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Vaya con Dios, My Darling

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So, the thing with the hellspawn? It doesn’t pan out. That’s okay. Cas had scored on the Rit Zien case, and there had been a vengeful witch ghost the time after that; it was a routine salt-and-burn. But even a bogus tip got Dean out of the most boring parts of angel tablet language research. Go, Castiel.

It’s tradition now, after a couple of these trips; Dean picks Castiel up from work, they head out to wherever the action is, handle it, grab a room, and then Dean drops him back at the Gas n’ Sip. This morning they sleep in, ‘cause why not? Nora’s so grateful Cas exists (and babysits on occasion) that she’s cool with giving him time off, and Sam’s secure back at the bunker with the whiz kid.

At ten, Sam calls to let him know that he and Kevin have a lead in Wyoming. Dean’s pulling on his jeans before Sam assures him that they’re going to go and then head right back. It isn’t the best idea, Dean thinks, letting Sam traipse around without him, but it’s some hippie bookstore that pimps love crystals and organic vitamins that won’t sell and ship the book because it’s “priceless”. It sounds safe enough, and Zeke doesn’t interrupt to express alarm, so Dean figures it’s all good.

“It’s a day’s drive. Kev and I will be back by Friday.”

“You sure you’re up for it?” Dean asks. When they got back from South Dakota, Sam was spent. And now Dean’s worried about Ezekiel, but he can’t...there’s nothing he can do right now, even though guilt over keeping Sam in the dark sits in his gut, a tight knot of wrong.

“Yeah, definitely,” Sam assures him. “Rested and ready. I have cabin fever; we both do. You’ll be back soon?”

“For the don’t-care and non-feeding of Crowley? Sure,” Dean says, and they exchange goodbyes as Castiel steps out of the bathroom, drops his towel and slides into a pair of Levi’s from his bag, commando. “No drawers, huh?” Dean comments without thinking. Fuck it, Cas doesn’t know that guys don’t normally remark on that kind of stuff to other guys.

“I find that the thin fabric doesn’t actually provide any additional warmth.” Castiel shrugs, yanking a sweatshirt over his head. He’ll wear the replacement trenchcoat with it. Dean likes that he’d become attached to the style; it’s almost as good as the original. It’s just...Cas is more Cas with the coat. It’s almost like old times, well, not that old, but Cas has a trenchcoat and a suit again to play G-man, so sorta. Naturally, there's some stain on the sweatshirt. Castiel grumbles and puts on the button-up shirt and dons the tie.

“Can’t argue with that. Hey,” he begins, and after another pause, Castiel loops his jacket over the hanger and tilts his head questioningly. “Cas. Uh, do you want to come back to the bunker, just for a day or so?”

***

Dean shoves the foiled dome across the table and pokes the top, and Castiel gives him a pleased look. He loves that Jiffy Pop stuff. It’s not the best, not like movie popcorn, but they’d skipped breakfast in favor of hitting the road. Maybe they should go to a movie. That’d be...different. He wonders what’s playing in town. It’s been ages since he’s been to a theater himself, maybe, god, has it been a year? Two? Longer?

“I’ve been thinking, Dean.”

“Yup,” Dean says, around a mouthful of buttery good- well...averageness.

“Why don’t you have a girlfriend?”

“Why don’t you?” Dean says reflexively, then pauses, popcorn in hand, ‘cause that isn’t fair. Cas is new to the whole human thing. “I’ve had my share.” Of course, he just got laid recently. By a porn star. He’s not sharing that little detail with Cas, even though it proves his point. Wham, bam, wake up imprisoned-in-a-crypt, Little Suzy. That probably wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t gotten down on Suzy’s living room floor, but they’d also dusted a cracked Roman goddess, so the results spoke for themselves.

Castiel squints at him.

“Quit lookin’ at me like that, Dr. Phil. You know a hunter’s life isn’t...really...things don’t work out long term. Gotta travel.”

“This is true, but you now have this.” Castiel glances around. “A stable home environment.”

