Dean has his head dragged back so far his neck feels close to breaking. Straining against the hand that's twisting it, until muscles and tendons won't turn any further. Until he's gasping, both hands on Lucifer's wrist, trying to stop that one movement and failing in inches. His knees sink deeper into the ash that covers the ground and he knows it's now or never, because otherwise Lucifer is going to tear off his head and show it around like some grisly trophy, and quite frankly Dean thinks he deserves a better end than that.
Angels are drowning in the sheer weight of demons pouring over them. There isn't enough room left to breathe, or speak, and Dean knows that if there's one thing hell has in abundance then it's numbers.
So it's now, it's now or never, for the spell pieced together from fragments that were never supposed to exist, that might rip the world open, or save it.
He's about to power up an army of angels.
But there so damn many of them. He's almost certainly not coming back from this.
He finds the one he knows, the one he trusts, fighting through the blood and gore to get to him, and Dean decides that yeah, he can do this.
So he does.
Castiel's human skin comes apart in one great wave of sound and light.
The last thing to go is the sharp blue of his eyes.
And then Dean's screaming-
He jolts awake in the dark.
The whole world is endless blackness and it's still more than a little messed up that he forgets every time, every single time. You're supposed to wake up, open your eyes, and be able to see. Yeah, not so much any more.
He leans sideways finds the nightstand, and there's a scatter of stuff there that's only half as useful as it used to be. Watch, phone, gun, but it's his stuff and he can't for the life of him wake up without checking it's still there. Or let anyone else have it. You take the things you can't change, but Dean's pretty possessive of what's his, it stays his until someone gives him a damn good reason. Some people would say he takes that to stupid, reckless extremes. But yeah, you know your own weaknesses or you let them kill you.
He knows that if he misses and sends everything clattering onto the floor then Sam will bound in here like some sort of heroic gazelle to save the day. And Jesus, Dean's had enough of that to last a lifetime and it's been- what three weeks? Three weeks since the apocalypse was heroically cut short when he set off the religious equivalent of a nuclear bomb.
And now Lucifer's cooling his ass back in some uncomfortable cell in the depths of hell, and quite frankly Dean can't think of a better place for him. He hopes he rots there for the rest of time.
Dean can't tell what time it is, or if it's daylight, he can't tell if it's cloudy, or raining, or hell even if the curtains are open. But he does know one thing. The world smells like breakfast. Which is a pretty good start.
He knows exactly where he put his jeans the night before but he still spends half a minute looking for them, because it turns out things move in his room during the night. Or at least that's what he's going with until he gets a better explanation. Because he's already decided that 'because he's blind' is a stupid excuse and he's not going to use it. Much like everyone else, they're still tiptoeing around the issue. Because he saved the world but apparently no one's allowed to bring up the fact that he blinded himself in the process. In fact everyone's going to great lengths not mentioning it and pretending it doesn't exist.
Of course, Dean's doing his best to fuck with their uncomfortable hero worship by existing as much as humanly possible. Sometimes he does it by accidentally walking into them. Which is kind of funny. But he's only done that on purpose a couple of times. And only to Sam. He'd tried with Castiel, only the angel has an annoying ability to never, ever be in the way, which considering his personal space issues before is strangely irritating. It leads to Dean pretty much having to flail an arm in his general direction if he wants to actually grab hold of him. Cas always ends up a lot closer then.
It's almost like they're playing some sort of game. If Dean wants to walk into Cas he has to work at it.
He opens the door and it's just as dark outside it. Which shouldn't be surprising at all, but there's still that little voice in the back of his head that expects him to walk out of a pitch dark room into the light. Yeah, it never happens but his brain is still catching up.
He's fairly sure there's nothing on the way to the stairs. At least not any more.
He'd never realised before how much Bobby's house was a maze of things stacks of books, magazines, boxes. Because at first Dean had been smacking into them all the damn time. Feet, knees, hands, elbows, he hadn't realised how much space he took up until he was forced to blunder around without looking where he was going. Literally.
Which left him feeling vaguely guilty, and irritated, at scattering Bobby's possessions every which way- Though he never ran into them twice. Once he'd hit them they just hadn't been there later, like the others had just been quietly moving them. Either that or Bobby has rats, big rats, big book-eating rats.
He very carefully finds the top of the stairs. He'd woken up on the couch to start with, then spent the first six days stuffed in the living room while everyone patched themselves up and quietly talked around him, like angels had taken his brain as well as his eyes. It was weird how you could feel people staring at you even when you couldn't actually see them. Though, on the plus side, Dean had never been made so many sandwiches in his life. It turned out 'we're really sorry you got your eyes burnt out' sandwiches were pretty damn good. Until not all the sandwiches in the world could have made him stay downstairs any longer.
He'd spent two hours convincing Sam that no, he wasn't going to spontaneously fall down the stairs if he slept up there instead. He was blind he wasn't suddenly stupid. Sam doesn't like the 'b' word, it makes his silences more intense and then Dean gets nothing from him. He can make all the angsty faces he wants but he's got to talk as well, or Dean's left floundering in the dark and no one wants that.
Three days later he'd missed a step coming down and gone crashing down on one knee, palm sliding on the wall a breath away from falling the whole rest of the way. Until a hand caught his elbow and straightened him back up again like he weighed nothing at all. He'd laughed into the sleeve of Castiel's coat, relief and embarrassment and something that felt like genuine honest-to-god amusement. And he hadn't laughed like that for what felt like a really, really long time. Dean was determined Sam was never, ever finding out about that. Cas never said a word. Because Cas has his back, Cas always has his back.
There are at least two people in the kitchen, someone's clanking near the sink and someone's clanking at the table, but Dean's going to guess there's actually three, because Cas has been here exactly as long as they have and, as far as he can tell, he hasn't left yet. Castiel doesn't make any noise but he doesn't eat and he doesn't cook.
A chair shoves back and, judging by the gangly screech from the amount of weight on it, it's Sam. Dean comes to stop, because it wouldn't be the first time Sam's flung himself back right into Dean's path and Dean's smacked straight into him. Sam had angsted about it for the entire morning, like a girl, until Dean had threatened to take the car out if he didn't shut up.
