It might sound ridiculous and dumb. Dean knows it better than anyone, but sometimes when he looks at Cas he feels like a balloon.
It's the way Cas' eyes light up when they watch late night documentaries on National Geographic. A small animal in South Eastern Asia, the tapir. When it burrows underground and makes its own nest Cas makes a soft sound of oh and his face glows from the glare of their small television. Dean can feel the distance between their palms as if it's a yawning canyon. When the television flickers (because their reception is honestly shit) Dean watches the consternation dance across Cas' face. And then the tapir are back. And his angel slash human slash hunter
slash friend smiles again.
It's moments like these, like when Cas gives a quarter to a kid at the grocery store and sees their tiny face burn with glee. It's these moments that make Dean feel like a balloon. Because it's seeing, as well as feeling and touching and knowing all of Cas --- all of the ways he smiles like he's licking the inside of his teeth, the way his left eye crinkles more than his right when he laughs --- that pump a little more (he doesn't dare call it love) affection into Dean.
Some days Dean feels fit to burst. They were on a bridge the a couple of nights ago, when Dean felt the heat returning to him, when he felt his forehead itching and burning like something was trying to pierce it from the inside. And so he had fled his little two bedroom cottage with Cas to a stream nearby. Dean sat on the bank for a while; he watched an earwig lose a fight to the death with a praying mantis and he stood and he walked (ran) as far away as he could manage.
Somehow he ended up on the bridge.
It was a subconscious choice --- and this is what he tells Cas hours later, when they're curled up in one another, when Cas' breaths are coming hard and fast and shallow and Dean can't quite believe he's real and there --- to stand on the bridge. Dean's sure of it. (He has to be). There's something about the stars that's so alluring. They're constant. Dean can look up anywhere in the night sky he wants to. The stars are always there; the stars are always the same.
He knew he should probably have felt guilty. Or affected in some way. When Cas came barrelling up the dirt path, out of breath and missing a slipper, Dean was still enraptured in the sky. He would hardly have noticed Cas if Cas hadn't've come up behind him and placed one (hot, burning) hand on Dean's shoulder. Almost at the same exact time, Dean's left forearm burned ferociously and he flinched forwards from Cas' touch.
Maybe it was the last vestiges of Cas' angelic power that kept Dean from (
accidentally) propelling himself off of the bridge. But as soon as Dean looked down. As soon as Dean looked down into the water he felt it on his own skin; cold, still burning, but frost like in its embrace. Dean felt the sudden urge to jump.
And then the urge was smothered. Cas' grip on Dean's waist had tightened but he kept his voice low and steady when he leaned forward into Dean's ear. "Come back inside," he said, "Come back with me. It's cold outside." And Dean went with him but he dreamt of snow and ice and cold things until morning.
When he woke up, the heat from Cas' body hot and suffocating but durable, Dean felt like he was being stretched. Like there was a giant balloon inside his chest cavity (where his heart was meant to be) and every time Dean looked, or heard or felt Cas it grew a little bigger. At that moment; lying in the bright sunlight, feeling the cool sheets beneath him, Dean felt like he would pop.
And this observance wouldn't be as frightening if it were just that --- an observance. But this is more. This is, this is Dean, and this is Dean feeling like he's half a breath away from losing the last part of himself that hell didn't cut out. And Dean knows he shouldn't dwell on these thoughts (he doesn't need a shrink dammit) but he's afraid; Dean's afraid of what will happen when he does explode. When all of his feelings for Cas, when they reach a tipping point and Dean lets go. What happens to the balloon then? When it's gone; when Cas looks at Dean a little too intensely over his morning paper, will the balloon vanish and never be seen again?
Cas grumbles in his sleep and tugs Dean a little closer. The sun disappears behind a cloud and throws their room into darkness.