The first few times they take it slow. It's too long-awaited, too completely overwhelming, to do it any other way. When Cas sinks into him for the first time it's like all the fireworks from every cheesy-as-fuck romantic movie Dean will never admit to watching go off inside his skull, and he's just holding on for dear life, and it's good and finally and bone-deep.
The fourth time Cas spends fifteen minutes taking his clothes off and another ten kissing Dean. When he finally gets around to shoving a finger in, Dean is seriously concerned he might fall asleep. Cas is staring up at him with those limpid blue eyes and, really, what did he expect? This is love, it goes a certain way, and it isn't the way of hard fucks in back alleys. You give those things up for love; you make do with candlelight and whispered declarations of soulful passion. Just like in the movies.
Eventually Dean tries talking dirty, just a little. To see how it goes. Cas looks like he got slapped across the face. He starts with something dumb, like "Fuck, Cas, harder," and when the only response is a characteristic head-tilt, he keeps going with "Give it to me. Make me take it, split me open, Cas. Fuck." This is apparently too far, because Cas looks horrified and pulls back. He strokes Dean's hair like he's a child that Cas doesn't know what to do with, all sincerity when he insists he would never hurt Dean, he loves him, shhhhhh. Dean is exasperated; he takes a walk. That makes it worse. Cas is sure he stirred up some kind of hell-trauma and he's forced to spend the next three nights cuddling, of all things.
A month of this. Hunt after hunt, the angel wasting monsters left and right, tough as nails. Dean jerks off in the shower thinking about how good it would be if he could get some of that aggression out when they're in bed together. He tries to piss Cas off, provoke him, but he only gets a hurt look before Cas disappears for a few hours. He tries to just get used to it. Maybe he can accept that good sex is a thing of the past. He should be grateful for all the other things, the grown-up, real-relationship things, that he gets to have with Cas, instead of missing a life of meaningless flings in anonymous, small-town-America men's rooms. These internal lectures do nothing to help, for all their logic. He starts to avoid "making love" with Cas at all. He's too tired, he's sore from a hunt, they should just watch TV, why don't they go out for dinner instead. He hates himself. He has a beautiful, willing angel curled up next to him in bed and he's too fucked up to just enjoy what Cas is willing to give.
It takes a while before Cas turns to him, after another soft rejection in the dark, and asks why they never touch anymore. "I know I'm unskilled," he says. "Show me." Dean pulls Cas on top of him, feeling the solid weight of him, and kisses him in a clash of teeth and tongues. It's one-sided, and he curses in frustration. He knows he's hurting Cas's feelings but this isn't fucking working. Cas's fingers are a feather-light touch along his side. "Like this," Dean says. He grabs Cas's hips hard enough to bruise, sinks teeth into his shoulder, and Cas gasps in response.
A hesitant hand runs through his hair, and Dean would give anything if those fingers would close and pull and own him like he needs. He doesn't know how to say it. Cas's mouth is all heat and gentle swipes of his tongue along Dean's throat.
"I'm not made of glass, here."
Cas looks hurt. Confused. Dean runs a hand across his face in frustration, screws his eyes up, and releases a rush of speech before he loses his nerve.
"Need you to mark me up, fuck me so hard I can feel it for days. Hold me down, scratch, bite, whatever, just... Please, Cas."
A beat of silence. Dean opens his eyes, hoping so hard to see understanding in Cas's face. He doesn't. He sees pity.
"You're worth more than that, Dean," Cas says.
Syrup oozes from his words, and Dean gags on them. He doesn't get it, not at all, and he thinks he's doing Dean a fucking favor when he's really tearing every good thing they have apart. It's not Cas's fault; sex is inconsequential to him. He has a fundamental disconnect from the physicality of it. If his instincts are wrong, it's because he's not human - and what the fuck was Dean thinking, falling in love with something that isn't human? He should have known better. He did. But the reasons he loves Cas have nothing to do with sharing a bed in the dark. They're friends, brothers-in-arms, Cas gets him on every other level but this one better than anyone he's ever met. What's wrong with him that he can't accept something so good for him if the price is closing his eyes and thinking of England for a few quick thrusts a couple of times a week?
