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The Line Begins to Blur

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Sam would have been lying to himself if he said it didn’t surprise him. It had been too easy to lie to Castiel and lure him away from Heaven. Ark of the Covenant? He knew the angel was naive but didn’t realize he was also so very gullible.

Although, from another perspective, it made sense. Castiel came when Sam called because he had no reason not to. He trusted Dean and by extension he trusted Sam. Even a soulless Sam.

Without a soul, Sam could see everything a little bit more clearly. Feelings no longer distracted him from goals. He was free to pursue anything without shame, guilt, or hesitation. He turned an analytical eye to all that lay before him, calmly calculating the movements and reactions of those around him to stay ahead of their thoughts and actions. He was always playing a role, acting through a scene, he had been for months and he was getting very good at it.

Castiel had reacted much the way Sam imagined he would at being summoned under false pretenses. The angel was clearly irritated, that is until he was angry.

Sam injected menace into his voice as he delivered the threat, “If you don’t help us, I will hunt you down and kill you.”

Fixing Sam with a steely stare, Castiel took a step closer. “Will you…boy? How?”

Unflinching, Sam held his gaze, “I don’t know yet. But I will look until I find out, and I don’t sleep.”

A pause. “You need help, Sam.” It was said evenly, matter of fact.

“I need your help,” Sam corrected.

Castiel didn’t know what exactly was going through Sam’s mind, but he relented. He agreed to assist his friends.

 

xxx

 

Crowley’s bones were burnt to ashes. Castiel had seen to that in his efforts to help his friends.

Despite warnings from not only Crowley and Meg, but also Castiel that it was best not to return Sam’s soul, Dean couldn’t give up on his brother. It was his job to protect his brother, but Sam just wasn’t the same without his soul and Dean was nothing if not determined. After Castiel smoked Crowley, Dean was single-minded in his focus to find a different way to rescue Sam’s soul.

While Dean spent his days searching for answers and options, Sam was occupied with a little project of his own.

If someone had asked, Sam wouldn’t have been able to pinpoint exactly when he had started to have negative thoughts about Castiel. Since Sam no longer had any real feelings he was inclined to believe that he must have had a touch of jealousy before he lost his soul. Castiel and Dean were close and they trusted each other. Sam had been jealous for both of those reasons.

First, Dean had found a new friend and confidant in Castiel, which was ultimately fine but also bothered Sam since he was used to he and Dean relying only on themselves for years now. Sure there had been friends, allies and lovers along the way, important relationships, no doubt, but most of the friends they had were shared more or less evenly between the brothers. Ellen, Jo, Bobby, of course, but these were people who cared equally about the brothers. Romantic interests came and went, nothing long term. Castiel however seemed to be sticking around and Sam had been jealous that the angel seemed to have a greater interest in talking and working with Dean, trusting him above Sam. He had called Sam an abomination, left Sam in hell after he saved the world from the apocalypse, and had refused to answers Sam’s prayers and calls when he found himself back on earth, returned from the cage.

The second part of the annoyance and jealousy was Dean’s trust in Castiel. Although initially rocky, Dean’s trust in his angel friend had grown exponentially, particularly after Sam had broken the last seal and released Lucifer from his cage. While Sam was drinking demon blood and then afterwards when he just couldn’t trust himself on the job anymore, somewhere during that time Sam knew Dean had bonded with Castiel. Sam believed that Dean now trusted Castiel more than he trusted his own brother. It was almost like he had been replaced.

 

Old soul-full Sam had probably just dismissed these jealous feelings or acknowledged them briefly before logically concluding he was overthinking things and admonishing himself for begrudging Dean a friend. It was nice Dean had someone else to talk to, really. But current soulless Sam, while no longer feeling the jealousy, just saw this information laid out in his mind as fact. Fact: Dean had a friend that Sam didn’t. Fact: Castiel had never much cared for Sam. Fact: Sam was being replaced.

Sam didn’t particularly enjoy these facts. And Dean was currently searching for any way to get Sam’s soul back, regardless of what it might do to him once it was forced back inside. Left up to Dean, Sam would either be dead, insane or back to his ol’ full-of-feelings self in no time. He might not get another opportunity. What Sam needed right now was just a taste of……revenge? A sort of lesson for his angel ‘friend’ to learn. With any luck it would be enough to keep Castiel from seeking their help and maybe even enough to keep him from coming when Dean called him. Sam knew he couldn’t kill the angel because it would be likely Dean would find out and look for the culprit. His plan should be enough to just drive a wedge between the two of them. Curb any chance of this angel/human friendship being permanent.

 

xxx

 

It didn’t take long to put the necessities into place. Sam didn’t get tired. He never slept. Night was the perfect time to move forward with his plan.

Sam prayed. “Castiel! Hey, Cas, I need your help. It’s Dean, he’s in trouble. Get down here!” Like the angel could resist that kind of bait. Castiel barely keep him waiting a moment, arriving with a near silent fluttering.

“…Sam?” Castiel spoke into the dark and silent room. An old building with high ceilings, maybe a warehouse.

“I’m here, Cas.” Sam’s voice came from a short distance away. It sounded like he was speaking from the floor which concerned Castiel who moved through the dark towards his voice.

As he approached, he heard and then saw Sam’s lighter ignite. This didn’t register as suspicious since the darkness in the room was fairly absolute. The small flickering of light somewhat illuminated Sam’s figure on the floor, but his head was drooping, his face hidden. Castiel stopped abruptly as Sam reached out to drop his lighter the short distance to the floor. The ring of holy fire burst up around Castiel almost instantly.

Castiel looked slowly from the flames to Sam, who was smirking from the floor and gradually getting to his feet. Tilting his head ever so slightly, Castiel fixed Sam with a hard, icy look—part anger and irritation and a bit of confusion that he seemed to be trying to hide.

Now on his feet and clearly uninjured, Sam gazed evenly back at Castiel before grinning at him. The ring of fire was the only real source of light in the room and it lit their faces from below, the dancing flames throwing their features into sharp relief.

“Hey Cas, thanks for coming, buddy.” Sam’s tone was mocking.

Unmoving in the center of the circle, Castiel stood with his hands at his sides curled into loose fists. For a moment his lips parted as if he were about to say something, but he remained silent. He briefly broke eye contact with Sam, fruitlessly gazing past him into the darkness on either side of him. It seemed like they were alone.

“Yeah, Dean isn’t here. Sorry to disappoint. This little party is just for us.”

As he spoke, Sam picked up something long and heavy from the floor just behind him. It looked like a weapon and Castiel’s first thought was sword, but then it wasn’t a sword. It was an iron fire poker. Sam held it lazily and stepped forward so the end of the iron was held in the flames. He looked cockily at Castiel whose eyes had flitted down to the iron and then back to Sam. When he finally spoke, his low voice was slightly raised and agitated, “What do you want, Sam? Why am I here? Where is Dean?”

There was a slight chuckle in Sam’s reply.

“This is clearly between you and I, but if you can’t even forget about my brother for a minute then we can involve him. It’s obviously what you want.”

Sam had started taking slow steps around the ring of fire, the end of the iron in his hand trailing through the flames. Sam continued, “You’re here because I wanted you here. You flew down right into my trap.”

Although he was tracking Sam’s movements, Castiel didn’t turn around as Sam strolled behind him, out of his line of vision, choosing instead to turn his head to the right anticipating Sam’s continued path. Castiel tried not to tense further for the few silent moments before he could see Sam again. He didn’t want to reveal his vulnerability to Sam more than he had to, though there was no doubt in his mind that Sam was well aware that he had the upper hand. Accessing his grace within the circle was useless and he was bound to stay there until he was released.

Castiel could recognize Sam for the threat he was, a well-trained hunter with knowledge of angels. Sam had never seemed very intimidating before, but his lack of a soul suddenly seemed alarming to Castiel and he wished his botched attempt to pull Sam whole from the cage had been more successful. He still wasn’t sure how he had managed to rescue Sam without his soul. Castiel dismissed the idea of telling Sam that he had been the one to pull him out. At the moment it would likely only anger him. But then…Castiel still couldn’t understand why he was here. Sam hadn’t exactly answered him and Castiel’s mind whirled with possible reasons, but none of them seemed logical. He was certain Sam didn’t know he was working with Crowley.

Some of his confusion must have been showing on his face. Sam, still slowly walking just beyond the edge of the fire, interrupted his thoughts, “I don’t think you can logic this one, angel. All you need to understand is that you're powerless right now and you’re not going anywhere until I’m satisfied and you’ve suffered.”

Castiel narrowed his eyes at Sam, who smiled innocently back at him as he slid out of his sight behind him again.

The smile on Sam’s face shifted to a grin as he hefted the iron poker into a double handed grip unbeknownst to Castiel. He raised the iron as if it were a baseball bat and finally stopped walking just behind the angel’s sight. Castiel had heard his footsteps stop and had just begun to turn his head to look back, at the same time that Sam swung the weapon forcefully. It caught Castiel on the side of his head just above his ear with enough force that his body spun slightly.  He went down immediately, sprawling forward onto his chest.

 

 

Sam huffed a surprised noise and murmured to himself, “That was easy.” He could see that Castiel had fallen unconscious where he had landed with the injured side of his head against the cement floor. Blood was pooling slowly around his head and it occurred belatedly to Sam that it was fortunate Castiel hadn’t landed in the flames when he fell. He wasn’t trying to kill the guy after all.

Taking a couple steps back, Sam easily hopped over the flames and into the circle with the weakened angel. He laid the tip of the iron back into the flames and dropped the end he had been holding. The thud didn’t disturb Castiel who was motionless. Sam only wasted a moment marveling at the state of the truly powerful angel before him, essentially rendered helpless, before he knelt next to him.

Pulling Castiel up slightly by his bicep, Sam got a hold of the front of his trench coat and as he started to pull it off his shoulder, he grabbed up the suit jacket underneath as well, and tugged them both roughly down and off Castiel’s arm. He rolled the unconscious form forward again, so he could pull his other arm free and tossed the coat and jacket out of the ring of fire, but not before keeping the fabric belt from the trench coat. Castiel moaned a little and curled in on himself a bit, so Sam decided to not waste time and pulled his knife out to cut up the back of Castiel’s dress shirt in one quick motion. Rolling the angel again, Sam cut the front as well and peeled the shirt pieces off of Castiel. He looked small and pale without all his layers. Sam removed Castiel’s tie and used that and the belt from his trench coat to tie the angel’s arms securely behind his back. Castiel was out of it still, so Sam picked the iron poker up out of the flames.

 

 

The few times in the past that Castiel had found himself waking up from unconsciousness had been somewhat unpleasant. It had always been a gradual awakening where he had some time to get his bearings, determine his whereabouts, and assess how he had ended up in such a state. This time he was jolted awake by a searing pain on his back. His whole body felt hot, but he was sure his shoulder blade must be on fire. Castiel’s body jerked and he was gasping for breath as adrenaline rushed through his vessel. He was on the floor and could only see fire which startled him. Castiel felt exhausted and hot and he panicked when he realized he couldn’t move his arms. The pain in his shoulder blade receded slightly as he gulped in air, but when he tried to raise his head he felt a dull throb of pain there too. He thought his vision was compromised, but realized blood had been dripping down his face and had crusted around the eyelashes of his one eye. Unable to wipe it away, he was rapidly blinking in an attempt to see more clearly. Castiel shook his head slightly, but regretted it as he instantly felt dizzy and his stomach lurched. He could smell blood, smoke, and an unpleasant burning smell that he worried might be his skin.

It was easily one of the most disorienting experiences Castiel had found himself in and it took him a moment to realize someone was talking to him. Sam! It was Sam. He still couldn’t see Sam since lifting his head hurt, so he just gazed at the cement floor and the flames. However, Castiel remembered how he had gotten here and he tried to force himself to concentrate through the fog in his mind and the painful sensations demanding his attention.

“…do that again, angel? Or are you ready to listen and participate?”

Sam hesitated a moment. He could hear the unsteady breathing and watched as Castiel tilted his head upwards slowly and licked his lips.

Castiel’s mouth opened and closed once before he managed to say, “Yes. I hear you, Sam.”

“Good.”

Sam was a little surprised how steady Castiel had managed to keep his voice when he had finally answered. Sam had been standing behind Castiel’s back and he now stepped over him so that he would be within the angel’s line of vision. He squatted down and gave a small smile. Castiel’s eyes immediately went to the iron poker still in Sam’s grasp. Glancing down at it as well, Sam absently laid it behind himself, half in the flames, so the tip would be nice and hot if he wanted to use it again.

“As you may have noticed, you’re kinda screwed here, Cas. You can’t leave.  I doubt anyone will come looking for you.  You’re injured and you won’t heal until I let you go. Well, you might heal slowly, trapped in here, but if I keep burning you with the fire from this holy oil, I don’t think you’ll heal at all.”

He jerked his head back at the iron in the flames so Castiel would understand. Sam was looking right at Castiel and he thought his eyes looked a little unfocused. He wondered if an angel could get a concussion.

It became clear to Sam that Castiel was straining against the bindings around his arms and wrists, surreptitiously testing the strength of the knots. Sam rolled his eyes.

“Don’t bother, I’ve been tying demons and monsters up for years. My life depended on those knots. You won’t be able to get free.”

Castiel stilled reluctantly, recognizing the truth of the statement.

“Sam, listen to me. You’re not right without a soul. You would never do something like this normally. Just let me go before you do something you’ll regret.”

Standing, Sam kicked Castiel in the shoulder then nudged him backwards with his foot so that Castiel was forced to awkwardly lay on his back with his restrained arms pinned underneath him.

“Shut up, Cas. This can be easy or painful for you. You’ll cooperate if you know what’s good for you.”

Sam deftly removed his belt and undid his pants before standing over Castiel, who had tilted his head slightly and was looking at Sam sternly.

“This whole thing was Dean’s idea by the way. He’s been wanting to do this for a long time. Shame he couldn’t make it.”

The lie angered Castiel.

“Dean would never. You wouldn’t ever, Sam, you’re not yourse—”

Castiel was forced to grit his teeth together as Sam brought his boot down heavily on his chest, forcing his injured shoulder blade against the floor, while crushing his nipple and ribs. Grimacing, Castiel managed not to groan aloud.

Sam removed his boot from Castiel’s chest and crouched over him, gripping his jaw tightly so he could secure his belt around the angel’s neck and cinch it snugly. Castiel struggled against Sam’s bruising grip, uselessly, and kicked his legs at nothing.

“Kicking hardly counts as cooperating,” Sam scolded and moved to straddle Castiel’s waist, picking up his knife again. It wasn’t an angel blade, but, given the circumstances, it didn’t have to be.

“I need you to lie still.” Sam turned to the side to look back at Castiel’s legs and stabbed the blade into the side of the angel’s thigh, leaving the knife embedded in the flesh.

Castiel closed his eyes and bit his lip against the new pain causing his leg to spasm. He felt Sam moving up his chest and settling with his knees on either side of Castiel’s face. The tightening of the belt around his neck caused Castiel to open his eyes and gasp a little up at Sam who was entirely too close. Having undone his pants further, Sam was now stroking his hardening cock over Castiel’s face and he tapped the head against Castiel’s lips.

“Open up, angel.”

Resisting and turning his head from side to side only caused the tip of Sam’s cock to drag across Castiel’s lips and face. Sam pulled on the belt slack, wrapping it around his hand and watching as the belt constricted against the angel’s neck. Castiel struggled to breathe and after a moment he couldn’t help but let his mouth fall open as he desperately tried to force air into his lungs. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Sam curled his fingers into the angel’s mouth, holding his jaw open and giving Castiel some slack so he could gulp in air around Sam’s fingers.

“No teeth or biting or you will regret it. Not only will I hurt you, but I wouldn’t hesitate to hurt Dean either. It’s important you know that, Cas. Try and be good for his sake. …Plus, Dean would be pissed if you hurt his little brother.”

Sam slid himself into Castiel’s mouth.

“Fuck. This is good, Cas. I know it’s your first time. Just keep your mouth like that.”

Rocking his hips gently, Sam pulled the belt taut again. He observed Castiel closely as he thrust. His face was going red, blue eyes wide and watery, he jerked his head a bit as he tried to swallow air, but could only gag around Sam’s cock. Waiting another couple of moments, Sam pulled out when he saw the angel’s eyes roll and he loosened the belt again.

Castiel spluttered and gasped, trying to breathe again. He was taking deep shuddering breaths, but even with his mouth open and the belt looser he still struggled since Sam was essentially sitting on his chest and the weight made it difficult for his lungs to inflate fully. He was dimly aware that he was losing feeling in his arms and hands since they were tightly bound and crushed uncomfortably underneath him.

After a minute of gasping, Castiel focused on Sam above him and said haltingly between breaths, “No. Sam—you need—ughhhhh.” Castiel let out a small groan this time as Sam reached back and pressed against the knife with his palm, forcing it even further into his thigh.

“This isn’t a discussion, Cas. You don’t get to tell me what to do. Now shut up and open your fucking mouth again.”

Glaring up at Sam, Castiel weighed his options and reluctantly opened his mouth. Sam pushed forward filling Castiel’s mouth once again as he raised his hands to bury them in the angel’s dark hair, forcing his head into position.

The image of Sam above him dominated his field of vision and Castiel squeezed his eyes shut to the sight which caused tears to spill from his watery eyes. Tears tracked down his face, running through the blood on the injured side of Castiel’s head. Sam tugged at his hair, which was also half matted in blood, telling him to open his eyes. Castiel obediently opened them again and tried to look through Sam at nothing, attempting to focus instead on the pain in his leg, shoulder or head to distract himself. It was hard to decide which part hurt the most, but at the moment Castiel thought it might be his head since Sam had such a tight grip on his hair and the rhythmic movements were making him a bit dizzy. If he looked at the brightness of the fire, it made his head ache.

