Dean hangs up just in time to see Cas approach the Impala. He didn't answer Sam, but no, he's absolutely not going to tell Cas there's no putting the angels back in Heaven. Especially not after tonight.
"Where to, Cas?" he asks.
Cas looks defeated. He half sighs and climbs into the car, silent. It makes Dean pause. For all he's human, Cas still seems to carry the weight of Heaven and Earth on his shoulders. So, no, Dean's definitely not telling him about the angels. One less burden for him to bear. Dean has always hated seeing Cas in pain—it's the sharpest reminder of all the ways he's failed him.
He gets in the car.
"The Gas-n-Sip, please," Cas says as the engine starts.
Dean thinks about that a second as he grabs his seatbelt and clicks it in place. "Place would be closed, wouldn't it?"
Cas's head is tipped back against the headrest. He's weary in a way Dean isn't used to seeing and it makes him ache. "Yes, but I have a key. It's where my toothbrush is."
"Toothbrush?" Dean asks before he puts two and two together. "Cas, no way, man. You're not sleeping in the storeroom." Cas leans up, wearing a glower and about to argue but Dean doesn't let him. "C'mon, I've got a room. We can fix up your hand better, get some pizza. It'll be like old times."
Cas's eyes catch his—intense, knowing, and way too blue—and Dean's throat tightens at the accidental implication. They'd had some times, he and Cas. Times the push-pull between them got physical. Late nights during the apocalypse, a handful of tense hook-ups after the world stopped ending. Too many times or not enough, Dean could never decide.
But it was a long time ago now. They hadn't— It hadn't happened since before Cas got high on Leviathan. The deal, so far as there had been one, was a no-strings arrangement. It wasn't supposed to matter.
Dean clears his throat and breaks eye contact, but he can't help flicking a few glances in Cas's direction as he puts the Impala in gear. Cas looks out the passenger window as the car pulls away from Nora's house.
They stop at a 24-7 pharmacy while they wait for the pizza. Dean grabs a complicated-looking splint bandage for Cas's hand before heading over to the liquor store across the street while Cas waits in the car. He makes Cas hold the pizza in his lap on the way to the motel.
Cas stays quiet as Dean unlocks the door and they settle into the room. Dean watches as he catalogues the ugly curtains, the single bed, the location of the bathroom. Cas sets the pizza on the table by the window and takes a seat. It's the only place to sit other than the bed. Suppressing a sigh, Dean heaves the six pack and his pharmacy purchases onto the dresser, beside the TV. He shrugs off his coat and cracks open two beers with his keyring. It looks like this already long night isn't quite over.
"Hey," Dean taps Cas's arm with the butt of a bottle. "You drink beer yet?"
Cas looks up at him, bewildered, but accepts the drink. "Uh, no. Not since—" He doesn't finish but Dean gets it. He clinks his bottle to Cas's and takes a swig.
"So let's see what we can do about that hand, huh?"
In between bites of pizza, Dean takes time to actually read the instructions on the bandage box. It's a far cry from bar rags and duct tape. Even comes with those little silver grabber clip thingies. Eventually Dean dusts his hands, wipes his fingers on his jeans, and gestures for Cas's hand. "C'mere," he says, swallowing a last mouthful of pizza. "Think I got it."
Cas extends his arm and watches as Dean carefully removes their makeshift bandage. He flinches as Dean manipulates the splint into place and Dean whispers an apology.
"How is Sam?" Cas asks as Dean begins to wrap his fingers, and Dean tries not to be the one who flinches.
"Oh, you know, Zeke-ing out," he answers, rueful, because telling the truth is its own kind of punishment.
Cas's forehead creases. "He's what?"
Dean scolds himself silently. He might hate his deal with Ezekiel, but now isn't exactly the time. "Geeking out," he amends. "With Kev. They're working on a translation of Metatron's spell. Apparently the almighty thing that tore Heaven down was a freaking footnote. Anyway, they're, uh, seeing if they can reverse it. Or maybe, you know, get your grace back?"
The way Cas's big sad eyes drop to the tabletop tells him everything he needs to know about the likelihood of that. It kicks up the fight in Dean, seeing Cas so desolate, makes him want to launch a goddamn crusade to prove him and Sam and Crowley and the whole fucking universe wrong.
