Cas is somewhere outside of San Francisco when he decides that he’s done with this whole traveling bullshit. It’s been five years since he gave up his wings and he’s tired of running, cause Dean can call it whatever he wants, but when it all comes down to it, Cas was running, plain and simple.
A quick phone call to Bobby, cause neither of the numbers that he has for Dean and Sam are working, gives him an idea of where the brothers settled down at, so he puts the last of his money into a bus ticket for Denver, before heading into the bathroom off the bus lounge to take a good hard look at himself.
He looks like shit to be completely fucking honest.
He hasn’t shaved since about three towns back, when his electric razor finally up and died on him, he’s out of cigarettes, and he hasn’t actually slept in two days. He wishes that he had some way of washing his clothes and making himself look halfway decent, but that’s just a pipe dream at this point.
All that matters is that he’s going home.
He’s finally going home.
Cas has been gone a year when he finally picks up the habit of smoking. The cigarettes taste horrible and he hacks up a lung once or twice, but he still finds the end result worth it more often than not. He’s just glad that his hustling skills have gotten better, otherwise he’d never have enough money to support the habit.
About two months later, in small town on the Texas-Mexico border, he takes his first hit of weed and it makes him feel more relaxed than he has in months. When he finally heads out from there, he has a small baggy tucked into the bottom of his duffel, for those moments where he feels like he needs it.
There’s the orgy in Washington, a pub crawl in Idaho, a rave in Vegas, and a whole other slew of things that never would’ve interested him before he had fallen. But he’s human now and he can feel the pulse of music under his skin and he wants to know about all the things he can get up to behind closed doors.
He hasn’t seen Dean in one year, five months, and eight days.
And he’s still not sure why that bothers him.
Cas tries that whole staying in one place thing. And at first, he thinks he likes it. He likes waking up in the morning and knowing that the walls around him are his, that he has food in the fridge, and that he’s got a real chance for a future.
It lasts all of three months.
He starts feeling restless, starts wanting to get up and out more, not content to do the 9 to 5 and just be done with it. So he packs up the more durable of the clothes that he’s bought in the past three months, leaves the key to his apartment in his landlord’s mailbox, and takes off.
He’s going east this time.
He gets off of the bus in New Jersey and the first thing he sees is a ‘67 Chevy Impala.
He spends the next twenty minutes in the bathroom, crying.
And that’s the first crack in his armor.
The second chink in Castiel’s armor comes about a year after New Jersey. He’s taken up residence in New York City for the time being, falling in a little too easily with the hipster crowd, but they have booze and weed, so he can’t actually hate them. He’s coming around the corner of a building, fussing with his lighter, when hears a voice that he hasn’t heard in a hell of a long time.
He takes a few steps closer to the parking lot behind the building and stands there like a creeper, watching Dean as he talks on the phone to someone. It’s clear that his post-hunting years have been kind to him, he doesn’t seem so bogged down by things and when he turns slightly, Cas can see that he now has glasses and, dare he say it, gives off a very distinguished impression.
It makes Castiel’s heart hurt.
Dean finishes up his phone call and makes for the Impala, which is sitting in the lot. He gives it a loving pat before climbing in and pulling out, completely breezing past Cas, who seems to be frozen to the spot.
And if Cas just so happens to get on a bus the next morning, bound for California, that’s no one’s business but his own.
For the first time in his life, Cas is completely and utterly terrified. When he boarded the bus from San Fran to Denver, he was confident that all he had to do was show up at Dean’s house and everything would fall back into place. But now that he’s standing here, he’s not entirely sure that it’s going to be that easy.
The Impala is parked in the driveway, as proud as she’s always been, especially now that she has a more permanent spot to rest in. He knows from Bobby’s phone call that Dean keeps a spare key in the mailbox, in case a passing hunter decides to stop in. (The “in case you decided to come home” was left unsaid, but Cas heard it clear as day anyways.) He also knows that with a little forgery from Bobby, Dean works as an archivist as the University of Colorado, a job that he’s completely content with after the battling the forces of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory.
Taking a deep breath and gripping tighter to the worn duffel over his shoulder, he makes his way up the walk and slipping his hand into the mailbox, he grabs the key, slides it into the lock, and pushes the door open. Cool air and the smell of food wash over him and he smiles his first real smile in years.
