“Cas. Hey. Now you're human, I assume our soul-phone contract's expired. That means I'm talking to myself like a crazy person for real this time. But, hell, what else am I supposed to do? This... this is what I do when I don't know what to do.”
We're back in the bunker about five minutes before Cas begins to undress with the kind of nonchalance only he can muster in these kinds of awkward situations.
I make a comment about stripteases and ask Cas if he wants some backing music, but the guy is unphasable right now. He just says with supreme confidence that he knows I don't really care about seeing him naked. It's funny the things Cas thinks he knows sometimes.
“This is one of those jokes you make when you don't care about something the way you believe you should.”
"As opposed to what? All those jokes where I care too much?"
"Yes, Dean. Exactly."
"Get out of my head, Cas."
"No." Cas smiles a very Cas sort of smile. That's one good thing about him being human. He smiles way more already.
So this is our new normal? Cas smiles. He has to shower and do laundry or con me into doing his laundry in this case. He has to eat and sleep. Even with all that I know I'm going to have to sit him down and explain that I do care about him walking around my room naked. Except I maybe care in a good way. As in don't actually stop, just let me get my head around the idea first.
I look at him. Not the normal looking either, looking at his body. This is me, Dean Winchester, enjoying looking at a naked guy's body. Huh. Yeah, like all that staring into each other's eyes was such a straight thing to do. Hello, 'new normal', I guess you kinda snuck up on me there.
Days of missing Cas and each time telling myself he'd be okay. He's a big boy, awkward way of putting it but, yeah, this guy's been around since almost the dawn of time. He might be a little naive about the day to day human stuff - okay, a lot naive - but he handled himself okay up until the point he got stabbed to death by that reaper chick.
That was a new kind of Hell, tracking him down and then walking in just in time to see him breathing his last breath.
Then post-healing, resurrection, whatever and dragging his human ass back to the bunker for a totally earned shower and burritos, he says he had sex. To think I used to get freaked out by the idea of the Cas in Zachariah's acid trip to the future having orgies. Now I find out real, human Cas got killed because he couldn't keep it in his pants. Kinda puts a downer on my enjoying the whole casually naked thing earlier, doesn't it? There's gotta be a limit to amount of shit one guy can laugh off in a single day, right?
Oh, wait there definitely is a limit because I'm being stared down by the angel inside my brother and he's telling me to send Cas away. And that's inside in the none kinky way. Okay, I'm wincing at bad sex jokes inside my own head. This is not good.
Speaking of not good, I have to talk to Cas. I can't do this right now. I just found him again.
If there is a God, let there be a way around it, let him understand that I'm only doing this because it's important. Oh, Hell, what am I praying to that loser for. I got past my need to worship deadbeat dads years back.
So I tell him he can't say. It goes about as well as it can, with Cas not saying anything. He just looks at me and I know if I wasn't on my way back to Hell before, I definitely am now.
Now I'm in my room. I just came in here to get away from Cas's broken hearted stare but I'm on autopilot as I take off my jeans and crawl under the covers. I'm so tired and, as I curl in on myself, I do the dumbest thing. I pray to the guy I cut out of my life less than twenty minutes ago.
“Cas. Hey. Now you're human, I assume our soul-phone contract's expired. That means I'm talking to myself like a crazy person for real this time. But, hell, what else am I supposed to do? This... this is what I do when I don't know what to do.
“Okay, here goes. I need you here, Cas. I need to be doing everything I can to keep you alive, you wingless son of a bitch, because I never want to walk into a room and find you dead again. You know something? I just straight up need you.
“If things were right, you'd know that already. I don't blame you for not knowing because I suck at being your friend. That you probably do know. I suck at protecting you. I know the guardian angel thing's not supposed to work that way round but it's always been different with us, ain't it?
“If you could stay... but you can't. For Sammy's sake, I can't let you. And I can't tell you why. I already told you Zeke was going to help but if I told you what he did to... for Sam, you'd have to lie to him too. I'm not gonna make you lie for me, Cas. That's why I can't even tell imaginary-you the truth. I'm already lying to everyone I love and I'm not dragging you into that hole with me.
“But mostly I'm trying to keep my baby brother alive and kicking. You gotta understand that family comes first, man. But you're family too and that's what makes this situation even more screwed up. I'm gonna lose you again and this time it's entirely my fault. Maybe you won't actually die this time. I hope. But I know I've lost you. I had to be hard on you so I could keep all my lies in line.
“Cas, I need you to believe that I'm doing the right thing. One of us needs to.”
I stay where I am but close my eyes. It's not quite crying myself to sleep but the emotional release is somewhere on the same level.
I sit up. He's standing just outside and the door isn't even all the way open.
“Cas. Hey. I thought you might have left already.”
“Sam told me I should ask to borrow some clothes from you.” Cas is speaking even more like a robot than normal and that hurts way more than it should. “He believes his would be too large.”
“Yeah, man, of course. Come in. You... you talked to Sam? Alone? Was he okay?”
“He seemed a little surprised when I announced I was leaving... but he seems well.”
Cas comes into the room but leaves the light off. I can't see his face too clearly as he sits on the bed and looks at me. This is like that time he turned up on my bed and sent me back in time to teach me a lesson. How about it, Cas? How about you send me back a couple of months or years? Hell, turn the clock back two hours and give me a chance to do tonight over.
“Sammy's still healing from the trials,” I say, hearing that my voice is hoarse, like I've been screaming and shouting instead of thinking and praying. “And you know I'm sorry about kicking you out of the bunker tonight, right?”