Cas is waiting for him to say something, but Dean doesn't see the point.
He isn't sure how he got out from under Cas and out of the motel room, but now he's driving at three times the speed limit on curving back roads, miles from the last street lamp. Deer startle away in the dark, green horror-show flashes of eyes, and he punches the radio dial into silence. Here he goes, fucking it all up again. The car shudders under him, too fast on uneven asphalt. He interprets it as disgust.
By the time he stops, he's in the next town over and Baby's gasping for fuel around a near-empty gas tank. He slaps a twenty and a twelve pack on the counter at a gas station and pretends not to notice the guy cruising him on aisle two. He's nothing special, taller than Dean with close cropped blonde hair, older but muscled. It's been years since he's done this, but to slip back is comfortable, habitual. He realizes he doesn't have any reason to keep ignoring the flash of blue eyes over the row of single-serve cereal. Light blue eyes, that is: nothing like Cas's. As washed out as the faded and stained denim the man's wearing - acid wash vest and jeans, bumfuck-nowhere chic. Dean winks at him on the way out of the store. He lingers in the doorway until the man jerks his head, once toward the ceiling in brutal acknowledgement.
They meet back by the dumpster. Maybe it's symbolic. The guy starts to say something, maybe to introduce himself, but Dean walks right up and drops to his knees on the concrete. He could not possibly care less who this asshole is. He knows he can never have better than anonymity. He's finally proven it. If he couldn't make a relationship work with Cas he'll never be able to; Cas is everything, more than he could have dreamt up, impossible in the way he completes him - and Dean can never love him like he deserves.
He pulls the man's fly down with his teeth, an old hustler trick that earns him some kind of meaningless praise. The man's voice is annoying, high-pitched and grating, and Dean looks him hard in the eye until he stops talking. His cock, though, the weight of it, feels good in Dean's hand. Average length but thick, and he wants to feel it stretch him open, fill the holes he's dug himself into. He wraps his fist tight around it, slow tugs that elicit ugly, futile moans from a stranger. He wants to swallow it, feel it twitch against the back of his throat, but it'll only be good if he's forced to. So he waits, hand moving too slowly to be enough, until he finally, finally feels a hand twist in his hair and drag him forward. He keeps his mouth shut, a pretty little pout that says nothing but pleads for him, until that high-pitched voice splinters out past his resistance.
"You fucking tease. Open your fucking mouth."
A pause. Then the hand in his hair yanks, hard, and his lips part just enough for the man to shove his cock past them. One smooth stroke; the head slides over the back of his tongue. He gags around it, feeling the familiar prickle of tears in the corner of his eyes as he fights his reflexes and swallows around the thickness in his throat. He lets the man thrust, deep and stuttering, as thick fingers flex against the back of Dean's head. He pulls out far enough for Dean to suck in a shuddering breath and speak, breaking the thin line of saliva connecting Dean's tongue to the head of his cock.
"That all you've got?"
Then the man is thrusting back in, and it's almost enough. He can almost lose himself in the rhythm, the taste, the ache in his jaw, the curses spilling from above. He drops a hand to his own aching erection, rubs his palm across the bulge in his jeans and groans around the cock pushing into his mouth again and again. The man's words start to slip through the haze of yes and do it and use me, and Dean can almost appreciate them despite the too-high wrongness of a voice that doesn't belong to his angel.
"Such a pretty little slut, Jesus, look at you, gonna fucking give it to you. Gonna come all over that pretty freckled face. Knew you were a cockslut as soon as I saw you, fuck, yeah. Starving for my come, aren't you, you whore, fucking need it. Gonna give it to you baby, yeah, just like that. Fuck. Oh, Jesus fucking Christ - "
Dean feels the first little spurt hit the back of his throat. He manages to taste it, savoring the bitterness on the back of his tongue, before his head is forcefully pulled back and the remaining streaks of come hit his cheek, his lips, his neck. He grinds the heel of his hand hard against his fly and comes, too, hot and wet against the fabric of his jeans.
