The moon was just beginning to rise when Dean Winchester admitted he was lost. It had taken him a long time span, and much denial, but he finally sat down on the leaf littered forest floor and said it aloud.
Saying it made it more final than he intended, and he was overcome by a wave of abrupt worry. For himself, and mainly for Sammy waiting back at the campsite alone, thinking that his brother had just gone to mark the trail to the waterfall so they wouldn't have to search for it in the morning.
Dean had become curious, though, wanting to go a few feet further into the forest, which turned into a few yards, a few miles, and now it felt like a few planets.
What exactly had drawn him out deep into the forest was a long story, but to make it short, Dean didn't like having a nightmare plague him into adulthood. He had chased a memory into the forest, hoping to overcome it, so the whole camping experience would no longer be a test of his nerves. Unfortunately, his overconfidence in the ability to navigate successfully and he found himself in a fine mess.
None of the tress bore familiar markings to guide him back; the map might as well have been scribbled by a first grader, and he knew nothing other than he shouldn't have been so scared, or stupid, in the first place.
"Saaaaam!" he called in vain. He fell back against the ground, like he might be simply taking a nap, and put the map over his face where it rustled as his inhaled and exhaled.
"Someone get me out of here," he groaned softly.
He was virtually defenseless, with nothing but a hunting knife on him. He hadn't thought of bringing a gun along on his escapade to fifty yards away from the campsite. Sam probably didn't even notice he was gone; he had still been absorbed in his laptop, focused on a court case he deemed of dire importance.
When Dean admitted that he wanted to go camping again, Sam had been shocked. After all, their last trip had been awful. Sam agreed though, because he knew his brother very well and he could tell Dean was tired of being so scared all the time. It was a testament of their brotherly love that Sam took off work and Dean didn't demand to drive
"I'm not having fun yet," he yelled, even if no one was around to hear.
He waited about an hour more, dozing lightly and hoping Sam, who had always been more familiar with the wilderness, would come find him. After letting that wish set in, he realized he was waiting for his baby brother to come rescue him, which was completely unacceptable.
"I can find my way back!" he said defiantly, sitting up and letting the map flutter to the floor. It skittered across the leaves in a sudden gust of wind, blowing towards a thicker tangle of trees.
"Actually, I might need that."
Sighing, he heaved himself off the ground to chase after it.
The first thing one would learn upon meeting Dean Winchester is that he didn't get scared easily, if at all. So chasing a piece of paper through a dark forest all by himself, no big deal. There was one thing, however, that did scare him.
And as he broke through the trees, he found himself a mere yard away from one, a situation he would never, under any circumstance, choose to be in. Not after what happened before.
He could handle the deep, scary forest, the full moon hanging hauntingly above, the shiver of the trees in the wind. In short, he could handle the horror movie setting without a single frightened thought. His last encounter with wolves, however, left him terrified at the sight of them, even the sound of one howling.
As he barreled towards the looming trees, he almost didn't see it; its fur was blacker than shadow, the perfect camouflage.
Its eyes, however, burned like blue fire, betraying its location. They almost seemed to float among the darkness, confusing Dean and confining him to the spot he had stopped when he noticed him. The longer he stared, breathless, the clearer the outline of the creature became. Enormous. Lethal. Muscles tensed with the possibility of a movement. And the most terrifying damn wolf Dean had ever seen in his life.
He remained frozen to the spot, watching, waiting for the creature to make a move and rip him to shreds, but it didn't. The longer they regarded one another, the more Dean had the urge to wet himself and run for his life. Not that he knew which direction to go. The wolf, however, appeared to be uninterested in his terror. It stood there, watching him until Dean felt that he could relax. Maybe it was a tame wolf. Maybe it was a large dog. Though his thoughts were hopeful, deep down he couldn't deny the feral eyes, the curved claws, and the wildness that existed in the air around the animal.
It dipped its head, nose pointing to something underneath its paw. Dean jerked, ready to run as his father had told him not to ever do after that day, but he stopped when he saw the map underneath the large paws, almost lost underneath midnight fur. He could see the large title in sharpie; Shunkaha Forest.
The wolf stood, taking a few steps back, but leaving his front paw on the map, as if he were holding it in place.
The gesture was the most humane thing Dean had ever seen an animal do, which made the situation all the more unnerving.
He debated on whether he truly needed that map; it wasn't doing him much good anyway. But Sam needed it, and Sam would flay him if he returned without the map. So, for Sam, he sucked it up. He drew himself forward, slowly, in case the wolf changed its mind and decided to eat him like he was red riding hood. Instead, the wolf seemed to sense his discomfort and drew away as his fingers touched the paper, slinking back a bit further into the shadows where it watched him. Dean could have sworn he saw emotion in the blue eyes. Could wolves even have blue eyes?
He remembered the things his Uncle Bobby had mentioned about the Shunkaha forest, starting with his usual opening statement when they announced a camping trip.
"Appropriate they call the forest that," he would say in a gruff voice.
"Why?" Dean would ask, though he never got an answer.
"Nevermind. Just be careful camping, John," he would say, turning to Dean and Sam's father. "There is something about them wolves that just ain't right."
Dean and Sam had only paid attention to Bobby's word briefly during the trip, inventing wild theories about what was wrong with the wolves, such as genetic mutation and aliens. After the accident, Dean didn't question the wolves anymore.
Now, he felt compelled to thank one.
"Thanks, I think," Dean whispered to the wolf. He decided the creature was a male.
He had a regal, Alpha appearance that left little room for the other option. Dean didn't know all that much about wolves, besides the things Bobby muttered under his breath, and the fact that they were the cause of his near death. And that one sole wolf had saved his life.
This wolf did not seem to be of the vicious variety, like the others that inhabited Shunkaha. He relaxed a bit further, finding that if he just imagined the creature as a big dog it was a bit easier to stay calm.
"Now, if only you could get me back to my camp," he exhaled loudly, straightening up with the map in tow. Taking a step back, as to not prompt the wolf into any kind of attack, he consulted the map and decided to take the most random path he could, devoid of any other option.
He turned slowly, heading in a general direction, when the wolf began growling. The leaves behind him crunched as his massive paws glided over them, until he was standing directly in front of Dean, blocking his chosen path into the woods.
He pulled his lips back, revealing his sharp canines.
At such a close proximity, Dean realized the wolf was larger than he thought. The animal easily reached his chest. The theories he and Sam had formed raced through his mind, and he wasn't sure which was credible because none explained a wolf being so massive.
At such a short distance, Dean could take the wolf in a bit more, see the rough texture of his thick fur, the exact curve of his gleaming teeth, and the brightness of his eyes, reflecting the moon.
The fear that had just begun to ebb away came rushing back before he could even react.
The wolf nudged him away, pointing with his nose to a gap in the trees that Dean hadn't considered before. He had sort of taken it in, but it looked as if it led deeper into the woods, so he had avoided it.
The wolf leaned against him, pressing him that way insistently, intently focused on the way Dean had tried to go before. He pressed his ears flat against his skull, a growl rumbling deep within his throat. He pressed against Dean once more, this time with enough force to send him stumbling forward, towards the path.
Dean obediently walked, letting the wolf nudge him in the right direction when needed.
He took steady breaths, telling himself it was simply a stroll with his old black lab, Bon. He really missed that dog. It was thinking of good times with Bon and Sammy that he could pretend what was happening was just an acid trip or something.
After what felt like a short walk, in which he successfully did not panic, he smelled campfire smoke and saw markings for the path that lead to the waterfall.
"Wow. Uh, thanks?"
He turned, to take in the wolf one more time, but it slinking away, in an entirely new direction. Dean wished he could have at least touched the wolf's dark fur, an impulse he had not wanted to go through with at the time of being completely lost and alone with it. Now that he had gone, the forest was a bit darker, a bit quieter, and regretted his cowardice, hated his weakness.
A chink in the armor was not something a man should have.
This wolf, on the other hand, had been the opposite of what he had come to think of them, and he started questioning if the only fear he had was foolish, despite the event that spawned it.
He had heard of dolphins saving people while stranded in the middle of the ocean. Could wolves really do the same?
Shaking his head, he followed the short trail back to the campground, where Sam was standing with his laptop, frowning at the fire like it held a secret message.
"Sammy! Man, am I glad to see you!" Dean cried, running forward to smother his brother in a hug. He was truly grateful he hadn't had to spend the whole night alone in the forest, wondering around until Sam got off his lazy ass and found him.
"Dean," Sam said against his brother's chest. His words were stifled by the fabric, but he didn't push Dean away. He had gotten used to his brother's weirdness a long time ago.
"Where have you been?"
"I got lost!" Dean groaned, drawing back to look Sam in the eye accusingly. The kid should have known to come find him, after all, or at least E-Mailed someone for some help.
"How did you get back? You actually learn to read a map?"
Dean laughed, annoyance dissolving into euphoria of being back as he flopped down on a log and warmed his hands by the fire. He realized his whole body was freezing, so he moved to sit even closer.
"No, a wolf led me back," he answered once he had thawed a bit; Sam was pecking away at his laptop again.
"Yeah, Dean. And a unicorn came by and told me how to win this case."
Dean displayed his middle finger, to which he was rewarded with an amused laugh from his brother.
"We should turn in, we have to get hiking early tomorrow."
Dean nodded, eyes scanning the dark forest, listening for any sign of movement. He waited for a good thirty minutes after Sam began to snore lightly before searching for any indication of a wolf.
As odd as it was, he just wanted to say 'thank you', one more time so he didn't feel like he owed the stupid creature anything. He hated being in anyone's debt.
