Chapter 1: Beginning
It’s a few weeks before Dean starts to notice things—subtle changes that take him by surprise and make him catch his breath, make his heart miss a beat for no real reason. Little things, normal things, human things. It takes a few weeks, but once he starts to notice them, he’s fascinated.
It’s the way Cas fidgets in his sleep and mumbles fragments of sentences, the way he always curls himself against Dean when they’re both in bed, but when Dean gets up he curls in on himself like he’s trying to stay warm. It’s his sleepy eyes and tousled hair in the mornings, and how he won’t speak to Dean before he’s had at least one cup of coffee, but if it’s past eight a kiss is an acceptable alternative.
He finds something endearing and irresistible in Cas’s small, sudden smile, and his rough, quiet laugh, which both come much more easily than when he was an angel; his habit of forgetting he’s eating mid-meal and sitting with his fork forgotten in one hand as he discusses some vitally interesting an important topic with Dean or Sam; the way he shivers when a breeze come through the window; the way when they’re pressed up against each other on the couch Dean can hear him breathing softly and see the rise and fall of his chest.
It’s the way he dozes off when they’re sitting watching TV and lets his head fall onto Dean’s shoulder, but he wakes up when Dean kisses the top of his head; and the way he yelps when Dean jabs his sides, which Dean knows for a fact he didn’t do before he fell.
When he thinks about it, it’s Anna’s words that come back to him—Anna, who fell because she would rather be flawed and alive than perfect and lifeless. Anna, who thought messy, dangerous, painful, emotional humanity would always be preferable to the cold, pristine light of an angel. Anna, who would rather be fire than marble or diamond, who would rather be ashes than dust.
Now, when Dean looks at Castiel and really takes in what he is now, his imperfections, his quirks, his humanity, he thinks maybe Anna was right.
Chapter 2: Accusation
“Dammit!” Dean roared, kicking at the chair as he turned away. “You stubborn, childish idiot!”
“You’re being unreasonable,” Cas replied quietly.
“I’m being unreasonable?” Dean demanded, glaring at Cas over his shoulder. “Hey, last I checked, you’re the one who’s keeping secrets from me!”
Cas folded his arms, glaring right back. “I’m not keeping secrets, Dean. There’s simply nothing to tell.”
“You get that from me?” Dean asked, looking away again and making no attempt to hide the bitterness in his voice. “You’re lying.”
Behind him, he heard Cas sigh heavily, and it makes his chest tighten unexpectedly. “Dean,” Cas says, but he doesn’t turn around. “Dean, this is ridiculous,” Cas continues after a second. “I don’t understand what you’re angry about to begin with—could you just talk to me?”
Dean let a breath out through his teeth, his shoulders slumping. He didn’t have an answer.
“Would you at least look at me, Dean,” Cas said, exasperated.
Slowly, Dean turned around to meet his eyes. “Will you tell me what’s wrong?” he asked wearily. “Give me that, at least.”
For a very long moment, neither of them spoke.
Finally, Cas lowered his eyes and murmured, “I can’t.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” The words came out harsher than Dean had intended them, and he winced, staring at the table.
“I can’t explain it,” Cas said, and pulled the chair out to sit down so he could bury his face in his hands. “I don’t know what it is. If I knew, don’t you think I would tell you?”
Dean licked his lips, considering that.
“I don’t want to keep secrets from you,” Cas told him, and raised his head. “I just don’t know what else to tell you.” He hesitated, looking down again. “I think it’s—perhaps something akin to loneliness.” With another sigh, he ran his fingers through his hair. “I’m lost, Dean, and it’s not because I don’t trust you or want you to know that I haven’t told you. It’s because I don’t want you to worry about what you can’t fix.”
“You don’t know that,” Dean said, and pulled up the other chair to sit next to him. After a second’s thought, he put an arm around Cas’s shoulders. “But I sure can’t fix it if you won’t let me try.”
Cas glanced up at him, and Dean thought he saw the hint of a smile in his eyes. “I suppose that’s fair,” Cas agreed.
