For most people, waking up to the smell of coffee was heavenly. The curling scent pulled the mind from a dream as stiff limbs stole a few extra moments to stretch out across the sheets before having to greet another heavy day. However, Dean couldn’t remember the last time anything happened to him like most people and the only thing the smell of coffee caused was his stomach to plummet. As he threw off his sheets and launched out of bed, Dean couldn’t help but think back on all of his brother’s disastrous attempts in the kitchen. In the darkness of the room, he could see the playback. The Father’s Day Pancake Incident when Sam was 7. The Cupcake Catastrophe of ’92. The dead patch on Bobby’s small lawn that never really grew back after Sam tried to dispose of the evidence of his fried rice attempt. Dean had started to think Sam had a better track record taking out kitchen appliances than monsters. There was a reason Dean taught Sam to make salads from such a young age. As much as the older brother hated rabbit food, it was safer for everyone involved.
Tripping over a few wayward bags of salt lying on his floor, Dean jerked out of his burnt reverie to the smell of coffee getting stronger. Snatching up a worn AC/DC shirt, he spit out a few choice curses. It didn’t matter how many times Dean showed Sam how to work a coffee machine or how much of the grounds to add or even what settings to push on the fancy ass Keurig Kevin had decided to hold up shop in when he was a ghost, Sam couldn’t brew a cup of coffee to save his life. And that was saying something with the amount of Get Out of the Afterlife Free cards both Winchesters liked to play. If Dean was lucky, this morning would only result in burnt coffee and not half the kitchen on fire. There was a reason Dean had thrown out the Keurig and opted for a manual French Press (and not just because he didn’t like ectoplasm in his coffee). When had he ever been labeled Lucky?
Dean threw the shirt over his shoulders as he padded down the hall in his boxers, grumbling under his breath. “I just don’t get why you decided to start this up again today, Sammy. Not that you’re not great, but stick to what you’re good at. Like growing your hair or being ridiculously tall. We both know coffee just ain’t your –.”His words died in his throat as he drew up to the kitchen. Dean could hear someone bustling around – the sound of plates shifting and the unmistakable swish of a stiff coat – but there was also something surprising in the morning quiet.
The words were rough and quiet, but the lyrics unmistakable. “I’ll just wait here then. That’s all I’ll do. I’ll just wait here then. I’ll wait for you.”
Dean’s mouth went dry as he slowly glanced around the doorframe. Cas was humming to himself now with eyes closed as he sipped from a steaming mug – the one, Dean noted, he had found at a Goodwill in Omaha that read “God’s Favorite Angel”. He hadn’t noticed the hunter yet and Dean indulged in the sight of Cas looking so content and peaceful and there in his kitchen. It had been months since Sam and Cas had cured him, since Cas had taken off again so quickly – ‘With the woman waiting in the car, Dean’s brain supplied helpfully – and now Dean and Cas rarely saw each other. The angel had been off on some Holy Roller Round Up, stopping by only as long as he was needed and always looking at Dean with those sad, guarded eyes. Dean knew the angel couldn’t stand the sight of him now, not after what he had become, and he didn’t blame him in the least. He did miss their moments together, even if they had been filled with immensely awkward conversations. Besides, it wasn’t as if he had ever made Cas feel truly welcome in the Bunker. Not after he took on the Mark, not after Crowley, not after everything.
Shame colored Dean’s cheeks as he looked away from Cas. It was selfish to allow himself this moment and he knew it. It was wrong to indulge in the small smile he saw cross Cas’s lips as he savored the coffee. Dean drank in the sight of Cas’s contentment. The only way he wanted to see that smile leave the angel’s lips was if Dean kissed it right off him, but Cas had spelled out for him in his absence how he felt about this new Dean, had made it loud and clear with his new partner where they stood. As the angel began to sing again, eyes still closed and face pointed down into the steam wafting from the mug, Dean stole one last glance. ‘You fucked up. Again. And instead of your angel, all you’re left with is that scar.’
