Dean's phone buzzes about an hour west of Fall River, just as US 6 curves toward the Rhode Island-Connecticut line. It takes him a minute to dig his phone out of his pocket; he hands his breakfast burrito to Sam and balances his soda cup between his legs. He swipes at the screen, but his thumb is so egg-and-sausage greasy that it doesn't track. The phone shunts the call to his voicemail before he can get it unlocked.
"Is that Cas?" Sam asks.
"Yeah." Dean drops his phone on the seat, wipes his hand on jeans, then picks his phone back up. Just as he's dialing Cas' number, Sam's phone starts to ring. Dean changed his ringtone to Dancing Queen a couple days ago; it's back to one of the default jingles, something that sounds like a xylophone going over a cliff.
"Hey, Cas. What's up?" Sam asks. "No, we're good. Dean's driving." After a pause he adds, "Yeah, we wrapped it up last night, so we're headed back to you. Tomorrow... uh, tomorrow --" he glances at Dean and asks, "Night?"
"Tomorrow night, late."
Cas talks for a few moments, his voice a dull buzz that just cuts through the wind whistling through Dean's half-open window. Dean grabs his soda cup, rattling the ice at the bottom before draining the last of the Coke. He'd wanted coffee, but the stuff being brewed at the Fall River Fuel & Go had smelled like a swamp and had been thick enough to chew. Cas says something that makes Sam snort under his breath. Dean takes his breakfast burrito back; it wasn't great to begin with, but the last two bites are mostly stale tortilla, chewy and cold.
Sam laughs again, then says, "Yeah, there's a market on Main, about half a mile from the highway."
"Market?" Dean asks, frowning. "What's he --"
"We're out of coffee," Sam explains, tucking his phone against his jaw.
Dean rolls his eyes; Cas still doesn't eat, but he'll down three pots of Kona blend in one day if someone doesn't cut him off like a bartender at last call. "Hey, don't let him use a fake card so close to home."
Nodding, Sam says, "Hey, yeah, you'd better pay with cash. If you need some, there's a stash of twenties in my sock drawer." He pauses again, then his mouth twitches and he says, "Yeah, of course. The TV in the lounge is hooked up to Netflix too. Make yourself comfortable. Okay. See you tomorrow night."
"He's supposed to be resting," Dean complains, drumming his fingers on the wheel. "He ain't up to snuff yet."
"A short walk won't hurt him. It might be good for him, actually."
"How's he sound?"
"Stir-crazy. He doesn't like being cooped up." Sam huffs out a laugh. "He -- he asked about the TV in the lounge because my room is 'boring' him."
Dean snorts, easing off the gas as he edges too close to a powder blue hybrid that's trying to save the environment one mile per hour at a time. "He said that? Boring?"
"Is he -- did he seem like he's doing better?"
"A little, yeah. His voice is still kind of --" Sam waves his hand around "-- you know."
"Right," Dean mutters. Since the curse, Cas has had a weird catch in the back of his throat, wet like an unspent cough. "Yeah."
"Dean, he'll be all right."
Dean passes the hybrid and leans on the gas.
They take a car nap on the eastern edge of Indiana because Dean underestimates the amount of fuckall between Columbus and Indianapolis. They're about an hour from anywhere by the time Dean starts yawning and drifting toward the shoulder. His eyes feel gritty and raw, and white spots flare in his vision when he rubs them. Sam is out cold in the passenger seat, his head tipped sideways and his breath fogging the glass.
The next flyspeck off I-70 is a crossroads town; it only has one motel, and it's the kind of flop that tries to cut down on hanky-panky by refusing new check-ins after midnight. The weasel in the office threatens to call the cops when Dean offers him a bribe, so Dean finds a service track about five miles down the road and tucks the Impala in the shadow of a crumbling water tank.
Cicadas are chirping in the field skirting the service track. Everything smells like damp grass. Dean's phone buzzes as he's crawling into the back seat.
Dean hesitates for a second. When they left, they'd told Cas they were heading out for a good old salt-and-burn. Hell, Dean had figured it wasn't even a real case, just Sam indulging his weird serial killer thing. He doesn't want to get into all the crap with Amara and the soul-sucking right now; it's too late and he's too tired.
After that, Cas goes silent for a full minute. Sighing, Dean rubs his eyes and changes the subject.
Sam snuffles out a sleepy sound. Up on the interstate, a big rig blares its horn. Dean rolls over to face the back of the seat, his phone still in his hand.
They get back to the bunker about seven, which is earlier than Dean expected but later than Dean wanted. As he comes down the war room stairs, the smell of coffee slaps him in the face. The heater is running, humming as it tries to chug hot air through all the bunkers nooks and crannies.