The guilt follows, then, tripping on the heels of his orgasm like a bastard child. He doesn't begrudge the payment: self-loathing exchanged for a craving to be used and humiliated and left kneeling on the filthy concrete, the dull itch and cold discomfort of his shame drying on his skin. He isn't ready for the gravel-deep voice that cracks through the air, reverberating off the dented metal skin of the dumpster and the spray-paint disfigured brick wall that the blonde man is leaning against. It cuts through his post-orgasmic haze like a knife.
"You should go," Cas says.
Dean sinks back on his heels. His head spins, and for a moment he thinks Cas means he should leave. He wants to obey but his body is frozen. He realizes Cas is addressing the other man, the man whose cock Dean just had down his throat and whose name Dean doesn't know, and he thinks he should probably be concerned for the man's safety but can't bring himself to care. He's the one who failed; he's the one who deserves to be punished. And, oh, god, what he wouldn't do to have Cas understand enough to punish him. It isn't fair, he knows it isn't fair, to expect Cas to comprehend the fucked up headspace Dean is flailing around in and give him what he needs despite the fact it goes against his angel-perfect fucking nature. But, still - he needs.
"Man, seriously, fuck off."
This is the wrong thing to say, and Dean feels a flash of concern for the guy.
"Dean Winchester belongs to me," Cas says. "Take your perverse back-alley blasphemy elsewhere."
There's some grumbling, but soon enough the man stomps off. Dean is left alone on the ground. He's unable to look his angel in the eye, and it's ridiculous, but all that flashes through his mind is that Cas said he belonged to him. So fucking show me, Dean thinks, but all he gets is a two-fingered tap on the temple and all traces of come and dirt vanish from his skin. He wants Cas to replace them, wants to stay right here on his knees, but Cas has already pulled him to his feet and ruffled an affectionate hand through his hair. Of course he's not angry, Dean thinks. Fucking angels. He thinks about screaming, cussing Cas out, demanding a response or a promise or a backhand or a prayer.
Insead, he grunts out a question.
"How'd you find me? Thought I was angel-GPS proof."
"I followed you from the motel," Cas says. "You were driving rather erratically."
Dean thinks of a deer that he missed by inches and wonders if Cas had a hand in his turning the steering wheel at just the right time. He hates the knowing look on Cas's face, because it's a lie. Cas thinks he knows what's going on here but he has no idea. He thinks Dean is being self-destructive, and, okay, maybe that's true. But the rough and dirty face-fucking? That was the most self-affirming thing he'd done all week.
They drive in silence for a while, Cas condescending to sit in the passenger seat where Dean can see him this time. He drives back toward the motel because it's inevitable, because Sammy's sleeping in the next room over and will tease him about a perceived lover's spat if they aren't rumpled and smiling and on time for breakfast. Anxiety twists in his gut as he waits for Cas to say something. There's no anger radiating from the other side of the car, although by all rights there should be. Maybe angels don't do monogamy, Dean thinks, but Cas had certainly seemed possessive when he told the other man to get lost. Cas is like a statue beside him, and endless pit of stoicism and patience that Dean will drown in if he doesn't get out of the car right now, right fucking now. There's a service road to his right and he pulls just far enough down it to be secluded from the main road, flinging open the door of the Impala as soon as she's in park and stumbling out into the night. He grabs the twelve pack from the trunk and walks into the woods until he finds a log to sit on. He doesn't look to see if Cas is following him, but within a few seconds the angel is sitting beside him. No escape, except maybe at the bottom of a bottle. Typical. He drinks half of the first beer in one long pull.
"Dean," Cas says.
"Oh, now you have something to say."
Dean finishes the first beer and pitches the empty bottle out into the woods. It lands in the leaves with a crunch. He opens a second, keeps drinking in quick little gulps, eyes focused somewhere, anywhere, out in the dark.
"I don't understand what you need."
"Ain't that the fucking truth."
A third beer is almost gone before he starts to feel the alcohol unfurling in his veins. Cas's gentle hand on his knee feels like an accusation. This time when he throws the bottle he aims for a tree trunk and takes pleasure in the sound of shattering glass.
"You're unhappy," Cas says. "Are you not interested in a sexual relationship with me? It's all right, Dean. Perhaps we moved too quickly. I know you - "
Dean interrupts him before he can finish that sentence.
