god grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The good news is, that it gets better. (Cas is an angel, and he had known what he was doing. The third week after they left him, he had been the one speaking when Dean picked Meg’s call. He said it had taken him some time to adjust to the shock, but he was better now. He could ignore Lucifer well enough, with some effort. Dean’s voice had been choked when he had answered, I’m glad to hear it.)
The bad news is, Lucifer isn’t going away yet. (Two months later, after finally, finally managing to get rid of the leviathans, they had started to work on it. They searched for spells, they searched the entirety of the copies of Bobby’s books that had been scattered around the country, they had looked into everything short of making a deal with Crowley. Nothing.)
When Dean goes back to the mental hospital for what he hopes is the final time, he drives the Impala, and that already makes him feel slightly better. He meets Cas in his room.
“Are you sure about this?”
“I can handle him,” Cas says. “I don’t need to sleep and most of what worked on Sam won’t work on me if I don’t let him. And it’s – it’s better if I’m with other people.”
“I wish – I wish we had something. But – we couldn’t –”
“Dean, I’m in no hurry. If we do find a way, good. If we don’t, I will live with it. It’s – it’s not the worst option.”
Goes unsaid what would it be. Staying here for good.
“All right then,” Dean says. “I’ll wait for you outside. And just so you know – as far as I’m concerned, you don’t have anything more to make up for.” He tries to keep his voice steady. He’d have rather avoided heart to heart conversations, but he’s not going to risk ruining things again. Better a badly phrased sincere statement than nothing, and his reluctance to talk about his feelings can go fuck itself.
Cas gives him a tiny, barely there smile and Dean wishes he could accept this entire situation as easily as Cas makes it seem.
courage to change the things I can
It’s admirable, how Cas manages to hide the fact that he’s seeing the devil at any given moment. Or possibly others, but Dean hasn’t asked and probably won’t.
During the day, you can barely tell. At times he goes tense, and once he spilled a cup of coffee on a dinner table, and sometimes he flinches slightly for no reason, but at most he could pass for someone who had a rough week and hasn’t slept much. When they have a hunt, he doesn’t go interview the witnesses, but it’s more because of his lack of marketable social skills than for anything else. The day is fine. They can pretend that everything is almost fine, or as fine as it gets for them.
The nights are an entire different matter. They always get three beds because even if Cas doesn’t need to sleep it’s just ridiculous that he’d pass the night on a chair. Cas doesn’t sleep anyway, but Dean watches him sometimes, and he knows that he’s far from right. He sees him flinch visibly under the covers, sometimes he’s woken by a loud gasp, others he can see Cas clutching the sheets while he breathes heavily, as if he’s trying to restrain himself. Sometimes Dean hears him turning over and over for one hour before settling, and he never sleeps those nights, either. He feels horrible, because Cas shouldn’t be dealing with this, and he hates that whenever something that could pass for good comes their way there always has to be some small print in the contract.
Sam doesn’t know, because since Lucifer left his head he sleeps like a log, but Dean figures it’s better. The last thing the three of them need is Sam having a guilt trip when he’s the only one who shouldn’t feel guilty in this clusterfuck.
One month in, when Sam is taking a shower, he sits next to Cas on the bed, looking down at his hands when he speaks. He isn’t sure he can do this otherwise.
“Can I help?” he asks, without beating around the bush.
Cas snorts, shakes his head. “You shouldn’t lose sleep because of me. I told you. I can handle it.”
“Yes, but – it can’t be – Cas, I know that it isn’t as fine as you want to make me think.”
“Dean, no. I know it’s all in my head. The night is worse because I have nothing else to concentrate on, but I told you. I can handle it.”
Dean doesn’t insist, also because it’s not like he has some solution to propose.
But that night, while Cas keeps on flinching and murmuring unintelligible words under his breath, and it’s not even English, he thinks about what he said. I have nothing else to concentrate on.
For a moment he discards the idea – he can’t do it. It’d be – just no. It’s ridiculous, and things are still fragile, he can’t go and –
A small sob comes from his left and he thinks, fuck it.
He stands up, walks towards Cas’s bed, raises the cover and moves underneath it. And then he puts an arm around Cas’s waist.
Cas goes still at once, and then he turns towards him, very slowly.
“Dean?” he whispers.
“Yeah. I figured – you said you had nothing to concentrate on. If I stay here maybe you would?” He hates how unsure he sounds, but when Cas gives him a soft nod he feels slightly less ridiculous.