He acknowledged defeat when his eyes begun to droop shut, and he hurried to his sleeping bag. The air away from the fire was bitingly cold.
'I need to put that out,' he thought, but he figured it had almost burned itself out, so it would be okay. Or Sam could put it out. The fact of the matter was, he didn't want to deal with it, so he closed his eyes and succumbed to sleep.
A chorus of howls began in the distance, but he was too far gone to hear, lost to sleep just a moment too soon.
Dean opened his eye and shit them as he noticed the sun shining into the tent.
He still kept his eyes closed, unconcerned. His brother didn't sound hurt after all, just annoyed. He could deal with it.
"I need the first-aid kit!"
Dean rolled over, groaning. He hated being woken up early, and this was the last thing he wanted to be awoken by; his brother having done something idiotic. Maybe he had a cramp from typing too much.
The urgency is in his brother's tone alarmed him, sending him scrambling out of his sleeping bag and snatching for the first aid kit that was half hidden among his blankets in the corner.
"What did you do?" he demanded, hurrying out into the bright clearing and the direction of Sam's voice. He didn't see him at first, which distressed him further.
"Sam?" he called, fear creeping in.
"Over here!" his brother popped out of a wild tangle of grass to his left, reminding him of a mole.
Rolling his eyes, Dean stomped over, bitching at him all the while.
"You don't even look injured. You'd better have a good reason for waking me up so early. And you have grass in your hair. I swear you are such a….who the hell is that?" he demanded, spotting the man that Sam was crouching next to. Even if he were someone they knew, he was so covered in blood and dirt, they wouldn't know at first.
"I don't know. I woke up and went to use the tree and I found him moaning over here. He's bleeding really bad."
"No shit, Sherlock. And did you really just say 'use the tree'?"
He shoved his brother over, opening the kit and drawing out some cloth, ignoring the glare directed at him.
"Hey, are you awake, buddy?"
The man nodded, gritting his teeth with the effort it took to do just that. His lip was cut, and there was a jagged gash across his face, running straight through his right eye. There were shallow scrapes across his neck, and all else was lost among his clothes.
"You're in rough shape. I think we need to get you to a hospital."
The man's good eye flew open with alarm as he raised his head to look Dean square in the eye with a resolute answer.
Dean rocked back on his heels, overwhelmed by the passion in his voice. Maybe he had a bad experience with a hospital once? All the same, Dean was no miracle healer, but he could at least attempt to reason.
"Hey, I'm not going to make you. But I'm not doctor. I can only help you so much until we can take you to a pro. She can see you at her house and she won't ask any questions. Is that okay?"
The man hesitated, pressing his blood stained lips together.
After a moment of thought, the man nodded, letting his head fall back against the ground with a shallow thud. He let out a sigh, wincing with the movement and scrunching his face up as if something pained him further.
"Sam, take one of those rags and pour some water on it. I'm going to see if any of these cuts need stitches."
His brother nodded, hurrying away with an intense expression adorning his face, as if wetting a rag were an important task that required intense focus.
Dean snickered to himself, turning back to the poor man who was bleeding…well…everywhere.
He mopped up the blood, applying pressure to the spots that were still oozing and trying to be thorough but gentle, two things that didn't coexist well in such a situation.
"I'm worried about your eye. I don't think eye drops are going to cover this."
The man began shaking, which scared Dean at first until he discovered he was laughing, quietly at that, but laughing.
"See? You're going to be fine. What's your name?"
The man smiled faintly, as if he were still amused over the joke Dean had sort of made.
"Castiel. They call me Castiel."
Dean didn't bother asking who 'they' were. Instead, he hesitated, enraptured by the voice. He could have sworn he heard it before. Shaking the thought off, he pulled out a needle.
"I'm not expert here, but I can stitch you up a bit. Just so you aren't bleeding all over Sam's car."
After a short time of lacing the wounds together, the man, Castiel, appeared beneath the blood. Striking, but in an unusual way. Dean, feeling awkward for some reason he couldn't place, moved to help him into a sitting position so he could reach any other wounds.
He propped Castiel against the nearest tree, where he was clutching at his side and wincing as he downed two water bottles in a row. Dean studied the rest of him, but the injuries all gravitated to his right side.
"I think I have injured my ribcage. Rather severely," he admitted.
"Probably. Why can't we take you to the hospital?" Sam asked, peering at the jagged facial wound that they had only dared to dab at.
"They don't agree with me. To be frank, you two did just as good a job as all the doctors who have ever healed me have done. I genuinely appreciate it, I want you to know."
He struggled up, leaning against the tree heavily and panting with the effort.
"Woah, Cas," Dean said, grabbing his arm to support him. "You aren't in the shape to go anywhere. At least rest here for another few minutes. I'm going to take you to my friend, Jo. She and her mother are great at what they do. Way better than we could dream of doing. You really need to see someone."
Castiel regarded Dean, seeming to be torn between wanting to hold his pride and stroll dramatically off into the woods and wanting to fall to the floor and beg them to take him to get help immediately. Well, that's what Dean thought he was thinking anyway.
'Cas?' Sam mouthed to himself, confused. He ignored the other bits off conversation, hung up on the fact that his testosterone driven brother had just given someone a nickname. A cute nickname one might give a kitten. Dean didn't give random people nicknames. Not ever.
"Maybe your friend can look at me," Castiel muttered at last, sliding back down the length of the tree. He continued clutching at his bottled water, like a lifeline.
"Great. Sam, maybe we should take him there and just come back to camp later? I mean, he needs help."
Sam nodded slowly, slightly disappointed and slightly thrilled he could return to a laptop charger. He loved spending time with his brother, and he had hoped Dean could resolve the thirteen-year-old issue, but he really needed to win this case.
"Yeah, let's get going," he said, trying not to let his eagerness convey in his tone.
"What are your names?" Castiel asked conversationally, as if the side of his face wasn't a swollen mess and he couldn't open one of his eyes, as if he hadn't heard them speak one another's names for the past hour.
"Dean. And you don't think wolves will be attracted to the scent of blood, do you? They won't attack us or anything?"
"Don't worry, Dean," Sam said airily, tightening the straps on his pack. "I'm sure the imaginary wolf you met and my unicorn will guard us from the wicked evils of the forest. I bet they already warded off Sasquatch while we were sleeping. Oh, and I bet the faeries were the ones who put out our campfire in the middle of the night."
"Wolves? Have you seen any?" Castiel inquired sharply, hobbling over to sit by the ashes of their would-be campfire. Dean did wonder about how it had gone out, but he had been so busy helping Castiel that he hadn't stopped to think about it. It had been deliberately put out, that much was obvious by the still damp ground around it. Someone had thrown water over it.
"Yeah," he answered, focused on the ashes. "One last night. But that's it. Thankfully."
Castiel visibly relaxed and watched Dean regard the damp ground.
"Hell, maybe it was the faeries," he muttered, pulling and hand through his hair. "Or maybe I put it out in my sleep."
They finished packing, grateful they hadn't brought all that much. It was so little that one person could carry it on their backs, which was entirely convenient when they realized Castiel would not make the hike back to Sam's car.
"I'm afraid you may be unable to support my weight," Castiel said when Dean made the suggestion he cling to his back for the hike.
"Don't insult me," Dean replied, bending his knees so that Castiel wouldn't have to make a wild jump.
He clambered on as gracefully as he could manage in his slacks and trench coat, wincing at the sharp pain in his ribs.
"You aren't heavy at all," Dean remarked, secretly shocked. He had been prepared to man it up and carry the solid weight on his back, but he found it surprisingly easy to carry him the length to the car. He had hardly broken out into a sweat upon arrival, to his delight.
'I must be stronger than I thought.'
Riding in the car with Sam was usually a silent affair, but with Castiel with them, Dean did his best to prod him into conversation, seeing what crazy thing he would say, or how he would react when Dean sang along loudly to the radio.
"Do you like this song?"
"What's your favorite AC/DC album? Here, we can listen to my favorite."
"Have you ever tried eating shark? Remind me to get you to try some. You know, as a 'get better' dinner."
Sam held his tongue, enjoying his brother's childishness and reveling in the fact that Dean was, in his own freakish Dean way, trying to impress someone, as well as clearly leaving a spot in his life for this man they had just met. Castiel was gracious, but he said little, to Dean's disappointment. Sam knew he expected more, a better reaction. And, though Dean wasn't aware that he was flirting in a Dean way, Sam knew he wanted the man to flirt back, though he appeared unaware that this was what he was disappointed about. Whatever all that meant.
Girls had always accepted him, right off the bat. He had never had to navigate waters for someone. The S.S. Dean Winchester was smooth sailing. Until now. Sam had suspected Dean had a heavily denied attraction to men. After all, he never committed to relationships and had not settled down despite Jo's interest in a family and infatuation of him. Dean just didn't look happy deep down, no matter how often he paraded around announcing that he had slept with some girl.
'Dean. You're flirting with a man we found bleeding in the woods, whom you've nicknamed Cas,' he wanted to yell, but that would be very inappropriate, so he let his mind drift to something not as strange, which wasn't hard because their situation was about as strange as it got.
"So are you going to tell us why you were in the middle of the woods, alone? And why you look like a bear tried to rape you?" Dean asked, seemingly on par with Sam's thoughts. Or a few of them, at least.
"I was not attacked by a bear," Castiel said elusively, and turned to stare wistfully at the trees that flashed by.
"Right. Well hey, what do you think of Busty Asian Beauties?"
"Dean!" Sam exclaimed, shocked. "The poor guy probably doesn't want to talk about your porn right now."
