Chapter 1: He said yes.
Dean wakes up to the glow of daylight behind his eyelids, his body aching in that way it does after a long night of hunting – or a long night of really good sex. Judging by the line of warmth beside him in bed, he hopes it’s the latter… but he can’t really remember. And the more he tries to, the more his head hurts, so the first thing he needs to do when he eventually gets upright is double the dose of his usual hangover concoction, and chase it down with some good ol’ hair of the dog.
But first he has to get upright.
And find some clothes.
He groans a little as he cracks open his eyes, squinting against the onslaught of light coming in through the windows, and that’s when it really sinks in. He has no idea where he is. It’s not the bunker, that’s for sure. But it doesn’t seem like a motel either. No twin beds for one thing. No kitchenette. The sheets aren’t cheap and starched to stiffness, but soft and comfortable in a way that’s entirely sleep-inducing. More importantly, there isn’t that usual hum of activity that typically comes with motels – no cars driving up and down the road nearby, no random bumps and noises from the neighboring rooms, no constant buzzing from bar fridges and vending machines and broken neon lights.
This place is quiet. Almost like suburbia quiet. There’s that kind of stillness to it, like a household that hasn’t woken up yet. The only real sound is the occasional twittering of a bird just outside the window - which is lined with curtains that are anything but cheap or tacky.
This is someone’s bedroom.
He doesn’t know whose bedroom, but there is something about the place that seems familiar. Something about it that feels halfway between an old memory and a forgotten dream. In fact, there’s something about it that reminds him a lot of the bedroom he shared with Lisa back in Cicero, but more comfortable somehow. He always felt like a visitor at Lisa’s place, but he doesn’t feel that way here.
Dean cracks his eyes open a little further, twisting around to check the bedside table for his phone. When he sees what’s there his breath stutters in his throat in shock. It’s the picture of his mom, the one he keeps in his wallet, taken when he was a baby and his mom was young and happy and alive. It’s one of the few pictures of his mom they managed to salvage from the burnt-out remains of their house in Lawrence, black and frayed at the edges, and so old now the colors have nearly washed out to black and white.
He hardly ever takes it out of his wallet. And here it is, framed, like it’s found a new home on this unknown bedside table.
Dean’s hackles begin to rise at the thought of someone taking liberties with his personal belongings. He whirls back around, wondering who the hell thought that would be okay.
Dark hair. That’s all he can see, peeking out from the top of the sheets. For a second he really thinks it might actually be Lisa, somehow… But then he sees the differences in the shade of color, the texture and length, too short, too thick, too messy. Not Lisa. But still familiar.
Carefully, Dean lifts the bedcovers for a closer look, and he almost flails backwards out of the bed at what he sees.
It’s Castiel, in bed with him, sound asleep like he belongs there, and completely, utterly naked.
Dean’s jaw drops, a small squawk of surprise escaping his throat and his heart hammering in his ears as he stares.
He knows he shouldn’t, but he can’t help himself. He’s barely even dared to imagine this – Castiel, in bed with him, no trench-coat, no suit, completely bare – and fucking gorgeous.
Did he get so drunk that he finally made some kind of move on Cas? And they finally ended up in bed together?
Castiel shivers a little in his sleep, his skin goosepimpling from being exposed to the cooler air of the room, and Dean quickly drops the sheet in a panic.
Cas is human.
Son of a bitch.
Dean’s eyes search the room wildly for some kind of explanation, now completely confused. He’s not injured, and from the brief glimpse he had, Cas certainly didn’t look injured either. There’s no sign of bandages or first-aid kits or any of the other usual stuff that would be around if they had been injured either. And he’s pretty sure if they’d been the kind of injured that would warrant taking them to some hunter’s house and throwing them in bed together to watch over them, that someone would be, well, watching over them.
Sam. He needs to find Sam immediately. The sasquatch has probably just gone to the bathroom or something.
Dean slides out of bed carefully, trying not to disturb Castiel with the movement. Cas grumbles a little in his sleep, but thankfully doesn’t wake up, instead rolling over and curling into the heat left behind on Dean’s side of the bed. Dean’s chest tightens with… something at that, and it makes Dean want to slide right back into the bed with him. He may not know exactly where they are, or how they got there, but waking up in a strange bed with someone has never felt so achingly right.
Dean looks back at the framed picture of his mom, this time smiling as he takes in the sight. That’s when he notices the leather bound journal sitting next to it on the bedside table.
It looks a lot like his Dad’s old journal – but slightly different. Thinner. Newer. Curious, he reaches over to lift open the cover, and is shocked to find his own handwriting across the pages. There’s a ribbon running through the journal, bookmarking it, and when he flips the page open he sees it’s marked to the latest entry… which is dated almost two years in the future.
Okay. So maybe he hasn’t woken up at all. Maybe this is that dream he has sometimes, that he tries not to think about too much, because he knows it’ll never be real. That might explain the strange dates.
But he remembers Sam telling him something about the brain not being able to read while dreaming. And that you don’t usually question whether you’re dreaming in your dreams either, or something like that. He’s not sure though.
So maybe something’s messing with his reality again, like a djinn, or a trickster. Or worse, another dick angel. Frowning, he glances back at the bed, watching how the sheets rise and fall with Cas’ every breath. Every human breath. Fuck. Dean’s head begins to throb again. For some reason the angel theory doesn’t feel right.
Or maybe you finally asked Cas to stay, and he said yes.
And this is your bedroom.
That’s why everything seems familiar.
The thought jumps out at him, strangely making sense. It explains why he would be here, in this bed, in this room, with all his most personal belongings around him, and a very human Castiel.
Except, that just can’t be right either. Dean can’t be that lucky. He can’t just wake up and have everything he’s ever wanted, just like that.
And it still doesn’t explain the time difference.
Or everything in between.
Dean huffs in frustration, looking around for some clothes. There’s a pair of old sweat pants on the floor next to him, which look like they’ve just been unceremoniously dropped there before the wearer hopped into bed. When Dean pulls them on, the worn material hugs the shape of his body in a way that tells him he was the one wearing, and then dropping them. They’re almost exactly like the track pants he used to sleep in at Lisa’s. There’s also a t-shirt on the floor not far from him, so he’s pretty sure that’s supposed to be his too, and he throws that on as well. Then grabbing the journal off the bedside table, Dean ventures out of the room.
The door across the hall is open, and straight away Dean catches a glimpse of what looks like some of Sam’s stuff, strewn across the dresser in the room, so he pops his head in the door. Sam’s not there, but the room definitely has that unique smell his brother tends to leave behind, like a combination of froofy shampoo and day-old tacos. Which means Sam must be around somewhere.
Dean steps back into the hallway. Again he’s struck with the familiarity of his surroundings. For some reason it reminds him of Bobby’s old place, but brighter. The walls are painted instead of papered, so there’s a lot more reflected light coming in the hallway, and when Dean rounds the corner to the stairs he finds the source. There’s a big, gaping hole in the side of the house, where the next room should be. Instead of walls, there’s only plastic, hanging from the frame of an unfinished ceiling.
When Dean sees what’s past the plastic he receives another shock. It’s a view he is very familiar with – piles and piles of wrecked cars, surrounding the corrugated roof of Bobby’s repair garage.
This is Bobby’s house. And it’s being rebuilt. Dean can’t help but smile a little at the thought.
He heads down the stairs with a little more confidence in direction, making his way to where the kitchen should be. And there’s Sam. Sitting at the table, reading some old book, well into a cup of coffee, like he’s been there for hours.
“’Morning,” Sam says, not even looking up from his book.
“…Morning?” Dean replies hesitantly.
So no one’s on the verge of death then. Not if Sam’s complete lack of concern at his arrival is any indication. And Sam looks way too comfortable where he is, like this really is their house, and he has every right to be sitting in his own kitchen, reading and drinking coffee that he made.
And if that isn’t enough confirmation, then the line of phones on the wall next to the table where Sam’s reading drives the last nail home. It’s just like the wall of phones Bobby used to have, each one with its own label reading ‘FBI’ or ‘Federal Marshall’ or ‘Health Department’ or whatever else hunters often masquerade as to get the job done… but these labels are all written in Sam’s handwriting.
Dean’s head begins to pound again.
He makes a beeline for the cupboard where Bobby used to keep a good supply of pills, and although the cupboard itself is new, Dean is grateful to find it’s just as well stocked.
“Hey, Dean?” Sam says conversationally, “You think you could add on another bedroom down here? Maybe off the library? Or maybe you could convert one corner of the library into a small room or something? I’d gladly give up the library space.”
“What?” Dean sputters as he struggles to open the tightly sealed bottle, overwhelmed by all the thoughts that come crashing into his head. If Sam is asking him to make a new bedroom for him, then that must mean this really is their house now. And Dean is the one fixing it up, supposedly. But since when would Sam gladly give up library space for anything?
“I just don’t want to have to sleep down in the panic room again the next time you and Cas are… well, you know,” Sam replies, cringing a little. “You guys are kind of loud.”
“What?!” Dean chokes out again. “Me? And Cas?” he echoes weakly in disbelief, as if he didn’t just wake up naked in bed with a naked Castiel. There’s still a part of him that feels like someone is playing a highly elaborate joke on him.
That’s when Dean remembers the other standards in Bobby’s cupboard. Reaching up to the top shelf, his fingers easily find the jar of holy water there, still with the rosary inside it. In record time he has the jar twisted open and emptied all over Sam’s head.
“What the hell, Dean?!” Sam jumps out of the chair, sputtering in shock.
But Dean’s already got the cutlery drawer open, hoping the knife he pulls out is made of silver – but it’s a weapon either way.
“Dean?” Sam holds his hands up cautiously. “Are we having one of those mornings again?” he asks, concern in his voice.
“…Yes? No? I don’t know?” Dean answers, completely lost now. “What do you mean?”
Sam – or not Sam – heaves a sigh, and then very slowly reaches towards the bottle of rock salt on the kitchen counter, sitting innocuously next to some pepper and some other basic condiments. Dean narrows his eyes, watching closely as Sam empties some of the salt into his coffee, and then lifts the mug to drink it, making a very Sam-like bitch-face as he swallows it down.
Dean can’t help but grimace in sympathy. That must’ve tasted awful. But he still reaches for the salt anyway, just to check himself that’s what it is. Sam rolls his eyes at that, then points to the sink.
“Borax,” he says, indicating the dishwashing detergent. Dean grabs the container and aims it at his brother, squeezing out a thick stream of viscous fluid that lands on the outside of his brother’s exposed forearm.
When there’s also no reaction, Sam steps a little closer and reaches towards the cutlery drawer. Slowly he pulls out another knife from the back, a big one Dean recognizes as one of their own silver ones, and Dean eyes it warily, keeping on the defensive until Sam lifts up the sleeve of his t-shirt to slice the skin of his shoulder. Dean doesn’t know why Sam doesn’t just slice his forearm, like he’s seen his brother do in the past, but there’s no reaction to the silver either, so Dean lowers his knife.
“What the hell is going on, Sam?” Dean hisses, trying to keep calm. “Is this really Bobby’s? Is Cas really human? And why the hell does this journal say it’s two years in the future?!”
“What’s the last thing you remember?” Sam asks, wiping the holy water off his face and neck.
Dean blinks at his brother silently, struggling to come up with something. He half-expects - half-hopes - to get some flash of blue eyes, dark hair and chapped lips, all that glorious skin he got an eyeful of earlier… like this is all just some kind of bad hangover. But instead all he gets are flashes of black, like night, outdoors somewhere in the darkness…
“It’s okay Dean, don’t push it. Sometimes it just takes a while for your memory to kick in,” Sam says, heading to one of the cupboards and pulling out a medkit.
“It does what now?” Dean says, massaging his temples.
“Do you… remember the trials?” Sam asks tentatively, wiping at the cut on his shoulder.
Dean frowns. It takes him a moment to come up with an answer, and he’s not sure if it’s because of the pain in his head or because the question seems so unexpected, given where they are right now. Standing in the morning sun in Bobby’s-- their kitchen, the trials seem a lifetime away.
“…You mean, the trials to close the Gates of Hell?
“Yeah,” Sam replies, covering the cut on his shoulder with a large band-aid before pulling his sleeve down over it. “What’s the last thing you remember from that?”
“Uh…” Dean strains to remember, starting to get flashes that pound at his head with the intensity of a 3D film, the kind where everything goes wrong and there are lots of explosions.
“You pulled me out of the last trial to cure Crowley, but it didn’t stop whatever was happening to me…” Sam leads. Dean’s head snaps up, remembering.
“I was trying to get you to the car, get to a hospital…” he says, his eyes instinctively checking his brother over for any signs of damage or sickness like he’d had about him when the trials began to change him. Besides the cut he knows is hidden under Sam’s shirt sleeve, there are none, and Dean relaxes a little with relief, even though he’s still confused.
“Right.” Sam smiles a little, encouraged by Dean’s reaction, and presses on. “You were trying to get me to a hospital when then angels started to fall?”
And now some of the images make sense, angels falling from the sky like comets, or bombs in some kind of world ending war straight out of a science-fiction film. He remembers holding Sam up against the side of the Impala, screaming out for Castiel.
“Cas used some of the grace he had leftover to find us…” Sam says, and Dean remembers Cas appearing suddenly, collapsing against the side of the Impala in a heap, like he’d taken a dive off a building and hoped for the best.
“So Cas was still an angel?” Dean asks.
“Only until the last of the Angels fell and he lost his connection to the host entirely,” Sam replies, coming closer. But he still keeps a careful distance, as if he knows to give Dean some space right now. “Cas didn’t have much time, so in a last ditch attempt to heal me… he used some of your soul to fix mine.”
There’s a lot of yelling in Dean’s flashbacks, a lot of desperate back and forth and arguing, but the last thing Dean remembers is Cas reaching towards him with a murmured apology, before everything turns white with pain.
“He warned us there would be side-effects, Dean. And that he wouldn’t be able to heal anymore after he used up the last of his mojo, but…” Sam trails off.
“I insisted,” Dean says, filling in the gaps. Sam shrugs his shoulder and nods, somewhat apologetically.
“And it worked? You’re good?” Dean asks, though he’s already getting the sense that Sam came through alright.
“Yeah Dean, I’m fine,” Sam says, giving him a tight smile.
“Then I don’t regret it,” Dean says decisively, trying to allay whatever guilt he knows his little brother must be feeling over the whole thing.
Sam gives him that small, tired smile again and Dean sighs internally. Sam wouldn’t be Sam if he wasn’t angsting over something anyway.
“Okay then. Hit me with it.” Dean leans back against the kitchen counter, bracing himself. “What are the side-effects?”
Sam takes a deep breath before replying. “You have these memory lapses sometimes. Sometimes it’s just little things, but sometimes it’s whole chunks of time,” he explains, brief but sympathetic, and it gives Dean the impression it’s something his brother’s had to do pretty often.
Dean nods, letting it sink in. It explains a lot, but it also raises a hell of a lot more issues. He feels his head begin to throb again, a millions questions piling on one after the other until he doesn’t know what to ask first, or if he can wait for the Aspirin he just took to start kicking in before taking more. He’s just about to reach for the bottle when Sam starts talking again.
“Just… if you can get away with it, try not to let Cas know you’re lapsing,” Sam says. “It still really upsets him that he can’t heal you.”
Him and Cas.
The image of Cas sleeping in the bed next to him cuts through the noise in his brain until his chest is swelling with it. It’s almost too good to be true. But…
“Sam, how the hell am I supposed to fake my way through a relationship I can’t even remember?” he asks.
“Don’t worry, we have a system,” Sam replies. “Pretty much everything you need to trigger your memory is in there,” Sam says, pointing at the journal Dean brought down with him. Dean looks down at it, brushing his thumb over the cover in what feels like a familiar gesture.
“And the important things never change,” Sam adds, and Dean hears the unspoken statement underlying his words…
How you feel about him will never change.
“And when all else fails, you usually distract him with lots of sex,” Sam says with a very put-upon bitch-face, turning to sit back down at the kitchen table.
“Sam!” Dean barks, surprised and a little embarrassed at the same time. He can barely even wrap his head around the thought that him and Cas are really together, let alone the thought of actually having sex with him. No matter how many times he’s imagined it. Or tried not to.
“One good thing about when you lapse,” Sam smirks, “I totally get payback embarrassing you about your rabid sex-life with Cas.”
Dean is about to cry out in indignation again, but this time someone beats him to it, a shocked sound coming from the doorway at Sam’s words.
They both whip around to see Castiel standing in the doorway, eyes wide with distress.
“Cas!” Sam flounders. “Good morning!”
A dark flush creeps up Castiel’s neck, painting his cheeks red with embarrassment before he finally replies, “Good morning, Sam.”
Then he turns to Dean, a vulnerable, questioning look in his eyes. “Good morning, Dean,” he says even more quietly.
Dean’s not sure how much of that conversation Cas caught, but he knows he needs to do something here, say something reassuring at least, but he just can’t move. Cas’ hair is rumpled from sleep, and he’s wearing an old Led Zeppelin t-shirt Dean recognizes as one of his own, on top of a pair of jeans that are ripped and way too big for him, and Dean just can’t stop staring. Cas looks so… human. Cas fell. And stayed. It’s so big he just doesn’t know what to do with it.
“Dean?” Sam urges pointedly, and Dean doesn’t have to look to hear the bitch-face in Sam’s voice.
Cas is still staring at him, uncertain and confused, and it makes him ache a little, to see that look on Cas’ face. He remembers what it felt like to see Cas looking at him with the eyes of Emmanuel, having no idea who Dean was, and how much that hurt.
He just can’t do that to Cas.
“’Morning,” he croaks, trying to look casual as he shuffles towards the doorway. He’s just going to give Cas a quick kiss on the cheek, the kind he used to give Lisa in the mornings, just to say ‘Hello.’ Hopefully that will be enough to convince Cas everything’s normal.
But as Dean comes closer he realises it’s not going to be as easy as he thinks. He’s barely even hugged Cas before, let alone planted lips on him, he doesn’t know how he’s going pass off something so monumental as something they do every day. And it doesn’t help that Castiel is watching him, every step of the way, breath visibly speeding up as he comes closer.
Castiel’s breathing. Jesus.
Dean reaches up, cautiously gripping Cas’ shoulder, and it’s actually warm against his palm, pliant and fleshy like Castiel never allowed himself to be when he was a full-on angel.
Castiel swallows, licking his lips, and the movement draws Dean’s gaze away from Cas’ shoulder to his throat, all the way back up to Cas’ mouth. He’s already leaning forward by the time he finds Castiel’s eyes again, still watching him back with that unwavering intensity, exactly the same as when Cas was a full-on angel, and in the next moment, their lips are pressed together.
It’s soft, chaste, could barely be called a kiss at all, but it took forever to get to this point, and it just feels so damn right. Dean had only planned for this to be a quick kiss, but he finds he can’t pull away just yet. Instead he finds himself moving closer, raising his hand to pull Castiel in and deepen the kiss, but before his fingers find a hold, Sam interrupts the moment, clearing his throat noisily behind them.
Dean pulls away, cursing his brother internally.
Ducking his head in embarrassment, Castiel steps back, sending a furtive glance Sam’s way. But there’s a small smile on his face now, so Dean’s pretty sure he passed the first test.
“Coffee?” he offers, his voice a little breathless.
“Yes,” Castiel gives him a small nod. “I can make it.”
“Okay,” he replies, still breathless. “Thanks.”
He backs away from the doorway, giving Cas space to enter the room and sliding into a chair across the table from Sam, an awed smile slowly spreading across his face as he watches Cas putter around the kitchen.
“Downstairs bedroom, Dean,” Sam hisses under his breath. Because Sam really isn’t Sam unless he’s being a hissy prude about Dean’s sex-life either.
“Sure thing, Sammy,” he replies distractedly, his smile widening even further when Cas wordlessly hands him a mug of coffee, exactly the way he likes it. He sips at it in amazement, still smiling in awe as Cas sits down and begins geeking out with Sam over the text his brother is reading.
It really is all too good to be true. But as he discreetly opens his journal under the table, it’s all right there, in his own writing, in the very first entry on the very first page.
‘Asked Cas to stay. He said yes.’
‘Asked Cas to stay. He said yes.’
‘He wanted to leave at first. Wanted to go find his brothers and make sure they were okay. And I get that. Being human is hard enough for Cas, must be rough for those other dicks.‘
‘But it was stupid too. Most of the angels already wanted him dead before they fell. Even more now.’
Dean hides himself away in the library after breakfast to go through the journal, while Sam keeps Cas distracted. As he flips through the pages he finds his entries are brief and to the point, but he also finds he doesn’t have any trouble working out what he’s trying to say with two or three words. Even without his memory, he still knows how he thinks or how he would feel about certain things. And he can tell he wasn’t happy about Cas wanting to leave again, not at all.
‘Told him to take me and Sam with, to be safe, but he still wanted to go alone. Part of his penance. Or some shit. His family, not ours.’
‘Told him that was crap. WE are his family. ME. And Sam.’
Dean knows things would’ve gotten pretty bad between him and Cas at that point. It doesn’t say in the journal, but Dean imagines it would’ve been the kind of fight that might’ve involved fists, like those kind of fights between him and Cas had in the past. But it seems that this time, somewhere in the middle of it, Dean finally broke. At some point he just flat out asked Cas to stay. ‘With ME.’.
Apparently Cas hadn’t understood at first, confused as to what good he’d be to the Winchesters without the ability to fight or heal or do most of the other things he used to be able to for the brothers. ‘But I explained it to him,’ it says in the journal, and Dean knows exactly what he did to shut Cas up and show him why Dean needed him.
He wishes he could remember that. The thought of crossing that line, of kissing Cas, or even just touching him differently, something, anything beyond friendship – it had crept up on him over the years. At first it was just a fleeting thought, a few barely remembered dreams, but then that night after he’d taken Castiel to a brothel, it had solidified into something Dean couldn’t ignore.
It was that little smile on Cas’ face that did it. That little smile that formed when he‘d slung his arm around Cas’ shoulder, laughing at being kicked out. Cas was still wearing that smile when they climbed back into the Impala afterwards, and Dean was suddenly overwhelmed with the urge to lean over and kiss it. In that moment he would’ve offered himself up to help Cas lose his virginity. Hell, he owed it to Cas for the sacrifices he’d made.
But almost as soon as he had the thought, he was overwhelmed with doubt. Cas wouldn’t want him, especially not when it was his fault Cas had been blown up by an archangel and kicked out of his home. Cas probably hated that he was stuck on Earth with Dean, and hated Dean for it.
Not long after that, Zachariah sent him to a future that confirmed all of Dean’s fears. Showed him a Cas that loathed his humanity so much, he used drugs and booze and lots of sex (with everyone but Dean) to forget about it. A Cas that was utterly ruined because of Dean. It may have just been an illusion, but the guilt Dean felt was real. So he locked it all up.
Unfortunately, as time went on, it got harder and harder to ignore, until it became something Dean had to actively suppress, whenever Cas was around. He often found himself wishing Cas would just understand somehow, but he’d long since told Castiel to stay out of his head. And all Cas seemed to want to do was run away from him anyway. Or fly away. Dean never thought he’d even have the chance to let the impulse take over.
Or maybe it was just a matter of time, before Dean couldn’t hold it in anymore. Especially once Cas became human.
Dean scrubs a hand over his face in frustration. If there’s anything that should’ve triggered his memory, it should have been that moment. That first kiss. He wants it to be that. But there’s nothing.
But then there’s a tiny voice in the back of Dean’s head that thinks maybe it’s better this way. Maybe you should be grateful you got to skip all the hard parts, it says. And even though he knows he’s lying to himself, it’s not like he has any other choice right now.
Dean takes a deep breath, and keeps reading.
It seems it wasn’t long after the thing with Cas that Dean’s memory lapses started. Just like Sam said, sometimes it was small things, sometimes large chunks of time. A few times, apparently, he woke up in the bunker and flipped out because he had no idea where he was. He’d thought he was in some government institution or something, and it took ages for him to believe the whole Men of Letters story and the encounter with their grandfather, Henry Winchester.
That was why Sam decided to move them to Bobby’s. It made sense. Dean’s known Bobby’s place since he was a kid, so it’s less likely he would freak out here, no matter how big a memory lapse he had. He could bet Sam’s ever-present desire for some sense of normalcy had something to do with it too.
The journal was Cas’ idea. He guessed that probably had something to do with Cas’ admiration for John’s journal, though Dean’s penmanship is nowhere near as “beautiful” as his father’s. So it seems a lot of the early entries in the journal are retroactively written, since his memory thing didn’t start happening until well after Cas settled in with them.
He wonders if he made his first entry about him and Cas because the whole journal thing
was Cas’ idea, but he can’t remember when he ever became that sentimental either.
He’s sure Cas never would’ve even considered leaving though, if they’d known about the problem with his head from the beginning. Cas would’ve felt responsible for him if he’d known, just like Sam mentioned. Even though it was Dean who insisted Cas mess around with his soul to fix Sam.
Dean presses the heels of his hands into his eyelids, tired of reading and thinking and not remembering anything. He briefly wonders if the reason it’s taking so long for his memory to come back this time is because the problem might be getting worse.
Dean closes the journal. Maybe it’s time to call it quits for the day. He’s just about to get up for some fresh air when Sam pops his head into the room to check on him.
“How you doing?” Sam asks, closing the door behind him.
Dean doesn’t reply. Doesn’t have to. Sam can tell how it’s going just by looking at his face.
“Do you need more time?” Sam asks.
“I don’t think more time is going to do it, Sam. My head’s already spinning from everything so far. Adding on to the pile isn’t going to help,” he says.
“Fair enough,” Sam frowns.
Dean offers him a half-hearted grin. “Besides, won’t Cas get suspicious if I’m in here too long?” he says, quirking an eyebrow at the bookshelves.
Sam chuckles. “Point taken,” he concedes. Dean huffs a weak chuckle at his own expense before turning serious again.
“So you’re okay with this… lying to Cas?” he asks.
“Dean, it was your idea. And it’s not like you’re lying to him all the time. This is your life now. Most of the time you’re just living it, together.”
Dean nods, letting that sink in. It’s one of the few thoughts that hasn’t given him a headache today.
“You’re just trying to protect that, Dean. Protect him,” Sam adds. “It’s actually kind of sweet, really.”
Dean grimaces. Of course his brother would be a big girl about the whole thing.
“Okay, Sammy, I get it.” Dean deflates, relenting.
“Good,” Sam smiles. “Anything else you want to know?”
“Yeah, actually,” Dean says. “What happened to Crowley?”
“Good question,” Sam replies, sitting down at the desk. “By the time we got back to the church he was long gone, and we’ve barely heard from him since. I think he’s decided it’s in his best interest to leave us alone, now that he knows what we can do to him.” Sam grins. “I think he’s embarrassed more than anything.”
“Well what’s to say he’s not going to come after us for that very reason?” Dean asks.
“He hasn’t so far,” Sam shrugs. “Cas helped us ward this place pretty thoroughly. And Charlie will let us know if she picks up any unusual movement.”
“…Charlie?” Dean asks dubiously.
“Yeah, Dean,” Sam says excitedly, “She’s designed this amazing computer program. It’s like the government’s Echelon system, but for everything supernatural. It basically scans everything online – radio, news, tv, the works – for any possible jobs. And when something comes up she does the research – I’ll help sometimes – then she contacts a hunter in the area to do the field work. So if anything gets close to us, she’s got us covered.”
“So you’re telling me Charlie’s in charge now.” Dean raises his eyebrows. “Seriously?”
“Dean. Between our contacts and Garth’s, she’s built up a network of hunters that spans all of North America. Last I heard she even had some international contacts too.”
“Huh.” Dean nods, considering. He can’t help but be a little impressed. While most hunters are prickly sons o’bitches that prefer to work alone, he can’t deny the convenience of having someone coordinate the locality of their jobs. So the hunters that want to stay put and lay roots don’t have to drive more than a day away from home, but the hunters that want to roam are still free to go on their merry way. The difference is that they now have the collected libraries of the Campbell family and the Men of Letters at their disposal. It sounds like a system Ash and the Harvelles would’ve been proud of.
“So, if Charlie’s in charge, does that make us like… Charlie’s Angels?” Dean smirks. But instead of getting the bitch-face he’s expecting, Sam looks away, squirming in his seat a little.
“…Sam?” Dean prods suspiciously.
“Actually, Dean, in exchange for focusing on research and working the phones, Charlie makes sure that any hunts she picks up in our area are covered.”
“What?!” Dean explodes. “Are you telling me we don’t even hunt anymore?!”
“Pretty much.” Sam shrugs. “We just… let it go.” he says, echoing Dean’s words from when he’d stopped Sam from going through with the last trial.
Dean collapses back in his chair, stunned. “This wouldn’t have anything to do with my little memory problem, would it?” he asks tightly.
“Dean, we all wanted out. Even Cas. We just didn’t realize how much until we actually did it,” Sam says. And although Sam hasn’t answered his question directly, Dean knows there’s some truth in his reply nonetheless.
It still isn’t easy to swallow, though.
“Jody took Kevin in,” Sam continues. ”It’s been good for him. For them both. She gets to use her mom voice again.” Sam chuckles.
“Okay, okay, that’s enough, Samantha,” Dean grumbles, cutting off his brother’s musings and massaging his temples. He still has a hell of a lot more questions, but his head is starting to pound again. And he’s already gone through practically half a bottle of pills, so taking more probably isn’t going to help.
“So what exactly do we do with ourselves now?” Dean asks.
“Well, like I said, I usually work the phones and help with research…” Sam explains.
“You’re the new Bobby.” Dean interrupts, raising an eyebrow.
“Yeah,” Sam nods, smiling.
“Better you than Garth!” Dean gripes. Sam laughs.
“Hey, say what you will about Garth, but he’s been pretty great with helping some of the angels settle into human life.”
“Yeah, I can see that.” Dean concedes. He imagines it would take all that hippie-love-guru zen kind of patience to deal with explaining humanity to a bunch of robot-dicks. But mostly he’s just glad his brother still gets to help people with his super-brain and mad research skills.
“Cas has been great with the research thing too, actually,” Sam adds.
“Huh,” Dean nods. “Makes sense.” All that angelic knowledge and all. It would still have to be there in Cas’ head, even if his angelic powers are long gone.
“And you run Bobby’s salvage yard now.” Sam says, grinning again. “So in a way, you’re kind of the new Bobby too.”
Dean can’t help but smile in return. It’s kind of perfect, really. All of it is. And Sam seems so at peace with the way their life is now. He seems almost… happy as he talks about it.
“And I take it that my baby is safe around here somewhere?” Dean waves a finger at the house.
“Yes, Dean,” Sam rolls his eyes, “The Impala is safely parked out in the garage, right next to the truck.”
“Truck?” Dean raises his eyebrows.
“Yeah, we needed it when we started working on the house,” Sam says. “We’re usually pretty busy, but every now and then we get quiet days, like today, and we do some renovating,” he shrugs, looking around at the room, all nonchalant-like.
Dean snorts in disbelief. “Let me guess. This is the part where you bring up the downstairs bedroom again,” he deadpans. Sam grins.
Dean can’t help but chuckle at that, shaking his head as he laughs. It’s the same hopeful-excited grin Sam used to give him when they were kids and Dean said he’d take him to the movies. Of course, they usually couldn’t afford it since they had to save most of their money for food, so Dean got pretty good at finding ways to sneak them in.
Dean closes the journal, leaning back in his chair. It actually isn’t a half-bad idea. He knows he should be worried that Sam isn’t fussing over him a lot more than he is, because that means this memory thing happens often enough that his brother is able to take it in stride so easily. But on the other hand, the mere prospect of doing something with his hands and not having to think about the tidal wave of information threatening to overwhelm him makes his head hurt a lot less.
It’s been one hell of a morning. And he still has a mountain-load of questions. But in true Dean Winchester fashion he decides to ignore them all for now, and deal with something he actually can fix.
He feels better already.
As Dean examines the library more closely, he can’t help but feel a little pride at what they’ve created. Even though he’s pretty sure that if given the choice, he’d be looking at a home cinema room instead. Libraries aren’t exactly Dean’s idea of fun times.
But Sam clearly loves this room. It’s mostly his belongings around the room, and it’s his laptop on the desk amidst books and papers and whatever else it is he’s working on. Dean guesses he must be sorting through the remnants of Bobby’s old collection, if the musty storage smell coming from the books is any indication. The rest looks like whatever was left at Rufus’ cabin in Montana, and stuff Dean’s seen at the Campbell family bunker. The walls are completely lined with floor to ceiling bookshelves, so it’s a bit cave-like, in a cozy kind of way. It’s Sam-heaven.
He really doesn’t want to have to take any of that away from his brother. Especially not after what he suspects Sam’s had to go through, looking after him and Cas.
“This room seems petty well-built already, Sam.” Dean says. “Why don’t we take a look around the unfinished parts of the house and see what we can do there instead?”
“Okay.” Sam grins again, jumping up and heading for the door, and Dean can’t help but chuckle at his enthusiasm.
