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The problem is that a really successful hunt does something to Dean.

Floating high and wired on whatever adrenaline cocktail’s been flooding his bloodstream, mixed with the sheer nervous relief of a near-death experience, and he’s thrumming under the skin.

Used to be when he had this kind of energy he’d head to the grimiest bar around and make eye contact with a girl across a smoky room, burning out the adrenaline comedown in the sweat and pressure of another body on his.

But it’s been a while — been a long while — since he found himself going home with anyone after a hunt, for reasons that he doesn’t like to think about at all except when it’s late at night and he’s been drinking and his bed feels particularly empty.

So instead he’s just a little loopy, a little wired, antsy and restless. Drumming his fingers, grave dirt still under the nails, on the scratched laminate countertop at some small hour of the morning.

“Can I get y’all anything else?” the waitress asks from behind the counter, and Dean’s grin is too wide and probably a little loopy as he leans forward and says, “What’s the best pie you’ve got here, Jessie?”

There’s no real intent to his flirting, just habit, and he thinks that’s gotta be obvious from the bored look she levels him. Working the graveyard shift at a 24-hour diner just off an interstate means she probably sees a half dozen guys like him every night. It’s gotta take a lot to either impress her or ruffle her.

“Apple crumble or pecan,” she tells him.

“We’ll have a slice of each,” he says, and grins wider.

Sam elbows him as she turns away. “Dude,” he says.

“Calm down, Sammy,” he says, elbowing back. “Nothing wrong with a little harmless flirting.”

“You’re barking up the wrong tree, Dean,” Sam tells him, smug like he knows something Dean doesn’t. Like Dean’s an idiot and doesn’t know what the rainbow flag pin on her apron means.

“Told you it was harmless,” he says, and then this is where that potent cocktail of burning-off adrenaline and exhaustion and shitty black coffee starts to get to him. Looking back later he’ll think, that’s exactly where I should have shut my mouth.

Instead, he says: “Bet if I was a chick I’d be going home with her, though.”

“Dude,” Sam says again. Dean wonders how he can pack the entire force of a bitchface into just one word. It’s honestly impressive.

Cas is quiet on his other side, and when Dean glances over at him he’s looking confused. Granted, that’s a pretty common state of affairs for him, but Dean’s known the guy for way too long now — “Her pin, Cas. The rainbow means she’s into girls.”

“It doesn’t just mean—”

Dean flaps a hand at Sam, ignoring him in favor of the way the pinprick wrinkle between Cas’s eyebrows deepens as the gears turn in his giant celestial brain. “And you think that if you were a woman, you’d be — her type?”

The skepticism is uncalled for. Dean nudges him, winks when Cas meets his eyes. “Buddy, I’m everyone’s type.” There’s that thrumming under his skin again as Cas’s eyebrows raise a hair further, staring at Dean like he’s trying to see straight through to his soul. Under the counter, Dean’s leg is bouncing up and down, energy ping-ponging around his body without an outlet.

Sam snorts loudly.

“What?” Dean says, fake-offended. “I’d be hot as a girl, you know I would.”

And this is when he really, really should have stopped talking.

When he shouldn’t have whipped back around to Cas.

When he shouldn’t have opened his mouth and asked: “Cas, if I was a woman, you’d fuck me, right?”

Because if he hadn’t said that, then he wouldn’t have had to deal with this:

Cas, meeting his eyes, forehead wrinkles all smoothed out like there’s nothing to be confused about anymore. Cas with something at the corner of his mouth that might barely be called a smile.

Cas saying, calmly and without hesitation, “Yes, Dean.”

Dean’s mouth is abruptly very dry.

Cas takes a sip of coffee, unbothered, like he didn’t just turn Dean’s stomach upside down.

Dean forces out a weak laugh, knows it sounds so hollow. Why does he do this every time with Cas? Push him and push him and think that Cas isn’t always going to match him step-for-step?

Sam makes a noise into his coffee that’s probably another snort.

Dean chooses to pretend to have some small amount of dignity and focuses directly on the pie that Jessie’s setting down in front of him.

Fuck around and find out, Winchester, he thinks as he stabs at the crumble topping.

At least the pie is very good.

+

That’s not much comfort later, when he’s showered off the smell of death and is lying on a lumpy motel mattress with all six feet of Cas next to him, sleeping comfortably inches away.

Because — they share a bed a decent amount, okay, it’s not a thing. It’s just the natural state of affairs when you’ve got three guys and two motel beds and they’re just crashing for a few hours so they can get back to their real beds at the bunker first thing in the morning.

It’s not a big deal; Dean is very, very good at Not Letting It Be A Big Deal. Dean’s very good at putting things into the boxes in his head where they belong, and that includes “normal, appropriate things to think about My Buddy Cas,” even though when he’s particularly sloppy somehow those boxes get a little jumbled up and he asks questions he really, really doesn’t want the answer to.

Except Cas had to say yes, damnit. He had to say it all earnest, too, couldn’t laugh it off or, like, make a joke about Dean’s boobs or whatever, give Dean plausible deniability for even asking it in the first place.

And now Dean’s here, the small of motel shampoo and Cas thick in the air, six inches and years of practice the only thing separating them. And he can’t stop thinking about it.

Can’t stop picturing Cas, stripped out of his trench coat and ugly suit, the way his hair would look after Dean tugs his woman-sized hands into it to hold on. The way his muscles would bunch under his skin as he presses down on Dean’s shoulders, holds him into the mattress as he slides home and Dean writhes under him.

Dean can’t stop hearing the noises Cas would make, the way he would rumble out Dean’s name. His traitorous mind offers up that Cas would probably be loud because he never had to learn to be quiet, with a brother on the other side of a thin motel wall, so he’d gasp shamelessly as Dean sucked hard at the pulse point of his neck.

If Dean was a woman Cas would have no problem tossing him on the bed where he wanted him and holding him down, hitching his legs up to get a deeper angle and god, just the thought of it makes Dean grit his teeth.

It’s everything he’s tried so hard to hold at bay, and now with one yes Dean, Cas unleashed a flood.

Dean finally accepts defeat, rolls out of the bed to the bathroom, and furiously, quietly jerks himself off.

When he comes, it’s to the thought of Cas’s long fingers wrapped around his wrists, and his cheeks are flushed for more than one reason when he returns to the bed.