"What is porn?" Castiel asked, dead serious. His lips didn't twitch as if he were saying it sarcastically.
"Good one, Cas," Dean replied, though he looked unsure if the man was joking or not.
'Cas?' Sam mouthed again. 'Dean has it bad.'
They called Jo once they hit the city limits, so she wouldn't be rudely disturbed from whatever it was she did with her day by a bleeding guy in need of an eye patch. She greeted them in scrubs, her hair pulled back and a determined gleam in her eye.
"Well bring him in," Ellen snapped in the background. "I don't like blood on my welcome mat."
They hustled to oblige. Ellen had been around their family a long time, having a fling with Bobby, and being the one that told their father to suck it up during the time he was feeling sorry for himself. They had learned fast and young that when she gave an order, your ass better get it done before she had to step in and get it done herself.
Ellen guided Castiel to their dinner table, which had been scrubbed down and reeked of chemicals that could be smelled in a doctor's office. They removed his coat, then his shirt when they found more wounds lacerating his chest, ones that Dean had clearly missed. All the wounds still on the right side.
"Any other places injured?" Ellen asked, handing his clothes to Jo to wash, as they didn't really have any clothes to lend him.
"No ma'am," Castiel replied quickly, in fear that she would make him strip further.
"Right. Let me take a look at your eye. That's what I'm most concerned about. Dean did a fair job with the stitching so we can redo them later."
"Redo?" Castiel asked faintly.
"He should have done better," Jo commented, returning from throwing Cas's clothes in the wash. "I was the one who taught him, after all."
"You suck at teaching," Dean threw over his shoulder as he retreated towards the living room to watch T.V.
"He doesn't mean it, Jo," Sam amended before she attacked. He slunk into the living room as well, to give them space. Once they went into nurse mode, there was no talking with them about anything else.
Everything was medical talk, and it might as well have been a different language to the Winchesters.
Jo would occasionally come in and inform that about some problem they had encountered, though it was usually in that foreign language of hers. They figured Jo was lonely, and Sam figured she was trying to catch Dean's eye, though they didn't dare say their thoughts aloud. She would kick their asses.
Ellen and Jo joined them after about two hours, sweat beading on their faces, but appearing pleased all the same.
"He's resting in my room," Ellen announced. "However," she continued, her tone sobering up, "I don't think he will keep his sight in his right eye. It looks really rough. Where did you boys even find this guy, anyway?"
"Er. Right next to our camp. Bleeding," Sam answered quietly.
"And you didn't ask what happened? Exactly what he was doing alone in the forest? Or how he sustained such major injuries? He's ravaged. Whatever got a hold of him didn't let go for a long while."
Ellen's voice raised itself several octaves before she cut off, throwing her hands in the air. "I just don't know what to do with you boys sometimes. What if he had been a murderer?"
"He's the one who looks like a near-murder victim," Dean muttered.
Jo laughed, flopping down close to Dean and pressing against him in a not-so-subtle way.
"So, how long are you boys staying for?" she asked, her tone hopeful.
"Until he wakes up. Then I guess he can stay with me until he's ready to return from wherever the hell he's from," Dean answered, shrugging. No one voiced how weird it was to let a random man sleep in your home after only knowing him a day.
"You always use us," Jo mumbled, disconcerted. She didn't say much else.
They lounged around for the majority of the day, catching up with one another and Sam taking mental notes on Dean's behavior.
'He keeps looking towards Ellen's bedroom. He appears to be in a particularly good mood, but wasn't before we found 'Cas' as he calls him. What does this all mean?'
It took Sam, who had gone to college and graduated with honors, several hours of pondering and moping around before it clicked, when Ellen was serving dinner to be exact.
"AHA!" he cried, jumping up and knocking his chair over.
Ellen and Jo gaped at him, their forks raised half-way to their mouths. Dean continued eating as if nothing had happened.
"Dean!" Sam cried, ignoring his chair and the others. He was eager to test his theory. "I heard they're canceling Dr. Sexy."
Dean slammed his fork down, eyes narrowed warningly.
"You had better be joking, or I'm going to be pissed."
"Oh, I am," Sam replied while righting his chair with smug satisfaction as Dean just watched him, annoyed.
'Dean cares a lot about that show. He is over defensive of it. That just gives me a final confirmation. He is incredibly gay. More than I previously thought. And not only that! My brother is in love with the bleeding homeless man we found in the wilderness. Or at least, I think he is homeless.'
With that Sam drifted off into his own world, not even caring that Dean was trying to burn a hole through his head mentally for putting him through the brief moments of fear over Dr. Sexy's possible cancellation.
Castiel joined them after a little bit, his eye patched, to Dean's amusement. He didn't eat much, only picked at his hamburger with wrinkled nose. They had planned to stay past dark, but once the sun began to dip towards the trees, Castiel became restless.
"Dean, I would like to rest now, if that's okay?"
"Yeah, man. You can go lie down, if you want."
"No. At your house, so I can sleep all night."
His tone was incredibly persistent, so Dean agreed before he stressed himself out and did something stupid. Jo was regretful to see them go, but she didn't sulk. She wasn't that type of girl. Instead, she hugged them all, even Castiel, who already felt like he belonged with them after less than a day of talking and scarce laughter.
Jo's form was still waving cheerfully in their rearview mirror when they turned off her street and onto the highway, heading home.
"She is fond of you, Dean," Castiel remarked sleepily, and unhappily. The latter only Sam noticed.
Castiel pressed his forehead against the glass, squeezing his eyes shut, and letting out a large sigh.
"Huh? You think she's into me?"
"Yes, Dean," Sam said, though he was annoyed now that he had made his ultimate discovery about his brother that he might mess it up.
"But you don't want to date a girl like that. She would always been injecting you with sicknesses just to see if she could cure you, slicing you open just to practice her stitching. Even opening your chest cavity and poking at your guts while you're asleep, like you're that one game. What was it called? Oh! Operation. And that's just the start of it!"
"Whoa, you really think she would do all that?" Dean asked when he found his voice. He hadn't really been THAT interested in Jo.
"Yes," Castiel muttered in the backseat.
"Absolutely," Sam agreed, louder.
They drove in silence the rest of the time, Castiel sulking for some odd reason, Dean deciding he and Jo should stop talking so much, and Sam thinking to himself that his brother could be the most naïve person on the whole planet for actually believing that load of crap that had just spewed from his mouth.
Dean's apartment was by no means clean. Dishes piled up at the sink, clothes draped across the furniture, and other junk littered the space that would have been available otherwise. Castiel made no crude remarks, however. He bade Sam goodbye and sat on the couch, watching Dean expectantly.
"What?" Dean asked, withdrawing two beers from the fridge. "Never seen a handsome guy before?"
Castiel shook his head seriously. "No. I'm afraid not."
Dean cocked an eyebrow, but said nothing. He had learned right off the bat that Castiel was a freak. They fit together perfectly, in his opinion.
"Have one before you turn in," he said, offering the bottle to Cas.
He took it hesitantly, sniffing at the cap before opening it to take a timid sip. Instantly, he spat it out, wiping his mouth with his sleeve.
"You don't know what porn is and you don't like beer. What is wrong with you?" Dean accused, only half-joking. He took a swig of his own drink, finding it just as delicious as it always was.
"A lot of things," Castiel muttered. Dean didn't think he was supposed to hear that.
He took another drink, and then another, until the bottle was empty and he asked Dean for another. Once Castiel became drunk, a feat that took several bottles, he became far more responsive to Dean's words.
"I'm scared, ya know. Of wolves," Dean slurred, making exaggerated hand gesture although the words did not call for them. "When I was fourteen, a pack of 'em came for me. Took big chunks out of me. I saw all the snow turning red, and I thought I was gonna die. Then this one wolf comes, all majestic like. He wasn't no bigger than the pups, but damn, that pack turned to him fast. Like he was the leader."
Here he pointed at Castiel with what very well could have been his twelfth empty beer bottle, squinting.
"He starts snapping at them, like he could do any real harm. But they backed off. My dad came along and shot one."
Castiel looked away, eyes becoming lost and sad, though Dean was too drunk to trace the source in his words.
"I don't trust them. Any of them. But that one. If had hadn't called them off, I woulda been dead. I barely made it as it was. Even now, after all the years, I'm still scared. That's stupid, isn't it?"
Castiel joined Dean in the floor, pressing against him comfortingly. His blue eyes were still filled with an ancient sorrow.
"No, it's not at all. I am sorry you had to endure that."
They were quiet, watching the last rays of the sun slip behind the buildings that framed the skyline.
"Me and Sam and his girl, Jess, went to a nature reserve. They took us on a tour and I saw two wolves. I ended up running. That's why we went camping. So I could stop being a pussy over something that happened over a decade ago."
"You aren't a coward Dean, you're human," Castiel breathed near his ear, causing him to smile.
"You're too pretty to be a guy," Dean slurred in response. He grabbed Castiel's shoulders and held him at a distance, trying to take him in before he inevitably passed out.
"Way too pretty," he murmured again. He pulled Castiel closer, until their faces were touching. He didn't kiss him just then, he simply waited.
"I believe we are drunk," Castiel noted. Not that it mattered anymore.
Their lips touched, not in a kiss, but in an experimentation of sensation, just a tiny step before they leapt, clutching at each other and smiling, kissing over and over, whatever was attainable, whatever came to be in their path of passion.
Dean's collarbone, Castiel's hair, shoulders and necks, and anything and everything.
Dean became aware his shirt was off; whether he did it himself or Castiel removed it was no concern of his. Pausing, Castiel took in the ragged scars that snaked their way around Dean's side and down to his hips.