A hand touches his elbow, too slow and too careful to be Sam, which tells Dean that Castiel is to his left and the chair is right in front of him. He drags it out and sits himself down, works out with quick prods off his fingers whether he has a plate in front of him or not. Not, as it turns out.
Sam's fork clanks against his own plate, suggesting his food has his full attention.
Dean doesn't believe it for a minute.
A lot of things are more difficult now that he wouldn't have thought, like eating. Eating should not be hard, but his inability to actually see the fork, or what he's putting in his mouth is strangely unnerving. Also, he's jabbed himself in the mouth more times than he would have liked. It's unattractive to not be able to find your own mouth ten times out of ten. But he's working on that. He's working on a lot of things, but there's not exactly any rush any more.
They'd won, they're safe.
Even if he thinks Sam is still waiting for him to collapse into a pile of hysterical tears at some point in the future. Because apparently there's a whole wealth of inner anguish he's not dealing with. Like maybe it hasn't sunk in yet. But Dean's half convinced that Sam's the one who's not dealing with it because he keeps swinging between trying to coax him into some sort of breakdown and trying to pretend everything's fine.
Dean hasn't seen anything for three weeks and quite frankly he's still more relieved about the world not sliding into hell and no one dying than he is upset about the whole eyeball thing. Besides, the whole blindness thing gets him extra bacon. So it has its upsides.
"Arms," Bobby says somewhere in front of Dean and he obediently lifts them out of the way until the 'clank' of plate on table tells him he now has breakfast.
There's no talking for a while after that. Because breakfast deserves a little respect.
"I'm going out again today," Dean tells the world at large, because looking at people when you can't tell if you're looking them in the eye is just plain weird.
He can tell Sam isn't happy about it, he's probably wearing that horribly pinched face that's really, really unattractive.
"Is Sam wearing that really unattractive disapproving face?" Dean asks the air to his left.
"I believe so yes," Castiel tells him.
Dean suspects his brother is now glaring at Castiel. Cas could so take him.
"Dean, you got lost outside yesterday," Sam says carefully. It's a wonder he hasn't worn out his worried voice yet. Dean would have, Dean would have been exhausted if he had to worry as hard as Sam seems to.
"I found my way back eventually." He goes for breezy and carefree, because he knows it annoys him.
"Cas brought you back," Sam points out.
Which isn't true, Cas had just walked with him, he'd found his own way back. He'd followed the sound of Sam fretting and fetched up right outside the door. He's half tempted to tell him as much but he's distracted by the more important hunt for bacon, which he knows damn well is still on his plate.
"Don't you think that should tell you something?" Sam says quietly, voice soft like he doesn't want to say it at all.
Dean stops trying to find his bacon and glares across the table. "Like what?"
"That you shouldn't be doing it."
Dean can feel Sam's frown all the way across the table. Like he knows exactly what his reaction will be, but he just can't stop his mouth from talking.
"I shouldn’t be doing it?" Dean says slowly, more than an edge of irritation under the words. "Sam I'm perfectly aware that there are things I can't do now. Driving, kayaking, bowling, running into traffic. Walking around outside and telling people how to kill things, that I can still do."
He's been stabbing his fork towards Sam while he's speaking, and he realises that's probably not a good idea. There's a pointed silence, and yeah, that's what Dean really hates, when he can't see what the hell's going on when he's just had his say. Because reading Sam's face had been one of the things he was really, really good at. He refuses to look frustrated, because he gets the horrible feeling that will make Sam backpedal so fast he'll end up on his ass.
"Cas, what face is he pulling right now?"
There's an irritated sigh to his left, which Dean's fairly sure is Sam's 'oh my god the universe is so mean to me' sigh number seventy six, with extra floppy hair and pouting.
"He looks contrite," Cas supplies with deadly seriousness.
"Damn right you should look contrite," Dean tells Sam's general direction.
"Dean-" he starts.
"Don't you Dean me," Dean snaps back.
Sam's huffing annoyance, Dean can tell, there's an unhappy, over-protective petulance to the silence. But blind or not Dean's still the oldest, and he saved the world, so Sam can do what he's told.
"He's pouting now isn't he?"
"Yes," Castiel tells him without even a pause.
"I knew it, I knew it!"
Sam grumbles something Dean hears perfectly well, but pretends he doesn't, then gets up. Dean thinks he's leaving but he goes the other way. Drifts towards the smell of food and the sound of Bobby quietly disapproving at them all from under his hat. Sam drifts behind Dean, taking up space in the world, a vague tower of hovering and fuss that Dean is tempted to try and stab with his fork. But it's Sam, so he doesn't.
"Don't even think about taking my bacon," he says instead.
"What are you psychic now?"
"Yes," Dean says simply, because if he can start that rumour going around it will be awesome.
There are things Dean still knows how to do.
He's been bragging that he can take apart all the guns and clean them with his eyes closed his whole life, and it turns out he can. It takes him a little longer, a lot longer. But as long as he makes sure that none of the pieces roll away he's just fine thank you very much.
He suspects Castiel is watching him. He thinks maybe he's been watching him since he started.
Creepy angel stalking should be more creepy when you can't actually see yourself being stalked. Of course Dean hasn't felt like it's stalking for a long time now, it's just Cas, being Cas. Because he's one of them, even if he is, at the same time, completely different, so if he wants to sit at the table and stare at Dean and not say a god damn word then he's allowed, in some weird special way.
It's like the same way everyone's magically mute when it comes to talking about Dean not being able to see anything. Though if Dean brings up, just once, how much he's really, really sick of that he might never stop and then he'll just be the blind guy picking on everyone.
"You should talk to Sam," Castiel says quietly, like he hasn't been sitting there for half an hour already. Dean's far too amused at the thought that maybe he's spent the whole time thinking of something to say. Because really, he can make pretty much anything sound like a pronouncement of terrible doom. Which is more amusing than it has any right to be now that there isn't any doom and Castiel's voice has been reduced to making the weather, the food and occasionally the laundry, sound like the end of the world.