"I appreciate your help" is all Cas says, eyes on the half-eaten slice of pizza in front of him as he picks at the crust with his uninjured hand.
All this silence and stilted politeness are rubbing Dean the wrong way. It didn't used to feel like this, even when Cas was all angeled up and awkward, but he knows it's own damn fault. For bringing up the past, hell, for having instigated a good portion of that past.
"Alright, think that does it," he says as he affixes the last silver clip thing. "How's it feel?"
Cas lifts his wrist, bending his arm at the elbow a few times. "Restrictive," he answers and Dean grins.
"Good, that's what we're going for."
Cas's return smile is a faint echo, but it's a smile and it hits Dean like a warm bullet, right in the chest. Doesn't hurt, though. Kind of the opposite, actually. He gets to his feet and claps Cas on the shoulder on his way to get them both another beer.
They end up propped side by side on the bed, boots off. Dean had half coaxed Cas by deliberately turning on a marathon of some sitcom, knowing it was hard to see the TV from where he was seated at the table. The result being that Cas now sits next to him, engrossed in the program, munching down the last piece of cold pizza with his second beer mostly empty at his elbow on the nightstand. He's a little glassy-eyed but also way more chilled out, so Dean counts it as a win.
This feels more like old times—those countless nights holed up with and sometimes without Sam, planning or waiting or hiding—but Dean can't help but think they could've had it a little better tonight. They could be in the bunker right now, where they'd be slightly safer and slightly warmer, if maybe a little less alone. But it would be home.
He hasn't forgiven himself for sending Cas away, just like he's never managed to pardon himself for hiding from whatever the thing between them had been, or could have been. For pretending part of their history doesn't exist and didn't matter. That there were some extremely extenuating circumstances or that some of it (not all of it, he knows, far from all of it) was shit way out of his control is beside the point. He should've done so much different and he didn't, and the taste of self-hate doesn't wash away with his last swallow of beer.
Cas burps, then laughs. "Sorry," he mumbles, but still chuckles to himself. "That's so strange."
Dean shakes his head, feeling a surprise small smile turn up. "Bet there's a lot of stuff to get used to."
"To say the least," Cas rumbles, even throwing in an eye roll.
"You could always feel stuff, though, right?" Dean asks before he can stop himself. For a second he feels as empty as the bottle he's fidgeting with. He's sure Cas knows exactly what he's asking and why.
It's a couple seconds before Cas answers.
"Yes, distantly," he says, voice deep, distracted. "Pleasure and pain. There weren't so many . . . gradations."
Dean nods like he gets it, even if he's not sure he does. It's enough to reassure him that when they'd, well. That the times they'd fucked hadn't been totally one-sided, at least. Dean hadn't really thought they were—Cas had certainly made it through all the motions, so to speak—but it's just one more thing Dean was never sure of, had never asked him.
The memory of the first time he'd kissed Cas cues up, complete with the way it had taken a second for Cas to kiss him back, and then the way he'd pressed his mouth to Dean's so hard, like it wasn't going to be enough unless it bruised. Dean had always liked that about being with Cas, that it was eager and raw.
"I'm much more aware of inner sensation. I live in this body now," Cas muses, eyeing his lap and limbs as though he's still not totally sure a body part or two isn't going to accidentally slip into another dimension.
Dean can't help it—that body might be new to Cas but it's not to him. He knows it. He remembers what used to make it tremble and arch and come. He wonders how much would be the same.
"Yeah, it's all yours, man," Dean agrees, trying to sound like he isn't remembering Cas with sweaty sex hair panting above him. "You can do whatever you want." He sets his beer bottle down and scrubs at his face. He doesn't know what he's doing, or why he's letting this get to him.
No, that's not true. He knows exactly why. It's because constant worry is a bitch, he's been strung tight with self-doubt for weeks now, and he's never been good at being alone. As for what he's doing . . .
For years he'd told himself that he just didn't realize that everything with Cas probably added up to something until it was too late. Way too late. Purgatory was kind of an atonement, though, he gets that. They made it up to one another in the way they knew how—saving each other's asses—and, afterward, Dean had started to think maybe it had all added up the same way for Cas, maybe he wasn't the only one doing that math. But then Cas was gone again, winging his way around out of reach. And now—
Fuck it. He should've just driven Cas back to the Gas-n-Sip.