Dean swallowed, sucking a breath through his teeth. “Hey, I’m, uh—I’m sorry for yelling. I just want to help you, okay? And I can’t—I can’t do that if you won’t talk to me. I know this isn’t easy, it can’t be easy, I know you’re sick and tired and whatever else, but you’ve gotta talk to me about it.” He grabbed Cas’s hand. “You gotta talk to me, okay?”
Cas nodded, closing his eyes. “I suppose you’re right.”
“Promise me,” Dean said.
That made Cas smile again. “I promise.”
Dean managed a little smile of his own and reached up to turn Cas’s face towards him. “Good,” he said, and kissed Cas softly. “Are we good now?” he asked.
“Of course we are,” Cas agreed, and pulled him closer to kiss him back.
Chapter 3: Restless
The first few times it happens, Dean is scared, but he begins to get used to waking up in the middle of the night with Castiel nowhere in sight. Part of it’s probably because after it happens a few times, he knows where to look, and when he wakes up alone that’s the first thing that comes to him.
First, the kitchen, where as often as not he’ll find Cas making tea; if not there, then the living room, to see if Cas is sitting on the couch already drinking a cup of tea or reading a book or both. If he’s not in either of those places, he’s probably outside—sitting on the front steps or leaning against the tree or lying in the grass looking up at the stars, as he is when Dean finds him at half past two one cold spring night.
“Hey,” he says softly, sitting down.
“Hello, Dean,” Cas replies, his eyes glancing from the sky to Dean’s face and a tiny smile lifting the corners of his mouth. “I hope I didn’t wake you.”
“Nah.” Dean stretches out across the grass and fumbles blindly to find Cas’s fingers with his own. “Little cold for stargazing, isn’t it, though?”
“I find I rather like the cold,” Cas says. “It can be…painful when it’s more severe, but otherwise the sensation is somewhat refreshing.”
Dean chuckles, curling his fingers around Cas’s hand. “Yeah, well, I guess for a fallen angel, maybe.” There was a moment’s silence, and then he adds, “But you know what’s nice about the cold?”
“What’s that?” Cas asks when he doesn’t continue.
“Going inside and having a nice hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate or whatever,” Dean says, turning his head to give Cas a grin. Cas laughs softly and smiles back at him.
For a few long moments they lay in the grass in total silence, staring up at the clear sky and all the bright winter stars. Dean tries to trace constellations with his eyes, but he can’t remember most of them.
“Do angels have constellations too?” he asks, curious.
“Not exactly,” Cas says slowly. “But the stars tell stories—true ones. The stars are our—are their recorded history.”
“Are you written in there somewhere?” Dean asks.
“In a way,” Cas says, and there’s something almost longing in his voice.
Dean almost asks more, but he thinks better of it. Instead, he turns to kiss Cas softly, savoring the warmth where their lips meet.
“Do you miss it?” he asks after a moment.
Cas shakes his head. “I would rather leave behind my history than forgo my future,” he says simply, sincerely.
Dean swallows against an unexpected surge of emotion and pushes himself up. “Come on, Cas,” he murmurs. “Let’s go inside and get something nice and hot to drink.”
“Of course,” Cas agrees, and gets to his feet to follow Dean back into the house
Chapter 4: Snowflake
It's quiet in the house and Dean is almost sleeping, but not quite; he opens his eyes halfway every few minutes to look at Cas before closing them again. Cas isn't sleeping, he's staring out the window silently, looking thoughtful.
“It's difficult to breathe in here,” he says suddenly, startling Dean back into full consciousness. “I'm going to go outside,” Cas continues, and turns to look at Dean. “I want to go for a walk.”
“Uh, okay,” Dean says, sitting up. “I'll come with, I guess.”
Cas gets to his feet and walks towards the door, grabbing his coat on the way and sitting down at the table to put on his shoes. Dean shoves his feet into his boots and pulls on his jacket, and steps out onto the porch with Cas right behind him.
“Where do you want to go?” he asks as he heads down the steps.