"I've tried," Dean complains. "He either gets that 'deer in the headlights' look, which I can see fine even without eyes. Or he just runs away, and it's not like I can chase him." He could chase him, he'd probably just end up knocking himself out, or landing on his face and that's just not attractive, really not attractive, and probably wouldn't help his determination to still be badass.
"He finds it difficult," Castiel adds quietly.
"He finds it fucking terrifying," Dean corrects, because it's the truth, there's no point denying it. It's easier to be honest when you can't see people's reactions but with Sam...well Dean can imagine his reactions pretty damn well and that's almost as bad.
Castiel sighs agreement.
"He's not ready yet, you know what Sam's like." It occurs to Dean that Cas probably doesn't know exactly what Sam's like, he's just been there long enough that Dean assumes sometimes. "If the conversation isn't his idea he gets that weird hunted look about him and you feel like you're forcing him to have an opinion, and it's like kicking a puppy, then you feel bad."
Dean tips his head to the side. "You could talk to him if you like."
"No," Castiel says, and Dean is, yet again, amazed at how deep his voice can go when he's being chastising. Castiel's voice was just a voice before, but now sometimes it goes all the way through him, a curl of sound that's maybe less human when he can't see the face to go along with it.
A voice that's always so close that sometimes he feels like he can reach out and touch it.
He makes a rude noise instead.
"I knew you'd say that."
"I find it unlikely that Sam would open up to me."
Dean is never going to admit how glad he is about that, ever.
"Sam likes talking to you."
"Not about this I feel." There's an edge under there, soft and uncertain, like maybe Cas believes Sam blames him too, and yeah, there's a lot of that going around. Dean isn't entirely sure why, because if Cas hadn't been there it wouldn't have mattered. There were a hundred damn angels in the city that day.
Dean doesn't think Sam blames Cas.
In fact, Dean wouldn't be surprised if Sam had found some convoluted way to blame himself. Which, when he eventually admits to it, Dean is going to smack him for. As long as he stays still, because otherwise it's just flailing and that's never going to make anyone feel bad.
"You know I'm not going to talk to him yet. You know we're going to blunder around each other for a while until it gets all angsty and ridiculous, that's what we do."
"Perhaps you should change what you do," Castiel says quietly.
Dean turns his head sideways and throws him a 'you're annoying' expression without even thinking about it. But Castiel sighs like he saw it just fine. He likes that they've pushed Castiel into all those hilarious conversational noises of frustration of annoyance. It makes him feel like family.
"It was a suggestion."
Dean grunts. "You just brought it up because you're an angel, you like everyone to get along."
He drops his hand on the table, and something clatters off into the distance.
Castiel's chair makes a soft noise and then there's the slow clink of something being put back in its place.
"Thanks," Dean says quietly. He puts the gun back together, slow careful movements until its familiar weight is heavy and reassuring in his hand. Blind men and firearms, a truly winning combination. He laughs and there's only the faintest edge of bitterness to it.
Castiel lays a hand down next to Dean's, and that's simply an offer to guide him out of the kitchen, avoiding the chairs and door frames and other crap that seems to get in his way on purpose. Dean knows he should refuse, not just because it's not the sort of thing he does, not because he doesn't want to rely that much on anyone. No, mostly because that's something he doesn't think he should get used to.
That he shouldn't wrap his fingers around the warmth of Castiel's wrist.
But he does anyway.
No matter what Sam thinks Dean knows exactly how far he can wander away from the house before he loses his sense of direction. He knows it's sixty odd steps until the dirt changes to grass and he figures as long as he doesn't spin around in a circle he's good to get back again. Which he's in no great rush to do at the minute.
Bobby has visitors and though Dean's more than happy to nod in their vague direction and talk about how it not-being-the-apocalypse is pretty damn awesome, he can feel the way Ellen and Jo look at him, that sort of horrified pity painted over with careful fierceness. It's easier to sit on the grass and stare off into the distance like he's contemplating something important. At least that's what he pretends to do until footsteps meet him there, shape looming over him in a way that feels too long and too dramatic to be anyone else.
"Hey, Sammy," Dean says.
Sam's stopped thinking that's some sort of magic, it was funnier when he was still surprised by it.
"They're gone, they just dropped in on their way through."
"Castiel hung around for a while looking remote and angelic."
He can't resist a laugh at that. Because yeah, he remembers exactly what that looks like. "Man, I miss watching him work a room."
Sam snorts and sits down next to him with a series of grassy thuds.
"Have you talked to him about what he's still doing here?"
Dean sighs, and shakes his head. Sam shifts quietly, like there's something he wants to say but he isn't sure how, or if he even should. Dean turns his head sideways and raises an eyebrow. Sam huffs air, like Dean's just creeped him the hell out. Which he secretly thinks is pretty damn hilarious.
"When he looks at you," Sam says quietly. "He looks guilty."
"Yeah, I know," Dean tells him. Because he doesn't have to see it. He thinks maybe Cas feels guilty all the time now, he's never really been chatty but now sometimes Dean barely knows he's there until he drifts close enough. Until he drifts close enough to touch.
The touching used to be a lot easier to ignore. When they were saving the world, when it didn't matter, when it was just a thing. A thing Dean put down to Cas being an angel. That flare of different-wrong that made him want sometimes. That thing he made sure Cas never noticed. He thinks maybe Sam's noticed, Sam's been noticing a lot of things. But he doesn't talk about any of them, doesn't ask about any of them. So Dean never finds out what he thinks about any of them. Jesus, it's amazing they ever accomplished anything at all really.
"How can you-" Sam starts tentatively, and then drops the question like it might lead somewhere dangerous, like they might have to talk about that whole thing they don't talk about.
Dean's had enough.
"Dude, are we ever going to talk about this?" He demands.
Ah the familiar sound of panic.
