After dozing briefly, Castiel woke up to find a strange numbness lingering in his throat and his tongue heavy in a peculiar way. He wrote it off to post-battle soreness, taking the phone off the receiver to order a pizza, or anything to eat really. The bored teenager picked up and sighed, but Castiel quickly found that he couldn’t speak. His mouth gaped, lips forming a string of uselessly silent words until he finally hung up in a second fit of shame. He sat in the dark for an hour trying to make a sound, any sound, and finding himself completely unable. Defeat crushing him, he lifted the phone again.
There would be a lecture, if not a scolding, and perhaps that was why Castiel had delayed so much already. Though he hated to admit it, he knew that his new status as human meant that he would need to be more careful and would, occasionally, need help. The thought made him sick. He’d gone from angelic captain of the Heavenly Host to something small and weak and worthless. Tears stung his eyes as the phone rang in his ear.
“Hello?” Lucifer answered, sounding as if he had just woken up, which was strange considering that he still had his powers and thus had no need to sleep.
Castiel sat, forcibly quiet, counting the beats of silent and hoping his brother didn’t write it off as a prank call. He assumed that Lucifer didn’t get very many calls. The only reason he’d gotten the phone was so that Castiel and an absurdly small selection of demons could contact him in the event of emergency. Frankly, the demons almost never had any need.
“Who is this?” Lucifer asked, finally, sounding irritated to be bothered without explanation. A moment of thought seemed to clear it up. “Castiel?”
He nodded pitifully on the other end of the line, well aware of the absurdity of gesturing to someone who couldn’t see him, but he desperately wanted Lucifer to know it was him.
“Castiel, are you in trouble? Say something.” Lucifer waited again while Castiel chewed his lips in silence. “I can see the number you’re calling from,” he said in a low, icy voice. “If you hurt my little brother, I will rend you apart.”
The phone clicked, and Castiel returned the handset to the cradle. He knew deep down that he shouldn’t have enjoyed that protective note to Lucifer’s voice, but it was hard not to feel special when he talked about him like that. He felt a little better, lying back across the bed to sleep. Lucifer was coming to get him. He would make everything alright.
Castiel was woken by the force of cold hands pressing into his shoulders.
“Castiel, open your eyes.”
He didn’t, not at first, just wrinkled his nose in displeasure at being woken and tried to turn over.
“Castiel, right now,” Lucifer said sharply, and the familiar, authoritative tone of an archangel was enough to fully rouse him. He blinked his eyes open slowly, rubbing sleep from his lashes, and looked up with a smile. Lucifer had come from him after all. Castiel opened his mouth.
Nothing happened. His face fell, and he met Lucifer’s eyes with a look of profound misery.
“I was worried about you. What are you doing here? What was that phone call about?”
Castiel’s lips moved, but Lucifer just stared at him, arching one brow in confusion. Lip reading was, apparently, not going to work, so instead, Castiel lifted his chin and patted his exposed throat lightly.
“...You can’t speak?”
Lucifer’s mouth pulled to the side in an expression of evaluation as he tried to think of a reason for sudden onset mutism. “You’ve lost your voice,” he said slowly, and Castiel nodded again. “I see. Well, I’ll get you some herbal tea, and we can put honey in it so--”
Castiel shook his head.
“No honey? Do you not like it? I suppose it can make things overly sweet, but the medicinal properties of--”
Palms out, Castiel waved his hands in what was intended to be a dismissive gesture, but it only confused Lucifer more.
“No honey then, but I still think the tea would--”
Castiel struck his hands down on the bed, creating much less noise than he’d hoped but at least getting Lucifer’s attention.
“No tea then… I can try to heal you, but dealing with something like a virus is a lot more complicated, as you’re well aware.” He extended two fingers towards Castiel’s forehead, frowning when he pulled away, shaking his head again.
Castiel brought one fist to his mouth, attempting to mime coughing, and then shook his head again.
Lucifer squinted at him. “Not a virus…?”
Sadly, Castiel shook his head again.
“Okay… You have no voice, but you’re not sick… Can you give me anything more than that?”