Cas doesn't answer, and Dean looks back to see him standing by the door, looking confused and alarmed. His breath turns to mist in front of him and he stares. It's a second before Dean realizes he's shivering violently, and has to stifle a laugh. Cas looks up. “W-w-what's s-so funny?” he asks, his teeth chattering so badly he couldn't talk straight.
“Angels don't feel cold, do they?” Dean asks in return, grinning.
“N-no,” Cas says, shaking his head. “Angels f—ffeel neither he-heat nor c-cold.” He gives Dean a pathetic look. “How does one handle the cold?”
“Well, one could get gloves or a hat,” Dean says. “Or a heavier coat.” He climbs the stairs again and puts his arm aver Cas's shoulders. “But if one has someone to share body heat with, that's a pretty good option too,” he finishes.
Cas smiles at him, his muscles relaxing slightly as Dean pulls him closer. “Yes,” he says, “I think so as well.”
They walk down the path to the sidewalk together, and Dean turns to head towards the coffee shop on Adams Street. “Let's go get coffee or something,” he suggests.
“Yes, that sounds--” Cas begins, and then breaks off. Dean looks at him to see that he's staring, cross-eyed, at a snowflake that's just landed on his nose. A second later it melts, and Cas blinks before swiping at the little drop of water to brush it off. A few more snowflakes drift down to land in his hair and on the shoulders of his coat. He raises his hand to catch them and smiles faintly, watching them melt on his fingers.
“When I was a kid—I mean, really little, before Mom died,” Dean says, “I used to try and catch them on my tongue.”
Cas tips his head back, looking up at the sky, and then opens his mouth, sticking out his tongue trying to catch a snowflake. Dean laughs and can't stop laughing and he's stumbling over his own feet as they walk, leaning on Cas for support while Cas chases snowflakes. When he finally catches one a few minutes later, he's startled for a second at the cold on his tongue, but then he laughs.
They're cold and snow-covered and both laughing when they stagger into the coffee shop in a swirl of bitter wind and glittering snowflakes. Cas sits down at a table by the window and Dean decides to order both of them hot chocolate. He pays and takes the cups back to the table, where he sits across from Cas, smiling. Cas wraps both hands around his cup and sips at it warily, considering the taste. A slow smile crosses his face and he inclines his head, almost a nod, before taking another sip. Dean grins and shakes his head, and under the table he nudges Cas's foot with his own. Cas looks up, tilting his head, and then nudges Dean back, and when their eyes meet they both laugh a little.
“Dean,” Cas asks after a moment of easy silence, and his face is suddenly very serious. “I have a question.”
“Yeah?” Dean asks, unsure.
“I'm not certain, as some human habits still escape me,” Cas says, “but are you, as Sam would say, being my boyfriend in public?”
Dean opens his mouth and closes it, and Cas's mouth quirks up in a smile. He laughs and reaches across the table to grab Cas's hand. “Yeah, I guess I am,” he admits, and just then, he's pretty damn happy with that.
Chapter 5: Haze
I don't like this one all that much, but I'm extremely uninspired about this prompt. :\ Hopefully the next will be better.
Dean was startled awake by Cas's voice. “Dean?” he asked, pushing himself up weakly with one arm. “Is that you?”
“Yeah, I'm here,” he said after a second's confusion. “It's me.”
“What time is it?” Cas asked, sitting up and blinking, with a dazed look in his eyes. “How long was I sleeping?”
“Couple hours,” Dean muttered, rubbing sleep out of his own eyes. “It's, uh...afternoon. Just past two.”
“Oh,” Cas said blankly, and Dean suspected the words hadn't actually registered.
“How are you feeling?” he asked, getting to his feet and crossing the room to sit on the arm of the couch next to Cas. With one hand he reached over and brushed Cas's hair out of his face, trying to hide his dismay at how feverish Cas was.
“I've been better,” Cas mumbled, shaking his head and rubbing his eyes with the tips of his fingers.
“You can go back to sleep,” Dean said. “You look exhausted.”
“I'm tired of sleeping.” Cas slumped back against the cushions and rested his hand against the side of his face. He closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them again to give Dean the most pitiful look he'd ever seen. “Why are you sitting over there? Come here.”