Because the universe hates him, the bed springs creak when he lies back down.

He holds his breath, but Cas stirs.

“Dean?” he mumbles, rolling to his side. His eyes are half-lidded with sleep as they land on Dean.

“Go back to sleep, Cas,” he says, quiet so they don’t wake up Sam.

Cas’s eyes linger on him. Light from a passing car flicks across the room, catching across Cas’s face for a second, and Dean swallows hard, abruptly guilty. Getting off to a very, very explicit fantasy about your best friend while said friend is five feet away in the bed you’re supposed to be platonically sharing is a new level of fucked up, even for him. The fact that Cas basically gave him permission, sort of, when he said yes is the only thing that helps keep the self loathing at bay.

Dean watches Cas’s shoulder rise as he breathes in. He’s not sure if he’s imagining the way that his breath comes a little sharper than normal.

It’s been a while since Cas could actually read his mind, but the way he looks at him sometimes makes Dean second guess whether he ever really lost that ability, sort-of-human or not. Right now, Dean feels heat high on his cheeks and is suddenly absolutely convinced that Cas knows exactly what he’s thinking, what he just did.

Cas’s mouth works, just for a moment, like he’s about to say something and then thinks better of it.

“Goodnight, Dean,” he murmurs.

Dean doesn’t fall asleep for a long while.

+

There’s been a lot of painful irony in Dean’s life but he’s pretty sure this, right here? This is the absolute worst. This is the universe laughing at him.

“This is bullshit,” he says out loud, and then winces again at the light, high voice that comes out.

It’s absolutely some kind of karmic punishment for opening the whole can of what-if-I-was-a-chick some months ago.

“You’re sure I can’t just kill the witches and this will reverse itself?” he asks Sam again. Sam ignores him in favor of continuing to flip through the spell book on the table. He thinks Sam is trying to avoid looking at him.

The witches, on the other hand, give him terrified, wide-eyed looks, and he sighs. Because of course the nasty killings in town had nothing to do with these witches, who just happened to have purchased sketchy ingredients at the herbal shop for this completely unrelated spell. Just his luck that there happened to be a couple of teenagers who stumbled across a spell book and thought it would be a great way to get one of them the girl’s body she wasn’t born in.

He watched Orange is the New Black, okay, he gets it.

Just wishes he hadn’t happened to burst in at the exact moment they cast their spell.

“I’m kidding,” he tells the witches. They’re barely even witches anyway, just kids messing with stuff they don’t understand.

Sam shuts the book with a sigh. “Nothing in here on reversing it. We’re going to have to give Rowena a call.” He looks over at Dean then quickly looks away, at the witches then at the ceiling then down at his boots then over at the witches and then again at Dean and then away again—

“Sam, you’re giving me vertigo.”

“Sorry, sorry,” Sam winces, and makes a pointed effort to look directly at Dean.

There’s not a mirror in here, so Dean’s not sure what exactly Sam’s seeing. He got the gist from, well, looking down at his (admittedly pretty great) rack, but he wonders what his face looks like.

He bets he’s hot, all the features that always got him ribbed by other hunters for being too feminine belonging on a woman’s face. For a second, he thinks hey, this might be fun.

Then he stands up and sees the world from a different height, and the disorientation rises again. It’s not like he hasn’t been hit with witchy bullshit before, but something about the way his mind and his body aren’t quite speaking to each other properly is getting to him.

Dean’s never going to forget the moment when Michael surged forward to take control of his body, the feeling of his nerves and bones and muscles moving without his say-so, and he has to grit his teeth to stop the panic from showing on his face.

He wheels to face the witches instead. “No more messing around with magic, got it?”

They look at each other, and there’s some elbowing and widening of eyes and unspoken conversation before one of them says, “Well.”

The other one hisses, “Kat, no, he’s got a gun.”

The first one, Kat, straightens her shoulders. “We’re going to do the spell one more time, since you took the hit that was intended for Juno. Then no more magic.”

A lifetime of magic-equals-bad tells Dean to burn the spell book.

The itch that rises under his skin every time he moves or catches a glimpse of his hands and thinks wrong makes a strong counterargument. Hunting is all about stopping people from getting hurt. If he left here, left a girl feeling like that forever, he doesn’t think he’d be the good guy.

He meets Juno’s eyes. She looks terrified but her gaze is steady.

“Fine,” he grumbles. “One more spell.”

Out of the corner of his eyes, he sees Sam duck his head to hide a smile. So what, he’s getting soft in his old age. Sue him.

+

He has to adjust the seat in the Impala in order to comfortably reach the pedals. It might be the worst thing he’s ever experienced.

“Not a fucking word,” he hisses at Sam.

Sam’s not laughing, though, just giving him weird wide puppy eyes. It would be a lot better if Sam were laughing, so then Dean could just be mad at him for mocking his pain. Instead, he’s looking just about as freaked out as Dean feels, plus there’s something like — damnit — pity in his eyes, and Dean hates it because, how the hell is he supposed to react to that?

He eyes the rearview mirror, but because he’s a coward and doesn’t want to do this with Sam here, he resolutely does not adjust the mirror to get a look at himself. That can wait til they’re back at the bunker so he can have his own private freakout in the comfort of his own bedroom, thank you very much.

Of course, first they have to go pick up Cas, who’s on the other side of town dealing with the actual murderous witch.

Cas is standing outside the abandoned mausoleum when they pull up, blood spatter across his face and a long singed mark down one arm of his flannel, and his eyes are warm when the Impala’s headlights illuminate his face.

Dean parks, and doesn’t move to open his door.

“Dean?” Sam asks. “You know Cas isn’t going to be weird about this, right?”

And yeah, this probably isn’t going to faze him, he knows that. The dude's seen him in a lot weirder shape, it's true.

It’s just — when Cas sees him, then this whole thing becomes real.

So far it’s just been a flash of purple light and Sam’s eyes going wider than they’ve ever been. It’s been bits and pieces: what he can see when he looks down, and the pitch of his voice, and the way his clothes stretch over thighs and hips and a chest that curve a hell of a lot differently than they did this morning.

But Cas is going to look at him and see the full picture, which means there’s a full picture to see. 

“Yeah, yeah. Get out of the car,” he says, and moves to open his door.