He’s finally home.
His name is Noah.
And he’s the one that takes Castiel’s virginity.
It was a little three week fling down in Missouri, but at the end of it, all Cas wanted to do was crawl into a bottle and never leave. Physically, Noah was nowhere near Dean. A natural ginger, pale with blue eyes, his Irish roots were as clear as day. But in personality, he could’ve been Dean’s freaking twin, and Cas knows in his heart, that that was what had drawn the former angel to him.
Noah introduces Castiel to sex and then, as easily as he picked him up, he drops him and rolls out of town. Cas hates himself for being taken in so easily by him, but between the booze and the blowjobs, it had seemed like a brilliant idea at the time.
Cas leaves the town a day or two after Noah and heads in the opposite direction, swearing that as long as he lives, he’ll never set foot in Missouri again. Humanity is a confusing and fickle thing and Cas is starting to learn that lesson the hard way.
Dean’s not entirely sure what he’s seeing isn’t a dream. He doesn’t want to admit it, but he gave up on Castiel coming back a long ass time ago. But seeing the man standing in his front room, looking like he doesn’t belong there, brings back a lot of feelings that he doesn’t really want to look too closely at right about now.
“Hi.” It’s soft, Cas is afraid. Which shows Dean just how out of his element he really is. Cas was once a badass angel of the lord. Fear, no matter what it is for, should never be something he should ever feel.
“Hey.” Dean finally crosses to room to where the ex-angel is standing, pointedly looking down, like he’s not worthy of being in Dean’s presence after all of these years. He puts a hand under Castiel’s chin and slowly lifts it up, so that he can look him in the eye. “I missed you.” That’s what breaks Cas apparently, cause he throws his arms around Dean and buries his face into his shoulder, which makes Dean cling back to him, so they don’t topple over, but it’s a good feeling.
Cas is back, he’s not an illusion or hallucination, but he’s actually really there and he’s in Dean’s arms, like he never wanted to be anywhere else in the first place. It’s good feeling and the fact that it’s even happening pretty much means that Dean can forgive that it took five years for them to get here in the first place.
When Cas first leaves Dean, he thinks he wants to pick up the Winchester family business, since both Sam and Dean have called it quits; Sam retiring to California with Amelia and Dean going wherever he ends up.
That lasts for about six months.
Cas discovers very quickly, that hunting alone isn’t all that much fun. And it’s roughly a million times more dangerous. So after getting put through a wall by a spirit down in New Orleans, he gives up hunting and starts out on his cross-country trek of the United States.
Years later, standing under the wrecked awning of an abandoned building, trying to dodge the rain, he wonders if, when he called it quits on the hunting thing, that maybe that was his clue that he needed to go back to Dean.
One day, Dean wakes up and realizes that it’s been four years since Cas walked away. He’s gotten older, his hair has grey in it, and he’s got to wear glasses, cause Purgatory wrecked hell on his sight. And he’s still waiting on a fallen angel that’s probably never coming home.
Hell, Cas still being alive would be a miracle in of itself.
His mood though seems to be translating into an off day at his job. He keeps misplacing things, he forgets his has a meeting with the director of his department, and then he forgets to eat until his assistant, a tiny little thing that goes by the name of Jamie, drops a Subway sandwich on his desk and tells him that he owes her nothing except the weekend off.
He clocks out a few hours early, after telling Jamie that the weekend is hers, and finds himself crawling into his bed much earlier than he has in years.
Four years ago, Dean let Cas go, cause he knew that the former angel needed to get out and see the world for himself.
He just never knew that he wouldn’t ever come back to him.
Cas is in some shitty club in Chicago, pressed tight to unfamiliar bodies, with Uprising by Muse pounding out of the speakers. There’s a guy across the club that he has his eye on with messy dirty blond hair, but that’s all that Cas has seen of the guy tonight, which is probably why he wants him so bad.
He’s a mystery and Cas is always up for one of those.
The girl he’s been grinding up on for the past few minutes drifts off to someone else, giving him the chance to go over to the guy and get acquainted and maybe a little close to wasted, so that falling into to bed together has a better chance of happening. He’s on the very fringe of the crowd when someone shouts out a name and the mystery guy turns his head.