Dean smiled and shook his head slightly as he slid down to sit next to Cas. “Okay, angel, if you want.”
“Not anymore,” Cas said, and sighed.
“I'm not an angel anymore,” he clarified, looking at Dean.
“You'll always be an angel to me,” Dean told him, and Cas smiled.
There were a few moments of silence before Cas said, “Does it happen often that dreams mix with reality?”
“Uh,” Dean said, frowning.
“In the moments between sleeping and waking,” Cas said. “Is it common at those times to be unsure which is the truth and which is the dream?”
“Oh, yeah,” Dean said. “How come? What did you dream about?”
“Nothing important,” Cas said quickly, shaking his head. “Just—for a moment I thought you were gone.”
Dean stared, feeling his throat tighten suddenly the way it always did when it suddenly hit him how much Cas cared about him. After a second's hesitation, he swallowed and said, “Hey, don't worry, I'm right here. And I'm not going anywhere. I promise.”
“I know,” Cas said, and smiled slightly.
Dean put an arm around his shoulders and pulled him a little closer to press a kiss to his temple. “I love you,” he said. “You know that, right?”
“Of course,” Cas agreed sleepily, closing his eyes. “I love you, too.”
“Shh. I know.” He laughed a little and ruffled Cas's messy hair. “Go back to sleep, okay? I'll be right here. Just get some rest.”
Chapter 6: Flame
It was almost spring and warm enough during the day to open the windows—which was a relief, because the air inside was starting to taste pretty heavy and stale—but during the night it was cold. Not cold enough to justify closing all the windows and turning on the heat when they were just going to turn it off the next morning, but still too cold for comfort.
“We could try to build a fire,” Dean said thoughtfully, frowning at the empty fireplace. “Not much wood in here, though, and the stuff outside is probably still wet from the snow melt.”
“Let's try it,” Cas said. He was sitting in the nearest chair with a sweater on and a blanket wrapped around his shoulders, and the expression on his face made it look like he felt personally victimized by the weather. Dean laughed.
“Okay,” he agreed, grabbing the little bit of firewood that was left and stacking it up in the fireplace. “You wanna go grab the lighter from my jacket?”
Cas got to his feet to get the lighter as Dean built up kindling and crumpled strips of newspaper. He grabbed the lighter when Cas handed it to him and, after a few tries, got some of the kindling to catch.
“I'm gonna run out and get some of the other wood,” he said. “It'll dry better in front of the fire. Try not to let it die, okay?”
“I'll try,” Cas said, sitting down on the rug. Dean waved and vanished outside to get some of the damp firewood by the side of the house.
When he came back in, it was to see Cas glaring at the fire, with his back against the ceiling support and his fingers in his mouth. “What happened?” Dean asked, a little alarmed, as he threw the firewood down so he could make sure Cas was okay.
“I was trying to adjust the firewood,” Cas said, taking his hand out of his mouth and showing Dean his burned fingers. “I succeeded, actually, but not exactly unscathed.”
Dean sucked in his breath, tempted to laugh but determined not to. “Yeah, you know, normal people can't usually touch fire.” He reached down to grab Cas's other hand and help him up. “Come on, we should run some water over it.”
Cas followed him into the kitchen and turned on the faucet so he could stick his hand in the stream of water. “That was foolish of me,” he sighed, shaking his head. “I forgot—I've been forgetting often lately, that I'm no longer an angel.”
“Probably because you're not having nightmares and migraines and a fever as much,” Dean pointed out. “A few burned fingers are probably worth that, wouldn't you say?”
Cas smiled faintly. “Yes, you're right,” he agreed, and then turned halfway, flicking his hand to splash water in Dean's face.
“Hey,” Dean complained, wiping water out of his eyes. “What the hell was that for?”
“Entertainment, mostly,” Cas replied lightly, and laughed when Dean punched him in the shoulder.
“Your hand okay now?” Dean asked, grabbing Cas's arm to look.