“Yeah, I’m sure girls who aren’t nerds like Charlie would love our bunker full of our...bunker stuff.” Dean flings an arm. “Weapons. Books about exorcism. Weird shit.”

“It’s very nice here.”

“We have the King of Hell in a dungeon.” Castiel gives his head a little tilt at Dean’s words, conceding that point. “And speak of the demon, I’m paying him a visit.”

Castiel’s chair screeches along the floor and he brushes stray kernels from his lap. “I’ll go with you.”

“Nah, I got this,” Dean says. He doesn’t really need Crowley telling Sam (and by extension, Ezekiel) that Cas has been here. Ezekiel had warned him off telling Sam what’s up, and he’s worried about that, but there’s nothing he can do about that until Sam’s better. He’ll be happy to see that angel go in more ways than one.

***

“Mornin’ sunshine,” Dean says as he slides the entry panels open. “I heard you were asking for some reading material.” He drops a few non-Men of Letters-related volumes on the table: Marley & Me and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Dean has Kerouac in a drawer in his room, and there are first edition classics in the library, but fuck Crowley, seriously. “That one’s about a dog. I hear it’s sad.”

“It isn’t morning,” Crowley remarks. It’s probably a shot in the dark, so to speak, but he’s right. He examines the books with distaste, then gives Dean an appraising look. “So how is your little seraphic paramour these days?

“I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about.”

“Your celestial steady.”

Dean looks at him blankly. Of course he knows who Crowley’s referring to, and he hopes that the bastard’s spidey-sense isn’t tingling because Cas is in the building. The room’s a demon’s trap though and Cas is as human as Dean is now, so...no reason to panic.

“Castiel, the fallen.”

“No clue,” Dean says, shoving a hand in his pocket and leaning back against the wall.

“No clue,” echoes Crowley smarmily. “Kevin says you two lovebirds went on a little hunting tryst together the other day.”

“Kevin says things just to fuck with you,” Dean scoffs. Crowley doesn’t have any friends, so he wouldn’t recognize friendship if it bit him in the ass and turned him into a werewolf. Which would totally improve his personality, by the way.

(And Dean’s really going to have to tell Kevin to start randomly lying to Crowley more often.)

“Oh, I’m certain that’s what he thinks he’s doing,” says Crowley. “So. Here to torture me? Normally it’s not my thing, but I hear you have some skills...”

“Nope,” Dean says. “Not on today’s menu.”

“What a shame. I’d welcome a new routine. It would break the monotony.”

Dean stares him down, and then lets out a gust of breath. “Sorry to disappoint, but unlike you, I have better things to do. Just making sure you’re enjoying yourself powerlessly in here, like usual.”

“As ever.” Crowley rolls his eyes, but Dean sees him huff and grab at the books with his pissed-off face on as he shuts the panel doors.

“Dick,” Dean mutters as he heads back to the heart of the bunker. Crowley lives to try to get everyone’s goat now, as if he knows how to play the hunters. Amateur. Nothing’s bringing his mood down tonight; he’s not sure why he’s feeling so awesome, but he can smell grub, so that’s likely why.

***

In the light and warmth of the kitchen, Castiel is heating something up; it’s leftover lasagna that Sam and Kevin must have brought back from somewhere and if Steve learned anything as an esteemed employee of the Gas n’ Sip franchise, it’s how to nuke food. There’s really only one serving, and Dean considers that maybe Cas isn’t eating enough lately. They’re five minutes into the meal when Dean notices the flowers. Flowers in yellow and sunny orange in an old pewter stein on the table.

“What are those?” Dean asks, pointing.

“Calendula. They’re the round ones. The ones that have longer stems are winter jasmine.” Castiel looks down pointedly, takes a bite of lasagna and washes it down with a swig of Heisler. “I actually like this beer. It’s much better with food.”

“No, where did you get them? I told you not to--” Dean stops to breathe after seeing Cas’s puzzled look. He hadn’t actually told Cas he shouldn’t leave the bunker; he’d just assumed he wouldn’t. And he’s warded against Bartholomew’s crew of pissed-off ex-angels anyway, but still. “Sorry man, I just think you should stay in here and out of sight when I’m not, not here to go with you.”