With a deep breath and his thumb brushing across the Mark, the hunter tucked away the deafening thoughts and strolled casually into the kitchen. Cocky smirk plastered across his face, Dean scoffed at Cas. “Do I even want to know how you learned that song?”
Cas’s shoulders stiffened slightly and if Dean hadn’t been watching the angel so intently moments ago, he would have missed it. His stomach twisted at the movement. He knew it was Cas falling back into the role of soldier, steeling himself against his enemy. ‘The one standing in front of him in the plaid boxers,’ Dean’s mind traitorously added.
“Hello, Dean,” was Cas’s only response. His focused slipped back to his coffee and Dean’s question went unanswered.
“Yeah, hey Cas,” Dean answered awkwardly, leaning against the worn wooden table if only for something to do with his hands. They drifted into silence, Cas watching Dean over the lip of his mug. Dean could see the darkening shadows under Castiel’s eyes, the extra stubble on his cheeks, and wondered if his grace was giving him trouble again. He wanted to ask, wanted to reassure Cas that this time if he fell… This time Dean wouldn’t let him go.
Dean shook himself from his thoughts as Cas broke eye contact, turning his back to the hunter and busying himself finding another clean mug. With easy fingers, Cas lifted a mug from the drying rack, the one Cas had bought Dean from a Gas n’ Sip outside of Denton that said “Hunters Do It In The Woods” – Sam had almost choked laughing when Castiel hadn’t understood the double entendre (“But Dean, there are plenty of monsters you fight in the woods. Wendigo, Chupacabra, Crocotta. I don’t understand why Sam finds this so amusing.”). He filled the cup and crossed the kitchen to Dean, passing it over to the hunter and letting his fingers graze Dean’s knuckles lightly as he pulled away. Something sad crossed behind his eyes and Dean looked away, clearing his throat.
“So, you goin’ to tell me how you know the words to that song or should I just chalk it up to another of Heaven’s Unsolved Mysteries.” Dean tried for nonchalance and missed the mark, but barely. He sought silence in a quick sip of the coffee. Stifling a moan, he thanked no deity in particular that at least Cas had been receptive of his Coffee Brewing 101 instructions.
“It shouldn’t surprise you, Dean, as I was the inspiration for both the song and the character that sang it in the Supernatural musical, though those young girls did take a lot of creative license with my wings. Did you know my wings are actually—“
“Yes, Cas, obviously the part of Castiel, Angel of the Lord, is based off of you,” Dean interrupted. “But, I mean, how did you know the play even friggin’ existed in the first place?” ‘Let alone listen to the songs enough to learn the lyrics,’ Dean’s treacherous brain once again helpfully supplied.
“Oh, that,” Cas answered flatly.
“Yeah, that.” Dean tried to keep the sarcasm out of his voice and failed.
“Well, I can only assume Gabriel thought I would enjoy the retelling of the Supernatural Gospel through the perspective of—“
Dean interrupted once more and Cas’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “Hold up. Gabe? That asshole is still alive?”
“Yes, Dean. Is that of import regarding the explanation you were demanding about my knowledge of the lyrics or would you rather I expound on Gabriel’s current condition of existence?”
With an audible click, Dean’s mouth shut tight. He casually slipped Cas’s mug from his hands and crossed to the counter to refill it; anything to break contact with that glare. When he faced Cas again, the angel’s face was again blank and he genuinely seemed to be waiting for Dean’s answer.
“Okay, the musical, then. Gabe. He, what, sent you the soundtrack?”
“A ticket, actually. He thought I would enjoy seeing the Word expounded through the eyes of teenagers and as my brother had no interest in accompanying Chuck to see it as no part was written for him, he thought I should take the other seat. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if he had been somehow responsible for Calliope’s contribution,” Cas sighed and sipped from the mug again, shaking his head as if the antics of his archangel brother hadn’t brought a carnivorous, bloodthirsty muse down on a pack of unaware high schoolers.