But that's just it.
Cas can't go anywhere now. He said it himself earlier: Dean's his ride. He can't flicker away. He's here and Dean's here and it's just— Dean just wants to know he was right about something, once. Even if it was a long time ago and it's far too late now.
The worst Cas could do is say no. Well, he could also punch Dean in the face and run for it, which Dean would understand, actually, but Cas won't run. Dean's not sure about the no, though. Or the punch.
Cas's focus is back on the TV. He's cleared any traces of dinner and he's just sitting there, legs outstretched and loosely crossed at the ankles, totally human. Totally just a regular guy. Totally the only person outside his blood relations Dean's ever needed.
His shirt's still a little bit unbuttoned.
Slowly, like the teenager with no game Dean's never going to admit he was, slowly he tilts his hand, passing the backs of his fingers against Cas's thigh.
That hot blue neutron-star heat swings Dean's way—losing his grace did zero to diminish Cas's stare—and Dean holds it. He holds it and doesn't stop his fingers as they brush again and turn, as he palms up and over, dips down to cradle the inside of Cas's thigh.
There's no confusing Dean's intent and Cas's widening eyes say he definitely hasn't. But before he can utter even a syllable, Dean dives at Cas's mouth, wraps his other hand around Cas's jaw till Dean's fingers dig into the back of his skull, pulling the kiss closer, tighter. He deserves to be told to stop. God, he knows he does. Cas should shove him off and tell him to go to hell and Dean thinks he would find a way to go.
Instead, Cas opens his mouth to Dean's kiss. Better, he meets it.
When Dean deepens the kiss, Cas is there, pushing back, leaning in to chase Dean's tongue. They break off, pausing in each other's breathing space, and Dean holds as still as possible, not sure which way this is gonna go, which way he should go—because maybe this is it, maybe this is the part where Cas pushes him away, and he steels himself for it.
But Cas says, "Don't stop," wraps his knuckles into the chest of Dean's shirts, and tugs Dean's mouth back to his. Dean pinches his eyes shut against a surprise sting and follows Cas's lead.
Cas's kisses pull, inviting and hungry, and Dean feeds them. He tangles his fingers in Cas's already unruly hair, drags his lips along his neck. He teases the soft, sensitive spot behind Cas's ear, feels Cas shudder and hears his name in Cas's deep, breathy whisper. His grip tightens on Cas's inner thigh in reflex. The furthest thing from subtle, Cas slips his good hand into place over Dean's. He pries Dean's hand loose and presses it to the center of his body, cupping it close as if to make sure Dean can feel Cas's half hard cock through the denim.
They both groan, hot into each other's mouths, and a rush of want burns through Dean.
"God Cas," Dean breathes, pumping once more with his palm, feeling Cas's cock throb under his touch. "God, yes."
He climbs into Cas's lap, straddling his hips and stripping off Cas's shirt. Cas catches his mouth once more before they shift down the bed. Dean sucks at Cas's neck, bites at his collar bone, flicks his tongue over a nipple. Somewhere out of sight Cas's hand flails for the TV remote and turns it off—Dean'd forgotten it was even on. Dean runs his hands down Cas's body and back up, taking in the miles of warm, sleek muscle as he licks his way back into Cas's mouth. He rolls his hips, pressing firm against Cas and rocking up. Cas breaks from Dean's mouth to groan again, loud and healthy. He grabs the back hems of Dean's shirts and wrenches them up his back, over his head. Dean paws his way out and sinks immediately back down to Cas.
"So, you've done this recently," Dean mumbles against Cas's neck as he flicks open Cas's button and fly.
Cas arches as Dean laves at a nipple again and takes the opportunity to drag his pants down. "You said no strings, remember?"
It's the kind of smack in the face Dean's been expecting.
"Yeah," Dean says, throat tight. "'Course. I didn't mean—" Cas is trying to get him out of his own pants. "I'm not mad, just . . . I didn't think you'd—" want anyone else isn't a fair thing to say. "It's fine. It's good," he says. But this is better. "I mean, it sucks it turned out the way it did, but—"
They're fully stripped, jeans and socks kicked onto the floor. Dean pulls back to hover above Cas, staring straight down at his pink and panting mouth, his over-blue bedroom eyes.