He slowly runs his hand across the wall of the hallway as he follows his brother through Bobby’s house. No, their house now. It’s still a little hard to take, but it’s starting to sink in. The basic structure and foundations of the house are still all Bobby’s, but the changes make it something entirely new as well. It looks like they’ve forgone the wallpaper downstairs also, leaving the walls painted a lighter, neutral color instead. So it’s a lot brighter downstairs than it used to be – more open, and warmer from the reflected light. It also helps that there aren’t piles and piles of books lining the walls and every other available corner, cluttering the hallways and taking up every available surface.
Even so, Dean can’t help but miss it. He’d take the obsessive hoarding if it meant they could have Bobby back.
You just can’t have it all. A little voice in the back of his head tells him. Just like the Seger song.
He supposes he’s always going to feel a sense of nostalgia, walking through this house, no matter what changes he makes to it. But it’s also that very nostalgia that makes the place feel halfway like home already.
When they get to the unfinished part of the house, they start taking a look at their options. They work out where the plumbing and wiring runs through the bottom floor, and how they can connect the bathroom that’s already there, and finally decide to make a whole other room across the hall from the library. That way Dean doesn’t have to undo much of what he’s already rebuilt, and he can extend the second floor of the house at the same time.
Dean’s first thought is to make the second floor extension into that cinema room he was thinking about. But then Sam suggests using half the space to make a small reading room, and the other half as an upstairs balcony.
“Cas can grow more plants up there,” Sam explains, looking out the backdoor window where Castiel is gardening.
“And he might appreciate the bird’s-eye view up there,” Dean smirks. Sam groans at the bad joke, stepping away from the door.
Dean lingers a moment longer, his smile softening as he watches Castiel. There’s a pretty impressive garden back there. Not just flowers, but vegetables and other stuff too. Cas looks happy in it, like he belongs there. And that kind of gives Dean a warm feeling in his chest, even though it means he’s probably going to have to eat a lot of that rabbit food eventually.
Cas chooses that moment to look up from what he’s doing, and when he sees Dean watching him he waves, smiling easy and relaxed like he never did when he was an angel. Dean can’t deny what it did to him when Cas directed that smile at him this morning. Sure, a good helping of bacon with his eggs always makes for a good breakfast, but it doesn’t turn him gooey inside the way it does when Cas smiles at him that way. He can’t even remember if they’d talked about anything, just smiles and sunlight and Sam reading his book on the other side of the table, letting them be.
Dean feels his own smile turn a little goofy as he waves back through the window. Cas is going to love the balcony.
And damn, he must really be whipped if he’s giving up on the home cinema idea so easily.
Dean grabs his journal, opening it up to the back to make note of some measurements, but he’s surprised to find the pages there are already filled with extensive lists. Everything he needs to know about the different parts of the house he’s still working on is all there – the materials he needs, the materials he already has, what stage of the renovation he’s in and anything out of the ordinary he might need to know – Everything. When Sam said they had a system, he really wasn’t kidding.
It only takes a few moments to decipher how he’s laid everything out. It’s all done in a way he expects he would if he had to make this kind of system, so even if he doesn’t remember it, it still makes sense to him. Flipping to a blank page he starts a new list for Sam’s bedroom.
“Hey, Sam?” Dean says as he starts jotting measurements down. “You’re okay with me and Cas, right?” he asks, trying not to make it sound like as big a deal as it is. Sam’s seemed pretty okay with it so far, but Dean just wants to make sure all the joking around isn’t just a way of masking any lingering issues.
“Dean,” Sam rolls his eyes, pulling the journal out of his hands.
“Hey!” Dean protests, instinctively grabbing at the book, but Sam yanks it out of reach, flipping through the pages until he finds whatever it is he’s looking for. When he hands it back, Dean looks down at the page his brother’s opened it to, and right there on the top it says,
‘Sam is OK with it.’
“You need to read the rest of the journal, Dean,” Sam says, pulling his umpteenth bitch-face for the day.
“Yeah, okay, I get that now,” Dean replies, looking down at the page in amazement. Sam sighs at him again, but this time Sam drops the bitch-face in favor of something like a fond grin, and Dean can tell his brother’s about to go into chick-flick mode.
“Look, I’ve told you both, a million times – I’m happy for you,” Sam says, smiling at him. “And I know I give you guys a lot of crap for all the… groping and stuff, but the truth is, it’s really kind of adorable how Cas still blushes whenever you touch him.”
“Okay thanks, Samantha, you’ve made your point.” Dean glares, before returning his attention to the backpages of his journal, hoping his brother will take the hint.
“And you…” Sam doesn’t stop. Of course. “Even on normal days you still touch him like it’s new, like he’s something precious. I’ve never seen you that way with anyone before.”
“Sam…” Dean groans weakly, cringing. His brother must’ve grown more lady-parts in the past couple of years as well.
And as if the moment couldn’t get any more uncomfortable, there’s Cas, at the end of the hall, where he’s obviously been standing long enough to hear the highly embarrassing end of that conversation.
“Cas! Uh…” Dean stammers helplessly. They stare at each other for a long, awkward moment – long enough for both of them to turn red, and for Sam to start grinning at them like an idiot – until finally Cas says,
“I made lunch.”
“Thanks, Cas, we’ll be there in a second.” Sam replies, still grinning.
Cas nods awkwardly at them before he turns to leave.
“Awesome,” Dean mutters, slapping a hand to his face in mortification. “Just awesome.”
“What?” Sam laughs. “It’s not like how you feel about each other is some big secret or anything.”
Dean frowns. It may not be anything new to Sam, but it still feels that way for Dean. He knows how he feels about Cas, how he’s always felt, though it took him a while to work it out. But he’s kept it to himself for so long, he still doesn’t know how to behave any other way.
“Don’t worry, Dean. You’ll be shouting your love from the rooftops once you get a taste of Cas’ sandwiches,” Sam says, patting him on the back as he heads down the hallway. “But just remember, my happiness for you guys really depends on how much sleep I get at night,” he throws over his shoulder
“Okay, okay, I get it already,” Dean grumbles, following him down the hall.
Five minutes later, Sam is smirking at him knowingly from across the kitchen table.
“Son of a bitch, Cas, this is the best sandwich, ever!” Dean moans around a mouthful of food. He’d been skeptical when Cas first put the plate down in front of him, but one bite and he’d found himself converted.
“Thank you, Dean.” Cas replies, flushing as a small, pleased smile graces his features. “I would have preferred to use freshly sliced meat, but at least all the other ingredients are fresh from our garden.”
“I take back everything I ever said about rabbit food,” he declares after another hearty bite, literally eating his words. Sam chuckles from across the table, wearing his I-told-you-so face, but Dean doesn’t even care anymore. He may have it bad, but he’s got it damn good too.
Looks like the way to your heart really is through your stomach, isn’t it, Dean Winchester?
Dean grins all the way through lunch. Even though it means half his food falls out of his mouth while he’s eating it. He’s even sloppier when he and Sam start talking about their work plans for the afternoon. He can’t help himself, though. It’s so damned good, even Sam is smiling by the end of the meal, regardless of how appalled he is at Dean’s table manners.
Although, Dean’s grin has turned into something more like a leer by that stage. The food alone had been enough to make Dean drool all over himself, but when Cas gets up to wash the dishes, Dean remembers something else that has his mouth watering all over again.
He gets up to join Cas at the sink, picking up a kitchen cloth to dry the dishes.
“This is mine,” Dean says, tugging playfully at the end of the Led Zeppelin shirt Cas is wearing.
“I’m sorry,” Cas ducks his head, his pale skin reddening with that all too human blush again. “I just put on the first thing I found.”
“Right,” Dean grins, arousal flaring low in his belly as a possessive flutter shoots through his chest. “But these are mine too.” he says, tugging at the pocket of the old pair of jeans slung low and loose on Cas’ hips, pulling him closer. “It’s all mine,” he breathes, the realization hitting him suddenly, like a punch to the gut, leaving him breathless and stunned. He could kiss Cas again, right now if he wanted to. He could have his way with Cas, right there against the kitchen counter, if he wanted to. And boy does he want to.
“Do you want them back?” Cas replies hesitantly, biting his lip as he raises his eyes to meet Dean’s gaze. Dean finds his eyes drawn by the movement, licking his lips as he remembers how it felt to kiss those lips this morning, how good it was.
“Not right now,” Dean says, “I like the way they look on you,” he leans closer, eyes still hypnotized by Castiel’s lips, “But maybe later I’ll... get them off you,” he murmurs, almost there…
“Dean.” Sam interrupts sharply.
“Yes!” Dean jumps in surprise, yanking himself away. “Yeah, okay. Downstairs bedroom. I’m on it,” he grumbles, stomping out of the kitchen to get back to work.
That’s the second time his brother’s cock-blocked him today.
He wonders if Sam will cut him some slack if he offers to soundproof all the bedrooms as well.
*Echelon is a computer system operated by the United States' National Security Agency for purposes of locating possible threats through scanning of electronic communications.
Chapter 3: Finally.
It’s all still completely surreal, but Dean can’t come up with another way to deal with it all either, so he just has to trust in the process his brother’s set up for him. He’s let Sam keep him pretty busy so far, but the problem is now that they’ve sorted out a plan of action for Sam’s new bedroom, it’s just a matter of doing. Which means now Dean has time to think again. And as they start moving things out of the way, covering their work area with sheets of protective plastic, it starts to catch up with him.
He can’t stop going over that kiss between him and Cas that morning. No matter how many times he replays the moment, he still can’t wrap his head around how something so brief and so… innocent… could be so damn good. And feel so damn right. So right, he doesn’t know why he didn’t do it so much sooner.
And the way Cas looked in his clothes. Jesus. Dean had barely been able to imagine Cas in anything but his uniform trench coat and suit before. And now Dean never wants to see Cas wear anything but his old clothes ever again. Or nothing at all.
And that’s where Dean’s thoughts keep circling. He keeps wondering what it would be like to kiss Cas for longer, and what might happen then, where they might end up. It’s not like he hasn’t thought about it before – God there were times it was all he could do not to think about it -- but now it’s something he’s actually going to have to face. And given the way he’s reacting to Cas now that he knows he can actually go there, he also knows that given the chance, things will probably escalate beyond kissing pretty fast.
But he’s never really been with a man before. Not the way he’s thinking of. Whatever he experienced in Hell is nowhere near the same thing. As far as Dean’s concerned, he’s never taken a man to bed. And Cas is going to have all these expectations of him, all this knowledge, and experience… It’s more than a little daunting.
And it’s not like Dean doesn’t prefer his bed partners to be on the experienced side. It’s just that… this is Cas.
Dean really wants to make it good for him.
The whole thing puts a pressure on him he hasn’t felt since he was a virgin.
No, no even then. He never cared so much then.
But on the other hand, Cas probably wasn’t even a virgin before they slept together the first time. Dean never really had a chance to ask Cas about his life with Daphne. But even before then, Dean remembers what Lillith said about the really big deals needing more than just a kiss to… consummate, as it were – and that deal with Crowley was pretty huge.
It makes Dean sick to his stomach, thinking about it, and he finds himself venting his anger on the piece of wall he’s knocking out, swinging his sledgehammer with enough force to punch a hole all the way to the floor.
Dean curses as he tries to yank the hammer out of the rubble. He’s just going to have to adapt on the fly, like he always does. Use what he knows from the porn he’s seen, and what little practical experience he has from that first weekend with Lisa, all those years ago.
Damn. Now that was an epic weekend. Even Dean had trouble walking at the end of that.
Naughty Dean, you shouldn’t be thinking about that now.
It’s too late though. He can’t help himself. He starts grinning like a loon as he reminisces, completely absorbed in his memories of that ridiculously bendy weekend as he absentmindedly pulls at some loose fragments in the wall.
So he’s taken completely unawares when a whole chunk of it begins to come loose, collapsing on top of his head and knocking him out.
It’s all black, everywhere, and there are spots behind his eyes, glowing through the darkness, red and angry. For a second Dean thinks he’s back in Purgatory, until he hears Sam’s voice through the ringing in his ears.
“…Sam?” Dean cringes, opening his eyes to too bright light.
“You alright? How many fingers am I holding up?” Sam asks.
“I’m fine,” Dean growls, batting his brother’s hand out of his face.
“Jerk,” Sam mutters.
“Bitch,” Dean replies automatically. Sam rolls his eyes at that, both exasperated and relieved, before he’s hauling Dean onto his feet.
“Come on, let’s get you cleaned up,” Sam says, guiding him to the nearest seat in the living room.
“What happened?” Castiel jumps up from the couch as soon as he sees them, rushing over to help.
“I’m fine,” Dean replies, seeing the worry on Cas’ face. Castiel doesn’t buy it, looking to Sam for confirmation.
“Some of the wall fell on him,” Sam explains. “Looks like just a few scratches, but he could have a concussion,” Sam says, sitting Dean down on the couch.
“See? I’m fine!” Dean says again. But Castiel’s worried expression doesn’t change as he sits on the couch next to Dean.
“I’ll go get the first aid kit,” Sam says, leaving the room.
As soon as his brother leaves Castiel turns to him, reaching towards the bump on his head. Dean winces at the light brush of fingertips, and Castiel pulls his hand away, frowning. He reaches forward again, this time cupping Dean’s cheek in his palm, frustration replacing the worry in his eyes. But the touch is warm, and comforting. It reminds Dean of the way his mother touched him, years ago in that fake djinn-made reality where she’d never died. He wants to lean into the touch, but before he can Sam returns, carrying the first aid kit and a few rolls of spare bandages.
“Thank you, Sam, I’ll do it,” Castiel says tersely, reaching for the kit.
“Uh… sure,” Sam replies, raising a questioning eyebrow at Dean. Dean nods at him, assuring him it’s okay, and Sam leaves the room, giving them their privacy.
By the time Dean turns around again, Castiel already has the antiseptic in his hand, and is reaching up to Dean’s forehead to wipe away the blood. Dean hisses at the sting, but Castiel doesn’t ease up, his face completely closed off as he wipes the wound clean. But it’s more of a bruise than a scrape, and isn’t even bleeding anymore, so Castiel turns his attention to the nasty gash on Dean’s arm instead, practically yanking it over to clean up the blood and making Dean yelp in surprise.
“You need to be more careful, Dean,” Castiel growls as he wipes at the gash. “I can’t just… mojo away your injuries anymore,” he adds, and Dean’s pretty sure if Cas’ hands were free he’d be making angry quotation marks too.
“It’s okay, Cas,” Dean replies softly. “I just need a little field dressing and I’m good to go, okay? I’m fine,” he croons as soothingly as possible, remembering what Sam said earlier about Cas still being sensitive about this stuff.
“But what if you weren’t?” Castiel snaps. “What then? I don’t know what I’d--“ he chokes off, taking in a shaky breath, and Dean can tell by the way Cas’ focus wavers, eyes flickering just a fraction wider, that the dam is about to burst. Out of instinct, Dean slides closer.
“Hey, don’t do that,” Dean braces his hand around the back of Castiel’s neck. “I’m here. I’m alright. Everything’s alright, okay, Cas?“ he says, trying to stem the flood. But Castiel just kind of blinks, not really seeing him, stuck in some kind of shock.
“Cas, look at me, c’mon,” he murmurs, squeezing his hand around the back of Cas’ neck and shaking him a little, trying to snap him out of it. No response.
Dean closes the last remaining distance, forcefully pressing their lips together.
It takes a second for Castiel to snap out of it and realize what’s happening, but Dean knows the exact moment it happens by the way Castiel suddenly parts his lips, inhaling a sharp breath of surprise.
Dean knows that’s when he should pull away, give Cas a little space to catch his breath. But he’s been thinking about this all day. For years. And he doesn’t think he could stop himself even if he tried. So when Cas parts his lips in that breath of surprise, Dean presses closer, licking his way into Cas’ mouth to deepen the kiss.
Castiel only makes the smallest noise in response, more surprise than pleasure, but it’s enough to make Dean want even more, and he finds himself pushing Cas down onto the couch as he licks deeper, coaxing Cas’ tongue into a response.
Castiel clings to him as they go down, wrapping his arms around the back of Dean’s neck, and when Dean arranges himself better, Cas’ legs lock around his waist as well. Dean groans as they press together, just right, and he feels himself beginning to harden.
It’s so damn good, having Cas hold on to him like this, warm and close and coming alive under him as they kiss the way he’s always wanted to.
Pretty soon his hands are scrabbling to find skin, pushing up under the hem of Cas’ shirt and sliding around the pale skin of his waist. Castiel moans at the touch, squeezing Dean even tighter, and Dean gasps when he feels Castiel’s erection rub against his own. He slides his hand downwards, easily slipping past the loose waist of Cas’ jeans, and grabs a handful of Castiel’s backside, palming the flesh as he pulls Cas closer against his body. But as their movements become more heated, gasping into each other’s mouths at as they grab at each other, Cas’ jeans catch against the cut on his arm, and he hisses at the sting.
“Your arm!” Castiel gasps, trying to twist away. Dean buries his face in Cas’ neck, his lips intent on remaining plastered to Castiel’s skin.
“I’m not gonna break, Cas,” he rasps out in between kisses, but Cas still keeps pushing at him.
“No, Dean, stop. You’ve just suffered from a head injury and you should be resting, not exerting yourself,” Castiel protests, finally managing to twist out from under him.
Dean sits back on the couch with a huff of frustration. “So it’s gonna be tough love then, huh?” he grumbles. Castiel frowns.
“Yes. If that’s what it takes for you to be careful,” he replies, returning his attention to the wound on Dean’s arm again.
Dean sighs in resignation as Castiel starts wrapping his arm up, but at least Cas handles him more gently this time. He still can’t help but pout a little though, wanting nothing more than to press his lips to Castiel’s again. Or Cas’ neck. Anywhere he can get. But from the expression on Cas’ face, he’s starting to get just how much of an issue this is for Cas now, and he doesn’t want to push his luck.
When Castiel is done with his arm, he presses close again, leaning against Dean’s shoulder. “Please be more careful from now own, Dean.” he says quietly, covering Dean’s hand with his own.
“Don’t worry Cas, I know what I’m doing,” Dean replies, playing with Cas’ fingers in his own. “I was just distracted for a bit and I guess the house was giving me a slap upside the head. I think the house is channelling Bobby or something,” he snorts.
Cas chuckles at that. “Well you must have been thinking about something idiotic then,” he says.
“Probably,” Dean replies, grinning.
Definitely, that small voice in the back of his head says, reminding him exactly what he was distracted by before he was knocked out.
It’s then that Dean notices the pillow on the couch, the throw blanket squished up in the seat like it’s only just be thrown aside, and he realises Cas must’ve been napping when they came in. It makes him wonder just how much, or how little sleep they got last night.
Well, after what just happened, he wonders how they ever get any sleep at all. And Dean’s never been a screamer, he’d learned that through necessity, having lived in motels in close quarters with his family his whole life. So if they’re keeping Sam up all night, either he’s learned to let go, or Cas is the one making all the noise… or both. Either way, that means it’s got to be pretty damn good.
And none of these thoughts are helping his current state at all. He begins to squirm uncomfortably, his erection simply refusing to abate. Especially when Cas presses even closer, nuzzling against his neck. He knows he should be comforting Cas in some way right now, but the hot puff of air against his skin tingles all the way down his spine to his crotch.
“Hey Cas,” Dean says, pausing to clear the thickness out of his throat. “How ‘bout I make cheeseburgers for dinner tonight?” he asks. “Would that make you happy?”
He feels Cas smile against his neck. “Very,” Cas replies, nodding.
“Okay,” Dean smiles, before carefully easing himself away. “But first, I need a cold shower.”
Dinner goes off without a hitch. Mostly.
Dean’s learned from his year living in suburbia that most kitchens are set up pretty logically. Even if you walk into a kitchen you’ve never been in before, you can still guess where to find most things like cutlery, condiments, saucepans etc. And Sam’s smart enough to make sure their kitchen is set up as close to the way Bobby had it as possible, so most of the time his body automatically reaches for the things he wants without having to think about it. But maybe Cas moved some things around when he made lunch, because Dean runs into trouble a few times looking for basic things like pickles or mustard.
Sam is keeping a close eye on him though, so all Dean has to do is wait for an opportunity when Cas isn’t looking before silently mouthing or gesturing at Sam for what he needs. He’s lucky his brother is familiar with his cooking, so most of the time Sam’s already pointing at what Dean needs before he even asks.
But Cas smiles all the way through the meal, in much the same way Dean imagines his own smile looked all through lunch, so Dean takes that as another win.
It’s after dinner though, when the dishes are all washed and squared away, when Dean starts to get nervous again.
He managed to get through dinner by focusing on making the greatest burgers he’s ever made. And because they maybe actually were the greatest burgers he’d ever made, he didn’t really think about much else when he was eating them. But now that he’s sprawled out on the couch, watching reruns of Dr. Sexy with Cas tucked under his arm, he’s driven to distraction.
It was fine at first, when they’d started out on opposite ends of the couch. But then, relaxed and sated after a good meal, they barely noticed when they began to shift. A few cushion readjustments, a lazy slouch downwards here and there, playing with each other’s fingers, pressing together at the knee, the thigh, until finally they were pressed so close, Dean had to lift his arm around Cas’ shoulder, just to be comfortable. And now he can feel Cas’ every movement against his side, hear every breath Cas takes, smell the apple-sweet flavor of Cas’ shampoo mixed with that earthy garden scent that hasn’t quite washed off.
With every breath he inhales that smell, and he can’t get enough of it. He feels like he’s swimming in it as the minutes tick by, and it does things to his insides that are increasingly harder to suppress on the outside, for fear that Cas might see. Dean knows what’s supposed to happen next, and as much as he’s been thinking about it, as much as he wants it, he doesn’t know if he’s ready for it.
Faking his way through the mundane day to day was one thing. But to try and fake his way through sex with someone who already expects him to know his body and everything he likes?
Dean’s good, but he doesn’t know if he’s that good.
And Dean really doesn’t want to fuck this up. Even if he hadn’t known how sensitive Cas was about not being able to heal his stupid memory.
“I never realized elevators were so stimulating,” Cas suddenly rumbles against his chest, frowning at the couple kissing on the television. Dean can’t help but bark a laugh at that, half-amused, half-grateful for being pulled out of his thoughts.
Unfortunately the sound reaches Sam, where he’s asleep in one of the armchairs, and he startles awake mid-snore.
“I think I’m gonna turn in,” Sam says around a yawn, unfolding out of the armchair with a long-limbed stretch. “G’nite guys.”
“Goodnight, Sam,” Cas replies.
“Sleep well,” Sam adds, sending Dean a pointed look over Cas’ head. Dean wishes he could roll his eyes in return, or make some snarky comment about Sam’s downstairs bedroom, but just thinking about the implications makes the words dry up in his throat.
“Should we go to bed as well?” Cas asks, twisting around to look at him.
Dean gulps audibly. “Um… Yeah, sure, Cas,” he replies, forcing the words out.
Cas slides out from under his arm and stands up off the couch to turn off the tv. When he turns back to the couch, he extends a hand towards Dean, and Dean just stares at it, finding himself unable to take it.
“Um…” Dean takes a deep breath, “Why don’t you go on ahead? I’ll be there in a minute,” he says, forcing a smile.
“Alright,” Cas replies, giving him a smile as he lets his hand drop, and leaves the room.
As soon as Dean hears Cas’ feet on the stairs, he starts searching for a drink. After rummaging through the living room and finding nothing more than books and weapons stashes, he finally finds a bottle of Jack in one of the kitchen cupboards. Pouring himself a couple fingers, he downs it all in one go. Then he pours himself some more and quickly downs that as well.
He feels marginally better after that, the bracing liquid burning deep in his chest. But it’ll take a little longer for the more relaxing effects to kick in, and he doesn’t know how long he can stall before Cas suspects something, so he reluctantly puts the bottle away. He tries to take deep breaths as he heads up the stairs towards his bedroom - their bedroom - where Cas is waiting for him. But by the time he opens the door, he’s pretty much having a full-fledged panic-attack.
Cas is coming out of the bathroom as Dean enters the room, and when he sees Dean standing in the doorway he stops, his eyes widening a little in surprise.
“I didn’t hear you come in,” Cas says.
“Sorry,” Dean mumbles. He feels more and more like a deer caught in the headlights as each second ticks by, until thankfully, Cas breaks the stalemate.
“How’s your arm?” he asks, coming forward and reaching for Dean’s hand. Dean tries not to watch his every move like a scared animal. “Does it hurt?” Cas asks, inspecting the bandage. Dean shakes his head, having difficulty forming words.
“How about this?” Cas asks, reaching up towards the wound on his head. Dean flinches a little as Cas’ fingers press against it, and Cas quickly draws his hand away. “I’m sorry,” Cas apologizes, but the words hang heavy in the air, reminding Dean of Sam’s warning and Cas’ little freak out this afternoon.
“Wait here,” Cas says, turning around and disappearing into the bathroom again. Dean barely has a chance to catch his breath before Cas is coming back out again, a bottle of pills in one hand and a glass of water in the other. “Would you like some of these? For your head?”
“Yeah, okay,” he finally replies, clearing the thickness out of his throat as he takes the bottle. “Thanks, Cas.”
He swallows two pills with some water, and when he hands the bottle back, Cas swallows a couple pills as well. Dean gets an unwelcome flash of the Cas from the fake 2014 he was sent to, the one who popped pills for every reason under the sun, and Dean’s panic is replaced by concern. He’d been so worried about his own crap, he hadn’t realised just how much of a toll Cas’ worry about him must’ve taken.
“Hey,” he murmurs, reaching up to rub Cas’ arms soothingly. “It’s been a long day. Why don’t we just… get some sleep?” he suggests.
“Yes,” Cas replies, still looking at his injuries with worry in his eyes, “You should get some rest.”
Dean doesn’t bother trying to reassure Cas he’s fine this time, because he knows now that bringing it up will just set Cas off again. So he just lets the subject drop.
“Thank, Cas.” he says instead, giving Cas a small smile.
“Whatever you need, Dean.” Cas returns his smile, and Dean can’t help the flutter in his stomach at that. He tries to quelch it down as he pads back to the doorway to turn off the lights, but now that it’s there again, it doesn’t seem to want to go away. He makes his way back to the bed in the lamplight as Cas crawls under the sheets, and slides into his own side of the bed awkwardly, lying on his back and staring straight up at the ceiling.
Cas switches the lamp off once Dean’s settled, then leans back into the pillows. Dean can feel Cas’ eyes on him in the dark, boring into him for so long that his panic begins to skyrocket again. But when he finally decides to do something about it, it’s like they seem to move at the same time, shifting on their sides and sliding closer together. Castiel curls around Dean’s body, tangling their legs together under the sheets, and Dean stretches his arm out under Castiel, wrapping it around Cas’ shoulders and tucking him in close.
“Goodnight, Dean.” Cas murmurs, settling into the embrace with sleepy sigh.
“Night, Cas. See you in the morning,” he replies, pressing a kiss into Cas’ hair.
It’s easy, and comfortable, and it feels just right, having Cas’ body pressed snug and warm against his side. Dean finds sleep easier than he has in a long time, listening to the pulse of Cas’ heart, beating steadily against his chest.
Please check out the lovely art made by frayed1989 for this chapter, based on the banner for the DCBB community made by smallworld_inc :)
Chapter 4: If you'd asked me to.
Dean wakes up spooned against Castiel’s back under the sheets, his nose pressed into Castiel’s hair and breathing that apple-grass scent deep. He knows he’s in their bedroom, in their house, even though he still doesn’t remember anything else, but at the moment he doesn’t really care. Castiel is molded into his body like he was meant to be there, and it feels so right he doesn’t ever want to let go.
He could get used to waking up like this. Easy.
Dean breathes in deep, exhaling with a contented sigh, and when he presses a kiss into Cas’ hair at the end of it, it only feels natural. Castiel stirs in his sleep at that, finding Dean’s hand and twining their fingers together as he presses back into the heat of Dean’s body. Dean inhales a hiss of breath at that, involuntarily squeezing Castiel’s hand as he shifts away. He doesn’t have morning wood, but if Castiel does that again, he might end up with it anyway.
Thankfully Castiel senses his reaction, rolling away onto his back and slowly blinking open his eyes. Dean observes the process with a small grin, watching as Castiel’s bleary eyes slowly find him, then suddenly widen a little with more focus. And then a small smile curves up the corner of Castiel’s lips, much like the one on Dean’s own.
“Good morning, sleepyhead,” Dean says. Castiel’s smile widens even further.
“Good morning, Dean,” he replies, his voice thick and cracked from the disuse of sleep, and impossibly deeper than usual. Dean bites his lip at that, trying not to let the arousal he feels in response take root in his relaxed state. Unfortunately, Cas’ eyes are drawn by the movement, and his gaze shifts to Dean’s lips. Dean’s stomach jumps in panic at first, the response ingrained after years of supressed desires. For a moment he’s paralysed, watching dumbly as Castiel licks his own lips, as if preparing, or requesting.
But then Dean remembers exactly where he is. And even though he doesn’t yet remember the time he’s had to get over his panic, he does have at least one day under his belt. And with the memory of that, Dean releases the breath he’s been holding and relaxes, leaning in to close the distance without any more hesitation.
At first touch, it’s a lot like their kiss from the morning before. Just a meeting of lips, really. Soft, sweet and chaste. But this time Sam isn’t around to stop them, so when Dean reaches up to caress Castiel’s cheek, angling him closer, he has all the time in the world to lick Castiel’s mouth open, gentle and slow.
Castiel’s tongue meets his almost timidly. As if they hadn’t already battled together yesterday, desperate and greedy for the oblivion of all else but each other. But Dean finds he prefers this. This chance to discover the feel of each other, this slow exploration of how they move and meld together. This is how a first kiss should be.
That is, up to the point where Cas’ stomach grumbles so loud, Dean can feel the vibrations in his own belly.
Dean laughs against Cas’ lips, breaking the kiss with a grin. Castiel smiles sheepishly at him, his hand coming up to cover his face in a very human gesture of embarrassment.
“Come on, let’s get some breakfast into you.” Dean shakes his head fondly.
Day two shapes up to be a lot like the day before. He and Sam continue working on the house, while Cas finds his way into the garden again, toiling away at things Dean doesn’t really understand, but knows he’ll reap the rewards of eventually. He bets Cas can make a salad that’d even keep Sam happy too.
Dean grins as he thinks that. Well, grins wider really, because he never stopped grinning to begin with. Unlike yesterday, he’s not overwhelmed with the enormity of the information he’s had thrown at him, and all the changes that had come with it. He’s had a little time to actually experience the changes now, and with the help of a good night’s sleep, it’s all finally starting to sink in. So today he’s much more distracted than anything.
He just can’t stop thinking about Cas. Him and Cas. And he can’t stop grinning about it.
Cas said yes. Cas said yes to him. And now they’re a thing. Which means that not only is Dean’s secret finally out, but that Cas feels the same way. Has maybe felt the same way all along.
It’s as if Dean begins to breathe more easily, more fully, his chest weightless without the burden of his repressing his all his feelings and guilt. He even begins to feel a little light-headed from it all.
When it gets really distracting, he even walks over to the backdoor and just stares at Cas through the window, grinning some more. It’s like now that he knows he can, he wants to do it all the time.
He begins to wonder if maybe that’s why Cas used to stare at him all the time. Only Cas never realized it wasn’t appropriate then.
“Dean?” Sam chooses that moment to come find him, catching him at his stare-at-Cas-and-grin-like-an-idiot act. He doesn’t really care anymore. Doesn’t even stop for that matter.
“How long, Sam?” he asks.
“…Huh?” Sam replies, confused.
“How long has Cas…” he trails his off, waving his hand and gesturing between him and Cas.
“Ah,” Sam replies, understanding. “Well, I asked Cas about that once,” Sam pauses, taking a careful breath, “And he said Hester was right, about him being lost the first moment he laid a hand on you.”
Dean nods, his grin only dropping a little bit. Hester hadn’t meant those words kindly. At the time Castiel was so broken, the words had cut right through to Dean’s core, slicing through fresh wounds of guilt he was already desperately trying to suppress.
But now, considering where they’ve ended up, it all seems worth it.
Maybe Dean’s grin comes back full-throttle at that thought, because that’s when Sam finally grabs onto the back of his collar, forcibly dragging him away from the window.
“Alright, that’s it. Even I can’t take any more of this,” Sam declares.
“What? Sam! What are you doing? Let me go!” Dean protests, flailing behind his Sasquatch of a brother. Sam opens the backdoor and sticks his head out.
“Cas, we’re going to the hardware store! Be back soon!” he calls out.
“Alright!” Cas looks up briefly and waves. Sam closes the door behind him and drags Dean down the hallway.
“Can’t Cas come too?” Dean moans pathetically.
“NO!” Sam barks.
“But… we can’t just leave him here, can we?” Dean very nearly whimpers.
“Yes we can, Dean. There’s no space in the truck anyway.”
“… Fine,” Dean huffs. And then very nearly pouts.
