And God, yeah, he is, and Dean shifts, ignoring Sam’s pointed look, smiling, fighting the urge to jump right up and pull off that tie and put it on the right way, because that’s kind of embarrassing. It’s like a light switch has gone on in his brain, and all at once he’s back in time, back beside the highway with a clean-shaven angel who knows nothing about being human but is doing his level best in the most comical of ways.
He’s missed that, as much as he’s become used to the scuffed-up, scruffy, bleary-eyed man who trudged by his side for months in Purgatory. They’re both Cas, but this Cas is still a sight for sore eyes.
Sam clears his throat, murmurs something noncommittal about getting the trunk packed up for the ride out, and rises from his chair; the motel door slams closed, and now there’s just Cas, looking proud, and Dean, sitting in his chair, trying to figure out how to move or what to say.
“It feels better,” Castiel says, finally, looking down at himself and running his hands over his newly pristine coat. “At any rate.” And he glances up at Dean, briefly, just enough that Dean knows Castiel is waiting for him to say something.
Dean gets up. He coughs into one cupped hand, trying to find his voice, then slides haltingly forward, rubbing his hands on his jeans. “You clean up good, Cas,” he says, feeling like an idiot. “Tie’s a bit—” and he can’t find the words, cause he’s close, and Castiel’s face is rapt staring at his, waiting.
“My tie?” His lips, curving around the words, are a fascinating shape. Especially with the smooth skin all around them, skin Dean hasn’t seen bare for months.
“I’ll fix it for you,” Dean hears himself say, and he lifts his hands to pull at it, but he never gets there. Because on the way to Cas’s collar the back of his hands brush against Cas’s clean-shaven jaw.
He turns them over.
His palms on Castiel’s chin, his cheeks. Feeling as though he might never touch them again.
Castiel twitches. “Dean,” he says. A protest that dies before it’s begun.
Dean pulls him in. Their noses bump, a jarring sensation that stops them briefly.
“Dean, my tie,” Castiel presses.
The words come out in a rumbling rush— “Your tie’s fine”— and Dean seals his mouth over Castiel’s, feels the smoothness and the newness, and they’re back in time once more, beside a highway keeping an appointment. Don’t ever change, Dean said then, but Castiel did. They both did. Inevitably. Still, this clean-shaven kiss, this soft exploration, takes them back to that island of time when they could just be themselves, together, without the uncertain future always bearing down on them.
Castiel’s mouth opens, and then there’s more heat than there ever was before, and Dean is groaning, licking at his lips. Castiel touches his waist, gingerly, with one hand. The contact, tenuous as it is, sends a straight shot of fire up through Dean’s ribs and down into his gut, and when Cas makes a small sound into his mouth, Dean thinks he’s going to combust.
The motel door clicks open. Sam clears his throat again. They come apart like a pair of clinging magnets that have just been rendered useless metal.
Sam’s gaze sweeps over the two of them. “Ready when you are,” he says.
“We’re ready,” Dean says, stopping Sam’s retreat. He’s not gonna make his brother feel like he has to run away. He strides forward, but Castiel catches him by the wrist. Dean turns back.
“Is there something wrong with my tie?” Castiel asks. He’s leaning forward, his coat and tie falling in front of him comically. The diamond-shaped patch of the tie’s lining hangs there like a pendulum.
Dean shakes his head. “You’re just fine,” he says. He wouldn’t change a damn thing.