“Hang on,” Sam says, folding his long frame out of the car before Dean does. He reaches out a hand toward Cas. “Okay, I know this is hard to believe, but,” he gestures to where Dean’s getting out the driver’s side, “This is—”

Cas’s eyes widen. “Dean,” he says. “Your body is different.”

“No shit, Sherlock,” Dean says, too sharp. The way Cas knew it was him, like he doesn’t look too unrecognizable, immediately unwinds something in his chest, putting him off balance.

“We’re hoping Rowena can help reverse it,” Sam tells Cas, whose eyes haven’t left Dean since they first landed on him.

Dean fidgets under the scrutiny, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, uncomfortable with how different even that movement feels with his new weight distribution. He flexes his foot inside his boot, which is now several sizes too large. If he walks around any more he’s gonna get blisters.

“You’re uncomfortable,” Cas observes.

“Are you just gonna keep stating the obvious?” he snaps. “I’m not a friggin’ woman, this isn’t my body!”

Dean knows he’s taking out his frustration on Cas, the way he always does, throwing everything he’s got at something immovable, something that can take it. He hates himself for it but he can’t stop. There are too many eyes on him, scrutinizing him, seeing him in this girl shape and it makes his skin crawl.

“Let’s just get back to the bunker,” Sam says, placating. “We can hit the spell books there right away. Cas, are we good to clear out of here?”

“Yes, it’s handled,” Cas tells him, still looking at Dean. Dean has to bite the inside of his cheek before he snaps stop looking at me like a friggin’ child.

This is way, way less fun than he thought it would be.

He drives 35 over the speed limit the whole way back to Lebanon.

+

At least he’s hot as a chick, he thinks mournfully as he stares into his bedroom mirror. It almost makes things worse, seeing how his features fill out a woman’s face so naturally.

He can hear every monster or hunter who ever teased him for his girlish features in his head, and that’s not great, but on the other hand it distracts him from the way it twists his gut to look in the mirror and not recognize the face staring back at him.

He does cup his boobs in his hands, though. He’s freaked out and pissed off and barely keeping it together, but he’s not dead.

In a weird way, it’s kind of comforting to just hold them.

+

Sam doesn’t put Rowena on speaker when he calls her to explain the situation, but Dean can still hear the peals of laughter over the tinny phone speaker before Sam leaves the room.

When he comes back, Dean doesn’t like the look on his face.

“She can’t help,” he guesses.

“No, she can,” Sam corrects. “She just, er. She thinks spending some time like this could be good for you.”

“Define some time,” Dean demands, voice gone all high in a way he really hates.

Sam cringes a little. “A couple weeks?”

“A couple—” Dean breathes heavy. Punching the table would only hurt his knuckles, he tells himself. “Okay. Research. Now.”

It’s probably a good 45 minutes of painstaking scouring through spell books before Sam finally opens his mouth to ask the question Dean can just feel him building up to.

“Don’t take this the wrong way,” Sam starts, voice careful. Dean gives him a Look, fully prepared to take whatever it is that Sam’s about to say the wrong way.

Sam, of course, ignores the Look and goes on. “I kind of figured you’d be more…uh, lecherous…about this whole thing.”

“Now when in my life have I ever been lecherous?” Dean asks, acting like he's offended, mostly trying to distract Sam away from this line of questioning. Because the thing is, yeah, he’s definitely made jokes before about how hot he’d be as a girl.

Living it is a different story.

Sam rolls his eyes, doesn’t take the bait. “This is really bothering you.”

Dean kicks at the leg of the table, petulant, but he doesn’t have it in him to build up a big head of anger and prove Sam’s point.

“You’ve been possessed before,” he says finally.

Sam moves, just slightly — a tiny twitch of his shoulder that only Dean would recognize as a wince.

“More than once,” Sam says neutrally. “What’s that got to do…”

Dean meets his eyes, and he trails off. There’s been a lot of fucked up bullshit in their lives, so much that it’s tough to sort through, but being Michael’s puppet is still pretty high up on his list of most horrifying experiences.

Sam looks thoughtful. “Okay, I get the similarity.” Dean frowns at him, and he huffs a breath. “Dean, I’ve been body-swapped, remember? That teenager a while back?”

Jesus, Dean is such an asshole. In his defense, a lot of weird stuff has happened to them. It’s kind of hard to keep track sometimes.

“Of course I remember,” Dean says, and Sam snorts a laugh at his obvious lie.

“I guess between Meg and Lucifer and Ezekiel and everything else, I just got a little more used to it,” Sam says, casual and unemotional and all the more devastating for it. “Exercise helps, you know. Control over your own body.”

He’s so fucking blasé about it. Dean’s heart breaks just a little more.

“Knew no one would willingly go jogging unless they had a secret agenda,” he says instead, because sometimes the only way he knows how to address the utter clusterfuck of chaos and violence that is their lives is with terrible dark jokes, otherwise he’d drown in it.

“It’s good for you, Dean,” Sam says, long-suffering but smiling around the edges of it.

Dean resolves to shut his mouth about the whole situation around Sam. It’s the least he can fucking do.

+

Which means he goes to be loudly unhappy about the situation to Cas instead the next time he heads into the archives.

Cas, however, is the absolute worst about it.

“I’ve had female vessels before,” Cas says neutrally. “Aside from the lower center of gravity, it’s not significantly different.”

And that— that pisses Dean off. Because Cas doesn’t seem to understand anything sometimes but he’s always understood Dean, in a way that terrifies and thrills him in equal measure. Cas giving him a blank look like he’s being a toddler, it’s — fucking embarrassing, is what it is.

“My dick is gone, how is that not significantly— wait.”

His mind catches on something, like a record scratch. Female vessels.

“You’ve been a lady, Cas?”

Cas blinks at him. “Of course.”

“Huh,” Dean says eloquently.

A tiny, stupid memory pulls itself to the front of his brain: the very terrible question he asked Cas some months back and the very dangerous answer Cas gave him.

For the first time since this whole bullshit mess started, Dean considers the possibilities of this new body. If he’s a woman, there are things that are normal for him to think about.

Normal for him to want.

“You should avoid fighting until you’ve trained with this new body,” Cas tells him blandly. Facing the shelves like he is, he’s totally missing the crisis-slash-revelation that Dean’s starting to have. “Hunting will be dangerous until you know your new limits.”