Sam rolls his eyes. “He’s not going anywhere, Dean. He’ll still be here when you get back.”
Dean takes a second for that to sink in, and then he’s grinning like a sap again. “He will, won’t he?” he murmurs, a little awed at the realization.
The hardware store turns out to be a small family run business nearby. It’s only a small town, so they don’t have the benefit of one of the major home and garden franchises, but Dean prefers the smaller place immediately. In a glance he can tell it’s well-stocked, although a bit run down, but it has that cozy feeling only family businesses have. It kind of reminds him of the Roadhouse, but respectable. It even has one of those El Sol Beer lights in the window, like most bars do. And they obviously have some kind of standing relationship with the owners since Sam drives them directly to the back of the store’s loading area instead of coming in the front door.
It doesn’t take long for Dean to wonder exactly what kind of relationship though. The woman behind the counter has to be close to Sam’s age, and she’s close to Dean’s height – a cross between girl-next-door and Amazonian beauty like Jess was, but with darker features and a little more sharpness about her. She’s smiling politely as she talks with someone on the other side of the counter, but as soon as she sees them her smile brightens a million-fold.
“Hi Sam!” she waves, “Hi Dean!” she adds, smiling at him briefly before her gaze focuses on Sam again.
“Hi Brenda,” Sam replies, a goofy half-grin on his face. Dean snickers to himself. He knows what that face means.
“How are the renovations going?” Brenda asks brightly, coming out from behind the counter, and Dean has to suppress an appreciative whistle because damn, the stems on this broad. Her jeans aren’t exactly tight, but anyone can still see how long those legs are. And Sam, the big girl, must have it bad. It’s probably not even the first time he’s seen those legs, and he’s so impressed he can’t even speak.
“We’re adding a downstairs bedroom,” Dean replies, filling in the silence. And now he can’t help but question Sam’s real motivation for the separate room.
“Well I guess you’ll be needing more than what you ordered then,” she says, looking back at Sam.
“Uh… yeah, I guess so,” Dean replies again, when Sam still doesn’t get his shit together. Dean snorts. He thought his baby brother had a lot more game than this by now. “Um, which order was that again, Brenda?” Dean asks, flipping through the back of his journal and looking for the relevant information.
Brenda frowns at him. “Uh… is there something I’m missing here, boys?” she asks, looking between him and Sam in confusion. Dean’s not sure how to respond. She obviously knows him well enough to realise something’s off, but at the same time he doesn’t know her well enough to judge how he’s supposed to answer that question.
“Sorry, Bren. Dean’s having a lapse again. A big one.” Sam finally snaps out of it, coming to his aid.
“Oh,” Brenda replies, a mix of concern and sympathy on her face, clearly not needing to be told more to know what Sam means. Dean shifts awkwardly. She may know him, but she’s practically a stranger to him, and he’s not sure he’s comfortable with her pity.
“Yeah, sorry,” he shrugs. ”Don’t take it personal though, you know I’d never forget a pretty face like yours by choice, right?” he winks, playing it off.
“Dean,” Sam sputters, turning red. The concern on Brenda’s face is quickly replaced with exasperation.
“It’s alright, Sam. Maybe I just need to remind Dean how they trained us to deal with bad pick-up lines in the Army,” she says, straight-faced, giving Dean a little wink to boot.
“Oooh. Feisty,” Dean smirks back. “I like this one, Sam. She’s a keeper.”
“Dean!” Sam exclaims again. Brenda just throws her head back and laughs.
“Well it’s nice to know you’re still just as charming as ever,” she grins.
“Meh,” Dean shrugs, “I was born with it. Unlike this one here,” he says, pointing his thumb in Sam’s direction. “Taught him everything I know and apparently it still hasn’t sunk in,” Dean rolls his eyes. Brenda laughs again as Sam groans, and Dean can’t help but smile widely at her. He likes this girl.
Sam loosens up a little after that, managing to at least converse like a normal human being as they sort out their new order. After that they head out back again to load up the lumber that’s already come in for them. Between the two of them it shouldn’t take long, but he notices Sam taking his time about it, chatting with Brenda as they work, so Dean takes it easy as well.
“So, Brenda,” Dean chips in when there’s a lull in the conversation, “How long were you in the Army for?”
“Just finished the standard enlistment,” Brenda replies. Dean nods. “I would’ve stayed longer, but when Daddy got sick I came home to take care of him,” she explains. He doesn’t have to ask to guess the rest. He knows what loss looks like.
“I’m sorry,” he says. Brenda gives him a small smile in reply and Dean can tell the wounds are still a little raw. A change of subject is probably in order.
“So any plans on heading back?” he asks. It makes sense to ask. Totally. They were just talking about it after all. So if Sam gives him shit for fishing on his behalf later, he has a completely valid excuse.
“No,” Brenda replies. “I was going to leave anyway. I’ve always wanted to settle down somewhere and raise a couple of kids,” she explains, and Dean doesn’t miss how her eyes flick towards Sam for a second when she says that. He grins at her knowingly. But when she sees his reaction she doesn’t even blink, or blush, just rolls her eyes at him and slaps him on the arm.
“Ow!” Dean chuckles in surprise, rubbing his arm. Yeah, he really likes this girl.
“Oh, wait a minute! That reminds me!” Brenda suddenly exclaims, rushing back into the store. When she comes out again she’s holding a folded piece of paper. “That’s the recipe Cas wanted,” she says, handing it to him. “It’s an old family secret, so tell him to keep it close to his chest, okay?” Brenda winks.
Dean’s jaw drops when he sees what the recipe is for.
Good old, homemade, apple pie.
Well, fuck. Dean is stunned. Cas wants to make him pie. And that’s just so… goddamn. Dean is so overwhelmed by that, he doesn’t know what to say.
“Awwww, look at you!” Brenda coos. “You don’t remember a thing, but you’re completely smitten anyway, aren’t you?” she grins, leaning forward and kissing him on the cheek, and Dean still can’t even think up snappy comeback.
“Uh, guys? Did I miss something?” Sam chooses that moment to rejoin the conversation. Of course.
“Not a thing.” Brenda smiles brightly at him. “But I think Dean might be missing his boyfriend right about now, aren’t you sweetie-pie?” she winks, emphasizing the word ‘pie’ and making Dean flush all over again.
“Dean?” Sam quirks an amused eyebrow.
“I think we’re done here,” he mutters gruffly, heading for the truck.
As soon as they get home Dean heads straight for the back of the house, where Cas is still kneeling, elbows deep in the garden. He trudges over the grass, a million things he wants to say and do swelling in his chest until it feels so buoyant, and full, all he can do is smile at Cas as he hands the recipe over.
“Here,” he says breathlessly.
Castiel takes off one of his soil-covered gloves to take the piece of paper, and when he sees what it is, he looks back up at Dean and smiles.
“Thank you, Dean,” Castiel replies. Dean nods speechlessly, still smiling as he hastily backs away, almost tripping and falling over some plants as he goes. He knows if he stays any longer he’s going to drop to his knees in the dirt right there with Castiel, and won’t get back up until they’re both sated and covered in soil and dirt, but he can already hear his brother’s voice bitching at him to help unload the truck.
It isn’t until they’ve finished moving the lumber when Dean finally remembers he’s not the only “completely smitten sweetie-pie” in this boat, and decides it’s time for a little payback.
“So,” Dean says, as nonchalant as possible. “Brenda.” He glances sideways at his brother. He doesn’t even need to waggle his eyebrows or leer suggestively for the tips of Sam’s ears to turn pink.
“You haven’t even asked her out yet, have you?” he says, more of a statement than a question, and by the look on Sam’s face, he knows he’s right.
“Shut up, Dean,” Sam retorts. Dean snickers.
Any work on the house after that is pretty much a lost cause. Not only is Dean still distracted by thoughts of Cas, but every time he thinks about Cas and pie, he remembers Brenda as well, and all the new fodder he has to tease his little brother with. So now when he isn’t grinning like a sap, he’s harassing his brother instead of working.
It’s only fair exchange, for all the chick-flick moments he’s had to endure over Cas.
It also reminds Dean of when they were younger and Sam first started liking girls - the hours he spent teasing his brother. Even making him cry that one time. Ah, the good old days.
Dean keeps it up all the way through dinner, even rehashing embarrassing tales of some of Sam’s crushes from his youth. All the times he’d turned into an idiot at the sight of a girl or said something less than smooth, like the time he went up to Lindsey Harrison in the cafeteria and said, “Hi, I like your smell.”
Sam tries to counter that with the time Dean got so drunk in high school he threw up all over some girl he was making out with. But ultimately that just gave Dean an excuse to get her shirt off, so he thinks he wins that round.
Cas tactfully stays out of it, merely watching their back and forth with an amused half-smile on his face. And when Sam practically flees to the safety of the library afterwards, Dean considers his revenge complete.
As soon as Sam’s gone, Dean reaps his reward, pushing Cas back against the kitchen counter with a sly grin and picking up where they left off that morning, kissing him slow and breathless.
“What if your brother comes back?” Castiel murmurs as Dean nibbles on his ear.
“He won’t. Trust me,” Dean replies, grabbing Cas’ thighs and hefting him up onto the counter. The very same counter that Cas might make his pie on. The thought makes him growl into Cas’ neck.
“But,” Cas protests breathlessly, even as his legs tighten around Dean’s waist, “Will he be alright?”
“He’ll be fine, Cas,” Dean mumbles against Cas’ skin, pressing into him. Cas pulls back and frowns at him doubtfully.
“Are you sure? He seems to have very strong feelings for this woman,” Cas says apprehensively. “And Sam has been very accepting of me,” he adds, biting his lip.
Dean stares at Cas’ worried face for a second, before dropping his head and groaning. He knows Cas is right. This isn’t some schoolboy crush. Sam is a grown man. It’s been a long time since Dean’s seen his brother turn completely speechless at the sight of a woman, so this Brenda thing is a big deal.
When it gets down to it, why else would Sam have wanted Dean to ‘meet’ her, when Sam knew Dean was likely to tease him mercilessly for it?
“Perhaps I should go instead,” Cas says. “Sam has been very patient with my many questions and always takes the time to explain things to me. He might be more receptive if I try to talk to him.”
“No. I’ll go,” Dean deflates, disentangling himself from Castiel’s limbs. Cas slides off the counter as Dean heads for the fridge and pulls out two beers.
“But I’m not done with you yet,” Dean promises, pointing at Castiel with the bottle in his hand. Castiel blushes, favoring him with a small, pleased smile as he leaves.
Dean doesn’t actually apologize though. He just plops one of the beers down next to Sam as he takes the seat on the opposite side of the table, puts on his serious face, and by unspoken agreement, they move on.
“So what exactly did you tell her about my… head thing?” Dean asks.
“Hunting accident,” Sam replies, leaning back in his chair and taking a swig of beer. Dean huffs a laugh. Leaning back in his own chair, he drinks some of his beer as well, considering his next words carefully.
“Do you think she could handle the truth someday?” he asks. It’s not something he thought he’d ever have to talk about with his brother. In the past it was just a given that they did what they did, and did not tell anyone about it. Hell, Dean learned that the hard way. With Cassie. Lisa.
But while there’s still risk involved, it seems things are different now. They’ve actually settled down somewhat. And while Dean knows that’s something Sam’s always wanted, the picture still isn’t complete. Sam did it to take care of him, and Cas. He deserves to have someone of his own.
“I think she could.” Sam nods. “Do you?” his brother asks, and Dean can see the nervousness in his brother’s eyes, the need for his approval. Which is ridiculous, because Dean wouldn’t have asked in the first place if it wasn’t on the table. He’s only met the girl once, but he’s already halfway in love with her himself. She’s bright and light-hearted, but strong at the same time, and she seems more than capable of putting up with his crap and throwing it back at him, easy and fun. She would be good for Sammy, and she’s obviously as into his brother as he’s into her. It’s still strange to wrap his head around, but now that they’ve settled down somewhat, Dean wouldn’t mind having her around a lot more.
“Yeah, Sammy,” Dean replies, “If that’s what you want,” he gives Sam a small, genuine smile as he tips his beer in his brother’s direction. Sam returns the salute, but doesn’t drink, letting his beer rest on the table and staring at it thoughtfully.
“I want what you and Cas have,” he says quietly.
Dean blinks at his brother, stunned. He doesn’t know what to say to that. He never thought he would be the example of a relationship his brother would envy. And Sam, bless his heart, doesn’t even take the chance to tease him about it. He just changes the subject, and keeps talking until Dean is drawn back into comfortable conversation again. Although Dean never really forgets about it.
By the time Dean makes his way upstairs, Cas is already curled up in their bed, fast asleep. And maybe Dean’s had too much to drink, because instead of waking Cas to pick up where they left off, he finds himself just standing there, in the doorway, staring at him again. Then, as if drawn, Dean is climbing under the sheets behind him, wrapping himself around Cas’ warmth and joining him in sleep.
Darkness. All around him. Everywhere. Shades of black and gray, pulling and scratching at him as he runs, through the trees, runs, away from the angry spots, glowing through the black. Eyes, red and angry, chasing him.
He’s back in Purgatory. Running through the woods. Running for his life.
“Wake up, Dean!”
Dean jolts awake, pulse rushing in his ears and breathing hard. He has no idea where he is for a second, until he sees Cas face hovering above him in the lamplight.
“Dean, are you alright?”
“…Cas?” Dean croaks, throat dry.
“Here.” Cas hands him a glass of water, and he gratefully gulps it down.
“Thanks.” Dean hands the glass back. He collapses back onto his pillow with a huff, trying to catch his breath as the disorientation wears off, trying to remind himself where he is. It helps when Cas leans over him, smoothing back the hair stuck to his temples and quietly hushing him. The longer he focuses on Cas’ face, the more he relaxes, slowly becoming more aware of the warm weight of Cas’ body along his side, the softness of the sheets in their bed, in their home.
“What were you dreaming about?” Cas asks eventually, once Dean’s pulse has returned to normal.
“Purgatory,” Dean replies. And it’s kind of nice that he can just say that, and Cas will understand, because Cas was there too. Actually, the whole post-nightmare cuddling thing is kind of nice also, though he’s probably not going to admit that to anyone, anytime soon. Usually when he’s woken up by a dream like that, he gets out of bed and walks around for a while. Maybe has a drink if it takes too long to shake off. Even when he was with Lisa, he never did this kind of thing, because he didn’t want to bother her more than was necessary. He was already enough of a mess to deal with in the first place.
But Cas knew. Cas had been there with him, in Purgatory, in Hell. He’d seen all the inexplicable horrors Dean still had nightmares about. He’d seen Dean’s very soul.
Cas lays his head down on Dean’s chest, holding him tighter. “I used to do this for you, you know. When I was an angel,” he murmurs. “You didn’t want me watching your dreams, so I used to wrap myself around you while you were sleeping. It was the best way to monitor your vitals for any changes in your dream-state.”
“You… what?” Dean sputters.
“I would wake you if I suspected you were having a nightmare. But I didn’t always let you see me, for obvious reasons. I still don’t understand why it’s creepy though.” Cas huffs.
“Cas…” Dean whispers, pulling back to look down at Cas, at a loss for words. Hearing that now, in this moment, feels so far from creepy, he wonders why he ever complained at all.
“This is the least I can do now, Dean. Now that I’m just a… baby in a trench-coat.” Cas mutters, huffing a self-depreciative laugh. “I don’t even have the trench-coat anymore,” he adds ruefully, dropping his eyes.
“Hey,” Dean gives Cas a little shake. “You know when I used to call you that I didn’t really mean it, right?” he asks. Cas doesn’t say anything, but he still doesn’t meet Dean’s gaze. “I was just… pissed you went back to Heaven to be a big bad angel again, you know? I mean, I always knew you might, after the whole Apocalypse thing was over… But it still sucked,” Dean says quietly. “Especially after how everything went down,” he adds even more softly, trying not to think too hard about that year without Sam.
“I’m sorry, Dean,” Cas whispers, finally lifting his head and meeting Dean’s gaze. “I would have stayed, if you’d asked me to.”
“Yeah, I get that now,” Dean murmurs.
Cas lays his head down on Dean’s chest, and Dean wraps his arms around him, finding solace in the closeness. The last thing he remembers before he drifts off is the feeling of Cas’ hand on his left shoulder, closed over where Cas branded him so many years ago, and wondering why he’d been such an idiot about this for so long.
Chapter 5: Best night of my life. (part 1)
He’s in that drifting space between asleep and awake, his skin soaking up the soft rays of morning coming in through the curtains, his body draped over a familiar warmth under the sheets, and he is so, so comfortable. So warm. So relaxed. He doesn’t ever want to move. But his waking body has a mind of its own, sighing and stretching out the kinks of sleep, melting even further against the form beneath him. And still his body moves, slowly, circling, rubbing… he’s so hard.
Dean moans, still half-asleep, pressing into the solid form beneath him for friction, his lips instinctively seeking out skin. It feels so good. He grabs onto whatever he can and pulls himself closer, tangling himself up and locking into place easily, still thrusting, slow and steady. He is mouthing his way across a soft expanse of skin, small noises of pleasure escaping his throat as friction is found and returned. He is coming awake, coming alive as his lips find their home, every movement met and matched with perfection. He hums into the kiss, his eyes slowly opening to find a slice of blue, eyes lidded so far they must still be sleeping as well.
Castiel. Rumpled and pliant beneath him, unconsciously seeking out his touch just as naturally as Dean seeks his.
Even though Dean is now aware enough to know what’s happening, it still feels like a dream. It’s too good, too perfect. Too similar to all the times he’s woken with phantom images of Castiel haunting him from his sleep.
Dean shifts his hips, just slightly, lining himself up with Castiel and thrusting more purposefully, his need growing. Castiel moans, clutching at him more tightly, his neck arching as his head drops back onto the pillow. Dean latches his mouth onto that curve of skin and bites, ever so softly, and Castiel gasps, his eyes fluttering open. His gaze finds Dean, still sleep-heavy, but awake enough to really see Dean there, above him, pressed against him. Another moan, more of a sigh really, followed by a thrust of hips to meet Dean’s own. The needs of the body take over where the defences of the mind are weakened by the stupor of sleep, and only truth remains.
“Dean,” Castiel whispers, pulling him closer as their pace quickens. Too late now to stop and remove clothes or involve hands or anything else. All they can do now is press as close to each other as possible and hold on, let nature and need take them away.
“Cas!” Dean gasps out. He is already groaning, grunting with every thrust now, uncontrollably, so close. He hears Castiel sob against his ear, feels Cas’ body go taut in his arms, and the trembling spasms of his release. And then Dean is spilling over, crying out, coming so hard the whole bed shakes with it.
Dean rolls onto his side, legs still tangled with Castiel’s, sweatpants sticky, and a complete dead-weight after releasing tension that had been building for days. Years, a voice in the back of his head reminds him. It had caught him by surprise. Hell, he was half-asleep for most of it. But while it lacked finesse, he’d really, really needed it. Didn’t even know just how much until now. He doesn’t even know why he resisted, these past two days, when he could’ve had this any time.
Dean huffs a soft laugh, smiling at Castiel. Cas is staring up at the ceiling, looking a little stunned, and Dean can’t blame him. That was a hell of a way to wake up. Reaching out, he cups Castiel’s cheek, stroking his thumb soothingly across Cas’ skin. Castiel’s eyes are drawn to his at the touch, the corner of his mouth lifting to return Dean’s little smile.
Dean leans forward, pressing his lips to that soft little curve. “Good morning,” he murmurs, thumb still stroking Castiel’s skin.
Castiel’s smile widens as he huffs a little laugh of his own. “Good morning,” he replies, his hand coming up to cover Dean’s own and give it a little squeeze. Dean’s smile softens even more as Cas all but nuzzles into his palm, closing his eyes with a little hum of contentment.
He doesn’t know how long he lies there, simply staring at Castiel, before he realises Cas has fallen asleep again. Huffing another quiet laugh, Dean carefully extricates himself from Castiel’s now loose limbs, and heads for a much-needed shower.
Cas is still sleeping when Dean is done in the bathroom, so he gets dressed quietly, taking his time about it so he can enjoy the view. Sunlight is streaming through the curtains by this time of the day, bathing Castiel in it, though it doesn’t seem to bother him. It gives Castiel’s skin a kind of ethereal glow. Or maybe it’s post-orgasm glow, Dean’s not sure, but there’s this small smile on Castiel’s face that Dean’s definitely sure he put there.
He’s never seen anyone smile in their sleep like that before.
And the way the sunlight hovers across him… It reminds Dean of exactly what he has in his bed. What Castiel has lost. And what he’s chosen to replace it with.
Dean runs his hand through Cas’ unruly mop of bed-hair, smiling as Castiel unconsciously nuzzles into the touch. Dean sighs fondly, pulling his hand away before he ends up back in bed again, quietly closing the door behind him as he leaves their bedroom.
When he enters the kitchen, he’s greeted by a very familiar bitch-face. The ‘what did I say about you being loud? This is why I need a downstairs bedroom’ bitch-face, that he’s learned very well over the past couple of days. Dean snorts.
“Sorry, dude,” he grins, in a highly unapologetic way. Sam rolls his eyes.
“It’s okay, Dean,” Sam gives him a wry smile. “I guess I’m glad things are back to normal.”
Dean frowns, squirming uncomfortably in his seat. “Uh… Actually…”
“What?” Sam’s gaze sharpens, his eyebrows furrowing in concern.
“They aren’t. Back to normal,” Dean answers. “I still don’t remember anything.”
“Oh,” Sam frowns, surprised and disappointed at the same time. “Does Cas know?”
“No, I don’t think so,” Dean shakes his head.
“You better be careful, Dean,” Sam sighs, like a disapproving but resigned parent.
“Yeah, I know,” Dean replies. “But Sam, it was just… “ he trails off, unable to find the words. It just happened? It was inevitable? Amazing? It was just…
Dean can’t help the dopey grin that spreads across his face.
“Perv,” Sam snorts.
It doesn’t take long for Dean to come to a decision. Before Cas joins them downstairs, Dean manages to take another look at his journal, and what he sees there confirms everything he’s suspected about what sleeping with Cas would be like. It’s only one short phrase, but it says everything Dean needs to know.
‘Best night of my life.’
Dean knows he wouldn’t have made that claim lightly.
And he found it written more than once through the pages.
It makes him feel kind of glowy at first, like he actually just had the best night of his life, especially since he’s still feeling the after-effects from that morning. But then it really begins to sink in, and he begins to panic.
Without any more details, there’s still the risk that he could do or say something wrong, and Cas would work out that he’s having another memory lapse. Not only is guilt a real mood-killer, but he doesn’t want to upset Cas more than he has to. Not after everything Cas has done for him.
And on top of that, there’s still that pressure of being with a way more experienced partner. Who he really wants to please.
No pressure, Dean.
He curses himself for how vague he’s been, angrily flipping through the pages looking for more. But then he realises he wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to be able to just pick up the journal and read all the intimate details of his sex-life. Especially not Sam. And he’s sure Cas wouldn’t be too happy about it either. So of course he’d kept it brief.
But while a part of him still wants to run screaming at the whole situation, a larger part of him wants it more than ever. Their half-asleep fumble in bed that morning has given him a little confidence, faith that things will turn out alright between him and Cas. Amazing, even. And he’s not afraid anymore.
“Yes, Dean,” Sam replies, a little exasperated. Maybe because Dean’s just been standing there, staring at the wall he’s meant to be tearing down, for the better part of an hour now.
“Maybe you should take Brenda out tonight. Ask her to dinner or something,” Dean suggests.
“What?” Sam exclaims. “No! Why today?” his voice takes on an edge of panic. “We’ve got a lot of work to do on the house today,” he supplies lamely. Dean raises an eyebrow.
“The house will still be here tomorrow, Sam,” he says.
“But… I’ve got research to do…” Sam sputters.
“Sam,” Dean cuts in sharply, “I’m trying to tell you something here.”
“…Huh?” Sam’s face scrunches up in confusion. Dean drops his hand heavily on his brother’s shoulder to grab his full attention.
“You need to be out of the house tonight,” he says, looking his brother in the eye and hoping Sam gets what he’s trying to imply.
“Oh!” Sam’s eyes widen with understanding. And then his brother cringes. “Ew.”
“Yeah,” Dean nods, leering a little bit as he grins. But Sam doesn’t roll his eyes at that like Dean expects him to, putting on his serious face instead.
“Are you sure you’re ready for this?” his brother asks. Dean’s leer softens.
“Look, I figure at this point, putting it off any longer is going to be suspicious as well, so damned if I do, damned if I don’t.” Dean shrugs. “And I don’t want to put this off any more either.”
“Dean.” Sam gives him the ‘you’re a pervert’ bitch-face again, full of disapproving condescension.
“Woah woah, little brother, it’s not like that. I already got lucky this morning, remember?” Dean rushes to mollify him. “I just… I just want some privacy tonight, is all,” he explains.
A slow grin breaks out on Sam’s face. “You want tonight to be special,” he says.
Dean flushes with embarrassment. “Okay, chick-flick moment over. Go call your future-wife already, before I call her for you,” he threatens. Sam’s eyes instantly widen with horror.
“Dean, I can’t… really… I don’t know if I’m ready,” Sam stammers.
“Look Sam,” Dean says, “The only way things with this girl are going to start happening for you the way you want is if you just… If you just ask her.”
Dean huffs a self-deprecating laugh. He almost can’t believe what he’s just said. Doesn’t know why he didn’t just do that himself, years ago. Doesn’t know why it took him so long to work it out.
“Don’t wait, Sam,” he murmurs. “If it’s what you want, don’t wait.”
Sam’s panic deflates, replaced with understanding, and he nods. “Okay, Dean. I get it. Thanks.”
Like the big girl that he is, Sam fusses for an eternity about his appearance. He spends a whole hour trying to decide which plaid shirt goes with which pair of jeans. And once he’s semi-satisfied with that, he spends almost another entire hour on his hair. Dean wonders whether if everything goes well he can conspire with Brenda to get Sam to cut it. Heh.
“So where are you crazy kids going tonight?” Dean asks from where he’s leaning against the doorjamb. Cas is in the hall beside him, peering around the other side of the doorway.
“Well, she mentioned how she hasn’t had a good lasagna in a while, so I thought I’d take her to that little Italian place on the corner,” Sam replies, not bothering to look away from the mirror as he runs his fingers through his hair.
“Giving up rabbit food to eat something she likes? Nice.” Dean shares an approving nod with Cas.
“Yes. Good choice, Sam,” Castiel chimes in.
"Don’t forget to tell her how pretty she looks,” Dean smirks.
“And don’t forget to pull out her chair for her. I’ve heard that good table manners make a good impression,” Castiel adds, and Dean can’t help but snicker to himself at that.
“Guys! It’s not the first time I’ve been on a date, you know,” Sam huffs in exasperation. “And if good table manners were an indication of anything it wouldn’t explain how you can stand to be around Dean, Cas.”
“Hey!” Dean protests from the doorway.
“That is a good point, Sam,” Castiel replies.
“Hey!” Dean exclaims again, turning his indignant glare on Cas.
Castiel just grins at him, blue eyes fond as well as mischievous, and he instantly deflates, remembering why they’re all there in the first place. He leans over towards Cas’ side of the door, sliding his hand up Castiel’s waist until his fingers meet the skin under his shirt.
“I can’t wait to be alone with you,” Dean whispers into his ear, and Castiel shivers against him.
“Uh… guys? Think you could wait until I’m out of the house this time?” Sam interrupts, trying to get past them. Castiel steps back, flushed and embarrassed.
“Of course, Sam. Good luck,” Castiel replies hastily, before fleeing down the hallway. Dean watches him go, unable to stop himself from ogling his ass. Grinning, he turns to his brother.
“You got condoms?”
“Hey, better safe than sorry, right? You never know what could happen,” he shrugs, smirking. “But just in case it doesn’t, you know, happen… “ Dean lowers his voice, “Why don’t you take her for a nice, romantic walk or something. A nice, long, romantic walk, if you know what I mean,” Dean pats Sam’s back, staring down the hallway where Cas disappeared.
“Again, ew,” Sam grimaces. “But yeah, I got your back man,” he smiles.
Sam finally leaves, and with Cas squirreled away in the library doing research, Dean can get to work. But first he checks that the bedroom is stocked, because it would really suck to get to the main event and not have the things they need. Especially after having just teased Sam about it. Once that’s done, Dean begins a more difficult search.
He knows because they are smart and always prepared hunters, that they should have candles somewhere in the house. The question is where. The cupboard in the downstairs hall seems the most likely place, but all Dean finds there besides coats and shoes is another cache of weapons. Good to know anyway. He does also find a few old army blankets in there, one of them decent enough, Dean decides, to use as a tablecloth. Dean carries it into the kitchen with him as he continues his search for candles.
Thing is, Dean’s forgotten that they’re semi-retired hunters, trying their hand at domesticity, so he eventually finds the candles where he should’ve been looking all along, in the kitchen drawers. Every kitchen he’d ever visited during his time living in suburbia had candles stashed somewhere in them for occasions such as these. He should’ve known better.
But hey, tablecloth.
And now that he has what he needs to create the right mood, Dean gets to the real work. He’s had a pair of steaks defrosting since that morning, when he decided what he wanted to do. Now that they’re thawed he puts them in a simple marinade while he works on some potatoes. It’s just another of the many things he learned to do during his year in the ‘burbs, but he’s doing it with a purpose tonight. It’s as close as Dean can get to Cas’ favorite hamburger and fries, but with a little more class, and he’s hoping Cas will like it.
But Dean’s not going to pop open a bottle of wine when there’s a perfectly good six-pack of beer a fridge away. That’s where he draws the line.
When he eventually gets the steaks going, the smell filters through the house, so before it draws Cas out of the library Dean begins setting up the kitchen. They don’t have a dining room, probably having as little use for it as Bobby did when he was alive, but Dean manages to turn their kitchen into an intimate family restaurant with just a blanket-tablecloth and a bunch of strategically placed candles. He’s pretty impressed with himself by the time he’s done.
“Dean?” Cas finally wanders into the room, eyes wide.
“Hey, Cas!” Dean jumps at the sound of Cas’ voice, suddenly nervous.
“What’s going on?” Castiel frowns at the room in curiosity.
“Dinner!” Dean smiles, rushing over to the table and pulling out a chair. “Here, have a seat.”
Castiel blinks at him in surprise for a second, before slowly shuffling over and sitting down. “Thank you.”
“Want a beer?” Dean asks.
“Yes, thank you,” Cas replies. Dean gets one for each of them out of the fridge.
“Here you go. Steaks will be done in a sec,” he says, heading back to the cook-top. Out of the corner of his eye he can see Cas looking around the room, taking it in, before his gaze finally settles on Dean again, watching him. Dean glances over, meeting his gaze and grinning as he finishes off the steaks. Cas shyly returns his smile.
“I must admit, when you said you couldn’t wait to be alone with me, this is not what I imagined,” Castiel says.
“We’ve got plenty of time,” Dean promises, and even in the low light he doesn’t miss the flare of heat in Castiel’s eyes. He feels a corresponding heat pooling in his belly as he thinks about what he has planned for them later, nervous anticipation beginning to dance in in his stomach. He eventually has to look away, before he decides to skip the food altogether. And that’s saying something.
“First, dinner,” Dean shakes off his train of thought, forcing himself to smile as he brings over the two plates of steak. Pulling the potatoes out of the oven where they’re warming, he grabs his beer, and takes a seat on the opposite side of the table. He’s pretty impressed with his spread once it’s all laid out. But as soon as he looks up at Castiel’s face again, food becomes the last thing on his mind.
He doesn’t usually go for this whole candlelit dinner thing, but he’s starting to get why people do it now. He’s only seen Cas in firelight a few times, and all of them under far from ideal circumstances. But the way Cas looks now… Dean has an insane urge to cut the electricity to the house forever. Or at least in their bedroom. And just as he thinks that, Cas produces a moan that shoots all the way through his body down to his already re-awakening crotch.
“This smells delicious,” Castiel murmurs appreciatively. Dean tries to find his voice, but once again, it’s all he can do to not leap over the table and forget about dinner entirely.
“Dean? What is it?” Castiel frowns at him when he doesn’t reply, doing that tilty thing with his head, and Dean has to clear his throat before he can speak again.
“You just… you look real good. With the candles and everything,” Dean replies thickly.
“Oh,” Castiel flushes, ducking his head. “Thank you.”
Dean has to clear his throat again, before he raises his beer in toast. “Bon Appétit.”
“Yes,” Castiel smiles, raising his own bottle. Dean relaxes a bit after taking a drink, refreshed by the familiar taste, and picking up his knife and fork he starts in on his steak.
“I wonder how Sam’s doing right about now,” Dean smirks to himself.
“I’m sure he’s doing fine,” Castiel says. “But wherever he is, he’s missing out on a wonderful steak.” Castiel smiles at him again.
Dean resists the urge to preen at the compliment. Looks like he made the right choice about dinner after all, and he’s glad Cas is enjoying it.
“Yeah, well,” Dean flushes, “Burger meat is usually overdone, I figured you might like to try it a little more rare,” he explains.