Still thrusting, Sam smacked Castiel lightly in the face after a minute or two to get his attention.

“Hey. Cas. Just relax your throat and hum a bit.”

Castiel closed his eyes at the demand, he wasn’t sure what he was feeling, but he knew Sam’s words made his queasy stomach churn. At Sam’s tugging, Castiel opened his eyes again and choked a bit before he began humming tunelessly. Sam continued thrusting languidly into Castiel’s mouth.

“Yes, fuck, Cas.”

Every time he hit the back of Castiel’s throat the humming would cut off for a moment.

Sam started fucking earnestly into Castiel’s mouth, picking up his pace a little and curling his fingers more tightly into the angel’s hair. Feeling himself getting close, Sam picked up the forgotten belt strap and tightened it once again as he thrust forcefully into Castiel’s mouth. The frantic movements, Castiel’s constricting throat, and desperate swallowing had Sam spilling into the back of the angel’s mouth with a shudder.

“Ahhh.. yes, fuck. Fuck.”

Releasing the belt, he pulled out and let Castiel’s hair go so his head thudded against the floor again.

Coughing and trying to catch his breath, Castiel struggled against the urge to vomit. Sam had clambered off him and Castiel was able to breathe properly, his breath coming in little gasps. With a groan, Castiel managed to roll onto his side so he wasn’t crushing his numb arms any longer. They were tingling uncomfortably. When he had moved, pain shot through his leg from where the blade was still stuck in his thigh. He wondered absently if Sam would remove it now; he didn’t like to think about how that would hurt. Unable to do much else, Castiel lay on his side and tried to stay still to avoid the pain, while he listened to his breathing gradually evening out.

 

Castiel had slipped into unconsciousness and Sam decided to rudely awaken him with the iron again. Pulled straight from the flames the poker was insanely hot when Sam laid it flat against the smooth stomach flesh just above Castiel’s hip bone. He tried to hold it against the burning skin as Castiel cried out, jerking and twisting instinctively to get away from the searing pain.

“C’mon, Cas. You’re not quite off the hook yet.”

Confusion, pain, and anger all tried to register on Castiel’s face at once and he snapped, “What, Sam? What else do you want from me?!”

Sam seemed amused by Castiel’s useless exclamation and he looked steadily down at the injured angel glaring up at him.

“I just wanted to show you another fun way to pass the time,” Sam smirked at him and was pointedly stroking himself to hardness again. Shaking his head slightly in disbelief, Castiel still managed to jut his chin defiantly.

“Finish it then and let me go,” Castiel snarled, out of patience.

This time Sam did chuckle. “Believe me, angel, you don’t want me rushing through this.”

Castiel didn’t answer Sam, opting instead to rest his head back against the floor and stare darkly at the flames across from him.

Soon Sam’s hands were on him again, undoing Castiel’s belt and pants and tugging them down. Sam seemed to realize belatedly that this meant removing the knife finally. As he gripped the hilt, he felt Castiel tensing up underneath him and he spontaneously decided to twist the blade.

“I’m pulling the knife out, but that doesn’t mean it can’t go back in somewhere, you’ve got plenty of skin left.” Sam spoke loudly to make sure Castiel heard the threat over his grunts of pain and labored breathing. In Sam’s confident grip, the knife came clean of Castiel’s skin with only mild resistance after the twisting.

It barely registered with Castiel that Sam had pulled his bloody pants and boxers down around his knees. Moving his leg was agony. Sam maneuvered Castiel onto his front so he was lying face down against the floor. The change in position wasn’t so bad, but then Sam was gripping his hips roughly and trying to pull Castiel’s waist upwards so he’d have to kneel. The burnt skin near his hip was far too tender under Sam’s tight grip and the angel bucked his hips around uselessly. Castiel tried to kneel in the position Sam was demanding but his injured leg was too shaky and he couldn’t help crumpling to one side. He didn’t have his arms free to brace himself against the floor and help hold himself up, so his head and shoulder ended up pressing roughly into the floor to hold more of his weight.

Castiel was canting to the side in his precarious position. From the way his injured leg was trembling violently under minimal weight, Sam was certain Castiel would have collapsed the rest of the way if he hadn’t been holding the angel up.

Miserable didn’t begin to describe how Castiel felt, he felt like his whole body was shaking and it made him angry. He could no longer see Sam, but the thought of his smirking face as Castiel shook in his arms made him livid. He hated feeling so helpless and there was still nothing he could do about it. Sam had changed his grip on Castiel so that he only had one long arm slung low around his waist supporting him. The humiliating position left Castiel’s ass in the air and he abjectly braced himself for the inevitable breach he couldn’t help but expect at this point.

Sam didn’t leave him waiting long.

“Try to relax. I’ve got some lube, I’ll take it easy on you.”

Sam had pushed one slick finger inside of him and already Castiel couldn’t help tensing or the uncontrollable trembling in his leg. Sliding his long finger in and out a few more times, Sam forced his second finger in a little too soon and Castiel inhaled sharply.

“Take it easy, Cas. I got you.” Sam stretched and pumped his fingers in and out. He glanced towards Castiel’s face which was hidden from his view against the cement floor.

“Shame Dean had to miss this. I think he might have enjoyed having you like this.” Castiel didn’t answer, but Sam thought he might have seen him cringe a little, ducking his head further. Sam laughed.

Sam had been planning on stretching Castiel with a third finger, but changed his mind because of the angel’s determined silence. He really wanted to hear some screams.

After pulling his fingers free, Sam reached around Castiel, curious and groping for his cock, but the angel wasn’t even half hard so Sam released him. Still holding Castiel in a steadying grip, Sam lubed himself up and lined his length up against his slick hole and started pressing his way inside.

Castiel’s breath was hitching again and he gasped his way through Sam’s slow forceful entrance.

“Fuck, Cas. God, you’re tight.”

It hurt as Sam pushed in roughly and Castiel tried not to whine in his throat. He had to bite down hard on his lips as Sam bottomed out inside him and Castiel tasted blood in his mouth. Sam had stilled for a few long moments before moving again and the drag as Sam pulled back almost all the way seemed to last too long. Then Sam was thrusting into Castiel harder and more quickly than before. He set a steady pace and he was fairly certain he heard the angel choking back a sob.

“C’mon, Castiel, I heard that. You’re so fucking tight and hot. Let it out. I wanna hear you.” Sam used his free hand to grasp Castiel’s hair roughly and pulled his head back away from the floor. “You hear me, Cas? Your virgin angel ass is so good and tight. I’ll have to tell Dean what he’s missing.”

Sam paused for a beat, “Answer me.”

Castiel didn’t. So Sam adjusted his hand on Castiel’s hair and instead gripped his head tightly, trying to dig his fingers into the bruised cut that had still been bleeding sluggishly. “Ahhh,” Castiel hissed, “yes, I heard you.”

“Good. Now, don’t you think Dean would love fucking your tight little asshole?” Sam waited for an answer, letting go of Castiel’s head and picking up the knife again.

Unsure of how to respond, Castiel hurried to agree with Sam. He had been demanding Castiel’s agreement with most of his questions so far and Castiel hoped it was what Sam wanted to hear. “Yes, yes he would,” he replied hastily.

This time Sam didn’t answer. Maybe he’s out of idiotic questions, Castiel thought irritably.

But Sam had tightened his arm gripping Castiel’s waist and while still thrusting, tilted the angel at an angle so he could stab the knife at Castiel’s chest striking him just below his collar bone, but close to his arm. Castiel had been caught off guard and he let out a yelp and his whole body lurched in Sam’s grip. The wound wasn’t as deep as the one in his leg, but as the freshest injury it demanded his attention.

Before dropping the knife, Sam sliced the blade diagonally across Castiel’s torso from above his nipple down across his abdomen and ending close to his belly button.

Castiel was overwhelmed by sensations and he couldn’t help himself when he gasped out Sam’s name, “Sam! Stop, Sam, please…” Logically Castiel wasn’t expecting Sam to stop, so he was unsurprised when Sam tightened his grip on Castiel’s hip and his other hand grabbed at the bonds around his arms and wrists, pulling them towards himself so that Castiel’s back was arched uncomfortably.

Sam set a punishing pace and Castiel cried out again unable to form coherent words. His ass was burning and his leg still trembled, sometimes seizing up in pain depending on what angle Sam chose to ram into him.

“Ohh fuck, Cas. Yes.” Sam moved his hand from Castiel’s arms to grip him tightly across his chest, bracing his arm there and pulling Castiel towards him until his back was nearly flush with Sam’s chest. It occurred to Sam that he might have hit Castiel’s prostate since the smaller man shuddered once or twice while pressed close to Sam, but he couldn’t be sure and he didn’t much care. It could have just been because of his injuries.

Sam fucked Castiel roughly for another dozen thrusts or so before his hips were bucking erratically and he came inside the angel.

“Fuck! Yes, fuck, Cas, ugh.” Sam fucked him through his orgasm, finally stilling his hips and gasping against Castiel’s neck.

Still holding Castiel, Sam pulled out of the angel. He saw his minimal prep hadn’t made much difference and there was some blood on his cock. Loosening his hold on Castiel, Sam lowered the angel a bit before letting go of him completely. Castiel easily overbalanced on his weakened leg and promptly fell hard onto his injured side without hands to catch himself. Groaning, Castiel tried to shift some of his weight off his thigh, but his efforts weren’t very effective. His whole body ached.

Dimly aware of Sam moving around him within the ring of fire, Castiel started and tensed again when Sam began grabbing at him, but he was just gruffly yanking Castiel’s pants back up, tucking him in and buckling his belt. Then Sam removed his belt from around Castiel’s neck. Castiel had forgotten it was even there.

Sam was collecting his things: belt, lube, knife. He bent to pick the iron out of the flames again and couldn’t resist touching the hot tip to the soft bend where Castiel’s neck and shoulder met. Despite Castiel’s jerking movements, he managed to hold it against the vulnerable flesh for several long seconds while Castiel cried out and couldn’t seem to catch his breath.

“That’s it for me. I’m taking off, Castiel,” Sam spoke over the panting.

“You’ll probably be fine, just no telling my brother about our time together. He’ll just be pissed at you. Plus, you don’t want me to have to punish you like this again, right?”

There was silence for a long moment and Sam almost thought he wasn’t done teaching Castiel manners about answering when Castiel said quietly, “Yes. I understand.”

“Good, good.”

Sam hopped out of the circle easily. Castiel was still on the floor with his arms tied behind his back and he was glad Sam was leaving but he was still trapped, injured, and powerless. He wondered if he would die if Sam left him there. None of his injuries were life threatening, but he knew he lost a lot of blood and his vessel was severely weakened. How long would he survive locked in this circle without his grace?

But then Castiel could hear Sam nearby again and he stomped his feet about for a minute or two. Suddenly, Castiel could feel the connection to his grace again and he knew Sam must have broken the ring of fire. Sam spoke. “I dunno if that’ll get eaten up by the flames, so you might want to move quickly if you want to get out of there.” And then Sam walked away.

Once Castiel could no longer hear Sam’s footsteps, he maneuvered himself to look where Sam had been stomping and saw that he had used his coat and jacket to drape over a section of the flames, before stamping them out and they could indeed ignite, easily trapping him again. It was clear he needed to get out of there.

Before he attempted to get up, Castiel briefly puzzled where to go. He was reluctant to return to heaven in his vulnerable state, he wouldn’t be able to defend himself if he encountered any Raphael supporters. Although he was working with Crowley, he hardly wanted the demon to see him weakened. Castiel didn’t really trust him, their arrangement was just mutually beneficial. He felt he could appear to Bobby Singer and believed the surly hunter would likely help him, but there was only one person he truly felt he’d like to see at the moment. Although it might be unwise, he had already decided to go to Dean. There was never really any doubt in his mind. The hunter was his friend. Castiel knew he could trust Dean and he couldn’t imagine feeling safe anywhere else at the moment, even alone.

Castiel had been keeping close tabs on the brothers recently (well mainly Dean, or else he might have seen this betrayal coming from Sam) and he could only hope Dean was still at the same motel they were in two days ago. He began the arduous task of getting into a standing position and hoped he could last long enough to fly safely to Dean.

Chapter Text

Dean was dozing fitfully.  He had fallen asleep about four hours ago.  His brother had been with him at the time, but Sam didn’t bother pretending to sleep anymore.  It wasn’t surprising that Sam was gone.  Dean knew he often left at night, unable to just sit quietly for hours while Dean slept.  Although he wouldn’t admit it, Dean sort of preferred it that way.  The last thing he needed was another non-sleeping person watching him sleep.  Castiel already had that covered pretty well. 

As glad as he was that Sam wasn’t sitting around staring at him, Dean still felt a little restless without his brother snoring beside him like normal.  Dean didn’t know where Sam went when he disappeared at night and he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to know.  Usually, his brother wouldn’t have been very interested in the sort of places open this time of night.  It was just another way Sam wasn’t acting like himself. 

Though he wasn’t sure exactly when Sam had left since he had been asleep, Dean had an inkling that it had been a while ago.  It was just a feeling he had.  Dean was also fairly sure that Sam had taken the Impala, but he didn’t bother to get up and check.  Rolling over from his back to his side so he was no longer facing the door and Sam’s empty bed, Dean tried to get comfortable, thinking he might as well sleep some more if he could manage it. 

 It was still dark out and he guessed it might be around four in the morning.  He still felt tired, but not sleepy, so Dean couldn’t be certain that he’d drift off again.  There was little point in showering before Sam came back though, especially since the closest diner he had seen was too far to walk for the coffee that he would inevitably want once he decided to get up.               

 

A short time later a crashing sound had Dean jolting awake, grabbing for his gun and getting his feet beneath him in one swift movement.  It only took a moment to scan the small room and Dean didn’t see anything.  He couldn’t make out any threat or figures in the dark, but getting a light on seemed like the best way to be certain.  Without lowering his gun, he edged around his bed heading for the table between the two beds with the lamp on it.  His eyes were adjusting to the dark and he realized that the lamp had been the crashing noise as it was no longer on the table and the table itself was somewhat askew and he wasn’t alone. 

 The figure was too small to be his brother.  Slumped against the floor and the bedside table with the broken lamp beside him, all at once Dean knew it was… “Cas?” he breathed. 

 Dean all but leapt across the room to the door to turn on the overhead light.  Returning to Castiel’s side a moment later he couldn’t help but feel shocked. 

It was definitely the angel he knew so well, but Dean had never seen him like this before.  Castiel was shirtless and his arms were tied behind his back, his hair was hopelessly awry, but matted in places.  He was clearly injured, his shoulder blade looked like it had a nasty welt on it and his hips were a bit bruised and there was some smeared blood on his waist, but Dean couldn’t see where the blood had come from.  Really, Dean could only see his back and arms.  He thought the angel looked a bit dirty as well, like he had been rolling around on the ground. 

Castiel made a tiny sounding noise that jerked Dean into motion.  He had been standing stock still, unable to do anything but stare stupidly, with his mouth open.  Now he knew he had to do something.  Castiel had clearly come here for help and, dammit, Dean could help him.  He had fixed up Sam and his father more times than he could count. 

 Forcing himself to move, Dean quickly retrieved his knife from his bag and then knelt down next to Castiel to cut his arms free.

 “Cas.  Hey Cas, it’s okay.  It’s Dean.  I’m gonna get you untied.”

If Castiel heard him, he didn’t respond.  Even from a distance Dean had been right to grab his knife, Castiel’s arms had been tied well and would be a pain to undo. With a stab of anger, Dean realized that whoever had done this had used the angel’s blue tie and the belt from his coat to tie him up.  That was just so wrong. 

Dean’s knife was sharp and he made short work of cutting through the bindings.  Castiel didn’t move his arms right away when he was finally free and Dean imagined he had probably lost a lot of feeling in them, judging by the ligature marks left behind. 

This close to Castiel, Dean could hear his shaky breathing. 

“I’ve got to help you up now, Cas.”  

The angel was huddled and slumped, kind of curled in on himself facing the bed and table.  If Dean wanted to properly examine him, then he definitely needed him up off the floor. 

 “C’mon, Cas. I’ve got you,” Dean tried to be reassuring, as he ducked his head and pulled Castiel’s arm over his shoulder so he could get him standing and moving the short distance to the bed.  Groaning a bit at the movement didn’t surprise Dean, but he wasn’t expecting it when he felt Castiel start trembling as soon as he put some weight on his legs.  Dean had to hold more tightly around Castiel’s waist to support him.

“Woah, easy there, Cas.  Just take one step and I can sit you on Sam’s bed.” 

Dean could tell Castiel wouldn’t have been standing without him and he briefly wondered how he had managed to stand long enough to fly here.  No wonder he had fallen over into the table.  And why wasn’t he healing, Dean thought desperately. 

Castiel’s skin was clammy and warm to the touch.  Could angels get fevers?  Dean found himself wondering.  He tried to set Castiel gently on the bed, but it was hard with Dean holding most of his weight.  Still, he managed to help his friend lie down and found himself feeling shocked again now that he could look at the angel properly. 

It was at once clear that it had been a good decision to lie Castiel on his back, because his front had definitely sustained more injuries.  The whole side of his face was bloody and a little bruised looking.  His chest was bloody in multiple places and Dean saw two more of those painful looking welts on his neck and near his hip bone.  Had some fucker been burning him?! Dean tried to swallow past a lump in his throat. 