And that’s a jolt of cold water over him, isn’t it. Cas very calmly talking about how he should stop hunting until he knows his new limits, the asshole. Like he was ever anything other than stupidly powerful, no matter what vessel he was in.

Dean grits his teeth. “If I wanted your opinion, I would have asked for it,” he says, bitchy, and stalks away.

+

All things considered, it’s not even that much research before Cas finds a spell that’ll reverse it. It’s a pretty straightforward spell that Sam can handle easily, no need to call in Rowena.

They’ve got everything in stock except the powdered griffin claw, and suddenly the only thing standing between Dean and his glorious return to masculinity is two-day shipping from a speciality vendor online.

He didn’t realize how tightly wound he was about this whole thing until Sam and Cas are both nodding at the page, utterly confident that they’ll get him back to normal. It’s like the pressure in his ears just pops and he can breathe again.

+

The two day limit suddenly makes this whole thing feel — less like a crisis, more like a weird blip or dream, a bubble of time that doesn’t count. Like he’s got a hall pass.

It’s a dangerous kind of freedom he’s playing with, one that could lead him down all sorts of dangerous paths.

Like the one he walks to Cas’s bedroom door.

He doesn’t know what he’s doing.

He knocks before he can think better of it. “Cas? It’s me.”

“Come in,” Cas tells him through the door, and he pushes it open.

When he enters, Cas is sitting at the desk, dressed down in soft pants and a t-shirt. Dean’s pretty sure it’s actually one of his, but looking at the way it stretches across the line of Cas’s shoulders, he’s definitely not gonna complain.

Cas closes a book and turns toward him, eyes warm in the dim light. “I’m glad you’re here. I was thinking about what you said, earlier.”

Dean shuts the door behind him and leans back against it. Of course him showing up at Cas’s bedroom at night doesn’t faze the guy. “Yeah? What’s that?”

“In the past, when I’ve taken a vessel, its form never mattered to me — human or other, male or female.”

“When you say other…” Dean cuts him off to prompt, lifting an eyebrow.

Cas tilts his head. “For much of this planet’s existence, the surface was mostly water. A human vessel would have been highly inconvenient.”

“Were you a fish?” Dean’s never going to forget this.

“I’ve been more creatures that you have words for,” Cas tells him flatly. “You’re getting me off topic.”

“Sorry, Nemo, please continue.”

“Anyway. The point is, the form I took never impacted my sense of self. At the time, I would have told you it was because I was an obedient angel, who did not form an identity beyond following orders. Knowing what I know now, about how extensive Naomi’s…reconditioning…was, I have new questions.”

Dean holds up a hand, crosses to sit on the bed facing Cas. This is not a conversation he can have standing. “Wait, reconditioning?”

“I never told you this?” Cas seems faintly embarrassed. “During the time you’ve known me, there have been several times when Heaven has altered my memories.”

“When you got brainwashed, yeah. Trust me, I remember.” It’s not a time Dean looks back on fondly.

“That’s been, apparently, a regular experience through the millennia of my existence. Obviously I don’t remember it, but so I’m told.”

Dean stares at him for a long moment. Just — sometimes Cas is his buddy who makes terrible jokes and complains about the texture of milkshakes, and then sometimes Dean is forcibly reminded that he’s this. This impossibly old, celestial force who was hanging around on Earth before land formed, who singlehandedly discovered free will.

“That’s fucked up,” he says, and it’s the least fucking profound thing anyone could ever say. But jesus, what are you even supposed to say to that? It’s not like Hallmark makes greeting cards for “Sorry you’ve been brainwashed by Heaven.”

Cas smiles at him anyway, corners of his eyes crinkling.

“I agree,” he says. “But I’m off topic again. I wanted to tell you that it’s different, now. I thought about what it would be like to change vessels, and I was surprised to realize that I found the idea uncomfortable.”

“Gotten used to this shape, huh?”

“Something like that. I suppose I didn’t think of myself as a man until I had to contemplate the alternative.”

Dean leans forward, elbows on his knees. “Wait, is this a Dean-you-were-right moment?”

Cas gives him a look. “It has to happen occasionally. And — an apology, for not being more sympathetic at the outset.”

Dean’s smug now, but he can be magnanimous in his victory, and he waves a lazy hand. “Don’t worry about it, man. I’ve adapted. Now I’ve got two days to put this” — he gestures at his body — “through its paces, before I’m back to normal.”

It’s probably not the most obvious line he’s pulled on Cas but it’s definitely in the top 5. He meets Cas’s eyes directly.

Cas looks at him exactly the same as he always does, which is — gratifying, Dean guesses, knowing that he doesn’t see him as a different person just because of his body.

Except right now he really does want Cas to look at him differently.

Hall pass, he thinks again.

“Did you want me to train with you?” Cas asks, and he’s got that look like he’s trying to figure Dean out.

Dean’s fingers flex where they’re pressed into his sweatpants. “That’s one word for it.”

“Dean,” Cas says, and pauses. He breathes in. “If you want something of me, you have to tell me. I can’t — I won’t make assumptions.”

“You’re really gonna make me say it, huh,” he says, and even though his voice is still in a woman’s register he hears it come out lower than usual.

“Dean,” Cas says. “Please.” There is something wild in his eyes.

This feels, suddenly, very real. Not like a dream anymore.

He swallows. This is probably a terrible idea.

But if he doesn’t take this shot, take advantage of the forty-eight hours that don’t count, he’s never gonna forgive himself.

He stands, crosses the few feet to where Cas is seated at the desk. Cas’s eyes don’t leave his the entire time he moves, chin tilting up to observe him as he gets close.

He props one knee up on the side of Cas’s chair, lets his hands brace on the armrests. His heartbeat thrums under his skin. The few inches where his leg is pressed alongside Cas’s thigh are warm and he’s not sure how he’s going to survive having any more body contact if just that touch, through two layers of pants, is enough to distract him.

Cas looks up at him. “Dean,” he says again, and his eyes are very wide and very dark.

“Just. While I have this body— let me—”

He can’t get out the words, can’t say out loud what he’s asking for but — actions speak louder than words anyway.