Even as he says it, he knows it’s stupid; just outside the bunker isn’t any more unsafe than the Gas n’ Sip or checking out a case or walking down the road. He can’t protect Sam or Cas worth a damn. It's irritating.

“I haven’t left the bunker since I’ve been inside, Dean.”

Dean indicates the cheerful-looking arrangement. “Then where they hell did they come from?”

“I…” Dean watches Castiel swallow. “I picked them when you were unloading the weapons from the trunk of the car.”

Dean leans back. “Oh.”

“I’d forgotten them when I took off my coat.” Castiel has his two top buttons open, his tie loosened. “Do you like them?”

“Well. Yeah. They’re uh...they’re good.”

Dinner’s mostly silent, and so is the cleanup. Dean’s still hungry and feeling antsy. He’d work on the Impala, but it’s dark already now that daylight savings time’s over, and though he can move it to the garage, Cas won’t be here for long; he shouldn’t spend the little time they have focusing his attention on his baby. It would be rude.

“So, that popcorn. I was thinkin’, have you ever had movie theater popcorn before?”

Castiel wrinkles his brow, considering. “No. I’ve never seen a movie in a theater.”

Well.

It’s a 20 minute jaunt, and they’re a few minutes early for one of the Marvel flicks, Thor 2. Castiel insists on paying for the popcorn, and Dean argues back though he’d bought the tickets.

“I do have a job, Dean,” Cas grumbles.

“Sure, but I live rent-free in a luxurious bunker, and you’re the one who said it was nice. Let me do this.”

Cas sighs, put-upon, crumpled one-dollar bills nestled in his hand. “Dean.”

“Fine. Whatever.”

Cas seems to like the movie, with the god theme and the bro teamwork and the alien planet and the special effects, and though he hasn’t seen the first one, it apparently makes enough sense, though Dean whispers backstory details once or twice. Cas flinches a couple of times before he adjusts to the 3-D, and well, that’s funny.

It’s the most relaxing night he’s had in weeks, maybe months. He remembers Castiel going Freudian analyst on that whore, Chastity, and smiles into his Coke.

***

The bar had seemed like a good idea after the movie, but it’s a campus town, and the place is packed and more than a little loud.

“Dean,” Castiel’s saying over the music, which isn’t actually too bad. Cas is trying to convince him about hellspawn and the “fact” that they eat human (and other mammalian) livers, like a lot of other beings for some reason, but Dean vocally refuses to believe it. He doesn’t know why; Castiel doesn’t make lore up just to screw with him, but he’s having fun arguing about something that doesn’t matter for a change.

She eases off the barstool, dark hair swinging as she moves towards the back of the bar, where the bathrooms are.

“You’re blowing smoke up my ass,” Dean says, waiting for Cas’s expected confusion and denial, but he’s disappointed when Cas apparently knows that figure of speech and just rolls his eyes. Dean decides he doesn’t really want to fake-argue anymore, especially with Free Bird coming from the speakers, and lifting the beer bottle by its neck, he closes his eyes to the first lines, moving his lips. ”If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?”

“Yes, livers,” insists Cas again, not taking the hint to change the subject. “And sometimes kidneys, if the liver is damaged. Any organs, except entrails. Hellspawn can’t digest entrails. It’s sort of ironic.”

Passing the pool tables, she gives a wavery, apologetic smile when she bumps into a player backing up to line up his shot with cue in hand.

“Huh. Yeah, suppose it--” Dean bucks forward, beer sloshing as he’s pushed from behind. He turns, ready to give some frat-boy asshole a piece of his mind, but it’s a small brunette, lithe and pretty, and judging from her eyes, pretty drunk, too. He forgives her already.