No doubt the worst part about the whole thing was how very vulnerable Castiel looked, sprawled there with his eyes closed.  Usually Castiel seemed so untouchably angelic, radiating with all the unknown power of heaven.  But now he just looked hurt and human and the whole thing didn’t sit right with Dean.  When he had been helping Castiel to lie down the angel had grabbed his arm and Dean only just became aware that Castiel hadn’t let go yet.                                         

He realized he was gaping again instead of helping.

Dean gently pulled out of Castiel’s grasp and hurried to the bathroom to hastily wash his hands and to grab towels and wet a washcloth.  He gathered up some spare bandages from his duffle bag, but cursed when he realized the extensive first aid kit was in the Impala still.

Returning to his friend on the bed, it occurred to Dean that Castiel could probably use a shower seeing all the blood and dirt on him and was that a fucking shoe print on his chest?!  Dean felt livid.  He dismissed the shower idea though, remembering how Castiel had been so unsteady on his feet.  Which made him realize he must be missing an injury.  And yes, there it was.  Dean hadn’t noticed the blood right away against Castiel’s dark pants, but there was a hole and a lot of blood soaking through the fabric around his thigh. 

Dean shook his head and murmured, “Dammit, Cas.  What happened to you?” 

He sat gingerly on the edge of the bed and started with the head wound.  Once he found it just above the ear, he gently wiped the blood from the cut, which fortunately wasn’t too deep, but had clearly bled like crazy at the time. There was a raised bump along with the cut; someone had clocked him good.  Dean wiped at the blood on Castiel’s face as well, just to clean him up a bit, and watched as Castiel blinked up at him, finding his face, looking into his eyes.          

Castiel’s eyes were searching and Dean wasn’t sure what the angel was trying to find in his gaze, but he felt compelled to say, “You’re safe, Cas.  I’ve got you.” 

And maybe that was what Castiel needed to hear, because he closed his eyes after a moment and nodded once before saying, “I know.”

Focusing again on Castiel’s injuries, Dean examined the head wound and thought it might be best to do it up with a couple of stitches, but the supplies for that were in the Impala.  He’d have to call Sam and tell him to get his ass back here.  What was he even doing?  At least the wound was barely bleeding anymore.  Dean settled for covering it lightly with gauze once he was certain it was clean. 

Moving down looking for injuries, the next one Dean saw was the blistering welt where Castiel’s neck and shoulder met.  It was clearly a burn mark and it prompted Dean to return to the bathroom, where he cut a towel into several pieces and ran them all under the water.  He needed more than the one washcloth that he had just gotten all bloody. 

Back at Castiel’s side, he carefully pressed the cool compress to the blistered skin.  It could have used some burn salve, but again, that was in the freaking Impala and his brother had better get here soon.  After dabbing at the welt, Dean decided to leave the cool cloth against the burning skin, hoping it would soothe the heat.  As Dean finally looked away from focusing on the welt he realized that something had been strangling Castiel at some point.   The marks on his neck weren’t too horrible looking, but they were clearly visible now that Dean was staring right at him.  Son of a bitch.

“Cas,” he barked it a little too loudly, especially considering he was still just above him, staring down at his face.  Castiel flinched a little, opening his eyes and looking up at Dean again. 

“What the hell happened to you, man?  Did fucking angels do this?  And why aren’t you healing?”

Dean thought he saw a flicker of fear in Castiel’s eyes.  He watched as the angel licked his lips, his eyes darting away from Dean’s for a moment before he said, “I am healing, just slowly.  The burns are from fire created with holy oil.  It's preventing me from healing like normal, but I believe once the burns heal, the rest of the wounds will be able to as well.” 

This time Dean could hear the roughness in Castiel’s voice when he spoke.  He sounded terrible, his voice was always low, but it sounded like he had been sick for days and Dean felt an urge to make him a cup of tea or something.  He did the next best thing and retrieved a bottle of water from the fridge.  Castiel could probably have managed to drink on his own, but Dean found himself cradling his head upwards as he tipped the bottle to his lips.  After a few sips, Castiel gulped too much and coughed weakly and damn, he just seemed so pathetic.  Of course, to be fair, Dean knew the angel didn’t spend much time practicing how to drink things.  It was so strange that he needed it at all, but Castiel seemed grateful to have it. 

 Castiel settled back against the pillow and closed his eyes again with a little sigh. 

“Thank you, Dean.” 

He hadn’t answered all of Dean’s questions, but Dean decided to let it slide for the time being.  But it had to be angels right?  Who else would have it out for Castiel?  Of course something about it didn’t seem right to Dean, would angels need to use holy oil against each other?

Setting the water onto the side table, Dean went back to assessing the damage.  God, was Castiel always this skinny?  Maybe it was just the difference of seeing him out of all the usual clothes he wore.   Plus, Dean was used to fixing up Sam and himself and they definitely had more muscle packed on than Castiel did.  Or Jimmy did.  Whatever. 

It looked like Castiel had a stab wound high on his chest near his collar bone.  Dean cleaned it up along with the cut stretching across his torso to his navel.  The cut was long and deeper high on Castiel’s chest, where it likely began, tapering off into a shallower injury on his abdomen.  Stitching along the top would help it heal, but it wasn’t necessary.  When Sam got in maybe he could just use a few butterfly bandages on it.  The knowledge that at least Castiel was healing comforted Dean. 

The stab wound wasn’t so deep as far as stabbings go.  Dean wondered if some of it had already healed as he wrapped it in gauze.  Castiel hadn’t seemed certain about exactly how he was healing.  Were the worst injuries first, or could nothing heal until the damn burns did?  He did note that the stab wound seemed to be from a regular knife and not one of those distinctive, triangular angel blades.  Would angels use any other type of weapon?  Maybe Castiel had been dealing with demons for some reason… it seemed unlikely though, considering Castiel had rescued him from Hell.  Could demons get the jump on an angel?

Dean’s eyes fell again on the faint shoe print on Castiel’s chest and he felt a swell of rage.  Picking up another wet towel piece, Dean gently wiped at the mark. He didn’t want to see it any longer, it was too upsetting to imagine someone standing over Castiel, pinning him to the ground like that.  The dirt came away easily which was good, it wasn’t an injury and Dean shouldn’t really waste time on it, but he hadn’t been able to bear the thought of leaving it there.

There was another painful looking burn just above Castiel’s hipbone and Dean tended to that the same way he had treated the other one.  Then Dean found himself frowning down at Castiel’s waist.  Blood was smeared on his sides, but there was no injury there.  Dean wiped the blood up gently, knowing Castiel hadn’t managed to smear it on himself—his hands had been tied behind his back.  One of his hips was a bit bruised and Dean felt a sinking feeling in his gut when he recognized the pattern as bruising from a tight grip.  Someone’s hands.  Why had he been grabbed like that?

Dean glanced warily up at Castiel.  He was still and exhausted looking, with his eyes closed and his breathing even.  It seemed unlikely that Castiel was asleep, but Dean had known him to sleep after being injured in the past, so it was possible.  Dean wanted both to ask about Castiel’s injuries and to know nothing about them simultaneously.  Finding out what had happened to his friend was important, but maybe he was a little afraid of the answer. 

Shaking these thoughts from his head, Dean decided he was being ridiculous.   Castiel’s injuries were plainly in front of him, he didn’t need to go imagining others.  And, more importantly, he hadn’t finished—he needed to look at Castiel’s leg. 

Unsure how to approach the injury on Castiel’s thigh, Dean hesitated.  If it had been Sam, his brother would have stripped off his pants and probably pulled on some blood-free boxers before Dean started fixing him up.  It seemed like a strange thing to order an angel to remove his pants though and when Dean thought of doing it himself it only seemed like it would be embarrassing and awkward.  Plus, it wasn’t like Castiel had any other clothes…. although Dean supposed he could spare some of his. 

Frustrated by his indecisiveness, Dean decided to just cut away the fabric near the injury and worry about getting the pants off him later.  They were already ruined.  The whole situation was ridiculous anyway.  He was trying to help Cas, he shouldn’t feel weird about it.  

Taking up his knife again, Dean made the slit in the fabric larger so he could see what he was dealing with. 

“Fuck.” 

It was another stab wound, a deep one and kind of wide looking.  Dean definitely wanted to stitch this one.  Grabbing at one of the wet unused towels, Dean tried to touch it tenderly so he could begin cleaning it.  Evidently he wasn’t gentle enough, because Castiel’s leg spasmed and he made a move like he was going to sit up before dropping back on the pillow with a groan. 

“Sorry, Cas, but I’ve got to clean it,” Dean apologized.  He could already feel the leg trembling where he was still touching Castiel.  

“Yes, I know. I just wasn’t ready.”

“Well, take some deep breaths and brace yourself.  I’ll try to make it quick.”  Castiel nodded and Dean looked back at his leg, starting again with wiping the blood away, trying to be extra careful.  One of Dean’s hands was resting on Castiel’s thigh just to help hold him still and it was this arm that Castiel reached up to grab onto while Dean worked.  Dean snuck a look back at Castiel, but he had his eyes squeezed shut and seemed to need to grip tightly to Dean to make it through the pain.  Returning to cleaning the wound, Dean hastened to finish.  He didn’t like to think how Castiel would react to stitches if this was how he had to handle a cleaning.  

Dean decided it would have to be good enough.  Honestly, he really should have made Castiel shower or bathe, it would be best to clean the wounds with lots of water and a little bit of soap, but this would have to do.  Besides Castiel was an angel, he should be long healed before risking infection, right?  Dean laid gauze over the injury and then bandaged the leg to hold the gauze in place.  That’d have to be it for now.

“I’m done touching it now, Cas. You can let go.”

Castiel released Dean’s arm and Dean passed him the water bottle so he could take a few more sips.  It occurred to Dean that he and Sam definitely would have downed some liquor or other pain killers by now if it were them, but he wasn’t sure on the dosage for an angel who couldn’t quite manage to heal himself at the moment.  After a quick mental debate, he shook out six ibuprofen from the bottle he had fetched from his duffle and offered them to Castiel. 

“Swallow these.  Then get some rest.  I’m gonna grab some ice for your head.  I’ll be back in a minute.” 

“Thank you, Dean.”

Dean nodded and made for the door before he remembered he was only in his boxers and a t-shirt.  He quickly shrugged on his jeans, stepped into his boots, and pulled on his jacket.  Spotting his phone on the table, he grabbed that too, so he could call Sam and yell at him to get his ass back here.

Chapter Text

All things considered, Sam thought it had gone well. He wasn’t sure that his efforts would really have the effect he wanted, but it had definitely satisfied him to see Castiel degraded.  It was about time someone knocked that angel down a peg.

Covering his tracks was going according to plan as well. He had managed to get the blood cleaned off his hands and knife at a gas station rest stop. Not many people had been around. The change of clothes he had brought was a good decision, his old ones had gotten a bit bloody, but it was really the fact that he had gotten pretty sweaty in that ring of fire for so long.  It was nice to peel off the old clothes for something clean and dry. 

He had put fuel in the Impala as well, so his brother wouldn’t bitch at him for taking it.  After carefully arranging the holy oil and iron in the trunk where they had been, he thought he might be worrying too much about the details. Dean could be surprisingly meticulous about his weapons and the orderliness of the Impala, but it was unlikely he’d notice or care if something was a bit misplaced. 

Driving back to the motel, Sam was enjoying his good mood and decent music on the radio for once.  He found himself sort of regretting letting the angel go.  It might have been nice to keep him and come back again for a second night of fun.  Of course, he wasn’t sure if they’d be leaving town tonight or not, so it might not have worked out after all.

It was half past five and there was a good chance Dean could be up by now, so Sam decided to win some brownie points by picking up breakfast.  He got coffee, some breakfast burritos, and even a doughnut for his brother’s sweet tooth.  As he started up the Impala, his phone rang. Dean. Annoyed, he considered not answering, but that would be sure to piss his brother off. They always tried to answer if possible. 

“Hey Dean.”

“Sam! Where the hell have you been?” How was he pissy already?

Dean continued without waiting for an answer.

“You have to haul ass back here. I need the first aid stuff. Cas is here and he looks like shit.”

“Cas is there?”

So much for staying away from Dean.  It was like he couldn’t help himself.  Sam noted the time.  The angel must have gone to him right away. 

“That’s what I just said. He’s not healing right. I fixed him up a bit, but I need the kit for stitches and better bandages. How far away are you?” 

“Uh, pretty close actually. I just got us some coffee.”

“Forget the damn coffee, man. Just get here,” Dean snapped and hung up. 

Sheesh. What a drama queen.  Sam pulled out of the parking lot. Well, at least it seemed like Castiel had enough sense to keep his mouth shut.  

 

It took less than fifteen minutes to drive back to the motel. Sam drove leisurely, not at all looking forward to Dean’s bad mood.   After parking, he dug out the first aid kit, picking up the food and the two coffees.  Arranging it all so he wouldn’t drop anything took a moment, but he got it under control and made for their room.  Unlocking the door would present another challenge, so he skeptically tried the knob and was shocked to find it unlocked. That angel must really have his idiot brother distracted.  In their line of work locking doors was a priority and usually something they did automatically.   Balancing the coffees, he shut the door behind him before setting everything down on the small table for two.  

Dean had put the angel on his bed.  Even if Sam wasn’t sleeping anymore, he still liked to lounge on the bed sometimes, but now it was bloody and occupied. Great. 

Dean was just standing next to Castiel.  He was holding a towel, probably full of ice, against the side of Castiel’s head.   It seemed unnecessary to Sam, he suspected it would have stayed in place without Dean keeping it there.  Castiel’s eyes were closed.  Had Dean just been standing there in silence staring at the angel before Sam came in? What was it with the two of them and staring?

Sam scratched at his chin with his knuckles and sipped his coffee. Glancing up at Dean again, it would have been impossible to miss the disbelieving glare Dean was throwing at him. 

“Did you want your coffee?” he asked uncertainly, nodding at it. 

Dean’s mouth fell open a little and Sam tried not to smile at his dumb expression, but Dean recovered and stalked over to hiss at Sam.

“No, I don’t want my fucking coffee, Sam.” He grabbed up the first aid kit, shaking his head. “Cas is hurt, don’t you even care?” 

Oh, right. Dean would be expecting a different reaction from him. Sam tried to school his expression into one of concern.

“Of course, I care, Dean. I had already bought all this stuff when you called.  I just thought the coffee would help you wake up.” Sam held out the coffee to Dean, trying to look apologetic, and added, “How’s he doing?”

Dean accepted the coffee, sipping it and looking suspiciously at Sam. See, he knew Dean would want coffee. Jerk. 

“I’m not sure. I mean, I think he’ll be fine, but it’s weird to see him so messed up, ya know?” 

“Did he say what happened?”

Dean had opened his burrito and took several large bites.

“Nah,” Dean spoke around a mouthful of food, chewing noisily. “He didn’t say a lot.”

Since Dean continued eating too quickly, Sam sat down to eat his own burrito. They ate and drank in silence for a few minutes. 

Then Dean was rubbing his hands free of crumbs, before hurrying to wash them in the bathroom. Opening up the first aid kit, he sifted through the contents looking for the items he needed. He looked at Sam.

“Wash up. I need you to do his stitches.” Surprised, Sam looked at Dean questioningly. “C’mon, Sam. You know you can do them better than I can.” 

This was definitely true. So Sam did as Dean asked and then joined him by the bed. He realized this would give him an opportunity to mess with Castiel again, which could be amusing. 

 

Dean was gently squeezing Castiel’s arm and softly saying his name to wake him up.  God, Dean hadn’t babied Sam like that since he was in middle school.  Castiel looked up at Dean tiredly, then he spotted Sam and visibly tensed, his eyes darting between the two of them. Sam smiled at Castiel from behind Dean and Castiel looked away.  

“Sam’s gonna do your stitches, Cas,” Dean announced as he bent over and applied three butterfly bandages to the cut across Castiel’s chest.  “We should do the leg first,” Dean murmured, occupied with his task. 

Distracted, Dean missed the panic in the angel’s eyes, but Sam didn’t. He smirked and said, “We should get his pants off, Dean. They’re bloody and dirty.” 

“Uh, yeah, I guess you’re right,” Dean said, straightening up and going to his duffle bag.  Castiel was looking angry and flushed.  “You don’t need to be shy, Cas,” Dean tried to reassure him in a joking tone, “We’ll just switch you into some clean boxers. It’ll only take a minute.” 

Sam noticed Dean was blushing too, while holding a pair of his own boxers.  Strange.  It wasn’t like Dean to be embarrassed by a little nudity.  Dean hadn’t moved to start anything, so Sam shrugged to himself, bent over and started to undo Castiel’s belt. 

Well, the angel didn’t like that at all.  He tried to shrink away from Sam and immediately blurted, “No! Dean— I don’t…, “ Castiel faltered, clearly at a loss for something to say.  And really, what could he say in this situation. 

Sam left his fingers resting on the belt at Castiel’s waist and said with mock concern, “What’s wrong, Cas?  They have to come off if you want to do this properly.”

Dean was pushing Sam’s hand away and giving him a strange look. 

“You just help him stand up, Sam.  I’ll, uh, I’ll do that.”

That was fine with Sam.  Touching Castiel’s arm and back, he maneuvered him into a sitting position, while Dean helped Castiel swing his legs to the side of the bed.   Under the guise of carefulness, Sam kept his movements slow, letting his hands linger when he would have normally let go.  Castiel had flinched initially, but now he was just shaking a bit with his head turned away from Sam. 