"Jesus fucking Christ, Cas. That is not the problem. That is the exact opposite of the fucking problem."
"Then tell me what the problem is, Dean."
His response is slurred. It leaks out from his pain-and-booze-soaked brain, and if he were sober maybe he would regret the harshness of it. But right now he just doesn't give a damn.
"Has it occurred to you that maybe you just suck in bed? A billion years of flitting around, you'd think you'd have picked up a thing or two."
Cas nods as if this is perfectly reasonable thing to say. Dean opens a fifth bottle of beer and raises it to the sky, a silent toast to how much he hates himself in this moment.
"I have little experience - "
"More like you can't fucking take a simple direction," Dean says.
Finally, Cas's face darkens. Maybe they're getting somewhere after all. Maybe Cas will smite him right there and he won't have to wake up tomorrow, hungover and remembering the shit that keeps pouring out of his mouth even though part of him knows it's unfair.
"You mean the fact that you asked me to hurt you," Cas says.
"Yeah, sure," Dean says. "Or be more active than a freaking blow-up doll."
The dark look gives way to earnestness. Well, so much for that. Time for beer number six.
"I'm not going to hurt you, Dean. I love you. You deserve respect, even if you don't always -"
"Oh, shut it, Cas. If you respected me at all you'd listen to what I'm fucking saying to you."
The next time Dean opens a beer Cas reaches for it. They sit in silence, drinking, and Dean appreciates the gesture even though he knows Cas has no interest in beer. The tension bleeds slowly away and they fall into familiar companionship, Cas working steadily through the remaining beers so there's none left when Dean finishes the one in his hand. It's not subtle, but Dean doesn't chastise him. He's right. Dean's had plenty. He's drunk enough to let his head fall to Cas's trench-coated shoulder. If he says something that sounds like "don't give up on me," he can always blame it on the booze when dawn rolls around.
Dean blinks and twitches himself awake against his better judgement. He definitely has a hangover, but unfortunately, he remembers everything that happened last night. It takes him a few minutes to become aware of more of the room than the sunlight that stabs through the blinds. The TV is on, and Cas has positioned himself dead center in front of it, standing with his hands in his pockets. Dean shifts, considers pretending he's still asleep. No such luck. Cas addresses him without turning around.
"There's tylenol and a glass of water to your right," he says.
His stomach gives an unhappy roll as he reaches for the glass, but he swallows down the two pills and props himself up against the pillows to wait for them to take effect. He becomes aware of his surroundings gradually, between bursts of don't deserve him and can't believe I... His routine downward spiral, as often a part of his hangover as a headache or nausea, is interrupted when he hears moaning coming from the TV. A man's voice says "Who's your daddy?" on low volume.
"I have a few questions," Cas says. "You should eat your breakfast sandwich."
Sure enough, there's a wrapped sausage egg and cheese sitting on the night stand next to the water. It's Dean's preferred hangover cure, and when he reaches for it he can tell by the wrapper it's from one of his favorite delis on the opposite coast. He feels a flicker of annoyance that Cas went through the trouble when by all rights he should be furious with Dean. It smells delicious, but his stomach turns when he thinks about the fact that the last thing he had in his his mouth was a stranger's cock.
The annoyance vanishes around bite number three, because it's just that damn good. Cas's attention is back on the TV, watching something titled "Barely Legal Twinks 6." Dean's hangover has receded enough for him to feel a stir of interest at the stream of dirty talk spilling from the TV's speakers. Cas appears to be paying close attention. He rolls out of bed, fingers gripping the headboard while his head catches up with his body, and staggers to the bathroom to brush his teeth and splash some cold water on his face. By the time he comes back out, the tylenol and greasy food have done their part and he's no longer unsteady on his feet.
"Come here, Cas," Dean says.
Cas approaches the bed, reaching for Dean's hand as he sits next to him on the worn mattress. He doesn't bother to mute or turn off the TV, and filthy sounds continue to pour out of the speakers, littering the background of their conversation with moans and cursing. The man on the screen, the one speaking, is calling the other a dirty little slut.