“It’s a shame we don’t have the ingredients, otherwise I would’ve liked to make a pie for our dessert,” Castiel says.
Dean grins widely. “Maybe next time.”
“Yes,” Castiel replies.
“Or not. You don’t have to wait, Cas. You can make it as soon as you like,” Dean shrugs, nonchalant.
“I see right through you, Dean Winchester,” Castiel laughs. Dean chuckles with him.
The mood feels lightened after that, and conversation passes between them easily. Castiel tells him about the awfully boring research he’s helping Sam with, and Dean’s glad he’s not involved with it because he doesn’t miss the book stuff at all. They also talk about how the renovations are going, and Dean’s latest idea to add a back porch onto the house. Dean doesn’t tell Castiel, but he got the idea when he was watching Cas in the garden like a creeper, and randomly thought how nice it would be to be able to sit back there in some shade, with a beer or something, so he can stare at Cas in comfort as long as he wants.
Every now and then they return to speculating on how Sam is doing on his date, and Dean jokes at his brother’s expense while Cas berates him for it. Eventually as the meal progresses, the conversation peters out, and there are more and more silences between them. But the silences are anything but empty or awkward. Instead they are comfortable and companionable, and Dean enjoys the long moments they spend, simply staring at each other across the table.
“You’ve got something on your face, there,” Dean murmurs during one of those silences, suddenly noticing a streak of steak sauce on Castiel’s cheek.
“Do I?” Cas startles, reaching up to wipe at his face and missing completely.
“No, other side,” Dean indicates, and again Cas misses. “No, higher. No, just, here—“ Dean gives in, reaching over and wiping the streak on Cas’ face with his thumb. Only once his fingers touch Castiel’s skin, he doesn’t pull away, instead cupping his palm around the curve of Castiel’s cheek and keeping it there, unable to stop brushing Cas’ skin with his thumb. Castiel nuzzles into the touch, much like the way he did that morning in bed, and Dean smiles softly at that before finally pulling his hand away.
Another long silence later, and Dean suddenly feels Castiel’s hand on his own cheek, brushing it gently with his fingers.
“Do I…” Dean finds himself a little breathless, “Do I have something on my face too?”
“No,” Castiel murmurs.
“…Oh.” Dean eventually replies. And as the moment extends, the two of them just sitting there, silently contemplating each other, Cas’ hand on his cheek, Dean begins to wonder how a dumb son of a bitch like him got so lucky. He has everything he wants, and everything he never even thought to want, right here in front of him. This house… this life they’ve built for themselves in it… Dean doesn’t know if he could’ve imagined this even in his deepest, most closely kept dreams.
It’s more than overwhelming, and Dean has to clear his throat against the emotion swelling up in it as he reaches up to pull Cas’ hand away. But instead of cracking a joke about their epic chick-flick moment, it seems the most natural thing in the world to press his lips into Cas palm instead, caressing the skin there with soft, worshipful kisses.
“Are you finished?” Castiel whispers.
Dean’s raises his eyes to meet Castiel’s again. “Never,” he finds himself replying.
Castiel laughs breathlessly.
“I meant dinner. Are you finished with dinner,” Castiel explains, and from the heated look in Castiel’s eyes, he knows what Cas is really asking.
Dean is so ready.
Chapter 6: Best night of my life. (part 2)
The dishes get left in the sink to be dealt with tomorrow. But to be safe they begin blowing out all the candles, by unspoken agreement moving simultaneously through the room, sneaking glances and shooting small smiles at each other as they work. One by one the candles go out, until they get to the last, which Dean takes with him when they finally head upstairs, hand in hand.
Dean enters their bedroom first, the candlelight sweeping its golden glow across the bed, and he has to turn away, his hand shaking as he places the candle down on the dresser. He may be ready for this, but that doesn’t make him any less nervous. He almost wishes he’d had more to drink with dinner, but it’s too late now. Taking a deep breath, he turns around.
Castiel is standing by the bed – their bed – watching him in the low light, and Dean feels something like an ache in his chest as he stands there, watching him back. The same ache he felt the night before, watching Cas sleep, before crawling into bed with him. An ache that only eases the closer he gets to wrapping Castiel up in his arms. He’s wanted this for so long.
He barely breathes as he slowly pads over to the bed, holding Castiel’s gaze until they are standing so close, it’s overwhelming. He finally has to break away, lids bowing down under Castiel’s infinitely more intense stare. But now that he’s no longer locked in the depths of Castiel’s gaze, he feels everything else more acutely – the warmth of Castiel’s body, so close to his own… Castiel’s breath, grazing against the material of his clothing, in and out against his chest, and the slight, shaky hitches that match his own… Castiel’s hand, reaching up to press against his cheek, warm and soothing, and guiding his lips upward again until they are softly met in the most tentative of kisses.
Dean begins to breathe again. And then he is surging forward, grabbing onto Castiel as he presses deeper into the kiss. And when Castiel’s lips part on a gasp, Dean licks into his mouth until tongues are met as well.
It’s oh so easy after that. So easy to fall forward, and lay Castiel out on the bed beneath him, lips never straying far though there is no urgency to their kisses yet. It’s worlds away from their kiss on the couch, a mere three days ago, when Dean first woke up with two years lost and everything felt like a dream – confusing and beautiful, new and fragile with an impermanence that made Dean want to grab on to it, greedy for fear it would disappear at any given moment. The desperation in that kiss is not here now. Only a slow building fire, desire grounded in the trust of who they are now, together.
And this time, when Dean’s hands find the skin underneath Castiel’s shirt, he isn’t pushed away, but welcomed with soft moans and shaking sighs, held close and cradled in Castiel’s arms.
It’s when Dean melts even further into that embrace, pressing into Castiel’s body, that he realizes how aroused he is already, nudging against Castiel’s hip. He’s not alone though. In the same moment he realizes his own state, he feels Castiel’s responding hardness, lined up against his own. Dean finds himself thrusting his hips, just softly, a small, instinctive movement, acknowledging the realization and testing the waters.
Castiel gasps, his neck arching with it as he clutches at Dean, his whole body going taut like a livewire in response. It’s too much, too soon. Dean holds still, waiting for Cas to catch his breath before planting soft, soothing kisses across the exposed skin of Cas’ neck. He needs to go slowly. And that suits him just fine, because he wants this to last.
Dean rolls off to the side, taking his weight off Castiel’s body, but still keeping him close with a hand pressed to the small of his back, under his shirt. When Castiel comes back to him again, he does so with his hands as well as his lips, cupping Dean’s face and holding him still so he can lick his way into Dean’s mouth with soft little moans.
Dean sighs into the kiss, letting Castiel have his way, yielding to each demand of Castiel’s lips little by little until he finds himself on his back, with Castiel leaning over him. He’s not sure if Cas is even aware of the change in their position, or if he planned it this way all along, but he’s not complaining. Especially not when Cas hooks a leg over his waist and straddles him completely, pressing their hips together again.
This time it’s Dean’s turn to gasp. But Cas doesn’t spare him the moment to recover, hands still cupping his face, holding him still to steal kisses from his breathless lips. Maybe it’s better this way, letting Cas control the pace of their evening. Technically Cas is the more experienced one right now, Dean should trust him to guide the way.
But that doesn’t mean Dean doesn’t groan with relief when Cas finally presses down against him again, rubbing them together with a slow thrust. He grabs Castiel close, pressing their bodies more tightly against each other as he cants his hips upward in response.
“Dean!” Castiel trembles, needy for more.
Dean presses his lips to the gasping arch of Castiel’s neck, peppering it with frantic kisses as his other hand joins the first at the base of Cas’ spine, pulling him even closer. Castiel’s breath shudders, and he can feel the hitch of it in Cas’ throat, against his lips, and the tremor it sends through Cas’ chest, pressed against his own. Slowly, possessively, he slides his hands up the length of Castiel’s spine, pressing his hands into Cas’ shoulder blades, as if it’s possible to pull him even closer. Dean gets a needy whimper in response, Castiel suddenly grabbing his face even tighter and kissing him frantically, forcefully.
Dean groans against Cas’ lips, unbelievably turned on by the way Castiel dominates his mouth, and the way Cas’ body begins to move against his own. Castiel squirms, writhes, rubs up against Dean with jerky thrusts, and Dean is helpless against the onslaught, unable to do anything but hang on where once his hands demanded more.
For a second Dean wonders if this is normal, if Cas is usually the one who… takes charge. He finds himself not as uncomfortable with the thought as he expected, finds himself even wanting it for a moment, because damn.
But then his body takes over, beginning to find its own rhythm. And his hands begin to roam again, travelling back down the path of Castiel’s spine. But this time they don’t stop at Castiel’s waist. This time they slide all the way down the back of Castiel’s pants, cupping around the curve of Castiel’s ass and grabbing onto it, drawing another gasp from Cas’ lips as he massages the flesh in his palms and pulls their hips together again.
He keeps thrusting, guiding Castiel’s hips into movements that partner his own, creating the unceasing friction he so desperately needs. Kneading and grabbing at the flesh of Castiel’s ass, the tips of his fingers dig deep into the crease there, brushing against its entrance, and Castiel rears back with a loud gasp, his lips pulling away from Dean’s with a shaky “Oh!”
Dean hadn’t meant to do it, but after that reaction he does it again, deliberately, slowly, and Cas practically trembles in his arms at the touch.
So maybe Dean’s the one who usually ‘takes charge’ then. He can get on board with that too. Hell yeah.
This time when Dean slides his hands back up Castiel’s spine, he takes the end of Cas’ shirt with the movement, tugging it up in an effort to remove it. Cas pushes back then, sitting up and pulling it off the rest of the way, but when he leans forward again for another kiss, Dean stops him, seeing something on Cas’ chest that takes him completely by surprise. It’s an anti-possession tattoo, right over Cas’ heart, which makes sense – but there are embellishments around it that make it very different to the basic design Dean and Sam share.
And yet, it’s something entirely familiar as well.
Dean sits up, slowly reaching towards the tattoo, and covering it with his hand.
His suspicions are confirmed. It’s his hand, traced around the star on Cas’ chest. His handprint, inked there, like the handprint Cas left branded on Dean, when he pulled Dean out of Hell.
Castiel’s hand comes up to cover his own, where it’s pressed against the tattoo over Cas’ heart, and when Dean looks up into Cas’ eyes then, he’s floored by what he sees there. The way Cas is looking at him… Hell, he’ll do whatever Cas wants of him, and gladly let Cas have his way. It’s the same, quiet smile Castiel reserves only for him, but now its meaning is tenfold. The curve to Castiel’s lips, just the tiniest bit smaller, and yet so much softer. It’s infinite adoration. And bittersweet resignation at the same time. It says, “Yes, you.”
He doesn’t know if he deserves that look. But now that he’s seen it, he doesn’t know how he ever lived without it. With every beat of Castiel’s pulse against under his hand, it becomes essential. Truth.
Dean doesn’t know how long he stares, locked in that gaze, barely breathing with the weight of it, but suddenly he feels the heat of Cas’ lips again, so close to his own. He lets himself be drawn by that heat, that last bit of the way, until he feels Castiel’s mouth pressed against his own once more.
It’s as if they start all over again, from the beginning. Soft, drawn-out kisses, lips simply touching together without any need for more, hands ghosting across each other’s skin in the most careful of caresses. Until finally Castiel’s hands land on Dean’s shoulders, gently tugging at the material in silent request. Dean allows his shirt to be removed, closing his eyes as the material slides over his head, and when he opens them again the first thing he sees is Castiel’a tattoo, right in front of his face, and Castiel staring down at him, with that look.
Dean takes a deep breath, closing his eyes before he’s overwhelmed by it. Leaning forward, he presses his lips to Cas’ chest, right where he knows the tattoo is, kissing it softly in his own gesture of adoration. He feels Castiel’s pleasured hum against his lips, rumbling through Castiel’s chest, fingers winding through his hair and cupping the back of his head, holding him there. Even without, Dean doesn’t think he could stop kissing Castiel, worshiping the skin with his lips, soft and chaste. Until once again, it’s suddenly not so chaste anymore, and his lips are dragging across Castiel’s chest, long and wet, pressing and sucking and making a path downward to capture Cas’ nipple in his teeth.
“Dean!” Cas gasps, fingers tightening in his hair. “Oh!” he shudders when Dean flicks his tongue against the tight peak.
Dean moans against Castiel’s skin, sucking and nibbling at the bud of flesh and earning himself more breathy gasps and shudders in response. He must be doing something right if he’s getting those kinds of reactions. So he takes them as his cue, letting them guide him as he works Castiel into a shaking mess.
Cas can barely hold onto him before long, and makes no complaint when Dean flips their position, laying him down on the bed. Castiel is momentarily surprised when his back hits the sheets, but his eyes quickly flutter shut again when Dean’s lips return to his skin, slowly trailing wet kisses down his stomach. Castiel huffs a short laugh when Dean’s breath tickles the soft hair on his belly, and Dean can’t help but smile at that, but when his lips reach the waist of Castiel’s pants he feels himself swallowing tightly with nervousness.
Hooking his fingers into the waistband, Dean tugs on it tentatively, silently asking Cas for permission. But when Castiel’s eyes fly open at the touch, locking on him, dark and completely blown with desire, Dean suddenly remembers that permission is probably implied at this stage in their relationship, so he just keeps going.
As he pulls Castiel’s pants off all the way, his eyes devour every inch of skin revealed – the pale flesh of Cas’ thighs, the dark hair curled thick in between, and Castiel’s cock, flushing dark and curved against his belly, a smear of arousal glistening against the skin there. Dean’s breath hitches at the sight Castiel makes, bared and waiting on the bed before him, wanting Dean as much as Dean wants him.
Dean leans forward, pressing his face to the inside of Castiel’s thigh, rubbing his cheek against the skin there before kissing it, open-mouthed and wet. He’s never given a blow job before, not that he can remember anyway, but he’s working up to it. And Cas isn’t minding the slow tease, if his shuddering breaths and gasps are anything to go by. Slowly, Dean makes his way upwards, until his nose finally nuzzles against the heavy flesh at the base of Cas’ length, and when Dean gets a whiff of that apple-sweet smell of Cas’ soap again he wants to bury his face into the dark curls there. He finds himself moaning, his lips parting to mouth at the skin there, sucking and laving at it with his tongue until Cas gasps, “Oh! Oh Dean!”
Encouraged, Dean drags his lips upward along the shaft, mouthing and sucking as he goes, and again Cas’ hips shudder beneath him, accompanied by another breathy, “Oh Dean!” When he reaches the head, he presses his lips to the tip, mouthing it with wet kisses, and the litany continues, “Oh Dean, oh!” and then a loud, drawn-out “OHHhhh!” when Dean finally sucks him down.
Fingers wind into his hair as he starts a rhythm up and down Cas’ cock, Castiel’s moans growing more and more fevered until eventually he begins to respond with shallow thrusts of his own. Dean tries to pull away, slow things down maybe, but Cas just holds him there, thrusting up into his mouth, so Dean decides to just go with it instead, brace himself and just watch as Castiel falls apart, moaning his name.
It’s kind of amazing, and incredibly hot, and he wishes he could at least touch himself to ease the straining hardness in his pants. But Cas is really going for it, and he needs both his hands for balance if he doesn’t want to choke like the amateur he’s not supposed to be.
It doesn’t take long. And though Cas doesn’t give him any warning, Dean knows when it’s going to happen because Cas suddenly freezes with one last, strangled “OH!” And Dean feels him pulsing against his lips, just before his mouth is flooded with warmth. It seems like the natural thing to do when he swallows it down, regardless of the fact that he doesn’t really have the option to pull away. But he takes it all, even after Cas releases him, collapsing onto the bed with one last, breathless sigh of his name.
He crawls up to lay beside Castiel afterwards, grinning as he waits for Cas to come down. Cas looks destroyed – chest flushed and heaving as he chases his breath, hair either flung out at every angle from thrashing in his pillow or plastered to his temples with sweat, and his eyes glazed over as he blinks up at nothing, completely unseeing. Dean can’t help but mentally pat himself on the back for a… job well done.
Dean chuckles as he leans down, pressing an affectionate kiss to Castiel’s temple. “You okay there, buddy?”
Cas blinks at the sound of his voice, turning to look at him with his pleasure-glazed eyes, almost like he’s seeing Dean for the first time.
“I’m sorry,” he replies breathlessly, “You didn’t…” he trails off, looking down.
Dean huffs another affectionate laugh. “It’s okay, Cas. I can wait ‘til you’re ready again.”
“But Dean,” Castiel replies with a little frown, “I’m still… aroused.”
Dean whips his head around, looking down, and sure enough, Cas is still rock hard. “Son of a bitch.” he grins.
“Dean,” Castiel says quietly, “I want to--“ he stops, huffing softly. “Will you…?” he tries again, but then he looks up into Dean’s eyes, and spreads his legs a little, and Dean gets the message.
“Yeah,” Dean breathes, “Yeah, Cas,” he nods, swallowing hard as the request sinks in. He reaches out for the bedside drawer, fumbling around for the handle until he gets it open, and feels around for the lube. But as his hand wraps around the bottle, the enormity of what he’s about to do hits him full square in the chest again. He barely breathes as he slides out of his track pants and kneels in between Cas’ legs, Cas eyes locked onto him the entire time. Maybe his hands shake a little as he reaches forwards to push Cas’ thighs further apart, he doesn’t know. But he definitely has more trouble with the lube than he can ever remember having in his life.
He starts worrying that he’s going to hurt Cas, with his nervousness and inexperience. But when he rubs the tip of his finger against Cas’ entrance, Cas takes it in easily, with nothing more than a soft hitch in his breath, still loose and pliant from his orgasm before. He doesn’t even break eye contact as Dean carefully feels around inside, focusing on Dean with laser intensity as his hips squirm minutely around Dean’s prodding. Dean’s sliding in a second finger before he knows it, only realizing what he’s doing when Cas finally moans, low and long.
Cas is so warm inside, velvet tight, and Dean throbs with the thought of being inside him. But his fingers keep sliding and scissoring, lubing Cas up and stretching him out, soft hitching breaths shuddering past Castiel’s lips as Cas watches him, so patiently.
Finally Dean realizes they’re both far past ready for this. Swallowing tightly again, he pulls his fingers out, and begins the slow ascending crawl over Castiel’s body. He kisses Cas first, just a soft press of lips, grounding himself in the connection, and then he lines himself up, and tries to breathe.
He doesn’t realise he’s waiting, just staring into Castiel’s eyes for some kind of sign to continue, until Cas wraps his arms more tightly around him, giving him the smallest nod of his head. Dean nods back, takes a deep breath, and pushes in.
“Dean!” Cas gasps, clutching at him.
God, Cas is tight. But he gives way, pliant and so soft around him at the same time. Dean manages to slide all the way in with one, slow push.
He looks down at Cas then, just sharing breath for a moment as Cas looks back at him with wide eyes, until finally he has to move. He hisses in another shaky breath as he slowly pulls back, only to release it with a sob as he thrusts back in again.
“Dean!” Cas gasps again, eyes flying even wider, but when Dean keeps thrusting, slowly creating a rhythm, Cas drops his head back onto the pillow, eyes fluttering shut as he holds on. Dean holds him just as tight, burying his face in Cas’ neck as his body moves on its own, shocked into submission by the sheer amount of sensation, wrapped around him.
It’s been years for Dean. Years since… Lydia. But it’s been even longer since Cas began seeping his way under Dean’s skin, and now all that… need that he’s kept buried deep down for so long is beginning to unravel. And as Cas begins moaning his name, over and over again, Dean is just as inarticulate, unable to do anything but gasp Cas’ name back into the skin of his neck, amidst muffled curses and choked off cries.
Any finesse Dean hoped to hang on to flies out the window as the immensity of what’s happening washes through him. Castiel is finally in his arms, pressed tight against his body, all around him, moving with him, hanging on to him, human, and his.
It’s more than he’s ever dared to hope for.
And everything you’ve ever wanted.
He is overwhelmed by it, carried away with it. Until nothing is left but sighs and skin and the need to be deeper, so deep he’ll never find his way out again. Doesn’t have to. Because this is his new home.
He’s so close. And he thinks maybe Cas is too, by the way he’s gone so quiet all of a sudden. Dean finally pulls his face out of Castiel’s skin and looks down at him, intending to ask he’s ready or something like that, but as soon as Cas’ eyes lock on to him he knows something stupid is going to come out of his mouth instead. Everything inside him is mirrored in Castiel’s gaze in that moment, and Dean can actually see tears forming in Castiel’s eyes from holding it all in. So many things, Dean wants to tell him, but the sentences fragment in his head until they’re nothing but words and the basic meanings behind them, shattering inside him until all that comes out is,
And then he’s coming, so hard his entire body arches back into a shout he has no chance of trying to hold back, ripped from his lips as his climax pulses out of him.
It takes an eternity to come down. To find himself shaking, and still breathless, collapsed into Castiel’s neck and burrowing into the steadying pulse there. He kind of wants to stay there, just like that, all night. Cas probably wouldn’t even complain, judging from the way he doesn’t seem to want to move either. But Dean finds his lips working of their own volition, pressing breathless, open-mouthed kisses into Castiel’s neck, until they begin to trail upwards towards Cas’ mouth.
It’s not so much kissing as it is pressing their lips together then, sharing shaky breath in and out of each other’s mouths, and again, Dean doesn’t want it to end. But eventually he pulls away, giving Cas a small, soft smile before carefully pulling out, and rolling onto the bed beside him.
And because he’s the same, smart Dean he’s always been, memory loss or no, there’s a box of tissues on the bedside table, right within reaching distance. So he pulls out a handful, and leans over to clean Castiel off. He’s more than a little relieved to discover that Cas came as well. He must’ve gone off the same time Dean did, but Dean’s orgasm hit him with such force he hadn’t even been aware. And that’s more than a little embarrassing.
Dean chances a sheepish glance at Castiel, but the look on Cas’ face tells him he has nothing to apologize for, and it makes him lean forward again, melding their lips together.
They’re still tangled up in each other when the candle finally flickers out, still trading lazy kisses until they’re too tired to stay awake any longer. And when Dean wakes up with a line warmth beside him in the bed, a tuft of dark hair peeking out from the top of the sheets, he already knows the exact words he’s going to write in his journal, as soon as he gets the chance.
But he also has a feeling that every night with Castiel is going to be the ‘best night of his life.’
Chapter 7: And every day after.
The next morning, there isn’t a single bitch-face to be seen. He and Cas are practically glowing from their night together, and Sam is happy for them. More importantly, Sam didn’t have to hear them. And that would be more than enough to put a smile on his brother’s face, even if his own date hadn’t gone as well as it did, apparently.
But the grace period only lasts as long as it takes for him and Cas to jump into bed again. Then it’s back to “downstairs bedroom, Dean,” and bitch-faces in the morning.
Sam starts going out on dates with Brenda. A lot.
Dean’s memory doesn’t come back. Even weeks later he still can’t remember anything after Cas used his soul to heal Sam from whatever the trials did to him. Sam keeps telling him not to push it, that it will all come back to him eventually and he shouldn’t worry about it. But after a while Dean gets the feeling Sam might be telling himself that more than anything.
What’s really surprising is that Dean doesn’t mind it as much as he thought he would. It’s still frustrating at times, but Sam’s always there to fill in the blanks for him, most of the time knowing what he’s going to ask before he’s even asking it. And for the things Sam can’t tell him, there’s always some note or hint he’s written in the journal to help him out. Often the journal just ends up confirming things Dean already thought about or guessed at. Especially when it comes to Cas.
Thankfully, Cas doesn’t suspect a thing. For once Dean is grateful for Cas’ utter lack of perception when it comes to social cues and behaviors, so Cas misses out on a lot of the quickly covered-up fumbles between him and Sam. Luckily he and Sam have a lifetime of silent language built up between them, so entire exchanges can be spoken with just a look or a quirk of an eyebrow. But things get easier as Dean picks up their routine.
Most days, Dean works on the house. He picked up a lot from his time working construction in Cicero, and what he doesn’t know how to do yet he teaches himself pretty quickly. It’s not any more complicated than building a car after all. And Sam helps him most of the time, when he’s not manning the phones or working on some research for Charlie or some other hunter.
Cas spends most of his days in the garden, or teaching himself how to cook. Dean didn’t know it was even possible to make a bad pie until Cas finally tries his hand at it. But he eats it with a smile on his face, because the fact Cas even tries to do that for him does things to his insides that make up for the stomach ache. Or maybe what does it to him is that at the end of the day Cas smells like a combination of freshly cut grass and apples, just like his mom used to after a day of gardening and baking.
Maybe it’s the way Dean reacts to that, which gives Cas incentive to keep working on it. Until eventually his pies are practically edible. And then kind of good, even. Until they’re downright the best pies Dean’s ever had. And when Dean thoroughly rewards him afterwards, maybe that’s what gives Cas the incentive to keep right on baking. Dean’s surprised he hasn’t put on more weight with all the pie he’s been getting. If anything, he feels like he’s losing weight. But he figures that’s because he’s been getting more sexercise than pie when all is said and done.
Most of their evenings are spent sprawled out on the couch, watching movies and educating Cas on all the pop culture references he never understands. They manage to get Cas to ignore the completely fictional aspects of a time-travelling DeLorean, just enough to be able to enjoy the Back to the Future movies. But things like Star Wars are a little too far-removed from reality for Cas to wrap his formerly-angelic head around. “There were no such galaxies at any point in time, past or present,” Cas says ten minutes into the first movie, and then frowns his way through all the rest.
He does enjoy Indiana Jones though. Right up until the one with aliens.
Dean tactfully decides not to show Cas E.T.
Eventually they work out that Cas’ favorite movies are the classic buddy-cop movies, like Lethal Weapon, Tango and Cash, and Die Hard. He ends up developing a minor obsession with Bruce Willis after the first one, and they end up watching almost everything the actor’s ever been in. Sometimes, Dean recites all the lines by heart, and refuses to stop until Cas shuts him up with his lips.
No matter how hard they try, even months later, they can’t keep quiet. So every morning Dean wakes up and goes to work on Sam’s downstairs bedroom and all the surrounding extensions on the house, and the comfortable routine of their days begins all over again.
One day, while Dean’s in the basement looking for the angle-grinder, he comes across his first sawed-off in the weapons locker. Inspired by nostalgia, he decides it might be a good idea to teach Cas how to shoot. He knows Cas is pretty handy with a blade and most of the traditional swing and slice weapons, but it wouldn’t hurt to familiarize Cas with the basics of shooting at least, considering how Cas had reacted the last time he was handed a gun. He’d pretty much held it like someone had handed him a dead rat. More importantly, with Cas’ angel-mojo gone, it’s safer for him to have a way to defend himself from a distance.
It’s a sunny day outside, but it’s not so hot that it would be uncomfortable to stand around for a few hours. So Dean pulls Cas away from the garden, and heads for the far end of the salvage yard, where Bobby taught him and Sam to shoot when they were younger.
Some of the old targets Bobby made for them are still there – a few boards made from wooden planks with circles painted on them, propped up against a wreck of a car, and riddled with bullet holes. Even the tin man Bobby made from some old car parts is still there, warped and rusted from exposure to the elements, but still standing on its pole in the ground. There’s still glass everywhere too, from when they graduated to shooting beer bottles off the top of the car. With the familiar weight of his sawed-off in his hand, Dean can’t help but smile.
Cas doesn’t take to it as easily as Dean hopes. He can read the small print off the labels on the bottles, but getting his body to coordinate aiming a gun in that direction is another matter entirely. Being a former badass Angel of the Lord and all, Dean kind of thought Cas would be a little more huffy, not being able to work out how to do something as relatively simple as pointing and shooting a gun. But then Dean realises he’s basically had his arms wrapped around said badass, pressed up against the back of his body and whispering commands against his ear for the better part of an hour, and gets that Cas might be a little distracted.
And there’s really no need to be learning how to shoot a gun when there’s an old Cadillac with a perfectly good backseat, just a few feet away. Dean doesn’t even worry about how the car groans on its axles when he slams Cas into the side of it, because really, they need to be on a soft surface, asap.
Dean’s undressed Castiel countless times by then, so it doesn’t take long to get Cas right where he wants him, naked and kneeling spread on the backseat while Dean licks him open. They’ve got nothing but their own saliva to ease the way, as there’s no way in hell they’re going to stop and go all the way back to the house for some lube, so Dean makes sure they’re both sloppy with spit before he pushes in. And when their skin starts to dry, Dean pulls out and licks Cas wet all over again.
It’s for that reason they last twice as long as they usually do, so by the time they get anywhere close to finishing they’re both pretty much screaming at the top of their lungs. Dean’s grateful they’re out near the woods where no one can hear them, no matter how loud they are. Especially Sam.
He makes sure to lick Cas clean afterwards too, because he doesn’t want Sam to see anything suspicious on Cas’ jeans when they get back and bitch-face about it. Or worse, tease them about it. At least that’s what he tells Cas, anyway.
Castiel just gives him an indulgent smile. The kind that says he sees right through Dean. But he doesn’t protest, more than happy to let Dean have his way.
The sun has gone down by the time they start step out of the car again, and as they walk back they look up at the sky, admiring the stars coming out, one by one.
“You know Cas,” Dean tells him, “Learning to shoot out here is almost like a family tradition,” he explains. “You’re becoming more and more of a Winchester every day,” he says, squeezing Cas’ hand.
And the look Cas gives him then is so full of… so full, that Dean finds himself hard-pressed to not find another backseat to shove Castiel onto.
The next time they’re in town, Cas buys a kite. Dean tries to explain how slinkies are way cooler, but then Cas tells him all about the peaceful Heaven of an autistic man that he used to spend most of his time in when he was up there.
“I’m sorry you can’t go back, Cas.” Dean tells him afterwards.
“It’s alright, Dean,” Castiel replies. “I simply thought that since I have no family traditions of my own to share, that we could start a new one.”
Dean can’t begrudge him that. Not if it’s one of the few good memories Cas has of his home. So one day Cas packs them a picnic basket, and has Dean drive them out to what seems like the middle of nowhere.
After twenty minutes of walking through the woods, they come across a wide stretch of field Dean didn’t even know existed. Cas knew it was there because he used to fly past it on the way to Bobby’s. And according to Cas, it’s the only space in the nearby area that’s big enough to get a kite up into the air with a running start, and not get it stuck in the trees. Dean has no clue. He’s never flown a kite before in his life. So in return for shooting lessons, Cas gives him his first kite-flying lesson.
At first, it is not fun. Or calming. Or any of the other things Cas said it would be. It feels like Dean runs around for hours trying to get the damn thing in the air. And Dean hasn’t had to run around for anything since they stopped hunting. Which was years ago. So yeah, not fun.
But miraculously, he finally catches a drift, and the kite sails up into the air. And once it gets high enough it practically flies itself, so Dean throws himself down onto the picnic blanket beside Castiel to catch his breath. Eventually he understands what Cas is talking about –watching the kite dance in the wind, lying with his head in Cas’ lap, Cas’ fingers in his hair – he can easily imagine an eternity of this.
When the sun gets too high, they pull the kite down and move their picnic blanket under a tree to eat lunch. Neither of them has any desire to run around and get the kite back up in the air after that, so they just lounge around like lazy lions, enjoying the day and the fullness in their bellies. And once Dean realises they haven’t seen another person around for hours, and probably aren’t likely to anytime soon, he decides he’d rather be lounging in Castiel’s arms instead, and pulls Castiel’s lazy limbs around him until Cas is pressed flush against his body.
Lazy lounging soon becomes lazy groping. And then not-so-lazy groping. And then not-so-lazy naked groping. And then Cas is straddling him, wrapping an arm around Dean and holding on as he moves in Dean’s lap, riding him slow and silent, thrusting soft as he looks down into Dean’s eyes.
And all the while Castiel touches him, explores his skin with the hand that isn’t braced around him. Fingers flutter across his brow, tickle his eyelashes and trace down his nose, sweep across the freckles on his cheeks. A thumb brushes over his lips, soothes along his jaw. Palm sliding down the length of his neck, over the curve of his shoulder, arm, down the inside of his wrist. And then Dean’s hand is being drawn upwards, pressed to its home over Castiel’s heart, clasped against the tattoo there.
“You’re my Heaven now,” Castiel whispers, and Dean comes with a silent shudder.
Afterwards, when they’re both lying collapsed on the blanket again, Dean thinks Sam was right. Every time with Cas feels like it’s new. And whether it’s dirty or sweet, every time is something sublime.
“Cas?” Dean murmurs. “Why did you heal my handprint? At Stull Cemetery?” he asks, tracing the tattoo on Cas’ chest.
Castiel curls around his body more closely. “I didn’t think you wanted the reminder. Not after everything that happened,” he replies quietly. “Especially not if you were really going to go live a… normal apple-pie life.”
“You heard that, huh?” Dean says, not really surprised. Cas had been asleep in the backseat of the car when he and Sam started that conversation, but they could’ve woken him up without knowing.