Now it was Dean taking off Castiel’s belt and undoing his pants.  So Sam sat down next to Castiel and ducked his head under the angel’s arm, holding it against his shoulder, while his other hand trailed down Castiel’s back and settled around his waist.  That definitely made him shudder.

After a nod from Dean, Sam stood up, hunching slightly, and lifted Castiel with him. He could tell Castiel was trying to stand slightly apart from him so they weren’t touching any more than necessary, so naturally Sam squeezed him a little closer.  Castiel shook his head. 

Dean was being a true professional.  He had peeled Castiel’s pants and boxers off with perfunctory precision and instructed him to step out and then into the new boxers.  After a quick wipe with the wet towel to get the last of the blood he had missed, he had pulled the boxers up in one quick motion. 

“Done!” Dean announced, yanking his hands away from Castiel and into the air like it had been a burger eating contest and the time was up.

Castiel tried to drop out of Sam’s grasp back onto the bed, but Sam held on and lowered him slowly, reluctantly letting him go once he and Dean had gotten him lying down again.

Stepping around Sam, Dean went back to playing nurse, rubbing burn salve on the two welts on Castiel’s front side, before he tilted him forward and fixed up the burn on his shoulder blade that he must have skipped earlier.  Then he was examining Castiel’s head, assessing the injury there. “You’ve got so much hair it might be hard to stitch this one,” he muttered.  He shifted the icy towel against Castiel’s head again. 

Sam busied himself with getting the prep work done for the stitches.  After he had collected what he needed and was ready to go, he looked pointedly at Dean to see if he was ready.  Dean nodded and got Castiel to slide a bit further into the bed so Dean and Sam both had enough room to sit next to him on the edge.

The belt that Dean had removed was on the bed and Sam picked it up, holding it out to Castiel.  “You might want to bite down on this, Cas,” Sam suggested. 

As expected, Castiel gave the belt an angry look and made no move to take it.  So Dean took it out of Sam’s hand, nodding, “He’s right.  Stitches hurt like a bitch.”

Tucking a folded towel a bit under Castiel’s thigh, Sam rolled the hem of the boxers back a little higher and cut away the bandage Dean had put on earlier.  Castiel had started trembling when Sam had first begun touching him again.  Out of the corner of his eye, Sam saw Dean start to reach for Castiel’s hand, hesitating for a moment before he made up his mind and clasped it tightly.  Castiel was squeezing back right away and Sam thought they were both acting like pathetic girls.  He hadn’t even started yet!      

After disinfecting the wound, Sam decided that it made sense to make Castiel even more uncomfortable, so he laid his hand unnecessarily high on Castiel’s thigh to keep him still.  His fingertips were touching the waistband of his boxers, while his thumb was decidedly close to Castiel’s inner thigh.  The angel made to move and Sam pressed down a bit with his hand, but it was Dean who told him he needed to hold still. Perfect.  It must not look too suspicious. 

Sam started up with the stitches and he didn’t bother to try and make it more painful since Castiel was already gritting his teeth against the belt, with his eyes shut and probably squeezing Dean’s hand too hard.  Sam took his time.  Occasionally, he did need two hands on the job, but he didn’t lift his hand away from Castiel, choosing instead to run his palm back and forth from where it held the angel still, to where he actually needed it.  At one point Castiel raised his free hand to cover his face. 

“Hurry up,” Dean growled. 

Glancing irritably at Dean, Sam snipped, “I’m almost done.” And he was.  He finished with the stitches and doused the wound again to disinfect it, which got a final twitch from the angel.  “Where else are we doing stitches?”

Sam had been talking to Dean, but Castiel answered right away, “No! That was the worst one.  The rest will heal.  Stitches are unnecessary.”  Even though he was answering Sam’s question, he was looking at Dean.

There was a doubtful expression on Dean’s face, but he didn’t tell Castiel otherwise.  Instead he said, “Well, I guess we could give you a few hours to see if you’re improving.  Let me put a different bandage on that other stab wound.”  It only took Dean a minute to remove the old wrappings and apply a butterfly bandage instead. 

While Dean was giving Castiel some water to drink, Sam put all the first aid shit away and went back to sit at the table.  Even from a distance he could tell Castiel relaxed a little once he had settled into a chair on the other side of the room.  Sam sipped at his coffee, which was now room temperature, and made a face. 

Dean was authoritatively telling Castiel that he should eat something, despite Castiel’s objections that he was an angel and food was not required to sustain him.  Castiel soon relented though, and wouldn’t you know it, instead of giving his precious doughnut to the angel, Dean had stolen one of Sam’s energy bars.  Typical.         

Looking for something to do, Sam got on his laptop to search for a new case, scrolling through news feeds.  Occasionally, he glanced over at his brother and the angel.   Dean had taken the sheet from his bed and modestly draped it over Castiel, who was lying on top of the blankets only in boxers. 

Dean was definitely being weird. He was sitting on his own bed, but he seemed to just be gazing steadfastly, contemplating Castiel, who was apparently resting again, maybe sleeping.  Sam didn’t miss the drink in Dean’s hand either.  That might be a new record, it wasn’t even 8am yet. 

A little while later, Sam was contemplating going for a run when an opportunity presented itself.  Dean had finally left Castiel’s side and was collecting his things to get a shower.  Hesitating at the door to the bathroom, Dean turned back to face Sam and pointed unnecessarily to Castiel.

“Watch him, Sam,” he said, rather sternly.

Sam raised his eyebrows at the command, but nodded. 

“Sure, Dean.” 

With a last look at Castiel, Dean ducked into the bathroom.  As the door clicked shut, Sam looked over at the angel too.  He hadn’t reacted to being left alone with Sam and was, no doubt, in some type of angelic sleep, healing. 

It only took a moment for Sam to make a decision, and then he was on his feet, knife in his hand, intently focused on Castiel, as he covered the short distance to stand beside him at the bed.      

Chapter Text

A strong hand clamped over his mouth and Castiel’s eyes flew open, only to see Sam standing over him once again.  Attempting not to panic, Castiel tried to jerk away and knock Sam’s arm aside.  Before he could do anything else though, Sam made a small movement and Castiel knew, without seeing, that the pressure he felt against his neck was a blade. 

“Be still,” Sam threatened and then, with a smirk, “Dean asked me to take good care of you.”

The sound of the shower starting explained Dean’s absence.  Logically, Castiel thought it was unlikely that Sam would hurt him with his brother in the next room.  How would he explain it to Dean if Castiel had new injuries?  Presumably Sam didn’t want to kill him either, he had already had an opportunity to do so and hadn’t taken it.  Castiel tried to keep these thoughts in his mind to edge out the fear that was trying to demand his attention.  He knew the kind of pain the knife could bring to his vessel, but he couldn’t afford to dwell on such things.  Trying to keep his face impassive, he forced himself to look right at Sam.       

Lifting his hand from Castiel’s mouth, Sam said, “Don’t speak.”   Staring raptly at Castiel’s lips, Sam traced them with a finger and then drew away.   

Sam sat on the side of the bed and lifted the sheet from Castiel, clumsily tossing it aside.  Though his hands had been clutched in fists at his sides, Castiel couldn’t help but instinctively move his arms across his chest in a small attempt to shield himself from Sam.    

“You can’t do anything to me,” Castiel attempted confidence.

“Can’t I?”  Sam found Castiel’s thigh and gripped his recently stitched wound tightly.  Castiel couldn’t help the shaking in his leg, but he tried not to wince too much at the radiating pain. 

Keeping the knife at Castiel’s throat, Sam firmly pressed his free hand against the front of the angel’s boxers.  Castiel’s eyes widened and he felt like a fool.  He had been so sure he would be safe here with Dean.  Not trusting himself to keep fear out of his expression, Castiel closed his eyes while Sam roughly palmed him through the thin fabric. 

“You’re going to enjoy this, Castiel,” Sam whispered.  Then some of Sam’s weight was pressing against him as he leaned over to lick at the angel’s neck, grazing his teeth and biting at the sensitive burn mark while Castiel squirmed beneath him.

Castiel started to push at Sam’s chest to get away from him, but the pressure at this throat increased and he angrily stopped.   A few moments later, Sam removed his hand from groping at Castiel and instead gripped his chin, pulling his mouth open so he could slide his fingers inside, pressing against the angel’s tongue. 

Unbidden, thoughts of what happened the last time Sam had put his fingers in his mouth sprang into Castiel’s mind and he scrambled to pull Sam’s arm away from his face.  Castiel knew he was panicking, but he couldn’t help it and he bit down on Sam’s fingers. 

“Fuck! You bitch,” Sam said loudly, yanking his injured hand back and then unskillfully smacking Castiel in the face with it. 

Eyes flashing, Sam abandoned the knife, climbing on top of Castiel, straddling him.  Without the threat of the knife, Castiel fought against Sam, but the hunter was bigger and currently stronger, with gravity on his side and it didn’t take him long to get Castiel’s wrists pinned above his head in one strong hand.  Sam cruelly dug his thumb into the stab wound by Castiel’s shoulder, causing him to cry out in pain. 

Shut up,” Sam hissed, hitting Castiel in the face once again. 

Reaching behind himself, Sam stuck his injured hand unceremoniously into Castiel’s boxers and squeezed his limp cock tightly.  Castiel tensed and froze, but then Sam started stoking him and he thrashed wildly, managing to free one of his arms.         

Sam used both hands and didn’t hesitate to exploit the angel’s injuries to his advantage as he wrestled Castiel into submission.  Both of them were panting a bit after the struggle, but Sam found his way into Castiel’s shorts again.  Leaning over Castiel, Sam licked at his ear and breathed, “Seems like I’m going to have to teach you to behave.  This could be a regular thing, you know, until you learn some manners...”

Castiel glared at Sam and tried fruitlessly to angle his face and neck away from Sam’s searching tongue.  Neither of them heard the bathroom door ease slowly open.

Dean’s clear, low voice cut across the room.

Sam. Get the fuck off him. Right now.” 

Though Castiel couldn’t see Dean, because of Sam on top of him, he instantly felt relief at the sound of his voice.  Sam frowned down at Castiel, but straightened up, sliding his hand out of his boxers and reluctantly releasing his wrists. 

“You know, Dean,” Sam began casually, as he clambered off Castiel and turned to face his brother, “I’m not opposed to sharing.”  Sam inclined his head back in Castiel’s direction, smirking as he said, “Believe me, you’d enjoy him.”

Dean had his gun trained on Sam and the disbelief on his face immediately turned to anger.  He took a step towards Sam.  “You shut the hell up.  And get the fuck away from him,” Dean gestured with his gun.

Castiel had moved so he was sitting up a bit, leaning against the headboard, with his arms across his chest holding his elbows in his hands.  He watched Dean closely, not wanting to let him out of his sight.  Since Dean wasn’t fully dressed, Castiel suspected he must have heard them from the shower. His hair was still wet and he was in boxers and a t-shirt again.  He hadn’t shaved.

“You’re not going to kill me, Dean,” Sam said dismissively.

“No,” Dean agreed, “but that doesn’t mean I won’t shoot you.”

Sighing a little, Sam raised his hands in mock surrender and took slow steps away from the beds.      

“Get out of my sight,” Dean said.  “I’ll deal with you later.  I can’t even look at you right now.”

“Where do you want me to go, Dean?”   

“Go sit in the freakin’ Impala for all I care!  You just can’t be in here.”                                             

Glaring at his brother, Sam huffed and stalked out of the room, pulling the door shut forcefully behind him.      

After a moment Dean lowered his gun and glanced hesitantly at Castiel, who was still watching him.  Dean couldn’t quite meet Castiel’s eyes as he shuffled towards him.

“Cas,” he began.  “I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have left you alone with him.”

“You didn’t know,” Castiel replied quietly.   

Dean stopped next to Castiel’s side and tugged the sheet back up somewhat. 

“Sam did this to you,” Dean waved vaguely at Castiel’s wounds.  It wasn’t really a question, but Castiel nodded once anyway.

“You could have told me, Cas,” Dean said with a big exhale.  “Were you going to?”

“I don’t know,” Castiel admitted.  “I thought it was over.  It wasn’t important.  …And he threatened you.”

“Dammit, Cas, you’re important.  So it matters.  And besides Sam is my responsibility, if he’s capable of—of attacking people he knows, it’s kind of a problem.”  Dean’s hand had found the back of his neck and he ran it forward through his hair before dragging it down his face.

“Look,” Dean spoke more gently, “did he hurt you just now?”

As if considering the question, Castiel looked down at himself before he said, “No.  It was just temporary pain.”

“Good.  And ah, how soon before you’re gonna be better?” 

Stepping slowly closer to the angel, Dean gently made to examine his head wound.  

“I can’t tell if this looks better or not.”

“I believe I should be mostly healed within a day or two from this time,” Castiel suggested as Dean dropped his hand to rest it on his shoulder.  Dean gripped Castiel’s shoulder as the angel gazed up at him, before lifting his hand to briefly touch the back of it to Castiel’s cheek. 

Clearing his throat, Dean pulled away from the angel, “Good. Okay, well I have to get Sam to Bobby’s.  I’m gonna pre-pay the room for a couple more nights.  You just rest here until you’re healed up.  I have some food I can leave for you in case you feel like eating, maybe clothes?”

“I will be able to restore my clothing,” Castiel assured Dean.  “I will return your boxers to you.”

“Nope.  You keep ’em, Cas,” Dean almost chuckled. “My priority now is just getting Sam’s soul back. You know he would have never done this if he had it, right?”

“Yes, but Dean, I already told you, it’s too dangerous to put Sam’s soul back,” Castiel warned.

“I’m desperate, Cas.  He can’t stay like this.  If it was ever an option, it definitely isn’t anymore.  Not after this.  So it’s a risk I have to take.”

Dean walked away from the beds and was pulling on his jeans.  After dressing in silence, Dean started collecting his and Sam’s possessions from around the room, stuffing everything into their duffle bags.

Castiel watched without saying a word as Dean left 2 bottles of water, a couple energy bars, a small bag of chips, and a Snickers on the table.  Having dropped their bags close to the door, Dean turned back to Castiel. 

“I sort of have a plan, but it’s kind of crazy,” Dean began.

“Your plans are always kind of crazy,” Castiel interrupted.

“Yeah, right.  So I don’t know if it’ll work, but I have to try.  And I hate to just leave you here, but you need to heal and you shouldn’t be around Sam anyway.  So I’ll check in with you…after.” 

Dean studied his friend for a long moment. 

“Are you sure you’ll be all right?”

“I am, Dean. I will heal.  Thank you for helping me,” Castiel responded.

“Yeah, man, of course. I’ll uh, I’ll see you soon,” Dean retreated to the door and left.

 

 

Sam was leaning against the Impala looking bored and utterly indifferent.  The sight of him made Dean’s blood boil. He strode across the parking lot, feeling grateful that he didn’t see anyone else around.  Dropping one of the duffle bags, Dean roughly threw the other one right at Sam’s chest and when Sam caught it Dean took the opening to punch Sam as hard as he could in the face. 

“You sick son of a bitch!” Dean had grabbed fistfuls of Sam’s shirt and shoved him back against the car. 

“What the hell’s the matter with you, huh?  How could you do something like that to Cas?  He’s our friend!”

“Jesus, Dean.  Calm down, he’ll be fine, he’s an angel.  He’ll heal.” 

Sam licked blood off his split lip and pushed Dean off of him.

Dean couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He hadn’t meant to let Sam go, but he was too shocked to keep hold of him.

“Are you shitting me right now?”

Sam shrugged at Dean and held his hands out palms up, in a gesture that clearly said he didn’t care.

“What? It’s true. He’ll be fine.”

This wasn’t his brother.  Words failed Dean and he brought his hand up to cover his mouth as he shook his head at the man before him.  All this time he had been driving around with a monster.  He had to get Sam’s soul back. 

Dean wanted to punch the bastard again, but he settled for shoving him roughly.

“Get the damn bags and get in the car.  We’re going to Bobby’s.”

 

Dean purposefully put on Sam’s least favorite tape and turned it up loud as he drove.  He didn’t want to look at Sam.  He didn’t want to talk to Sam.  He could barely stand to be breathing the same air as him.  Thankfully Bobby’s was only a handful of hours away. 

Dean had to get Sam’s soul back or die trying.

Chapter Text

It had been an understatement for Dean to call his plan crazy, but as he had said, he was desperate.  After killing himself for a handful of minutes, Dean had managed to convince Death to save Sam’s soul from the pit if Dean managed to successfully roleplay as Death for 24 hours. 

Though it sounded simple at the time, Dean hadn’t been able to deliver. Needless to say, he was thoroughly shocked when Death decided to save Sam anyway, convinced that Dean had learned a valuable life lesson during his Day as Death.

All in all, things seemed to be working in Dean’s favor.  Well, except for the part where Dean failed to tell Bobby that Sam had attacked, tortured, and probably raped Castiel.  And had he raped him?  Dean didn’t like to think about it, but he had seen the suspicious bruising on Castiel’s waist, he’d seen the blood on his inner thighs and boxers when he had cleaned him up.  It was unlikely Dean would ever be able to forget the sight of his brother on top of the injured angel with one hand down his pants.  And the way Castiel had been tied up when Dean had first found him, the things Sam had said….it just all looked bad and Dean tried not to think that any version of Sam could do that to a person, let alone a friend.  As much as it pained Dean to think about it, he should have at least told Bobby some of it, because evidently a soulless Sam was also likely to try and kill Bobby. And Sam very nearly had, as part of some spell to keep his soul out and Dean blamed that on himself.  He never should have left Bobby alone with Sam, without telling him what he was capable of.      