He leans down. Cas is so, so still when Dean first kisses him that Dean is terrified, for the space of a heartbeat, that he’s fucked everything up.

And then Cas kisses him back.

It’s slow, tender, just a gentle slide of lips against each other. Cas’s stubble rasps against Dean’s skin, and the first touch of his tongue against Dean’s lips feels like a minor miracle.

Some part of Dean’s brain had been thinking — maybe this will be weird. Maybe we’ve been friends for too long, it’ll just be uncomfortable, we’ll laugh awkwardly and call it a day.

He’s so, so fucking wrong.

Cas’s hands come up to wrap around the sides of his waist and he can’t help but surge forward, tilting his jaw to get a better angle and reaching up to wind his fingers into Cas’s hair.

It’s a feedback loop, the way Cas’s breath hitching sends heat tumbling down Dean’s spine. The room is so quiet and every breath comes heavier than the one before it, the slide of lips and tongues and the rustle of fabric loud in the stillness.

Cas pulls away, uses his lower angle to press in close to Dean’s throat, laying kisses along the skin where his Adam’s apple isn’t. When Dean tilts his head back to give him better access, he sucks a bruise under Dean’s jawline. Dean makes a noise from the back of his throat, involuntary, a choked-off breathy gasp that he’s never heard himself make before.

It seems to drive Cas wild, though, by the way his whole body moves under the arc of Dean’s body like he’s desperate for more contact.

Dean steps back, tugging at Cas with one hand still tight in his hair and the other wound in the front of his shirt. Cas follows him, rising to his full height. The way he looks down at Dean with the extra inches he’s got on him right now makes heat curl deep at the base of Dean’s spine.

Dean steps them backward to the bed, then sits down heavy on the edge. Cas gets the idea quickly. He props one knee up on the edge of the bed, then — one hand at the small of Dean’s back and the other under his thigh — he tosses Dean further up the bed.

“Jesus Christ, Cas,” Dean gasps, his unfamiliar voice sounding wrecked. He thinks about the fact that Cas could do that to him just as easily in his normal body, and heat rises between his legs.

Cas surges down with dark eyes, caging Dean with an arm on each side of Dean’s head as he leans in to kiss him hard.

Dean realizes Cas is carefully holding himself up, which — yes, very gentlemanly, but not what he wants right now, not when he’s already desperate for more. He winds his hands into Cas’s hair and tugs, insistent, so Cas drops himself to press all along Dean.

The keening noise that comes out of Dean’s mouth at the feeling is matched by the choked groan Cas lets out.

It’s so much, just knowing that it’s Cas pressing against his body, knowing that that’s Cas — oh jesus fuck — hard against his thigh. It makes Dean crazy in a way he’s never been, whether it’s the way arousal feels different in this body or just the fact that this is payoff after how many goddamn years of foreplay.

Experimentally, Dean arches his back under Cas, rolling his body in one long movement that Cas must be able to feel in every inch that they touch. Cas drops his head and gasps.

He wraps a hand around the side of Dean’s head, thumb tucked up under his jaw in a way that makes Dean embarrassingly weak, and pulls back to look at him.

“Before we—” Cas cuts himself off, a little wild-eyed. Dean notes with satisfaction and a wave of arousal that his voice is even rougher than usual. “I need you to know. If you only feel comfortable doing this while you’re in this shape, I accept that. But the body you’re in doesn’t make a difference in my desire for you.”

“Cas—” Dean says, and closes his eyes. This is— he knew this, on some level, wasn’t dumb enough to think that Cas is as shallow as he is. But hearing it out loud, hearing the confirmation that Cas wants him, wants him in his real body, has wanted him, will want him—

“Your soul is the same regardless,” Cas tells him, painfully earnest.

Dean has to tug him down to kiss him again. “Can we— can we table that conversation?” he asks, catching his breath, when he drops his head back against the pillow. “It’s just, Cas, it’s a lot of things I usually don’t ever let myself think about, you know? Let me— one thing at a time, man.”

This close, the look in Cas’s eyes is almost unbearable. “I understand, Dean,” he says, and Dean knows it’s true. Knows Cas understands him in ways he doesn’t even understand himself, sometimes. It’s too much for Dean to think about right now, too big for him to even begin to grapple with, the enormity of being known like this.

Instead of even trying, he reaches down to tug his shirt up and over his head. It’s as good a distraction as any, judging by the way Cas’s eyes go wide and his breath catches in his throat.

Cas pulls back, just a few inches, so he can press a hand along Dean’s side. His fingers are hot against Dean’s bare skin, and Dean feels goosebumps rise.

Both of them are so still, unmoving except the slow progress of Cas’s hand as he traces up the curve of Dean’s breast, ghosting light over Dean’s nipple. He’s sensitive under normal circumstances, but like this — he gasps out a noise, body moving under Cas’s involuntarily.

“Dean,” Cas groans. “I’ve wanted— you have no idea—“

“Yeah?” Dean says, pressing his hands under Cas’s shirt to draw them up his back. “You thought about this, huh? Bet you didn’t picture this, did you.” He hitches his leg up, drawing Cas in closer.

“About—“ Cas’s breath catches in a gasp as Dean drags his fingernails down his back. “About making you feel good. Bringing you pleasure.”

“God, Cas—“

He pulls Cas’s shirt over his head, tossing it to land who-cares-where in the room. He’s almost dizzy with want, need for Cas to be closer buzzing along his skin. The pressure and heat between his legs is persistent, and he arcs his hips up desperately.

The layers of their sweatpants don’t do much to disguise Cas’s erection when Dean tilts up into it, and he lets out a long, low groan, deep and dirty. Dean’s never heard him sound like that ever, and he wants to record the noise forever in his brain.

He sucks a hard bruise into the skin where Cas’s neck curves into his wide shoulders.

“C’mon,” he gasps, rocking his hips again til Cas gets with the program.

When Cas rolls his hips, grinding into Dean, he thinks he might actually catch on fire. The pressure is so good, fabric pulling along his skin.

He could do this forever, he thinks, coming just from this like a horny teenager. But Cas has other ideas. Dean doesn’t realize Cas’s hand is moving until his fingers are dipping under the waistband of Dean’s sweats.

“Can I?” he asks, meeting Dean’s gaze with eyes that are dark and hungry.

