep. I’ll take first watch.”
Sam lay down on the floor and curled his legs as much as he could under Dean’s coat. “I’m glad you’re back, Dean,” he whispered before closing his eyes.
John was better by the next evening, able to sit up and eat more than water and broth. He frowned as he listened to Dean’s story, and questioned him on many points: he was being taken of? Eating enough? He wasn’t forced to do anything he didn’t want to? The magic in the house felt benign?
Yes, Dean said to everything. Yes, he was happy.
Finally John stopped asking questions and just studied his son, thoughtful. “This isn’t the life I imagined for you, Dean.”
“It isn’t the life I imagined for myself, either,” said Dean. “But it’s the life I want.”
“It’ll be easier than hunting.”
“I’ll probably get soft and fat,” said Dean and poked himself in the stomach as he grinned at his father.
John didn’t smile back. “Do you love him, son?”
Dean poked himself a few more times before he answered. “All I know is I’m happy.”
“That’s a good start,” said John.
Looking after Sam and John kept Dean busy. They had a little money but the nearest town was half a day’s ride away, so Dean hunted — actually hunting, not demon-hunting — to keep them fed. He chopped wood and fetched water, helped Sam repair torn clothes and fell into bed at night exhausted. He would think, as he lay in bed, that he ought to check on the Beast but swore to himself he would do it in the morning.
Every morning he forgot. There was so much to do.
And then one morning he realized he had been gone for a week and his father and brother were talking of moving on to the next job, and he had to make a choice: go back to the Beast, or stay with his family. He took the mirror out of the bag where he’d put it for safekeeping and turned it over in his hands, and thought about what he’d said to Sam — that the Beast was his family now. He wondered if that was really true.
He thought, Show me the Beast, with all his heart.
The glass in the mirror wavered, and then cleared to show him the snowy garden at the manor. Dean was glad to see that the Beast was getting outside even without him, and peered at the glass to see where the Beast was. The kitchen garden? Maybe getting flowers from the hothouse to cheer his dinner table?
His eyes widened when he realized that the dark shape on the garden path was not a shadow but the Beast himself. “Beast,” he whispered, and started up to grab his jacket. “Father, Sam,” he shouted. “I have to go. I have to go right now.”
Sam ran into the cabin. “You’re leaving?”
“The Beast is ill. He may be hurt. I have to go.” He hugged Sam tight, and then John as well, who’d followed Sam inside. “I love you. Goodbye.”
“Go carefully,” said John.
Dean nodded, grasped his amulet and said, “Take me to the Beast.”
In a moment he was in the familiar gardens. Snow covered everything: the hedges, the garden walls, the steps that led up to the house, the prone body of the Beast.
Dean knelt on the snow and shook the Beast. “Beast,” he gasped, “please, Beast, I’m sorry I left you for so long. I’m back now. I’m back and I’ll never leave you again. Please wake up. Please, Beast.”
The Beast didn’t move. His smooth grey skin was cold.
“Please,” Dean wept, though he knew it was too late. He had left the Beast for too long, his poor lonely creature, and the Beast had wandered out into the cold to die. “I’m so sorry,” Dean whispered and kissed his mouth. “I love you.” His tears fell on the Beast’s face as he gathered the poor cold body into his arms.
A light shone suddenly on the dark garden path and Dean looked up, holding the Beast to him protectively. Within the light stood a woman, beautiful and terrible at once like a goddess. She looked at Dean tenderly, and then down at the Beast. She reached out and touched the Beast’s face.
Suddenly the Beast gasped, his body arching as he inhaled. Dean released him and scrambled away as the light surrounding the woman enveloped the Beast and lifted his limp body. Away fell his black cloak — away fell the black feathers of his heavy wings — away fell the twisted tendons that had kept his hands and feet in such crippling pain. His extra eyes disappeared. His ears smoothed into round shell-like shapes. His skin blushed from grey to the color of warm flesh.
The light placed the Beast — the man — on his feet. He opened his eyes.
The woman took hold of his face. She said gently, “Remember this lesson.”
“Yes, Grandmother,” he said, wide-eyed. She smiled at him, smiled on Dean, and then disappeared.
Dean watched all of this, his own eyes wide. He looked at the man, and it didn’t surprise him, not really, that he looked exactly like the beautiful man in his dreams. “Castiel Messenger?” he gasped.
“Pleased to make your acquaintance,” Dean said and gathered up the cloak to wrap around Castiel’s naked body. “I’m Dean. And I love you.”
“I know who you are,” Castiel said, looking stunned, and they fell on each other’s necks, weeping and laughing.
Everyone in the town remarked how lovely it was to see that Castiel Messenger had returned home and was carrying on the legacy of his family of being both generous to the needy and shrewd in matters of business. The factory was reactivated, boarded-up shops were opened, land that had lain fallow was rented out to any family willing to work it. While the days of month-long house parties were long gone, the manor was now open to all family and friends, and those in need knew they could turn to the Messenger manor for help.
Dean Winchester, the townspeople said, was the best thing to happen to Castiel Messenger.
Whenever he heard this, Dean had to smile. If he was the best thing to Castiel, Castiel was certainly the best thing to happen to him. Other branches of the Messenger family were in touch, which meant that suddenly Dean had cousins, in-laws, children to spoil. It meant, too, that Sam and John always had a safe place to come when they needed a rest from hunting, and the Messenger library and collection of magic was at their disposal.
And he had a lover who was beautiful and kind. If he missed Castiel’s former shape, his enormous wings and smooth grey skin, he never said.
They kept one tradition over from the former days. Every night at bedtime, Castiel told Dean a story.
They always had happy endings.