He thought for a moment, trying to think of some way to communicate “witch”. Lifting his arms, he touched his thumbs and fingers together, forming a sort of triangle which he situated on top of his head to mimic the familiar caricature of a pointed hat.
“I don’t know what that means.”
Castiel frowned again. This was harder than he thought. He curved his fingers then, holding his hands up like claws, and offering a silent cackle. Hopefully, Lucifer had seen The Wizard of Oz.
Lucifer looked at him like he was a bit crazy.
Getting a bit desperate, Castiel rose to his feet. He stood on one side of the room, pointing his finger like a gun at nothing. Then, watching Lucifer’s eyes carefully, he stepped into a second position opposing himself and flicked his wrist, holding his hand in a way to suggest gripping a wand. Lucifer watched television on occasion. He could have at least seen a preview, right? Running back to his original position, Castiel jerked his body like he was struck, pretending to tumble to the ground. He lie there for a moment before sitting up, touching his neck again and looking up at Lucifer hopefully.
“...Little Thursday, what the Hell are you doing?”
Castiel deflated, shoulders slumping in defeat. He thought for a second then. Charades. Lucifer had seen Sam and Dean play charades once, he was pretty sure. Standing again, he cupped one hand behind his ear and then scratched his arm.
“Do you have an earache… or a rash?” Lucifer stepped sideways quickly to avoid the pillow tossed at him. “You know there is an actual way to communicate when you can’t talk,” he said.
Eyes narrowed, Castiel glowered at him. Of course there was, but ever since he’d lost his grace, he’d forgotten how to speak many languages and found that it was harder to relearn and remember them. He’d never had any use for sign language before, so it wasn’t on his admittedly short list of options.
Lucifer sighed and shook his head. “I don’t mean that, little brother.” He stepped over to the nightstand and picked up the little notepad and pen, holding them out expectantly.
Oh. Castiel mouthed the word that he couldn’t speak, blushing furiously as he took the pen and scribbled “witch curse” onto the page. He waited a moment while Lucifer stared at the words like they were in a foreign language and then, looking back up at Castiel’s eyes for a moment, began to laugh.
“I’m sorry,” he said, dodging another pillow. “I’m sorry, but how was I supposed to get that?”
Castiel threw his hands up, falling back on the bed miserably and covering his face.
“Oh, don’t be so dramatic,” Lucifer said, wiping his eyes quickly, a gesture that earned a harsh glare from Castiel. It wasn’t that funny. “I’ll be right back.” He flew away, returning shortly with a little vial of liquid, cutting Castiel off when he opened his mouth. “Don’t ask.”
Not like it would have worked, he thought, sighing. The concoction smelled worse than it looked, and Castiel gave Lucifer a doubtful glance, receiving only a shrug in return, before he choked it down.
“There. Not so bad, right?”
“...Okay then.” Lucifer vanished again, returning with a bottle of soda as a peace offering. “Here. You can wash it down with your precious sugar water. It will take a while to work.”
Sulking once more, Castiel huddled up on the bed.
“Don’t be like that.” Lucifer sat at his side, putting an arm around his shoulders and pulling him in close to his side. “I’ll wait it out with you.”
Castiel nodded, but he found that he didn’t last quite so long for the remedy to work before the exhaustion from an incomplete nap tugged at him. He woke hours later, curled up on his side with Lucifer against his back, a soft press of lips at the nape of his neck.
“Good morning, little brother.”
He swallowed hard, still sore, and wondered how much longer he would have to wait.
Lucifer tucked an errant lock of hair back behind Castiel’s ear. “You’re going to have to try,” he said softly. “That dramatic reenactment requires some kind of explanation.”
Scowling, Castiel shot him a look over his shoulder. “You’re a jerk,” he croaked. “It made plenty of sense.”
“Sure it did. Don’t quit your day job, kid. Or--” Lucifer trailed his fingers down Castiel’s shoulder “--you know… do. You don’t need it. I’ll take care of you.”
Castiel was quiet again, though now for an entirely different reason. He closed his eyes again, feeling very peaceful as he considered the offer. After a moment, he leaned back against Lucifer and gave a small nod. That didn’t require any words.