They find out in the worst way possible. Or maybe the best.
No, no. Definitely the worst.
So Dean has that thing about witches. You know, that thing where he hates them so fucking much, you can't even believe.
Yeah, that thing.
And since they're Crowley's buttboys these days, they have to go and track down some alphas. Except what looks like a nice shtriga case instead ends up being--you guessed it--witches.
It's always goddamn witches, and they always wanna put a goddamn spell on you. This time? No exception. They want to marry Dean off to their patron demon so she'll (he'll? it'll?) appear before them to claim him as a prize.
"Did I tell you ladies that I was considering taking up the black arts myself?" Dean says from where he's tied to someone's breakfast bar. "I mean, I already know Latin, so I'm just a couple of dark tomes and one good grudge away from joining you for the bimonthly 'Avon parties,' right?"
"Shut up," one of the witches says.
"No, really," Sam says from where he's been handcuffed to the cast-iron fireplace grate, "he just loves those little eyeshadow kits."
"Not helping," Dean growls.
Sam shrugs and goes back to trying to dislocate his thumb to escape his cuffs. Damn soulless freak.
There's some chanting, a little dust of dubious origins, a puff of weird-colored fire--all the usual. And then there's...nothing.
"I thought you said you weren't already married," says the witch from before.
"You and Lisa?" Sam asks, his question punctuated with the pop of a joint going out. "Mazel tov."
"I'm not married to Lisa!" Dean snaps.
"That waitress from Vegas? I thought you bailed outta the cab before you reached the chapel."
"You," one of the witches spits, turning sharply in her stylish heels and facing Sam. "Are you married?"
"To my work," Sam replies, entirely straightfaced. "There's not as much sex as I'd like, but everybody says that happens at some point. I was thinking of doing some sort of retreat, seeing if I could rekindle the spark."
"Let's just summon his wife and kill her," Witch the First says. "Problem solved. Widowers work."
"Consider it done," Witch the Second says.
A little more chanting, a different dust of an equally dubious origin, some spit, and suddenly thunder is shaking the house. A lightbulb explodes. Raw power courses through the air.
"Does this seem odd to you?" Witch the Second shouts over the din.
"I don't have time for this," Castiel snarls from the middle of the room, and suddenly there are no more witches, just the faint smell of ozone and an orphaned stylish heel.
"Um," Dean says.
"Hey, I finally got this handcuff off," Sam says. "Hi, Cas."
"Sam," Castiel nods, apparently unperturbed by Sam's mutilated thumb.
"Nice entrance," Dean says, wondering when someone is going to get around to untying him. "How'd you know we were in trouble?"
"How did I what now?" Castiel turns to him. "I was summoned here."
Dean instantly decides that he doesn't like where this is heading, so he decides to nip it in the bud and just say, "Cas, just to check--you and I aren't married, right?"
Castiel goes a bit...shifty. "The first thing to go in any anarchy state is the civil services. But rest assured, I'll have it annulled as soon as I'm back in power."
And just like that, Castiel vanishes.
"You're married," Sam says later, when they've hightailed it back to their motel room du jour. He doesn't even bother to hide his amusement. "To Cas."
"Shut up," Dean growls. "This is serious."
"No, this is hilarious," Sam counters, pouring himself a glass of whiskey.
Dean steals it and downs it quickly, glaring at the thing that may or may not be his brother. "How the fuck would you know if it's hilarious or not? You don't have a soul. You can't feel."
"Even better proof. It's so funny that it moves even the cold, dead lump of nothing where my soul used to be," Sam chuckles, snagging the glass back and refilling it for himself. "You. Married to Cas. God, I should've gotten you guys a blender. Where were you registered?"
"If you were actually my brother, you wouldn't be laughing at this."
Sam claps him on the shoulder. "I really doubt that. But hey, tell you what, champ--you manage to pull my soul back outta the cage and we'll have a good cry about it together."
"Fuck you," Dean says sourly.
"Caaaaaaaas," Dean shouts at the ceiling. He's already kicked Sam out, so he doesn't see the point in putting the conversation off any longer. He wishes he were drunk for this, but four years of nonstop imbibing means his liver is so iron-clad that it's no longer economically feasible to achieve anything more than a light buzz.