“I believe it should be fine,” Cas agreed. He pulled his hand gently out of Dean's grasp and stepped around him to head back towards the living room. “Now, why don't we sit down and actually enjoy the fire I sacrificed my fingers for?”
Dean laughed and followed him to sit on the rug by the fire, letting it warm up his cold face and hands. Cas curled up and leaned against him, grabbing the blanket he'd dropped to drape it over both of their shoulders.
“Even nicer when you actually feel the cold, isn't it?” Dean asked quietly, putting an arm around him.
“Mm-hm,” Cas agreed, kissing him, and for a moment Dean thought if he never moved from this spot, he probably wouldn't mind.
Chapter 7: Formal
This chapter is a couple hours late because life happened as I was trying to get it written but here you go!
“Man,” Dean said one night, looking up suddenly, “are you as bored as I am?”
Cas lifted his head and frowned at him. “Actually, I'm a little tired of watching bad television, yes.” He sat up, stretching. “Do you have any suggestions?”
Dean puffed out his cheeks as he thought about that. “How are you feeling?” he asked.
Cas shrugged. “Tired. And in pain.”
“Are you hungry at all?”
“I wouldn't object to having some food.”
Dean grinned, an idea coming to him. “You know, I think I do have a suggestion,” he said, getting to his feet. “Let's have a date.”
“Dean,” Cas said, frowning. “I'm feeling somewhat better, but I'm not sure I'm in any condition to go anywhere.”
“Not out anywhere,” Dean said, giving him a look. “Do I look like I do dinner out at a fancy restaurant? Not if I have a choice, I don't.”
“I don't understand,” Cas told him.
“We'll just have some fun,” Dean said. “We can order a pizza and drink coffee in wine glasses and, I dunno, set out candles or something lame and sappy like that. Hell, I'll even dress nice if you want me to. What do you think?”
A slow smile spread across Cas's face. “Yes, actually, that sounds nice,” he said. “I believe we have some candles—I can find them while you go change.”
Dean sighed dramatically. “I sorta figured you were gonna do that,” he said. “I'll be right back down. Don't bother with the candles, I'll get them in a minute.”
He ran off upstairs and searched for the nicest clothes he owned. It turned out they were crumpled at the bottom of his duffel and full of crumbs of potato chips or something, so he decided to go with his second-nicest clothes instead.
When he returned downstairs all done up in a suit and tie, it was to find that Cas had already dug out the candles and set them out on the coffee table. “I'll be back in a second,” he said before Dean could protest, and vanished up the stairs, leaving Dean to glare after him in exasperation before grabbing his phone and calling to order pizza.
Cas came back down the stairs and Dean was surprised to see him fully dressed in his old button-down shirt and suit jacket, his tie as crooked as ever. Their eyes met, and Cas winked, and Dean started to laugh harder than he'd laughed in close to two months. He met Cas at the bottom of the stairs and fixed his tie, still laughing as he wrestled the fallen angel's clothes into some semblance of presentability.
Someone knocked on the door and Dean ran to answer, forcing himself to keep a straight face as he opened the door. The teenaged boy holding the pizza stared and stammered, but Dean just pulled out a twenty from his pocket and handed it over to take the box. The confused kid counted out the change and handed it back, and Dean managed to have the door closed before he burst out laughing again.
They sat down at the table in the dark with slices of pizza on paper plates and wine glasses filled with coffee, and Dean lit the candles, grinning at Cas across the table. “This is way more fun than a real date anyways,” he said, catching Cas's feet with his own under the table.
“If you say so,” Cas said, smiling. “I suppose I can't really compare, since I haven't been on one.” He hesitated, a frown flickering across his face as he glanced down and back up at Dean. “Is dating what we're doing, Dean?”
Dean stared at him. “Uh, yeah, of course we are,” he said slowly.
“Well, we have not exactly been on any 'real dates,'” Cas pointed out.
“I guess you're right,” Dean agreed, and shook his head, laughing. “Tell you what—I'll take you on one the first night you feel up to it, okay?”
“That sounds good,” Cas agreed, and took his hand across the table, his smile returning.