“It could – it could work,” Cas whispers, settling back down on the bed. He’s tense, though. So very tense. Dean starts to mindlessly run his hand over Cas’s spine until he relaxes a bit, then going to shoulders and to the back of his neck, keeping the touch as soft as he can. Cas sighs in pleasure when Dean’s fingers draw circles over his nape, and if there’s a voice inside Dean’s head telling him that this isn’t what he does, he tells it to shut up.
“Is it – is it any better?” he asks, moving his other arm around Cas’s shoulder, holding his breath when Cas draws closer and puts his chin on Dean’s shoulder.
“A lot better,” Cas whispers, his lips so very close to Dean’s neck. “If I concentrate on your heartbeat, I can’t hear him anymore.”
“Guess you’re gonna spend the night watching me sleep, huh? Like in the good, old, creepy times.”
Cas doesn’t laugh, but Dean can feel him smiling against his shoulder and that’s enough for now.
and wisdom to always tell the difference
Sam doesn’t seem too shocked when they start taking two beds, and while he offers all the time to take separate rooms, Dean always declines. It’s not – it’s not that. He’s just helping out, and if it’s a compromising position then patience.
But he knows he’s lying to himself.
It’s not exactly the truth. He isn’t doing it just to help out and just because it’s the only thing that works, apparently.
It’s that – he can’t. He has already fucked it up with Cas enough times and he can’t enter that into the equation. He has to be realistic. Some things he can and should change, others he should leave the fuck alone.
Except that after three weeks of bed sharing he isn’t sure if he can do that much longer.
Things change on one night when Cas is tense from the moment Dean crawls into the bed and stays tense even when Dean’s frame is flush against his back and his hand is resting on Cas’s stomach.
After ten minutes, Dean caves in.
“Nothing. You should go to sleep.”
“My ass. Spill.”
“It’s nothing. Really.”
“Cas, do I have to remember you what happened the last time you lied to me about things being fine?”
Cas flinches slightly and Dean sighs, wishing he hadn’t been the one to cause it. But if there’s half a chance that he can do something about it, he should push it.
“There’s nothing you can do about it.”
“It’s – nothing. He’s trying to get to me, but no more than usual.”
“There. You’re lying your ass off, Cas. Just tell me. If I can do nothing about it, fine. But if I can – I want to know.”
Cas turns on his side, looks at him for a moment, visibly finches again, and then he closes his eyes and leans forward and fuck they’re kissing, or better, Cas has kissed him for one split second before moving away and staring down at the mattress as if it were the most interesting thing he’s ever seen.
For a moment, Dean freezes, not knowing what to do. Then he finds his voice again.
“What was that for?”
“To prove to myself whether he’s right or not.”
“Right, helpful as usual. Is he?”
“I don’t know yet,” Cas whispers, barely audible.
“All right. What should happen, if he wasn’t right?”
“You’d kiss me back.” Dean has never heard Cas’s voice sounding so dejected, or so low, and he looks like someone who’s expecting a punch to the face.
Well, Dean thinks, if he turns his back like the part of him who’s screaming that he’s going to fuck this up is suggesting, then he’s an idiot. Until he doubted, until he didn’t know for sure – but he can’t go back now. Maybe for once he should just trust his instincts instead of assuming the worst thing.
He leans forward and kisses Cas.
For a moment Cas freezes, but then his lips part, tentatively, and a trembling hand touches Dean’s cheek, and he lets out a relieved sigh when Dean’s tongue traces his bottom lip. His other hand grabs Dean’s shoulder, where the handprint used to be, his nails digging in so deep that it hurts, and Dean ignores it and brings his hand to Cas’s hair, running his fingers through it. When Cas lets out a little pleasured moan while they part Dean can’t help smiling just slightly, his hand moving back and cupping Cas’s cheek.
“That good enough for him?” he whispers, his thumb trailing over Cas’s cheekbone, their lips still so near that they could kiss.
“Good enough that he shut the fuck up,” Cas replies, and Dean can’t help the laugh that bubbles up in his throat.
“Well, good to know that you can curse, if you put your mind to it.”
“Between you and him, I had to learn,” Cas mutters, and then moves so that there’s no space left between them, his fingers brushing over Dean’s neck. “So – you do –”
“Cas? Take your own advice.”
Then he kisses Cas again, trusting himself more with actions than with words (and words that he could never say to anyone else, for that matter), and when Cas melts against him, his mouth hot and pliant against Dean’s, for the first time in ages he thinks that maybe they could be fine, regardless of the fine print.