"About the fact that I saved the world, saw an angel and got my eyes burned up." The silence goes on for a really long time and Dean can't tell for the life of him what's in it. He doesn't turn his head to look at Sam, because it won't make any difference.
"Oh that," Sam says suddenly with exaggerated nonchalance and Dean's startled into laughter so loud and so sudden it makes his chest hurt.
"You're messed up you know that?" he accuses, and he swears he wouldn't have it any other way.
"I'm smiling at you like you're an idiot now, you realise that right."
"I figured as much," Dean tells him, and he's going to miss that smile, that's one of his favourites.
"He doesn't always look guilty you know, sometimes he just looks lost. Like he wishes there was some way he could -"
Air moves in front of Dean's face and he assumes Sam just made a 'fix you' sort of gesture.
"Yeah," Dean says quietly.
"Did you ever ask him?" Sam asks carefully.
Dean nods, then realises Sam might not be looking again.
"Yeah, I did." And it had been, without doubt, one of those conversations he wished he'd never started. Because he gets the feeling it had hurt Castiel a lot more than him. "Something to do with looking at an army of angels I think, it's not like my eyes are broken they're just- not there any more. Like my vision is just gone and there's nothing there to fix."
Sam shifts quietly for a minute.
"So angel magic's a bust then?"
Dean snorts laughter. "Pretty much yeah."
"And you, are you- I mean you haven't really talked properly and I just thought -" Dan hears a 'shuffle-shush' sort of sound which he thinks maybe is Sam shrugging.
"I'm fine, seriously, I am," Dean tells him, and he doesn't even have to fake his honesty, because that's all there is there.
"Is it weird that I think maybe you shouldn't be?" Sam sounds confused, but Dean kind of gets that. He's confused about it himself.
"You think I don't know I shouldn’t be," he says, and it even sounds ludicrous when he says it. "Seriously I know I'm pretty much useless in the grand scheme of things now but everything we did, everything we went through-" Dean stops and waves a hand, but that's not good enough, and kind of pointless if Sam's not looking.
"Yeah," Sam agrees anyway. Dean's not really sure where to look, so he just thinks the hell with it, and looks at Sam. Because even if he can't read anything off of Sam's face any more. Sam can still read his. If he's willing to look at it.
"I never, ever thought we'd get any sort of happy ending. I thought it would be a mess, I thought we'd be dead or worse. And I'd pretty much accepted that was exactly what was going to happen. Then right at the end it's like someone said, 'ok, this is what I'm going to take, just this.' And you know what, I decided it's a pretty fair freakin' trade. "
The quiet drags on, and Dean's hand twitches, shifts on his knee for something to do. Because none of his brutally honest conversations with Sam seem to turn out quite right. In fact most of them seem to go straight to hell. He's tired of that, so damn tired, he wants everything from here to be from here and not before.
"Don't you think?" Dean thinks maybe he can hear Sam swallowing, though it's quiet, it could just as easily be the wind. Whoever said you got great hearing when you went blind they lied their ass off. You just have less stuff to see distracting you.
"Yeah," Sam's voice sounds quiet and faraway. "Yeah, I guess."
"Besides I still have things to do. I still have to work out how to sneak up on you in the dark," Dean tells him, because yeah, he's so doing that as soon as he stops bumping into things.
"You wish, I'd hear you crashing into things a mile away."
"Yeah that's why I'll be hiding under your bed."
"Funny," Sam says, and Dean could have heard the sarcasm there a mile away.
"Dressed as a clown," he adds.
"Fuck you," Sam says with feeling and Dean laughs and laughs
Dean makes vague kicking movements until he finds the leg of the bed, then shuffles round and sits on it.
"You know it's harder to come find you when I can't actually see right?"
"I didn't know you were looking for me," Castiel says quietly. Which doesn't give Dean any indication of whether he'd let him find him if he was.
Dean lifts a hand, finds the solid curve of Castiel's shoulder through his coat. And Dean thinks that's maybe the one thing that he's grateful for that he's never admitted. That it's easier to touch him now, now Dean can't see, now he has a reason, or an excuse? He can just reach a hand out and touch him. Sometimes Cas reaches back. This time Castiel tilts slightly into the movement, faces him.
He'd always thought that Castiel just didn't want to talk about it. He's always so tense, so brittle every time Dean brings it up. Like he's waiting to be cracked into pieces. But Dean thinks maybe they do need to talk about it after all. That maybe they need to talk about a lot of things.
"I saw you," Dean says quietly, and he feels the way Castiel tenses under his hand, suddenly less human. More angel under the gentle press of his fingers. But this time he doesn't stop. "I don't remember much of it, mostly I remember the screaming because it felt like the whole damn world had exploded, but that second when you stopped being you and became you. I think I remember that."
Dean stops, because the memory aches a little if he thinks about it too hard. It's almost like seeing him left a hole inside. Or filled one up, one that he wasn't used to noticing.
"At least I remember as much of it as I can, some of it's whited out -" or maybe that was Castiel? That huge yawning white space that he can't quite grasp.
"I'm sorry," Castiel says quietly, and it's more than an apology, Dean can hear it under the words, it's something sharp, something that feels like pain. And Dean doesn't get it, he honestly doesn't get how Castiel can feel bad about something that wasn't his fault.
He shakes his head. "You don't have to be, seriously. I fully expected to end up dead at the end of this. Hell, I expected all of us to end up dead. I think we got off lightly. I think it's a freakin' miracle that this is all we get. Sure it sucks, clearly it sucks. But I don't blame you, I don't blame you for being the last thing I ever saw."
It's too quiet, and Dean wishes, again, that Castiel made those tiny noises that people did, he's always so damn quiet, always different. Dean stretches a hand out to make absolutely sure that Cas hasn't gone. He hasn't, though his hand is irritatingly still when Dean shifts his own over it, when he finds the warmth of Castiel's fingers and prods at them for some sort of reaction.