Those eyes narrow. "Shut up."
Dean nods, "Okay," and kisses him.
For all Cas spent a few millennia as an angel, he's fucking sinful in the sack, even more than Dean remembers. He pulls Dean down and rolls up on his side, tangling their bodies together. Every time he rocks into Dean, cock thick and hot, the friction of scruff and grip of Cas's hands on his ass fire off every pleasure center in Dean's brain. And his fucking mouth. Dean's never even heard a curse word come out of it, but everything Cas does, the way he uses his tongue—and, God, the memories of blow jobs—is dirty as fuck.
Cas bites at his shoulder, teeth sinking into flesh just enough to smart, and the pain sharpens Dean's want. He lets the sting fade before going after Cas from neck to navel.
The tattoo's new. Dean runs a palm over it, dragging off to the side as he tries and fails to make sense of the symbols.
"For protection," Cas rumbles, and that reminds Dean. He peels away and hangs off the bed to reach into his duffle and pulls out two condoms. They're old but not too old.
He cups Cas's cock in one hand and gives a couple pulls to keep him nice and hard. "Here, sit up," he says with a tug and Cas follows, sidetracking him with another filthy kiss when he gets there.
So Dean teaches Cas about condoms. They didn't need 'em before. Dean was clean and Cas was an angel. But there's a lot more ways to die for him these days and if Cas is going to— well, he should just know. Watching Cas roll one on himself one-handed is hotter than any porn Dean's seen in the last six months.
"That's good, right there," he says when Cas gets to the base, totally feeling his own cock twitch. Cas has a head tilt on as he looks down, watching his middle finger and thumb stroke just above the rubber ring.
"Feel snug?" Dean asks and Cas nods. "Good," he grins and pushes Cas flat, picking up where he left off making his way down his body. He sucks Cas off a little, just to prove the condom doesn't stop the party, but he misses Cas's taste, wants to know if he's been remembering it right. He bites at the crease of Cas's thigh just for the musk, tongues and teases behind his balls until Cas moans, digs his heels into the mattress, and pumps his hips helplessly into the air.
"Dean," he begs, "Touch me, you have to touch me."
Dean does as ordered, going down on Cas again, as far as he can take him, but holding two fingers behind his sac to keep up the tease. Oh yeah, he remembers this.
Cas's noisiness is new too. He used to be an intense, slow, silent burn, and now every sensation, every one of Dean's touches draws out a moan or pant or whimper. It's fucking awesome.
Cas digs his nails into Dean's shoulder with another moan and it takes every ounce of Dean's self control not to grab his own dick and come his brains out just like this. He could, and with the way Cas's thighs are flexing and seizing he can tell he's close too. Cas's fingers skate up the back of Dean's neck and into his hair. Dean does a loop with his tongue around the head of Cas's cock before sucking just at the tip and gets a hard yank on a handful of hair. "No!" Cas calls, frantic. "Get up, get up here, not yet—" he tugs more gently, both hands scrabbling, and Dean complies easily.
"How do you want me?" Dean asks, close to his ear, grinding their cocks together as Cas bites his bottom lip. "You wanna fuck me, Cas? You want to feel that?" Cas groans, loud, like he might come from just the thought.
"Yes—" he exhales, releasing his lip, but then, "No. No, I want—"
"Whatever you want, babe," Dean mumbles against his chest, fingers just brushing up the length of both their cocks, "you can have it. Have me." Because it's true. He doesn't care, doesn't have a preference. He has Cas and that's more than he had a right to ask for. They've done it all before and there's nothing Dean wouldn't do again.
Cas breathes hard, trying to find words. "You have to do it— do me. I want to know—"
God, fuck, of course he wants to know.
"We can do that," Dean assures him, licking at Cas's neck as he squirms. "God, yeah, I want that. Want you." He rolls Cas's body up against his, runs a hand along his leg so it's up across Dean's hip, and sneaks two fingers around to dip at the top of his ass. "But I gotta get you ready. You gonna be able to hold out, or you want me to make you come now?"