"Taking notes, Cas?"
"I've watched several of these films." He frowns. "I don't understand the appeal at all."
"Dude, I don't know how to explain it to you. It's just more fun when it's a little rough. Like that," Dean gestures to the TV, where the man is seriously pounding away.
"But those people don't love each other, Dean."
"Look, man. Sex doesn't have to be some big girly candles-and-rose-petals thing. That's boring as fuck."
Now Cas looks offended.
"I've never found being intimate with you to be boring, Dean."
There it is again, that old familiar self-loathing. Why can't he just appreciate what Cas is offering him? Sam's probably right; he has the emotional range of a block of wood. He'd almost go so far as to say he was incapable of love if it weren't for the fact that he knew in his bones that he loved Cas, even if he couldn't bring himself to say it in those words. He knows, though, that he's undeserving of love. Because he can't just pretend sex doesn't matter to him. He's opening his mouth to tell Cas he's sorry, that Cas should just fly off and find somebody better, when Cas silences him with a steely look.
"Strip," Cas says.
And because Dean owes it to him to at least let him try, he does, clothes falling to the scratchy motel room carpet.
They're in bed, and Cas is trying, Dean can feel him trying, to give him what he needs. The angel's expression is a mixture of determination and distaste, blue eyes focused on the floral wallpaper as Dean looks back over his shoulder at him. Cas is fucking into him hard, and, god, that part is so good, the burn of Cas's cock stretching him after hardly any prep, the quick rhythmic slap of his hips against Dean's thighs. He wishes the angel would meet his eyes. Cas lifts his hand to slap Dean's ass, but he has to visibly steel himself to deliver the soft blow.
"Who is your father?" Cas asks.
His voice is completely monotone. They'll have to work on the dirty talk later. Dean lets his head fall forward, rocking with the force of Cas's thrusts, and tries to focus on how good the angel's cock feels inside him. The complete lack of enthusiasm radiating from Cas has pulled him out of the moment. His brain is caught in a loop of come on, he's trying, you can at least pretend it's good when he's going through all this effort - and that just makes it worse. He can feel his erection start to flag. Another tepid spank is all it takes for him to lose it entirely. Cas's thrusts are just uncomfortable, annoying pressure. He has never been less turned on in his life.
"Dude, I know you can hit harder than that," Dean says.
This is important; this needs to go well. Dean can't lose Cas, and Cas is trying, goddamn it. Why does he have to ruin everything? Why does he always go and fuck everything up? Cas slaps his ass again, harder this time but not nearly hard enough. His cock wilts against his thigh, utterly limp. He buries his face in the pillow and bites back tears of frustration. He feels like a complete failure. Well, nothing new there, he thinks. Cas stops, pulling out of Dean's body in a smooth, slow slide.
"Dean," he says. "Dean, I'm sorry. Did I hurt you?"
In that moment Dean is overwhelmed with a vision of years and years of the two of them stumbling blindly past each other in the dark, Dean's not enough and Cas's too much cycling in an endless feedback loop. A tear, then two, escape and streak down his cheek, and he's too exhausted by these constant conversational misfires to be embarrassed. Cas is stroking his hair, whispering to him, but the things they say to each other have ceased to have any discernible meaning. Dean's aware, in a vague sort of way, that Cas is once again convinced he's having a PTSD-flashback to hell. He wonders if the angel will even hear him if he tries to explain what's actually going on. The futility of it leaves him curled up on the mattress as Cas wraps his arms around him. Cas's words eventually penetrate the miasma of despair Dean has mired himself in.
"I should have gotten to you sooner. I'm sorry, Dean."
Dean sighs, a weary sound that comes from his bones.
"Cas, I've always liked it rough. It's not something you need to fix."
The angel stiffens behind him, and Dean realizes that maybe Cas hadn't thought of that before. He supposes it isn't an unreasonable assumption to think that his time in hell had soured him on vanilla sex and left him empty in ways that needed to be filled violently, left him incapable of accepting attention that didn't hurt. In a lot of ways that's true, or had been until Cas rebuilt him from the ground up and then completed him, some time after, with the warm press of their bodies against each other. He turns just enough to make eye contact. Cas studies him, a long, searching look that leaves him feeling raw. He has a sinking suspicion that Cas is using more senses than the average human has access too, pulling him apart at the seams and inspecting the places he's been put back together. After a long time, Cas nods. Dean feels a glimmer of hope that Cas has finally gotten it, that they're going to be okay. It's shattered into a million broken pieces on the floor when Cas opens his mouth.
