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Longing

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“Do you always understand everything you feel?” Cas asked, one day.

He thought, obscurely, that Spring was the right time for a question like this; or at least this Spring was - a Spring that felt fresh and light and hazy, still dazed by the wonder of Winter’s passing. Dean, sitting in the car beside him, looked washed out by it - or rather, washed clean, Cas supposed he meant. Softened, in any case.

“How d’you mean?” Dean said. He turned to Cas, the bright sun shrinking out the darkness in his eyes - turning them green. Green like go-lights, green like mazes - no, gentler than both of those; green like the water-full leaves of succulent plants. Green like book covers, like peppermint-flavour candies.

“I mean… do you ever feel something that you can’t explain? Something… ineffable?”

Dean pressed his lips together. Cas wondered if he needed to explain the word ‘ineffable’.

“Nah?” he said. “I guess most of what I feel, I know what to call it. I don’t always like it, but at least I know what it is.”

Cas nodded seriously. Dean let the silence rest for a while as they cruised down the Spring-morning road.

“What about you?” he said eventually.

Cas lifted a shoulder.

“I… have a thousand words for how things feel,” he said, “and a thousand things to feel within me. But I… I cannot make them match.”

Dean frowned, and shook his head - not understanding.

“How’d you mean?”

Cas stared out the window, trying to think of a way to explain what he meant. Outside, the trees were pulling on their finery again - covering up their barked and ancient bones with fresh leaves, new growth.

“It’s like… well, it’s like looking at the stars,” he said, finally. “When you know the names of the constellations, and you can see the lights, but you can’t make it all… join up. You can’t tell where one ends and the next begins. It’s too…” He waved a hand, vaguely. “Much. It’s too much.”

Dean still seemed confused.

“But - you know,” he said, shifting his hands on the steering wheel. “When something good is happening, you feel happy. When something bad happens you feel sad. When nothing much is happening…” He swiped a hand over his mouth. “Well, depends who you’re with, I guess.”

He looked over at Cas, and smiled. Cas - unable to resist it, as always - smiled back.

“Those are the easy emotions,” Cas said. “Happy, sad. But there are ones that don’t fit so neatly.”

“Like what?”

“Like…” Cas paused, thinking. “Like - the feeling of… waking up too early, and your eyes are dry, but your head doesn’t want to sleep anymore. It just wants to be awake. Not to do anything, just to look around the room, and - half-dream.” He looked at Dean. “It’s not happy. It’s not sad. So what is it?”

Dean made a little hell if I know face. “Well - what do you dream about?”

Cas looked at him for a long, long moment. Dean, with his green eyes and his strong hands, accelerated out of a bend and drove on.

“Things that I want,” Cas said, softly.

Dean didn’t meet his gaze; the way he kept his eyes on the road felt a little too careful.

“Uh. Well. Longing, then. Maybe,” he said.

“Longing can keep you awake?”

Dean let out a little soft snort of laughter.

“I think that’s most of what it does, actually.” He sounded like he knew, all too well; as if aware of this, he shrugged and added, “Probably.”

“Longing,” said Cas to himself. “Does it feel like…” He raised his hand to his chest, touched it to the centre. “Here?”

Dean looked over - and then flicked his gaze up, met Cas’ eyes - and then turned back to the road. He visibly swallowed.

“Sometimes,” he said.

Cas nodded. He’d suspected as much, but he hadn’t been sure.

“How do you make it… stop?” he said.

Dean was silent for so long that Cas almost dropped the subject. But then - eventually - he opened his mouth to reply.

“I think - you get what you want,” he muttered.

Cas’ brows drew in low.

“There’s no other way?”

“Well, I mean - you could stop wanting it.”

Dean looked over at him, the lines of his face so soft, so familiar.

“No,” Cas said quietly. “I don’t think I could.”

They drove on for a while, in silence. Cas stared out the window, trying not to think too much - trying not to hope too much. The Spring morning outside was rolling smoothly past the car, and though the journey was long, it was good.

Long, long, longing. Cas touched his chest. He’d been longing for so long.

“Sometimes the wanting is the best part,” Dean said suddenly, sounding hesitant. “Sometimes - when you actually get what you were wanting - it’s disappointing.”

Cas paused, and then shook his head. “No. I don’t think that’s possible, in this case.”

“But dreams - they iron out the bad things, they -”

“They’re thin and frail and unrealistic,” Cas agreed, frankly. “They’re nowhere near as much as the real thing would be. That’s the problem with them.”

Dean took this in, and eventually nodded.

“Yeah,” he said. “I get that.”

Another silence, but a kinder one. Cas closed his eyes for a moment. He wanted to remember this: the taste of the cool Spring air coming through the vents of the car, the roar of her engine; the bright sky outside, the bright feeling in his chest when Dean was near. Pain, that he couldn’t stop needing.

Longing.

“What is it that you want?” he heard Dean say, hoarsely.

Cas opened his eyes, and looked at Dean. He licked his lips with the tip of his tongue, and tried to work out how to answer.

“What is it that you dream about?” Dean pushed.

Cas’ lips parted.

“Don’t you know?” he said.

Dean’s glance over at him was half-desperate, half-certain. When he saw Cas’ face, he seemed to find what he was looking for - because he drew the car to a stop, at the side of the road.

“Tell me,” he said.

Cas pressed his hand to his chest.

“It’ll go?” he said. “You’re sure?”

You feel the same? he asked silently. You’re sure?

“I’m sure,” Dean said, steady, strong hands on the steering wheel of a quiet car.

Cas spoke a single word.

Dean nodded.

“Yeah,” he said. “I get that.”

Longing lasted only a few more moments - lasted for the reach, the outstretch of fingertips, the search for touch.

And then they were one. And longing was long, long gone.