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I Won’t Send Roses

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***

I

“I don’t do love.”

Dean stutters the words into the half-light above Cas, in the space between one sobbed-out exhale and another.

“I don’t do love. So don’t look at me like that.”

Dean’s shoulders are curling in, his fingers are splayed out on Cas’s chest, the tips of them digging into the flesh there as he rocks back and forth. He’s staring down at Cas, eyes wide and laser intense, and Cas wants to think there is something in his gaze, wants to think it might be need. He wants to reach up, wants to lay his hand on Dean’s face, wants to stroke his thumb along Dean’s cheekbone, wants to think that Dean might kiss his palm if he did. He doesn’t do it, keeps his hands clamped to Dean’s legs. But he keeps looking at Dean like that, unblinking, like he has every time they’ve negotiated this new intimacy between them.

Dean says it again, a growl now, firmer. “I don’t do love.”

He cants his head down and to the right then, eyes closing, features creasing into a frown of intense concentration, and Cas notes it all, notes the way Dean’s eyelashes flutter, the way his breath speeds up, the bitten-off, sibilant noise he makes from between pursed lips, the way his thighs flex fractionally faster under Cas’s palms.

It’s time, and Cas slides a hand along sweat-sticky skin, the sensation of it building the burn inside him as he pushes up to meet his friend. He folds his fingers around Dean’s cock where it bobs and strains rigid between his hips, and Dean arches back, groaning harshly as he rises up and slams down to spear himself again. The grind and squeeze of him sends lust flooding almost violently through Cas, sends his passion blurred and almost wild as he gives into the urge to nail himself deep into the hot, solid tightness that works greedily around his aching length, all the time pumping Dean, fist smooth and sure, pad of his thumb deft across the tip, slick at the eye where it weeps. Cas can smell it now, salt and musk on the air as Dean cries out Cas’s name in something like anguish before flooding wet and warm over Cas’s fingers. In the distance Cas can hear his answering call, Dean, the sound savage, forced around the thick knot of pleasure that swells his throat, muffled by the blood that pounds a celebration in his ears as he streams out heat from his core.

Dean is already slumping heavy and exhausted on Cas, the slam of his heart echoing Cas’s own against his ribs, and his lips nuzzling small, inarticulate noises against Cas’s neck. Cas brings an arm up and around him, hand at his nape, holding him there as the bolt of electricity that seared through him fades to a tingling buzz.

Dean grunts. “I don’t do love,” he reiterates, his lips warm and damp at the hinge of Cas’s jaw. “Okay?”

You fill the void of my life, Dean.

Cas might whisper it one day, but not now.

“It’s good we know where we stand with each other,” he tells Dean mechanically, while his fingertips massage a circle on the back of Dean’s skull.

II

“Looks good like that,” Dean offers, in a spray of toast crumbs that scatter across the table.

He doesn’t meet Cas’s eyes when Cas looks up, busies himself forking up a mouthful of bacon instead.

“What looks good like what?” Cas prompts after a minute.

“Oh, you know.” Dean flaps a hand at Cas, but he’s already twisting in his chair and standing to walk away. “The hair. Looks good longer. It suits you.”

III

Human pain is still difficult, the sensory and emotional combination of it visceral, sometimes a knife that slices and shears through Cas’s nerve fibers, and sometimes a vise that squeezes his muscles in a deep, dull throb. It distracts Cas, turns him into a cranky freakin’ bastard, according to Dean, and through it all there is the remembered concept of pain being a punishment from God, and the knowledge that some of his comes from wounds that aren’t visible on his body but still hurt more than this flesh and bone he now wears ever will.

Dean is characteristically blunt when he sees Cas wince and knead at his lower spine. “Maybe you should stop working the yard. Bending down all the time like you do out there is just making it worse.”

Cas considers it, how tilling the soil at the back of this place they call home is bringing him peace of mind in the now, and also hope for the future, the hope they all will be here to see the seeds he sows sprout and flourish. “The flowers, the trees, the ground, the fresh air, the sunlight,” he says. “They heal something in me, Dean. I’ve destroyed so much. But in the garden, I can restore, and nurture.”

Dean studies Cas for a long moment, then snaps his laptop closed and creaks his chair out to stand up. “You want me to rub your back?”

IV

“I put blueberries in it too. You said you liked apple and blueberry pie.”

“Thank you, Dean.”

V

“This is your new car,” Dean hollers over, as Cas steps out into a morning that promises sunshine later on, when the cloud burns off.

The vehicle is nondescript beige, what they call a sedan.

Cas glances from it over to his Lincoln, boat-like under the tree where he parked it. The spare wheel it wears at the back is disproportionately, ridiculously small under the chassis, while the slow puncture in its front left tire has finally breathed out its last puff of air, leaving the vehicle to sag listlessly, its chrome bumper almost resting on the dirt. Even so, “I have a car,” he remarks politely as he nears Dean.