He bent down and kissed them softly, afraid of reawakening any hurt. He turned his gaze to meet Dean's eyes and instead noticed the sky.
"I-I have to go."
Castiel rushed out, knocking bottles over on the way. Dean heard his bed room door slam a heartbeat later.
He drank alone, waiting for Castiel to come back and kiss him some more, make him feel alive like no girl ever had. His scars tingled, the way one's skin might as if someone were brushing a knife against it. Hi skin flushed red, but was overrun with chills. He wanted Castiel to come back, so he looked for one excuse after another, each one weirder than the last as he became more and more drunk.
"Caaaaas! Come watch this show!"
Hell, surely the guy had gotten enough sleep by now, if that was what he was doing. Growing annoyed and worried, Dean stumbled up, knocking a lamp over and then tripping on its cord. He crawled down the hall, laughing for some stupid reason. Ever since this morning, he had felt so elated, and he couldn't place why. He had felt drunk the entire day, and now it was only so much better.
He pressed against his door, sending it slowly open.
"Cas. Come watch this show!"
He leaned against the door frame, trying to locate Castiel's form on the bed. His sluggish mind deciphered something odd after several minutes of investigation; his bed had not been disturbed.
"Castiel?" he asked, a bit warily this time. The room was virtually empty, the only light shed by the moon peeking through the window and the glowing red numbers on his alarm clock.
He closed his eyes and rubbed his temples, trying to make sense of everything. He opened his eyes, confused, and came face to face with shocking blue eyes, Castiel's eyes. The eyes the wolf from the forest had. The eyes the wolf that was sitting in his room had.
"Holy shit," he whispered. The wolf pulled back his lips, almost as if he were smiling at him, but it was hard to take the gesture as a friendly one when he saw all the jagged teeth, gleaming with saliva.
Dean succumbed to his alcohol gratefully and passed out on the carpet, his drunken mind thinking passingly that the wolf would make an excellent throw rug.
The early morning light slanted though his windows, warming the carpet near him. Groaning, he wiggled into the largest spot of gold he could find with his blurred vision. His everything ached, and his mind told him that he could have either been asleep for a few hours or a few days.
After he found a scrap of energy, he sat up, rubbing his neck and taking in the room.
"Where the hell am I?" he asked himself. It seemed to be his room, but that couldn't be exactly right. The floor was spotless, the clothes picked up, and the bed made, along with an air of freshness about everything. The source of this was a candle, sitting on his nightstand, still burning.
He struggled up and moved cautiously through the house, as quietly as he could with his limbs as sluggish as they were. The whole house was spotless; the floors polished, the clothes picked up, and a new lamp even sitting by the couch.
"What's going on here?" he asked again, mainly to himself.
"I hope you don't mind, Dean," a voice asked bashfully from the kitchen. Castiel peered around the door at him, holding a pan in his mitted hands.
"Are you…cooking?" Dean rubbed his eyes, thinking he was seeing wrong.
"Ah, yes. I picked up a book while I was out that explains everything quite thoroughly. Pancakes?"
Dean's stomach grumbled eagerly as the scent wafted over him, but his memory was catching up with the rest of him. His stomach lurched with guilt and pleasure as he remembered their kissing, but then his mind replayed the after event.
"You're a wolf," he whispered, but the words were so ridiculous, he had to swallow and repeat them, louder, as to make them more real.
"You're a fucking wolf!"
"Dean, I know this may sound odd, but I would like it if you would let me explain the situation."
He advanced forward, gingerly, like Dean was some kind of wounded animal he had corned. Ironic, since Castiel was the real animal in the scenario.
"Stay the hell away from me!" Dean cried, throwing the lamp at him. Castiel ducked, hardly fazed, as it shattered against the wall behind him.
"Dean. I just bought that with YOUR money. It took forever to decide on that particular one…"
He broke off, gazing down at the pan with an idle look of surprise.
"You got glass in the pancakes. Should I make more, or do you not mind them this way?"
"YOU'RE A WOLF!" Dean screamed, scrambling back against the coffee table. Anything to distance himself from whatever Castiel was exactly, besides a wolf AND a human.
"Yes, Dean. I believe you made that clear the first time. Would you like burnt bread or should I make another batch of these?"
Dean didn't answer.
"Pancakes," Castiel decided, nodding to himself.
"What are you, exactly?" Dean asked, trying to calm himself down a little bit. Castiel could have killed him in his sleep, he reasoned with himself. He didn't mean any harm. But why the hell did he clean the house?
He crawled into a chair, eying the man mistrustfully as he worked the stove. He was prepared to fight for his life, but it seemed Castiel was more concerned with cooking.
"A werewolf, I suppose. I don't know all that much about being human, but I know enough. And technically, I've run away from home to look out for you."
"Home? By home, you mean your enchanted wonderland of a forest? What else exists? Faeries? Unicorns?"
"Don't be silly, Dean," Castiel laughed, placing a plate in front of him.
"Vampires?" Dean whispered dramatically.
"This isn't Twilight. We just happen to be freaks among freaks. I was born a werewolf the same way you were born human. We're just another species existing under you. We stay wolves until a certain age and begin shifting forms; human at day and wolf at night."
He frowned at the floor.
"I really didn't want you to find out so soon. Though, it makes things easier."
"So you live in the woods? And why did you help me out instead of eating me?" Dean demanded, not allowing himself to acknowledge the absurdity of the questions and the impossibility of the answers. He didn't want to believe any of this, but even drunk, he knew what he had seen.
"Don't be ridiculous," Castiel scoffed, pulling bacon from the fridge. "I can't eat my Nagi Yuile Pi. "
"Your what?" Dean asked, leaning forward, thinking he must not have heard properly or something.
"Don't go Spanish on me. I'm a high school dropout. Never made it to any foreign languages. Hell, I failed at my own language."
"It's not Spanish, it's Native American. Lakota to be exact. My particular pack of wolves were always closely allied with them, so we took their language. They truly appreciated all the earth and its beauty, I'm told."
He sighed wistfully, turning a dial on the stove, as if he discussed foreign languages and his wolf ancestry every day.
"So what does that word mean?" Dean demanded, growing impatient.
"I figured you would know by now. After all these years, how you've had no emotional attachment to women..."
"Or how you could never work in a relationship, no matter how hard you tried..."
"Or how, despite your deep desire to have a family, you could never settle down with any women you met, no matter how beautiful, or kind, or promising..."
"The word means soul mate, Dean. You are my soul mate."
Dean's mouth flapped open; he struggled dimly to remember how to close it to no avail.
"It was decided thirteen years ago, when I saved you from my brothers. THEY had every intent to eat you. Me, not so much."
Dean finally remembered how to make words, and he had the urge to make a lot of them. Castiel had finally said something reassuring, of comfort.
"That was you who saved me? You called them off for me?"
"Oh, yes," Castiel said conversationally, like he saved young boys every day. "That was a particularly rough winter for my pack. We were willing to eat just about anything back then. But when I met your eyes, I knew, so I called them off. A Nagi Yuile Pi is a sacred thing, to wolves and humans alike. For werewolves, it is final, absolute. There will never be another that makes them happy. Some are fortunate enough to find their soul mates among the pack, but that rarely happens."
Now that Dean knew that this was the wolf that saved him, and making him breakfast nonetheless, things began to change. So, they faced a large issue with him being a wolf, but he was grateful, and he couldn't deny that he had the time of his life last night.
"And what," Dean asked, leaning forward, drawn into the eyes that now became hauntingly familiar, "would have happened if my family never went camping? If we never looked at each other in whatever form, and I had gone about my life?"
Castiel shrugged, a light smile playing on his lips, Dean's words merely amusing him. Thinking about alternatives was so mundane now that everything had finally fit together.
"You would have married. Gone on with your life. Had children. But a part of you would always, always, be missing. No matter how hard you searched for it, in the eyes or arms of some woman, only I would have it."
With that, he pulled from his shirt a necklace, a round, crystal like stone that seemed to be glowing, rippling with the ghosts of some form of water.
"That's…beautiful," Dean gasped. Normally he wouldn't be such a girl, but the orb was breathtaking.
"Of course it is, Dean. It's you. Part of your soul."
Dean raised an eyebrow, trying to keep his shock veiled as he took that statement in.
"You have a piece of my soul?"
"Yes. You have a piece of mine, I do believe. In fact, you're wearing it."
Dean drew back, clutching the table for support. This was getting a bit too odd for his taste. He was eating wolf made pancakes and eyeing a piece of his soul. No big deal right?
Reluctantly, he drew out his own necklace, which held a rock that shimmered black and purple in the light.
Sam had always teased him and insisted it was just a lump of coal, but he knew it meant something to Dean. So much so that it rested beside the amulet Sam gave him for Christmas one year.
"You mean this? My lucky rock?"
"Luck?" Cas mused. "I've brought you luck? I'm glad I could do something for you."
Dean looked back and forth, to the rock, to Cas, and to the pendant around Castiel's neck. His mind tried to process what was happening several times, but failed. All he could think to ask was, "I made out with a wolf?"
"Kinky," Castiel muttered cheerfully, taking another bite of his bacon. Dean noticed his teeth cut through it with no struggle, as easily as a knife cut through butter. It was then that he also noticed the bacon was uncooked.
"I think that could be considered bestiality," Dean snapped back, not in the mood for this. Honestly, he was more in the mood to run out the door, screaming his head off. But Dean Winchester was too cool for that, so he stayed seated, doing his best to remain calm, like he had when Castiel led him back to Sammy. Maybe this wasn't so bad. Their relationship had been kind of fated, and Dean couldn't begin to argue that his stomach was turning cartwheels. Castiel was special to him, undeniably.