Cas dives back into the crowd, his stomach leaping into his throat, as he follows the mass of bodies to the back entrance, spilling out of it and grabbing for his cigarettes, so that he can calm his racing nerves.
Chicago is no longer safe for him.
The following morning, he gets on a bus and heads south, cause 4 and a half years later, he’s still running.
And he doesn’t know how to stop.
Cas has been back for not even three months when Dean finally snaps and demands to know why he decided to come back now. There’s a lot of yelling and Dean thinks he might’ve thrown something in frustration, but it ends with the two of them standing on opposite sides of the living room, Dean’s chest heaving and Cas looking at him with these wide eyes, like he doesn’t know how to respond.
And he probably doesn’t.
But Dean’s not entirely sure that excuses whatever comes out of the ex-angel’s mouth next.
“If you didn’t want me to come back, you should’ve said that when I first left.” Dean’s mouth drops open. Is that all that Cas got out of his little tirade? That he didn’t want him to ever come back? Cause that’s not it at all. But Dean doesn’t even get to say that, because Cas holds up a hand and stops him. “Don’t. Just don’t. I came back, cause I was tired of running, but I forgot that people change. Sorry I even bothered. I just get my stuff and go to Bobby’s.”
And just like that, Cas is walking out of Dean’s life again.
And it’s all Dean’s fault.
When Castiel came up the drive to Bobby’s house, stopping to pet the dog that met him on the way, Bobby could tell by the slump of his shoulders, that he and Dean had finally had it out and that it hadn’t ended well.
“Boy, I thought you were in Colorado.” Castiel shrugged, which made Bobby sigh. He’d get the story out of him eventually. “Come on in then, you look like you could use a beer.” Castiel quirked his lips and followed Bobby in.
It took a week, but Cas eventually let it all spill out, telling the older hunter about the fight and why he left, tears falling freely by the time he was done. He went to bed soon after, claiming that he had a headache, leaving Bobby by himself in the study. He dug his cell phone out of a pile of books, flipping it open, and hitting three on the speed dial. He groaned when he got the voicemail.
“Dean Ross Winchester, you listen and you listen well. You’ve got 48 hours to get your ass out here and patch things up with your angel, or I swear on all that is freaking holy that I will sic Jody on you.” He flips the phone shut and throws it back on the desk before rubbing a hand over his face.
The Impala comes to a halt in front of Bobby’s. Dean had gotten the man’s message and knowing Bobby, he would sic Jody on him, and would probably laugh while he did it. So, packing up a few days worth of clothes and informing his boss that he would be unavailable for a few days, he climbed into his trusted car, and floored it to the older hunter’s house.
But he can’t make himself go inside.
He knows he fucked up by yelling at Cas. He just doesn’t know how to fix it. He’s never exactly been an expert at that, but here is, trying to figure out how to do just that. The front door of the house swings open and Cas comes stumbling out, Bobby’s yell that he can stay out there until he and Dean fixes their damn mess not far behind. Cas grumbles something that Dean can’t hear, before he brushes down the grey hoodie he’s wearing and looks up, meeting Dean’s eyes.
Dean feels his breath catch and he knows that this is it. He opens the driver’s door of the Impala and gets out, but not before praying to a God that he’s never believed in that he doesn’t fuck this up more than he already has.
Dean honestly expected a screaming match when he got out of the car. What he got was Cas slamming his fist into his face in a show of built-up fury. And of course, Dean couldn’t just leave it at that.
So he swung back.
They tussled around like that for five or so minutes before Bobby’s front door flung open, and they were being pulled apart by the older hunter and Jody.
“What the hell was that!? I didn’t call him over here just so you could break his face in!” Cas was squirming, trying to break out of Bobby’s hold and go for Dean’s face again. But the older man had him held back pretty decently, not allowing him the leverage he needed. “Cas, would you listen to me dammit?!”