“Sorry, ‘scuse--” she starts, and slips on the spill. She reaches out with one hand, grabbing at air, before Castiel catches her arm and the woman grips Dean’s with the other. “Shit, I’msosorry,” she apologizes again, before she hiccups and suddenly sags. Shifting, Castiel is able to capture her under her arms before she can drop to the floor, and he edges her over to the nearest table. “Sorry, can’t…” Dean growls at the two young dudes in college football getups taking up the real-estate, and when they scram, Castiel drops her in a chair.

Dean runs his hand to her wrist, and her pulse is steady. He grips her clammy hand. “You okay?” he asks, and the young woman’s head lolls forward before coming up, her lips showing damp in the dim bar light. She nods and licks them, rapidly, and Castiel crouches down in front of her. Dean thinks that’s a bad idea, ‘cause she’s clearly gonna spew, but she takes a breath and lets it out slowly, managing to keep down whatever she’s put away, probably shots of something sweet and nasty. Her eyes flick to Dean and back to Castiel before she squeezes them shut.

“You here with anybody? Do you need us to put you in a cab?” Dean asks, glancing in the direction she’d come, but she shakes her head.

“‘M not used to this,” she moans, dropping her head to Castiel’s shoulder before wrapping her free arm around him tightly. He gives Dean a beseeching Help Me look and Dean stifles a grin as two other young women appear at his side. Dean disentangles his hand from hers, with difficulty. For a slender and very trashed girl, she’s got a real kung-fu grip.

“Alicia!” one says. “You’re sooooo wasted!”

Cas nods up at them. “She is very drunk, indeed,” he confirms.

“Yeah, she doesn’t know her limits, and then she’s hugging everybody in sight,” one of her blonde friends says. “I’ll get her a 7-Up.” Castiel moves away and the inebriated college kid raises the hand she’d had resting on the side of his neck, but Dean catches it.

“Cas,” he breathes, and Castiel looks. Fading on the flesh of her hand, the outline of a black ink bow and arrow, identical to the one the cupid Gail had shown them. Castiel crouches again, takes Alicia’s hand and rubs his thumb over the marking; it’s not ink.

“Are you a cupid?” he asks the young woman quietly, not that her other friend’s listening, and she looks at him blearily, casting her eyes upward to Dean and then back. “Are you?”

“Not anymore,” she says mournfully. “Now I’m just a-” she hiccups. “A freshman.” Grabbing Dean’s hand again, her head falls back. “Sorry!” she says loudly, and leans back in the chair as her friend returns and shoves a glass into her hand.

“We’ve got her,” the blonde informs Castiel, snottily, Dean thinks. “You can go.” Castiel bends to speak briefly in the drunk girl’s ear, then rises and follows Dean.

“They were cute,” Dean hears the other blonde say as the song dies down and fades into another.

“Old, though,” says the first, “Ugh.”

All the way to the car, while Dean waits for him to tuck his coat around him before he shuts the passenger side door, and until the Impala’s heater kicks in, Castiel bitches about the cold, and Dean can’t help laughing.

***

“Let’s stow the weapons,” Dean suggests, once they shed their coats inside the bunker and he notes the cases they hadn’t opened when they first arrived earlier in the day. He’d brought along extras besides what they usually keep in the trunk of the Impala, since Sam had snagged one of the bags to travel with Kevin in their rental, a Chrysler or whatever liquicap-shaped, piece a’ shit, Mopar douche-nozzle make it was.

“Sure.” Castiel follows Dean to his bedroom and watches as he slots the guns and two knives back in their dedicated places on the wall. He sits on the bed, tilts his head, and bounces on the edge a few times. “This feels...unusual.”

“Memory foam,” Deans says smugly as Castiel presses his hand in the center of the mattress and watches it slowly rise up in its wake when he lifts it off. “Try it out, go on.” Cas gives him an are you sure sort of glance and Dean nods, waiting for the expression on his face to change like he knows his own must whenever he sinks into that bed. Motels really suck after getting used to this sonofabitch, except for the odd Magic Fingers luck-out. He’s gratified when Cas sighs blissfully.

Memory foam’s got to be a damn sight better than whatever Cas’s sleeping on these days, that’s for sure. Hell, the least Dean can do is give up his bed for a night; he can take one of the spare rooms; he’s pretty sure there are some extra blankets somewhere. “Not tired out yet, are you?” he asks, as Cas stretches out.