Restoring Sam’s soul was the only option.  Dean could only hope that the wall Death was putting into place would successfully shield his brother from the torments inflicted on his soul.  The odds weren’t the best, but Dean had definitely faced worse and it was the only option he had to get his brother back.

The next time Dean saw Castiel, he was, thankfully, looking like himself again.  It was such a relief to Dean to see Castiel the way he always was, the powerful, holy tax accountant, angel of the Lord.  Dean never wanted to see him looking so hurt and vulnerable again. 

Castiel didn’t seem too pleased that Dean had succeeded in his plan, but he agreed to examine Sam and make sure his soul was in fact returned.

“Well?” Dean asked expectantly.

Castiel was rolling his sleeve down as he answered.

“His soul is in place.”

While that was reassuring, Sam had yet to regain consciousness. 

“Is he ever gonna wake up?”

“I’m not a human doctor, Dean,” Castiel stated the obvious.

“Could you take a guess?”  Dean tried not to sound irritated.

“Okay,” Castiel paused for a moment and then said bluntly, “Probably not.”

“Oh, well, don’t sugarcoat it,” Dean snipped.

“I’m sorry, Dean, but I warned you not to put that thing back inside him,” Castiel reminded him.

“What was I supposed to do?” Dean raised his voice.  “Let T-1000 walk around, hope he doesn’t open fire?”

Castiel strode back to where Dean was as he spoke.

“Let me tell you what his soul felt like when I touched it.” 

As usual, Castiel stood too close to him.

“Like it had been skinned alive, Dean.”

Dean swallowed as Castiel fixed him with a piercing look.  The angel’s face revealed nothing as he said, “If you wanted to kill your brother, you should have done it outright.” 

Then he disappeared, leaving Dean worried for his brother and wondering how Castiel could still care about any version of Sam after what Sam had done to him. 

 

xxx

 

Despite Castiel’s dire prognosis, Sam was suddenly awake that same day.  Sam was emotional, hugging Dean and Bobby like he never expected to see them again.  Realizing that Sam was shocked Bobby and Cas were alive, it didn’t take Dean long to determine that his brother remembered nothing of his time without a soul.  Though it’d been almost 18 months, the last thing Sam remembered was the field with Lucifer and Michael and falling into the cage with both of them.

Although this wasn’t what Dean was expecting, he found himself feeling relieved.  Sam didn’t have to know about any of the horrible things he’d done. If they could maintain this illusion that Sam had only just gotten free of the cage, then maybe it would help keep the wall intact.   Bobby didn’t like it, but he agreed to go along with the deception since Dean insisted it’d be best for Sam. 

Then, in no time at all, Dean was working a case with Sam that evidently involved virgins, gold, and dragons.  Just another unbelievably absurd day at the office.      

 

xxx

 

“Castiel. Um… I’m back, so if you’ve got a minute…” Sam prayed.

Castiel was certain that the Sam praying to him was once again the Sam he used to know.  Even though he had been gravely concerned about returning Sam’s broken soul to his body, he couldn't help but be glad to hear Sam sounding like himself again.  The younger Winchester was alone, and this caused Castiel to hesitate for a moment, but then it passed.  He knew that despite Sam’s questionable decisions in the past with demon blood, he had never been malicious, and so Castiel went to him.

“Sam.  It’s so good to see you alive.”

Castiel was sincere and it was plain to him that there was nothing of the man who abused him left in the Sam standing before him.  It warmed Castiel to see the brother Dean loved so fiercely, whole and himself once again.  He marveled that even a damaged soul could restore so much of Sam’s humanity and recalled fondly that Sam was much like his brother, they shared many of the same principles and virtues.

Sam looked amazed to see him and said, “Yeah. You too.” 

It wasn’t the oddest thing Sam might have said.  Perhaps Sam was relieved that, while soulless, he hadn’t taken his actions too far and killed Castiel. 

Castiel walked cautiously towards Sam and hesitantly raised his arms to hug him.  It wasn’t something Castiel particularly wanted to do, but he wanted to reassure Sam.  He wanted to let Sam know that he forgave him. 

Looking uncomfortable, Sam turned his head and sat down, leaving Castiel with his arms uselessly held before him. 

“Um, look,” Sam had begun, “I would hug you, but—”

“That would be awkward,” Castiel supplied, realizing his mistake and turning away to put some distance between them.

Sam tried to recover, “Um, so crazy year, huh? Heh.  I just talked to Bobby.  He told me everything that happened.”

“Frankly I’m surprised that you survived.  I was begging Dean not to do it,” Castiel admitted.

“Yeah. No, I can understand that,” Sam feigned understanding.

“You know it’s a miracle it didn’t kill you,” Castiel continued.

Sam could only agree, “Yeah. Yeah, it’s a miracle alright.”

“So how does it feel?” Castiel asked, genuinely curious.

“What?”

Sam was missing a crucial piece of information.

“Well, to have your soul back, of course.”

Castiel thought his question would have been easily understood.

“Right. You mean because I was walking around with no soul,” Sam clarified.  “Uh…” Sam was at a loss.  “Really good, Cas. I’m real good.”

Sam nodded, but then he said, “You know what? I’m just hazy on a few of the details though.”

Castiel squinted at Sam, as if to understand him better. 

“Um…You think maybe you could walk me through?” Sam asked. 

Castiel considered this an odd request and he was uncertain what exactly Sam wanted to know about, but he stayed and answered the unexpected questions to the best of his knowledge.  Perhaps the wall was distorting some of Sam’s memories.  Even though Castiel had forgiven Sam, he was relieved that Sam didn’t ask or mention anything about what had happened between them.  Castiel tried not to think about it if he could avoid it.  The memories were unpleasant and made him uncomfortable.  They were best left alone.

 

xxx

 

Dean was more than a little irritated when he realized that Castiel had blown the big secret and spilled to Sam about what had happened the past year.  Sure, Dean hadn’t mentioned to Castiel to keep it a secret, but shouldn’t an angel be able to tell when someone clueless is fishing for information?  After a minute, Dean was no longer angry though.  Truthfully, although Castiel could often read Dean extremely well, he did seem to struggle sometimes with recognizing the intentions of others.  And Sam and Dean were both expert bull-shitters.

To be honest, Dean had never expected the two of them to be having any type of conversation alone.  It surprised Dean that Castiel would even go to Sam at all after what happened.  It had never occurred to Dean that he would need to warn Castiel not to say anything to Sam, so he could hardly blame him, even if part of him wanted to.

Admittedly, it was comforting to hear Sam apologizing to him, to hear his regret about attacking Bobby.  The whole thing was reminiscent of his Sam, of Sammy.  And Dean hadn’t thought of calling him that in ages.  Sam even seemed grateful to Dean for having tried to protect him, but regardless of the dangers of scratching at the wall, Sam was resolute in wanting to make things right. 

Despite Dean assuring that it wasn’t Sam doing those things, his brother annoyingly pointed out that even if it wasn’t really him, he was still the person walking around doing it.  Unable to argue with this, Dean felt content that Sam was repentant and determined to set things right, which was completely typical of his morally mindful kid brother.

Dean didn’t miss the fact that Sam’s apologies and regrets didn’t seem to include anything about Castiel.  It made sense that the angel would have avoided the topic.  Dean couldn’t imagine wanting to bring it up to Sam, and it hadn’t happened to him.  Since Sam couldn’t remember anything, then he wouldn’t know to question Castiel about it.  Dean couldn’t decide if this was a good thing or not.  He didn’t want Sam to remember since it was just something else he’d feel terrible about, but Dean couldn’t help but wonder about Castiel.  Since he didn’t know Sam forgot everything, wouldn’t he want an apology at the very least? 

The whole situation was a mess and Dean wished it could be something they all forgot, but he decided he should check in with Castiel.  Although the angel seemed fine the last time Dean briefly saw him, he couldn’t help but worry that he might not be.  Besides Castiel was his friend, it was the least Dean could do and if he waited too long he would feel even more awkward bringing it up later.  So he resigned himself to at least attempting to have the conversation.

 

xxx

 

It wasn’t too long before such an opportunity presented itself.  After the dragon case, they had stuck around Bobby’s for a couple of days. Dean had wanted to keep an eye on Sam after Castiel had blurted the truth to him.  He thought it might be helpful to have Bobby around in case Sam took a turn for the worse.  Unable to know what to expect if the wall came down, Dean believed being somewhere familiar would likely be better too, they’d have the home-field advantage.  So when Bobby announced one morning after breakfast that he was going to try and unload some of the gold they had come across and Sam offered to go with him, Dean decided it was a good a time as any to try and reach out to Castiel.

Watching Bobby and Sam drive away, Dean decided to get right to it before he lost his nerve.  Conversations about feelings were something he usually tried his best to avoid.  He hadn’t decided what he was going to say yet, but that was unsurprising.  Planning wasn’t something he was great at, he always excelled at thinking on his feet. 

“Are you there, Cas? It’s me, Dean.”

He didn’t expect Castiel to get the reference, but he never expected him to get them, he just couldn’t help himself.

“Thought we could chat…. haven’t seen you since you were down here playing Dr. Sexy for Sam.”

Dean regretted that reference.  With his suspicions about what might have happened, he shouldn’t casually be mentioning sex, even as a character’s name, because Castiel wouldn’t get it and he didn’t want to scare him away. 

“I mean, it would just be nice to see you, man…after everything,” he amended.

Castiel didn’t appear as swiftly as he sometimes did.  After a few minutes Dean suspected he might not be coming at all, and he felt apprehensive, thinking of the civil war in heaven that Castiel had never satisfactorily explained.  But then Castiel was there and Dean couldn’t help but smile a hello.

“Hello, Dean,” Castiel spoke evenly, standing a little way away from where Dean was sitting.

Maybe it was because he had only seen Castiel once since the angel had appeared injured and tied up in his motel room, but Dean felt the sudden impulse to hug Castiel.  Their last meeting had been brief and Dean had been overly concerned about his brother at the time, but now he just felt happy, which was rare. For the moment, at least, he, Sammy, and Castiel were doing okay and that felt like a hug worthy situation in his book.

Dean was on his feet and quickly closing the distance between himself and Castiel before he even realized that he had decided to go with the impulse.  Castiel’s eyes widened a little as Dean drew near and Dean belatedly realized he had never really hugged Castiel before. Maybe he wouldn’t want that.  But Castiel stood still and passively let Dean hug him.  Dean thought Castiel felt tense, and he patted his back roughly with one hand saying, “Cas, I’m glad you came.  It’s good to see you.”

Normally Dean didn’t hold hugs for long, but Castiel hadn’t hugged him back, and Dean thought maybe he needed a little time to realize he should be participating.  This didn’t seem to occur to Castiel however and Dean could tell the angel was still tense.  The hug suddenly felt extremely awkward and Dean hastily let go, clapping Castiel on the shoulder in an attempt to save the situation.  Dean suddenly felt desperate to say something else to fill the silence.  Castiel had only just gotten there and already Dean was embarrassed.  He felt annoyed that he was blushing. 

Castiel was studying Dean quietly and Dean felt like he had misread the whole situation, but he wasn’t about to apologize for a hug.  That would just be worse.  So instead he blurted, “How’ve you been, Cas?”  At least it was on topic, that was the whole point of calling Castiel anyway, to make sure he was all right.  

“I’ve been well, Dean.  Are you all right?”

“Yeah, yeah. I’m pretty good, Sam’s not having any difficulties, so fingers crossed there…” Dean trailed off.  He couldn’t let Castiel answer that one question and call it quits.

“What do you need, Dean?” Castiel asked patiently. 

Geeze, Dean knew Castiel could be direct sometimes, but it kind of stung that Castiel seemed to think he wanted something.  Dean was sure he must have prayed to Castiel for no real reason before, but he couldn’t quite recall such a situation.  Frowning, Dean reasoned that if he only called Castiel when he needed something it was because he didn’t want to bother the angel, obviously he was a busy guy. 

Castiel was still regarding Dean silently, waiting for an answer.

“I just wanted to talk to you, Cas,” Dean began, trying not to feel awkward.  “I haven’t really had a chance to see how you were doing since what happened with Sam, before he got his soul back and all.  I wanted to make sure you’re all right.”

Castiel tilted his head slightly as Dean spoke and narrowed his eyes infinitesimally.  Dean didn’t think his concern warranted a confused look like that.  Castiel should know by now that Dean cared what happened to him. 

There was hesitation in Castiel’s response, as if he were still wondering why Dean would want such a thing.

“I’m all right, Dean.  You just asked me how I was a moment ago.”  Castiel spoke slowly, like maybe Dean really had forgotten this and he continued uncertainly, “All my wounds have healed. My powers are intact.”  

“Right.” Dean knew that already, he could see that. “That’s good, Cas, real good. I’m glad you’re feeling better, but I didn’t just mean physically.”

Castiel seemed to consider this for a moment and then he said, “But everything Sam did to me was physical.”

Dean groped uncomfortably at his neck.  Somehow Castiel wasn’t getting it.

“Uh, yeah.  I guess, that would be true. But, well, okay.”  Dean was struggling and tried to start again, “Look Cas, I don’t really know entirely what happened between the two of you.  I mean, I saw your injuries—I know about those—but I also saw how you were tied up and it seemed like you must have been in a pretty vulnerable position.  Then at the motel Sam looked pretty comfortable taking—taking advantage of you…” 

Dean could tell he was getting it all wrong, he knew he wasn’t saying the right things.  Castiel had looked increasingly uncomfortable as Dean babbled on and had looked away from Dean to stare at the floor.  Christ, he was even looking flushed. 

Dean rushed to continue, “I just mean, what happened to you would be considered pretty traumatic.  And you don’t have to tell me about it, but if you wanted to talk about it with someone, well, I would listen.  I have experience with fucked up shit and I usually try to bury it all and not think about it, but sometimes it can be good to talk about things.”

Though Castiel still hadn’t met Dean’s eyes again, he had raised his head and seemed to be gazing somewhere near Dean’s chest.  Although he had sort of fucked it up on the way there, Dean felt like he had said more or less what he wanted to, so he waited patiently for Castiel to respond. 

Castiel took his time before he said, “You said I don’t have to tell you about it.  Well then, what would we talk about?”

“Um, whatever you’d like to say? What you’re feeling?” Dean suggested, ignoring how much he sounded like Sam. Then Dean realized he was leaving out important information.

“Oh, and Sam doesn’t remember.  He didn’t remember anything that happened since Stull Cemetery.  He didn’t even know you and Bobby were alive when he first woke up.  That’s why he was asking you all those questions the other day.”

This revelation got Castiel’s attention and he looked up at Dean again, surprised.

“You lied to him.”

“Well, yeah,” Dean confessed.  “I thought it was lucky he didn’t remember anything.  Seemed like it might be for the best to pretend like none of it ever happened.  But he knows now, since you filled him in.  Though, obviously, he doesn’t remember what happened with you, since you didn’t tell him.”

There was a long silence while Castiel processed this information, then he said, “What Sam did doesn’t matter then.  We can do as you suggested and ‘pretend like it never happened.’  It will be for the best.”

Dean hesitated.  Yes, he had just said that about Sam, but that was mainly for the sake of keeping the wall intact. It was very uncomfortable to hear Castiel say it didn’t matter, but Dean wasn’t sure how he could make him understand.

“Listen, Cas,” he began, “I don’t want you to get the wrong idea.  What happened to you matters. And while it might be best for Sam not to know what happened, because he will just feel terrible about it, that doesn’t mean you and I need to ignore it as well.  I just wanted you to be aware that Sam didn’t know, so that you weren’t wondering why he wasn’t apologizing.”

While all of that made sense in Dean’s head, he thought that saying it out loud made it sound kind of weak.  Castiel was probably feeling terrible and he was the victim in this and Sam… he wasn’t himself at all when it happened, but it still seemed somehow unfair that he wouldn’t ever know about it or have to apologize.  Dean figured maybe he could apologize on Sam’s behalf.

“I’m really sorry he did that to you, Cas.  It was a terrible thing.  If I had known, I would have done anything to keep it from happening to you.”

Dean hoped Castiel knew how much he meant it.

“You don’t have to apologize, Dean.  I don’t blame you or your brother.  Sam wasn’t himself, as you said.  I should have been more vigilant.  I knew Sam was without his soul and I shouldn’t have let my guard down around him.  I could have tried harder to escape.”

No, no, no, that wasn’t right at all.  Castiel couldn’t be blaming himself for what happened. Dean found his voice.

“No, Cas.” 

Dean laid a hand on Castiel’s shoulder, he needed the angel to hear him, to understand.  Castiel looked at Dean’s hand for a moment before gazing at Dean. 

“Cas, it wasn’t your fault, buddy.  Ìt’s not your fault Sam didn’t have his soul.” 

Castiel was looking miserable and like he wanted to disagree with Dean, but the hunter plowed on.

“What he did to you, it’s on him.  Sam has been trapping monsters his whole life almost, it would have been easy for him to trap someone who trusted him.  And if Sam can’t apologize to you then I will.  I’m truly sorry, Cas.  You deserve so much better.”

Dean gave Castiel’s shoulder a little squeeze before letting go of him.  Castiel looked like he was struggling with what Dean had said, so Dean tried another tactic to convince him.

“You’re my friend, Cas.  So, believe me, when I say it’s not your fault.  I wouldn’t lie to you about something this important.”

The expression on Castiel’s face was pained and Dean couldn’t quite understand why.  Castiel was still looking glum when he finally said, quietly, “You’re a good friend, Dean.” 