Dean spits acid. “No, you don’t have a car. You have a deathtrap on wheels that costs a damn fortune to run.”

Cas stops next to the new car’s front end, folds his arms. “It can achieve up to eighteen miles to the gallon. That’s—”

“If you drive like an old lady.”

“Slightly more than your Baby achieves,” Cas continues, letting himself bristle just a little. “As I was going to say. Before you interrupted me.”

Dean’s glare is unimpressed. “You got a flat, and the rest of the tires on that thing are so bald you’re practically riding on the rims. It isn’t reliable, it breaks down if you look at it cross-eyed. I don’t want you stuck in the middle of nowhere again when the temperature is pushing ninety-five degrees and you don’t have any water. It doesn’t even have seatbelts.” He scythes his finger up through the air to stab it emphatically as Cas starts to speak. “And cars don’t achieve miles per gallon. You fuckin’ idiot.”

“Your Baby doesn’t have seatbelts,” Cas points out mildly, but Dean is right up next to him now, his face suddenly splitting in a pleased grin, his arm draping around Cas’s shoulder as he steers him around to the driver’s side, tugs the door open and races out his enthusiasm.

“Your back kills you after you work in the garden, doesn’t it? Front seat’s heated, it’ll help with that, help ease the ache. Airbags front and side, side-impact protection too. Daytime running lights, so you’ll be seen if a mist comes down. And all-new tires, plus two spares. Even slapped a CB radio in there, in case you break down in a cellphone black spot. From now on, you drive this when you’re not riding with us. You’ll be safer.”

Cas stares at Dean, playing it all through in his mind. “You want to keep me safe. You don’t want me hurt.”

There’s a beat of time, and then Dean snorts. “I just don’t want to have to drive thirty miles again to pick you up the next time you’re stranded out in the sticks. And no Enya.”

VI

Slick slide of Dean’s tongue up Cas’s dick, long, cool breath of air across the head, engulfed in scorching liquid heat, fast suckle at the tip, and Cas’s love runs as fierce as fever and as certain as violence.

“Dean… Dean. Dean.”

Dean’s smile flashes feral, and his eyes gleam with a wicked joy in the dark. “Oh, you like that, huh? What about if I put my finger right here and then—”

Ahhhhhhhh.”

VII

“What about the Enya rule? Jesus. I can’t believe I let you play that crap in this damn car.”

VIII

“Got this for you,” Dean announces, businesslike, when he walks into the library. “Since you’ve been working on your garden so much.”

The book lands on the desk with a solid, unceremonious thwack.

It’s thick, heavy, a glossy, indulgent kaleidoscope of brightly colored blossoms interspersed with botanical summaries, planting styles, landscape designs, cultivation tips and advice. Its pages are crisp, smelling of brand-newness as Cas spreads it open on his lap, eyes drinking in a glorious array of summer roses rambling messily up a sun-baked wall. “Dean, it’s just what I needed,” he says, his chest gone tight. “You shouldn’t have—”

“No big deal, saw it at Goodwill,” Dean cuts in with a shrug before he spins on his heel and is gone again.

IX

“Fuckdammit, you need to hold still while I do this.”

“Dean… Hurts. Dean.”

“I need to press down or you’ll bleed out. I know it hurts. Fuckin’ idiot. Jesus. Never do that again, never. Capische?”

“Dean, stop. Please… you have to st—”

“We’re not here, we’re not doing this. We’re out in your garden, sun’s shining, birds are singing, I’m cutting the grass, you’re messing with the, the – whatever those blue things are called. Think about that, don’t think about hurting. Please.”

“Dean, I don’t think I can—”

“Yes you can, and you will. I got you. Come on, I got you, Cas, okay? You can do this, we’re nearly there, Sam is pedal to the metal. I’m here, and I got you. I got you. You hear? Don’t do this to me, Cas. Stay with me. I got you.”

X

Cas remembers the loud blast of Sam’s gun, the bullets falling short, their silver wasted. He remembers the split second of frozen terror before the thing was on him, its drool spattering his face and its claws shredding him open, remembers how he goggled stupidly at the flap of skin and the pearly glimmer of bone, the first seep of blood bubbling up and then forming a scarlet fountain that rapidly soaked the fabric of his jeans.

He remembers Dean, huge-eyed, face ghostly pale as he ripped off his shirt, Sam behind him doing the same, remembers the unbearable pressure on him as Dean pressed the wadded plaid down.

The main scar is a long, red, fibrous streak that wanders from Cas’s groin down the front of his leg before ending just above his knee, with a second, narrower slash branching off it towards the inside of his thigh, like a distributary stream.