"What?" a gravelly voice snaps from somewhere over his left shoulder. "Dean, this is a very bad time--"
"Oh," Dean says mildly, after swinging around. "You're smoldering."
Confusion only tightens the pinched look on Castiel's face. "Is that some sort of euphemism?"
"No, man. You're, uh, literally on fire."
"Cock," Castiel growls, looking down at the burning edges of his coat.
"Excuse me?" Dean blinks.
A rustle of something or other, though, and Castiel looks like nothing had happened at all. Instead of being on fire, he just looks generally disheveled. Which, actually, is comfortingly normal.
"Cock fuck goddamn tits," Castiel hisses under his breath as he pulls from his pocket a melted lump of plastic that probably was, at one time, a cell phone.
Dean just sort of stands there and watches. "Still working out that whole cussing thing, I see."
"It's very dangerous to assume a human shape of late, Dean," Castiel says, turning the ex-phone over and over in his hands and glaring at it as if he's daring it to repair itself. "Raphael has dozens of highly trained followers guarding the plane-shift. I barely avoided being incinerated entirely, so this had better be important."
Dean thinks about that for a moment. "Could they actually do that? Incinerate you, I mean?"
Castiel just stares at him, disbelief and irritation warring for dominance on his face.
Dean makes a vague little motion with his hands. "I mean, uh. Don't you outrank them? Now? Wouldn't it be hard to kill a head honcho?"
"What did you need, Dean?" Cas asks, gracelessly changing the subject. "If this is about Sam's soul, I still don't know anything."
"No, we're kinda working with Crowley on that one. Long story, don't ask. It's more about us," Dean says, flicking a finger between their bodies. "The whole so I married an angel thing. What the hell is going on?"
Castiel makes a noise low in his throat that Dean quickly categorizes as a growl. "Heaven hates me, I've come to decide."
"Yeah, no, that's helpful for me. Layman's terms, dude," Dean replies irritably.
"There are...rituals. Involved with the fall. We've had them in place since the nephilim issue. When a member of the Host becomes fixated on a single person and subsequently falls, the two are entered into a pact. They belong to one another, irrefutably. It's a...severance package? And since no angel has been restored to power after a fall like that, no one knew it'd stick."
Dean boggles. "Pardon, did you just say that I'm your sorry you left Heaven consolation prize? And I didn't get a fucking say in it?"
"Usually the other person doesn't really mind," Castiel snaps, pacing. "And it's not as if I would've chosen you anyway. No, I just had to have that ridiculous amulet with me as I fell. Oh, this is Dean's. Dean will want this back. Dean Dean Dean."
"Hey, fuck you, I'd make an awesome husband," Dean sulks, irrationally offended.
Cas gives him a look that is veering dangerously close to murderous. "Do you understand how much of a liability this is for me? I am waging war right now. If Raphael knew about our bond, he would use it against me in an instant. I would be helpless to resist coming to you if you were being threatened by him."
"Jesus," Dean sighs angrily. "I hate you guys so much, you don't even know."
Castiel's expression is grim. "Don't put yourself in serious danger and we should be all right. I'd be forced to come to your aid and I'm really too busy for that."
"Right, yeah, serious danger. Like, oh, the sort I get into on a weekly basis? But apparently being captured by Catwoman or getting locked in a building with Big Daddy Vampire isn't actually serious danger."
Castiel's face is completely, painfully sincere when he says, "They could only kill you."
"Oh, fuck my life," Dean grunts, scrubbing a palm over his face. "I hate that it's come to this. You know, there used to be a time when dying meant something."
"And then you married an angel."
Dean looks up. "Was that supposed to be a joke?"
Castiel looks a bit pleased with himself. "Yes."
"If you want this relationship to work, you need to work on your sense of humor."
"And you need to work on not calling me out of the middle of battle so you can complain at me about things I can do nothing about," Castiel retorts. He stalks over to Dean and presses the lump of plastic that used to be his phone into Dean's hand. "I'll need a new one. I don't understand the workings enough to repair this one. Perhaps not prepaid this time, though? And I have decided that I hate AT&T."