Castiel makes an abortive movement against him, as if he wants to curl himself around Dean even more tightly, but stops himself. Dean raises his head, looking Cas in the eyes and seeing the tell-tale tightness there.
“Hey,” Dean gives him a little shake, “I would never have gone there if I’d known you wanted to stay.”
“It’s alright, Dean,” Castiel replies. “The Braeden’s were good for you. They cared for you in ways I might not have been able to then,” he explains.
Dean can understand that. But he can also see how it still hurts Castiel, and he can’t help but feel like he did Castiel wrong somehow.
“Well, then, I’m sorry about Anna,” Dean blurts. “Sleeping with your friend’s sister is kind of a dick move. Regardless of how said friend feels about you… or how you feel about said friend.”
“Is it?” Castiel’s eyebrows scrunch up inquisitively.
“Uh, yeah.” Dean replies in his best ‘duh’ voice.
“Then I suppose I better not sleep with Sam then.”
“CAS!” Dean recoils at the unwelcome thought. Complete with unwelcome image. For a good few minutes he can’t even look at Cas without seeing it, and Castiel just laughs at him for it. The bastard.
It only sparks the tiniest amount of jealousy, at least, because he knows it’ll never happen. And because the grossness of imagining his brother naked pretty much overrides everything else. But he knows what the thought of Castiel with anyone else does to him, and it quickly sobers him.
“You know, I tried the whole ‘last night on earth’ thing on Jo, the night before Carthage. She shot me down so fast.” Dean laughs at that , before going quiet again. “I think she knew… how I…”
“What is this, Dean?” Castiel frowns at him when he trails off, finally sensing that there’s a point to his seemingly random conversation.
“I’m trying to tell you something here, Cas,” he swallows thickly, looking away.
“You don’t need to apologize for these things, Dean. Not anymore,” Cas murmurs.
“No, that’s not what I--“ Dean huffs in frustration. Castiel reaches up to stroke his fingers soothingly through the hair at Dean’s temples, waiting patiently for Dean to find the words. Dean hums into the touch, turning to meet Castiel’s gaze again, and finds himself swept away in it once more.
Dean sighs, smiling softly. “It’s just, how come it took so long for us to get here?” he murmurs, pulling Castiel close against his side again, where he belongs.
As far as family traditions go though, Cas ends up having to take driving lessons from Sam. Turns out Dean can’t be alone with Cas anywhere before they’re all over each other, regardless of how unsafe it may be. And until Sam takes over, Cas spends more time parked off the side of the road than on it.
But even with all the… distractions, work on the house moves surprisingly fast. Dean begins to wonder what he’ll do with his time when it’s all done. He even catches Sam looking at some on-line courses. Dean can’t begrudge him that. Not anymore. In fact, he even starts planning to pull more weight with the research so Sam can get in more study time. And as for the rest of his time, well, Dean’s seen more than a few salvageable frames in the yard that he’s been thinking about restoring for a while now.
His future trajectory is set. Hell, the fact that he even has a plan for the future more than makes up for not remembering a few years from his past. For once in Dean’s life, he feels like he has all the time in the world. He’s so much more relaxed in their house, where he can let his guard down. And so much more patient, even with things that used to annoy him, now that he isn’t living his life at breakneck speed.
And it’s no shocking revelation. Not something that hits him right out of the blue. It just seeps into him, slowly, every day. A tangible, living, truth. Better, and more real than anything he’s ever known.
But no matter how soft he gets around the edges, no matter what kind of home he builds, the foundations will always be the same – the core of him will always be a hunter. It will always run in his blood.
And that reminder does come suddenly, one day while Dean is reading the paper. Sam is away for a few days, gone to the Campbell family bunker to get some books to bring Charlie at the Men Of Letters base to help with a case. Dean’s been manning the phones in his absence, scanning through the paper in between calls, mostly out of boredom, but also to keep an eye on anything that might be happening with the case Sam’s on. And since his attention is mostly on that, he almost misses the small article about a series of disappearances in the very next town.
It’s only a follow-up article, briefly describing the handful of disappearances on the outskirts of town, and explaining that the case has gone cold without any leads or any new evidence. It’s pretty clear the local authorities have given up, but something about the whole thing makes the hair on the back of Dean’s neck stand up on end.
The first thing he does is pull out his laptop and find the articles from when the disappearances first began. Six people gone missing over the course of several months, with no apparent connection other than their disappearance. In fact, it was lucky most of the disappearances were even noticed, as most of them were out-of-town campers and the like, just passing through. And one kid was initially suspected of running away from an abusive step-father. The more Dean reads, the more uneasy he feels. It doesn’t take long before he’s calling Sam.
Sam’s already left Michigan and is on his way to Lebanon when Dean reaches him. His brother agrees that it could be their kind of thing, but then he reminds Dean that if it was their kind of thing, Charlie would’ve already sent someone to check it out, especially if it was that close to home.
“So don’t worry about it, okay?” Sam brushes it off.
“Sam…” Dean shakes his head, still unsure.
“So are you and Cas enjoying your alone time?”
“Sam!” Dean sputters, nearly falling off his chair. He and Cas may be enjoying their alone time, a lot, but that doesn’t mean he wants to tell his brother about it. Ever.
Sam laughs at his embarrassment a full minute, before reminding Dean exactly when he should be home, so he doesn’t unexpectedly walk in on anything. Then he laughs a good minute more at Dean’s reaction to that before hanging up. It isn’t until another full minute later when Dean realises how easily Sam distracted him from the topic.
His next call is to Charlie. She sounds a little frazzled, but she also sounds like she has her new responsibilities well in hand.
“And the girls here! Wow,” she remarks. “I mean, not that you would know, of course.”
“Hey!” Dean protests, indignant. He may be totally gay for Cas now, but he still takes offence to the slight on his game.
“So how is the gayest and greatest love story of all time going, by the way?”
“Oh my God.” Dean groans, slapping a hand to his face. It seems everyone is obsessed with his and Cas’ love life, as long as they aren’t next door to it. But teasing aside, Dean misses her. She sounds like she’s thriving, and it’s good to hear her voice.
He’s far from comforted by what she has to say about his case though. After checking her files she finds that yes, the disappearances had been flagged as potentially supernatural. But after sending out two different hunters on two different occasions, they’d come back with nothing. No sign of wendigo or werewolf or anything else that could’ve been responsible. Only humans.
Dean really wants to take her word for it, but the more he hears, the more he feels a sickening sense of dread about the whole thing, and he can’t shake it off.
Just ignore it, Dean. It’s nothing. You don’t need to do this. You’re happy now.
At least, that’s what the little voice in the back of his brain keeps trying to tell him, over and over again.
But now that the seed of doubt has been planted, his hunter instincts keep telling him that something is just not right.
Chapter 8: The best and the worst.
Darkness. All around him. Closing in on him. Everywhere he turns, shades of black and gray, pulling and scratching at him as he runs. Through the trees, he runs, away from the angry spots of light, glowing through the black. Eyes, red and angry, chasing him. He’s back in Purgatory. Running through the woods. Running for his life.
Nothing. Nothing but the rush of blood in his ears, harsh and desperate gasps for air. Dry and cracking leaves, rustling in the trees from a wind that doesn’t exist.
He needs to stop. He needs to breathe. But he can’t. He needs to find Cas even more.
He can’t. He can’t lose Cas now.
There. A nearby cave. Cold, dank, deep in the dark - A flash of a trench-coat, rumpled hair. Pain in his knees as he skids to the floor in front of the familiar figure - tied, bound to the cave wall, covered in dirt and blood, pale as death. No. No, no, no!
“Wake up, Dean!”
Dean is ripped awake from his nightmare, gasping wildly for breath as his heart pounds in his ears, clutching onto Castiel tight enough to leave bruises.
“It was just a dream, Dean. Shhh, it was just a dream,” Castiel croons soothingly.
“Cas!” Dean chokes out, still clutching him, still seeing the Cas in that cave, near lifeless and unresponsive, like a ragdoll in his arms.
“It’s okay, Dean. It’s alright. I’m here,” Castiel murmurs, and still Dean can’t let go. Instead he pulls Cas even closer, flush against his body, suddenly needing to feel every inch of Castiel at once, alive and breathing.
Castiel doesn’t fight his panic, settling into his clutching embrace and making soft hushing noises in his ear, patiently calming him and waiting out his terror. It isn’t until his heartbeat returns to normal that Dean feels the slight hitching of his breath in his lungs, the tell-tale wetness on his face and the leftover soreness in his ribs from hard sobbing. He presses his face into Castiel’s neck a little longer until his shame subsides as well.
Eventually Castiel eases himself away, reaching over to the bedside table for the glass of water there and handing it to him. Dean swallows slowly, his throat and lungs still feeling damp and wracked. He can feel the concern in Castiel’s gaze boring into him, so he uses the time to steady his nerves enough to explain.
“Purgatory,” Dean finally croaks, answering Castiel’s unspoken question. “I couldn’t find you. And when I did…” he looks away, unable to say it.
“It was bad,” Castiel fills in.
Dean nods. Then huffs a bitter sigh. “It’s not the worst I’ve had,” he says.
Castiel takes the glass of water from him, replacing it on the bedside table before sliding in close again. Dean feels the touch of Castiel’s fingers on his jaw, turning his face so he has to meet Castiel’s gaze again.
“Tell me,” Castiel says.
Dean reaches up to take the hand on his cheek in his own, taking a deep breath and letting the grip ground him.
“You’ve seen my dreams from Hell,” he whispers. Castiel’s squeezes his hand in acknowledgement, his gaze softening minutely in what looks like heartbreak to Dean. He looks away, unable to keep that gaze. Not if he’s going to keep talking.
“Sometimes,” Dean whispers, “I dream about you going into that lake, exploding into black ooze under the water… that evil Leviathan laugh ringing in my ears,” he huffs bitterly. “Sometimes you yell at me first, blame me for all the things you did, or tried to do. Sometimes I try to reason with you, sometimes I beg, but it’s like you can’t hear me at all,” he adds quietly. “Sometimes, I hold you under the water myself, with my own hands.”
Castiel’s breath hitches at that. He presses closer, taking Dean’s arms and wrapping them around his body, with that simple gesture telling him that he trusts Dean’s touch, feels nothing but safe in Dean’s embrace, and Dean can’t help but hold him tight again.
“It seems like I am in all your nightmares,” Castiel whispers sadly. Dean’s heart clenches. He doesn’t know what to say. Lately, it really does seem like all his nightmares are about Cas, one way or another. About losing him somehow, failing him or watching him die.
Castiel lifts his head when he doesn’t reply, searching his eyes, and he still doesn’t know what to say. All he can think to do is wrap his hand gently around the back of Castiel’s neck, and pull him close enough to press their lips together, soft, but certain, the connection meant to soothe and reassure them both.
He doesn’t know how long he holds Castiel to him, lips simply pressed against each other, but by the time they pull apart the kiss has already started to feel a lot less chaste than how it began, and their lips seek each other out again, a little more needy this time. And then again. And again. Each kiss followed by another, a little longer, a little harder, a little more breathless with every one.
When Castiel climbs into his lap, sucking at the sensitive spot just below his ear, a surprised sound escapes his throat. As Castiel’s shifting weight rubs against him, he finds that he’s already started to get hard, and he hadn’t been expecting it. At least not this soon.
He’s not alone though. When Cas settles on top of him, straddling his hips, Dean feels Cas’ responding hardness, just as firm as his own. And all that from a little bit of kissing. He would be embarrassed if he wasn’t so suddenly consumed with need.
Cas doesn’t mess around at least, grinding them together with soft rubbing motions and latching his lips to the sensitive spot on Dean’s collarbone next. But the touch still remains more soothing than it is teasing, building a slow warmth in his limbs instead of stoking him to a passionate frenzy. Cas know what he needs right now, and knows his body well enough to deliver it. So deft are Castiel’s touches, that Dean barely notices when his boxers are stripped away, the mouth sucking at the sensitive inseam of his hip is so good. And when Cas finally takes him into his mouth, he sucks Dean so sweetly, Dean’s eyes feel suspiciously wet again afterwards.
If Cas notices, at least he knows better than to say anything about it. Instead he just crawls back up the bed, bringing the sheets with him as he tucks himself into Dean’s side again. Any offers of reciprocation Dean makes are shot down.
“That was just for you,” Cas murmurs with a drowsy smile, closing his eyes as he settles in to sleep. Dean huffs an affectionate sigh, smiling softly.
“Thanks,” Dean replies, tracing his fingers down the side of Castiel’s face. Cas hums in response, nuzzling into his palm like a sleepy cat.
Dean watches him for a while, taking in the relaxed, content expression on his face as he dozes – so far from the closed off, guarded expression Cas always used to wear when he was an angel. He never thought he’d ever see Cas’ face like this.
“Hey, Cas?” Dean whispers.
“Mmm?” Cas hums, halfway to sleep already.
“All my best dreams have you in them as well,” he says, pulling Cas that last, little bit closer.
Cas squeezes him back.
Cas is already downstairs, making bacon and eggs for breakfast, when Dean finally drags his ass out of bed the next morning. He can smell it wafting all the way through the house, leading him to the kitchen like a drawstring to his grumbling stomach.
“Good morning,” Cas smiles, bright and sunny as he accepts the kiss Dean leans over to plant on his lips.
“Good morning,” Dean croaks, throat still raw from the night before, but grinning at the sight of the food Cas is cooking for them. Making himself some coffee, he sits down at the kitchen table, forgoing the newspaper to watch Castiel at work.
Cas still handles kitchen utensils with the awkwardness of someone who’s only just learned to use them, but Dean knows by now that it has no bearing on the end result. Cas’ breakfasts are almost as good as his sandwiches, and his mouth is already watering for a taste.
And all of that doesn’t even eclipse the way Cas looks in Dean’s old Black Sabbath t-shirt, and the achy throb of possessiveness he always feels, low in his gut, at the sight of Cas in his old clothes.
“How are you feeling?” Cas asks as he walks towards the table.
Hungry, his brain automatically supplies. In every possible way.
Dean laughs at himself, shaking his head clear of the thought. Then Cas puts a plate full of food down in front of him, and he hums in appreciation, his mouth watering again.
“Better now,” he replies, smiling. Castiel reaches over to run a hand through his hair in response, petting him affectionately and returning his smile.
“Don’t wait on my account,” Castiel says, inclining his head towards the food.
“You’re so awesome, Cas. Now I don’t know if I want to kiss you or start eating,” Dean grins up at him.
Cas leans over, pressing his lips to Dean’s. He takes his time as he kisses Dean, soft and languid, just long enough to leave Dean with tingling lips and a dopey smile.
“Now eat,” Castiel commands with a low growl. Dean’s still feeling a little stupid, so it takes a second to make his limbs obey. But before long, he’s moaning and groaning his appreciation around mouthfuls of food, every sound making Castiel preen a little at the praise. And that only encourages Dean to be louder, because damn well Cas should preen. This food is good.
“You are so getting a blow job after this,” Dean threatens, pointing at Cas with his fork.
Castiel throws his head back and laughs at that, his eyes catching the sunlight until they’re as blue as the sky itself, and once again Dean is torn between eating and kissing him breathless.
It isn’t until Dean sinks to his knees right there under the kitchen table afterwards, that Cas realizes he was serious.
“Dean!” Castiel gasps in surprise, laughing as he tries to bat Dean’s amorous hands away from his crotch. But Dean knows the jeans Castiel is wearing, they belonged to Dean first after all, so he knows just how to make the zipper give way as quickly as possible. It’s a lost battle. Cas isn’t even wearing underwear. And he’s already a little hard by the time Dean takes him in his mouth.
Truth is, Dean’s just been waiting for a chance to fool around with Cas in the kitchen, undisturbed. His dick’s always been somewhat hardwired to his stomach, but Cas spends so much time in the kitchen now, Dean can barely walk into the room without getting a little horny.
He sucks Cas off with the kind of slow laziness that comes from having a satisfied stomach, taking his time like he’s savoring a dessert, lush and rich. Cas’ fingers stroke through his hair like he’s some kind of big cat, and the touch is so soothing Dean thinks he’d purr around Cas’ cock if he could. But then he might not be able to hear to soft little sounds and sighs Cas breathes into the air, head dropped over the back of his chair as Dean melts his limbs into bonelessness.
Cas is so relaxed, the only warning Dean gets before Cas comes is a whisper of his name, only the slightest twitch of Cas’ hips as he spills his warmth into Dean’s mouth. And for long moments afterwards, Dean is content to stay there, on his knees, nuzzling at Cas’ softening flesh with Cas’ hand in his hair.
“Can we go back to bed?” Cas finally mumbles around a yawn, smiling down at him softly. Dean stifles a yawn himself, smiling as he gets to his feet.
“Yeah, I could do with more sleep,” he agrees, reaching out to help Cas up from his chair. Once Cas is on his feet he doesn’t let go, leading him through the house hand in hand.
“Mmm. You haven’t had a night that bad in a while,” Cas remarks when Dean yawns again.
“Yeah,” Dean yawns again. “I don’t know,” he mutters. “I think maybe that case I came across yesterday might’ve triggered some memories or something.”
“A case,” Castiel echoes flatly, tugging him to a stop. “What case?”
“Some disappearances in the next town. Charlie says it’s not our thing, but something smells funny, you know?” he shrugs, turning back towards the stairs.
“No. I don’t know,” Castiel says, yanking him to a stop again. Dean stares at him in surprise. “You’re not thinking of going there, are you?” Castiel asks, disbelief in his voice, accompanied by something like alarm in his eyes, though Dean doesn’t really understand why.
“Actually, yeah, I was,” Dean frowns. “What’s the problem?”
Castiel yanks his hand out of Dean’s grip, turning away, and Dean can see his shoulders heaving up and down with rapid breaths.
“…Cas?” Dean calls out in concern, taking a tentative step closer. He still can’t work out why things got so tense all of a sudden.
Castiel abruptly whirls back around, eyes flaring. “I’m going with you,” he says, his tone resolute.
“You don’t need to do that, Cas. I can handle it,” Dean holds up his hands in a placating manner, hoping to appease. It doesn’t work.
“Yes, I do. I’m going with you and that’s that,” Castiel insists, eyes full of the kind of wrathful intensity Dean hasn’t seen for a long time. Since Cas was an angel.
But that’s just it. Cas isn’t an angel anymore.
“Now wait just a minute, Cas,” Dean steps away, shaking his head. “I can’t have you coming and getting yourself into trouble. I can’t afford the distraction.”
“You’re saying I’m a liability,” Castiel growls.
“Yes!” Dean snaps. “What if something happens to you, Cas?”
“What if something happens to you?!”
“Then it happens! That’s the job! I can’t just stand by if innocent people are in danger!” he yells.
“And I can’t just let you go into danger on your own!” Castiel shouts back.
“Cas, please,” Dean steps forward, instinctively reaching out, but abortively pulling back at the anger in Castiel’s eyes. “I need you to stay here. I need to know that you’re safe. You can’t keep dying because of me.” he pleads, unable to stop his voice from cracking over the words.
“That only happens because you are always throwing yourself into danger!” Castiel snarls. “Even now, when you don’t need to anymore, and I don’t even have the power to watch over you! If something happened to you I--“ he chokes off, unable to finish the thought.
Stepping back, Castiel takes a deep breath. “No, Dean. Send someone else. I’m not going to let you put yourself in danger anymore. Not now. Not after I’ve given you everything,” he says, more quiet, but no less intense. “Don’t you understand?” he adds, a hint of desperation in his voice, “If something happened to you… I would have nothing.”
Dean hisses in a surprised breath at that, shocked by the admission, and the utter certainty in Castiel’s eyes as he says it.
It’s just… so much. Castiel existed for eons before mankind even evolved, and now he’s saying he can’t live without Dean?
Dean swallows thickly, scrubbing a hand down his face. He can barely even process it.
He knows if it was the other way around, if he lost Cas, he wouldn’t fare very well either. He’d always held back in his past relationships. Even with Cassie. He’d loved her enough to take a chance on telling her everything, but there were still pieces of himself he’d kept guarded.
Not with Cas. He’d had no choice with Cas. Cas knew everything there was to know about him, from the very beginning. And what little he’d had left to keep to himself, he’d given over entirely by now.
If he lost Cas now, he imagines he’d end up a lot like his dad after losing their mom – just going through the motions, but never really whole again. But John had him and Sam, and Dean knows that no matter what, Sam’s always got his back. It wouldn’t be the same for Cas.
“Okay, Cas. I won’t go alone. I’ll wait until Sam gets back,” Dean compromises.
One look at Cas’ face, and he knows it’s not what Cas wants from him. But Cas can’t argue with his solution either.
He takes a tentative step forward, but Cas reacts to the movement by pushing past Dean, heading for the stairs. A few moments later Dean hears their bedroom door slam shut.
It’s a far cry from the days when Castiel used to teleport away in the blink of an eye, but it still hurts like it used to.
It’s not like they haven’t fought before. All they used to do was fight.
But it sure as hell feels like their first fight.
In the past, some of their fights escalated so far that one of them ended up bruised and bloody, or worse, dead. Every other time, Cas flew off before things got out of control. But there was no flying away anymore. They were stuck with each other now – glaring at each other in the kitchen, looking away when they pass each other in the hallway, brooding at each other through the windows – and in a way it’s so much worse. Things had changed between them so much, their relationship so much more tied together, that they had so much more power to hurt each other now.
Or maybe Dean’s just gotten soft after so many years of domesticity, he can’t handle this kind of melodrama anymore. Unless it’s on TV. And in Spanish.
In any case, Dean doesn’t know how to look at Cas’ sad face all day without it hurting him as well. He doesn’t even know how to be in the same room without being able to touch Cas anymore, in even the smallest, more comforting gestures. More than once he finds himself almost pressing a hand to Cas’ arm or waist, and has to stop himself at the last second when he senses Cas bristling.
The worst part of it all is, he just doesn’t know how to fix it. Doesn’t know if it can be fixed. He’s not going to stop worrying about Cas or wanting to protect him as much as he can, so he can’t ask Cas to do the same for him. And maybe Cas’ desire to protect Dean has become as ingrained as saving innocent people is to Dean. It’s a stalemate on that count.
But this time, sending someone else isn’t going to cut it. Two hunters have already been out there and come up with bupkis, and while that might have been enough to satisfy Charlie, Dean’s instincts tell him otherwise. In fact, the more he mulls over the case, the more he feels that something isn’t right, and the seed of doubt just keeps growing.
So there’s no way he’s going to let Cas come with him. The fact is, Cas is a terrible hunter. And he’s been out of the game so long himself, he can’t guarantee he can keep an eye on Cas the whole time. And he’s not going to lose Cas over some rookie mistake, especially now that he’s getting a taste of what it feels like to be separated.
That night he sleeps on the couch. Or tries to, anyway. It feels terribly cold without the warmth of Castiel’s body wrapped around him, too quiet without Castiel’s steady breaths, lulling him to sleep. It takes too much Aspirin, and too much whisky, to knock him out in the end.
A few hours later the inevitable nightmare wakes him again, and when Cas isn’t there to soothe him through it, Dean aches. He wishes he knew how to do this, how to make things better, instead of screwing them up, every damn time. He wishes he could just skip forward to when this whole thing has blown over. He just wants to be able to touch Cas again.
He spends the rest of the night in the garage, checking the Impala over and getting her ready for travel. But mostly, he spends the time trying not to feel anything at all, hoping the familiar routine will clear his mind, and keep his too-empty hands busy.
Chapter 9: Be careful what you wish for.
This next time Dean wakes up on the couch he’s actually shivering, it’s so cold. In fact, the shivering may be what wakes him up in the first place. And as much as he just wants to curl into a ball and go right back to sleep, it’s just too damn freezing.
With an angry grunt, he sits himself upright, scrubbing a hand down his face until he’s conscious enough to get up and walk around a bit. He’s hoping the movement will warm him up a little.
He pads over to the kitchen for a glass of water, and the dim light coming through the windows there tell him it’s just before sunrise – that really annoying time in the morning when it gets really, really cold, right before the sun comes up and starts warming everything again.
Dean doesn’t know why the temperature drops like that, only that he’s never liked it. The change is too sudden, too drastic, and it kind of reminds him of that sickening chill right before a ghost shows up.
He hasn’t been woken up by the cold for a while now. Not since he’s had someone in his bed, keeping him warm.
God, he wants nothing more than to climb back into that bed right now.
But he can’t.
And that’s your own damn fault, isn’t it?
Dean huffs in irritation, shaking his head sharply as if the action could clear it of its annoying thoughts. It still feels heavy though, and Dean heaves another, resigned sigh.
He pulls a mug out of the cupboard, thinking about making some coffee to warm himself up, but he doesn’t like the idea of making himself more jittery than he already feels. Then he sees a box of one of Castiel’s herbal teas on the counter, and decides to try that instead, hoping it really does have all those ‘calming effects’ Cas is always going on about.
If it does end up working, it’s probably because of the smell more than anything. It reminds him of Cas. And that seems to be all it needs to do.
It’s a strong smell though, so Dean decides to take it outside before he wakes anyone else up.
But when Dean steps out the backdoor, any semblance of calm he’s found is shattered.
It takes a few moments for him to digest what he’s seeing. The sun’s only just coming up, so it takes a few seconds for his eyes to adjust in the dim light of dawn. And then he almost drops his mug in shock.
It’s a good thing he doesn’t though, because it would’ve made an awfully loud sound when it crashed on the wood. On the wood, of the floor, of the backporch, that is not only completely finished, but furnished as well – a couple of chairs, some low tables, one of those swinging loveseats – all of them worn and sun-faded like they’ve been sitting there for months already, when as far as Dean knows, they’ve only begun laying down the foundations of the thing.
Dean barely has time to process it, before the backdoor is opening behind him, revealing a familiar face, familiar legs… but a very, very pregnant figure.
“Brenda!” Dean gasps in shock.
“Dean! I’m sorry, did I scare you?” she says, mirth in her eyes.
“Um… Yes?” Dean chokes out, gaping at her. She shuffles forward with a waddling gait, reaching for his face and kissing him on his cheek, and that’s when Dean notices the wedding band on her finger.
An explanation jumps out at Dean - This must be the future. He must be having another memory lapse. A big one.
“What are you doing up so early? Couldn’t sleep?” she asks, concerned.
“I… uh… yeah,” Dean stammers, not knowing what else to say or how he should handle this. He left his journal back on the coffee table.
Brenda waddles over to the loveseat, awkwardly easing her way down into it in what looks like an uncomfortable process.
“You are so pregnant!” Dean blurts out, unable to help himself. Brenda rolls her eyes.
“Yes Dean, I know – That’s what happens when you mate with a Sasquatch,” she deadpans, in a tone that sounds like she’s repeating something that’s been said a million times before.
Dean can’t help but bark out a laugh at that. It’s so something he would say. He’s hilarious.
And he’s going to be an Uncle.
Holy fuck. Wow.
“There you are!” Sam chooses that moment to join them, popping his head out the backdoor. Dean is still a little stunned as he watches Sam head over to where Brenda is sitting, leaning over to kiss her.
“Good morning,” Sam murmurs against her lips, before kissing her again.
“Good morning,” she smiles up at him, her whole face lighting up with it like Sam is her entire world.
Dean’s chest clenches at the sight. He doesn’t remember anything. Not their wedding day, or the day they found out they were pregnant. He doesn’t even know if they know whether it’s a boy or a girl.
But it’s everything you wanted for him.
Dean relaxes, a smile forming on his face as he watches them together. They’re so happy. His baby brother is married, and about to be a dad, and it is all Dean ever wanted for him.
“Well! I have a hankering for banana pancakes,” Brenda declares. “With peanut butter,” she adds.
Sam cringes with a small “ew” at the same time Dean emphatically exclaims, “Yes.”
“See? I knew I could count on Dean to get on board with my cravings,” Brenda laughs.
“If you guys get food poisoning later, don’t blame me,” Sam rolls his eyes.
“What are you talking about? It’ll be entirely your fault, for impregnating me with these cravings in the first place,” Brenda grins.
“What she said,” Dean smirks.
“Good morning,” another voice interrupts.
“Cas!” Dean nearly jumps at the sight of him, peering at them from around the backdoor with a hesitant smile.
“Good morning, sweetie,” Brenda replies, smiling at him. “I was just going to make us all some peanut butter banana pancakes, want to help?”
Castiel’s eyes widen in horror.
Sam throws his head back as he laughs, squeezing his pouting wife’s shoulder. “It’s okay Cas, you don’t have to,” Sam grins.
“Well I guess it’s just you and me then, Dean,” Brenda sighs theatrically.
“Yeah, guess so,” Dean replies distractedly, too busy tracking Castiel as he comes closer.
“Good morning,” he murmurs quietly, his stomach flip flopping hopefully as he reaches out, pulling Castiel in for a kiss.
Castiel comes willingly, and Dean’s knees nearly give out, it feels that good to have Cas in his arms again. All he wants is to grab Cas close and never let go, push him up against the porch bannister and kiss the breath from his lips right then and there, but he knows how weirdly disproportionate that would be as a good morning kiss. He ends up breaking the kiss far sooner than he’d have liked, but maybe not soon enough, because at the end of it he finds Brenda swooning at them dreamily and his brother giving them some serious bitch-face.
“Should we tell him?” Brenda turns to Sam suddenly. Sam’s expression softens as he looks at her, something secret passing between them.
“Okay.” Sam says softly.
“Tell me what?” Dean frowns. Sam turns to him, a wide smile on his face.
“We decided, if it’s a boy, we’re going to name him Robert John.”
Dean’s eyes widen with disbelief. “Bobby John? Seriously?” he grins. Sam nods, grinning back, and Dean laughs.
“And if it’s a girl,” Brenda takes a deep breath, “we want to name her Mary.”
Dean doesn’t say anything. He can’t say anything. He’s suddenly so choked up, he knows if he tries to talk, the tears will spill over too.
“If that’s alright with you?” Brenda asks gently.
“Yeah,” Dean chokes out, nodding furiously at the ground. “It’s perfect.” he whispers, wiping at his eyes. He feels Cas’ fingers close around his other hand and Dean squeezes, holding on tight.
“Alright,” Brenda says a little shakily. “Someone help me up so I can make pancakes!” she commands, breaking the sentimental mood, and they all laugh. Dean gives her a grateful smile as Sam stands up to help her out of the chair.
“You want to come help me, Cas?” she smiles sweetly at him.
“I’ll be there in a minute,” he replies, squeezing Dean’s hand. She nods knowingly, and then heads back into the house with Sam.
“Dean,” Castiel turns to him when they’re alone again, as Dean knew he would. “Are you alright?”
“Yeah, Cas,” Dean nods, giving him a small, watery smile. “I’m just…” he trails off, overwhelmed.
“I know,” Castiel cups his cheek, stroking it soothingly with his thumb. Dean pulls him close, burying his face in Castiel’s neck. The warmth of Castiel’s body pressed against his own is comforting, and he breathes it in deep, relieved that he’s even able to again.
“I’m going to spoil the hell out of that kid,” Dean chuckles, and he feels Castiel’s lips curve against his cheek.
“You would be a wonderful father,” Castiel murmurs.
“Yeah?” Dean pulls back, smiling at him. Castiel’s expression turns wistful.
“I must confess, seeing how happy they are, and how happy it makes you… I wish I could give you that. I wish you could have a family of your own,” Castiel says ruefully.
“What are you talking about Cas?” Dean frowns, grabbing Castiel by the arms and shaking him a bit to emphasize his point. “This is my family. You’re my family. You and me, Sam and Bren, and every single kid they pop out. I’m going to love them like they’re my own. And you… you’re a part of that now.” Dean takes a deep breath, giving him another little shake. “Do you understand what I’m saying?”
“Dean…” Castiel breathes, reaching up to touch his cheek again, thumb running over his lips, “I think I do,” he replies softly.
“Good.” Dean exhales on his way to Castiel’s lips. And since there’s no one else around now, this time he doesn’t hold back, pushing Cas up against the bannister and kissing him until he’s sure his point sinks home. And maybe for longer. Because the next thing he knows, Brenda is hollering out the backdoor that the pancakes are ready.
The kitchen table is too small with the four of them all sitting around it together. With Sam’s sasquatch-sized body it was usually a bit cramped, but with the addition of Brenda’s long legs and extremely pregnant belly, it’s a tight fit.
It doesn’t feel cramped or uncomfortable though. It’s cozy. And it gives Dean an excuse to sit even closer to Cas than he usually does. The warmth generated by their combined body heat is welcome in the chilly air Dean now knows is from an autumn turning into winter. It was summer on the other side of Dean’s memory lapse.
But really he’s just revelling in being able to touch Cas whenever he wants again. To be able to press their legs together under the table, or squeeze Cas’ hand when it’s laying empty on his thigh, press his lips to Castiel’s cheek or neck whenever the urge strikes. Which is a lot, given the last few days in Dean’s memory.
And for once Sam doesn’t give him any crap about it, because his brother’s too busy doing the same with his wife. It’s a good breakfast. There’s no one to complain afterwards either, when he and Cas snuggle up together on the couch and doze off from their food-coma.