Dean’s mouth traces the wound with a sort of gentle desperation in the dark.

XI

Walking with crutches is awkward, the tops of the devices are uncomfortable under Cas’s arms even if they are padded, and the need to remember to lean on his hands and shift his weight to the crutches when he is in motion is tiresome. Still, he has made it to the back of the bunker without being overheard and ordered back to bed, now, has managed to balance himself and turn the doorknob, squinting in the daylight as he maneuvers himself outside.

The reason his passage went undetected is over to the right. Dean isn’t anywhere inside, he’s out here, kneeling in the grass and crouching forward, hands busy in the flowerbed. Cas manages to hold his tongue for the moment it takes to admire Dean’s denim-clad backside and the strip of pale skin above it, before his attention is drawn by something else.

“Is that a bench?” he inquires.

Dean jerks upright, twisting around so fast he overcompensates himself back down onto his butt on the ground. He glowers for a moment, ahead of an accusatory, “What are you doing out of bed? And yes it’s a bench. Thought you might want to sit out in the sun once you’re up to it.”

Cas glances up. “That looks like a—”

“Kite. It is. You said you had one in your other garden, the one in Heaven. So I thought you might like one in ours.”

XII

Dean already has a row of cans lined up along the ground a short distance away, and he pulls a revolver out from the back of his jeans as he approaches Cas. “Never shove one of these down your pants without putting the safety on,” he jokes, winking.

The wink sends warmth emanating from Cas’s center, but Dean is snapping back to business, features serious now. “You’ll need something smaller too, something you can hide better, but we’ll go with this for now. Bigger is more accurate, see?” He holds the weapon up, runs his finger along the steel. “Longer sight plane helps you line it up. Magazine release, check it out.” He presses what looks like a notch on the grip, and a plastic tube pops out from the bottom. “You got seventeen chances to hit that motherfucker tucked away in the clip.” He pulls it out fully, waves it at Cas. “Numbers up the back here, see? When you’re shoving this in again, make sure they’re facing the back of the grip. Release notch at the front, numbers at the back. Don’t forget.” Slamming the clip home, Dean hefts the gun and points at the top of the barrel. “Along the top here is the slide. You rack that back to chamber the first round.”

He holds the gun out and Cas reaches to grasp it, weighs it in his hand, tries an experimental point and “Bang,” at the cans.

“It’s a Glock,” Dean says, still brisk as he circles around Cas. “No frills, easy to fix, ugly as sin, and cheap as dirt.” He huffs, turns the sound into an unexpected chuckle as he presses up close and rests his chin on Cas’s shoulder. “Like you.”

Cas doesn’t protest, is too dizzied by the warm breath skating across the skin of his neck, the solid bulk of Dean behind him, Dean’s arms coming up on each side of him like he’s in a trap Dean made, and Cas will always relax into this captivity.

Dean’s hands are capable and sure, clasping over Cas’s as they bring the gun up together. “Okay, you rack the slide. Then you need to support with your left hand… tuck your fingers around the grip on top of your right hand. Left thumb over your right.” He’s talking slow and patient as he helps Cas line up the shot, his lips a distracting tickle as they move, and Cas has to snap himself back to clarity and sense, has to drag his mind away from the fact his cock is twitching and starting to fill, has to focus.

“You’re a good teacher,” he almost-gasps.

There is a brief pause, then a kiss pressed under Cas’s ear, and Dean’s voice goes oddly soft under the gravel. “Well, I’ll be teaching you this till you hit every can first time with your eyes closed, no matter how long it takes. I’m not going through that again.”

XIII

Dean teases Cas open with gentle circles, the scrape of his nail across tender skin, the dip of a fingertip, a knuckle-deep push while he works Cas loose and sloppy with his tongue, until Cas’s body is shuddering with the shock of his need. He eases into Cas carefully, the sting of him flaring hot through Cas, the feeling of fullness devastating as he pins Cas underneath him. He leans down as his hips make that first roll, nips at Cas’s lips, their skin sweat-slick where it touches. His tongue slips into Cas’s mouth, an unhurried wet curl and slide, as his fingertips trace up Cas’s ribs, the flat of his hand coming to rest over the frantic thud of Cas’s heart. He kisses his way along the line of Cas’s jaw, says Cas’s name right against his ear, voice smoke-rough but reverent too, because Dean has always lied when they’re like this.

Cas brings his arms up and around, holds Dean there, and barely whispers it. “You fill the void of my life, Dean.”

Dean stops, holds himself utterly still for a second before he exhales a drawn-out, soft moan, and a shiver goes through him. “Yeah, well,” he murmurs then. “It’s good we know where we stand with each other.”

***