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your throat filled with the silt of it

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Cas smokes an enormous blunt on the drive to face down with Lucifer. It fills the car with thick, almost sweet smoke that threatens to make Dean's head spin.

"Hey, not to harsh your vibe or whatever, but could you roll down the window or something? I'm not as comfortable as you are with fighting the devil stoned."

Cas tilts her head - wait, no. His head? Dean had only half understood that conversation, his older self rolling his eyes and warning him of "awkward fun times yet to come", but apparently that's the pronoun to use, on pain of... well, future him had said the last person to call Cas a girl had died from his wounds before Dean was finished "talking" to him.

Anyway, Cas tilts his head and shrugs, rolling the window down. "Makes us easier to track, but what the hell. Maybe they'll finally cave in, give me back my amphetamines."


Cas grins, wide and careless. "Really mellow out the absinthe."

Absinthe. Amphetamines and absinthe. Dean can feel his eyebrows climbing up his forehead, but really, can you blame him? "Uh huh. Correct me if I'm wrong, but those don't exactly sound... pregnancy-friendly."

"So they tell me," Cas grumbles, taking a deep drag from the blunt. He taps the end against the curve of his stomach and breathes out through his nose. Smoke streams out the window in two neat rows, drawing Dean's eyes for a moment.

But eventually he has to come back to the drunken ballet-dancing pink elephant in the room. "So, uh, if so many people are concerned about the development of this here baby, why are you driving into a suicide mission?"

Cas snorts, a puff of smoke curling in front of his nose before drifting out the window and streaming away. "Because, lucky for me, no one's stupid enough to defy your orders. You say march, they say where to?"

"And why don't I care about you and that kid surviving?" That question leaves a sour taste in Dean's mouth, one that grows stronger when he doesn't get an answer. Instead, Cas smiles, first wryly and then too wide. On someone else, it'd look like he was about to tell the punchline to a terrible joke, but on Cas it just looks... wrong. "Right," Dean sighs after too much silence, "who cares about babies when the Apocalypse is nigh?"

"Honestly, I'm not the biggest fan of this thing either," Cas says, patting his expansive stomach. "It gives the others hope, for some unknowable reason, but all it does is remind me how messed up everything is."

Dean looks Cas over, top to bottom. Compared to the Castiel of 2009, calling this Cas - one that's taller, that's grown and aged, that's a guy, one with cropped, black-dyed hair, a very pregnant belly, marijuana smoke still trailing out of his mouth - "messed up" is a serious understatement. He says as much.

"No shit," Cas says, rolling his eyes. "I shouldn't be like this," he complains. "Pregnant, human, gendered - none of it." He takes another long hit, sighs, and says, "And yet, here I am. And as long as you're around, here I'll be."

They're silent for the rest of the ride. Dean watches the road and tries to fight off a sinking feeling in his gut that he's been told why his future self brought Cas on this mission.