“You can do anything,” Dean tells him, and means it. The thought of Cas calling the shots, putting his battle strategist’s brain to work to find the most efficient ways to turn Dean into putty under his hands, sends a wave of heat down his spine.

He didn’t realize how wet he was until he feels Cas’s fingers slide between his folds. “Dean,” Cas says, helpless. “Dean.”

His fingers are light, stroking over Dean’s skin methodically, and Dean is wild with it. He writhes under Cas, desperate for more pressure. “Enough teasing,” he gasps, and Cas looks at him.

The look in his eyes is the same one he gets when he’s talking strategy, laser focused on Dean, and Dean realizes — he’s not teasing. He’s collecting data. Cataloguing Dean’s every response.

So that he can do this: press two long fingers along Dean’s folds, not penetrating but pressing right at the entrance, and curving one finger to stroke up to — jesus fucking christ — Dean’s clit. Dean pretty much loses himself to the pleasure, gasping out noises that are either curses or Cas’s name.

Dean rocks against him, hands buried in Cas’s hair like he’s holding on for dear life.

Then Cas says, tone almost thoughtful if there wasn’t a wild, gasping edge to it — “I’d like to taste you.”

“God, Cas,” he groans. “Yeah. Go for it.”

If Dean thought Cas’s fingers would be the death of him, it’s nothing compared to his mouth. There’s no teasing this time — he sucks at Dean like he’s hungry, whole face pressed so close that Dean can feel his stubble grind against Dean’s skin.

Dean’s lost control of the noises he’s making, gasping out shameless wanting moans from the back of his throat every time Cas’s teeth scrape over his clit. His hips tilt helplessly and the heat starts to spiral outward, running fingers of pleasure up his spine. It’s a wave building, starting where Cas’s lips suck at him, sending tension racing along his limbs till his feet are pressing into the mattress and his fingers clench desperately in Cas’s hair. The pleasure feels unstoppable, and he’s on a cresting wave until — it crashes, and he’s helpless with it, hips rolling and Cas’s name a moan on his lips. It seems to go on forever as Cas licks him through it, more pleasure than he knew his body could hold racing along his nerves, lighting him up until its too-much-not-enough and he’s squirming, tugging Cas off.

“Christ,” he says when he’s caught his breath again, half-laugh-half-groan, collapsing back into the pillow. “Jesus, Cas.”

Cas looks up at him, eyes dark and mouth wet like sin, and Dean resigns himself to the knowledge, very far away in his mind, that there’s no way in hell they’re stopping this after he’s back in his normal body.

“C’mere,” Dean says, and Cas rejoins him on the pillow. He looks debauched as hell, hair wild from Dean’s fingers like it looked when they first met, and he’s clearly pleased with himself.

Not that Dean can fault him for that. He earned it.

When Dean kisses him, lazy, he can taste himself on Cas’s tongue. Normally an orgasm — especially one like that — would wipe him out, but now he just wants to touch. He wraps his arms under Cas’s, looping around to press into his shoulders and just hold on as lingering tremors pass through his body.

He’s safe, face tucked up into Cas’s neck like this, riding the high of the orgasm, and his sex-drugged brain lets the question slip out against Cas’s skin.

“Cas, you wanna fuck me?”

He feels the shiver run along Cas’s body, and smiles. This is something he can do—after all the times he’s hurt Cas, made him bleed, this is something where he can make him feel good.

Cas refuses to make it easy for him, though, pulling back just a hair to meet Dean’s eyes. “Dean, I — yes. Fuck. Do you want that?”

Dean squirms, face flushing red with more than afterglow, but lying about it isn’t an option at this point. And in this body, he tells himself again like a mantra, there’s no shame in wanting this.

“God, yeah.”

He stretches an arm, fumbling for the drawer of the nightstand where he’s got condoms stashed, even if he’s never once brought a girl back to the bunker. He’s thankful for it now, that neither of them has to get out of the bed and lose this skin-to-skin contact. He doesn’t want to think about what happens later, after, outside the sex-warm bubble of this bed.

Cas watches him with curious eyes.

“Don’t know what would happen if I got pregnant in this body,” Dean tells him, “And I don’t wanna find out. Do you know how—?” he gestures with the foil packet.

Cas takes it from him and in a smooth motion, rears up to his knees and tugs down his sweatpants.

The crinkle of foil as the packet tears open is loud in the quiet room, a discordant note that catches in the bubble of calm Dean’s been existing in.

Maybe it’s the sound, or the fact that Dean’s never been in a room where the condom’s been going on a dick that’s not his. But something like self consciousness rises cold up his spine, the taste of shame thick in his mouth as he sees himself from the outside, practically desperate to be fucked by another man.

Cas’s voice is so quiet. “Dean?” He’s still the very picture of sex but his eyes are serious, reading Dean’s face like a book.

He can’t answer. He’s so afraid of ruining this, breaking this fragile thing in clumsy hands and clumsy words. So he does the only thing he knows how — pulls Cas down into a desperate kiss with one hand, uses the other to tug Cas’s hand onto the curve of his breast. It’s grounding, in a way, the reminder of this body giving him the tiniest shred of justification that he needs to allow himself this.

Fucking wild how the shape of his body, which 8 hours ago he was flipping out over, now allows him to exhale a breath he didn’t know he was holding.

Cas kisses him as deeply as ever but the way he holds himself over Dean’s body is careful. They’re barely touching, just lips and brushing calves and Cas’s large hand, hot where it cups over Dean’s skin. He thumbs at Dean’s nipple thoughtfully and Dean gasps into his mouth.

Okay, he’s back with the program here, sex brain elbowing its way back out in front of repression brain and making everything go a little soft focus again. And realizing that really there’s not nearly enough body contact happening.

He relocates both hands to Cas’s ass, gets a good handful and tugs. Cas, still a dozen times stronger than him even with most of his grace tucked away, and as always he goes easily at Dean’s touch. Which in this case means taking the cue and lowering himself down fully along Dean again.

Where before there wasn’t nearly enough skin contact, now there’s so much — Dean’s brain, still a little fried from the orgasm, sort of makes a sputtery engine noise as it takes in the weight and heat of Cas pressed all along him.

Cas groans out a deep noise in his throat as the new contact presses his cock along the curve where Dean’s thigh meets his hip. And Dean just — lets himself want it.

