On the rare occasion when Sam and Dean found themselves on the open road without a case they’d often spend an afternoon leisurely enjoying the scenery of wherever they happened to be at the time. On this particular occasion the Winchesters ended up parked at the edge of a lake two days after taking out a rather large vampire nest. They’d swam for a while, had lunch, knocked back a few beers, and just generally enjoyed themselves as though the weight of the world wasn’t resting on their shoulders.
As the hours wore on, Sam set out to take a small hike around the woods surrounding the lake. Dean wasn’t in a particularly adventurous mood and opted to lay out across the hood of the Impala and soak up the sun for a while. He wasn’t sure when he’d have another opportunity to just lounge around and he didn’t want to pass it up. Besides, hiking seemed rather silly to him. They got enough exercise when they were hunting. Why not just kick back instead? Whatever. Sam seemed to enjoy it so Dean wasn’t going to rain on his parade. He’d just take the time to catch up on some much needed relaxation.
Dean didn’t bother opening his eyes. He remembered when he used to jump at the sound of Castiel’s voice, but now he could almost sense that Castiel was there before he even spoke. He just turned his head slightly in the direction of Cas voice while exerting the least amount of energy as possible.
“Hey, Cas. What’s going on?”
“At the moment... nothing.”
“Another dead end?”
Dean could sense the disappointment in his voice and he finally opened his eyes to look at him. Cas seemed even more tired every time he appeared and this occasion was certainly no exception. His search for God was failing pretty miserably and it was taking its toll on the angel. His eyes weren’t as bright as they used to be. He didn’t sound confident when he spoke as he once did. Cas was losing hope. And if Cas lost hope...
Dean made a decision.
“Come here. Relax for a bit.” Dean scooted over and patted the hood next to him.
“Dean, I don’t know if I can afford to-”
“Ten minutes, Cas. You deserve ten minutes of relaxation, alright?”
“No, no excuses. Sit your ass over here.”
Dean patted the hood again. Castiel looked like he wanted to respond, but instead he just sighed. It was an all too human gesture that Castiel seemed to have appropriated more and more often as of late. After a few seconds of silent inner debate, Castiel climbed up on the hood of the Impala and took the spot next to the Hunter.
Castiel sat uncomfortably straight, still reluctant about the whole decision and not quite familiar enough with his vessel to settle immediately into a relaxed position. But when Dean gently put the back of his hand against his chest and pushed him back against the windshield he gave in and slumped backwards.
“You need it, dude.” Dean let his eyes fall shut again and he settled back into his almost meditative state of mind.
This was what being human was all about. Enjoying the warmth of the sun, the breeze blowing across the lake, and the sound of the wind rustling in the leaves. This is what he was fighting for. This is why Earth needed to survive the apocalypse. It didn’t matter if Heaven could imitate your memories so clearly that it seemed real. It wasn’t life. It wasn’t this. This was beautiful and perfect and real.
Dean appreciated these little reminders whenever he could, but Cas hadn’t had a chance to truly enjoy Earth. He came with the apocalypse and it’d been one long battle ever since. And yet even without the little reminders about why Earth needed to survive, Cas seemed just as dedicated to the cause as the Winchesters were. Even more so, on occasion. He’d given up everything for them. It was almost too much for Dean to think about.
Dean opened his eyes and looked back over to Cas. The angel had mimicked him and had let his own eyes fall shut. He seemed more relaxed just then than Dean had ever seen him before. He almost seemed... human.
Dean was glad that he was catching on to the more enjoyable aspects of being human at least. If the poor guy ended up completely powerless like that future version of him seemed to be, he hoped he could at least enjoy the perks of being a human. The other Cas seemed to have gotten the hang of it, if perhaps enjoying certain aspects a little too much. Dean wouldn’t let that happen this time, though. He was going to take care of Castiel. He was going to catch him as he fell and keep him safe as he adjusted to his new reality.
Dean shut his eyes again and let himself get absorbed by the beautiful world around him. His near meditative state put him on the very edge of sleep. It was such a rare occurrence to feel safe enough to fall asleep in such a vulnerable area. When he was just seconds away from drifting off to sleep the hard metal hood under him suddenly became soft and he felt something light and silky tickling his arm. Dean sat up quickly and looked back at where he’d been laying.
Wings. Cas’ wings? He’d never thought he’d see more than just the shadows, but there they were white and feathery and beautiful and...
“Dean? What’s the matter?” Cas was looking at him with a concerned expression and Dean realized he must look rather ridiculous sitting there with his mouth hanging open, but he was too stunned to make a sound. They were wings, dammit, and he deserved to be a little dumbfounded for a moment.
“No. Nothing. I mean...” He coughed and pushed himself to say something kind of coherent. “I mean, I know what you are, but sometimes I forget kind of. Hard to forget with your wings all sprawled out across my car.”
“Do they bother you?”
“What? No. Of course not. It’s just why are they, you know, suddenly here?”
“It appears that when I relax I let my guard down. I did not mean to startle you with them. I can put them away if you-”
“Cas, no, it’s fine. I mean, I bet they feel good in the sunlight anyway, don’t they?” Cas nodded. “Then keep them out. I told you to relax and you are.”
“You can lay back down. They can support your weight.”
Dean looked at the wing that had materialized underneath him. It had been comfortable, even though it freaked him the fuck out at first. He was sure there had to be some sort of taboo regarding using an angel’s wing as basically a sleeping pad, but, well, it was Cas’ idea anyway. Besides, what’d those taboos matter anymore? Cas was falling already. There wasn’t much more damage he could do at this point.
Dean laid back down where he was before he’d been startled. Cas’ wing immediately curled around him and tugged him closer. Without thinking Dean wrapped an arm over Cas’ chest and rested his head against his shoulder. He was amazed at how natural that position felt to him. It felt like he belonged there. But at the same time he also knew that this type of behavior wasn’t something usually shared between two ‘friends.’ But they were more than friends. They’d been something more since the second Castiel laid his hand on him in Hell. Sure, Dean didn’t remember that moment, but something deep down in his chest did.
Dean felt Castiel press his lips against his forehead and Dean released a breath of air. He lifted his head off Cas shoulder and met his lips with his own. And that was it. Suddenly everything clicked into place. This was what he needed. Laying on the hood of the Impala, soaking up the sun, kissing the person he loved and enjoying a few minutes of peace before returning to the battlefield.
And the best part of it was that Castiel was kissing him back. Clumsily, sure, but passionately. Castiel’s seemed to be letting his vessel’s physical needs guide him as he teased at Dean’s lips gently with his tongue. Dean was thankful for that.
When they separated Dean couldn’t help but get caught in those impossibly blue eyes. Castiel loved him. That much was obvious at this point. But Dean was surprised at how complete it made him feel to admit that he loved Castiel in return. It was hard to put those feelings into words, but hopefully his actions conveyed what he felt. Castiel had to know...
“Hm?” Dean blinked and snapped out of his train of thought.
“You don’t need to say anything. I feel what you feel. I understand.”
Dean was tempted to take that as an out. But if there was ever a time to push beyond his emotional limits and just fucking say what was going on inside of him, this was it. It had to be with Castiel. Cas deserved it.
“I love you, Cas.”
Cas smiled. “And I love you, Dean.”
Together they fell asleep there on the hood of the Impala. Neither of them had felt so at ease in their entire lives. Even though the world seemed to be falling apart around them, this made everything worth it. It was reminder to the both of them just what they were fighting for.