"You can't do anything about what you really look like. It's not your fault it's too much. Dude, you were between me and Armageddon, that's pretty epic. We should both have been fucking ash." The bed creaks, Dean doesn't feel Castiel move but he tightens his fingers anyway, like he can stop the angel from disappearing. He takes a breath, sighs it out and thinks about what else he needs to say. Even if he doesn't want to. "Sam thought I should let you know - that I should make sure you know that you can go, if you want to. That you don't have to stick around here with us. I'm thinking you probably have more important things to do."
"There are other things," Castiel admits. "But nothing more important."
Dean finds that briefly amusing, because maybe when it was his job to stop Armageddon, maybe, but now, not so much.
"Those upstairs, they do know I'm broken right?"
Castiel sighs, like Dean is impossible, like no matter how hard he tries he can't change that. He's quiet in his frustration and Dean kind of wants to poke it to see if it's there.
"Dean, you're as sharp and bright as you were at the beginning," Castiel's voice is calm. But Dean doesn't think that was the first thing he wanted to say. Wasn't what he meant to say either.
"But not exactly an important wheel in the scheme of things any more," Dean says, just to clarify. Castiel says nothing, so he assumes he's right, and Dean's really, really grateful for that. He's never been so happy to be completely unimportant in his whole damn life.
"I want to stay," Castiel says quietly.
Dean can't help how stupidly relieved he is to hear that. He exhales, roughly.
"If you want me to go-" Castiel starts.
"No," Dean says fiercely. "No, damn it Cas I want you to stay. But not if it's because you feel guilty, not if this is your penance or something, because if it is then I'd have to say, screw you."
Castiel flinches, just a little, but he doesn't pull away, doesn't draw back, like Dean has a right to be angry.
"I don't want you sticking around just to be my seeing eye dog, I have Sam for that. Even though he's useless at it, but I'll deal because he's my brother. You have to suffer for family."
Cas tries to draw his hand out of Dean's grip. Dean doesn't let him.
"Cas, tell me you didn't stay because you felt guilty?"
Castiel sighs, an edge of sound that Dean thinks maybe he makes just for him.
"I didn't entirely stay because I felt guilty," he admits. But that's ok, Dean wouldn't have believed him if he'd said anything else.
"Can I have another reason?"
There's a sound there, a very faint whisper of skin on cloth and Dean thinks maybe Castiel has turned his head to the side, looked away from him, and he doesn’t know why that bothers him but it does.
"You saved everyone and you deserve to not be abandoned." Castiel's voice is quiet but calm, like that's one of the reasons but probably not one of the important ones.
"I didn't do it for them," Dean's admission is just as quiet. But he thinks maybe that's too honest too quickly.
He shakes his head. "I miss looking at you you know," he says instead.
Castiel's still doing his 'too quiet to be real' act. Which really is incredibly bad for Dean's nerves, he has no idea how to get around the fact that he has no input, no shifts of movement, no sighs, no quiet noises at all. Dean's always relied on other people's reactions to know if he's saying or doing the right thing. This is hard, it's really fucking hard. But he figures that he's not going to know anything until he starts taking chances. It's amazing what you decide you can get away with when you can't see a damn thing. Dean lifts a hand again, finds the rough edge of Castiel's jaw, folds his fingers round it, knows exactly where he is in the darkness. Castiel doesn't move back out of the way, he doesn't push, doesn't resist at all when Dean shifts into his personal space, way into his personal space.
He finds his mouth easily enough. It's soft, rough at the edges and it gives under his own in a way Dean doesn't expect. He'd thought it would be impossible, but it's easy. Castiel slowly, hesitantly, lets him turn it into a proper kiss. It's strange, different and intimate, like it's important somehow, or maybe that's just what kissing is now, all sensation in the dark. Dean wouldn't know, he hasn't kissed anyone else since he went blind.
He pulls away, breathes loss the second he can't feel the warmth of Castiel's mouth. He feels strangely vulnerable with his face that close to his. He's never been so aware of someone looking at him before. He turns his head to the side the moment he thinks it, eyes sliding away even though he can't see anything.
"Dude, I can't tell what your face looks like," Dean tells him, frustrated and nowhere near ready to admit how honestly afraid he is. "Not that I can tell what you're thinking even when I can see your face, but at least I can try -" Apparently he's struck the angel completely dumb and Christ wouldn’t they make a fine pair then.
Dean shrugs, almost helplessly.
"I thought you should know, if you're going to stay, that there's that. That that's something I feel, something I want sometimes." All the time, all the damn time. The quiet is impossibly heavy, and if Castiel is going to reject him in that calm, polite angelic way he has then at least Dean doesn't have to see it. He never has to see it. "Cas?"
For a minute he doesn't think Castiel's going to answer. He's still here, Dean can still feel him.
"For your services to heaven you're allowed certain liberties," Castiel says eventually.
"Like what?" Dean says cautiously, because the mention of heaven generally never ends well for him. It's a gut reaction that he thinks Castiel is trying to change.
"Me," Castiel says simply. "If that's what you wish."
Dean's struck by the flat uncertain tone of his voice. But the words, the words are impossible to ignore.
"Do you mean that in the biblical sense?"
"I mean that in every sense," Castiel's voice is soft. Something lurches in Dean's chest, though he can't tell for the life of him whether it's a good sensation or a bad one. He takes a breath, lets it all flow out.
"Are you offering yourself to me Cas?"
Castiel inhales, slow and careful like he's deciding what to say.
"It's been a long time since I was simply following orders. The way I feel about you is both very simple and yet complicated...sometimes too much. I want to give you what you want." The honesty trails off, like Cas maybe doesn't quite understand it himself. But Dean doesn't think there's anything there like desire, nothing that wants. It's missing in a way that leaves him helpless to do anything else.
"I don't think you feel like this though do you?" Dean asks quietly, he shakes his head, pulls his hands slowly away from Castiel's space. "I won't do anything that isn't your choice."
"Dean, my choice is -"
Dean reaches out a hand again, finds Castiel's mouth and stops it from making words.
"Cas, don't, it's ok to say no, just go off and do angel things. Think about it, and if you want to come back later -" Dean can't think of a way to end the sentence, so he doesn't. "If not I'll see you tomorrow." He lets his hand fall.