“No,” Castiel replies, “But this is...very comfortable.” Dean wipes down a little dust on one of his better blades, and a minute or two later, Castiel sits up slowly. Dean can see his gaze slide to the picture of Dean with his mom and over to the records.

“Hey, you want some music? You can pick,” Dean says, magnanimously.

Led Zep’s eponymous first album’s right in front, it’s an obvious choice, so of course Cas selects something else, sliding the Nat King Cole out of its plastic slipcover.

“Is this good?” Dean nods, takes the record and drops the needle on the A side as Castiel situates himself on the bed again, just taking up half the space, so Dean takes the rest.

“When the angels fell, I didn’t give much thought to cupids,” Castiel says after a long silence, “They’re a...lower order.”

“Too bad. Guess they need new jobs,” Dean shrugs. “Or college, in this case.”

“She’s lost her purpose.” Castiel says. “It’s...it’s awful, Dean. Think of how many people won’t come together who ought to.”

Dean cocks him a look. “But the angels haven’t all lost their abilities. Look at Ephraim. Gets drawn to people’s misery, turns ‘em into Pepto Bismol.”

“Exactly,” Castiel says. “The direct line to Heaven is gone. He’d lost his purpose and was trying to fulfill it. Cupids could still have the power to forge love, but they don’t have any idea who should be together and which relationships are important. They’re not getting updates.”

“So some scientist who cures cancer one day might not be born ‘cause their parents didn’t fall for each other?”

“Maybe? Or it could be something smaller; someone who saves another person just by being there at the right time to...to listen. But it isn’t just about offspring. There are people who should find joy together, but will never fall in love now.”

“Wouldn’t worry too much, Cas. Humans are pretty good at falling in love without help from cupids.”

A pause, and then a pointed stare. “Not everyone.”

He shouldn’t be surprised by Cas’s bluntness anymore. “Yeah. Well.”

Dean leaves to wash up, and as he blots dry with one of the thin hand towels, he examines his face in the mirror. He looks exhausted. He is exhausted.

In the mostly-dark room, Cas’s breathing is even and his eyes are shut, but Dean can tell he’s not asleep, not yet. Dean’s too tired to bother moving elsewhere to crash, and Cas won’t mind if they share, he supposes. He turns off the record player, peels off his socks and drags back the covers.

“Those girls,” he says after he’s situated, and Cas turns and squints at him. “They said we were old.”

“Well, you’re not old,” Cas says. “But compared to them, we are. At least outwardly. And you refer to them as ‘girls,’ so you clearly realize that.”

“Yeah. I...” Dean usually calls young women ‘girls.’ They were pretty girls, now that he thinks back on it. That’s kind of beside the point, though. “Yeah. Guess I’m just feelin’ the miles tonight.”

Castiel closes his eyes again.

“Cas? What’d you tell her, the cupid? Former cupid.”

Castiel hesitates, and turns to face the ceiling. “I told her that even though she has free will and can do whatever she pleases, excessive drinking because of self-pity is ill-advised.”

Dean huffs. “I’m sure she found that comforting.”

“I’d like to think so,” Castiel says.

Dean shifts, rolling to face the door. It’s funny; the cupid had touched both him and Cas, more than once, even. It was a good thing she wasn’t just randomly shooting love arrows at people like Ephraim was “curing” sadness, but he guessed cupids had more experience with humanity than the newly-fallen-from-heaven. Dean didn’t feel any differently about Cas than he had before the encounter. So that was a relief.

“I’m not down with ‘em,” he says. “Cupids. Kind of kill the whole concept of free will, don’t they?”

“In favor of a grander plan. You wouldn't be here if it wasn’t for one of them, or Sam either,” Cas reminds him, and he shrugs into his pillow.

“Sure.”

***

Dean’s drifting into sleep when he feels a warm hand, flat against his back. He looks over his shoulder, but Cas’s eyes are shut...his hand’s just there.