When he wakes up again, he figures it’s time to face the music. Cas grumbles a little as he tries to remove himself from the couch, and Dean has to fight the urge to stay by his side a little longer, because he knows he’ll end up there all day. Instead, he covers Cas up with the throw blanket, and grabs his journal. He needs to catch up on what he’s missed this time, before Cas catches him in the middle of a lie.
Dean heads for the library. It hasn’t changed much. Maybe the shelves are a little more tightly packed with books. Maybe a few more piles of clutter, shifted around in different places. But no one’s there at the moment, so Dean locks himself in.
He flips his journal open to the last entry, and the date confirms his guess. It’s more than a year from the last date he remembers. Apparently Sam and Brenda didn’t mess around. They both knew what they wanted, and once they started down that path, they didn’t pretend anything otherwise.
There was a minor hiccup when Sam tried to explain to Brenda exactly what the family business entailed, but she’d heard about some of the strange things that happened during the Apocalypse, like the dead supposedly coming back to life right there in their home town. And there was no other explanation for the kind of phone calls they were always getting. Sam may have worked a spell or two as a demonstration as well. His brother always did have a weird thing for magic tricks.
Ultimately, they didn’t have to go through the kind of long, excruciatingly drawn-out dance he and Cas did. Things fell into place quickly and easily, and Dean’s happy for them.
If only he could remember the wedding. It seems they’d waited until all the work on the house was done so they could hold it there, and from the few pictures in the journal he could see it was a simple, intimate day. Brenda didn’t have much family left, so it looked like mostly hunters and close friends of the Winchesters in attendance. It wasn’t a tuxedo affair, but it looked like they’d shelled out for a little better than their usual Fed getup at least. The most important thing is that everyone looked happy. Brenda was radiant, and Sam was looking at her like she was the center of his world, and that’s all Dean really needs to see.
Well, that, and Cas dressed up in a gray suit that looks far better on him than the ill-fitting getup he used to wear underneath his trench-coat those first years Dean knew him. Damn but Cas cleaned up nice. There’s a picture of just them two of them, standing under an arch in Castiel’s garden, and Dean can tell by the way it’s more worn around the edges than the others that he looks at this picture often. He can guess why. With the smile on Cas’ face, and the way Dean is looking at him, both of them suited up and surrounded by fairy lights, Dean can almost imagine they’re at their own wedding. If they were the marrying kind, that is.
Dean heaves a rueful sigh. He never got his memories back from his last major lapse. So there’s a good chance he might not get his memories back this time either. And so many things have happened. Good things. The kind of things he never thought would happen, but always wanted to. The kind of things he would like to remember, for a change.
Dean carefully tucks the photo back into its place, and closes the journal. It’s time to tell Sam.
As he walks through the house, he can see the changes more clearly now. It’s a little more cluttered, more lived-in, but there’s definitely a sense of a feminine touch here and there as well. It’s upstairs where things are really different though. There’s no more hole in the side of the house, for one thing. The spare room is completely built. And filled with more books. Dean pouts. Still no home cinema then. There might still be hope for the basement though. It’s not like they use the panic room for anything else these days anyway.
On the other side of the spare room, the landing at the top of the stairs worked out well as the small sitting area Sam wanted. He can tell that once there are kids around the area is going to get used a lot. Looking out the thick glass of the balcony doors, he can see Cas’ additions to the area in the few well-chosen potted plants, and the creeping vine up the side of the wall, flourishing in the sun. Dean smiles at that.
Eventually he finds Sam and Brenda down the hall in Sam’s old room. By the looks of it, they’re transforming it into a nursery. Dean grins in approval. It makes sense. If he and Cas take the bedroom downstairs, then Sam’s growing family has the space to spread out upstairs. That way he and Cas can still have their privacy as well, soundproofed and all. It’s perfect.
“Hey, guys? I need to talk to you for a second,” he interrupts, his grin fading as he steps into the room. As soon as Sam looks up at him, his brother frowns, immediately sensing something is wrong from the expression on his face.
“What’s going on?” Sam asks. Brenda peers at him in concern.
“I…uh….” Dean clears his throat, deciding to just spit it out. “I’m having another lapse again. A big one.”
“Oh,” Sam’s frown deepens. “How big?”
“A couple years?” Dean replies quietly.
“Oh!” Brenda gasps, hand flying up to her mouth in horror, knowing what those few years mean.
“I’m sorry I didn’t say anything before, but it was all kind of surreal, and by the time it sunk in… Cas was already there,” he explains.
“It’s alright, Dean,” Sam says, trying to sound reassuring, but Brenda still looks devastated. Dean can’t help but think if it’s this bad for her, how bad it would be if Cas ever found out.
“I’m sorry,” he says again, looking at her. She nods at him, watery-eyed, giving him a sympathetic smile.
“Can we do anything?” she asks. Dean gives her a small smile in return.
“Thanks Bren, but no. I’m just letting you know,” he replies. “The pancakes already went a long way to helping me feel better about it anyway,” he winks at her. Brenda laughs.
“Well it’s nice to know your personality hasn’t been affected,” she snorts.
“Yeah yeah,” Dean smirks, “Just you wait until I forget how to change a diaper.”
It isn’t until later that night, when they flick past a news report on TV, that Dean realises something. He ducks into the library to quickly flip through his journal, not stopping at the wedding entries this time, but scanning all the way back to entries made over a year ago. Finally he finds what he’s looking for:
‘Went to Beresford with Sam. Will o the wisp. Sent it back to fairyland.’
Huh. Will-o’-the-wisp. That could definitely account for the disappearances. Dean’s never hunted one personally before – not that he remembers, anyway – but from what little he knows, they’re phantom-lights that usually appear in woods or marshes, misdirecting travellers and leading them away from safer paths. Most cases turn out to be a run-of-the-mill ghost haunting, but judging from his journal entry, this was the real deal.
At least that explains why there were no bodies or remains left behind. Who knows what happened to those poor people in friggin’ fairyland. Dean shudders, remembering his brief time in that other plane of existence.
But even though he has an explanation now, something still doesn’t sit right with him. It nags at him – that feeling like there’s something more – but he just can’t remember what. He decides to go ask Sam about it.
He manages to get his brother’s attention without rousing any suspicion, and pulls him into the library, leaving the door open so they can hear if anyone is coming.
“What’s up, Dean?” Sam asks, raising his eyebrows in curiosity.
“One of the last things I remember, over a year ago, is coming across a case down in Beresford. Bunch of disappearances? Trail gone cold? Journal says it was a will-o’-the-wisp.”
“Yeah,” Sam nods. “We trapped it in iron and found a spell to send it back to the fairy-realm,” he explains.
It’s then when Dean suddenly remembers the thing that’s been nagging him.
“But Sam,” he hisses, “those things haven’t actually been around in over a century.”
“Yeah!” Sam exclaims. “Good thing you insisted on going. No one had any idea what they were dealing with! The other hunters Charlie sent hadn’t been to the fairy-realm before, so they never would’ve seen the damn things. Your little abduction came in handy.” Sam grins.
“Oh shaddup,” Dean grumbles, shuddering again at the memory. Sam laughs.
“So it doesn’t bother you that these things just… reappeared all of a sudden?” Dean frowns.
“No? Should it?” Sam asks, face scrunching up in confusion.
Dean raises his eyebrows pointedly in disbelief.
“Dean,” Sam sighs. “Like I said, maybe other hunters just haven’t been able to see them. And it’s not like we’ve never dealt with supposedly-extinct creatures before. Remember all those things that showed up the year Crowley was hunting down alphas?”
Dean deflates, nodding. “No, you’re right.”
“Okay,” Sam huffs in relief. “Now are you going to come watch a movie, or what?”
When he and Sam return to the living room, he sees that they’ve started watching G.I.Joe. Brenda and Cas are already so engrossed in the movie, the pair barely notice their return.
Sam goes straight for the couch Brenda’s on, wrapping an arm around her and snuggling close, his other hand resting on her pregnant belly and rubbing it gently.
On the other couch, the empty space beside Cas calls to him… but Dean remains where he is, hovering in the doorway and watching his family for a moment longer.
Eventually he turns around, and heads back to the library.
Chapter 10: It's not too late.
Dean wakes himself up from a light doze while it’s still dark outside. Castiel is sleeping heavily beside him, sprawled out across the mattress, and doesn’t even stir when Dean pulls himself out from under the sheets to sit on the edge of the bed. Doesn’t even stir when Dean runs his fingers through Cas’ hair, and leans over to plant a kiss on his temple. And as much as Dean wants to see those blue eyes, blinking up at him right now, it’s expected. He made Cas come twice with his lips and hands last night, before finally sinking into Cas’ body, and making him come once more. Cas probably won’t wake up again before midday.
He did it on purpose. He didn’t want there to be a chance Cas would wake up and try to stop him from what he had to do. Didn’t want to have another fight.
But he just can’t get rid of that nagging feeling. Regardless of what Sam’s told him. His instincts keep telling him that something is wrong, and he just can’t ignore it anymore.
Dean takes one last look at Castiel’s sleeping form, the rumpled mop of hair and the unshaved shadow along his jaw. Even when he presses his hand against the tattoo on Cas’ chest, Cas doesn’t wake, so effective was his plan.
Or maybe a part of him had just wanted to enjoy one last night together, before things between them went to hell again.
Dean gets dressed.
“Son of a bitch!” Dean nearly drops his duffle in surprise, clutching at his racing heart through his chest. “Brenda! What are you doing up so early?” he hisses.
“Morning sickness,” she replies, eyeing his bag suspiciously. “What are you doing up?”
“Uh…” Dean thinks fast, “I’m just going to visit a friend over in the next town,” he replies, trying to keep casual.
“Uh-huh,” Brenda deadpans, clearly not believing him. The lady is pretty sharp.
“You’re not about to do something stupid, are you?” she asks, crossing her arms over her chest and raising a disapproving eyebrow. She obviously knows him well.
“I’ll be back before you guys even know it. Nothing to worry about,” he tries to assure her.
“Tell me again how it’s nothing to worry about if it’s something you have to sneak out in the dead of the night for?”
Damn but the woman’s sharp.
“Do I need to get Sam?” Brenda narrows her eyes.
“No!” Dean blurts loudly. “Sam needs to be here with you right now,” he hisses, more quietly this time.
“You need to be here too, Dean,” she says, rolling her eyes at him.
“It’s not the same thing, Bren,” he says.
“Yes, it is,” Brenda insists, quietly, but firmly.
Dean is touched by the sentiment, but he still doesn’t agree.
“Look,” Brenda says, coming closer. “Don’t tell Sam I told you this because we wanted to do this together, but…” she takes a deep breath, “We want you to be the baby’s godfather.”
Dean’s eyes widen in surprise, a broad grin spreading across his face.
“If anything should ever happen to us, we want you to raise our kids,” she smiles. “You and Cas.”
“Jesus, Bren.” Dean breathes, stepping forward to envelop her in a hug.
“So, you see? You’re needed here too.” Brenda murmurs in his ear.
Dean nods as he pulls back, finding himself wiping at his eyes one more time that day.
“Now are you going to get back in bed with that angel of yours or what?” she grins.
Dean looks back in the direction of his bedroom, hesitating. He seriously considers it for a moment, climbing back into his warm bed, pressing himself up against Castiel’s warm body and wrapping himself up in Cas’ sleepy limbs. It’s a compelling idea.
And he gets what Brenda is trying to do, trying to make him feel needed and give him reasons to stay. But at the same time, he feels like he needs to go more than ever now. It’s never going to sit right with him if he just lets this go without checking it out himself. He doesn’t want this hanging over him, or his family. He needs to know there isn’t any danger to them, so close by. He can’t keep them all locked up in the house forever.
“I’m sorry, Bren. I have to go,” Dean finally replies, giving Brenda an apologetic smile. She sighs, shaking her head at him in disappointment, but conceding defeat. Dean walks past her, heading for the door.
“Can’t you just ignore it, Dean? You don’t need to do this,” she says as he passes. And even though it’s exactly what he’s been trying to tell himself, it just doesn’t take.
“I know. And I can’t,” Dean replies, opening the door. He pauses on the front step, swallowing down the feeling of dread that washes over him.
“Hey Bren?” he says over his shoulder, “Could you tell Cas… you know," he mutters, looking away.
“Sure, Dean,” she answers softly.
Dean closes the door behind him.
The drive down to Beresford doesn’t take long. He gets there just when shops start opening for business and pulls over for coffee and directions to a decent motel. He already has at least a dozen missed calls and messages from Cas and Sam, but he ignores them, not ready to deal with them just yet.
As he drives through the town, the first thing he notices is how small it is. It’s the kind of place where people would stand up and take notice if one of their own disappeared. But it’s right off a main road as well, so there’s probably enough through-traffic for the truck stop across the road from the motel he’s been directed to. And it also happens to be the last town before Union Grove State Park, so a lot of campers coming down from the city probably pass through there too. Dean gets the sinking feeling that a lot more people might have disappeared without anyone noticing.
The motel he ends up at turns out to be ‘The Crossroads Motel.’ Dean appreciates the irony in that. It’s way better than the seedy joints Dean used to frequent, but he figures since it’s been a while he can splurge a little. And he’s not sure he’s ready to deal with a crappy motel bed after having gotten used to his awesome bed at home.
So he’s been spoiled by living in comfortable domesticity for so long. He knows it. And if he didn’t, he sure would’ve worked it out when he puts on his old Fed suit. It hangs off him, like a potato-sack. It reminds him of how Garth looks in one of his too-big store-bought costumes. Dean hadn’t realized he’d lost so much muscle tone, living the good life.
It feels weird being on the job without a wingman. It feels weird being on the job, period. But he sucks it up, and pretty soon he’s back in business.
At first he thinks he’s gotten lucky, when no one at the police station remembers him. He figures maybe he and Sam split up the work the last time they were here, and his brother was the one who talked to the officers involved. It works out great because he doesn’t have to pretend that he’s been there before, and risk blowing his cover. More importantly, it’s a good opportunity to get information fresh from the source.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t get anything other than what he’s already read in the official reports.
A trip to the local newspaper results in the same thing.
His suit starts to feel really heavy and uncomfortable by then, so after lunch he decides to ditch it and go reporter for the rest of the interviews. It makes more sense. Eyebrows might be raised over federal resources being assigned to cases with trails this cold. There would be fewer questions over a reporter trying to find a story, no matter how thin. The locals tended to clam up when the law was involved anyway. He’ll go Fed again when he goes down to the State Park. At least he can get away with going there in plain-clothes.
He goes to question the parents of the runaway first. They don’t remember him either, which makes his job a whole lot easier again. But he begins to wonder if Cas made Sam lock him up in their motel room the entire time they were here before, or something like that. Dean wouldn’t put it past him.
The mother is clearly still distraught over her son’s disappearance, but she holds it in, trying to keep herself together, and Dean thinks that might have something to do with the step-father. The man is stiff and imposing, and clearly fed up with the whole thing already. There’s a friction there that makes the runaway story plausible. Dealing with them gives Dean a headache, and he can’t get out of there fast enough.
Afterwards, when he’s sitting in his car with his phone in his hand, he has a strong urge to hear Cas’ voice.
He calls the Park Ranger instead.
It’s another long drive down to Union Grove and it’s too late to start now, the sun’s already going down. The Ranger agrees to meet him the next morning and show him to the campers’ site.
When Dean hangs up, he notices it’s time for the guy he needs to talk to at the truck stop to have started his shift, so he heads back in that direction. The manager’s there as well, but again, no one seems to remember him from the last time he was in town. His head is pounding by then, so he’s just cranky enough to wonder whether he really came to Beresford at all.
No one knows anything about the trucker. If it wasn’t for the semi he’d left abandoned there, no one would have even known he was missing. No one from out of town ever came looking for him either.
Dean can see how the disappearances could be written off as unrelated. The people involved seem to have nothing in common, and enough time passed between each occurrence for it to be considered random. Even though in a small town like this, for it to happen more than once, in such a relatively small amount of time, was unusual.
But it certainly doesn’t scream of anything supernatural either. When Dean steps outside he notes that aside from the motel across the road, there isn’t much of anything around besides a few trees. There’s a few more buildings further away down the road, but all the surrounding area is flatland. And most of the things that go bump in the night prefer to have a little more cover.
Granted, there are a lot of monsters that can get you right out in the open. Like vampires, shape-shifters, sirens, or djinn. But the more animal-like ones usually rely on their environment to sneak around and hide. Like werewolves, wendigos, or spring-heeled jacks. Even will-o’-the-wisps usually stick to bogs and marshes. The real ones anyway. The thickness of those kind of landscapes are an essential part of their subterfuge.
Then again, who knows how a modern-day will-o’-the-wisp behaves? Maybe it was just dumb luck that he saw it last time. There certainly isn’t any obvious pattern to indicate anything otherwise. In fact, if it wasn’t for his journal entry, he would be pretty damn close to writing the whole thing off as being a random, human thing.
That is, if he can trust that journal entry. He just doesn’t know anymore. He still can’t shake that feeling, that sinking instinct in his gut telling him that something’s off.
He decides to hit the hay early that night, utterly exhausted, and unable to fight off the headache that’s been plaguing him all day. He’s just not used to the mental demands of hunting anymore. He has an early start the next morning as well, so he doesn’t feel too guilty about it.
He really wants to hear Cas’ voice though. Especially when he climbs into his too cold, too big, unfamiliar bed. But instead he just types a message saying he’s okay and not to worry.
It’s a long time before he manages to fall asleep, staring at his phone.
Darkness. Eyes. Running. Cas. No.
Dean wakes up several times that night with Castiel’s name thick in his mouth, the backs of his eyes still burning with images of black forests and angry red eyes.
Eventually he just gives up on sleep altogether and throws himself into the shower. It’s almost dawn anyway, so if he starts driving soon the sun will be up by the time he gets to the State Park.
It’s an uneventful drive, straight down the highway with miles of farmland on each side. Dean imagines on a clear morning he would be treated to a great view of the sunrise as well, but the sky is overcast, so all Dean gets when the sun rises is a lot more gray. It’s cold and depressing, and the car is already too quiet, so it isn’t soon enough when he sees the turn off for Union Grove.
The Ranger has just arrived as well, so Dean parks the Impala and gets out, flashing his fake badge.
“Agent McClane.” The Ranger nods.
“Mike,” the Ranger interrupts. “Ranger Mike will do.”
Dean nods. The guy is built like an athlete, taller than him, but still not as big as his brother. He reminds Dean of that guy who got stabbed in the heart and didn’t die because Alastair had captured his reaper in order to break a seal. Only difference Dean can tell is that Mike has one of those bushy outdoorsman type beards, but the two men could almost be identical otherwise.
That was a messy case. Pamela died during that case.
That was also one of the first times Cas showed up to help him out.
Just turn around, Dean. It’s not too late to go home.
Dean pulls his phone out of his pocket. Normally, it’d be too early for Cas to be awake. But he also knows Cas probably didn’t sleep at all last night, and would most likely be awake to yell at him if he called.
“You ready to go?” Ranger Mike asks.
He opts to type out a brief message again instead, telling Cas where he is and that he’ll call later, then slides the phone back into his jacket.
“Lead the way,” he replies.
The trek to the camping grounds is, unfortunately, not as quiet as his drive there. The track itself is easy enough to manage, mostly flat and clear the whole way. But Ranger Mike doesn’t shut up for one second, grumbling the whole way about one thing or another – how it’s too early, too cold, too dark – and Dean almost tells him to get lost and go back to the front office more than once. He was already cranky from the lack of sleep, but the guy’s incessant complaining is giving him another headache.
And here he thought Rangers were all supposed to be ridiculously chipper and one with nature and all that crap.
“Well, here we are,” Mike points to a clearing up ahead. “As you can see, it’s pretty obvious someone couldn’t get lost here,” Mike rolls his eyes. “Unless someone or something dragged them away. But even then you’d be able to see the tracks.”
Dean has to agree. The ground is flat and dry with clear sights through the surrounding trees, even under a gray morning sky. So it’s less likely that the campers got lost on their own. More likely that something led them away or carried them off.
“There shouldn’t even be anything around that’s big enough to do that,” Mike says. “Sure, we got some snakes that’ll take you down, but we don’t get anything bigger than deer in this area,” he explains. “We closed the Park down for a while anyway, just to be safe.”
“And nothing was ever found? Not even remains?” Dean asks.
“Nope,” Mike replies. “Darndest thing.”
Dean nods, giving the area another once over. He’s glad he came now. Even a human would’ve left behind tracks or some other kind of evidence. An abduction that clean had to be the work of some kind of monster.
The question is, what kind exactly? Was it really a will-o’-the-wisp, like his journal said? It certainly fits the bill – forestland, no tracks, no remains – but he’s still having trouble accepting it.
And there are a few things which leave tracks that can only be found if you know what to look for. Tracks made by a spring-heeled jack are so far apart and so deep, they look like random holes in the ground, dug by animals. Wendigos are sentient enough to double-back and cover up their trail, given the chance. Normal people would miss those kind of things.
“Satisfied, Agent?” Mike asks.
“Almost,” Dean says, noticing a few hills and outcroppings in the distance. “What’s in that direction?” he asks, pointing.
“Over there’s where the stream divides in two,” Mike replies. “If there was anything there though, it would’ve washed away a long time ago,” he adds.
“I’d like to take a look anyway,” Dean replies. He doesn’t know what he’s expecting to find, but his instincts are telling him he needs to check it out.
It’s strange. He knows the place wouldn’t be open for camping if there were an abundance of dangerous wildlife around, but at the moment there doesn’t seem to be any wildlife at all. Not even birds. It’s way too quiet, and way too still, and yet Dean feels an undeniable presence in the woods that raises his hackles and makes his hair stand up on end.
What’s worse is, as the morning progresses, the clouds thicken above their heads, turning the sky grayer and grayer until the lush green of the trees around them turns to gray as well. It reminds him more and more of Purgatory with each passing second. There’s a surreal moment when he reaches the top of an outcropping over the stream, and he can almost see Cas kneeling there beside it in his trench-coat and scrubs, dirty and dishevelled.
He tries to shake it off. Tries to put it down to the nightmares he’s been having. Tries to tell himself he’s just being paranoid… but then he remembers that the paranoia may be a good thing. His memory may be playing tricks on him, but that eerie feeling that he’s being watched just might be real.
“Mike!” Dean stops, pulling out his gun. The Ranger looks alarmed when he sees Dean’s weapon, but Dean quickly puts a finger to his lips, alerting him to keep quiet.
Slowly Dean turns around, scanning the woods for anything off, any kind of movement or sign of their potential attacker.
It happens so fast.
One second he has the Ranger in his peripheral vision, and then all he does is blink, and Mike is gone.
“Ranger!” Dean calls out, heart rate spiking. “Ranger Mike!” he tries again, his voice cutting clear through the silence of the woods.
When Dean doesn’t get a reply, he rushes towards the spot he last saw the Ranger, and checks the ground for any other tracks. A few feet away he finds a new trail, larger, deeper from more weight. Whether it’s from the added weight of carrying the Ranger, or because the thing is bigger to begin with, Dean doesn’t know yet. But the trail looks disturbingly familiar.
He pulls out his phone, hoping if he can dial the Ranger fast enough, he’ll be able to hear his phone ring before he gets too far away. But when Dean rings the number the line goes dead, and he realizes he has no reception.
“Son of a bitch,” Dean curses in frustration, running after the trail.
He follows it for over an hour as the day gets grayer and grayer, through thickening trees, over ground covered with rocks and dead branches, far away from any of the main tracks. As he gets more fatigued he feels even more like he’s in Purgatory again, and strangely enough the spike of adrenaline that thought produces keeps him going. But when Dean passes a familiar outcropping for what he thinks might be the third time he realises he’s being led around in circles. With another curse, Dean heads back towards the stream.
He’s almost certain he’s dealing with a wendigo now. He’s hasn’t seen any phantom-lights, for one thing, so it isn’t a will-o’-the-wisp. A wendigo would be fast enough, and strong enough to carry off a large man in a blink of the eye.
When he clears the trees by the water, there’s something different. Where before there was just a pile of rocks under the hill near the Ranger’s last position, now there’s an opening – wide, dark, and cave-like – just yawning at him like it’s always been there. Dean would be amused by the whole thing if he wasn’t so goddamn pissed off. Taking a deep breath, he heads for the entrance.
It looks like just a cave at first. Exactly the kind of place they used to look for in Purgatory when they needed shelter. Problem was, everything in Purgatory had the same idea, so you never knew what was lurking in the depths of the black.
Dean keeps his guard up, going slow so his eyes can adjust to the changing light. Nothing worse than walking right into the thing that wants to kill you.
Eventually he sees two lumps on the ground, human shaped, tied together at the wrists. He thinks he’s finally found Ranger Mike, but when he gets closer, what he sees isn’t the tan of a State Park uniform.
It’s the tan of a familiar trench-coat, rumpled and dirty on the ground.
“Cas?” Dean gasps, running forward. The shape of the body becomes more familiar, the dark mop of unruly hair unmistakable.
His first thought is that the stubborn son of a bitch followed him out to Beresford, worked out where he was going and took up the trail to take care of the thing before Dean arrived. And then it got Cas instead.
“Goddammit Cas, you’ve got to stop doing this!” Dean hisses, sliding to the ground. He wishes he hadn’t been so stubborn either, that he could just go back in time, reset to before this all happened.
Then Dean looks closer, and sees something that makes his blood run cold.
Torn, dirt-streaked, but still the unmistakable white of Asylum scrubs.
To match the dirt-streaked peach fuzz growing on Cas’ face.
“What the hell?” Dean frowns, reaching down. But as soon as his fingers touch Castiel’s coat, the ground begins to rumble, shaking dust and gravel loose from the ceiling of the cave. A fierce wind blasts through the cave, ripping the air from his lungs and attacking him with debris. He throws himself over Castiel’s body, trying to shield him, but the ground rolls beneath them, the cave cracking and collapsing around them… And then everything stops.
Cautiously, Dean blinks open his eyes. And then immediately blinks them again, shaking himself in confusion. What he sees doesn’t make sense. It’s not the ceiling of the cave. It’s the roof of what looks like a warehouse, cheap electric lights glaring down at him.
He raises a hand to shield his eyes so he can look at the rest of his surroundings, and the first thing he notices is the binding that falls off his wrist. Not rope, but something that looks like it, like thickly woven hair.
And there’s blood, of course. Still fresh, still running from a jagged slice across his strangely thin arm. Dean winces.
“Dean!” a familiar face hovers over him.
“Sam?” he croaks, and has to swallow against the pain immediately. His throat feels so raw. “Water,” he grimaces, and the movement hurts his lips, too cracked and dry.
Sam’s face disappears, and the next face he sees doesn’t immediately compute in his overwhelmed mind either. It looks like Kevin, except the last time he saw Kevin the kid was well on his way to becoming a bearded alcoholic. This Kevin is fresh-faced. Worried, but not world-weary. And he has hair longer than Sam’s.
Dean twists around even further, and the next thing he sees is the reason for Kevin’s concern. Right beside him, in a dirty, trench-coated heap on the floor, is Castiel, just as he was in Purgatory.
That’s when Dean sees the thing handcuffed to the railing of the stairs, grinning at him with two angry pinprick lights for eyes. It’s huge. And its skin is so thickly covered in tattoos it’s almost entirely black. But Dean recognizes that icy blue glow, swirling around its skin. And the understanding hits him like a kick to the gut.
It was a djinn, all along. Not just in Beresford, but the entire time before that as well. They never got out of Purgatory, until now. That whole year before the angels fell never happened. There was never any demon tablet, or angel tablet – never any trials or banishing spells…
Cas never became human. And they never rebuilt Bobby’s. There’s nothing there. No house. No garden. No Brenda or any nieces or nephews on the way. And no Cas waiting for him to come home.
“NO!” Dean roars.
Chapter 11: Not in this life.
It’s like watching television on mute, the way all the volume seems to get sucked out of the world, and all he can do is watch dumbly as the scene unfolds before him. He sees the confusion and disorientation in Cas’ eyes when they finally open, taking in his dirty white scrubs and all the cuts on his arms. He sees the slow recognition as Cas takes a closer look at Kevin, the warehouse they’re in, and then the monster chained to the stairs. And then Dean sees the realization, the pain, the anger, the way Cas’ mouth moves around a whispered “No.”
The disbelieving horror Dean watches this all with intensifies, when Cas pushes himself up to stand on unsteady feet, and finally sees him there, lying in a crumpled heap with Sam hovering over him. Dean sees flight in Castiel’s eyes.
“Don’t.” The word escapes his throat, like an unbidden reflex, and all the volume comes rushing back with it. Castiel looks at him for a long moment, swaying on his feet, then frowns, looking down at himself.
“Something is wrong,” Castiel declares, scowling. “I can’t leave.”
“Feeling a little drained, sweetheart?” a new voice hisses through the air. All eyes whip towards the djinn, and as the creature jeers with laughter Dean sees the glow of angel-grace in its eyes.
“You have been feeding on my grace,” Castiel glares.
“That’s right. And it tasted sooo good,” the Djinn grins, a dirty slash in the tattooed black.
Dean tenses. That voice, there’s something so familiar about it.
The djinn leers at him knowingly, and Dean’s skin crawls. Castiel looks murderous. Sam senses the effect the djinn is having on them and picks up the discarded hair-rope off the floor, shoving it right in the mouth of the grinning monster and gagging him with it.
Castiel sways on his feet again, leaning heavily on Kevin’s shoulder, and somehow Dean finds the strength to rush over, shouldering the other half of his weight. Cas turns vulnerable, scared eyes on him as they shuffle towards the examination table close by, and Dean’s chest constricts tightly in response. He looks away, shoving down the urge to hold Cas closer and silently helping Castiel lie down on the table.
He’s on the verge of collapse himself after that, and Kevin helps him down into a nearby chair. The kid then comes back with a blanket to cover Castiel, but when he hands another one to Dean he doesn’t accept it. Instead he lays it under Castiel’s head, protecting him from the cool steel of the table.
Sam shows up with more water and protein bars, and Dean takes one gratefully, tearing it open to eat. His brother flounders a little when he offers the same to Castiel, unsure what the angel needs to recuperate, and ends up just leaving them by Castiel’s side on the table. Castiel makes no move to reach for them, just stares back at Dean as his eyelids get heavier and heavier.
Dean doesn’t look away, watching as Castiel slowly falls asleep. When Cas’ eyes finally close all the way, Dean feels something like relief. He can’t help but think that if the angel is sleeping, then he isn’t leaving anytime soon.
“Hey,” Sam says quietly, appearing at his side again. “Kevin’s going to keep an eye on you while I go find some lamb’s blood to deal with the djinn. Are you guys going to be okay?”
Dean nods tiredly, eyes still fixed on Cas.
“Alright, I’ll bring back some real food as well. Maybe some IV bags if I can.”
Dean gives him a brief smile.
“Thanks, Sam,” he says, too exhausted to say anything more, but he can tell from the smile Sam gives him in return that his brother understands what he means.
It’s blessedly quiet after that. Kevin helps him open up more protein bars and he slowly goes through them, building up his strength and keeping a watchful eye on Castiel. He doesn’t know how long it will take for Cas’ grace to recuperate, but he knows all Cas needs is just enough to get up to Heaven where he can recharge properly.
“How long?” Dean croaks when he’s finally feeling strong enough to talk again. It felt like he was in the djinn’s world for years, but he knows time runs differently in dreams. And God knows how it runs in Purgatory.
“Couple of months,” Kevin answers. “We’ve been looking non-stop for a way to get you out.”
Dean nods. That sounds more like the Sam he knows.
“So how did you do it?” he asks.
“Some witch called Don Stark gave us a spell,” Kevin mutters.
“Don Stark? Oh man,” Dean manages to huff a laugh. “Did it involve feathers and clamps?” he smirks.
Kevin’s mouth snaps shut, and the kid immediately begins blushing.
“Holy crap, it did, didn’t it?” Dean gapes. Kevin still doesn’t say anything.
Dean blows out a disbelieving sigh, scrubbing a hand down his face. “What else did this spell involve?” he asks, scowling.
“Sam had this amulet thing we had to use,” Kevin finally answers. “It had to be something important to both of you.”
Dean’s eyes widen in surprise, knowing exactly what amulet Kevin is talking about. He’d thrown it out after Castiel gave it back to him, but obviously Sam retrieved it from the bin after he left the room.
“The djinn was unexpected,” Kevin mutters. “Maybe it came along because it had so much of your blood and Castiel’s grace in it,” Kevin shrugs, waving in Castiel’s direction.
Dean glances at the still-sleeping Angel. Before he can think about what he’s doing he’s reaching out, carefully running his fingers through Cas’ hair. Out of the corner of his vision he sees the djinn’s eyes flicker brightly at him, and when Dean looks he sees amusement in those glowing orbs.
Dean pulls his hand away. He doesn’t know how he’s going to do this. He doesn’t know how he’s going to… readjust.