The quiet lasts for a long time. When Dean stretches his hand forward he finds the bed empty.
Dean hears the car twenty minutes before Sam comes through the door. Though he doesn't say a word. He can tell Sam still feels shitty about it, about the fact that he now has the car by default, and Dean's not getting her back. Not ever getting her back.
"Where's Cas?" Sam asks straight away, like there's some obvious Castiel-shaped hole in the place and Dean's probably more annoyed than he should be about that. But he's blaming it on the fact that he thought he'd be the only one who noticed it.
"He left," Dean says simply.
Sam wanders across the floor, dumps his bag somewhere close. Then there's the scrape of a chair coming out and Sam's all the way into his space, smelling like cold wind and leather.
"Is everything ok?" Sam has apparently decided it's sharing and caring time and if Dean knew exactly where his face was right now he'd share his thoughts about that with an appropriate facial expression.
"It's fine," he says flatly instead.
Sam sighs, in that way he has when he thinks Dean's fucked something up. He knows the face that goes along with that too. That one he's not going to miss so much. But maybe he did, maybe he deserves that disappointed, chastising and unsurprised blur of sound from Sam.
"So where is he?"
"Dude, I don't know, gone to do angel things."
The silence from Sam is dubious and accusing.
"He'll be back tomorrow," Dean adds, in case Sam thinks he's driven him away for good. It takes him a second to realise that even his subconscious is expecting the worst. Yeah, screw you too subconscious. He works out where Sam's chair is with a foot before he goes to walk out of the kitchen and Sam doesn't try and move out of the way, since there's too much of him and he always seems to end up more in the way than before.
"Dean, if you want to talk about you and -"
Dean smacks him on the back of the head on the way past. Yeah, he had a one in ten chance of getting that right. He's awesome.
Sam doesn't follow him upstairs and he's grateful for that. Sam developed a little bit of a creepy stalker vibe for a while after Dean lost the ability to see anything at all. They never did have the conversation about not following him upstairs and listening outside his door. But they had that whole 'Dean throwing a boot at him' instead, that cleared it all up. But laying on his bed staring into the dark beats talking to Sam about his inappropriate attachment to angels by a mile. Though the whole 'having absolutely nothing to do,' gets old really quickly. He really doesn't get how anyone thinks those sensory deprivation tanks are a good idea. You could get books on tape now though right? Everything you'd ever wanted to not-read pumped straight into your ears. Maybe he could get Sam to get him some books on tape.
Then, after that, he'll buy himself a cardigan, take up pipe smoking and wait somewhere in an armchair to die. He laughs into the darkness and wonders exactly how Sam would react to that. He suspects Bobby would fling water in his face...again.
The bed creaks.
Dean blinks at the ceiling. Because he's fairly sure he closed the door, and there's only one person who makes a habit out of coming into rooms without opening the door. But he honestly never thought he'd come back and for a second Dean can't do anything but breathe in the dark. Because this changes everything. It changes everything.
He pulls himself to a sit, forces himself not to reach out and find out where Castiel is.
"Did you do angel things?" he asks carefully.
"I did," Castiel says quietly, about a foot to his left, and in that same calm voice that gives nothing away. Dean thinks maybe if he asked what kind of things Castiel would tell him. Maybe he'd ever understand some of them.
"I didn't expect you to come back," he says honestly. Because obviously when he'd thought he wasn't going to say anything he'd been wrong.
Castiel's quiet in a new way, the faintest sounds that Dean can pick out, it's almost like he's searching for something to say.
"They find my feelings for you strange and distasteful," Castiel eventually says quietly.
Dean can't help snorting laughter at that, and he hates the fact that he can't see Castiel's expression, can't see if he's offended him, or amused him.
"They said that you're human and you can't see past the flesh, that that's all you want from me."
That stings like a slap, though he's more angry on Castiel's behalf than from the assumption.
"Do you believe that?"
"No," Castiel says slowly, but he doesn't sound certain and it kind of hurts that he doesn't. But he continues before Dean can speak. "But I've never experienced pleasure in a human body, I feel unfit to judge you."
"You're wearing that weird half-confused little frown now aren't you."
There's a soft noise from not very far away at all.
"Yes," Castiel admits.
"I miss that," Dean says honestly.
He breathes the tension for a long second.
"Cas, do you want me to touch you?"
"Yes," Castiel says simply.
Dean slides a hand across the sheets, and Castiel meets him halfway. He finds the shape of him, past his hands, the bend of his neck, head tilted up before Dean has finished curving a hand round his jaw, they meet in the darkness and Dean kisses him like he doesn't quite believe Cas came back. Like he doesn't quite believe that he can have this. But Castiel pulls him closer, a strange uncertain movement, like he's not sure if he's allowed.
"Dean." Castiel's hand drifts over his face, warm fingers trailing the curve of his forehead, the sensitive edges of his eye sockets, and there's something raw in the gesture.
"I forgive you," Dean says quietly. "You must know that."
Castiel takes a breath like he never expected the words, hand falling, and Dean pulls gently at his wrist until it slides free, finds his face and pulls it close, misses his mouth on the first try but it's close enough that he can correct, push it open. Castiel kisses him, pulls him close and kisses him, mouth soft against his own, and then harder. It presses in like he thinks he'll be told to stop.
Dean doesn't tell him to stop, he buries a hand in his hair, finds it as warm and as soft as it's always looked and he kisses him until his mouth hurts, until he's pressed into Castiel's thigh, warm and hard, harder when Castiel lets Dean tip his head back, lets him mouth the rough skin of his jaw and the fragile delicate line of his neck. This, this is what he wants, and if he ever thought anything else it was too long ago to matter. He'd already accepted the fact that Castiel could make him feel like this, could make him want things he's never wanted before. He'd accepted it in a hundred motel rooms, fighting a hundred battles, the smell of blood so deep in his nostrils it followed him into sleep.
Castiel, soft, furious, determined Castiel became the one damn constant thing. Followed him into hell and back, more than once. And just like that Dean needs to know he's not the only one.