And that made Dean smile genuinely and he quipped, “That’s sort of what I was going for.”

This earned Dean a sad, little smile back that didn’t reach Castiel’s eyes.  They stood in companionable silence for a bit and Dean sort of felt like Castiel wanted to tell him something, but he wasn’t about to press the issue.  He wanted to let Castiel work through things at his own pace.

After several minutes had gone by and Castiel still hadn’t said anything else, Dean cast around for something to do.  He went to the fridge to get a beer and even brought one over to offer to Castiel, but he declined.

Dean drank his beer in silence, content that his hands at least could be occupied, but then he realized Castiel was looking skyward even though they were inside. 

“I have to go,” Castiel said reluctantly. 

“Oh.”

Dean didn’t really want Castiel to leave, but it wasn’t like they were exactly having a stellar conversation at the moment. 

“Sure, Cas, I know you have things going on in heaven.  I’ll just, uh, see you later then.”

“Yes,” Castiel agreed. “Thank you, Dean.”

The angel was gone. Dean sighed and spoke to his beer bottle, picking at the label, “Anytime.”

 

Chapter Text

It wasn’t long at all before things started going to crap, as they so often did in Dean’s life. 

Sam was the first issue.  He and Dean had followed mysterious coordinates to a town in Rhode Island, that evidently Sam had been in sometime the previous year, working a case with Samuel.  The case didn’t go very smoothly since Soulless Sam hadn’t really behaved himself while he had been there, but they overcame that hurdle and ganked the monster anyway. 

The real issue was when they started packing up to head out.  Sam had fallen to the ground shaking, and hadn’t come to for a few minutes.  He told Dean it felt like a week in the cage to him.  They had high-tailed it out of there after that and Dean tried to get them started on a new case that wouldn’t bring back any memories for Sam.  It was way too dangerous to risk scratching at the wall like that.  Dean encouraged Sam to bury it all since forgetting was safer.   

During the next case (haunted mannequins?!), Dean had to bail on Sam when he got an emergency call from Ben.  The kid had begged Dean to come home, insistent that his mom was in need of help.  Dean reluctantly left his brother, but when he arrived Lisa was fine.  The big ‘emergency’ was she was going on a third date.   

So Lisa and Ben were the next issue and they both hurt.  Lisa said she was just trying to get over Dean and Ben had accused Dean of walking out on his family.  That stung.  Dean had tried to tell Ben it was for the best, but he still felt like a huge asshole when he left.

Then his night continued to be shitty when the freaking spirit they were after somehow possessed his baby.  The Impala had chased him around a parking lot before he had no choice, but to dive out of the way and let it drive right through a wall. 

To make matters worse, the spirit they were after was some girl who had died at the hands of cruel assholes and who had been able to hang around by clinging to the kidney she had donated to her sister.  The sister had accidentally died as well, impaled by a piece of glass through her abdomen from the car crash.  The whole thing was stupid.  Dean hated when innocent people died. 

He was already feeling severely depressed about Sam’s impending mental break, about how Ben and Lisa were better off without him, even if he missed them, about his car which would take some time to fix, and the case which had been resolved, but had gone wrong. So it was completely true that he was in no mood for angel crap when Balthazar showed up, gave them a key to keep safe, and somehow sent them to a whole freakin’ other dimension as far as he could tell.

That had been, well not hell exactly, but pretty messed up.  He and Sam were actors playing the roles of Sam and Dean.  They weren’t brothers and Sam was married to a fake Ruby.  There was a fake Castiel there as well and Dean had been so relieved to see him, until he stopped acting and instead became Misha, the actor who played Castiel.  It had been fucking weird to see and to hear.  Misha’s voice was so different from Castiel’s and even though he looked the same, when he broke character and dropped the Castiel act, it was like night and day to Dean.  It was even worse than the future version of Castiel he had once encountered when Zachariah had sent him to an eerie potential 2014.  As disturbing as that had been, at least there was something of his Castiel in that drugged out version of him.  Dean had at least been able to talk to him.      

Despite the differences, it still felt horrible when Fake Castiel was killed by an angel working for Raphael, who had followed them to that warped reality.  The whole thing had rattled Dean, even though it wasn’t really Castiel, he still felt like he had failed to protect him.  Dean couldn’t help but be reminded of how he had failed to protect Castiel from Sam.  His soulless brother could have killed Castiel if he had wanted to; they had an angel blade after all. 

Dean did see Castiel briefly when they got back to their own reality.  He was looking fiercely intimidating and threatened Raphael, who was evidently rattled enough to take off.  The key they had was revealed to be useless and all the bullshit they had been through was just a diversion for Raphael’s soldier.  Castiel said the plan had been Balthazar’s, but admitted he would have done the same thing.  That was not a comforting thought.  The conversation had frustrated Dean.  Although Castiel had apologized, he offered no new information about the war in heaven.  Before he disappeared, Castiel could only insist that if he didn’t win against Raphael they would “all lose everything.”  Friggin’ angels.

The following day Dean found himself steadily drinking as he worked in Bobby’s garage, fixing the Impala, the weight of recent events weighing on him.  It was like he could never catch a damn break.  Although Dean was pissed about the state of his Baby, the damage wasn’t as bad as it could have been and he was grateful to have something to distract him and to keep his hands occupied. 

It was sometime in the evening when Dean finished the bottle he had brought out to the garage, and he couldn’t seem to remember how full it had been when he started.  Dean was definitely feeling a bit drunk and he thought of going back inside, but he had kind of been a jerk to Sam when his brother had tried to get him to come in and eat some dinner.  Best to wait for Sam to go to bed before he headed in for the night.  Dean had quit working a while ago though. He had only been occasionally sitting on the hood of the car, slowly killing the bottle and cleaning his tools, separating them from those he had borrowed from Bobby.  It was boring, but it kind of soothed him.

He was returning tools to the workbench with his back to the Impala when Castiel arrived.  Dean was too drunk to notice and was startled when he turned around.

“Jesus, Cas,” he exclaimed and then snorted.  “You can be such a creep.  Why wait ’til my back is turned to show up?”  

Castiel examined him carefully. 

“Maybe I should come back another time.  You should get to bed, Dean.  Sleep would be beneficial.”

“I got permission t’ stay up late,” Dean retorted cockily. “What are you even doin’ here, Cas?”

That had come out a bit bitchy.  Dean wasn’t trying to be an ass, but he was just in a bad mood.  Honestly, it was good to see Castiel.  Well, it would be good as long as he wasn’t going to use Dean as a decoy again. 

“I had an opportunity to come,” Castiel said, tiredly.  “I thought it would be nice to see you, however briefly.”

Dean felt a lightness at hearing Castiel’s words, he didn’t often get lightheaded drinking, but this was more so a lightness in his chest, whatever that meant. 

“Well, I am nice to look at,” Dean said, with a wink and a chuckle.

Castiel didn’t deny it, he just took his time looking at Dean.  The smile slowly slipped from Dean’s face.  Crap.  Castiel couldn’t have actually come here to just stare at him, right?  Dean looked away, embarrassed.  It was a thought that both pleased him and scared him. 

Eventually Castiel said, “I also thought we might talk.”

That bastard, letting all his long pauses confuse Dean while he was drunk.  Dean stepped closer to Castiel. 

“So talk.  You finally gonna s’plain all the heaven shit to me?”

“There isn’t much to tell,” Castiel looked away.  “No new information, at any rate.”  Castiel was looking uncomfortable.  “Discussion of the war in heaven…  I worry it might take a while for me to explain it satisfactorily and I have to leave shortly.”

Dean was feeling a little pissed.  Castiel had been scant on the details for a while now and he had just gotten there.  This seemed as good a time as any.  He needed more from the angel before he took off again.

“Then stay, Cas.”

Dean had his hands fisted in Castiel’s trench coat.  He couldn’t let the stupid angel get away again. 

“Stay here and explain it to me.”

Dean was dully aware that he was the one crowding in on Castiel’s personal space for a change.  Well, good, Cas did it to him all the time, let’s see how he liked it.  The angel frowned down at Dean’s hands, but he didn’t make an attempt to remove them. 

It was nice at any rate, Castiel felt warm beneath his hands and there was something comforting about Castiel’s familiar scent, though Dean couldn’t remember ever being consciously aware of smelling the angel.  Plus, Castiel was staring at him, as usual, and his eyes—that were way too fucking blue—were hard to look away from.

Then Dean was momentarily distracted from Castiel’s eyes, by the way Castiel was wetting his lips with his tongue and opening his mouth a bit, no doubt in preparation to tell Dean to get the hell off him.  Now Dean found himself unable to look away from Castiel’s lips, which was a huge problem, but Dean felt a little unable to worry about it at the moment.

Dean hadn’t noticed how close to the side of the Impala Castiel was standing, but now he realized Castiel didn’t have much room to back up out of Dean’s grasp.  Huh.  And then Dean was kissing Castiel’s stupid, beautiful face and Dean couldn’t think of why.  He was feeling lonely and down sure, but hadn’t Castiel’s company been enough?  Castiel was an angel. And a dude. An angel dude.  Oh shit. 

It was fully Dean’s intention to release Castiel at that moment, but somehow, Castiel beat him to it.  Castiel’s hands were suddenly gripping Dean’s wrists, holding him in place, and he stepped back the small distance that he was able, easily removing himself from Dean’s grasp.  Dean blinked at Castiel, sometimes he forgot how much stronger the angel was.   

And Dean must have really been drunk, because he was finding it hard to say much of anything, even though he knew he needed to say something.  Castiel was quicker and sounded somewhat regretful.

“Dean.  This, it cannot happen now. There is too much happening in heaven with Raphael.”

Dean tried not to look too dumbfounded, uncertain that he was following what was happening correctly.  It sounded like Castiel was saying …it had to wait.  What had to wait—the kiss?  The conversation?  The inevitable smiting?   

“I cannot tell you everything yet, Dean, but I will.  I’m doing the best I can and this would be a welcome distraction, but I cannot afford to be distracted.”

Utterly confused, Dean said, “Huh.”

He suddenly felt he had to tell Castiel that he had it all wrong.  The kiss meant nothing, Dean was just drunk and the whole thing was a mistake.  He certainly couldn’t let the angel think that there would be more of this in the future. 

“No,” Dean ground out.  “That’s not what—this isn’t anything, Cas.  It’s a big fucking mistake, man, so let it go.  I just had too much to drink.”

Castiel contemplated Dean, before saying, “So you often kiss people you don’t intend to when you drink too much?”

That certainly wasn’t true.  It was definitely intentional when Dean kissed people while drinking too much, but those people were always of the female persuasion.  This weird mistake was the only exception in that respect, but Castiel didn’t need to know that.  Dean wasn’t quite sure how he had let this happen.

“No, not often, but sure it’s happened,” he lied.  “So yeah, sorry about that.  Just a weird fluke, I guess.”

“You’d like to pretend it was a mistake?” Castiel asked quietly.

“Uh, no, I’m not pretending.  It was a mistake. That’s a fact.” Dean was raising his voice.  “And it didn’t mean anything.  Doesn’t matter.  So just forget about it.”

“Of course, Dean,” Castiel snapped.  “I’ll just ‘pretend like it never happened,’ I’m starting to get good at that.” Castiel glared at him a moment longer before he disappeared.

“Fuck.” 

Dean brought his hands up to his face, rubbing his heels against his eyes.  He could probably have handled that better.  None of it made sense to his sluggish brain.  There was no reason why he would have kissed Castiel, the guy was his friend, a good friend, really his best friend, but that was it.  Dean didn’t play for that team.  He must have just been hornier (and drunker) than usual and Castiel was the only one around.  How long had it been since Lisa? 

Forget how it happened.  Castiel’s reaction was even worse.  He hadn’t been mad or even that surprised.  Dean didn’t think Castiel had seemed particularly happy about it, but he did call it, what was the word he used, welcome.  Kissing Dean was a welcome distraction.  What the fuck.  Apart from whatever had happened between Sam and Castiel, as far as Dean knew the angel’s only other sexual experience was kissing a demon with surprising enthusiasm and watching a few minutes of porn that Dean had turned off before it even got to the good stuff.  After all, Castiel had confessed to being a virgin and had seemed somewhat terrified when Dean tried to get him laid.

Dean was getting a terrible headache.  He didn’t know what to make of any of it.  His traitorous mind was insisting that Castiel must like him and he suddenly remembered Uriel saying the same thing ages ago.  Well, yeah, okay so Castiel liked him, that was obvious.  They were friends, they had to like each other, he reasoned.  Besides Castiel saved him from hell, saved his ass and Sam’s several times.  The dumb angel was always helping him, had rebelled against heaven for him, Christ he had friggin’ died twice for Dean… 

Gulping, Dean thought of Castiel saying he gave everything for Dean.  He remembered his surprise when Castiel had told Sam they shared ‘a more profound bond.’  Dean hadn’t thought too much of it at the time, it was just one of the too painfully honest things Castiel said sometimes.  Of course, he was the only one Castiel seemed to say these sorts of things about.  Dean thought of Castiel always staring at him, the times he had caught him watching him sleep, and his struggles with personal space.  The angel never did these things to Sam. 

“Oh, fuck me.” 

Dean needed a drink.  Surely, he can’t have been missing something this huge for so long.  He was just worked up and overreacting.  Castiel had been right, he could benefit from some sleep. 

Dean stumped inside and made his way in the dark to the couch.  He collapsed upon it, willing himself to sleep, but his mind was buzzing.  It was a while before he was able to quiet his swirling thoughts enough to get some rest.

Chapter Text

Sam looked unsympathetically at his brother, who was hunched over the table, holding his head, with an empty bowl and a box of cereal in front of him.

What a surprise. Dean’s ingenious plan to drink his troubles away all day had left him feeling miserable the next. 

“Hey.”

“Uhnn hnn.”

“Doesn’t look like you got very far with your breakfast,” Sam commented.

“No milk.”

“Oh yeah, I forgot.” Sam hesitated, feeling a touch of sympathy.  “We have eggs.  I’ll make you some.”

Dean didn’t really answer, but Sam had already decided to make the food.  It was obvious his brother had a killer hangover and Sam knew he hadn’t eaten the night before.  It was all on Dean of course, Sam had tried to get him to come in for dinner, but he was stubborn as always. 

First order of business was brewing a pot of coffee and when Sam set a warm mug next to Dean several minutes later his brother accepted it with a gruff, “Thanks.”  Bobby had wandered in to get a cup as well, with a grumbled greeting, before he disappeared with the newspaper to read on the porch.

After the eggs were ready, Dean and Sam ate in silence for a while.  Dean had enough sense at least not to complain about the lack of bacon.  If his brother had been the one cooking, he definitely would have made some, but Sam was happy with a side of fruit and a slice of toast. 

Dean had his back to Sam, refilling his coffee, when he asked, “Hey, have you noticed anything different about Cas lately?”

Looking up from what he had been reading, Sam immediately said, “Like what?”  He thought it had been a rational question, so Sam was a little surprised to see that it seemed to agitate Dean.

“I don’t know, Sammy.  Just different.  I mean…not like himself.  Different around me—or us,” Dean was looking exasperatedly at the ceiling and shrugging, holding his hands spread in front of him, trying not to spill his coffee.

Sam took another sip of his juice, attempting not to look amused at Dean. 

“Um, well I haven’t noticed anything, but I’ve only see him like, what, twice, since I got my soul back?  And I don’t remember anything before that from the past year, so I’m not necessarily the best person to ask.”

Dean nodded at this and rubbed at his chin, covering his mouth with his hand as he sat back down.  After giving Dean a minute to tell him what was going on, Sam decided to just ask. 

“So, what?  You think something’s going on with him?”

Evidently Dean had been lost in thought, because he looked around at Sam like he had forgotten he was there. 

“Nah, no.  Never mind,” Dean said dismissively.  “I’m probably just imagining things.”

Dean could be so vague.  It was like pulling teeth to get straight answers out of him sometimes. 

“Did he say something?” Sam tried.

“No.”

Dean was getting up even though he had only just sat back down. 

Sam sighed. 

“Was it something that happened when I was there?”

Dropping his dish loudly in the sink, Dean wheeled back around.

“No, I saw him last night.  And nothing happened.  So just let it go.”

Now it made more sense.

“So wait,” Sam clarified, “when you saw him last night, was it before or after you were wasted?”

Dean’s face clearly said ‘fuck off’ but he answered anyway.

“It was after.  Bitch.  It’s why I said forget it.  I bet the guy just seemed weirder to me than normal because I was so ‘wasted.’” 

“I just made you breakfast, jerk,” Sam feigned offense. Dean shook his head, walking out of the kitchen. 

“You have to do dishes,” Sam called after him.

Dean gave a noncommittal grunt and headed upstairs to shower.

 

xxx

 

They were involved in tracking some sort of creature that they didn’t know much about, that had somehow escaped from Purgatory.  ‘Mother of All’ was one of the names they had.  It sounded intimidating and the trail of horror down I-80 hadn’t been encouraging, so Sam wasn’t ungrateful to have Bobby and Rufus along to check out the cannery where some guy had opened fire and killed six-people before the cops shot him.  Though, even Sam could admit it was a bit of a full-house once Gwen and Samuel showed up.

Dean had been ready to kill their grandfather when he saw him, but Sam couldn’t quite remember why.  The hunt had only gone downhill from there.  Turned out the thing they were hunting was some sort of mind control slug.  It got into Dean and he shot Gwen.  Sam thought it was in Samuel and ended up shooting him when he wouldn’t stay back.  It got into Bobby and he stabbed Rufus.  They lost him.  Hell, they almost lost Bobby too, trying to electrocute the thing out of him.  It was a day Sam was more than happy to put behind him.  The monsters spewing out of Purgatory couldn’t be taken lightly.