“Cas?” Dean asks, but the hand moves, sliding to the side and to his waist, curling around the hard edge of his hip. He breathes out, and turns over. “Cas-” he begins again, but he stops because of the way Cas is now looking at him, and then leaning in closer.

Sure, so he wants to talk some more. That’s fine.

“Dean?” Cas whispers, and Dean waits as Cas licks his lips and edges forward, and then he’s being kissed, softly. Cas backs off a little, his eyes darting over Dean’s face, to his eyes, and then he kisses Dean again, slow and careful.

Fuck, is Dean’s first thought. If that messed-up, forlorn, sad-sack, cupid coed had whammied them by mistake…

His next thought is…holy shit, because Cas can kiss. It’s not what he expected; it stays soft for a while, then it’s suddenly hard and searing and searching and why’s he thinking about what he expected; he hadn’t expected anything. He hadn’t expected this.

Fuck, Dean thinks again, Cas is brave as hell. There’s no way he’s not kissing him back.

After a moment, Cas pulls back a little, mouths against Dean’s jaw, and Dean exhales audibly. “Is it okay?” Cas asks, deep voice a little shaky maybe, and if he’s asking if he’s doing it right…

“Yeah, yeah it--” Dean breathes, and Cas’s lips are on his again. Dean ought to stop this; it isn’t the best idea, but it feels so good, Cas’s hand in Dean’s hair, the way he tastes. It’s another few minutes before Cas pulls away, presses soft lips to his cheek, then his forehead, and Dean’s brain catches up. “I don’t, I.”

Cas closes his eyes. “You don’t do this with men. I know.”

Dean wonders what Castiel does know; Cas built him back from nothing. He wonders if Cas knows how Dean made easy money a handful of times years back. It’s not something he can say he really enjoyed, and it wasn’t often, but he hadn’t minded it that much, either; it was easier than spending five hours playing poker when the credit cards weren’t good and food and gas aren’t free. Long story short, he could get Cas off now with some skill, but Cas’s hands are notched above Dean’s waist, holding him like he might break or something, and this is fine, this is good. He’s right; Dean doesn’t do this with men, doesn’t kiss, doesn’t tangle tongues, doesn’t lie in bed and breathe the same air and cup their faces in his palms.

But this is Cas.

Dean leans in and captures his mouth again, and soon Cas is pulling at the hem of Dean’s t-shirt like he wants it off, and there’s an idea. Dean backs away long enough to shed the shirt and he tugs at Cas’s too, and then they’re chest-to-chest. Cas sucks in a breath a second too late like he’s forgotten how inhaling works, and Dean smiles at that, dips his head to worry his teeth along the jut of Cas’s collarbone, slip his palms over his smooth chest, tease him the way Dean likes it himself.

“Okay?” Dean asks him, dragging a thumb roughly over a hardened nipple and Cas nods quickly, hands back in Dean’s hair, and he pulls Dean up for another kiss. Dean loves it, could drown in the way Cas kisses; a mix of easy, surging into needy and hot, and back to easy again. It’s...different. It’s good, and yes, Cas told him he’d be a good teacher when it comes to the human stuff, but Dean’s learning now, learning the way Cas kisses. The bare rasp of five o’ clock shadow is new too, but not in a bad way, not at all. His heart's pounding, and when he shifts on the bed, stretching over Cas, he finds him hard and grinds into him, drawing a low moan.

“Dean,” Cas manages, and Dean slips a hand down into the gray sweats he’s wearing, that belong to Dean. No underwear, and Castiel doesn’t see the point of underwear but it’s damned sexy anyway. He groans into Cas’s shoulder, and when his hand wraps around his dick Cas gives a gratifying full-body shudder and murmurs his name again, hushed and gravelly. God.

Castiel’s entire blood supply’s rushed south just like his, it feels like, and as Dean strokes him, relishes the dig of nails in his shoulder blades and little gasps of pleasure, he considers what to do next. Condoms are in the glove box of the car. He doesn’t have stuff here; there’s probably lotion, but Dean doesn’t need it when he beats off, and he’s practically dripping now.