Dean dumps his bag in the library, grunting out an agreeable noise when Sam says he's grabbing a shower. The coffee smell is stronger in here; Cas has been using the four-cupper on top of the mini fridge instead of the industrial percolator in the kitchen. Dean strips off his jacket and flannel and kicks off his boots. He leaves all of it heaped in the library and heads into the lounge.
The room is almost dark, the only light coming from the floor-lamp in the far corner and the Netflix menu screen flashing on the TV. Cas is curled up on the couch, lying on his side with a blanket covering everything but his head. His hair is a wild shadow against the pillow. He doesn't say anything when Dean comes in. When Dean gets closer, he sees that Cas' eyes are closed. His breathing is even and slow.
"Hey," Dean says, panic burning in his chest. He shakes Cas' shoulder. "Hey, Cas."
Cas blinks awake immediately. He stares at Dean for a second, then says, "Oh. You're home."
"Yeah, I'm -- what's wrong?"
"Nothing is wrong."
"You were sleeping," Dean points out. The last time Cas slept, his grace had been rotting. Before that, he'd been cut off from heaven. "If you --"
"I don't need to sleep. That doesn't mean I can't." A faint flush is burning in Cas' cheeks, but it's pink-warm body heat, not the pallid and sweaty swelter of a fever. "I just have to... power myself down, so to speak." He sighs quietly. "It might help my body heal faster."
"There's no rush. Take all the time you need."
"I don't want to." Cas' voice is brittle with frustration, curled up at the edges like burnt paper. "I dislike waiting. I dislike staying here with nothing to do."
Frowning, Dean scratches the back of his neck. He doesn't know what to say. It's got to be tough for a creature that's all stardust and heavenly might to be laid up by his meatsuit. "I know it sucks. I broke my leg a few years ago, right when the levianthan bullshit was starting up. I had to sit on my ass for six weeks while Sam and Bobby did all the work. I was stuck in Rufus' freaky mountain-man cabin, eating c-rations and watching crap TV."
Cas heaves out another sign. Dean feels awkward -- he's just standing there, kind of looming over Cas' shoulder -- so he pats Cas' shin and gestures for him to shift over. "So, what are we watching? You start Gilmore Girls yet?"
"No," Cas replies. The couch squeaks as he sits up. "The synopsis was interesting, but it has multiple seasons. I don't want to start something else with multiple seasons until I finish The Wire."
"I think Sam's got some nerdy History Channel stuff in the DVR," Dean says, grabbing the remote. It takes him a minute of button-pushing to exit out of Netflix and bring up the TV menu. "I think there's -- yeah. You'll like this."
"Yeah. It's a bunch of dorks who swear all the cool stuff on earth was built by ET."
"I'm getting more coffee," Cas says, as the TV zooms on a fuzzy picture of the Nazca lines.
"No way, dude. You've had enough."
"I've only had six cups today."
Dean blinks at him. "Six -- you're gonna start climbing the walls in a minute."
"Caffeine doesn't affect me," Cas says, gathering his blanket around him as he stands. It's gray, army-issue wool, a lot like the tired, scratchy thing Dean's dad brought home from Vietnam. There's got to be a better blanket somewhere in the bunker, a softer one that doesn't itch or smell like mothballs, but Cas seems attached to it. "I just like the taste."
He heads for the library, one corner of his blanket trailing along the floor behind him. It snags on something in the doorway, and Cas huffs quietly as he tugs it loose. A guy is on the TV now, waving his hands as he explains that the largest and longest of the Nazca lines are actually runways for spaceship landings. Laughing, Dean shakes his head.
Cas comes back a couple minutes later with a mug of coffee in each hand. One looks like it got swiped from a Biggerson's; the other is black with 'mornings suck' printed on it in a blocky white letters. The blanket is thrown around his shoulders like a shawl, framing his chest and torso and thighs. He's wearing a pair of Dean's pajama pants and one of Dean's old car-washing t-shirts. There's a rip in one sleeve and a small hole near the collar. A slow heat blooms underneath Dean's ribs.
"You -- those are my clothes."
Cas looks down at himself, then back up at Dean. "I hope you don't mind. Sam said I should... make myself comfortable."
"No, it's -- it's cool." Dean clears his throat. "It's cool."
Smiling, Cas hands Dean the Biggerson's mug. Then he settles on the other end of the couch, tucking himself against the arm and folding one leg on the cushion. His feet are bare. The coffee is hot enough to make sweat bead on Dean's upper lip, but he takes a couple of sips before setting the mug on the table. He grunts quietly as he reaches for it and again as he leans back, wincing as something twinges in his back, digging in at the base of his spine before clawing its way up.
"I asked you if you were injured," Cas accuses, tipping his head to the side. His eyes are very wide and very blue.
Dean shrugs. "It's nothing. I'm just kinda stiff. We had to crash in the Impala Motel last night, and -- you know. My back ain't what it used to be."