 

xxx

 

Sam woke up in the Impala next to Dean.  He had had the weirdest dream, Fate was after them and Balthazar had prevented the Titanic from sinking, because he hated the Celine Dion song.  Sam didn’t make a habit of sharing his bizarre dreams, but this was one he had to tell Dean about.  It was just too messed up.  It only got weirder when they discovered they had both had the same dream. 

Fortunately, Castiel showed up to tell them it hadn’t been a dream at all.  At least that cleared up one thing, but Sam definitely still had questions and knew Dean likely did as well.  With a pang, Sam remembered that 50,000 people had been on Fate’s list to kill, including Ellen and Jo and everyone that was somehow or other alive due to the ripple effects of the ship not sinking. 

Castiel said that he had made Balthazar go back and sink the ship, keeping things just the way they always were.

Sam was perplexed.

“What? Why?”

“It was the only way to be sure you were safe.”

Disbelieving, Sam looked to his brother, who looked just as shocked.  Slowly, Sam said, “So, so you killed 50,000 people for us?” 

It was hard to wrap his mind around that number.  He and Dean were just two people. 

“No, I didn’t.”  Castiel spoke calmly, but Sam thought he sounded a little defeated as well. “They were never born.  That’s far different from being killed, wouldn’t you say?”

No one seemed to know what to say, until Dean asked, “Ellen and Jo?”

Castiel looked down for a moment, before he was able to meet Dean’s eyes.

“I’m sorry.”

Sam could see the regret on Castiel’s face and he recalled the night before his friends had died.  They had tried to get Castiel drunk and Bobby had made all of them pose for a family photo.  It wasn’t quite like losing them again, but it hadn’t been that long since they had had to say goodbye.

Dean decided to carry on with questions, clearly not wanting to let his thoughts stray to sadness like Sam’s had.

“Hold on. Uh, so if you guys went and changed everything back, then that whole time line or whatever, it just got erased?” 

Dean had stepped back to lean against the Impala trying to wrap his mind around the current weirdness they were caught up in.

“Yeah. More or less.”

Castiel didn’t miss a beat and took a couple steps forward to make up for Dean’s retreat.  Sam might have had to hold back a laugh if he weren’t so interested in getting answers.  It was often hilarious to him how focused Castiel could be on Dean.  The angel didn’t crowd Dean’s space as badly as he used to, but he was usually so intent on Dean that he still made Sam feel like some sort of awkward third wheel sometimes. 

“Well, then how come he and I remember it,” Dean demanded.

“Because I wanted you to remember it.”

Sam thought it might have been kinder to let them forget, but he already couldn’t remember more than a year of his life, so he was happy to be kept in the loop.  Still, he had to ask, “Why?”

“I wanted you to know who Fate really is.  She’s cruel and capricious.”

“I’d go so far as bitch,” Dean interjected confidently. 

“Well, yeah,” Castiel continued, humoring Dean.  Sometimes Sam thought Dean could get Castiel to agree with him about anything.

“You’re the ones who taught me that you can make your own destiny,” Castiel was choosing his words carefully, speaking slowly.  His tone seemed more serious than usual, which was saying something.  “You don’t have to be ruled by fate.  You can choose freedom.  I still believe that that’s something worth fighting for,” Castiel paused.  “I just wanted you to understand that.”

Sam felt like Castiel was leaving something unsaid.  Like there might have been a hint of desperation behind those words.  It didn’t really make sense though, Sam knew he and Dean agreed with what Castiel said.

Dean was onto another train of thought, “So wait. Did Balthazar really, uh, unravel the sweater over a chick flick?”

Castiel hesitated, looked away, “Yes. Absolutely. That’s what he did.”

“Wow. Might be time to take away his cable privileges.” Dean plowed on, “Besides, Titanic didn’t suck that bad.” 

Sam knew Dean was setting himself up for a joke, but he looked at his brother expectantly anyway.

“Winslet’s rack.” 

On that note the angel had seen fit to leave them.  They both absently cast looks around the yard as if Castiel might have simply appeared somewhere else.

“I’ll tell you one thing about Cas,” Dean offered, “He does not appreciate the finer things.” 

Sam rolled his eyes at Dean, but then he caught his brother looking doubtful and confused for a moment before he recovered and grinned stupidly at Sam.      

 

Later, Sam was lying in bed reflecting on the strange non-dream and wondering if Castiel had grappled with the decision to let 50,000 people cease to exist just to save himself and Dean.  He supposed it wasn’t so shocking after all they had been through.  Castiel had rebelled against heaven just because Dean had asked him to, as far as Sam could tell.  Suddenly he remembered Balthazar, well fake time line Balthazar, suggesting Castiel was in love with Dean.  Sam had taken it as a joke at the time since Balthazar was more or less overflowing with sarcasm and snarky comments, but he figured there could be some truth to it.  Castiel certainly seemed a bit…devoted when it came to his brother.

Chapter Text

Dean had been struggling since he drunkenly kissed his friend, Castiel, Angel of the Lord.  Like his life wasn’t complicated enough already. 

Even though none of it was Castiel’s fault—he was the one who had put a stop to it for Christ’s sake—Dean was still a little angry with him.  He couldn’t help it.  Dean knew he was being an ass and that he should probably apologize to the angel, but it was just easier to go with the anger and irritation. 

Truthfully, he could deal with it if Castiel had some weird angel crush on him.  That didn’t mean much, wouldn’t change much for Dean.  If that’s what Castiel was feeling, he had never mentioned it or acted on it, so Dean suspected he could shoot Castiel down if necessary and that would be the end of it. 

The real problem was that Dean had been trying to reason, for days now, why he had kissed Castiel.  All his excuses were weak: horny, lonely, drunk, none of those were sufficient reason to go through with kissing his very male friend who had only wanted to chat.  That’s all they were—excuses.  The only real reason Dean had been able to come up with for kissing Castiel was because he wanted to.  And that was a terrifying thought. 

Even though Dean was afraid of what it meant, it was hard to keep his thoughts off of Castiel.  He thought of the features of Castiel’s vessel.  Dean had always known that the angel was pleasing to the eye, but he had never really thought of Castiel’s appearance as appealing.  He knew now that it was—despite the fact that Castiel was clearly a man. Which was weird. But the messy dark hair and piercing blue eyes of Castiel’s face were in Dean’s dreams. 

The attraction wasn’t only physical though, Dean was certain that was just a confusing and admittedly awesome development in his feelings for Castiel.  It was in the way Castiel looked at Dean, like he was good and important, like he was the only thing that mattered to Castiel in this crummy, messed up world.  No one looked at Dean like that.  And Castiel knew everything, he had seen Dean at his worst and accepted him without question or judgement.  The knowledge that Castiel truly knew him and chose to be by his side filled Dean with hope.

These thoughts were distracting at times and on more than one occasion Sam had to repeatedly say Dean’s name to pull him out of his reverie.  Dean found that when he thought of Castiel, he thought of possibility.  He also often thought angrily of what a soulless Sam had done to Castiel and was frustrated that he couldn’t do anything to fix it.

It seemed very likely Sam had raped Castiel and when Dean allowed himself to accept that fact it made him feel a little helpless.  There was nothing he could do about it.  No revenge could be had, because Dean’s stupid brother had been the one responsible.  It was easy to get caught in his rage and snap at Sam without reason, but Dean tried not to.  Sam wasn’t really to blame.  Castiel hadn’t tried to talk to Dean about it, but that could have been Dean’s fault after that disastrous kiss.  Dean felt guilty about it, kissing Castiel without asking, but thankfully his friend hadn’t seemed too upset.  He hadn’t flinched away or anything.

Hoping it might help him to understand what Castiel could be going through, Dean stole time on Sam’s laptop to look up websites on rape aftermath and recovery.  He didn’t know how some of the information might apply to angels, but if Castiel wanted or needed help, Dean felt he was the only one who could offer it.

From the little Castiel had said on the subject, Dean knew the angel might still blame himself.  Luckily, Castiel didn’t sleep, so there was no danger of nightmares, he didn’t eat, so Dean needn’t worry about appetite.   Obviously, Castiel had healed from the physical injuries, but most of the other possible effects were mental or emotional and Castiel was pretty much an expert at trying to hide his emotions. 

The one good thing Dean read was that he should be supportive and willing to listen to Castiel when he wanted to talk.  Dean could handle that.  He had even made the offer already.  To Dean’s dismay he also learned that grabbing Castiel and kissing him had been a really poor decision, given what he had been through, but Dean didn’t need some informational websites to tell him he was an idiot.  He was well aware of that.       

Dean found himself worrying about what to say to Castiel the next time he saw him, but he didn’t have to worry much because Castiel was too busy saving Dean and Sam from Fate.  And then that had all been some weird, lost-time-line dream.  Which, thank goodness for that. Maybe it meant they could all ignore Balthazar’s comment about Cas being in love with him.  Dumb British bastard, where was he getting his info from—was this thing with Cas obvious to everyone but him?

When Castiel came to them for real to explain the dream, Dean just tried to act normal.  There was plenty they had to hash out, so it was pretty easy for Dean to go with the flow and pretend he hadn’t initiated an intoxicated kiss with an Angel of the Lord.

When Castiel had started talking very seriously about making his own destiny, Dean had promptly switched topics and babbled on, keeping things light and making some jokes until Castiel left.  He hadn’t been trying to get the guy to leave, but he was worried Castiel might be about to dramatically confess his love or something. Since he was unsure how to act now, he was glad to see Castiel go. At least the angel had also been acting normally, maybe they really could pretend it never happened.

 

xxx

 

Bobby had a lead on how to kill the Mother of All, but the ingredients would be hard to come by.  They needed phoenix ashes.  The only place they could be certain to find ashes from a phoenix was actually also a specific time, Sunrise, Wyoming, March 5, 1861.  Samuel Colt’s diary mentioned killing a phoenix there.  Dean couldn’t help but feel gleeful when the idea occurred to him.  He hadn’t been crazy about time travel before, but Wild West time travel was definitely more his style.  For the most part, Dean wasn’t even that nervous to pray to Castiel for help.  Dean always said his prayers with a lot more playful teasing when Sam was around since he felt awkward, but he tacked a ‘please’ onto the end just in case Castiel was still upset with him and because Dean really wanted him to agree to it.      

Instead of Castiel, he got a different angel named Rachel.  Briefly Dean worried that Castiel might be mad at him, the angel had never sent someone else in his place.  Rachel explained that she was there to assist them since Castiel was too busy commanding an army to do so.  Dean could have done without her attitude.  He found himself losing his patience, especially when Rachel accused them of only calling when they needed something.  That hit close to home, hadn’t Dean thought that himself last time he’d prayed to Castiel?

Clearly, Rachel was falling into the dick angel category, like most other angels he’d met.  She was ranting about the war in heaven and starting to hurl insults at them when Castiel showed up and sent her packing.  Even though she had been defending Castiel, Dean didn’t like her. He might have shared this thought with Castiel, but the angel seemed even more subdued than usual. 

Castiel agreed to help them and Dean went shopping for authentic outfits.  Sam was being too much of a bitch to admit that they were awesome.  Naturally, they had a 24-hour time limit to contend with and Castiel managed to unwittingly pick-on Dean’s new serape before he zapped them back in time, but Dean was still excited to go.   

Sadly, the Wild West left something to be desired.  No one liked their clothes, the saloon girls were best left untouched, and the whiskey tasted like gasoline.  Dean was able to get some new threads, but failed to get the phoenix ashes in time. 

Luckily, Samuel Colt had sent the ashes to them through the mail, Back to the Future 2 style, so it had been worth it after all.  Good thing too, because Castiel had been betrayed and injured by Rachel while they were gone and Bobby had to give him a hit of his soul so Castiel would be strong enough to bring them back.

Dean was inspecting the bottle of ashes when he realized that Castiel had stood up and was looking pointedly at him. 

“Dean.  A word?”

And then Castiel was walking past him and out the back door without waiting to see if Dean was following him. Avoiding the curious look he was getting from Sam, Dean removed his hat and reluctantly went to join Castiel in the yard.  

The angel was still looking exhausted and was leaning against the door of an old truck.  Dean felt an urge to force Castiel to go lie down for a while and rest, but he quickly buried it.  His urges had gotten him into enough trouble already. 

Shifting his weight from one foot to the other, Dean found himself hoping Castiel wouldn’t bring up the kiss.  That had to be what this was about though, Dean couldn’t think of much else Castiel wouldn’t want to say in front of Sam or Bobby.  Dean supposed he should just be grateful that the socially inept angel had enough sense to not just bring it up in front of the others. 

Dean tried to be patient, but Castiel wasn’t even looking at him like he sometimes did while deciding what to say.  He was just looking tiredly at the ground.

“Um, Cas.” Someone had to say something. “What are we doing out here, man?  Did you have something to say?”

Now that got Castiel to look up, finally, and he promptly fixed Dean with one of his carefully searching stares, like he was trying to meticulously x-ray all of Dean’s thoughts before he could turn them into words.  After a long moment in which Dean kept uncomfortably breaking eye contact, Castiel simply said, “I thought you might like to talk about the other night.  When I was here.”

Dean blew all the air out of his chest in a sigh, hoping he could keep his cool in this situation.  He wasn’t ready to talk about it.  Buying himself some time he repeated Castiel’s question.

“You thought I might wanna talk about it?  Have you met me, Cas?  And I told you to drop it.  If I didn’t want to talk about it when I was drunk, then I sure as shit don’t want to talk about it sober.”

“I thought,” Castiel hesitated, “you might feel differently after you had time to think about it, free from the influence of alcohol.”

“Nope,” Dean assured him, too quickly. 

Without looking, Dean knew that Castiel was giving him another probing stare.

“Dean,” Castiel tried again, “When you kissed me, I — “

“Cas!” Dean barked, louder than he intended. “We’re not talking about it,” he ground out, feeling the back of his neck get hot.

Dean spared a glance back at the house, wishing they had walked further away. He dropped his voice.

“Look Cas, you need to lock this up now.  I don’t know if you have,” Dean paused, steeling himself to say it, “feelings for me or a weird angel crush or what, but whatever it is, it ain’t gonna happen.  So, I’m sorry if I confused you, but you gotta drop it.”

It wasn’t a good feeling to know that Castiel was looking miserable and confused because of Dean, but it couldn’t be helped.  Dean would have gladly avoided this conversation forever; it wasn’t his fault Castiel insisted on trying to go there.      

Dean was sorely tempted to walk away, but he knew he hated it when Castiel took off before the conversation was properly over, so he forced himself to stay. 

“Not that long ago you initiated a conversation with the sole intention of conveying to me that you would listen if I wanted to talk.” Castiel looked sternly at Dean, who had opened his mouth to interrupt, and kept going.  “You specifically indicated I could talk about feelings and insisted that sometimes it helps to talk things out.”

Dean should have known admitting that would come back to bite him in the ass.

“Well, that—I meant,” Dean stammered, “that was not about this.  That was a whole other unrelated conversation.  It doesn’t just...apply to everything.”

“So the offer has been rescinded?” Castiel questioned, testily.

“I know I’m being an ass here, Cas.  We can still talk about the stuff with Sam if that’s what you want, but I have nothing to say about what happened the other night. Okay?” 

Dean knew Castiel was probably beyond frustrated with him, but Dean was kind of pissed and frustrated too.  Why did he have to fuck everything up and kiss Cas?  Why couldn’t Cas let it go?

“And you aren’t willing to listen to what I have to say about it?”

“That’s right,” Dean agreed stubbornly. 

Dean was sort of expecting Castiel to take off at that moment and the angel didn’t disappoint. 

He knew he was being stupid, but he was afraid of his feelings and he didn’t know how to just lay them out before Castiel.   Things had been good enough between them before, talking about it would probably just ruin everything.  Once he admitted that he might be interested, he wouldn’t be able to take it back.  What if he was just misreading Castiel? 

And besides, Dean Winchester didn’t do relationships.  Or men. He didn’t get a happy ending.  He knew better than to try after what happened with Lisa.

Resisting the urge to punch something, Dean found himself wishing they could have enjoyed their Wild West victory a bit longer.  Castiel didn’t have to be so eager to talk about uncomfortable shit.  Then it belatedly occurred to Dean that he had failed to thank Castiel for helping them again.

 

xxx

 

“Why’s it always gotta be me that makes the call, huh?” 

Dean really didn’t want to call Castiel with how he’d left things.  It wouldn’t have surprised him if Castiel just ignored his prayers at this point. Dean sort of deserved it. 

“It’s not like Cas lives in my ass.  The dude’s busy.”

Dean saw Bobby and Sam looking behind him before he had even finished speaking. 

Dean spun around, a little startled at the promptness and how immediately behind Dean Castiel had been standing.  Without thinking, Dean said, “Cas, get out of my ass.”

It was instantly clear that this was the wrong thing to say when Castiel confusedly tried to respond.  Miraculously, Castiel somehow had enough sense to refrain from finishing his doomed sentence.

They talked of how to find Eve.  With the help of the vampire, Lenore, they determined they had to go to Grants Pass, Oregon.  Lenore begged them to kill her and Castiel complied.  Dean thought of the war Castiel was involved in and wondered if Castiel would have granted that wish so expediently in the past.  At least it was quick, Dean thought, maybe that made it merciful.  It was disconcerting when Castiel explained by saying they needed to hurry it along.