”Dean." Cas is shaking below him, voice hitching on his name, urgent with need, and Dean slides his own boxers down and grips both of them together in one hand, slicking over the head of his own dick in the process, Cas bucks and his hand joins Dean’s, less practiced, but even the sensation of Cas’s slim, strong fingers tangled into his is a turn-on, and who woulda thought?

Part of him wants to draw this out, back Cas off the edge, sink down and use his mouth, or go further...more than he’s done before though he’s done that with girls; it’s tight and he doesn’t last long and he’s never sure if they really dig it, but with Cas, with Cas it’d be…and maybe he’d want to do Dean like that. Maybe Dean would let him. Dean bites his lip and speeds their strokes and Cas goes first but Dean’s right behind him, lights popping hot behind his eyelids. Their fingers and Cas’s lean, tanned stomach are painted over. Dean releases his hold but Cas’s hand grips his tighter and he dips in for another kiss. This one’s just slow and perfect, but they’re both breathless, so Dean flops alongside Cas on the bed and presses damp lips to his shoulder. Castiel doesn’t seem to want to let go of his hand, but that’s alright.

He’ll get up in a minute or two and get a towel, as soon as his legs work again.

Cas sighs loudly next to him moments later, and Dean leans up on one elbow. “That was something else,” he says, and Cas nods gravely. His hair’s up in spikes and he looks more dazed than usual.

“Yes. It was different, with April.”

Dean doesn’t know what kind of face to make at that comparison. “I hope so. She was a reaper. And a girl. So.”

“No, I meant that...that it feels different when you have a special bond with someone, when you are...”

“Uh, yeah,” and Dean’s not arguing with that; Cas nailed it in one, but he’s not going to talk about feelings right now. He twists his free hand around Castiel’s neck and kisses him again. He gently frees his fingers from Castiel’s and sits up. “Be right back.”

Dean cleans them up with a damp washcloth and drops it on the pile of clothes on the floor, then loses his boxers; no reason not to sleep in the buff now. Cas joins him under the covers and grasps his hand again, and he’s gotta admit, he likes that. It’s better than words.

Dean thinks maybe he ought to spill some; tell Cas the spell on the angel tablet isn’t reversible, that he’s not going home to heaven. Tell him about Sammy and Ezekiel. Unburden his soul.

He’s holding onto so many lies; he has to for a while longer, but some truth slips out. “I slept with a porn star.”

Cas hums at that, meeting his eyes. Not judging.

“Last week. Met on a case. I’d missed it. Sex, I mean. Being close to somebody like that. I needed--” he pinches the bridge of his nose.

“She must have been very good at it,” Cas says, and Dean laughs silently.

“Yeah. Yeah, she was.” It’d been good, sure, but most of that had been because he’d thought about Suzy, or Carmelita, while jerking off to her maracas a couple dozen times. It had been a real fun time, but it wasn’t...

Cas holds his gaze.

“It didn’t mean anything,” Dean tells him, like it’s something Cas needs to know. “It never does. Adios. Always adios, afterward. She knew that going in, that I stick around about as well as secondhand scotch tape.”

“Adios references God,’ Dean,” Cas says. “Goodbye means ‘God be with you’. And there’s ‘Vaya con Dios,’ go with God.”

“Which also means so long, and I’ll never see you again.”

“It only means this if you don’t intend to see someone again. It’s a nice way to say goodbye.”

“True.” Dean's flagging, warm and surrounded in his room, with Cas leaning into him. "You speak Spanish," he murmurs, before drifting off.

***

“Girrrrl, get up.”

Alicia moans and burrows deeper into the blanket burrito she’s constructed. “Go ‘way.”

“Are you gonna sleep all day?” her roommate asks.

“No. Maybe. I feel awful.”

“Water. Hang on,” Maddy pads away, Alicia hears the door slide shut, and a blink later the bed dips as she perches on the edge. “Have this.” She has a can of Coke in one hand and a banana in the other.

“Ugh, I can’t eat.”