"I'm all right," Dean insists, shifting uncomfortably. Getting brained with a shotgun left him with a lump on the back of his head, but it doesn't really hurt anymore, not like it had two days ago. It's just tender. The skin around it feels a little tight. It's nothing two or three aspirin won't fix.
When Cas continues to stare at him, he huffs and asks, "What?"
"Your cheek." Cas lifts his hand, but he stops short of touching.
Dean runs his finger over the spot, snorting when he finds a short, thin scab. "This? I've done worse to myself shaving." He doesn't even remember getting it. He knocked out after Sydney clocked him; it probably happened when he hit the floor. "I'm -- you need to be resting, not pumping me full of juice every time I stub my toe."
"Rowena's curse only weakened my body. My grace is intact." Cas sips his coffee, then adds, "Healing you won't harm me."
Dean stares at the TV; it's showing an aerial shot of a place where several of the Nazca lines meet.
"If you'd allowed me to go with you," Cas continues sourly, "I --"
Slowly, Cas sets his coffee on the table. Then he leans across the couch, planting one hand on the cushion, right beside Dean's thigh. The couch groans. The stretched-out collar of Dean's t-shirt yawns away from Cas' collarbone. His knuckles graze Dean's chin as he reaches up to cradle Dean's face. The burst of grace is quick and cold; there really wasn't much to heal.
"You happy now?"
"I'm always happiest when you're healthy.
Heat burns in Dean's jaw. Clearing his throat, he points at the TV and says, "C'mon, we're missing the good stuff."
"I already told you why the lines were created. The Nazca people were attempting to communicate with their gods."
"Did it work?" Dean asks. "God, I mean. Was he -- did he even see it?"
Cas pauses for a moment, then says, "It's possible they managed to contact their own gods. My father wouldn't have noticed. He'd already left heaven by then."
When the Nazca lines episode ends, Dean starts the next one in the DVR. As it turns out, it's called "Angels and Aliens."
"It's essentially a misinterpreted flesh and blood extraterrestrial who visited earth a long, long time ago."
Cas makes an incredulous noise.
"We can skip this one," Dean offers, tapping the remote on his thigh.
"No, it's fine. I'm just -- do humans really find aliens more believable than angels?"
"I don't know." Dean still doesn't believe in aliens. He hadn't believed in angels until -- well. "To the average schmuck, I guess one ain't any crazier than the other."
"Might angels really be travelers visiting the earth from distant planets?"
A smile tugs the corner of Cas' mouth. "Gabriel would be probably pleased."
"Yes, Gabriel," Cas says, sipping a fresh cup of coffee. His throat flexes and pulls as he swallows. "Your Bible only mentions him by name twice, but Gabriel accounts for nearly all angelic visitations. In the early days, he was the only one who ever showed any interest in humanity."
"So... the burning bush?"
"Yes, that was Gabriel, although the bush was not on fire. The fire was Gabriel. He hadn't bothered to take a vessel."
Dean blinks. "What?"
"We rarely did until the apocalypse."
"So he just --" Dean waves his hand around "-- he just set himself on fire?"
"No, he was the fire. He -- do you remember the first time I contacted you?"
The room is warm, stuffy from the chug of the ancient heater, but Dean shivers a little. He always does when Cas brings up old shit. Hell shit. "Yeah. You -- um. You pretty much wrecked that gas station. And my motel room."
"I came to you in my true form. Some humans can look upon an angel's true form without --"
"Without having their eyes blasted outta their heads?"
"Yes. Without that. Moses could, but human senses are limited. He perceived Gabriel's essence as a pillar of flame."
"Huh," Dean says. He wants a beer -- the coffee left a sour taste in his mouth -- but he just got comfortable. His feet are tucked under Cas' thigh and half of Cas' blanket is thrown over his legs. "What about, uh -- what about that guy --" he snaps his fingers as he tries to remember; it's been ages since he's even looked at a Bible "-- the guy whose wife turned to salt?"
"Two angels went to Sodom and Gomorrah." Pictures flash on the TV screen, painting Cas' face in shades of red and yellow. "Gabriel transported Lot and his family away from danger and told them to flee without looking back. Uriel smote the cities."
"Right, yeah. He was your demolitions expert."
Cas pauses for a moment, then says, "Gabriel also informed Mary that she would give birth to Jesus."
"Really?" Dean snorts out a laugh. "I bet that conversation went well."
"The retelling in your Bible is rather subdued. As I understand things, she threw a clay pot at his head when he first appeared."
Dean wakes up to a dark room. The lamp is off and the TV is showing the DVD menu screen. Dean's head is cocked against the arm of the couch in a way that he'll regret in the morning, and his left leg is numb from hip to knee. Cas is sprawled out on Dean's chest, pinning Dean to the couch and breathing into the hollow of Dean's throat. Dean isn't sure how they got this way -- the last thing he remembers is pictures of Stonehenge flashing on the TV -- but he can't make himself nudge Cas away.