Dean blinks again. "You have opinions on phone companies?"
"Crowley uses AT&T," Castiel says, as if this explains everything. And actually, it kind of does.
"Okay," Dean says. "I'll, uh, do some research into what provider should be officially endorsed by Heaven."
"Anything else?" Castiel asks, still up in Dean's space.
"Why did I never get an engagement ring?" Dean asks, taking Castiel by the shoulders and rocking him back away from him. "I feel so cheap. You didn't even get down on one knee."
Castiel bristles a bit. "You think this is funny?"
Dean sobers a little. "Not really, no. You said you were working on annulling it?"
"When I can get a moment to consult the scrolls," Castiel nods. "As long as the bond has never been consummated, it can be annulled."
"Perfect," Dean says. "So all we gotta do is stay out of serious danger and avoid falling on each other's dick. Easy."
"That would be a rather exceptional set of circumstances," Castiel says. "We'd have to be at least partially unclothed, and at least one of us would have--"
"Cas. War in Heaven. Big scary archangel on the rampage."
"Right." And with a flutter of invisible wings, he's gone.
There's this whole bit with the showdown with Crowley and Samuel fairly soon after that. If Dean hadn't been so preoccupied with the fact that his own family was betraying him, his chance at getting Sam's soul back was slipping away, and that slimy rat Meg was escaping again, he might've noticed that his husband was pretty badass.
But then, of course, he would've thought husband and that is just too fucking weird and oh holy fuck he's apparently spiritually married to Cas.
Luckily, Death himself turns the tables around, and you can't really worry about your nebulous marriage to a multidimensional wavelength of celestial intent when you're holding the fates of innocents in your hands. And then royally cocking it all up.
Three months with Sam-a-tron does not prepare Dean for his actual brother--especially his brother in the aftermath of a year's worth of guilt. There's crying. A lot of crying. Over various dead people and a couple of nearly-dead Deans and one very-dead-and-bled-out puppy.
Bobby, like the traitor he is, flees out to the junkyard the moment the waterworks start.
Eventually Dean manages to calm Sam down enough to eat some toast. Bobby doesn't have any butter, just some sticks of Blue Bonnet, but Dean manages to find a jar of strawberry jam in the back of the fridge.
"I'm just feeling really vulnerable right now," Sam says, as Dean puts the plate of toast down on the table in front of him.
"Oh for--" Dean starts, then bites off whatever he was gonna say and instead goes with, "It'll be okay, Sammy."
"There's just this pressure in my head, and I know I shouldn't go poking at it, but I want to. I just...don't think I should be alone right now."
"Well, easy enough," Dean frowns, sliding into the chair across from him. "I don't plan on letting you outta my sight for longer than it takes for a bathroom break for quite a while."
Sam nods and mumbles around a mouthful of toast, "That's probably for the be--"
And that's when Dean has a divine assumption.
One minute Dean's looking at Sam, and the next he's looking at a middle-aged man in a tweed coat with an absolutely thunderous expression on his face. He's got what looks like a Civil War-era muzzle-loading rifle over his shoulder. Somewhere in the distance, cannons are booming.
"Um," Dean says.
"You moron," the guy replies. "You've snapped us all back to vessel form. I know your tiny human brain isn't capable of much, but you couldn't have conceived of anything useful?"
"Angel?" Dean tries.
The guy just rolls his eyes.
"Run, run, run, run," Castiel bellows, blowing past them in a blur of cheap suit and trenchcoat.
Dean and the tweed-jacketed angel just look at each other for a moment, then hotfoot it right behind him. A hilltop explodes beside them, shattered into clumps of earth by a cannonball. A handful of other people--angels?--fall in with them as they go, headed straight for a stretch of trees.
Castiel reaches it first, and by the time Dean fights his way through a multiflora bush at the edge, Cas has sliced open his arm and painted a symbol on the trunk of a particularly large tree. As Dean watches, Castiel vanishes into the bark. Then the rest of the angels are streaming in after him, melting into the tree like they're going through a door.