“Sugar and potassium are good for hangovers. Trust me. And I have Excedrin.”

Alicia sighs and sits up, tucking the comforter under her knees and taking the banana. As she gingerly begins to eat, Maddy flicks on the TV and puts in a DVD, slipping on headphones.

Alicia stretches and opens the Coke, taking the two pills on the nightstand and knocking them down before pulling her laptop over. She enters names in search, and poring over an engagement announcement, she feels a weight lift. She hadn’t been in the presence of these two targeted souls at the same time before losing her grace, but things had happened for them anyway. She lets out a pleased sigh.

“You better?” Maddy asks, plopping beside her on the bed and glancing at the laptop.

Alicia blinks, considering. It’s amazing what an hour and a banana can do. “Yeah. Yeah I do, actually.”

“Good!” Maddy points to a banner ad on the page promoting Kanye West’s new single, with a gif of Kim Kardashian flashing her bare shoulder on it. “They’re kind of a weird couple, huh?”

“Oh no,” Alicia says. “They were meant for one another.”

Maddy shrugs and pulls Alicia to her feet, and she groans when Maddy yanks her headphone jack from the TV and the fast-clap opening riff of Single Ladies fills the room. “Learn this dance with me. Come on.”

***

It’d been a grayed-out morning on the drive back, but the sun’s breaking through, finally.

Dean isn’t gonna kiss Cas goodbye in a parking spot in front of the Gas ‘n Sip, because that’d be making it weird. Maybe they’ve already made it weird, but god knows he and Cas have been weird from day one, but making it weird in public isn’t necessary. Sleeping and waking up with Cas tangled in his arms was really good, and things were pretty normal otherwise except he’d been kissed and had his dick grabbed as some kind of a thank-you for making sunny side up eggs.

“Ha!” Castiel smirks over breakfast, having found hellspawn dietary preferences in notes carefully filed by the Men of Letters. “You see? You should stop doubting me.”

“Fine. I give,” Dean says, something stirring warm beneath his ribcage at the sight of Cas in his bathrobe, drinking from his mug. They didn’t mess around much beyond what they'd done last night; Dean’s saving something for next time, like he’s trying something new, like maybe that clean slate wasn’t bullshit. Sure, he’d backslid, but he was only human, and it had been Carmelita, after all.

So he doesn’t kiss Cas out here in the lot, but he doesn’t let go of the hanger when he hands him his suit from the hook behind his seat, keeps his fingers there when Cas’s wrap around them.

“I should just keep it in your trunk,” Cas says. “I have no need for a suit at this job.”

“You can if you want to,” Dean shrugs. “But not in the trunk. Gets a little messy in there.”

“Yes, it does.” Cas sighs and Dean hides a smile; he’d heard enough bitching about laundry this morning to last until the next time they met up.

He watches as Cas’s gaze goes to the front window, where Nora offers a wave as she tapes up a sign.

“Well, I guess I’d better…” Dean waggles his thumb over his shoulder at the driver’s seat.

“Yes,” Castiel nods, tightening his fingers over Dean’s. “I’ll...we'll.”

“Call me, too. Not because there’s something to check out. You know, just call me. I’ll see if I can’t get away more often. We could, maybe, I...” Dean scrubs at the back of his neck with his free hand.

“I will,” Cas says with his usual conviction, and he sounds so much like Castiel the solemn Angel of the Lord that Dean almost forgets he’s ‘Steve,” now. “This isn’t adios.”

“Right, it’s not. Good. Okay.” Dean’s not his usual smooth, morning-after self, but it’s not the usual morning-after, it’s not adios, it’s Cas, and now everything’s different, and yet it isn’t. “Okay,” he says again. “I’ll see you, Cas.”

“Soon.”

“Yeah, definitely soon.” Dean watches as Castiel drags the hanger over his shoulder, bag tucked under the same arm, heads for the front door of the store and enters. Dean sees him talking to Nora, and she turns and peers at him before waving again.

With a salute, he slides behind the wheel of the Impala and lets out a deep breath before he twists the key.