This had to be it. Dean was sure of it. He was tired of searching, and he was even more tired of the way his anxiety level crept upward every time they failed to find Castiel.
"Older brothers are supposed to look after younger brothers, you know. It's in the job description," Dean said, while Sam knelt in front of the door to the old stone church, lock picks at work.
Gabriel just rolled his eyes. He'd stopped answering a week ago, which only made Dean say it more often. Because it was true and because he needed someone to blame for Cas's disappearance, at least until they found the people actually responsible, at which point Dean was going to kick some ass.
Standing, Sam opened the door, glancing over his shoulder at Dean and Gabriel, who followed him into the church. The pews were covered in dust, the whole place had the feel of a building long out of use, except for the altar. The altar was bathed in light and at the center of that light was Cas, clad in his trench coat and suit, hands resting on his stomach, eyes closed.
Dean ran toward the altar, the others following, stopping next to it and staring down at Cas, who looked remarkably pissed for someone apparently asleep. Dean really hoped he was asleep.
Gabriel was walking around the altar, bending to the side to look under it, then looking up at the ceiling.
"Is he alive?" Dean demanded.
"I don't see any sword marks. No sword, no death," Gabriel answered, still circling the altar.
"So, he's what? In some sort of suspended animation?" Sam asked.
Reaching the spot behind Cas's head, Gabriel halted his examination. "Yup. Guess somebody's going to need to kiss him." He wiggled his eyebrows at Dean.
"This isn't funny. We need Cas," Dean said.
"I'm not being funny. Kissing is the standard way to wake someone from suspended animation. Didn't you ever read any fairy tales?"
"I left those for Sam."
"Of course you did, Mr. Denial," Gabriel said, taking a step to the side and moving his head as he did so. The guy never stood still for more than a minute. It was annoying.
"Isn't it supposed to be his soul mate who kisses him?" Sam asked.
"Yes, it is," Gabriel answered, still looking at Dean and sounding entirely too pleased with the situation.
Dean glared at Gabriel, which was as useless as ever, although it improved Dean's mood slightly. "A soul mate for an angel? What are we supposed to do, bring all of the other angels down here to kiss him?"
"Hardly. Castiel likes people better than angels."
"There are almost 7 billion people," Sam said.
Gabriel smirked. "I doubt his soul mate would be a stranger." He kept his eyes on Dean as he said it.
"You mean one of us?" Sam gestured between them.
"But we're men," Dean said.
"Gender isn't all that big a deal to angels."
Dean wanted to punch the smug look right off of Gabriel's face. But the only thing that'd do was hurt his own hand and make Gabriel's smirk even bigger. If he couldn't get that look off of Gabriel's face with his fist, he'd have to do it another way. "Fine," Dean said, closing the small space between him and the altar. "I'll kiss him."
Cas's lips were full and curving, pale. They weren't unattractive lips, not by a long shot, but Cas wasn't even awake, and Dean was pretty sure kissing unconscious friends wasn't something a good friend did. Although given the circumstances a kiss would probably qualify as something a good friend would do.
"For God's sake, just kiss him already."
Shooting a glare at Gabriel, Dean leaned over and touched his lips to Cas's just long enough to determine they were every bit as soft as they looked.
Dean stood. Cas didn't move.
"Guess it's not you, after all," Gabriel said. This time his smirk was even bigger.
Looking pointedly away from Gabriel, Dean told himself he was only disappointed because Cas hadn't woken up.
"Should I--" Sam asked.
"Wait," Gabriel held up his hand. "I think I've almost..." Lowering his hand, he turned it in the air as if he was turning a handle. "Got it."
The light over the altar went out, and Dean took a step toward Gabriel. "Thought you said he had to be kissed."
"I lied." He said it with a smile. "I just needed to find the release, which was no easy task seeing as how it was hidden in another dimension."
"You--" Dean started.
"Dean?" Cas asked. Opening his eyes, he turned onto his side and pushed himself into a sitting position.
"Hey, bro, welcome back," Gabriel said. "Have a nice nap?"
"No," Cas said, reaching up to rub the back of shoulder. "I did not 'have a nice nap.'"
"You're always so cranky." Gabriel looked at Dean. "Really, you two are perfect for each other." Shifting his attention back to Cas, he asked, "Raphael?"
"I told you you should've smited the bastard," Dean said, drawing a glare from Cas. Gabriel was right. He really was cranky.
"Dean, did you kiss me?" Cas asked. He was looking right at Dean with that stupid penetrating gaze of his, but at least he sounded less cranky.
Pointing at Gabriel, Dean said, "He told me to."
"I'll just head on back to heaven and prepare for smiting, shall I?" Gabriel said, then snapped his fingers and vanished.
"Let me guess, he said only my soul mate could wake me up," Cas said, pushing himself from the altar which left him standing closer than Dean was really comfortable with, but he didn't take a step back.
"How'd you know?" Dean asked. Cas just looked at him. Older brother, stupid question, Dean got that.
"What would you have done if I'd woken up?" Cas asked.
"You know, I think I'm going to let you two discuss this in private," Sam said. In his peripheral vision, Dean could see Sam pointing in the general direction of the door.
"Sam was willing to kiss you, too," Dean said as Sam hightailed it for the door, the coward.
"You didn't answer my question."
Cas was persistent. Dean liked that about him, he really did, except when it was directed at him. Puppy dog eyes didn't work on Cas, neither did charm or playing dumb, he was immune to pretty much all of Dean's best tricks. "I would've been glad you were awake," Dean said.
"Would you have kissed me again?"
"Again?" Dean asked. His voice didn't squeak, and he wasn't distracted by the fact that Cas was now so close Dean could feel the thrum of power coming from him.
Nodding, Cas said, "Again. I am fairly certain kissing is a soul mate activity. Not to mention that kissing someone when they're in suspended animation puts them at a certain disadvantage."
"How did you even know I'd kissed you?"
"I felt it."
"How did you know it was me?"
"I wouldn't have felt it if it had been anyone else," Cas said. Before Dean could answer, he'd slipped a hand around the back of Dean's neck and pulled Dean's mouth to his.
Cas's lips were soft, but what he was doing with them wasn't. That was the thing about Cas, he wasn't just persistent, he was pretty darned commanding, and right now he was commanding Dean's lips. Dean was a good soldier. He knew how to follow orders, when he wanted to, so he slid his arms around Cas's waist and did everything Cas's lips told him to.