It is freaky as fuck, but hey, Dean doesn't wanna find out what being hit with a cannonball in Heaven is like, so he jostles his way up to the tree, closes his eyes, and steps through. When he opens them, he's in some sort of stone fortress, surrounded by shaky angels. Castiel is standing in front of him, looking pale and drawn.
"You," Castiel says, and kisses him.
"Whdddefckkkk," Dean says in response, flailing a bit.
"Lovely," says the dick in tweed, stepping through the wall next to them.
Castiel promptly detaches himself and turns on him sharply. "Not another word, Jegudiel."
"I would like to know what the hell is going on, thanks," Dean yelps, a bit louder than necessary.
"I was in serious danger," Castiel says, knuckles white where they're still fisted in Dean's overshirt. "Raphael had us outclassed."
"Wait," Dean frowns, putting two and two together. "The coming-to-your-aid thing works in both directions?"
"This is adorable," Jegudiel says from somewhere off to the left. Dean idly notes that his rifle has turned into a longbow. "Fearless leader, you didn't tell us that you had a betrothed."
There's a crackle of angry energy in the air, and suddenly Dean's tongue tastes metallic. "Whoa, Cas. Down boy," he warns, shaking the angel slightly. Castiel's eyes flick back over to Dean and he visibly deflates. Dean looks him in one eye, then the other. "You okay? You look like shit."
"Yes," Castiel replies instantly. Then, after a second's hesitation, "...no."
He peels away, goes to check on the various angels leaning against the walls or crouched on the floor. There are suspiciously few of them. After checking on the wounds of a plump grey-haired woman in a fuzzy sweater, Cas looks up and says, "Raphael was going to pull me apart piece by piece, unravel my dimensions and scatter me across so many planes that he swore not even our Father would find all the pieces."
Dean blinks. "Can he do that?"
"I wasn't willing to find out. I am sure that eventually the Lord will get tired of putting me back together."
"So, what?" Dean hedges. "You're in mortal danger and I get pulled up here to help? What'd I do except compress what had apparently been a multidimensional battle into something that looked suspiciously like Gettysburg?"
"It was all you needed to do," Cas says dazedly, sidling back over to Dean. "You can't comprehend the full extent of our war. No human can. So we have taken great pains to clear out souls from large swaths of the heavens so that we may use our abilities to our full extent. Your arrival ruined that."
"Sorry?" Dean grumbles. It feels like he's always apologizing for things, even things that can't possibly be his fault.
Cas stares at him in that entirely unnerving way. "Raphael still has not found a suitable replacement vessel. When we all snapped back, he was left disoriented. He could not immediately materialize on your chosen plane. It is perhaps the only reason we escaped."
"...oh," Dean mutters faintly.
"The power of our bond may have just saved Heaven," Castiel says, sounding bewildered.
Dean moans. "Please never say that again."
When Dean wakes back up from what was apparently the king of all aneurysms, Sam is still sitting at the table. The toast is gone.
"Hey, Dean. Nice trip?"
"Not particularly, no. You just sat here with my dead body? Are you sure Death gave you back your soul?"
Sam looks thoughtful for a moment. "Killing people is bad, lying is bad, having sex with extremely flexible and enthusiastic women while my brother is being kidnapped by fairies is bad. I also feel a slight compulsion to check out the Oprah's Book Club selections I missed."
Dean scowls. "Unsurprisingly, I'm not convinced."
"I love you, Dean?"
"Now I'm extra not convinced."
Sam spreads his hands wide. "What do you want from me? I just spent three hours weeping like a little girl after having a duct-taped soul crammed back into my body. You faceplanted onto the table--I figured Cas needed you and you'd be back. If it took more than an hour I was gonna start getting worried."
Dean's scowl deepens. "I want a refund on that soul of yours."
Sam raises an eyebrow. "We're us. Dying is cheap."
"Can I have more toast?"
Dean lets his head fall into his hands. "Duct-taped soul or not, you can make your own damn toast this time."
Dean buries his face deeper in his pillow. "Go the fuck away, Cas."