A hundred questions skipped and tripped over themselves in Dean’s mind. ‘Chuck is alive too? He was at the play? Wait, Cas was at the play? Could Dean summon Gabe to punch that dick in the face as payback for the busted knee he’d gotten after being tossed across stage by a friggin’ scarecrow? However, when Dean responded, his mouth betrayed him with a question he hadn’t even seen coming. “You know that’s a love song you were singing, right? Some subtext crap those kids thought they saw in Chuck’s books.”
“How those young women interpret the gospel is not “crap”, Dean,” Cas responded coldly, the air quotes difficult with the mug in his hand. In a few steps, he was again face to face with the hunter and Dean could see frustration carved out in every line of the angel’s face.
“I’m not trying to insult their artistic integrity here, buddy,” Dean started defensively, but this time it was Cas’s turn to interrupt.
“Surely you can see that it was not far from the truth, Dean, even then,” Cas sighed exasperated, holding the hunter’s gaze.
Dean looked again for that disgust he knew Cas felt, but seemed to come up short. It wasn’t so much as missing the emotion all together, but as if Dean could finally see it for what it was. His own shame and embarrassment had colored the emotions he’d read on Cas and it hadn’t been disgust or pity, but hurt and longing. A pervasive frustration that for so long Dean mistook as something wildly different. Now, as his eyes searched across Castiel’s features, he could see it all laid out as plainly as a map. He colored at the thought that a young girl’s lyrics were what finally made his compass find north.
“I know you need your rest, Dean,” Cas said quietly, finally breaking their contact and glancing down into the depths of his coffee. “But I will always wait for you. To help you; anything you may need from me.”
The angel’s voice ebbed into silence as Dean reached up and lifted the mug from his grasp once more. He turned slowly, placing them on the low table he leaned against, and as he turned back to Cas, he let out a steadying breath. Blue eyes were still cast across the room, so with another breath to quiet his heart, Dean reached out and tugged gently on the cuff of his friend’s coat. With a surprised tilt of Castiel’s head, he took a step closer into Dean’s space. Pushing off from the table gently, Dean closed the gap between and let their foreheads rest against each other.
“You don’t have to anymore, Cas.” Dean slid his palm up the other man’s arm until it rested lightly against his cheek. It was as if he could see the words process through Cas’s mind, felt the angel’s jaw clench beneath his thumb, and saw the beginning of a protest start on his chapped lips.
Dean just shook his head, thumb making small, comforting sweeps across the rough cheek. He shifted forward only slightly, foreheads and noses touching lightly. “I mean, you don’t have to wait anymore, Cas, because— Because, I’m here now, man. I’m here and I’m not going anywhere if you ain’t.”
Before Cas could respond or Dean’s brain could supply the thousands of reasons why this was a terrible idea, Dean closed the last few inches between them. The kiss was tentative, almost shy, but so mind-numbingly simple that Dean kicked himself for not giving it a try when he’d considered it first, years ago. He felt Cas’s long fingers close around the hem of his worn shirt and a fleeting thought crossed his mind that neither would be letting go of each other for a very long time.
His green eyes blinked open as Castiel pulled away slowly, putting only a small distance between their mouths. Though Dean couldn’t see it in his face, the angel’s sly side smile played across his blue, blue eyes.
“How’s that for subtext?” Dean laughed quietly, hand wrapping around Castiel’s neck.
“Dean, I’m worried you don’t actually understand the concept of subtext. I can explain it to you if you need me—“ Cas was cut off by Dean’s lips against his own, but this time there was no irritation. Dean could feel the angel melt into him the longer they kissed and no amount of critical thinking about the Theatrical Arts could pull him away.
And as they leaned into each other, the two men lazily finding a sense of home within each other, Dean couldn’t help himself. He started to hum Castiel’s song.