"Tell me you want this," he demands.
He can feel Castiel's breath, every flare of it over his own mouth. Instead of answering there's the quick rustle of fabric, the soft familiar sound of clothing being dropped.
"Wait -" Dean reaches out, finds Castiel's hands and stills them. "Tell me you're not just doing this because I want it."
Castiel catches his hand, pulls it close against his body, presses it down over where he's hard too, a shock of reaction that Dean can't stop fucking touching. He groans out a breath into Castiel's mouth.
"Oh Jesus, you have no idea -" the rest of the sentence is lost when Castiel kisses him again, and Deans hands are dragging open buttons, tugging Castiel's shirt away from his skin.
He goes obediently when Castiel eases him back and strips his t-shirt over his head, long clever hands going for the button and zipper on his jeans. Then Castiel's in his hands again a mess of warm skin and cotton and Dean separates the two, with a reverence he didn't know he had, before his fingers are distracted by the edge of his pants, the loose edge, so easy to open. He slides his hand inside, and Castiel sucks a breath and pushes into his fingers.
The fact that he can't see Castiel's face hurts, he doesn't know, can't know, if this makes his eyes go wide or fall shut, if his mouth is soft and open.
"God I wish I could see you," Dean murmurs against his mouth, and Castiel makes a sound he shouldn't have to make.
A sound Dean kisses quiet. "Not your fault," he tells him. "Not your fault." He throws Castiel's shirt to the left and it just ceases to exist. Dean's done this before, so many times, but it's different, it's completely different, a different shape under his hands, a different strength in every kiss and every dig of fingers. It's Cas, and he can't see a damn thing. It's like he remembers what it's like to be nervous and awkward again. Like there are different rules now.
Castiel's movement are almost impatient, skin shivering and pushing into him wherever Dean touches. Dean shoves at the waistband of his pants and shorts, fingers working them down his thighs until Castiel moves out of his hands, leaving them briefly empty, before he catches them and pulls them back and Dean's fingers find nothing but bare skin.
"Cas." He wants to dig his fingers in but Castiel's trying to get his own hands down the back of Dean's jeans, protesting wordlessly. Dean's a little less graceful getting out of his own jeans and boxer shorts. If there'd been any part of him that thought it would be weird it's long been strangled into submission because when Castiel presses into him again, one bare thigh sliding between his own, Dean catches his waist with his hands and just holds him there for a long second, resisting the urge to just rut against his skin.
He forces a breath out through his teeth.
"In the drawer," Dean's voice sounds too thick. "Get the oil I use for the guns."
Castiel takes a breath, skin slithering through Dean's hands, though not leaving them, never leaving. The scrape of wood is strangely loud in the quiet and then Castiel sways back and Dean drags his head close enough to kiss, just because he can.
He hears the click of plastic in the dark, tips his head to the side.
"Put it on your hand."
A breathy little noise shivers out of Castiel in a way that tells Dean he knows exactly where this is going, and Dean thinks, thousands of years and not once, not once did he ever -
The bottle falls into the sheets.
"Put your fingers inside me," Dean commands and Castiel shudders out a breath of shock and need.
Castiel pulls him close, impossibly close, fingers drifting over the curve of his ass, then lower. The first push is slow, cautious, and Dean pushes back into it. Castiel goes very still, like he's not prepared to have something inside him and Dean presses down on his arm, encourages him to move. Slow, steady pushes. Every one accompanied by a shuddering breath.
"Two," Dean says quietly.
Castiel pushes in another, awkward but insistent and Dean thinks he could get used to that uncomfortable stretch. He could get used to the way it makes Castiel gasp against his mouth.
"Yeah," Dean says, voice half broken and shameless; it doesn't sound like him at all but he doesn't fucking care. "Like that, just like that." Dean wrecks his mouth, ignoring the ache when two fingers becomes three, when Castiel's carefully reined in patience shreds at the edges, leaves every push quick and greedy.
Dean knows he can't leave it any longer, and though there's still a sliver of quiet, nervous disbelief that he's going to let Cas do this his body's not listening, his body doesn't care. He's pushing back, encouraging that shade of recklessness, and Dean thinks Castiel would look beautiful like this, wet and wrecked and needy. Because there's no question now, no question at all that Castiel wants to fuck him.
Dean's left knee finds the bottle of oil that he abandoned and picks it up. He empties it into his hand, then slides it down the jumping skin of Castiel's stomach, listens to the breath shiver out of him when he finds the hard jut of his cock and wraps his fingers around it, makes it slippery.
"I'm gonna turn around," Dean says breathlessly. "Get down on my hands and knees. You can push in slowly after that, just go slow, stop if I tell you to, I'm not exactly experienced at this either."
Castiel catches his face, and he's kissing him, quick, then again slower. And the sharp jangling hum of Dean's skin feels nervous and needy.
"You can be inside me if you want to," Castiel breathes into his mouth. "I won't be hurt by anything you want to do."
Dean's breath falls out in a groan and he kisses the corner of Castiel's mouth.
"That is so - Jesus - so very tempting, but right now -" he finds Castiel's waist, his thighs, the slippery length of him, leaves his breathing short, thoughts scattered. "- right now I really need you to fuck me." Castiel's fingers dig into his waist, then loosen a second later when Dean shifts round, spreads his knees and eases down onto his hands.
Castiel's fingers slide into him again, easy and soft but intent, and Dean shudders in the darkness, prepared but half dizzy under every nervous too-quick breath, and then Castiel draws them free, pushes against and then into him. One slow solid push, and Dean drops his head forward and groans because it's more than he thought it would be, ache sliding to pain and back again, strange and too intimate. His skin feels too tight, and Castiel's hands, sliding up his back and hips, feel like they're holding him together.
He's a breath away from telling Castiel to wait, to just wait a minute. Until Cas says his name on the end of a breath, stunned and reverent. Dean tilts his hips, just a little, and Castiel sinks in deeper, sinks in all the way. He expects it to hurt, but instead he just aches, too full and too tight, hands fisted in the sheets where Castiel's are carefully gripping his waist, and Dean doesn't know what that's costing him.