Instead, the bed dips a little. The feathery bastard is sitting on the edge, Dean can tell.
"Thank you. For earlier."
"It's not like I had much of a choice," Dean points out, stubbornly keeping his eyes closed. "Your marriage bond crap did all the work for me. And I'm still pissed that you kissed me. No, I didn't forget."
"If I told you that was the bond manifesting itself, would you believe me?"
Dean gives that a moment of thought. "Is it the truth?"
There's a long silence, long enough to tell Dean the real answer. "Fucking hell, I knew you were in love with me."
"That was the bond manifesting itself," Castiel asserts. "It had just performed its most powerful duty--the residual power was overwhelming."
Dean sits up suddenly. "I call official bullshit on this. Like, oh, it's just the adrenaline talking. It's not you, it's a natural bodily reaction. Really, ma'am, I wasn't actually looking at your breasts."
Castiel tenses, his face severe in the dim light coming through the curtains. "I will win this war, Dean. And after I do, I will dissolve this ridiculous tie between us, and we will go back to being what we have always been--mildly antagonistic comrades."
"Aw, that's sweet. Is that what you think we're supposed to be?"
"So you're not interested. Nothing but strictly business. Big misunderstanding." Dean's baiting him now, and somewhere in the back of his head he knows it's kind of assholish, but he'd seen the guy with the porn and the, uh, Meg incident. Dude's not asexual--dude's repressed. He's leaning in, all up in Castiel's space, just the way Cas is always in his.
And when the poor guy snaps, Dean really should've been expecting it. He finds himself slammed down onto his back, the hot solid weight of Castiel atop him. There's this thing with mouths and tongues and and groping hands that Dean lets go on for way too long to claim to be the injured party, and then Castiel jerks back and stares down at him.
"You," he says, and--to his credit--his voice is almost believably calm, "are insufferable."
"It's your fault," Dean smirks. "You married me."
Castiel makes a frustrated sound low in his throat.
Dean decides to throw a little fuel on the fire, just for the hell of it. "Hey, what are the actual guidelines for consummated? Like, is there a list of dos and don'ts?"
Castiel stares at him for a long moment, and a calculating expression crosses his face. Dean hasn't seen that look since Cas was plotting against Heaven's dickish plans in the good old pre-Lucifer days.
"I don't know," he says. "There may be some loopholes. I'll have to check."
"You go do that," Dean says, twisting in bed to reach into his duffel and retrieve a small box. "In the mean time, I got you a phone. I put you on our plan. As, you know, my spouse. Castiel sounds enough like a girl's name."
"Oh good," Castiel says, eyeing the picture of the phone on the box. His tone is unamused. "There are a lot of buttons on this phone, Dean. What's a touch screen?"
"Ugh," Dean sighs. "Sam was right, we should've gotten you a Jitterbug. Of course, he was still chuckling over the whole married thing, so I wasn't inclined to listen. Hey, you think you could go and check to see if his soul is actually in there?"
"It's in there."
Dean watches Castiel fiddle hopelessly with the phone for a few minutes, then clears his throat. "War in Heaven? And you were gonna look up the proper definition of consummated?"
Castiel snaps back to attention. "Yes. Of course." He slides the phone into his pocket, and Dean just knows he's gonna find some weird-ass voicemail later on. "If it had to be someone, at least it was you," he says at last, turning to look at Dean again. Which is just on the edge of too girly for Dean to bear, so he kinda nods mutely instead of responding for fear of tilting it any farther in that direction.
This seems to be enough invitation for Castiel to kiss him again, this hot open-mouthed hungry thing that leaves Dean feeling a little dizzy, and he's honestly a little terrified of when the guy decides to funnel a few millennia of celibacy and one bout of porn-viewing into actual sex.
He has a feeling he's going to be sore for a week.
Castiel rustles away before Dean's quite done with him, and isn't that a surprise.
Dean punches his pillow into something comfortable and flops down onto it. "Jesus christ," he mutters to himself just as he falls back asleep, "I suggested loopholes."
Sam must never know of this.
He'd probably buy them a blender.