"I understand, Dean, but I can't."
They talk for hours after that, but there's no way out. Cas does understand, he explains it back to Dean in a way that makes it clear that he thoroughly understands now. It doesn't matter, because he still can't. There's a fundamental flaw in their relationship, which is that Cas can't. One little sentence that claws its way, screaming, into Dean's skull and takes root, echoing over and over.
Dean lays in his angel's arms and thinks about all the ways the universe has screwed him. The way it takes everything from him. The way it sometimes dangles things in front of him, shiny things, saying have this, Dean, insinuating sweetly, you can be happy, really, this time it'll finally come true for you. He got Cas, and now he realizes it doesn't matter. He loves him and he's right there and it still doesn't matter, because they can't ever be happy. One little, tiny worm in the center of the apple and the whole thing's rotten. He can't blame Cas, the whispered apologies and explanations that make so much sense. Cas saw him in hell, saw him broken and hurting, and cherishes him in a way that leaves no room for violence or roughness or even playfulness. When Cas touches Dean, it's reverent and beautiful, but Dean can't imagine going the rest of his life only being touched with gentle, worshipful fingers. Frankly, the thought horrifies him. Cas understands that, and yet he still can't.
The revolve quietly and pointlessly around each other, for minutes or for weeks. Things go on more or less as usual. They keep busy. They still fall into bed together at night, and Dean falls asleep to the patient rhythm of Cas's breathing, the angel's gaze hot and protective against his skin. He jerks off in the shower and shuts his eyes against the shame of it circling down the drain. Cas doesn't comment. Dean hasn't seen him naked in over a month.
Impossibly, they still love each other.
It takes two months before Dean cheats on Cas again, if you would even call it that. Another anonymous blow job that leaves his jeans scuffed from kneeling on the asphalt. The next time, it's another hunter, someone he'd been fuckbuddies with back in Sam's Stanford days. Dean takes off for two nights with him and they spend the whole time screwing like bunnies, Dean strapped to the bed and taking the brutal thrusts of the other man's thick cock with something that feels like joy.
He comes back to Cas limping and spent, and when Cas touches him it's exactly what he needs. They make love, then, slow and sweet and aching. Dean can feel it, the deeper thread that connects the two of them, now that his other itches have been scratched. They don't talk about it in so many words, but that's when Dean realizes that maybe there is a way out of this.
Cas and Dean are alone in a bar. Cas's hand is on Dean's knee as he flirts shamelessly with the bartender, running down the clock until the man gets off work. Cas leaves while the bartender is preoccupied with the last of the remaining customers, his breath hot against Dean's neck as he slides close in the dark. His voice lilts with a teasing warmth, full of promise.
"I'll see you when you get home," Cas says.
Dean's cock hardens at the brush of Cas's lips on his neck, and then the angel is gone.
He spends a few hours with the bartender, and it's fun and his orgasm rips through him with the hard slap of the man's skin against his. It's exactly the way he likes it, rough and dirty, and the man whispers sweet slurs into his hair as he fucks him so hard Dean's head smacks into the headboard.
He makes his way back to the motel where Cas is waiting to kiss the bruises where the other man's fingers dug into his hips, to lick him open torturously slowly until all traces of the other man's sweat and come are gone from his skin. To remind Dean who he really belongs to. Sometimes they have sex, but often it's just quiet, possessive touches that sing across his over-sensitized skin, Dean too wrung out to even get hard again. Still, he arches up into Cas's touch, revels in the feel of the angel gently lapping away the evidence of his transgressions, his whispered endearments a counterpoint to the harsh exhortations of strangers. As Cas's tongue traces patterns on the body he remade, a soothing warm caress punctuated by heated glances and lazy, shared smiles, Dean can't remember anymore what the problem had been.