Dean can hear them, is the thing. Sam stepping a couple yards away and muttering into the receiver like a character in a James Patterson paperback doesn’t do squat when Dean’s head is clear—too clear—for the first time in years and yeah, he can hear the he’s fine, Cas and the I’m keeping an eye on him, Cas and the of course I’ll let you know if things go south with him, Cas.
Meanwhile, he gets friggin’ emoticons and selfies.
It’s like Cas thinks he can distract Dean, sending him every animal emoji on that stupid keyboard in one message. Taking a blurry photo of himself in front of a fruit stand by the side of the highway and captioning it Maybe these would help with your healthy initiative? :)
He never calls, though. Cas is saving that for Sam, apparently, and Dean gets it, gets that he’s the invalid and they’re his keepers, but it makes his chest ache every time he catches a static-distorted rasp of gravelly voice through Sam’s phone.
Tasting spinach and fucking wheatgrass and the chia seeds stuck in his molars, Dean thumbs through his phone to the last message Cas sent him. It’s mostly scenery, a totally generic roadside sunrise, just the side of Cas’ face visible. The arch of his cheekbone, a scattering of stubble, the stretch of his jaw and throat.
The caption is a sunrise emoji, because Cas is a goddamn dweeb. Dean bites his lip against a smile Cas can’t see.
I wanted a drink so bad today :(
He hits send and his stomach lurches. He fights the urge to chuck his phone into the laundry basket so he can’t hear the next time it buzzes. What does Cas care? What’s he gonna do, send him all the alcoholic drink emojis? All Dean does is answer You’re a nerd and Cool buddy for days and now he’s spilling his guts like Cas is his personal AA meeting?
Dean’s phone rings.
“Dude,” he says, way too high-pitched, into the receiver, “Cas?”
He shouldn’t have even picked up. Cas doesn’t need this crap.
“Dean,” Cas says, low and urgent the way he used to sound when he had important info about the apocalypse or about a war in Heaven or about anything real. Anything that mattered, unlike how Dean wants a whiskey on the rocks so bad his whole jaw hurts with imagining how it would taste.
“Last time I checked,” Dean says. How fast can he get away with hanging up?
“I liked the emoticon.” Cas chuckles shortly.
“Yeah, you, uh.” Dean clears his throat. “You’re obviously pretty into those. Guess I’m not as good at them as you are.”
“Practice makes perfect. Did you drink?”
That’s Cas, cutting to the chase like always. Dean closes his eyes. “Not yet.”
“You’re doing well.” Cas’ voice goes all warm. “I’m proud of you.”
Dean really wants to laugh, but the noise that comes out of him is just this ugly, choked thing. Everything’s too sharp, jagged edges and too much noise and light. The world sucks when you’re sober, and then there’s Cas, this insane celestial wavelength of contradictions and conviction and, improbably, kindness. He exists in, probably, more dimensions than Dean even knows about, and maybe that’s why he soothes something tangled in Dean’s core just as often as he makes Dean’s blood thrum with anxiety.
“I mean it,” Cas says, fiercer. “I know how hard this is for you.”
Dean’s not sure how he got here, but he’s curled in on himself, on his side on his mattress. Like he can wrap himself around the total sureness in Cas’ tone and anchor himself to it. “Desperate times, man.”
A little huff of breath comes across the line. “Your times are always desperate. It gives me hope to see you taking care of yourself for once.”
“You’re not pulling any punches, huh, pal?”
“I am literally dying, Dean,” Cas growls. It makes Dean’s heart jump to his throat and his dick give a tiny, traitorous twitch. “I don’t have time to fuck around, as you’d say. Not about the way you make me feel.”
“Dude,” Dean says faintly. His palm is clammy; his phone slips in his sweaty grip.
Cas is probably rolling his eyes or pursing his lips, making some endearing and exasperated face and God, Dean wants to see it so bad it’s embarrassing. “I don’t want to tiptoe anymore. I don’t want to talk myself into believing that each time I feel you aching for me, it’s a fluke or a trick of my perception or wishful thinking, some projection of how badly I want to be by your side.”
“Cas.” It’s a raspy whisper, Dean’s throat dry and his heart pounding through his whole body. “What are you—”
The noise Cas makes isn’t totally human and Dean is totally, totally into it. “The next time I see you, I’d like to kiss you.”
Silence hangs between them and all Dean can hear is a distant buzz of static and his veins rushing in his ears.
“If,” Cas says, much slower suddenly, “you’re okay with that.”
Dean’s voice almost breaks as he answers: “Yeah, man, yeah. Shit.” He feels sleazy about it, but he’s half-hard and he wants to hang everything on this, on the solemnity of Cas’ confession, so he forges onward. “What else?”
Cas laughs again and the sound licks its way up and down Dean’s spine. “I don’t know where to start,” he says. He’s practically casual, like he’s—fuck—like he’s thought about this so much that the answer’s been waiting in the wings. “Everything. I want to kiss you all over.”
Dragging in a shuddering breath, Dean pushes the heel of his palm against the thickening bulge in his jeans. “Yeah,” he gets out, “yeah, I’m okay with that too.”
“I want to touch you,” Cas says, and Dean’s gratified to hear a current of breathlessness there, “again. Now that I know—now that I feel like this, now that I know what it means. I want to touch every part of you and I want to know how it feels to hear your orgasm for myself, knowing it’s because of me, and I want to take you in my mouth, and I want everything there is for one person to want with another. Dean.”
Dean whines from the back of his throat, fumbling with the button of his fly. “Cas, yeah, yeah. Castiel. I’m with you.”
Castiel fucking moans, throaty and only a little distorted across their connection. “Say my name again. Please.”
Frantic and clumsy, Dean bucks up into his own fist, cotton and precome dragging across the calluses of his palm. “Castiel,” he says. “I want you—I want it.”
“Soon,” Cas promises. “Before—I’m going to kiss you. I mean it.”
Dean almost laughs around the building urgency of orgasm tugging at the edges of his nervous system. “You’re gonna do a hell of a lot more than kiss me. You’re—tell me you’re touching yourself.” He’s gotta know, gotta have that mental image. Something to look forward to.
“I’m not that skilled with self-control,” Cas says, and then gasps a little as if to prove it. “Count yourself lucky I called from a motel.”
“Jesus, Cas, I—I want—” Dean’s being ruthless with himself, jacking himself hard and fast and picturing Cas’ mouth around him, Cas’ dick in him, Cas pushing him into the mattress helpless and pliant, and he comes damn close to sobbing through it as he comes messily into his fist and onto his stomach. It’s like lightning, like the unfathomable rumble the first time Cas tried to talk to him.
“Dean,” Cas says. “Dean.”
Just his name, quiet and awed, and Dean knows what’s happening. He can almost see it, Cas rumpled and beautiful and half-clothed in some seedy motel, sprawled on the bedspread as he comes.
He’s gonna see it. Soon. Before—
“Shit,” Dean says, half-laughing, sliding his fingertips through the mess on his stomach and T-shirt. “Talk about not fucking around. You forget anything?”
He’s kidding, but Cas, apparently, isn’t. “Yes,” he says. “I forgot to tell you that I love you.”
Dean almost swallows his tongue. “Uh.”
Cas has gotta be smiling. “It’s okay, Dean. You can tell me next time.”
“When you kiss me.”
“Yeah. When I kiss you.”