Castiel breaks the stillness, moves carefully and all the breath leaves Dean in one go, because that's different, so fucking different. Every push is slow, steady, and not entirely comfortable but Cas's low murmurs are slow and tangled up, voice like a shattered thing and the fact that Dean can do that to him- Jesus- can break him like that, leaves him breathing encouragement, sliding back into his hands with careful enthusiasm.
Until Castiel pushes into something that has Dean gasping and reflexively pushing back. The movement gets him a second, harder push, that leaves him breathless, curving into every single one that comes after. Castiel, not as careful now, is making noises like he's watching, like he's watching Dean shove himself back onto him, and he loses any sense he has left. He lets one hand take his weight, wraps the other round himself, fingers still faintly slick and the first glide leaves him shaking.
Then there's just the harsh, slightly obscene, sound of skin on skin in the dark and Dean's making hard encouraging noises that sound filthy, but makes every push after a little harder than the one before.
Castiel groans, deep and greedy under the sound of his name, his fingers dig in, brief but sharp, where Dean's skin moves through his hands. It's quick and desperate now, shivering just over the edge of pain, Dean bends his spine and takes it, every breath a burst of hot air, one hand fisted in the sheets the other working in quick slippery pulls on his cock, a ragged shaky rhythm that drags him closer and closer to the edge.
Everything is too close in the dark, skin damp under every slide of Castiel's hands.
"Cas, Cas, please."
"Dean, I can't -" there's a thready apology under the words and Dean groans encouragement.
"Take it," he tells him, and Castiel makes a noise like he’s broken, folds over Dean's back and presses in, quick, deep and almost helpless. Pushes that are going to leave bruises everywhere and a solid ache inside him.
Dean's lost then, gasping, shaking apart underneath him, coming over his own fingers. Castiel stops breathing and pushes in so damn hard. He makes a soft noise like it hurts and Dean feels it, feels every single second of it, and it's dirty and unbelievably hot.
Castiel sinks backwards, pulling Dean with him and he groans at the shift of protesting muscles until he's sprawled out in some indeterminate place on the bed.
Castiel pushes a shaking hand though his hair and breathes slurred words into his ear that Dean doesn't understand.
"You liked that huh?" Dean asks when his heart stops trying to slam out of his ribcage. Castiel's reply is a soft flare of sound, low and stunned like he never wants to let go. Dean makes a ragged noise that's something close to agreement.
The sheets are cool against his skin, air cooler where he's damp and still sensitive. He's completely relaxed for the first time in what feels like forever. Castiel's hand is still moving, fingers whisper-soft on his stomach. They seem fascinated by the way his skin feels. He shouldn't be so comfortable with the way Castiel seems reluctant to let go of him, and there's too much skin touching to call this anything other than exactly what it is. But Castiel is warm and still naked and Dean can't think of a single good reason for sliding away.
"I miss it," Dean says quietly, and it's the first time he's admitted it like that. Without anything else papered over the top. Quietly angry, broken, desperate. Castiel doesn't tense up this time. He just breathes into the side of Dean's face, fingers pressing just faintly into the indentations where his ribs are.
Dean sighs and continues.
"I miss my car, I miss being able to walk outside and not get lost after thirty seconds, I miss being able to make my own food, I miss Sam's stupid dorky face. I miss the sky. I miss you Cas. Because this- what we just did, without me seeing you, it feels, I don't know, unfair somehow." There's so damn much, so much he misses, too much.
Castiel's hand stops, lays flat on his chest.
"Dean, do you trust me?" Castiel asks in his ear, low and intense, and Dean's aware that somehow, close and in the dark, it's a very important question.
"Yes," he says simply, because it's that easy. "Why do you -"
But he's tired, he's so damn tired.
Dean wakes up half suffocating in the pillow.
His entire body aches in interesting new ways, but Dean decides that's a good thing, a really, really good thing. He grumbles as much to the parts of his brain that are still undecided on the matter. He moves his face, stares briefly at the dim outline of the nightstand, before shutting his eyes again and rolling his face back into the pillow -
- only to drag it back up in dizzy disbelief. The world sways in and out, nightstand, sheets, wall, blurry bookshelves, crappy wallpaper, his own damn nose.
"What the fuck?" His voice is thin and startled, breathless. He can see. He's only getting half of what he should be able to see, there's something weird - he raises a hand, and he can see his own hand, he can see his own hand. Dean lays it over his right eye and the world goes completely black, he lays the other over his left eye and he can see the room again, shockingly bright for early morning.
The world isn't supposed to be back. He's not supposed to be able to see. He'd had his eyes burnt out and Castiel said they couldn’t be fixed, said that his eyes were gone. Everyone had said they were gone.
He throws the sheets back and staggers out of bed. For a minute perspective swings around wildly. Until his brain seems to remember that he's been seeing fine his whole life. Minus the last three weeks. Dean's shaking, actually shaking, the rushing in his ears adrenaline loud, when he stumbles into the bathroom and slams on the light.
There's a vicious stab of brightness that makes him wince in delicious familiar pain. He squints, holds his hand over his right eye until it stops singing a chorus of surprised misery. Then Dean looks in the mirror. His right eye is no longer white, it's a fierce brilliant blue.
Dean's hands grip the edge of the sink and he sucks in a breath.
"Oh god, Cas what did you do, what did you do." But Dean's afraid that he knows already. Knows that Castiel has mutilated himself- and that's terrifying in some way he can't explain.
He can't breathe. He leans into the sink, staring at the bright whiteness of it, at the curve of his hands, at the drips of water and the way the soap's crooked and he can't find any words. Because everything is real and there, he can see it and there's no way to not be grateful for that. No way to not be stupidly painfully grateful in a way that hurts.
He takes breath after breath.
Oh god, I love you. You stupid, beautiful son of a bitch
"When I see you I'm going to kill you."
"My eyes are an ocean, in which my dreams are reflected."