"You said you're protecting me. From what, exactly?" he asked slowly, placing his stone back beneath the fabrics of his clothes. It rested by his heart, warm and seeming to pulse faintly with its own rhythm, not Dean's. It was a faster beat, the tempo Dean's might be if he were running. Or if he were a wolf, racing through the forest.
"A fellow wolf. He has no soul mate to bring him down, to distract him from his purpose"
"Hey! I thought you were happy to find me and all that shit!" Dean cried. He wasn't really into the idea of skipping off into the jolly sunset with a guy who was a guy sometimes, but he felt betrayed by those words.
"Let me finish. One of my pack mates, Zane, has no soul mate. He has nothing attaching him to the outside world. Ever since it became clear that I had found mine, he was been snapping at my heels, challenging me for the Alpha position. He was prepared to attack you the other night, and I fought him until there was scarcely breath left in my body. Once he discovers I'm alive, however, he will come after me, and you. He will want to cut my ties so that he can have absolute rule."
"Wow. Me and Sam used to just fight over the remote."
Castiel narrowed his eyes, but he couldn't help but to laugh at Dean. He had never been so relaxed, so at ease and peace with everything. All his time as leader, he had been waiting, for Zane to jump out of the woods and attack him, for the human hunting season to pass so that he could lead them towards a better food supply. Now he could be alone with his soul mate, and everything would be okay. For now.
"I understand your sibling rivalry is of a lesser extent," he replied, still chuckling. "However, I am going to have to face him eventually. Sooner or later, I will meet him somewhere, at some time. He will come after you, if you don't run into him first."
Dean folded his arms, pouting a little bit.
"I am not that stupid, Cas," he said, which prompted a smile from his…er…soul mate.
"You tried to stroll directly into him before I directed you on the right path the other night. You are very fortunate I caught your scent just before he did. If I had been a few seconds later…"
He broke off, staring at his hands unhappily. His expression was of such a childish guilt and sorrow, Dean felt compelled to say something comforting, even though he wasn't sure what exactly. The best thing to do was change the subject until something came to mind, he supposed. That was what he was best at; avoiding awkward silences.
"How often are you a wolf? If you are going to be staying here, I think I should know."
As he said that, feeling of the utmost tranquility settled over him, because he knew Castiel would live with him, because this is where he belonged.
They could sort out the other problems later, with any luck.
Now that Dean knew he existed, as of a few days ago, or thirteen years if you dared to count them, he absolutely could not let him leave. It didn't even register in his mind that Castiel was a MAN, not a woman, which held a piece of his soul. It didn't matter, at that moment. All that mattered was that he stayed, so maybe they could talk more, learn more about one another, for all the years wasted all the miles apart.
"At night, I am a wolf. There are some wolves that have mastered the practice of being either wolf or human at will, but it requires so much energy I haven't had the chance to try often. If I'm weak, Zane will pick me off as easily as we sick deer."
Dean got up, rounding the table to stand in front of Castiel, his soul mate. His whatever that fancy foreign word was that he had spoken earlier.
"Cas, I'm not going to lie. This is kind of too much to take in right now. Can you give me some time, just a little bit? Don't go far though, come back before dark. I don't want Zane catching you off guard or anything."
The words were sincere, he discovered. Castiel had lodged himself in Dean's life so fast, like a shooting star that blinded him briefly of all else. It left a trail of possibilities for them, and completely obscured the past that had been so bleak without him, Dean wondered how he could have ever gone from girl to girl expecting one of them to actually fix him.
Dean lurched forward, to kiss him, but drew back, uneasy. A wolf. A damn wolf. But his soul mate. He wavered there, unsure. Cas smiled wryly, like he understood it was going to take a little bit of time.
"I'll be fine. Don't give yourself a headache worrying about me. And if I don't come home by dark, there is a way to find me. I just don't recommend it. If I'm gone that long, I want you to run to Sam's and do your best to cover up your scent. I mean it."
He leaned forward, no trace of the awkwardness Dean had, and kissed him on the forehead.
"Lock the doors. Don't answer them for any unfamiliar faces."
He swept out the door, leaving the rest his bacon untouched and a silence that settled heavily over the apartment. Dean found himself wishing he had told Castiel to stay, but deep down he knew whatever his heart told him, he needed a few hours to just breathe. And do something about his hangover.
He fixed himself a glass of water, picking at the food that Castiel left cooked, which was actually very good, and downing a few pain relieving pills for his headache to get the day started. After standing in the kitchen a moment, he became unsettled by the quiet and turned the T.V. on, louder than he normally would when he was blasting music, which said something.
"You can come back now," he said, facing the door. Maybe it was silly to think Castiel could actually hear him, but he hoped. When nothing happened, he curled up on the couch, trying to make sense of everything.
A werewolf was officially living with him, and it had been silently agreed upon as if about thirty minutes ago.
He was more than likely in love with a werewolf. Not to mention, being with his soul mate labeled him gay. What made the situation worse was that Dean didn't have any memory of the feelings Castiel excited at any other point in his life, and he knew he couldn't live without them. He was HAPPY. For Dean Winchester, this was an event of enormous proportions.
He drew out his necklace, holding the rock in the palm of his hand. It felt so warm and alive, still beating with a memory of a heartbeat, though it was slower this time. The stone had never done this before. Maybe it was the recognition of Castiel that made it come alive, and made him come alive.
Abruptly exhausted, he let his head fall against the arm rest, watching the hands of the clock spin slowly around until his mind drifted, and his eyes closed.
When he opened his eyes, he discovered the room had become dark. He sat up rubbing his eyes and yawning. His initial thought was that Cas had come back and turned out the lights, but as he turned to face the window, he realized the entire day had passed, the moon hanging high in the sky.
"Oh shit," he whispered. He spun in a circle, indecisive about where to search in the house first.
"Cas?" he called, tentatively, becoming frustrated when there was no response.
Still, no one answered.
"CASTIEL!" he tried once more, a weight of dread settling on his chest. The rational part of his mind said to go through and check each room, maybe look for a note indicating where he had gone.
The larger part of his mind disagreed.
Castiel had said not to go anywhere, but who cared? In a relationship, which is apparently what they suddenly had, each person was supposed to be equal. Dean should listen to Castiel, yes, but he didn't have to obey him.
He went to his closet and withdrew a hand gun from a shoebox, checking to make sure it was loaded before placing it in his pocket and stepping out his front door.
Only when he was sitting in his car with the engine cranked did he realize two things, one of import and the other not so much.
Firstly, he wasn't wearing shoes. Of more importance, he didn't know how to find Castiel.
"Couldn't you have left a map?" he demanded of his dashboard, slapping the palm of his hand against it in frustration. He scanned the car for any kind of hint, like maybe a map or exact written instructions as to what to do.
"What happened to 'I will know where to find you?'?" Dean demanded, pressing his forehead against the steering wheel.
Then, he knew. Of course he knew, because he had always known. He pulled out the rock, which was no longer pulsing.
"I can't feel your heartbeat. You're too far away," he whispered, feeling his heart break a bit as he discovered just how useless he was in the situation.
He closed his fist, struggled to feel any beat, but it was all in vain. Maybe he could just drive around until he felt something again, or maybe Sam would help him.
He threw his car into gear just as his cell phone began to ring, causing him to jump. Snatching wildly for it, he ended up pressing several buttons before finding the right one to answer it.
"Castiel?" he demanded, pressing it firmly to his ear, though he doubted Castiel even knew how to work a phone, much less purchase one of his own.
"No, sorry. It's Sam. Why are you so eager to talk to Castiel?"
Sam's voice held the same mischievous tone that usually meant he knew something big.
"Because, Sammy. He's my Nagi Yuile Pi," Dean replied seriously. He had no idea how he had actually remembered that word, but suddenly, it felt like he had known it his whole life, as if he had pronounced it among his English vocabulary since birth.
"I'm sorry, your what?" Sam asked. "Does that mean boyfriend in Spanish, because I knew I was right when-"
"He's gone, Sam, and I don't know where to start looking for him. What do I do?"
His voice became vulnerable, something Sam hadn't heard often in all their years together. It had only been there in desperate situations, like when he and his father found him bleeding in the snow.
He had looked at Sam with eyes wide with terror, repeating the same words like a chant.
'Help me. Help me, please!'
He knew his brother was in sincere need of help, as well as a slap to the face for being so oblivious to the man's obvious location.
"How about you check the place we found him?" he asked, logically.
"Sam, you genius!" Dean cried, tossing his phone in the back seat and stomping on the gas, spraying gravel into the air as he cut the wheel into a sharp turn.
Speeding down the street, he thought he might have heard Sam yelling at him via phone, but he didn't really care. Besides, what kind of driver would he be if he reached back there just to retrieve a distraction? He was DRIVING for God's sake.
As he drew closer and closer to the trail that led to the campground he and Sam always used, the rock began to thrum slightly, but only ever so. He took his beloved car as far as he dared before parking it and retrieving his cell phone. Sam had hung up, finally. After a moment of debating, he decided to leave the handgun. He didn't even know what Zane looked like, wolf or human. What if he shot a wolf that Castiel cared for?
Slamming his car door, he faced the forest.
To find Castiel, he would have to lose himself in it, like he had the other night.
He would not be hanging around their campsite, roasting marshmallows. If he could have come back to Dean, he would have.
So with no light but the one cast by his phone, he stormed into the forest, this time with nothing but pure determination. He had to find Castiel. Had to.