He doesn't want to. He wants -- fuck. He wants this. He always has. He spends the next few minutes staring up at the shadow-black ceiling, afraid to move. Then, slowly, he realizes that Cas must want it too. Cas doesn't just fall asleep like a human; he has to decide to shut himself off. That means he's curled around Dean now because he chose it, not because he just conked out and slumped over that way.
Dean's heart hammers in his chest. Cas smells like the inside of the bunker, and his hair is soft where it brushes Dean's chin. Dean strokes his hand through it, letting the strands sift through his fingers. He wraps his other arm around Cas' waist, pulling Cas closer. He twists his fingers in Cas' blanket; the old wool is scratchy against his palm.
Cas stirs slightly, huffing out a sleepy noise against Dean's neck. Dean takes a breath and asks, "Is this okay?"
"Of course," Cas says. He tucks his hand under Dean's shirt and slides it up Dean's side.
"Okay." Dean shifts a little, gritting his teeth as his numb leg perks up with a wave of pins and needles. "If you -- yeah."
Cas flips on the TV. "I paused it. You fell asleep just as it was getting ridiculous."
As the TV blares, Dean breathes Cas in. He noses at Cas' temple and threads his fingers through Cas' hair. He kisses the top of Cas' head and the shell of Cas' ear. They watch two more episodes before he finds the nerve to kiss Cas' mouth.
He strokes his hand through Cas' hair one more time and slides it down to the back of Cas' neck. He thumbs the dip behind Cas' ear, soft, then tips Cas' head up and brushes their mouths together. He isn't surprised when Cas kisses back, but he doesn't expect the noise Cas makes into it, slow and dark and pleased. He isn't surprised when arousal begins burning in his gut, but he's startled by how fiercely it jabs through him, jolting through him like lighting at the slow-slick drag of their lips, at the way Cas' hand wrings at his hip and then holds, digging in like he's afraid Dean get away from him.
It's awkward at first -- the angle is wrong and Dean's shoulder is jammed against the back of the couch -- but Cas shifts up, pressing in closer, and then it's perfect, all stubble and slow heat. Cas kisses like he's greedy for it, holding Dean's face in both hands, rubbing his thumb at the corner of Dean's mouth when he pulls back to breathe and tracing the swell of Dean's lip when he leans back in. Dean nips Cas' lips and sucks Cas' tongue into his mouth. He runs his hand over Cas' jaw, then follows it with a kiss, his mouth open and wet as he drags it from the point of Cas' chin to the space below his ear.
He rolls to the side a little, nudging Cas into the back of the couch so he can get closer. So he can feel Cas everywhere. Cas slides his hands up Dean's back until they're curved over Dean's shoulders, and he hooks leg over Dean's thigh, digging his heel into Dean's shin. They're both hard; Cas rumbles out a moan when his dick rubs against Dean's hip. Dean slides a hand down to Cas' ass, holding it there, holding Cas still so Dean can rock against him. So he can hear it again and again and again.
"Dean," Cas murmurs, and -- Christ. He's gorgeous, his cheeks flushed and his mouth wet and red. "Dean."
"Yeah." Dean arches into him, choking out a noise as their dicks rub together. "Fuck."
He wants to get his hand inside Cas' pants, get his hand around Cas' dick, stroke until Cas is moaning and fucking into his fist, but he can't stop grinding his hips. Cas has one hand in Dean's hair; the other is clutching at the arm of the couch. He's breathing Dean's name into the curve of Dean's neck. Dean rocks against him again and again and again. It's slower like this, arousal coiling around his spine and rushing under his skin. When he finally comes it rolls over him like a wave, churning and endless, and it leaves him shaking, clutching at Cas' arm and gulping for air.
Cas gasps. The TV flickers and blue-white light flares behind his eyes.
After, Cas mojos them clean. Then he brushes his hand over the hollow of Dean's throat and asks, "Are you tired? Maybe you should sleep."
"Nah, I'm good. We can watch another one."
Cas smiles and says, "Okay," and tucks his head underneath Dean's chin.
It's easy to lose track of time in the bunker. It's also easy to lose track of time when you're making out with a guy you've been in love with for years. Dean doesn't really realize it's morning until Sam comes into the lounge carrying a plate stacked with toast.
Dean's stomach growls. Sam blinks at them for a split-second -- Cas is still lying on Dean's chest, and Dean's hand is kind of in Cas' hair -- then points at the TV and asks, "What are we watching?"
"Ancient Aliens," Cas says.
"Great." Sam sets the plate on the table and heaves himself into one of the armchairs. "I haven't seen the one about the pyramids yet."