"Dean," Cas pleads, pushing into him, clinging, and Dean's not sure if that was a yes or no but goddamn he'll take it. He holds tight as Cas ruts against him. At first Cas bent his head down to Dean's chest, but he tips it back as short, quick moans escape him. Dean sucks at his exposed throat and keeps up the counter-momentum, his world narrowed down to this, their bodies, his sole focus making this happen, making Cas come. He feels it when he does—Cas's whole body clenches around him, cock stiff and pulsing against Dean. Dean lets him fly, lets Cas soar through it and float down without interference. He doesn't let go until Cas flops back against the bed, breathing hard.
He looks wiped and Dean can't help his shit-eating grin. Cas catches it and rolls his eyes with a huff.
"Whatever, you loved it," Dean teases, easy, like he used to. He's a little too high on endorphins for that thought to hurt.
Cas heaves one last sigh and leans up on his elbow, motioning Dean in close. He goes willingly, fingers gingerly seeking out and stripping off the used condom since Cas isn't gonna know to do it. A little part of him misses the mess, but it wouldn't be as much fun to make one that way. He finishes tying it off just before Cas rolls on top of him, balanced on the elbow of his bandaged arm, and kisses him into the mattress. For the first time all night, Cas touches Dean's cock, fingers carding around the base before wrapping around his semi-soft erection.
"We're not done," Cas whispers, voice deep and rough enough to've been mined from a quarry, and Dean's suddenly a lot harder. "You said whatever I want." It's Cas's warrior angel of control voice. "And I still want."
Unlike almost every other time he's heard that voice, this time Dean's absolutely not going to argue.
Cas lays out flat on his stomach as Dean works him open, one finger, two fingers, and just a little tongue at a time. He licks low at Cas's spine, crawls up to steal sideways kisses as his fingers sink and soothe. Cas groans out Dean's name every time it feels particularly good, and he's hard again by the time he's begging for more.
Dean drags Cas's hips up off the bed. "You sure you're ready?" he taunts, one thumb skimming extra lube around Cas's rim as his other hand preps his own cock.
"You know I am," Cas growls pointedly and, fuck. Yeah he is and yeah Dean does. He slides inside Cas full and easy.
Before Dean can even pull back for his first thrust, Cas does some fucking incredible ab-ass roll and— "Oh Jesus fuck," Dean spits out, losing his balance because it's been a long damn while. He swears he catches Cas grin.
The turn from taunting to intensity happens faster than either of them intends, though. Dean makes a couple slow passes to string Cas along, give him the full sensation since he wanted so bad to know, but it's not long before Cas begins to shake.
"Oh, Dean. Oh," Cas whispers with a tremble, his good hand reaching blindly back for Dean, and concern knots Dean's brow. He lowers himself around Cas, pinning him gently to the bed. He stays inside him, just nudging, and fuck it's good like that. But—
"Talk to me, babe," Dean says, kissing Cas's ear. "This not what you wanted?"
Cas shakes his head fast, forehead pressed to the sheets. "It's more," he trembles again as Dean hits the good spot, "So much more now."
Now that I'm human. Now that I feel it, he doesn't have to say.
Dean's had Cas from behind like this before: That time it was rough up against a wall, Cas's suit pants caught around his spread thighs, and once with Cas on his knees, arching his spine out and letting Dean's hands roam up his body as he thrust back on Dean's cock.
But this time is different. New, kind of—they didn't know, they should've known, he should've known—and Dean needs to keep him in sight. Cas is free falling and it makes Dean want to surround him like a parachute, be in him, around him, never let him drop.
He kisses the top of Cas's spine as he pulls out, and Cas immediately rolls onto his back, yanking Dean into another needy kiss, like he's grounding himself with lips and tongue and taste. Dean climbs over one leg and settles himself in the crook of Cas's body.
Without a word, Cas reaches for Dean's cock, hand nowhere near as steady as his blue stare, but eager all the same. Dean loses his breath as Cas tips his hips up and the head of his cock meets Cas's body heat. Cas bears down as Dean pushes in, his jaw falling open, eyes screwing shut. He's somehow hotter and tighter around Dean, and when Dean gives his first shallow thrust Cas's head tilts back and he lets out a grunting whine shaped around Dean's name.