The guy couldn't make him breakfast, explain that he was a werewolf and his soul mate, then just vanish from his life. It didn't work like that, absolutely not.
He had been walking for what seemed like several hours, but couldn't have been more than one, when the rock began to beat firmly, faster, like Castiel was barreling towards him.
"Cas?" Dean whispered, turning in a circle, only encountering one shadowy tree after the other.
"Castiel?" He raised his voice higher this time, as loud as he dared. A small part of him was beginning to realize how foolish the whole trip was. Hadn't Castiel insisted he stay inside, away from harm? Wasn't there a would-be Alpha wolf who wanted to rip his head off?
He turned once more, squinting in the darkness, when an enormous shape barreled into him, sending him to the ground.
He drew his hands up to his face to protect himself, but lowered them when he saw that it was HIS wolf, with shocking blue eyes and jagged scar scoring down his face; his newest feature, which didn't seem to hinder his vision like Ellen had guessed. Castiel must have taken the bandages off that morning.
His blue eyes widened, taking Dean in, and then narrowed. He let out a harsh bark, which Dean took as wolf for 'how could you leave your house, you moron? I told you to stay indoors but you wandered here with a phone for a flashlight and without a gun? What could you possibly do if my ultra-wolf race got a hold of you? Huh, Dean?'
"I'm glad to see you, too," Dean responded, grinning. Even if Castiel's wounds had been reopened, and there was certain stiffness in his movements that suggested exhaustion, he was alive. More than Dean could have hoped for.
Castiel flattened his ears, scanning the forest before crouching down, offering his back to Dean.
"You want me to ride you? Like you're some pony?"
Dean began laughing when Castiel ignored him, but he clambered on obediently. He was taller than Dean had thought at first, and wider. He could feel his muscles, and his heartbeat, only so much closer, not contained in a stone.
Castiel shook his head, waiting for something. He rolled his shoulders back, something that felt odd with Dean sitting so close to them.
"Do I need to hold on?" Dean guessed with a trill of excitement coursing through him. He had never gotten to ride a horse before, even though it looked fun. Riding your soul mate promised to be way better.
Castiel let his tongue loll out, amused, even though they were in a desperate situation.
"Okay, gotcha," Dean said, grabbing a fistful of his thick fur, careful not to touch the wounds that were now on his left side as well as his right.
"So when are you going to-yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!"
With no warning, Castiel shot forward, sending leaves spinning in a mini whirlwind behind them. The forest, so dark before, only became a black blur around them, as if they were running down a dark hallway with no sense of what could come next. The moon ahead chased after them, giving them the scantest bit of light on the way to what Dean hoped was home.
Castiel knew the path he took well, for he twisted and turned in certain points without any hesitation, his movements sure and strong. At one point, Dean thought he saw eyes flashing behind them, but they were gone in a blur. They might have only traveled a few seconds before they broke out in a clearing, Castiel skidding to a halt.
"It's the waterfall," Dean murmured, awestruck to see it in the dark. The dark waters were filled with the reflections of the stars, shimmering and shifting with the ripples rogue fish and fireflies cast. Everything glowed in a moon washed silver, leaving Dean Winchester, for one of the first times in his life, breathless.
The place he and Sam visited so often, so many years of their childhood, had been an important location to a pack of werewolves. Go figure.
"This is where you stay?" Dean asked.
Castiel flicked an ear, unresponsive otherwise. He drew down the trail cautiously, hackles raised threateningly.
A few shapes slipped out from the darkness, smaller than Castiel by a large margin, but still bigger than any normal wolves. They sniffed the air cautiously, and then retreated down the path, into a cave Sam had once dared Dean to go into. He was glad, right then, that he had refused.
Castiel followed, swinging his head from side to side until they were safe in the cave. It was lit by a small fire near the center, with a few humans poking at it as they reclined against an array of wolves. He slid off Castiel's back, joining the other humans as Cas obviously wanted him to do. He turned, meeting the wolf's electric eyes, before Cas whisked away into the night again, howling out what could only be a challenge.
"Don't worry, Dean," said a sweet voice behind him. "Zane would be a fool to attack his own pack just for you. Castiel brought you here for protection."
He turned, taking in the fellow humans. The speaker was a young girl of about sixteen, with caramel colored hair and soft blue eyes. She stood up, offering her hand as a gesture of welcome.
Dean ignored it, too high strung to grab hands and sing around the campfire at just that moment.
"Did he leave to fight?" He demanded.
"Of course he did," she replied, her light voice filled with surprise, as if there were nothing else he would be doing. She cleared her throat and looked down, only to laugh a little. She wiped her hands off on her ripped jeans, leaving smudges of what looked like charcoal on the fabric.
"If he doesn't beat Zane, we might as well switch packs," a sullen voice in the corner said.
A girl with pixie cut and eyes like a cat slouched against a sandy colored wolf, who was dozing with his head on his paws.
"And who the hell are you?" Dean demanded, feeling defensive of Castiel.
"We're Nagi Yuile Pis of the other wolves. Just like you. Sorry there aren't many guys for you to hang out with. Guess you're stuck with us until Castiel kills Zane."
She huffed, closing her eyes.
"She doesn't mean to be rude. I'm Meredith, and she's Amber. I wish we could have met under better circumstances."
A wolf howled at the entrance, ears pricked. A few other wolves lifted their heads, some moving to join the ones at the entrance and others choosing to listen from their spot on the floor.
"What's going on?" another girl demanded of them. She couldn't have been any older than Meredith, but there was something different about her. She radiated strength, in her toned limbs, in the fierce planes of her face, and in her controlled movements, which could be described as intimidating grace.
Her eyes were pale blue. Where Castiel's could be blue fire, her eyes were ice, colder and sharp with cruel intelligence.
When she stood up, all the other wolves did as well, even the ones around the campfire, letting their humans support themselves.
The girl gestured to them with her tanned arms and upon a sweep of her hand, they dashed out.
"Dean. Welcome. My name is Sophie," she said, turning to him after they had departed.
Though her tone was a bit kinder than her countenance suggested, her eyes still held a sharp awareness, like she wouldn't let her guard down for anyone who had just rode in here on her leader's back.
Her hair was black, long and wavy and blended in with the shadows of the cave. She nodded once, sensing his confusion with the situation.
"Something has happened with the battle. I will go assess it. Whatever has happened, we will have a new Alpha tonight."
"But what about Castiel? If he wins?"
Sophie laughed, lightening up more and becoming approachable, all with the single gesture.
"He will live with you, I suppose, since that is what you seem to want. In a….house," she added, wrinkling her nose like a house was the worst place one could ever be.
"And the next in line will take over as Alpha. Unless Zane wins," she said darkly.
"He won't," Dean insisted.
"We will see," she said airily. She swept away from him, and in a rush of soft light she was no longer a human, but a wolf that couldn't have been much smaller than Castiel. She was long legged, with shaggy fur that same color as Cas's.
"She's Castiel's sister," Meredith told him, giggling as he watched Sophie slip into the night.
"And the Alpha when Castiel wins?" Dean asked.
"Yeah," Amber nodded, but her eyes held more welcome than they had before. "But she loves her brother a lot. Their dad ran away, and when Castiel vanished yesterday, the pack thought he had done the same. Their Dad was a great leader, I'm told. But we worked it out pretty quick that he had found you and was explaining everything."
"Do you think he'll win soon?" Dean asked, then stopping when he realized his voice was echoing in the cave. All the wolves had gone, to watch the fight. To cheer Cas on. And he was stuck with a bunch of girls.
"I don't know," Meredith admitted. "He fought really hard to protect you the other day. His injuries may put him at a disadvantage. But he's been Alpha a long, long time. He knows what he's doing."
They sat together, in silence, just waiting. Amber poked at the fire while the other humans slept. Meredith sketched intently, her tongue poking out.
"How did you guys find the wolves?" Dean asked, unable to contain his curiosity any longer. "And do you live here?"
"I live here," Amber said cryptically.
"I stay with my family sometimes, but they know I need to be with Luke or I get moody," Meredith chimed happily. She gestured to the bracelet she wore, which held a crescent moon reminiscent of the cheap mood changing charms you could find at a gift shop.
"It's real silver," she explained as he stared at it skeptically. "I can keep track of what Luke is feeling, and when he sees me distressed on his charm, he can come and get me. Or when he is having a fit, I can find him."
"A fit?" Dean repeated.
Meredith frowned, her eyes becoming sad.
"If he were human all the time and were to see a doctor, they would diagnose him as bipolar. But I love him, so we help each other. Sometimes he tells me I saved him as much as he saved me. But our bracelets can help us find one another when we are in need."
Dean blinked, thinking to himself that the charm may have been the strangest thing he had ever heard before remembering his own piece of jewelry.
"Do all soul mates have something like that to connect them?" he asked, thinking of his own.
"Oh, yes," Amber said solemnly. "Whatever led them to one another in the first place."
She pulled her short hair back to flaunt a pair of sparkling earrings in an odd shape.
"They are called tear drop crystals," she explained, for which Dean was grateful. He didn't know terms for jewelry, after all.
"Flint heard me crying a few years ago, and he came and found me. When he is very upset, my earrings shift to an almost light blue color. And he has the same ones."
Dean studied them, fascinated. "So you're telling me," He said, "that wolves are running around wearing bling. Why haven't I ever noticed?"
As he said that, he realized he did feel the string of the necklace around Castiel's throat on the way over here, he just had been so busy clinging on for dear life that he had been unaware.
"Because when they're wolves, only you can see that part of yourself in them. Human form, it doesn't really matter."