God, he wants. He’s been wanting for so long. Longer than he ever let himself allow it, but the hunger was there the whole time, growing in the background. With Cas’s weight heavy on him like this, shielding him from the world, it’s so easy to admit it to himself.

He reaches up to tug one hand in Cas’s hair, gentle. Cas pulls back, enough to look him in the eye. There’s still concern there, even past the hunger, and the swell of emotion in Dean’s chest has a name that’s not quite lust.

“Dean,” Cas says, touching one hand lightly to his cheekbone. “You want this?”

God, he’s gonna make Dean say it a second time. Damn him and his admittedly stellar grasp on consent.

Yeah, Cas,” Dean says, holding eye contact. “C’mon.”

And Cas — Cas smiles at him, unexpectedly sweet as he leans in for a startlingly innocent kiss.

Well, it starts off innocent, til Dean bites at his lower lip and digs his fingernails into Cas’s hips like, get a move on.

Then he pulls back, just a little, and Dean’s breath catches hard in his throat.

The sight of Cas like this — vulnerable, flushed with arousal, cock hard and hair messy — feels unholy, except how it’s so good it can’t be anything but miraculous.

As he lines himself up, his cock brushes over where Dean’s still sensitive and he shivers. Whether he’s flinching toward or away from the sensation, he’s not sure. And then he feels pressure that has to be Cas at his entrance, blunt and hot and so fucking unlike anything he’s ever felt.

There’s a pause in the room, a long moment where they breathe ragged together, on the precipice of something that suddenly looks a lot higher than Dean ever realized.

But he knows Cas, even wingless, won’t let him fall.

“Yeah,” he breathes, an answer to a question Cas didn’t ask, and Cas pushes in.

Dean,” Cas breathes like it’s a curse or a prayer, pulled rough from somewhere deep within him, and stares at him with eyes darker than Dean’s ever seen them.

God, it feels so strange, heavy and deep, a sensation more overwhelming than pleasurable but he’s already aching for more.

“C’mon, sweetheart,” Dean says. There’s so much pressure built up and he can feel it — just a little more movement and it’ll tip into pleasure. He wriggles, hips pressing up unconsciously as he tries to get—

Cas rolls out then back in, one long wave—

That.

God, that’s it, the stretch and pressure releasing into heat and something so fucking good.

“Cas, fuck, c’mon,” he gasps. Cas groans, eyes wild, and sets up a rhythm.

And they’re off to the fucking races. Cas lets out a little grunt every time his hips drive home, and Dean’s nails are digging into Cas’s shoulders, and his arousal is burning through him. He needs more, wrapping his ankles around Cas’s lower back and gasping at the way the change in angle gets Cas even deeper.

His hips are more comfortable with the stretch than they would have been in his normal body, and experimentally he stretches further. Huh, he thinks as he gets his legs up under Cas’s arms with no problem.

Then Cas, without losing his rhythm, rears back to get Dean’s legs over his goddamn shoulders, bending Dean in half and driving back home. “Jesus goddamn Christ,” he says out loud, the stretch in his hips nothing against the wild look on Cas’s face.

“Dean, you, you’re,” Cas gasps. Dean’s not sure he’s ever heard him lose his ability to string a sentence together and he’d be smug if he weren’t right there with him. Cas is so deep in him at this angle and Dean just. He just needs. It’s pleasure like he’s never felt, lighting up his body and rolling through him like water.

There are noises falling out of him on every thrust now, some litany of Cas and fuck and yes yeah baby c’mon on repeat and he’s hardly even aware of it.

He doesn’t realize how close he is to a second orgasm until it crashes over him, mouth falling open and gasping. “Oh— fuck Cas, yes—

And the pleasure pours over him, not stopping, every thrust of Cas inside him pushing it further and further until he’s shaking with it, tremors along his limbs where he clings to Cas.

It’s— god, it doesn’t stop feeling good, pleasure just less urgent, and it’s like he’s drunk on the feeling, helpless to do anything except dig his fingers more deeply into Cas’s hair and hold on.

Cas is close, he can tell, noises getting a little more desperate and hips stuttering.

“C’mon, baby, come for me,” Dean urges him, voice hoarse with pleasure. Cas makes a little “oh” noise, like he’s startled.

And Dean watches his orgasm pass over his face, watches Cas fall apart in wide eyes and stuttering breaths and a flush up his cheeks as he groans out Dean’s name helplessly.

It’s fucking gorgeous, is what it is.

Dean wants to savor it, to press the moment into his bones and seal it off from the world. He’s gonna be jerking off to this for the rest of his life, he’s pretty sure.

Cas, ever the gentleman, has the presence of mind to move his arms to free Dean’s legs before he’s letting himself collapse down to press close along Dean. They ride out the aftershocks together, Dean trembling against him as sporadic waves roll through him. Cas’s breathing is ragged, loud, and the way he runs his fingers up and down Dean’s side sends up tiny lightning bolds of pleasure that spark white behind Dean’s eyes.

It’s a long time before either of them move. Finally, one of Dean’s shivers makes Cas wince, and he has to move to pull out.

Dean feels the absence like a physical presence, leaving him empty as Cas ties off the condom inexpertly and tosses it into the trash can.

God, Dean doesn’t want to come back to himself, doesn’t want to look down and see the pavement of awkwardness and shame rushing up to meet him.

“You’re thinking too loudly,” Cas says. His voice is quiet, deep and rough around the edges. He lies back down, tugging Dean close without hesitation and wrapping an arm around his waist. And Dean goes willingly, cuddling up to Cas’s side even though he’s gathered enough presence of mind to remember that this is a bad idea. Was a bad idea. Even though it was a fucking great idea.

“I should,” Dean starts. He can’t say go. Can’t get the word out.

“Please stay,” Cas asks quietly. It’s a request, except it’s also an opening. It’s a gift, because if Cas wants this — if it’s Cas asking for something he needs, then Dean’s got no choice but to give it to him.

He settles in. Lets himself take under the guise of giving, and he’s so painfully grateful for Cas that he can’t breathe around it for a moment.

“Hell,” he says finally. “I don’t know what I was expecting.”

“That was very good,” Cas says decisively. Then he adds, shameless, “for both of us.”

Dean smirks. “Someone’s confident,” he says.