"I got you. I got you now," Dean rambles, pressing kisses into Cas's skin, rocking up and into him, simultaneously remembering and trying to erase every memory of having done this before. It's not the same. It's new. It can be different this time. This time, maybe— Maybe—
"Yes," Cas pants, setting up a counterpoint to Dean's thrust. And, Jesus, Dean can work with that.
He moves Cas's bandaged wrist up over his head, out of the way, laps at his taut nipple, smooth pec. He reaches down to hike Cas's thighs higher, digging his knees into the bed to get some leverage. And then he picks up his rhythm, a little at a time, fucking him just a little harder, just a little faster every so many strokes.
Cas's hips keep up with Dean's thrusts. His good hand grips Dean's ass, pulling him in close. He starts to squirm as Dean finds the right angle to pass his prostate with every push and pull. Squirming turns to thrashing. His legs twitch around Dean's hips. "Dean!" he shouts, and Dean's sure they can hear it four rooms over but he doesn't care. He fucking loves it and he pushes harder, deeper. Cas used to be a contained fire, hot coals content to smolder, but now he's conflagration, a solar flare whipping flame. He's going to burn Dean up, incendiary.
And then he does.
He gives way, laying back and letting Dean take him, arms above his head, chest heaving, cock flush and bobbing against his body. He keeps twisting his hips at just the right second and, "Fuck, Cas— fuck."
Dean's bones are on fire, white hot and searing through his skin. His body stutters as he pours into Cas, molten, unable to cough out words, hips jacking in and in. Cas rips one of Dean's hands off the bed and pushes it onto his cock, demanding Dean's touch. Dean's still coming as he strokes Cas once, twice, three times and Cas's body cinches around him.
"Oh my God. Oh my God, Cas—"
Cas's hot, slow slick slides between his fingers, and Dean's gone, done, only so much ash crumbled in a heap on Cas's chest.
Awareness comes back one sensation at a time. A hand in his hair. Cas humming contentedly as he coaxes his hips around Dean's spent cock. His own hand wrapped around Cas's sticky, softening flesh.
Dean rubs at his face, still muzzy but trying for consciousness. Cas smiles lazily at him, sexy and sated.
"Jesus. You could kill a guy, Cas," he says, resting his forehead on his chest just one second more, working up the energy to shift out and off and over.
"I've killed many men," Cas replies, somber, as he lets Dean pull away.
Dean rolls his eyes and takes care of the condom. "Different story. You're lethal in a whole other kind of way." He dips down to kiss-lick Cas's mouth and Cas hums.
"I'd rather not everyone I have sex with dies."
Dean winces. It's so awesome how he's screwed up already.
"That's not— You know I meant it as a compliment, right?"
Cas shrugs, his eyes and fingers tracing along Dean's brow, down his jaw, somehow more intimate than everything they just got up to. "I did too," he says softly.
And in those three words Dean hears so many others—please stay alive and I want you and the faintest echo of I forgive you. Dean kisses him, suddenly so sure that even if he went about it wrong before, he never had it wrong—it all always added up to something for Cas too.
They settle in after Dean gets them cleaned up, Cas's back pressed back against Dean's chest. And just before sleep swallows them, just on the cusp of unconsciousness, Cas sighs, almost inaudible, "I miss you."
Dean swallows. He doesn't mean to hold Cas a little tighter but it happens anyway.
He can't let himself say it because he can't let it be true right now. He can't think that way. Not now, not yet. He has his priorities. First he's got to get Sam healed up and send Zeke packing, because he meant what he told Sam in that godforsaken church—nothing gets in front of him. Including this.
And goddamn the knot in the back of his throat and the sting at his eyes. Just goddamn it.
Tomorrow he'll get up, take a shower, check out of the motel. Tomorrow he'll drive Cas back to the Gas-n-Sip. Tomorrow it'll be back to normal, no strings, no promises, no expectations, no apologies. It has to be.
But that's tomorrow.
Dean presses his face to the back of Cas's neck. He has a few hours before then, and they never used to do this. This is new too. And maybe, just maybe, after it's all over—if it's ever all over—maybe he'll get that chance to do it all different.
"Yeah," he whispers. "Missed you too."
– end –