Meredith crossed her legs, setting her sketch aside and leaning eagerly forward to ask Dean, "So what part of Castiel do you have? Emotions, blood, his sight, or his-"
"His SIGHT?" Dean asked in disbelief. "That can happen?"
"Not often. The last wolf to share sight with a Nagi Yuile Pi was Castiel's great grandfather. So, what do you have?"
The fire crackled as Dean thought about it. It was obvious what part of Cas he had, but he wanted to stop to think about WHY. What had led them together? Castiel had saved him, but is that really what had brought them together?
"I have his heartbeat," he answered at last, growing weary of their curious gazes.
"How romantic!" Meredith sighed, placing a hand on her chest.
"That's very interesting," Amber conceded. "Is that what led you here?"
Dean nodded, feeling self-conscious. They were so eager to know all about him when he really just wanted to go out and look for Cas, to make sure he was alright. Maybe it was best to turn the subject back on them; he had become curious, after all.
"Why do you live here?" he asked Amber, trying to keep his tone friendly.
She laughed harshly, narrowing her eyes like she wouldn't dream of telling Dean anything about herself. But she did.
"I think I like you, Dean. And you're Castiel's soul mate, so you can't be all that bad. The answer is my parents are incredibly cruel. Sometimes the pressure became so great that I would run away for days at a time, like when Flint found me. And I would relieve stress in very bad ways."
She pulled back the sleeve of her jacket, the fire's glow highlighting puckered scars that had not seemed to heal all the way yet. Dean had never been familiar with someone who inflicted self-harm, so he had never really taken it seriously.
How odd it was that it took him sitting in cave with a few wolf wives and seeing how bad some people really had it to understand. She would rather sleep in a filthy cave than go home, and that made him sad.
"I'm sorry," he said, with a strange amount of sincerity. He was sorry, really. She didn't deserve to have such a bad home life that she hid here. But maybe it wasn't so bad; she had the love of her life, her soul mate. She woke up to him every day. Her life had undoubtedly looked up since she met Flint.
"It's like you guys are Tarzan, except with wolves," he commented, trying to lighten the mood.
Amber actually laughed, the harsh lines of her face softening. "Yeah, I guess we are. Welcome to the pack Dean. Even if Castiel wins and steps down, we will still be seeing a lot of each other."
Meredith clapped happily, alerting the person sleeping nearest to her. The girl jumped up, long red hair plastered to her face and her green eyes startled.
"What's goin' on? Is that other pack attacking?"
Meredith laughed, grabbing the girl's arm and guiding her to the ground.
"No, Joy. No one is attacking. Sit down and meet Castiel's Nagi Yuile Pi!"
The girl blinked sleepily, taking Dean in before squealing happily, attacking Dean in a hug that caught him off guard.
"Welcome! Whatn' honor. My name is Joy. Permanent resident of the pack. That makes us related! Kinda."
"What are you talking about?" he asked around the girl's hair. He noticed that she had countless golden freckles, more than him by a large margin.
"They sure haven't told you nothin', huh?" she giggled, drawing back. As she said that, Dean noticed her country accent, making him wonder where the hell she was from.
"I'm Sophie's Nagi Yuile Pi! That makes us in-laws. Uh…I think," she added. Dean couldn't help but notice that she said 'think' like 'thank'.
"Sophie?" he repeated. "Castiel's sister? His SISTER? But you're a girl!"
"And yer a guy!" she retorted, though her feelings didn't seem to be hurt. "And yer flouncin' off with the Alpha male. A soul mate is a soul mate."
'She's right,' Dean thought, surprised.
"So, I guess I'm really gay," he said aloud, and the word was ridiculous that he began to laugh crazily. It had occurred to him that he needed to be with Castiel now, no matter what, but he had forgotten that the decision made him GAY. It wasn't an alarming thought like it would have been before, just amusing.
"Hey! Me too!" Joy laughed, grabbing his hands and jerking him to his feet. She began to dance in a circle, jumping up and down with him and laughing like his being gay was the utmost greatest thing she had ever heard in her life.
Dean surrendered to her energetic nature; it was intoxicating and contagious. Soon, the four of them were all dancing around the cave, even Amber, singing songs they didn't really know all the words to and laughing at anything and everything. Dean Winchester thought vaguely at some point he might as well have joined a junior high slumber party, with the way he was behaving, but he was just having too much fun to stop.
"You're appropriately named," he panted when they had finally settled down.
"Thanks!" Joy chirped. It sounded like she added an extra 'a' to the word. "They coulda called me Hope, though. I met Sophie while I was up here vistin' my aunt and I knew after seeing her out my window that I would see her again. She came fer me, down in Georgia. I told my aunt I wanted to live with her up here and my parents let me go. My parents aren't the paretin' type. Don't know why they hadda kid."
"And your aunt let you just move in with wolves?" Dean asked, still trying to catch his breath from their dance.
"Oh yah! I told 'er everythang! She was delighted. My aunt is big on Native American culture. She thinks this is the greatest thang that could ever happen to someone!"
Dean smiled at her good fortune, feeling a bit more elated, but he still felt a cringe of fear as he looked outside the cave, where the moon was slowly beginning to yield to the rising sun.
"Is this what you do all day?" Dean asked, trying to distract himself. "Dance around?"
Joy laughed, withdrawing to a corner and coming back with a few books clutched in her hands.
"No. we read too, and Meredith draws us things to hang up at the cabin."
Dean took the books in his hands, recognizing them as the classics Sam had to read in his high school years.
"Well if I were you, I would be bored off my-wait, cabin?"
Amber snickered, placing her hands over her mouth. "You didn't think we actually slept HERE did you? No way. We have an enormous and lovely cabin home further south, away from the main trails. It has cable and everything. Everyone in town thinks it just belongs to some rich family."
Dean gaped at them, floundering for words when he saw that they were dead serious. "Where did you get the money for a cabin retreat? And why are you hanging around here if you could be there?"
Meredith placed her hands on her hips, amused.
"Come on, Dean. We are dating wolves. They can do whatever they want. They snag lottery tickets and sniff out loose cash. A few years back, Sophie found the winning lottery ticket and we haven't had to worry much since. Fate is good to us."
She paused, pressing her lips together to address the other question. "And we came because Sophie was afraid that Castiel would take you to the cabin, where we normally would be, and Zane would attack anyone who got in the way."
Joy sighed at the sound of Sophie's name, her eyes going to the cave entrance.
"If Castiel loses, it will be her having to rebel for the Alpha position. What will we do?"
They sat in silence for a moment, watching streaks of golden light begin to break through the foliage in the distance.
"How do the wolves get names? I mean, Castiel? Sophie? Those don't exactly match," Dean asked. He seemed to be filled with questions lately, and he never got enough answers.
Meredith left Amber to reply, flipping to a new page in her sketchbook and scribbling fiercely.
"It's a lovely tradition," Amber began, her eyes locked curiously on Meredith, though she addressed Dean. "When a mother has her pups, she goes towards the city in her wolf form. The first names she hears become her pups' names. Castiel's and Sophie's mother, Annieot, had walked by a church, if I remember correctly, and she heard a father telling his daughter, Sophie, about all the angels. They did have a brother, Raphael, but he was shot about thirteen winters ago. Over food, if I remember correctly"
Dean's breath caught in his throat as his turned the words over and over again in his head.
"My dad shot him," Dean whispered, abruptly filled with a sickening shame.
Amber's eyes filled with sympathy.
"He was a cruel wolf, Dean. Bitter about being the second born son. He and Zane would have torn Cas down together, if he would have lived to that day. It's for the best he was shot."
Meredith finished her quick sketch with and held it up, revealing that she had drawn Dean, smiling happily and looking into the distance. She must have drawn him from a few moments ago. Without waiting for a critique, she continued explaining things to him in a chipper but rehearsed tone. Dean knew she had to explaining this to other humans before, as someone must have explained it to her.
"Any wolf can challenge the Alpha for his position, but the wolves were so content with Castiel's rule, we didn't think anything would happen until Zane came from the rival pack. He was thrown out, to no one's surprise. And Castiel has a heart," she added, dusting charcoal off her hands. Her jeans would surely be black by sunrise.
She sighed, throwing a few logs into the fire. The other humans began to stir as the sun rose further, with still no signs of the wolves return. The humans didn't have to worry about their soul mates possibly being dead. They would return, and that was a certainty Dean was jealous of.
Joy began to make breakfast with the scant supplies she had brought with her to the cave, whistling like nothing dire was going on, just behind the trees. Meredith chatted happily to everyone, gesturing to Dean and introducing him. Apparently, being Castiel's human merited respect, for they dipped their heads politely and welcomed him graciously.
Amber began to gnaw on her lip, rubbing her scars subconsciously and watching the entrance. The others began to grow nervous as well.
"It shouldn' be takin' em this long," Joy remarked, though she still kept her tone light.
Just as she said that, shapes shifted among the trees, and wolf after wolf emerged, the odd human scattered among them. Dean heard a particular person sigh or yelp with relief as the located their own wolf, running to the entrance and out across the stretches of grass to meet them. Some of the wolves began shifting to their human forms, male and female alike.
Meredith ran for a boy with orange hair, her Luke, Dean guessed, who caught her in his arms and spun her around like they had been apart for a long, long while.
Amber and Flint reunited in a more subtle way, clinging to each other's hands and pressing their foreheads together with their eyes closed. They stood there, oblivious to all the other reunions.
"It's a delight each mornin' for them to see their wolves human," Joy explained to him, her tone warm and pleased.