“More like observant.”

“Smugness isn’t attractive, Cas.”

“I meant what I said earlier,” Cas tells him, more serious now. “It would be a shame if you are uncomfortable with this in your normal shape, because… that was very good for both of us. But if you don’t want it—“

“No, I—“ Dean cuts him off, face hot. “I did. Do. Will.”

Dean can’t see Cas from this position, but he thinks he’s smiling, and that gives Dean the confidence to push on.

“But Cas, listen— you know the way I can get about this stuff,” he starts, grimacing. “So I need you to not let me push you away, okay? You know it’s not easy for me, and I’ll get there, I promise, I just. I need you to wait me out.”

Cas’s fingers ghost down his spine. “I waited for the continental plates to rise from the ocean, and for enough cells to divide to form organisms, and for those organisms to evolve into humanity, and then I met you and realized what I had been waiting for,” he tells Dean, utterly serious like he’s not shifting the ground under Dean’s feet permanently. “I’d wait for you forever. You only had to ask.”

He’s so matter of fact, so straightforward like it’s the weather or an autopsy report instead of the most romantic thing anyone’s ever said to Dean ever in his life. If he wasn’t lying down he’d be goddamn weak at the knees.

“Cas,” he says, and swallows. There’s nothing he can say, because anything he says would be shitty and human and inadequate in comparison. The planet forming doesn’t factor into his feelings. All he knows is that he’s not the same person when Cas isn’t around that he is when Cas is, and he likes the version of himself with Cas more than the version without.

He feels Cas press a kiss into his hair, and shift under him to tug up the blankets over them both.

“Rest now,” Cas tells him, a smile in his voice. “You’re tired.”

“Whose fault is that,” he grumbles, curling closer to Cas. 

Cas leans in close to his ear.

“Mine,” he says, in a tone full of heat and promises.

And it’s — jesus, it’s just an answer to Dean’s question, but it’s really not that at all.

When Dean sleeps, he dreams of dark wings wrapping around him.

+

In the morning, Dean wakes up with his head tucked into Cas’s shoulder. He feels different, and it takes him a moment to understand that what he's feeling is well-rested, waking out of a deep sleep that wasn't interrupted by nightmares. It's an unusual feeling for him. 

He stretches out alongside Cas, hearing his toes pop as he flexes his feet. Cas stirs under him, blinking sleepily.

“Good morning,” he says, and if his normal voice is gravelly it’s got nothing on what he sounds like first thing in the morning. Especially not the morning after truly great sex, Dean recalls with a flush.

“Mornin’,” Dean says back. Cas smiles down at him, wrapping an arm around his waist and pulling Dean in closer like it’s the easiest thing in the world.

Maybe it is.

Dean kisses him before he can think better of it. Closed-mouth, though, because morning breath is a bitch. Cas is soft and obliging under him, warm and drowsy.

“I think I smell coffee,” Cas says when he pulls back. His hair is an absolute trainwreck. Dean hears the hopeful note in his voice and snorts.

“If you’re thinking I’ll bring you coffee in bed, the answer is like hell.

Cas gives him a glare. Dean knows from shared motel rooms that Cas is always terrible in the mornings. This is just a cuter vantage point than he usually gets on it.

Cute, he thinks to himself in despair. Winchester, you’re such a goner.

“Will you make pancakes, at least?” Cas negotiates.

“Yes, fine,” Dean grumbles. “Think I can steal any of Sam’s blueberries or has he used them all in terrible green smoothies?”

Cas smirks. “I put half of them in a bowl in the back of the fridge and put the bacon in front so he wouldn’t see them.”

“Dick move,” Dean tells him admiringly. “Nice work.” And he’s just stretching one last time before he gets himself out of bed when it hits him.

“Wait,” he says, pulling back to look accusingly down at Cas. “This should be awkward.”

Cas’s forehead wrinkles as he looks up at Dean, visibly confused. If he wasn’t lying on a pillow, Dean thinks his head would be tilting to the side. “Why?” he asks.

“Dude, because morning afters are always awkward. Avoiding eye contact, that kind of thing.”

“I don’t know why I would avoid eye contact with you,” Cas says. “I never have before.”

“Right, that’s the other part,” Dean says, realizing as he does it the sheer insanity of trying to make the situation awkward, but he can’t stop. “It’s, you know, you and me— this is a big thing—”

Cas, the guy who has never understood an awkward situation in his life and clearly has no intention of starting now, just blinks at him. “Yes, it’s you and me. I don’t understand the point of this conversation. Will you make bacon with the pancakes?”

So it’s not awkward at all, actually.

+

It keeps on not being awkward right until the moment Dean is sitting on his bed, back in his old shape at fucking last. He’s not sure if he’s trying to talk himself into going to Cas’s room, or out of it.

“Damnit,” he says, and stands up, and then there’s a knock at his door.

“Come in,” he says, knowing who it is.

Cas gives him a long look as he enters, shutting the door quietly behind him.

“I’ll wait as long as you need,” he says, cutting right to the chase like he's never learned the concept of small talk. “But I thought you should know that I do still want you, in case that was in doubt.”

Dean hadn’t realized it was in doubt, in some way, until Cas said so, utterly shameless. Dean chokes a little on it, the way Cas can just look at him and say I want you, like it’s easy.

It’s not fucking easy.

But the thing is, he never does the easy thing. Never for a day in his life.

“C’mere, sweetheart,” he says, and his voice is a hell of a lot deeper than the last time he said it, but it sounds so much better to his ear this way.

Cas melts, a little, something in his face opening up in a way Dean didn’t know it could. He smiles up at Dean as he crosses to him — looking up at him this time, Cas’s eyes right at the eye level where Dean’s used to them, and it feels natural as anything to cradle Cas’s jaw in his hands. He knows the exact span of his own fingers now, settled back into his body and touching Cas like he’s coming home.

It turns out that Cas can take him apart even more completely in this body as he could in the other. “I built this body from atoms,” Cas tells him between ragged breaths when he comments. “I know every inch of you, Dean Winchester.”

So that’s, you know, not gonna stop anytime soon. He resigns himself to the knowledge that yeah, this is exactly what he was angling for all those months ago in the diner, and that he’s just slow on the uptake sometimes.

But he got there eventually. And Cas was right there waiting for him.