He tries not to think about it too hard. Especially with the djinn sitting right there, watching him with too-knowing eyes. Dean can’t wait to stab it, right in its black heart.
When Sam finally gets back with the supplies, Dean thinks he’s never been so happy to see a burger in his life. The gloriously starchy carbs instantly make him feel better, and he stuffs himself so fast, Sam has to forcibly take away his food before he makes himself sick.
Normally, he wouldn’t let that fly without kicking up a fuss, but when Sam pulls out the lamb’s blood he immediately switches gears, getting his head in the game.
“I want to do it,” he tells Sam, standing up. “But I want a minute with it first. In private.”
“Are you sure?” Sam asks dubiously, taking in his state with concern.
“Yeah. Take Cas to the car or something. This won’t take long,” he says, already turning towards the djinn with a menacing glare.
He hears Sam shuffle over to the bed behind him, but he doesn’t look. It’s already hard enough just to hear the little grumbling sound Cas makes, when he’s unhappy about being woken up. Eventually he hears the heavy metal door of the warehouse slam, and it’s just him and the djinn alone.
“You going to end me, Dean? Stab me with your steely knife, the way you did so many of my children?” the djinn hisses as he dips his knife in the lamb’s blood.
“You’re an alpha,” Dean says, more for his own benefit than the beast’s, filing away the information.
“That’s right. I’m the Big Daddy, as you would say,” it grins. Of course it’s an alpha. All the alphas in Purgatory probably had their own Battle Royale when he got there, just to decide who would get a piece of him first.
“You were in my head, the whole time. Weren’t you?” Dean scowls, “Implanting ideas… making snide little comments…”
The djinn laughs. “You needed a little direction,” it sneers. “You were a difficult subject!” it adds in an admonishing tone. As if Dean was some kind of problem child.
“And sometimes I just couldn’t help myself, you were just so entertaining,” it grins, “The way to your heart really is through your stomach, isn’t it Dean Winchester?” it laughs, throwing its head back with a horrible gurgling sound in its throat.
Dean turns away, grimacing. He suddenly feels like he wants to throw up everything he just ate.
“Took you long enough!” the djinn shrieks. “Do you have any idea what I had to do to get you to be happy? First all you wanted was out of Purgatory. Then all you wanted was your angel back. And even then you just let him flit off whenever he wanted! Ugh,” the Djinn grunts, disgusted.
“And I left you so many hints,” it shakes his head, unimpressed. “Didn’t you notice how almost all of your cases involved some kind of relationship between a human and a supernatural being? Didn’t you notice how your only ally in Purgatory was a creature who defied his maker, his God, for the love of a human? I even threw a gay couple at you near the end there, and you barely even blinked!”
“Now, I’m the kind of creature that appreciates a slow burn, but COME ON! I had no choice but to take it out of your hands, skip to the happy ever after!”
“Worked like a charm too,” the djinn leers. “Ohhh it tasted so sweet!”
Dean really wants to punch it. Right in the mouth. But he doesn’t want to risk making contact with the thing’s skin, not knowing what it might do. He ends up biting the inside of his cheek, hard, until he tastes blood in his mouth.
“But then you had to ruin it all!” the creature goes on. “You were so worried about something coming along and destroying your perfect little life, that you walked right into the danger and ruined everything all on your own!”
“Are you ever going to stop monologuing?” Dean growls.
“And I gave you so many chances to turn back,” it ignores him, shaking its head in disappointment again.
Dean remembers the lapse in time after he first came across the case in Beresford, how miserable he’d been when he and Cas first fought about it, and how he’d wished he could fast forward in time to when it was all over. And then there was the way Brenda practically ambushed him when he was leaving. The way Ranger Mike bitched and moaned all the way through the park, and the headache that came with it. The headache he always seemed to get, now that he thinks about it, whenever he began to question things too much. The headache that seemed to disappear, whenever he decided to just go along with it.
But he also realizes now, that his subconscious always knew what was happening on some level – the way he kept dreaming about losing Cas in Purgatory, over and over again. It had really happened. He’d really found Cas in that cave, where the djinn had taken him. And that’s when the djinn must’ve gotten Dean too.
And then there was that case, that constant instinct buzzing under his skin, telling him something wasn’t right.
Only it wasn’t the case. It was everything.
The case was just some kind of symptom, a warning from his subconscious, or maybe the effect of the spell Sam had started to pull them out. It was a few days in the dinn’s world, but it would’ve only been moments on the outside. And the stronger Sam’s spell got, the weaker the djinn’s hold became, so the illusion started catching up to reality - the Park turned into Purgatory, the djinn’s cave was revealed, and it all came full circle, when he found Cas lying on the ground.
Actually, he’d found two bodies. At the time he’d thought it was Ranger Mike, but now he realizes he was probably seeing himself tied up next to Cas, unconscious and dreaming.
He wonders what kind of dream Cas was living in, under the djinn’s spell. What kind of Heaven. Probably something like the real one, in its heyday. Something vastly removed from that quiet moment, under a tree in a sunny field, with his hand on Cas’ heart.
“You could’ve still been with him, this very moment.” the djinn hisses, knowing the inside of his head all too well now. “Could’ve been in his bed… In his body…”
“You shut your mouth!” Dean rounds on it with a vicious snarl.
“Make me,” the djinn hisses back.
Dean shoves his knife right into its heart.
For a long moment, Dean just stares at the creature, waiting for it to keel over. But instead, the thing throws its head back, and laughs. Guffaws. The sound gurgling with evil.
“Your meager human contraptions won’t work on me anymore! Not with all this angel-grace inside me!” it jeers. Dean is suddenly reminded of when Sam tried to stab Cas with an angel blade, but Cas was too juiced up with Purgatory souls to be affected.
Huh. They’re in that same warehouse right now.
“All that angel in me, so so sweet!” the thing leers.
Dean punches it in the mouth. He’s had enough.
“I wonder how long it’ll take for you to work it out this time!” the thing keeps talking. “Or if you’ll even get there at all!”
Dean punches it again, revelling in the painful crunch of bone and flesh and relishing the momentary silence it brings. Even though the djinn keeps right on talking afterwards.
“Even if you do manage to work it out somehow, you’ll probably find a way to ruin it, all over again. Just like every other godforsaken thing that you care about,” the djinn hisses, using his own words against him from when he thought he’d left Cas in Purgatory.
Dean punches it again, and again. Over and over until his knuckles are split and bloodied. And the djinn just laughs and laughs. Dean knows it’s just taunting him. He knows he went looking for danger in his dream because there actually was danger. But he also knows there’s truth in what the thing is saying as well.
“No happy endings for Dean Winchester! Not in this life! No love! No joy! Because deep down, you know you don’t deser—“ the creature chokes off, its eyes widening in stunned disbelief. The irises begin to glow, not their normal blue, but white with angelic grace. Dean staggers backwards as the light gets brighter, and brighter. That’s when he sees the angel-blade sticking out of the thing’s chest, Castiel standing off to the side.
He has to throw up an arm to shield his eyes as the light gets unbearably bright, ringing loudly in his ears and resonating through his body, until it finally explodes all around them with a big bang.
When Dean’s eyesight readjusts, the djinn is gone. Nothing but a smoking smudge on the ground where it used to be.
A movement in his peripheral vision catches his eye, and Dean turns just in the time to see Castiel swaying dangerously on his feet again. Both he and Sam rush forward, catching Cas just in time before he falls over. Dean briefly wonders if Cas ever gets any of the benefits of adrenaline that humans do.
Because Cas isn’t human.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m getting real tired of this place,” Dean growls.
“Yeah. Let’s go,” Sam agrees.
Sam takes the angel-blade out of Castiel’s hand before slinging Cas’ arm over his shoulder, and Dean feels a momentary twinge of relief at that. It must be one of the blades they keep in the trunk of the Impala. It looks like it’s going to take a while for Cas to be able to manifest his own blade again, or do any other angel things, like teleport away.
But Dean’s relief is short-lived as they begin to shuffle Castiel out the main door to the car. He can feel Cas’ eyes on him again, heavy and scrutinizing, but he can’t bring himself to meet the gaze. He doesn’t know how exactly what Cas heard before he stabbed the djinn, but there wasn’t any part of it Dean would’ve been comfortable with anyone hearing.
Cas doesn’t let up though. And the car ride is awkward as fuck with the guy silently boring his eyes into the back of Dean’s head. Dean slouches down into his seat and fakes sleep.
It works too well, as the adrenaline wears off. He slips into a half-conscious doze, and before he knows it, they’re in the parking lot of a motel. Kevin helps Cas into what looks like a fresh room, while Sam guides him to the room next door, pointing out Kevin’s old bed for him to immediately faceplant on.
The kid doesn’t seem too happy about it, the way he pulls Sam aside for some heated murmuring just out of Dean’s range of hearing. Dean doesn’t really care. He’s too exhausted. But he’s not so out of it that he misses the way Sam touches Kevin’s wrist, before Kevin stomps into the room and starts gathering his things.
He didn’t see that coming.
He actually starts to get royally pissed off about it for a second, on Brenda’s behalf, but then he remembers that Brenda doesn’t exist. Neither did Amelia for that matter. They were just figments of Dean’s imagination – the kind of girl he always figured his brother would end up with, or the kind of girl he wanted his brother to end up with. He really, really liked Brenda. And he was really looking forward to being an uncle. But he should’ve known. Winchesters don’t get that lucky. She was too much like Jessica - way out of their league.
Dean huffs a bitter laugh, too exhausted to care either way anymore. For someone who’s just spent an unknown length of time unconscious and dreaming, he’s tired as hell, and all he wants to do is sleep for a week.
So of course, that’s the last thing that happens.
Now that he’s started to think about all the things that weren’t real, he just can’t stop. It was all an illusion. Just a dream. Castiel never fell. Castiel never fell for him. Never made him pie or taught him how to fly a kite, never smiled at him under a fairy-lit arch in their garden, or held him in the dead of the night after terrible nightmares. Never touched him, or kissed him, or soothed him until he felt something like safe again.
This, here, now, is what’s real. And they’re only separated by a plywood wall so thin, Dean could probably punch a hole through it if he wanted to, but Cas might as well be on another planet for all the good it would do.
No, another planet might actually be preferable. Because it’s a kind of torture in itself, knowing Cas is so close, and yet so far out of reach.
Dean’s almost afraid to go to sleep again. Afraid of what he’ll dream about now. Either he has more nightmares, or he has good dreams. Really, really good dreams. And those will be so much worse, because he knows when he wakes up, Castiel won’t be there with him.
Dean doesn’t sleep for the week he wants to. Instead he gets a fitful sixteen hours, confused with dreams of running through Purgatory and waking up in Castiel’s arms, over and over again. Black nights and sun-kissed mornings, cycling on repeat, each time more gut-wrenching than the last.
He’s in the middle of taking a sledgehammer to their bedroom – his and fake-Castiel’s fake-bedroom – when he wakes up for real. He knows it’s for real because he wakes up in a motel, and the sunlight is sharp and uncomfortable in his eyes. Nothing like the warm glow that filled the rooms at Bobby’s house. Bobby’s fake-house. Fake sunlight as well, for that matter.
He needs a drink.
Especially when he rolls over and sees Sam giving him his best pity-face from where he’s sitting at the kitchenette table.
Was it really too much to ask to get away with not saying anything incriminating in his sleep, on top of it all?
“Where’s the whisky?” he snarls, scrubbing a hand down his face as he sits up on the edge of the bed.
Sam’s pity-face instantly becomes a bitch-face.
“I brought you some food,” he replies, pointing at the take-away containers on the table. Dean’s stomach promptly gives forth a growl.
“Thanks,” he mutters, dragging himself over to the table.
It’s some kind of breakfast burger, by the looks of it. Filled with eggs and bacon as well as all the other standard burger-y goodness, complete with a side of fries. Exactly the kind of thing he used to love… before. But it’s already gone a little cold, so it tastes more like grease than anything else. And he can’t be bothered trying to microwave it, because at this stage it’ll only make it greasier.
And all he can think about is Cas’ voice in his ear, telling him, “You should be careful about what you eat now, Dean. If you have a stroke or a heart-attack, I can’t heal you anymore.” Right before Cas lays down the best bacon and eggs he’s ever had.
Dean throws down his food, suddenly finding himself without an appetite.
“Seriously?” Sam breathes incredulously when he notices, though Dean thinks he wasn’t really meant to hear it. He glares at his brother anyway.
“Dean, what happened? What was it like there?” Sam asks, eyes full of concern. And what the hell is he supposed to say to that? It was bliss? It was home? It was what Heaven should be? It was so goddamn perfect, he should’ve known better?
“I don’t want to talk about it, Sam,” Dean snaps, pushing away from the table. Sam’s expression begins to turn bitch-face again, but Dean’s saved from it when there’s a knock on their door.
“Guys? We’ve got coffee from across the road,” Kevin calls from outside.
“Thank Christ,” Dean mutters, going to the door to let Kevin in.
And then Castiel walks into the room, right behind Kevin, and Dean’s so shocked at what he sees, he forgets to breathe.
It seems that this time, Castiel didn’t just walk into a bathroom and come out magically transformed into his old self. He’d had to shower. And shave. But instead of looking better, he looks worse, the absence of peach fuzz revealing just how pale and hollow his cheeks have become. He looks as bad as Dean feels.
Then Dean realizes that Cas would’ve needed new clothes too. It hadn’t immediately clicked, so accustomed to seeing Castiel wearing his old clothes by now. But then Dean remembers that by all rights, his old Led Zeppelin t-shirt and jeans should be buried in a duffle bag, in the depths of the Impala’s trunk, along with a bunch of other grease-stained old clothes he only wears when he’s working on the car.
As Castiel comes closer, Dean finds himself backing away, transfixed by the sight of Cas – the real Cas – in that shirt.
“That’s…. that’s my shirt,” Dean say breathlessly, wanting to form some kind of protest, but unable to think of anything else.
“Do you want it back?” Castiel frowns, fingering a frayed thread on the end of the shirt, and there’s something so disappointed and unhappy about it that Dean immediately feels worse, regardless of the bitch-face Sam gives him.
“Nah,” he finally replies. “You can use it for now,” he says. “But maybe later I’ll… get it off you.” Dean’s throat suddenly clenches tight, remembering the first time he had this near exact conversation, that first day in Bobby’s kitchen.
He’s no more immune now, to the effect seeing Cas in his clothes has on him. He finds himself swaying forward into Castiel’s space, his mouth mere inches from Castiel’s own. And then Sam loudly clears his throat to interrupt them, just like before.
Dean blinks stupidly as he focuses once more on what’s in front of him – the real Castiel. Not his Castiel. Not the Castiel he’s already kissed a million times over. Not even a Castiel who would welcome a kiss from him in the first place. Dean pulls away.
Castiel frowns at him, giving him that confused, tilty-headed stare thing of his, but he doesn’t say anything about it. He probably didn’t even pick up on the unintended innuendo in what Dean’s said. And after a long moment of heavy scrutinization, Castiel awkwardly hands him his coffee, and leaves the room.
“What the hell, Sam?” Dean hisses when the door closes. “That’s my stuff! Not cool!”
“He needed clothes, Dean. And you hardly wear that stuff anymore anyway,” Sam answers, bitch-glare firmly in place again.
“Yeah, but the Zeppelin shirt? Really?”
“Hey, he picked it!” Sam throws up his hands.
“Son of a bitch.” Dean curses at the ridiculousness of the situation, scrubbing a hand down his face. Of all the things Cas could’ve picked out of that bag, of course it had to be that shirt.
“Look, we’ll take him shopping for his own stuff today, okay?” Sam offers, trying to mollify him.
“Yeah, okay. Whatever,” Dean mutters, taking a sip of his coffee. It takes him a few seconds for him to realize it’s not the cheap, gas-station machine stuff it should be. Spoiled as he’s been by good, home-made coffee, at first he doesn’t realize what he’s drinking is pretty damn close. But once he works it out, he can’t enjoy it. It’s just another reminder of what he doesn’t have anymore, and it only makes him more resentful.
“You want to drive?” Sam asks, holding out the keys to the car.
Dean grins as he takes them from Sam’s fingers, heading for the Impala while Sam goes next door to get Kevin and Cas. He feels better as soon as he slides into the driver’s seat, palming the steering wheel in a familiar caress before he reaches down to insert the key in the ignition. If there’s one thing that’s remained constant, across dreams and Djinns and time itself, it’s his baby. For the first time since he got out of Purgatory, he starts to feel a little like he’s home.
The Impala’s already purring by the time Sam and Cas get in, so he’s a little annoyed when he checks his rear-view mirror.
“Where’s the kid?” he frowns.
“Kevin’s not coming. He wants to get more sleep,” Sam explains. A quick glance in his mirror reveals Cas looking a little shifty in the backseat, maybe a little guilty even, but a warning glance from Sam tells Dean not to question it.
Whatever. Dean shrugs it off and pulls out of the parking lot. And since the ‘driver picks the music, shotgun (and everyone else) shuts their cakehole,’ Dean puts on some Bad Company to avoid suffering through another awkward car ride.
That idea lasts all of one excruciating chorus. Just long enough for Paul Rodgers to wail, “I want you to stay! I want you today! I’m ready for love!” before Dean is turning it the fuck off.
Sam wisely doesn’t comment. Instead, his brother directs him to a street in town lined with shops and diners, and they pull over as soon as they see a Men’s clothing store.
Dean idles around the front of the shop as Sam tries to herd Castiel towards a rack of suits, but Cas just frowns at them and turns towards the more casual clothing. Sam’s resulting bitch-face is a little funny. Not that he’s really paying attention or anything.
His brother recovers fast though, making a quick judgment of Cas’ size and then piling the angel’s arms with jeans and henleys, before giving him a gentle shove towards the changing room. Dean finally sidles over once Cas disappears inside.
“Does he really need all of that? It’s not like he’s going to need more than one thing once he’s all angel again,” Dean mutters.
“We don’t know how long that’s going to take, Dean. So until then, yeah, he might need some choices,” Sam replies.
“Because he’s so good with choices,” Dean answers sarcastically, rolling his eyes.
“Dean!” Sam barks. “You were the one who wanted him out of your clothes to begin with!”
“Um… what? I mean, yeah.” Dean sputters, trying to stay cool.
“I mean, uh…” Sam blushes furiously, realizing what he’s just said. “You know what I mean,” he huffs, crossing his arms.
There’s an awkward silence that follows, in which they both try to look everywhere but at each other, but eventually Dean gives in.
“So what’s the plan now?” he says. “What are we doing?”
“Well, once you guys are rested up, I was thinking we should take Kevin home,” Sam shrugs.
“What?” Dean exclaims. “But what about Crowley?”
“What about Crowley?” Sam asks, confused.
Right. Crowley probably hasn’t even shown his face since they took down Dick Roman. The whole demon tablet thing was made up by the djinn. So it would be relatively safe to return Kevin home to his mother.
“He’s only here because I needed his help with Don Stark’s spell anyway.” Sam mumbles.
“What, did it require the blood of a virgin or something?” Dean smirks.
Sam still manages to throw him a glare, even as he turns an impressive shade of red.
“Son of a bitch, it did, didn’t it!” Dean laughs.
“Dean!” Sam hisses, not even able to tell him to shut up, he’s blushing so hard. Dean laughs so hard he nearly cries, bending over and heaving in great gulps of air as he wipes at his eyes. By the time the chuckles die down and he’s caught his breath back, Sam looks fairly miserable, so he takes pity on his brother.
“You gonna be okay with that?” he asks, serious again.
“With what?” Sam snaps, still huffy.
“With letting the kid go,” Dean answers.
Sam looks alarmed for a second, his blush returning in full force, but then he silently deflates, neither confirming nor denying anything. The look on Sam’s face gives Dean his answer though.
“Uh… Cas has been in there for a while, don’t you think?” Sam says quietly. It’s a smooth subject change, but it’s also true, and Dean immediately frowns at the dressing room, concerned. “Maybe you should go check on him,” Sam suggests.
“What? Why do I have to go? You were the one who gave him all those clothes to try on!” Dean protests.
“So now you can help him make a choice. Like you always do,” Sam glares.
“Oh for the love of-- “ Dean throws up his hands, stomping towards the stall Cas went into.
“Cas?” Dean calls out, knocking on the wall by the closed curtain. “Everything okay in there?”
Cas doesn’t reply.
“Cas?” he tries again. Still no answer.
Dean steps closer to the curtain, but as he shifts he unintentionally sees inside the stall through the crack between the curtain and the wall. He quickly looks away, giving Cas his privacy, but the image is already burned into the backs of his eyelids.
He’s pretty sure Cas was just standing there in front of the mirror, wearing nothing but a pair of jeans and staring at himself as his fingers traced down his collarbone.
It wasn’t even a full second, but it was more than enough to memorize the long stretch of Cas’ neck as he looked down, the way the hair at the base of his neck curled against the skin. More than enough to want to press his lips there, feel the brush of that soft hair against his lips and taste Castiel’s skin with his tongue. More than enough for him to feel a sharp stab of need, to cover Castiel’s wandering hands with his own, and follow the trail of Castiel’s collarbone with his fingers, brushing lightly down the skin there. More than enough to crave.
Dean turns around and stalks right back out the way he came.
“You deal with this,” he growls at Sam as he pushes past. “I’ll meet you at the diner across the road.”
“Dean!” Sam calls after him, but he’s already halfway out the door.
Lucky for him, the first thing he sees is a liquor store. He stalks right into the shop and buys himself some beer and whisky, and after a quick rummage around the trunk of the Impala, he finds his flask and fills it to the brim. And because he’s feeling really classy by that point, he takes a few deep swigs directly from the bottle, before locking it in the trunk and heading for the diner.
Sam and Cas aren’t there yet, so he gets himself a fairly secluded table at the back and orders a sandwich. By the time it arrives his trusty flask is already near empty, but he still can’t help noticing how his sandwich is too crispy, too full of rabbit food, and nowhere near as good as the sandwiches Cas used to make him. The fake-sandwiches fake-Cas used to make him. Fake-sandwiches and fake-pies that no matter how much he ate, he lost weight instead of gaining it, because a djinn was happily draining his life away. And he knew it. Felt it on some subconscious level.
When his brother finally shows up it’s with a Castiel sans his Led Zeppelin t-shirt. Instead, the angel is dressed in a brand new pair of jeans and a simple white henley. It’s still jarring though, and Dean suspects it’s going to be until they get his trench-coat cleaned. The sight of Castiel in anything else reminds him too much of his-- fake Cas.
And just to keep things confusing, Cas decides to order himself some food as well. Like he really is human or something. But after two bites he just sits there, poking and frowning at the piece of steak on his plate.
“I believe this is overdone,” he says, and Dean huffs a dry laugh. It’s not like Cas even needs to eat anyway.
He manages to purchase more whisky while Sam and Cas are dropping the trench-coat off to be cleaned properly. He’s going to need the second bottle tomorrow, because he fully intends to consume the entirety of the first bottle tonight. And maybe all of the beer too.
They’re in their bedroom, lying lazy in their bed with the sheets pooled at their waists. He’s spooned up against Cas’ back, nose buried in Cas’ hair, and snuggling into the warmth of his body. He can feel Cas’ pulse, pressed against his skin – Cas’ chest, expanding and contracting with every breath, in and out, in time with his own.
All it takes is one, unintentional wriggle in his arms, for Dean to start getting hard. He grins as he pulls Cas closer against his body, nuzzling his nose deeper into Cas’ hair for one last, heady inhale before pressing a kiss to the sensitive skin behind Cas’ ear.
Cas shivers against him, a small, startled sound of pleasure escaping his throat, and Dean smiles, leaning over to trail more kisses down the length of Cas’ neck. The next time Cas moans, Dean feels the tremor it all the way through Cas’ body, pressed against his own.
“Good morning,” he whispers against Cas’ ear.
This time Cas makes an unhappy sound, burying his face deeper into his pillow in an adorable attempt to go back to sleep.
“Aw, don’t be like that, Cas,” Dean croons, his lips barely leaving Cas’ neck. He doesn’t stop running his hand over Cas’ skin, palming it possessively and rubbing small, soothing circles across it with his thumb. Brushing the backs of his fingers down Cas’ spine, he traces its length with long, worshipful strokes, and eventually Cas surrenders, pressing back into him with a needy gasp.
He doesn’t even have to check if Cas is hard, doesn’t have to reach down and feel it with his hands. He can tell from the way Cas begins to rock into the sheets beneath him, seeking friction, alternately pushing back and rubbing up against him. When Castiel spreads his legs, Dean finds him still wet and open from the night before, and slides in all too easily, in just one push burying himself to the hilt with a surprised gasp on his lips.
His gasp chokes off into an overwhelmed whimper, suddenly finding his throbbing flesh enveloped in heat and velvet and slick. The exponential stimulation renders him mindless, unable to even remember how it happened in the first place. It isn’t until Castiel begins to move beneath him that he comes back to himself, and he begins to meet the needy movements of Castiel’s hips.
It’s all sunlight from then on, warm on his back through the curtains, warmth beneath him and around him, seeping into his skin with its glow. Sunlight and ceaseless movement – rolling hips, rocking into the sheets, hands clutching and grasping and pulling deeper, closer. His lips are pressed to the soft curl of hair at the base of Cas’ neck, his palm pressed against the sharp line of Cas’ collarbone, heaving with heavy breaths. But there’s still something he needs. Something he finds himself chasing after, even as he chases his release.
“Look at me, Cas,” he gasps, leaning over Cas’ shoulder.
Castiel turns his face further away, burying it in the pillow beneath him.
“Come on, Cas,” Dean pleads softly. “Look at me, please.”
Castiel silently shakes his head, and Dean feels the refusal like a stab through the heart.
“Dammit, Cas, look at me!” Dean yells, punching the wall beside their bed.
And then he wakes up.
It’s night, and he’s alone in his bed, and he has no idea where the hell he is until he hears his brother snoring on the other side of the room. They’re at the motel. The motel where he drank an entire bottle of whisky and then passed out early, alone, in a cold, lumpy bed.
Cas isn’t even in the same room.
And it’s just as well, considering how he was probably just humping the bed in his sleep. He was so close to coming it hurts. And he’s going to have to take care of it before it gets worse.
Dean hefts himself out of bed, stumbling to the bathroom and locking the door behind him as quietly as possible so he doesn’t wake Sam. He barely takes a breath before he’s freeing his erection, wrapping one hand around it as he uses his other hand to brace himself against the bathroom sink.
He tries to take himself back there, to that place where he has Cas in his arms and his lips pressed against Cas’ neck, just like he wanted yesterday. Only this time Cas looks up, their eyes connecting in the changing-room mirror, and he spreads his legs wider, letting Dean sink even deeper inside his body.
Dean bites back a groan, his hand flying furiously across his length. He’s so close.
“Dean!” Castiel gasps, eyes wide and dark in the reflection of the mirror, “Yes!” he moans. His head drops back over Dean’s shoulder, exposing a whole new wealth of skin for Dean to press his mouth against, but as Dean turns his attention downwards he realises something he didn’t the day before.
Castiel’s skin. The skin just below his collarbone, over his heart. There’s nothing there. It’s pale, and smooth - no star, no hand - not a single trace of tattoo-ink beneath the skin at all.
It freezes his blood, as surely as if someone turned a bucket of cold water over his head, and suddenly it’s impossible for him to come.
“Fuck!” Dean curses, punching the mirror. It shatters with a satisfying crack, and the pain in his knuckles is sharp and bloody and worth it.
But now that he’s realized it, he can’t stop seeing Castiel’s tattoo-less skin behind his eyes. Unmarked. Unclaimed. Unprofessed.
“Dean?” Sam’s voice calls through the door, accompanied by a soft knock. “Is everything alright in there?”
No. It’s not.
I realize that not everyone may enjoy the idea of Sam/Kevin, but I didn't want to list them as a pairing for this fic in order to protect the suprise twist. Also, Sam neither confirms or denies anything so it could all be interpreted as merely Dean's assumptions. However, that being said, if you don't mind the idea of Sam/Kevin, I've written short oneshot that could be taken as a timestamp to this verse here.
Chapter 13: Not him.
It doesn’t take long for Dean to find a bar. And it’s so conveniently within walking distance from the motel as well. Dean can get as hammered as he likes, and crawl back on his hands and knees if he has to. If he has any function over his limbs at all by that stage of the night. He doesn’t plan to.
Or maybe some lovely lady will get to him first, and he’ll end up in her bed instead. Also an appealing option. Though whether it’s appealing for the sex part, or for the part where he doesn’t have to deal with what’s waiting for him otherwise, he’s not too sure. And not willing to examine it to be sure either. Hence the alcohol.
He has to share a room with Cas tonight.
Because apparently Kevin has had enough.
Apparently, according to Kevin, Cas has been waking up in the middle of the night and locking himself in the bathroom, retching and sobbing for hours on end. Kevin suspects that the stronger the djinn got from Cas’ grace, the stronger the hold of its illusion became, and that Cas is going through some kind of withdrawal now without it.
Dean supposes that makes sense. Every time he’s woken up since he’s been back he’s felt a little sick too. But he manages to hold it down. It isn’t his first time round with a djinn.
Sometimes the whisky helps. Or maybe he’s just used to waking up to disappointment, and wanting things he can’t have.
He can’t help but wonder what Cas saw though. What it was that was so good, it’s made reality the nightmare instead.
Kevin lasted a couple days, but earlier that evening the kid came storming into their room with all his belongings, snarling and sniping about needing a decent night’s sleep. Dean hadn’t really been paying attention until then, but even he had to admit the kid looked like he was on the verge of one of his meltdowns.
He still doesn’t understand why he’s the one that had to move though.
“Why can’t you go?” he’d snapped at Sam.
“Dean,” was all his brother said, giving him a pointed bitch-glare. ‘He’s your Angel,’ the glare said. ‘You’re both going through the same thing. Talk to him,’ it said. ‘And I need some alone time with my boyfriend.’
Okay so maybe he does know why he’s been kicked out, but he really doesn’t want to think about it. For many, many different reasons. But mainly because of one.
As soon as he stepped through the door of Cas’ room it was awkward as all hell, for the millionth time since they got back. Cas had changed into Dean’s old Led Zeppelin t-shirt again, and the sight of him in it, just sitting there on the bed, hit Dean as hard as it did the first time.
“Didn’t we buy you new clothes?” he’d finally growled after standing frozen in the doorway of Cas’ room for God knows how long, clutching his duffel and feeling like the wind had been punched out of his gut.
“Yes, but they seemed inappropriate for sleeping,” Castiel replied, eyes focused downwards where his fingers were playing with a frayed thread on the end of the shirt again.
“Why do you even need to sleep anyway?” Dean groused.
“I suppose it was something I learned in Purgatory. My grace weakened when I was cut off from the Host, and I began to require rest.”
“Right,” Dean had grunted.
“I suppose that’s how the djinn was able to overpower me as well,” Cas said quietly.
Dean nodded silently, dropping his duffle by Kevin’s old bed. He supposed he couldn’t blame the guy. Dean knew how comfortable that t-shirt shirt was. It would take time for Cas to wear in his new clothes. It’s not Cas’ fault that the very sight of him in it made Dean feel raw inside.
But at least when they weren’t sharing a room, he didn’t have to see Cas sleeping in it. After the first day, all he ever saw Cas in was his new henley and jeans. And then the trench-coat again, once it was clean.
The trench-coat sits ill on Castiel now. Like he doesn’t know how to wear it and his new clothes at the same time. But Dean needs him to wear it. Because to see him without it reminds him too much of the Cas he’s lost. No, the Cas he never had. Never wanted him in the first place.
Fuck, he’s tired of being so goddamn melodramatic.
“You’re not going to cuddle me in my sleep, are you?” he’d finally snapped in the uncomfortable silence of the room. But instead of getting the confused tilty-head frown thing he’d expected, the look Cas gave him then was so miserable, so full of hurt, it made Dean want to rush over and kiss it better.
The very fact that that was his default reaction, then made him want to flee from the room. So he did. Straight to the nearest bar.
He doesn’t even know why Cas is still around anyway.
Adriana is nice. She’s young, blonde, and busty, and has this exotic European accent that makes him think of internet porn. Which is good, because she’s all over him and clearly ‘down to fuck’.
On the other hand, she’s wearing way too much lipstick, her perfume is suffocating, her high-pitched giggle is annoying, and her eyes are the wrong shade of blue.
He feels like he’s cheating.
Cheating on a friggin’ fantasy.
And maybe once upon a time, that would’ve been reason enough to take her directly to bed, but now all he can do is fight the urge to not shove her directly off his lap.
It’s different now. He’s different now. It may not have been real, but he knows what Castiel’s lips feel like now, pressed against his own. He knows the scratch of Castiel’s stubble, the sharp cut of his hipbones, the heat of strong muscle against his palms. It may not have been real, but he knows now, the full extent of how he can feel with Castiel’s eyes on him. What it does to him, to feel Castiel’s arms around him. And how he’s lying to himself if he thinks waking up in someone else’s bed is going to make him feel any better.