"You're lucky that Sophie can be with you whenever she wants," Dean replied, hearing his tone become wistful.
"Yes. But she can teach Castiel, ya know. This is just the beginnin', Dean."
She began laughing, and took off for the tree line, where Sophie was just emerging, supporting Castiel. HIS wolf, come home. Just like all the others.
As Joy sprinted towards them, Castiel stepped away, letting them embrace. Sophie's whole face seemed to glow and radiate with a love Dean had never seen on any person's face in all his existence. Her eyes, which had been ice before, suddenly mirrored Castiel's, as they were nothing but a warm, blue fire.
Castiel limped towards Dean, this time being the one unsure of what to do. Dean knew, though.
He ran forward, thrilled and delighted and finally seeing all the glorious possibilities emerging for them. No matter what anyone said about him, whatever they called him, he had his Nagi Yuile Pi, and that was more than most normal humans would ever have. So much more.
He tackled Castiel to the ground, smiling and kissing him directly on the lips, devoid of all shame. Who was going to say anything, anyway? The werewolves?
Castiel's breath smelled of the forest, of freshness most people tried to capture in a can and sell at Wal-Mart. His lips were soft and firm, and they moved against his as they had before, as if they had kissed their whole lives, and they knew exactly how to move together to create a perfect rhythm.
"Get a room!" Amber called, though she was inwardly happy, for Castiel had finally won the battle.
"That actually needs to be sorted," Meredith said, raising her voice to be heard among the whistles and cheering.
"Yes, we need to get your cabin room sorted right away," Sophie chimed. She might have been a different person than the one Dean had talked to in the cave, so happy and relaxed.
"Yes, but first," Castiel said, standing up and drawing Dean up with him. "I think it's time you were named Alpha, little sister."
The crowd, now consisting entirely of humans, cheered wildly, and as the moon bowed to the sun, Dean Winchester had never been more at home, in the middle of the forest, with no structure but a cave nearby.
"Dean?" Castiel asked suddenly, looking down. "Why aren't you wearing shoes?"
Dean tried to figure out how to explain, when he remembered something very important.
"Oh shit!" he cried, slapping his head with the palm of his hand. "I have to call Sam!"
"Dean, that is the most crazy story I have ever heard."
"It's true, Sammy," Dean insisted, switching the phone to his other ear while he pulled out the toaster. Castiel pulled eggs out of the fridge, pointing to them questioningly.
Dean held up four fingers and he nodded. Four scrambled eggs sounded amazing at the moment. Toast did as well, but Castiel was useless with the toaster.
"I really don't believe that. You're insane."
His brother was silent for several minutes, which Dean didn't mind. After his night in the cave, he had mastered a little bit of patience.
"Can I see him transform?" Sam asked, his tone skeptical.
"Sam, he isn't a robo car. But yeah, I guess. And also, I'm moving."
"What?" Sam cried, beyond confused now. "To where?"
"A cabin, Sammy. In the middle of the woods. Along with a lesbian, an artist, and a rocker chick. And several others."
Sam hung up the phone, deciding to call Dean back when he wasn't drunk, if that's what he was.
As winter approached, the cabin became busy. New Nagi Yuile Pis being found all the time, new people to welcome to the family. Castiel had stepped down as Alpha for his pack, but maybe he missed his job, for as the months passed, he made connections in their rival pack, and eventually became their leader.
"If you wanted to stay Alpha, you could have," Dean pointed out.
"Sophie was right to lead them. And I am right to lead my own pack now. Besides, I thought it would take a very long while to convince you to stay with me. I didn't know you would instantly want to move to the cabin home."
They sat on the couch, listening to the sound of the other's moving around cheerfully, all so content with life. The werewolf version of the Brady Bunch. All the couples, all in perfect harmony, cooking breakfast, cleaning, content in their own rooms and mingling together as well. Wherever they ended up.
The other pack, Castiel's pack now, had taken to staying as well. The cabin was plenty big enough for them all, though. It was equivalent to a mansion, if not larger, and easily accommodated them all with plenty room to spare.
"How much money did you win with that lotto ticket?" he asked Sophie when he first saw the enormous house.
"Enough," she answered, waving her hand vaguely.
The days passed by, so fast, sometimes, that Dean lost them on the calendar. It was easy to become intoxicated in the majesty of the nature, as they swam in the rivers, and picked flowers in the spring, and became enticed in each other.
After the first few nights of living there, Dean had heard Castiel howl again, a quiet song that kept tempo with his heart. It was then that he remembered why Castiel's voice had been familiar to him, when he first found him.
"You've howled to me. Dad said it was just dogs, but you've actually came to the city and howled for me?"
The wolf, Castiel nodded, eyes lighting up with happiness. He was glad Dean remembered.
"You sang outside my window," Dean accused, and began laughing crazily.
Castiel rolled his eyes and continued his song, for he, like Sam, had become used to the weirdness of Dean Winchester.
The girls, Joy, Amber, and Meredith, became closer to him than any other humans ever had, save for Cas and Sam. They were best friends, which was the oddest thing that had ever passed through Dean's mind.
Dean Winchester had become a wolf wife, apparently. Even the other guys were as bad off as Dean in terms of committing themselves to the more girly tasks. They were all so enticed with the world of the wolves, it was hard to remember what life was like before them.
"Wolf wives," Dean said aloud, drawing Castiel's attention.
"Could be a T.V. show," Dean smirked, thinking to himself how THAT would be received.
"Dean, you fascinate me," Castiel said, smiling softly.
"Says the werewolf," Dean retorted, letting his head rest against Cas's shoulder.
"Hey, I have a question," he added, causing Cas to smile.
"Aren't you tired of all the answers?"
Dean might have been sick of all the confusion that came with being in love with a wolf, but there was still something that bothered him.
"When we found you," he began timidly, "you only had scratches on your right side. Why?"
Castiel pondered for a minute, searching for the memory that might as well have been conceived a life time ago.
"I was backed against your tent, I recall, with my right side to Zane. And I refused to move."
As he took in Dean's horrified stare, he felt compelled to add, "Don't worry. I pushed him into your camp fire."
Sam had told everyone back home that Dean had moved out for country living, though he didn't say HOW country. No one really missed him beyond Sam, and he didn't miss anyone else beyond his brother.
He still stayed with his brother often, though, when Castiel had to lead large hunts, something that sounded perfectly natural to Dean at this point.
More than anything, he felt like he had entered a fairy tale, like he had stepped into Narnia and no one was asking him to leave. There was no trick, or even a path to guide him back to reality. He was stuck being happy forever, dammit all.
The first time Sam came around was hilarious. Dean had asked him to arrive before the sun rose, so he could witness the breathtaking sight the cabin's residents saw every single daybreak. They sat on the porch, smiling, hearts pounding with the anticipation. Dean could feel Castiel's doing the same.
One by one, they strolled through the trees; Sophie, head raised high, Flint, head down but eyes excited, Luke, expression haunted until he saw Meredith, and one by one they came, shifting with the sun's golden rays until they had two legs to run on, to run to the people sitting on the porch.
It was breakfast, after all, and they were hungry after a night out.
Castiel came two heartbeats later, Dean knew, because he could literally count them.
They embraced, quietly, as Flint and Amber did, and Dean led Sam in for a typical breakfast at the Wolf House. This meant giant pans of scrambled eggs were slapped down, six toasters ran at once, manned by Dean, expert toast maker, and countless pounds of bacon were cooked, and several more pounds remained uncooked.
Sam became squashed between Sophie and Flint, who winked at him playfully, arm thrown around Amber. Luke tapped his foot, impatient for food, while Meredith sketched what had to be a picture of Sam. Dean had learned this was her way of welcoming others.
"What do you think of Coldplay?" Flint asked Sam.
Amber nodded sagely.
"He can live," she decided.
Everyone laughed save for Sam, who appeared to be unsure about whether she was joking or not.
He turned his gaze hopefully towards Sophie, the indisputable beauty.
"So…leader of the pack huh?" he asked with a somewhat flirty tone.
Joy puffed up, smacking at him with a towel she had been using to clean the pans; it left soap in his hair.
"You back off my womin', before I beat ya!"
She tossed her hair back and marched back over to the sink, leaving a confused Sam and an amused Sophie in her wake.
"Werewolves?" Sam asked Dean tentatively, like he still didn't believe it.
Hell, sometimes Dean still didn't believe it.
But he loved it, and he loved Castiel, so he nodded, smirking.
"Werewolves," he echoed, eyes following Castiel as he sat down beside him.
One night, as they sat on their balcony, overlooking the snowcapped trees, Dean asked something he had been curious about for a long bit now.
"Why didn't you come for me? Like Sophie went back for Joy? Why did you wait so long?"
Castiel chuckled, titling his head towards the moon. Sophie had taught him well, and right then he merely wanted to sit with Dean as a human, so he did because he could.
He opened his arms, enfolding Dean in them, so that Dean could feel his smile against his skin.
He tilted Dean's chin so that their lips met, tasting of the hot chocolate they had been sharing, tasting of all the wonders that connected them. Call them selfish, for even though they literally held a piece of each other's souls, they want a bit more, a bit more skin contact, more words. More of THEM to share with the other.
"I always, ALWAYS knew, you would be worth the wait," Castiel breathed, and Dean felt the rock against his chest fluttering happily.
He was sure that Castiel's own pendant, his soul, was beating rapidly, with joy and sheer pleasure, with the tempo of the moon song he heard Castiel sing sometimes, when he was far away.
The song Castiel sang from the distance that let Dean know, when he was too far away for Dean to hear his heart that all was well, and it always would be.