“I was shocked... and upset. I'm still getting used to feeling emotions to such a strong degree and describing them is just as difficult. But, I want you to know things are a little clearer now. I no longer blame you.”
“That's, um... Cas, did you...”
“I heard your prayer, Dean.”
“Cas, does this mean we've got some prayer-minutes left or were you just standing in the corridor eavesdropping on me pouring my heart out to you?”
“Your door was open. I assumed, as the prayer was intended for me, I was permitted to listen in. Was I wrong?”
“Yes! No. Not exactly. That's actually weirdly normal compared to some of the other shit we've been through this week.”
“I suppose I should be preparing to leave.”
He says it but he hasn't stood up yet. His weight is still beside me on the bed, his warmth, his breath on my face. He doesn't have to leave.
“Yeah. I guess. And, hey, you can take some clothes. That's the least I can do...”
“Thank you. I'll return them when I have some of my own.”
I nod. He doesn't have to but thinking it might make him feel better. That he'll see me again to give me my things back.
“Listen. There's no point us pretending you didn't hear what I said, especially about helping you. So let me. I can get you some fake ID, book you into a motel for a few nights. Anything you need.”
“Thank you, Dean. I appreciate that.”
And stay here tonight, I don't manage to make myself say until he tries to stand up and the words kinda slip out on their own.
I leave Cas with some sweatpants and an old t-shirt to change into and split before any actual changing happens. I can't do the naked Cas thing again. Let's work on staying friends first.
I'm looking for a hoodie so I have to sneak into Sam's room. It has to be in here somewhere because it's not it any of my drawers or bags and I want Cas to have it tonight. Sure, most of Sam's sasquatch clothes would swamp Cas but that's one of the best things about the black hoodie, I realise as I find it at the bottom of a bag. It's big and warm. Good for hiding in while you're riding out a cold. Okay, so Cas hasn't got a cold but the guy needs all the comfort he can get.
Sam corners me on my way out of his room to ask me what the hell is going on with Cas. I'm wary of him either calling bullshit or angelling-out on me the second I say Cas is staying. Day I'm having, both are sure to happen at some point. How am I supposed to explain in a way that's going to satisfy everyone in this two person but maybe three way conversation? Lying? Apparently that's something I do now.
"Here's the deal: I got Cas to agree to stay the night but he says he has to leave tomorrow."
I don't want to have this conversation in the hallway. Cas might hear us, if he's still awake. I hope he's sleeping because the last thing he needs is to join the insomnia club tonight.
I stalk off towards the library, really hoping Sam's giving me a dirty look as he follows me. If I can get through this chat without Zeke showing up with more warnings about Cas, I can just about deal.
"It's weird,” Sam says. “He seemed really happy to be here and then five minutes later he wants to split."
"I think he's worried about bringing all the angels down on us."
"And we're just going to let him leave? Seriously? Just like that? You should stop him, Dean. You're supposed to be his best friend."
Sam crosses his arms and makes a bitchface I never thought I'd be so glad to see.
"Hey, remember this is the guy who got two thirds of the way to becoming God behind our backs and went ahead with it even after we called him out."
"He's not fighting a war this time," Sam points out.
"You try telling him that. See how far you get."
I force a laugh, trying to clear out the sick feeling at the memories of Cas being at war, being Crowley's bitch, becoming God, being Leviathan central and then being dead. Oh yeah, this is why me and Cas can't ever be normal.
"You know, maybe I should try talking to him again. When I saw him before, he was being even more cagey than you are right now."
"Cas is sleeping, so don't bother."
"Where's he sleeping? We haven't made up a room for him."
"He's in my room. The guy has spent the past week in church shelters and homeless camps. He deserves a memory foam mattress in his life, even if it's only for one night. Oh, and before you ask, I don't know where I'm sleeping yet but I'm sure I'll think of something."
"I guess I shouldn't be surprised you're giving up your bed for him. Dean, I keep forgetting how hard this is for you. We watched Cas die and you had to bargain for his life. That's got to be rough."
"Only about as rough as we've had it whenever we die on each other. Him leaving and being in danger feels worse than him staying dead. It's not actually worse because, hey, no way do I want Cas dead if there's any other option on the table. It just feels worse. I don't really get it."
“You thought about saying any of this to Cas?”
"Sam, don't. Just don't."
And suddenly I'm bracing myself against the table and breathing hard through my nose. Sammy must think I'm seeing red because he throws up his hands in a defeated gesture.
“Hey, fine. We don't need to have this conversation. Just cool it, okay, man?”
I'm not mad and yet he thinks I am. Sam's usually better at telling. Hey, just roll with it. I'm getting what I want. Talk's over and Cas gets left alone to sleep without him and Sam playing twenty-freakin'-questions about why he has to leave.
There's chairs out of the way upstairs in a kinda crow's nest we don't really use. I'm going to crash up there. I've still got Sam's old black hoodie balled up in my hands and I guess I'm the one using it tonight. Maybe I won't even wear it, just use it as a blanket so I don't have to go into my room to get a real one.
So that's my night. Try to sleep. No more thinking about Sam or Cas or how screwed I am if they talk long enough to compare notes.
No more thinking at all right now. I've just got to deal. I'm dealing. This is me dealing.
It's simple really. Cas has to leave so that Sam can live. It's my friend's happiness versus my brother's life. That's an easy deal when it's boiled down to those two things. Except, Cas leaving means Cas being in danger, Cas probably dying again with no take backs this time. Cas dying alone.
Yeah. Okay, yeah, I can't deal.