He gets so drunk, even Adriana works out he’s a lost cause. She gives up on him long before the bar closes, but he stays until they kick him out. Then he staggers back to the motel alone.
He tries to keep as quiet as possible, despite how drunk he is. The last thing he wants is for Cas to wake up before he can at least get into bed and feign sleep. But as soon as he steps inside the room he’s assaulted by Cas’ familiar smell, all around him, and it freezes him in his tracks. He just stands there, staring at where Cas lies in the dark, and thinking that he wouldn’t mind locking himself in the bathroom for a few hours either.
He feels like a fool. He should’ve known it wasn’t real. How many people in the djinn’s world had he seen from some point in his life before – Ranger Mike? Alfie? Benny? Benny’s great-something-grand-daughter? Ranger Mike had seemed familiar straight away. But how could he forget seeing Benny before? He was a vampire in Lenore’s crew. And that woman Benny was supposedly related to? She was Lisa’s friend, who had her child replaced by a changeling. And Alfie... God, Alfie was the kid with the bugs, eight years ago. All faces he already knew, reappearing to play some other role in a fantasy constructed from his mind, just like it always happens in dreams. And then you wake up and say, “And you were there, and you were there, and so were you!”
The thought makes Dean want to laugh and cry at the same time.
But that’s one of the less disturbing aspects of the whole thing.
What really messes with him, is that the djinn took all the secret wishes and desires he’s been trying to keep buried for so long, and flaunted them in a way that he can no longer deny or ignore.
Is that what he really wants? For Cas to be human? And for them all to give up hunting? Maybe Sam. He still wants Sam to be able to settle down one day and start a family. But Dean doesn’t know if he could, or even should do it. Hell, he couldn’t even do it in his supposed dream world. And Cas… Why on earth would he want Cas to be vulnerable to danger? If there was any truth in that fake world, it’s that he still isn’t down with that.
Maybe it isn’t so much that he wants Cas to be human, but that he wants Cas to be more… accessible. Less alien. Less like a completely different species and more like something he can understand. Something that can understand him in return. Something that can feel.
Because Dean feels. And wants. And yeah, he should’ve known it wasn’t real, but the fact is, the first moment he saw Cas in his bed, he was ready to believe. And now he wants nothing more than to get back to that place, where everything is sunlight and smiles and joy. It may have been a dream, but it was more real to him than anything he’s known.
He is under a tent of light, the sheets pulled over his head and glowing soft with the sun coming in through the windows. He always forgets to close the curtains before he gets into bed, and Cas is going to be angry with him again, but the truth is, he likes waking up to see Castiel bathed in sunlight beside him. Even better if Cas is already naked.
Unfortunately, this is not one of those mornings. There’s way too many layers of clothing between them, and Dean grumbles as his fingers search for skin. He has a pounding hangover, and a throbbing boner to go with it, and one or the other needs to be satisfied asap. As it is, he’s already rubbing himself into the fleshy curve of Castiel’s rear, nuzzling the spot behind Cas’ ear that he knows drives Cas crazy.
It works. Cas is sleeping on his stomach underneath where Dean is sprawled out over him, and he can feel Cas’ hips begin to match his rocking movements, thrusting into the mattress. By the time Dean wrangles his hand down the front of Cas’ boxers, Cas is rock hard.
“Come on, Cas,” Dean murmurs, mouthing the line of Castiel’s neck. “Stop playing already. I know you’re awake. I can feel it,” he adds, squeezing Castiel’s erection. Cas presses a whimpering sound into the pillow, hips bucking slightly against his own at the stimulation.
“Dean…” Cas moans, and Dean grins.
“Good morning, sleepyhead,” he murmurs, and Cas finally rolls over, smiling.
“Good morning, Dean,” he murmurs in reply, reaching up to pull Dean down into a lengthy ‘Good Morning’ kiss. Dean’s favorite kind. And by the end of it they’re thrusting against each other in earnest.
Suddenly Dean is flipped onto his back, forcefully. And he barely has time to get his breath back before Cas is stealing it again, devouring his mouth once more. Now that Cas is awake, he isn’t messing around, and he reaches down into Dean’s boxers, taking him in hand with just the right amount of pressure.
“Oh fuck!” Dean gasps “Yeah, Cas. Just like that,” he whispers in encouragement as Cas begins pumping him. For all the demands of Castiel’s mouth, the rhythm of his hand is easy. Steady, but slow enough for fingers to play and pinch and twist the tip of his cock until he’s oozing precome.
“Fuck! So good, Cas!” he gasps, writhing on the sheets at the mercy of Cas’ firm grip and nimble fingers. He reaches down blindly, pushing at Castiel’s boxers so he can return the favor, but Castiel bats his hand away, denying his frantic groping. Then Castiel takes them both in hand, pumping them both in the tight heat of his grip and Dean throws his head back with a cry, arching up against the perfect friction. His hand covers Castiel’s, strengthening his grip and urging him on, his other hand grabbing at Castiel’s hair, trying to hold Cas back long enough between kisses for him to catch his breath and babble incoherent endearments and praise.
And God the way Cas looks at him. As much as he likes kissing Cas, he just can’t get enough of Cas’ eyes on him right now.
He’s going to come, ridiculously fast. And he doesn’t care. It can’t be helped when Castiel is taking him apart, just right, with his hands and his eyes and his heart. Dean nearly sobs when it happens, he’s so overwhelmed by it all.
“Dean…” Castiel whispers when he goes, watching him with awe. “Oh Dean!” he whispers again when he comes right after, Dean’s dick still in his hand.
It’s perfect. It’s Heaven. It’s home.
Only, it’s not.
The sheets finally fall away as they collapse together afterwards, revealing where they are, and Dean crashes from bliss into reality with a sickening lurch.
It’s not home. It’s not a dream either. It’s a seedy motel room with his brother and a teenage prophet next door. And a pounding headache that tells him he must’ve been so drunk last night, he climbed into Castiel’s bed and passed out, then woke up and instigated sexual activity with him.
The real Castiel. The best friend he’s ever had. An angel.
Not the human Castiel he’d been in a serious relationship with for an indefinite amount of time in a djinn-made fantasy.
But the real Castiel, his best friend, and angel, hadn’t kicked him out of bed when he’d started to get… frisky. Instead, Cas gave as good as he got. Too good. Dean can barely breathe at the realization, his mind awhirl with confusion.
“Cas?” he whispers.
“Yes?” Castiel answers, and Dean’s chest tightens in response. Castiel sounds so relaxed, and so content, Dean almost doesn’t want to keep speaking, wanting to hold on to the moment a little bit longer. He takes a deep breath, steeling himself before he continues.
“I’m not complaining, but…” Dean has to clear his throat against the thickness in it, “Where did you learn to do that?”
“What?” Castiel’s head shoots up off his chest, and he frowns down at Dean, eyebrow raised as if Dean’s said something completely ridiculous.
But then Castiel’s eyes widen, darting around the room in confusion and sharpening with panic as they come back to land on Dean. Cas all but falls out of the bed then, staggering backwards towards the bathroom and muttering to himself with growing horror in his eyes. Just before he slams the door shut Dean thinks he catches Cas say something that sounds a lot like, “Not him.”
Dean can think of a million explanations for what “not him” means. ‘Why did I end up in bed with Dean Winchester of all people? Please not him.’ Or ‘I thought I was giving a half-asleep hand job to the man of my dreams, you’re not him.’ But he’s not so stupid that he can’t see the more obvious reason. He’s just afraid he might be seeing it because it’s what he wants to see.
“You ever heard of a djinn putting two people in the same dream?” he asks Sam, storming into his brother’s room.
“What?” Sam answers intelligently, giving Dean his perplexed bitch-face.
“You heard me. Two people. Same djinn fantasy.” Dean snaps.
“Um… I don’t know Dean.” Sam takes a second to think about it. “I mean, a djinn needs to keep its victims happy, right? So they taste better or whatever?” he says, grimacing. “So it creates a world that gives them what they desire…”
“Right,” Dean nods, pacing the room.
“So unless the two people wish for the same thing, how would the djinn keep them happy?” Kevin chimes in, coming to the reasonable conclusion.
“Exactly!” Dean exclaims, scorning the likelihood of such a situation. “And how would that even work anyway, getting two people to dream the same thing and interact and everything,” he scoffs.
“Well, we’ve done it with African dream root,” Sam answers. “And if you’re talking about the alpha, who knows what it could do?”
Dean stops in mid-step, his jaw dropping open as the impact of Sam’s last point sinks home. It’s possible. Given the right conditions, it all might just be fucking possible.
“Cas would probably know, why don’t you ask him?” Kevin suggests.
“Yeah, Dean. Go talk to Cas,” Sam adds, giving him an all-too-understanding look. Damn it all. Of course Sam’s worked it out. He knows Dean better than Dean knows himself sometimes.
Deflating, Dean nods, woodenly shuffling back into the other room with dread sinking in his gut. Just because it’s possible, doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what happened. And he’s not sure he’s ready to find out, either way.
The bathroom door is still closed, so he makes his way towards it, pressing his forehead heavily against the wood.
“Cas?” he calls out softly, knocking on the door. Cas doesn’t reply. Dean sighs, turning around and leaning back against the door, sliding down until he’s sitting on the ground.
“Cas?” he tries again, “Before, when you said ‘not him’… Who was ‘he’?” he asks, even more quietly. The silence stretches on, but Dean can’t quite bring himself to ask ‘Was it me?’ He already hates how vulnerable his voice sounds. Hates that he’s getting his hopes up when there’s still a possibility they could be crushed, any second now.
“Cas?” Dean turns around, murmuring into the door again, “You there?”
Dean frowns. He reaches for the door handle, and to his surprise, it’s not locked. The door swings open with no resistance, revealing a completely empty bathroom.
“Son of a bitch,” Dean curses, scrambling to his feet. He runs out the door past the Impala and out onto the street, looking up and down for any sign of Castiel. There is none.
“CAS!” he yells out, as if Cas might hear him and stick his head out from around a corner or something. But there are no corners to hide behind. Not even a friggin’ bus stop.
“Nononono!” Dean mutters as he runs back into the room.
“Dean! What’s going on?” Sam rushes into the room after him, alarmed. “What’s happening? Where’s Cas?”
Dean flings open the closet and begins rifling through the drawers. All the old clothes they’d given Cas to use are still there. Cas doesn’t need them anymore. He’s all angel-ed up again. He only needs one set of clothes now, so he’s just taken his new stuff, and flown the fuck off.
The trench-coat is gone too. And that, more than anything, drives the point home.
“He’s gone,” Sam echoes flatly. “Just like that.”
“Yes, Sam. Just like that,” Dean snaps. “Just like always!” he shouts, shoving at the drawer in anger.
Only it’s not just like always. This hurts. So much more than usual. It’s like being ripped out of his djinn-made life all over.
He thought he was there again. Maybe he thought he was dreaming. Or maybe he thought he’d finally woken up from a nightmare and was back at home, where he belonged. Maybe he wasn’t thinking at all and he’s twice the fool for it, but he was there.
And Cas was there with him too. Djinn fantasy or not, Cas was there with him this time, for real.
Dean barks a bitter laugh. Usually he’s the one running out after a one night stand.
“But where would he go?” Sam asks, bitch-facing at no one in particular.
“I don’t know, Sam,” Dean sighs. “Probably back to Heaven to get mojo’d up properly again.”
“So then… he’ll be back,” Sam says, but he sounds as dubious as Dean feels.
Dean reaches for the open drawer to slide it shut, but when he looks down, he sees something he missed before. The shine of new leather, underneath all the old clothes.
It’s a journal. Not exactly like the one from his djinn-made world, but pretty damn close. His hands begin to tremble as he lifts it out of the drawer.
“Cas got that when we went shopping for his new stuff,” Sam says. Dean nods, his throat thick as he runs his palm across the leather. He flips it open almost absentmindedly, wanting to feel the paper under his fingertips, but when he sees what’s on the first page he jerks his hand away, as if burned.
It’s a drawing. A symbol. Something that doesn’t belong on paper, but something that is entirely familiar as well.
It’s an anti-possession star. With a hand around it. And when Dean covers the outline with his own, he finds it matches near perfectly.
Suddenly Dean is moving, pushing past Sam as he strides out the door, digging in his jacket for the keys to the Impala.
“Dean! Where are you going?” Sam yells after him, but Dean doesn’t stop to answer, throwing himself into the car and revving her up to fly.
He knows exactly where Cas went.
By the time Dean pulls up to the burnt out remains of Bobby’s house, the sun is already on its way down. He executed some of the best driving of his life to get there as quickly as he could, ignoring speed limits and several other laws on the way, but he barely remembered any of it. All he could think of was getting to Cas, before the angel flew away again, somewhere he couldn’t follow.
He should’ve known Cas would linger though. Where else did Cas have to go? And while he feels some guilt over that, it’s overwhelmed by relief, when he sees Cas standing there amongst the blackened remains of Bobby’s kitchen.
“You’ve got to stop running off like that,” Dean says, leaning against the one remaining doorjamb of a non-existent wall.
Castiel’s shoulders tense at the sound of his voice, the back of his trench-coat shifting with the movement as his entire posture goes rigid.
“How did you find me?” Castiel asks, so quietly Dean can barely make out the words.
Dean pulls the journal out of his jacket, opening it to the front page. Castiel’s shoulders jump again at the sound of the paper rustling in Dean’s fingers, and recognizing what he must have in his hands Castiel finally turns around, eyes wary and wide.
“I was there, Cas,” he says gently, lining up his hand over the drawing. “I was here,” he adds, looking around them pointedly. “The alpha put us both here.”
“No,” Castiel shakes his head in denial, “You’re not him, you can’t be. That would mean we both--“ Castiel trails off, realization dawning in his eyes.
They both wanted the same thing. They both wanted each other.
“No, it was just a dream! It wasn’t real!” Castiel gasps in disbelief, backing away from him.
“You baked pie for me, right here in our kitchen,” Dean says vehemently, stepping forward. “Best pie I ever had. Even when you were just learning and they were the worst pies I ever had, they were still the best, because you made them,” he says, pointing at Cas. “And you made sandwiches for me, and pancakes, and one time I gave you a blow job right at the kitchen table because you made so happy!” he says, before he even realizes what’s coming out of his mouth. But there’s a sudden crack in the hardness of Castiel’s eyes when he says it, slowly spilling out a softness that cracks something loose inside of Dean as well, and the words just keep coming, quiet and breathless.
“I cooked dinner for you here,” Dean continues, stepping closer again. “Steak and potatoes, with candles and everything, the first night we…“ he trails off, desperate for Cas to believe.
“The first night we made love?” Castiel whispers.
“Yeah,” Dean croaks. Swallowing thickly, he steps even closer. “I made a back porch, just so I could sit there and watch you in the garden. You looked so happy there in all the mud and plants.”
Castiel huffs a breathy laugh. “I was.”
“I had a picture of us, standing together in that garden under wedding decorations, both of us wearing suits, and you looked so…” Dean trails off again, breathless at the thought of it.
Castiel steps forward then, reaching out to take his hand, and Dean’s knees nearly buckle underneath him at the touch.
“You flew a kite for me,” Cas whispers, standing so close, Dean can see the material of their shirts shifting against each other with every breath. “And then you made love to me under a tree, with your hand on my heart, and I told you that--“
“You’re my Heaven now,” Dean finishes for him, meeting Castiel’s gaze again. “Don’t tell me that wasn’t real, Cas. Because it was real for me.”
“I thought I was dreaming,” Castiel replies. “I’ve had… limited experience with dreams before. And the extension and shifting of time seemed to coincide with what little I knew,” he explains. “I even asked Sam about it. Although it’s clear now that it was just the djinn, trying to manipulate me,” Castiel frowns. “He said that if I thought I was dreaming, then I should just enjoy it. So I did! I just went along with it. And it was so full of beauty and feeling, I never wanted it to end!” Castiel says, pained. “Even now, whenever I sleep, I dream of you, here. It hurts to wake up.”
“That was me, Cas. That was us. And we can be that again, I promise.” Dean reaches out to pull Castiel close, pressing their foreheads together. “You just have to stop running away from me. You just have to… You just have the stay with me,” Dean murmurs, breathing a quiet laugh at how they’ve come full circle. Castiel huffs a wry chuckle as well.
“Please.” Dean gives Cas’ neck a squeeze, serious again. Castiel sighs, deflating and melting into him all at once.
“I thought you’d never ask,” he whispers. And there’s something about it that tells Dean it’s not just an expression. Castiel really means it.
“Wait a minute,” Dean exhales in dismay, pulling away to search Castiel’s face. “Is that the reason you’re always leaving? Because I never asked you to stay?”
Castiel doesn’t say anything, but his eyes soften a little, becoming fond in a way that also says, “Duh, you idiot.”
“Son of a bitch,” Dean breathes.
“Wait, no,” Dean protests. “You chose to stay in Purgatory when I left! I mean, the first time I thought I left. Me and Benny fought so hard to get to you. To get out. But you let go! Even though you knew I wanted you to come with me!” Dean frowns in confusion. “If that was still part of the djinn’s world, why would you choose that?”
“I’m sorry, Dean. But at that moment in time, it was what I wanted the most,” Castiel says. “I still felt so much guilt over everything I had done. Especially to you. Above all, I wanted your forgiveness. Not just some sense of obligation to save me.”
“It wasn’t just some obligation to save you!” Dean practically shouts. “Fuck, Cas! You know how that messed with me!”
“I know,” Cas whispers. “And I’m so sorry I hurt you, again,” he adds, reaching out to squeeze his hand. “If I had known the guilt you would feel over leaving me behind, perhaps I would’ve done things differently,” he says. Dean takes a few deep breaths to calm himself down as he squeezes Castiel’s hand back, acknowledging the apology.
“As soon as I got out I wanted to go back,” Dean confesses. “Everything was off, you know? Sam had this whole other life with this girl, Amelia. You know, like Jimmy Novak’s wife?” Dean explains. “Every time I saw him thinking about her, I thought about you. And I guess that was part of the djinn’s plan, but fuck.”
What he doesn’t say is how he missed Cas so bad, he actually friggin’ pined for him. And the djinn probably thought he’d do anything to keep Cas in his life after that, but in the end Dean was such an idiot, he did nothing.
“I suppose the djinn just made it easier for me to stay in Purgatory,” Castiel replies apologetically. “If there was even the slightest chance that taking me through the portal would kill you, I wasn’t going to do it. But I wanted those last moments with you as well.”
“So what changed?” Dean asks. “Why did the djinn let you out?”
“I believe as it grew stronger, it was able to read deeper, and it saw beneath my desire for penance how much I wanted to be able to return to Heaven,” Cas explains.
“Wow,” Dean snorts. “That turned out well,” he deadpans, remembering Naomi. But really, the sarcasm is just a cover for the twinge of guilt he feels. Guilt for being the reason Cas left Heaven in the first place, and guilt over how selfish he is for not wanting Cas to go back.
“It didn’t work, because that wasn’t what I really longed for,” Castiel says. “What I really missed about Heaven, was having a home. I wanted to belong somewhere again,” he says, hand resting light over Dean’s heart.
Dean swallows thickly at that, reaching up to cover Castiel’s hand with his own, as he pulls Castiel close with his other arm. Castiel melts into the embrace with a sigh, their bodies relaxing against each other with easy familiarity.
“You’re home now,” he whispers softly into Castiel’s hair.
“It won’t be the same, I’m not human anymore,” Castiel says, but Dean can tell it’s more of a clarification than an objection.
“I don’t need you to be human anymore,” Dean murmurs. “Besides, I’m not going to give up hunting.”
“I know,” Castiel replies, pulling back to give Dean a small, resigned smile. “We’re still going to fight, aren’t we?”
“Probably,” Dean concedes. “But think of all the make-up sex,” he grins. Castiel blushes at that, ducking his head like they don’t already know each other in intimate detail. Just the way he did the morning Dean first saw him standing in their kitchen doorway, looking all too human in his rumpled old clothes.
“Hey Cas?” Dean murmurs, tilting Cas’ face upwards again. “We had our first kiss, right in this spot. Remember?”
Dean hears a tiny hitch in Cas’ throat at that, and Castiel’s gaze slowly begins to wander down to Dean’s lips, licking his own in response. Dean finds himself mimicking the movement, slowly drawn closer with every beat of his heart, tugged forward until he’s practically breathing into Castiel’s mouth.
“Dean!” Cas whispers, a needy puff of sound Dean feels against his lips, and then he’s closing the last remaining distance, sealing their mouths together in something desperate and furious and gloriously perfect.
“Is that a ‘Yes’?” Dean gasps when he has to pull away for air.
“Yes!” Castiel answers, pressing frantic little kisses all over his mouth, “Yes! Yes!”
Dean groans as he swoops back in to claim Castiel’s lips again. He knew what Cas was going to answer by then, but he couldn’t help it, he’d wanted to hear it as well.
“Fuck!” Dean gasps when he has to pull back for air again. “I really miss our bedroom right now.”
“Shall I take us somewhere? The car? The motel?” Castiel asks hurriedly, still clutching at him and staring at his lips like he’s nowhere near done with them.
“Nah,” Dean answers, as tempting as it sounds. “I kind of want to stay here a while longer, you know?”
“Yes,” Castiel nods. Though Dean’s not sure Cas is even aware of what he’s saying anymore.
“Come on, the panic room survived the fire,” Dean says, taking Castiel’s hand and leading him through the rubble.
There’s a big gaping hole over the basement where the floor was burned through, and to Dean’s dismay, exposure to the elements has taken care of what was left of the stairs as well. But then he feels that familiar swooping drop in his stomach, and all of a sudden they’re standing inside the panic room, the last of the sunlight filtering through the exposed fan vents above them.
“Woah,” Dean exhales, regaining his bearings. He’d almost forgotten what that felt like. Had almost forgotten Cas could do that for a second. But as much as he hates it, he has to admit it really comes in handy sometimes.
“Thanks, Cas,” he says, squeezing Cas’ hand as he looks around. He and Sam had thrown out all the furnishings in the room – the cots, the table, the chairs – the metal frames all having twisted and warped from the heat, even though the fire never penetrated the iron structure. There’s nothing left inside but the mattress from the old cot, left lying on the floor. It’s probably better that way though, because the cot was already too small for one fully grown man, let alone two.
Still, it’s difficult to look at how little is left. Hard enough to see it burn down the first time, even harder now after having had it ripped away again.
“You know what, Cas? I’m going to rebuild this place,” Dean decides suddenly, pulling Cas close again. “I’m going to make this a home again, with a balcony and a porch and a garden… And we’re going to christen every room from the bottom up, starting now. You hear me?”
“Yes, Dean.” Castiel smiles, laughing and blushing at the same time. “In that case…” Castiel says cryptically, and then several things happen in such rapid succession, it seems like they happen in the blink of an eye. First, Castiel disappears from Dean’s arms. Then Dean’s duffle appears, landing on the floor next to the mattress. Then a heap of blankets from the trunk of the Impala appear, spread out on top of the mattress. And finally, a handful of candles appear around the mattress, lighting up the room in a golden glow.
Castiel is back in his arms before he even realizes what’s happened, and when he does, he can’t help the powerful spike of arousal he feels. Not only do Cas’ abilities come in real handy, but sometimes it’s a real turn-on, being reminded just how powerful Castiel really is.
“Hot damn, Cas.” he breathes, taking in the changes to the room.
“Are the candles too much?” Cas frowns.
“No, Cas. It’s perfect,” he replies, loving the way the light catches in Castiel’s eyes and makes his skin glow. Just like the first night they spent together. Even though they didn’t know it was actually their first time while it was happening, Dean still thinks of it that way. That night was too special to Dean not to count as something real.
And now, in a way, he gets to relive their first time all over again. The thought makes his pulse race and his stomach dance with anticipation. He leans in to kiss Castiel again, this time slow, and soft, though no less needy than before, and Castiel hums his pleasure, wrapping his arms around Dean’s neck.
Dean’s lips never leave Castiel’s as he walks them towards the mattress, hands on Castiel’s waist, guiding him as well as keeping him close. As the layers of their clothes come away, they hold each other closer, gravitating to each other’s warmth in the chill air of the room. Slowly they sink to their knees, still exchanging gentle kisses as they descend onto the heap of blankets. There are soft sighs, and reverent touches, amidst the tender press of their lips. And soon Dean is laying Castiel out on his back, half-drunk on the sight of all that skin, glowing in the candlelight, just for him.
“Dean, wait,” Castiel whispers, something uncertain and scared in his eyes where there wasn’t before.
“What is it, Cas?” Dean frowns in concern, sweeping his thumb over Castiel’s cheek in a gesture meant to soothe as well as ground him. Both of them.
“What if…” Castiel bites his lips in consternation before continuing, “What if this is all just another dream? How can I know this is real?” he asks, a hint of panic in his eyes.
“I don’t know, Cas,” Dean sighs, pained. He wants this. God does he want this. But he doesn’t know if he can handle waking up and having it taken away from him again. The thought is too depressing to bear thinking about, not when he’s pressed naked and hard against Castiel’s body, and so ready for more. He doesn’t know what he could possibly say to assuage Castiel’s fears, but he’d give anything for Cas to believe him right now.
“Wait,” Dean gasps, an idea creeping up on him. “Cas, why don’t we do something we never did there?” he says, already feeling his skin heat at what he’s about to suggest. “You never gave me any indication that you might be interested in… topping…” Dean exhales the word so quietly and quickly he’s not even sure he said it, “But I would do that, for you.”
Castiel frowns immediately, shaking his head. “Dean, I never wanted--” he chokes off, a look of consternation on his face, and Dean can tell from the response that he was right, that Cas never even considered it. And then he sees the moment Cas realizes just what he’s offering, the slow dawning of awe and pain in Cas’ eyes.
Castiel knows what Dean went through in Hell. The things he never talks about, but still has nightmares about to this very day. And for that reason, Castiel probably assumed that switching wasn’t even an option. But Dean’s thought about it. The way Cas makes him feel, he’s thought about doing everything imaginable under the sun. He wants it all. Everything. He wants to give Cas everything.
“But Dean, I could hurt you. Especially now,” Castiel protests.
“I know,” Dean grins a little. No matter what he’s been through, the idea of al that angelic strength still turns him the fuck on. He wants to feel that power inside him, all around him, cradling him… He knows what Cas could do to him and yet he can’t imagine feeling anything other than safe.
Castiel was the one saved him from Hell, after all.
“I trust you,” Dean murmurs, and it seems to be the right thing to say, because the look Cas gives him then is so full of joy, and desire, and utter panic, he already knows Cas will be nodding his assent the very next moment.
Dean kisses him when he does, moaning with a building urgency that wasn’t there before. But before it can reach some kind of frantic crescendo, Cas pushes him away again. Or rather, pushes him onto his back, gently taking control before Dean loses himself. He hushes Dean with small kisses, one after the other pressed to Dean’s lips, until Dean surrenders himself, eyes falling shut as he melts into the blankets.
The soothing trail of Castiel’s lips moves downwards, suckling at the sensitive spot on his neck, his collarbone, his nipple, hip, thigh... All the sensitive places Castiel knows so well, drawing hitches and moans from Dean’s lips that if anything, prove that they were really there, dreaming together. And then Castiel sucks him down, just right, fingers stroking him with a tenderness that makes Dean throb so hard he feel his pulse against Castiel’s tongue.
He hears the zip of his duffle then, opening on its own with Cas’ angelic mojo, and Castiel doesn’t even lift his head from between Dean’s legs before Dean feels the cold brush of lube against his entrance.
He groans as his legs fall open even further, inviting more, and before long Castiel’s fingers are searching inside him, thrusting and stretching in time with the same slow rhythm of his mouth.
“Please!” Dean begs, “Cas!” he gasps, “Need you!” he rambles, “Now!”
Only to have Castiel ignore him, stretch him further, suckle him more gently. He is whimpering and squirming on the sheets, mindless with need by the time Castiel climbs back up his body. And when Castiel asks him if he’s sure, he can’t even open his eyes to look at him, can’t do anything but nod and mumble, “Yes. Yes!”
It’s only when Castiel finally slides into him, that his eyes fly open again, wide with relief and the breath-stealing sensation of having Castiel inside him, hot and thick.
“Dean!” Castiel rasps, breathing hard as a race-horse. And if Dean wasn’t already overwhelmed by the fullness of him, he would be by the small, trembling attempts Castiel makes at movement. His body is a livewire, and he feels everything, every minute twitch and pulse inside him. He can’t help but begin to writhe, rock his hips against Castiel’s and encourage him to respond.
And respond he does. Especially when he grabs onto Cas’ backside and pulls him in deeper, harder inside. At first, all Castiel can do is groan into Dean’s skin, clutch at Dean’s shoulders as he is caught up in the pleasure of it, the rhythmic friction of skin and heat. But Dean holds him together, grounding him with soft kisses in his hair, and whispering incoherent nothings in his ear. “I got you, Cas. Yeah, come on,” and the like, encouraging and sweet, until finally Castiel is able to lift his head, and meet his gaze.
“Dean!” Castiel chokes out, the only word he says. But there’s so much in Castiel’s eyes, Dean doesn’t need anything more. He soaks it all up until he’s full with it, drowning in it, ready to lose himself completely in it, until he sees the fear in Cas’ eyes.
“Please tell me this is real!” Cas gasps, gripping his shoulder so tight, it’s sure to leave hand-shaped bruises.
“This is real Cas. I swear,” Dean hisses fervently, grabbing Castiel just as tight. “You and me Cas, you and me!” he gasps, pressing his hand to Castiel’s heart – right where its tattooed outline used to be.
“Dean!” Castiel sobs again, covering Dean’s hand with his own. There are memories in Castiel’s eyes, promises in his kiss, and when he comes, shouting Dean’s name, Dean answers the cry, spilling over with him.
It’s amazing how easy it is for the mind to interpret a certain reality, given the right directions to guide it. That first morning, when Cas put on his old Led Zeppelin t-shirt, he probably had no idea what he was putting on, he just needed clothes. But as soon as Dean saw him in it, the illusion was sold.
And how much did Cas hear of that first conversation he had with Sam, that same morning? Enough to gather that they were in some kind of relationship? That they had been for some time? Enough to think that he must be dreaming?
That first time Cas freaked out when Dean injured himself, it wasn’t so much because Cas was sensitive about losing his healing power, but because it was the moment he first realized he couldn’t heal in that world. And maybe Cas was popping pills after that not because his worry was getting to him, but because he was having those strange headaches from being in the djinn’s reality as well.
And when djinn-Sam told him Cas always blushed when he touched him, like it was the first time, it’s because it really was the first time. Their first few kisses, the first time they went to bed together… God, no wonder Cas looked so stunned afterwards. Hell, he probably wouldn’t have even known what that tattoo was all about, until the first time Dean put his hand on it.
But there was more, so much more that happened regardless of any direction from the djinn or the life it fabricated for them. There was history between him and Cas, long before the djinn ever got to them. And maybe things never would’ve happened between him and Cas if it wasn’t for the djinn, but just because they happened in a made-up world didn’t make their feelings any less real. And that’s the only truth they need.
The next time Dean wakes up, it’s to the glow of daylight behind his eyelids, his body pleasantly aching from one of the most amazing nights of his life. Judging by the line of warmth wriggling beside him under the sheets, Cas is already awake, so he leans over, pressing a kiss into the back of Castiel’s dark hair as he wraps his arms around Cas’ naked torso.
Dean never thought he’d have this again. He is one lucky son of a bitch.
“Good morning,” he murmurs, leaning over Cas’ shoulder in curiosity. He thought he heard the sound of a pen, scratching against paper before.
“Good morning, Dean,” Cas rolls over, smiling, and Dean sees the journal in Cas’ hands. When Dean quirks an eyebrow at it, Castiel hands it over. “When I bought this, it was for you.”
Dean accepts the gift, running his fingers reverently across the leather. “Thanks, Cas,” he murmurs, leaning over to press a kiss to Castiel’s lips.
“Open it,” Cas grins when he pulls away.
Dean grins back as he flips open the cover, turning to the page with Cas’ writing on it, elegant and neat. The entry has yesterday’s date on it, and it reads:
‘Asked Cas to stay. He said yes.’
Dean can’t help himself. He pulls out the pen, grinning wide as he adds a few more lines to the entry, and when he’s done the entire thing reads;
‘Asked Cas to stay. He said yes.’
‘And so did I. A lot. Very loudly.’
‘Best night of my life.’
I rarely write canon verse, so there was a lot stuff I wanted to address from over the seasons. Enough to fill up 55k words lol. And I only usually write 5k! So I just have to thank my awesome beta balder12, once again, for helping me stay on top of things, and keeping me going with her hilarious comments.
Also, I may or may not have reverse-banged the DCBB community's header art a little, because I love Led Zeppelin so much. I hope that smallworld_inc doesn't mind :) Zeppelin Rules!
And I was lucky to have my story picked by frayed1989, who was happy to expand upon that idea, and created art that nearly made me cry a few times because it captured the idea of the fic so perfectly. Please check out the work she did, either at tumblr or here at AO3 (But be careful, some of it's NSFW! nom.)