“NO! WHY SHOULD I WHEN IT’S ALL HIS FAULT THAT THIS EVEN HAPPENED?!” Bobby was struggling, but managed to keep his grip on Cas, but that didn’t stop the ex-angel’s mouth. “ALL HE HAD TO DO WAS ASK ME TO STAY! I NEVER WANTED TO FUCKING LEAVE!” Cas stopped fighting at that point; it just all fled out of him and he dropped in Bobby’s arms, forcing the hunter to brace himself, even though the former angel still hit the ground. Jody let go of Dean, coming to the conclusion that he wasn’t going to start throwing punches any time soon, and went over to Cas, gathering him up in her arms and letting him cry on her shoulder.
Bobby met Dean’s eyes over the pair and for the first time in a long time, Dean realized just how badly he had fucked this up.
An awkwardness descends over the Singer house in the aftermath of the fight. Dean sleeps out in the car, takes his meals on the porch, and just generally wanders the junkyard, working on whatever cars he can find. Cas stays in his room and sleeps most of the day, unless Jody goes in their with food. At the end of the week, Bobby goes outside with food for Dean and sees him packing up the duffel he had brought with him.
“And where the hell do you think you’re going boy?” Dean sighs, but chucks the bag into the trunk and closes it.
“Home. I have a job now Bobby and my boss is getting pissed that I haven’t been there. If Cas ever wants to stop hiding in his room like a damn child, let me know.” Bobby doesn’t say anything, just stands there and watches as Dean and the Impala pull out of the junkyard and head back towards Colorado. When he turns around to go back in the house, he finds Cas standing on the porch, watching the spot where the Impala had stood only moments before. Bobby shrugs and heads for the house, stopping to clap Cas on the shoulder, before going inside to tell Jody that Dean left.
When he and Jody wake up in the morning, they find Cas gone, with only a note to tell them thank you and that he’ll call them when he gets where he’s going.
Castiel is standing in front of Dean’s house, bag over his shoulder and his face set in determination. He’s been in this scene before, but this time, he knows that he can’t just walk in that door and expect everything to be ok. He learned a lot of things in his life on the road, but what he didn’t learn was that love and relationships take a lot of work. But that’s ok, cause he’s learning that now and he’s going to use that to fix this mess that he and Dean have found themselves in. He pulls his bag up higher and heads to the door, but stops when it opens and Dean comes out, juggling a briefcase and coffee mug in one hand and his keys in the other.
Dean doesn’t see him right away, too busy cursing the door and the fact that he has too many keys. But once he’s got it locked and the key ring shoved back in his pocket, he turns around and almost falls on his face at the sight of the ex-angel, which doesn’t help make Cas feel any less guilty for showing up out of the blue, but does give him a good chuckle.
“What the hell do you want Cas? I thought you were still doing your imitation of a five year old in the upstairs bedroom of Bobby’s.” Cas sighs. He knows that he hurt Dean by staying away for five years and then showing up and acting like nothing was wrong, but Dean isn’t completely innocent in all of this either.
“I thought we could talk.” Dean rolls his eyes, but keeps walking towards his car, like he didn’t even hear him.
“So now you want to talk? Funny, but after five years of radio silence from you and nearly getting my face bashed in, I’m not exactly in the mood for talking.” Cas rolls his eyes, something he’s becoming too comfortable with when it comes to Dean, but he follows after, not ready to let this go until he knows that everything is going to be ok between them.
“I’m sorry, ok? I’m sorry that I didn’t call for five years. I’m sorry I attacked you at Bobby’s. I’m sorry! Alright? I never meant for it to happen like this. I just…I want to fix it. I fell from Heaven for you and I don’t want that to be one of the things I regret and…” Cas stops, cause Dean is standing in front of him, his briefcase and coffee mug laying on top of the Impala, and he’s giving Cas this sad smile, which is making the ex-angel feel like the world’s biggest idiot.
“I know you’re sorry. You wouldn’t be standing here if you weren’t. Just…just come inside and we can talk. I’ll call off work and we can try to sort this shit out. If it matters, I’m sorry that I snapped at you when you came back.” Cas smiles back at him, before closing the distance and wrapping himself around the former hunter in a hug.
“Are we going to be ok?” Dean snorts, but he hugs Cas back, not caring if the neighbors are peaking out through their windows and watching.
“Yeah, I think we’ll be ok.”