After their swift arrival, they settled into Ervin’s diner and when Sam sat next to Castiel, Dean didn’t miss the brief look of panic on Castiel’s face and the way he pulled the arm close to Sam away and into his lap.  Dean tried to think of reasons to make Sam switch with him, but he couldn’t come up with any.  Fortunately, Castiel seemed to calm himself by looking out the window. 

They ate and Bobby looked for suspicious activity on the police database with Sam’s tablet.  Castiel decided to search the town, but realized he was blocked from his power. 

“So wait. Mom’s making you limp?” Dean asked disbelievingly.

Castiel was not amused.

“Figuratively, yes.”

“How?”

“I don’t know, but she is.”

“Great, because without your power, you’re just a baby in a trench coat,” Dean bluntly joked, exasperated.

Castiel frowned at Dean, lightly shaking his head, and looked away out the window again. 

“I think you hurt his feelings,” Sam offered.

Dean hadn’t meant it like that, but luckily Bobby saved him from having to answer.  There was only one unusual thing worth looking into. 

They split up to find a Doctor Silver who had contacted the CDC the day before about a patient suffering from an unidentifiable illness.   Sam and Bobby had left Dean and Castiel teamed up without a second thought.  The two of them arrived at the office as a woman was locking up.  She didn’t know where the doctor was, but Castiel didn’t miss the opportunity to embarrass Dean when the reason he offered for needing the doctor was due to a ‘painful burning sensation.’  Dean wondered if that was revenge for his comment in the diner.

They found the patient to be dead and the doctor to be missing.  Castiel and Bobby were going to cover for Sam and Dean while they went in to question the patient’s roommates.  Castiel admitted he was unpracticed with firearms and Dean jumped to call him a whiny baby.  Dean could embarrass people too, and he had always hated it when his dad had said it to him.

The roommates were all disgusting, gooey, dead shifters.  It didn’t make sense.  They followed a lead to the bar in town and were greeted by a massacre. Everyone inside was dead, they also all appeared to be hybrid versions of monsters, or Jefferson Starships, as Dean thoughtfully named them. 

When the local police arrived, it was lucky they weren’t all arrested at the bar.  Dean had managed to duck out of view while they cuffed Sam, Bobby, and Castiel.  The angel was not happy about the handcuffs and jerked uncomfortably when the officers grabbed him to keep him still.  Dean watched guiltily, wishing he could interfere.    Being arrested was old news for the hunters, but it was sort of surreal to see the angel led out by the police and unable to do anything about it. 

Dean caught up with them at the station in time for the ass kicking that needed to be administered, since the cops were really just more Starships.  They kept one of them alive for information and Bobby took the lead questioning.  Dr. Silver’s two kids were locked up in a cell and Dean and Sam hastened to take them safely to their uncle. 

For some reason, Castiel wanted to give Dean a hard time about the kids.  He seemed impatient and quoted the ‘greater good,’ but it was just pissing Dean off so, obviously, he took them anyway.   They could spare a little time to help some scared kids, damn it.  At least Bobby and Cas had managed to get Eve’s location by the time they got back.

Of course, it led them to the same diner they had been in earlier.  Sam and Dean went in alone.  Eve was there and all the people inside were monsters.  They lost their weapons depressingly quickly and Eve explained that she was there to protect her children.  She told them she wanted Crowley dead since he had been hunting and torturing her first-borns.

Dean and Sam had seen Crowley die, Castiel had burned his bones, but Eve was insistent that he was still alive.  Eve also corrected them that Crowley was after Purgatory for the souls, not the location, then she made them an offer.  If they brought her Crowley, she would let them live.  Her goons brought Bobby and Castiel in and Eve offered to spare them too.  Monsters were always so generous. 

Like always, Dean managed to gank the bitch.  Castiel’s powers returned instantly and he easily took out a dozen monsters in one flash of light.  Dean found himself reluctantly telling Castiel that Eve had seemed pretty certain that Crowley was alive. 

“I don’t understand,” Castiel confessed.

“Well, he’s a crafty son of a bitch,” Dean reasoned.

Castiel was in no mood for speculation.

“I’m an angel.  I’ll look into it immediately.” 

The angel took off and Dean was a little shocked that Bobby and Sam were suspicious of Castiel’s possible mistake.  Dean tried to defend him.  It was Castiel after all, he was on their side. 

 

xxx

 

Bobby and Sam insisted they keep it a secret from Castiel that they were looking for Crowley.  Dean really hated lying to Castiel.  It just didn’t feel right.  If possible Dean felt even worse about it, because they had never resolved the kiss fiasco. Not that he was keen on talking about that, but Dean felt like it made his deception worse.  He had fucked up his platonic friendship with a drunken kiss and then proceeded to deceive the guy. Dean tried to content himself with the fact that the lies were temporary. 

It was nearly impossible for Dean to believe that Castiel could be working with hell scum like Crowley, but he considered it for a moment when Castiel popped into the Impala and Dean found himself worried about the angel.  If it were true, Castiel could be in danger.  Dean ceased the lies for a minute and made Castiel promise that he would call if he got into real trouble.  The nod he got in return seemed a little non-committal, but Dean tried not to notice that.

Sam and Bobby tried to tell Dean that they hated to suspect Castiel just as much as he did, but Dean doubted it was making them feel slightly sick to their stomachs the way he was.  Normally, Dean was a master of deceit, but Castiel was one of the few people he was always straight with.  Dean could understand how dangerous Castiel could be as an enemy, but Dean could not picture him as such.  This had to be a misunderstanding.  The angel was allowed to make mistakes, right?

The betrayal was too much for Dean—not trusting his best friend—after all Castiel had done for them.  It was hard to stomach. 

They were working on finding Crowley, following leads and soon they had a location and a specific demon to strong arm for answers.  The only problem was the place was clean when they got there—no signs of demons at all. 

Perturbed by this dead end, Dean insisted they call Castiel, because this whole thing was getting fucking ridiculous.  He had to make Bobby and Sam understand that it was safe to call Castiel — the angel who Dean trusted implicitly, who Sam had unknowingly hurt, who had saved their asses countless times.  The angel Dean had drunkenly kissed and was feeling increasingly conflicted about. 

Sam relented and prayed, then Dean chimed in, and they all waited.  Castiel was a no show and Dean didn’t miss the sympathetic look Sam was trying to give him, well what did Sam know—it didn’t mean anything.  Cas couldn’t always come.     

Before they could take a moment to decide what to do next, they were under attack.  Dean thought there were three demons and he hoped there weren’t any more, because they were all caught off guard and three were bad enough.  The sound of shattering glass was loud behind Dean while he was punched repeatedly on the floor, dazed. 

Dean was struggling to launch a counterattack when suddenly Castiel was there, smiting the demon on top of Dean—all efficient precision and deadly effectiveness.  Happiness flooded Dean at the sight of Castiel, come to save them again.  With otherworldly speed, it only took Castiel a moment to drop all three demons.

They got slowly to their feet.  No one seemed to be greatly injured and Dean was so grateful for Castiel’s timing; things could have gotten ugly.  Dean felt a rush of warm affection for the angel and reveled in Castiel looking just as he always did—bright blue eyes, tousled hair, his stupid crooked tie and that trench coat that was so essentially Cas. 

It was good to see Castiel and Dean told him so.  Castiel informed them that he believed Crowley to be alive and at Dean’s prompting Bobby admitted they owed Castiel an apology for thinking he was working with the demon.  Sam confessed they had been hunting the slippery king of hell for some time. 

Thankfully, Castiel took it in stride and when Dean apologized and asked for forgiveness, the words came to him more easily than they ever had before.  Normally, Dean struggled to admit when he was wrong and to say sorry, but it was just so important that Castiel know how sincere he was.  Lying to his friend and sneaking around had eaten at him in a way Dean hadn’t experienced before and he had no desire to ever do it again.

Castiel forgave them at once, as Dean knew he would, but it was still a relief to hear it.  Part of Dean had been dreading this inevitable conversation, but everything was going surprisingly well—until it was all going horribly wrong and Dean felt like his suddenly writhing stomach had just fallen out of his ass.  Castiel had tried to make a joke, perhaps to lighten the mood, which was rare enough for him, but then he made a pop culture reference which couldn’t be ignored, because he never got those when Dean made them and Dean had never heard the angel attempt one of his own before.  Plus, Bobby had made the exact same comment earlier that day.  No, no, it was too damn coincidental and Dean’s mind whirled with the implications of what that could mean.   

Striving to veil his expressions from his current feelings of turmoil, Dean somehow managed to keep it together until Castiel departed.  Eyes on the floor, he turned to Sam and Bobby and said in a hollow voice, “I think we really have a problem.”

 

xxx

  

It was a blessing that they had some whiskey; Dean couldn’t be sober for this.  They had laid a trap for Castiel.  There was a ring of holy oil just waiting to be ignited when the angel arrived and Dean thought, uncomfortably, that this was probably exactly how soulless Sam had trapped him. Dean threw back his head, draining the last of his glass, and immediately took up the bottle to fill it again.  Sam was nodding to him that they were ready and Dean desperately didn’t want to say the words.  If he didn’t call Castiel, then he wouldn’t have to know for certain that his friend had lied to him.  Had been lying to him.   He wouldn’t have to know the truth that his angel had betrayed him.  

Trying to ignore the dread that had been tugging at him, Dean prayed to Castiel, keeping it light and the angel appeared before them almost immediately.

Castiel seemed confident and unaware that he was about to be ensnared, walking willingly into their ambush.  When the fire sprung up around him, Dean could tell that the angel hadn’t anticipated this.  It broke Dean’s heart a little bit to see the true panic on Castiel’s face as he started, taking in the flames, and his always carefully collected demeanor slipped and he demanded they let him go. 

Sam and Bobby started in on the questions and Castiel avoided answering, deflecting and stalling from giving a full response. And Dean was so tired of the bullshit.  He felt a weariness in his bones as he watched Castiel, confused and defensive and negotiating that they release him and he’d explain.

Dean knew already that it was true.  It was plain to him from Castiel’s anxious little movements, the edge in his voice, and his eyes, which were usually slow and steady, flitted impatiently between the three of them and the floor.  God, Dean wanted so badly to be wrong, but he just needed to know. 

“You gotta look at me, man,” Dean caught Castiel’s gaze and stared evenly at him. “You gotta level with me and tell me what’s going on.  Look me in the eye and tell me you’re not working with Crowley.” 

It hurt to even say the words.

Dean was silently pleading he was wrong, but no, fuck, no, no.  Castiel had broken eye contact and looked away, unable to lie so directly. 

“Son of a bitch.”

Disgusted, Dean couldn’t let Castiel explain.  He spoke over him with questions.  Everything Castiel said was bullshit—he did it to protect them, he wanted their trust, he was still their friend.  Dean was trying not to groan aloud in frustration when he heard Castiel tell Sam that he pulled him from hell. 

“Well, no offense,” Sam said, darkly, “but you did a pretty piss-poor job of it.” 

Even Dean felt like that one stung a bit.  If he hadn’t been so mad at Castiel himself, he might have thought it was unfair.  Then Sam was asking if Castiel brought him back soulless on purpose and damn it, that was a horrifying thought.  At least Castiel seemed appropriately appalled at the suggestion.

Castiel spoke of Raphael and was defensive again—he had no choice, they didn’t understand, it was complicated and Dean just had to argue back.  He might have yelled.

“When crap like this comes around, we deal with it, like we always have.  What we don’t do, is we don’t go out and make another deal with the devil,” Dean threw at him hotly.

“It sounds so simple when you say it like that,” Castiel responded, despondently.

Dean was in shambles. He simultaneously wanted to comfort Castiel, who was looking pathetic and despairing, and to throttle him for this whole fucking mess.

Then Castiel was yelling at them to run, and for good reason, because it looked like dozens of demons were on their way to screw Dean’s shit life up even more.  Dean didn’t want to leave Castiel there, trapped and alone, he truly didn’t, but there was no time to consider other options.   Though secretly, Dean was glad to be running away, because looking at Castiel had been getting too fucking painful.   

 

xxx

 

Surprisingly, Dean had fallen into a restless sleep, despite the hollowness in his chest and his roiling stomach.  Sleep was welcome—Dean didn’t want to think any more and he was so fucking tired—He just hoped Castiel’s despairing face and blatant lies wouldn’t haunt him. 

It didn’t make sense that Castiel was standing in front of him looking so real, but Dean realized it wasn’t a dream.  Bobby had screwed the pooch with the angel-proofing.  Dean wasn’t afraid of Castiel though, he just had no idea what to do with him. 

“Why are you here?” Dean asked softly.

“I want you to understand,” Castiel began.

“Oh, believe me, I get it,” Dean huffed, “Blah, blah, Raphael, right?”

“I’m doing this for you Dean.  I’m doing this because of you,” Castiel insisted.

“Because of me. Yeah,” Dean has to turn away and pinch the bridge of his nose with a tired chuckle.  “You gotta be kidding me.”  What did that even mean?  Dean thought of their kiss and Castiel trying to talk about his feelings, while Dean shut him down.  Everything was so messed up.

“You’re the one who taught me that freedom and free will—“

Dean barreled over him, “You’re a frigging child, you know that?  Just because you can do what you want, doesn’t mean that you get to do whatever you want.”

“I know what I’m doing, Dean.”

Castiel’s voice was calm.

“I’m not gonna logic you, okay?” Dean tried.  “I’m saying don’t, just because.  I’m asking you not to.  That’s it.”

He was silently beseeching Castiel to understand.

“I don’t understand.” 

Of course, he didn’t.

“Look, next to Sam, you and Bobby are the closest things I have to family,” and that certainly got Castiel’s attention, “that you are like a brother to me.  So if I’m asking you not to do something, you gotta trust me, man”

Castiel evaluated Dean.

“Or what?”

It hadn’t been a threat, Dean had been pleading, but it would be easier to level threats at each other, so that was fine with Dean.

“I’ll do what I have to do to stop you.”

“You can’t, Dean,” Castiel paused.  “You’re just a man.”

Like Dean didn’t know that.

“I’m an angel.”

“I don’t know. I’ve taken some pretty big fish,” Dean retorted, not intimidated by the angel before him.

“I’m sorry, Dean.”

“Well, I’m sorry too then.”  But Dean was only talking to himself.

Chapter Text

Dean had said they could fix things, but Castiel wasn’t entirely sure what was broken.  It was true that he had lied to Dean and the others, but initially it had been to protect them.  Lying had seemed a good choice. Castiel knew Dean lied to protect Sam, so Castiel saw nothing wrong with lying to protect Dean.  Castiel hadn’t wanted to drag Dean back into the realm of hunting and fixing another End of the World sized issue.  The hunter had done enough and Castiel had thought he could manage Raphael. 

It had never seemed like a good time to tell Dean about Crowley and the plan.  Eventually, Sam had demanded and even threatened that Castiel help them as they stormed Crowley’s stronghold and Castiel had been forced into theatrics, feigning Crowley’s death to keep them all from killing each other.  He didn’t care for the demon, but he had needed all the help he could get to succeed in his plan.  Souls were the only option to ultimately defeat Raphael and he needed Purgatory to get the souls.  So he had kept Crowley alive and hid the truth from the Winchesters.  It had seemed like a good idea at the time; they would hardly look for a demon they believed dead. 

So far Castiel hadn’t lost his confidence in the plan, despite the unrelenting problems he encountered.  The real issue was Dean.  Castiel found the hunter’s reaction to being lied to inscrutable.  He had expected Dean to be upset, but not like this.  Dean had seemed angry, which was normal, but he had also seemed disappointed in Castiel and that felt like a piercing pain through his chest. 

Castiel had begun his partnership with Crowley to shield Dean and to defeat Raphael.  He couldn’t let the apocalypse happen, not after everything Dean and Sam had already sacrificed.  These were facts that Castiel had been certain Dean would understand and agree with.

It had never occurred to Castiel that the men he called friends would trap and interrogate him.  Castiel had been terrified initially, unable to see anything but an angry Sam and the ring of holy fire that rendered him powerless and vulnerable.  The hunters hadn’t let him explain, but Castiel wasn’t sure he would have been able to find the right words if they had.  Sam’s presence had been so intimidating, Castiel couldn’t collect his thoughts properly.  He had to repeat to himself that it wasn’t the same Sam, over and over.  They had all been angry with him, but Sam’s voice seemed the harshest.  Castiel tried not to turn his back to any of them, especially Sam, he couldn’t give them that advantage.  Sam had yelled that they couldn’t trust him and Castiel had finally confessed that he had saved Sam from damnation, hoping for some compassion.  Instead of thanks or understanding, there had been more cruel words and accusations.  No one seemed to care that Sam was alive because of him and Castiel felt defeated.       

All of the steps that Castiel had taken on his path so far made logical sense, so he wasn’t sure why everything was veering so badly off course.  Castiel needed Dean to understand him, but the hunter had been unwilling to listen, even when Castiel had approached him alone at night. 

The war in heaven was constant.  The tension between Castiel and the demon he had partnered with was reaching new peaks.  The ongoing struggle to find Purgatory was inconclusive.  The uncertainty of whom he could trust plagued his mind.  The memories of what an amoral Sam had inflicted upon him fought for Castiel’s attention, as much as he tried to forget them.  The meaning of the kiss from Dean was unclear, though Castiel knew what he wanted it to mean.  All of these things had been weighing on Castiel, but he was able to carry on and have faith that he was on the right track.  That changed when he started actively lying to Dean.  Every small deception, though seemingly harmless, piled up like stones on Castiel’s mind, heavy and distracting. 

 

Determined to see his plan through, Castiel continued gathering information, he even stole an old journal he needed from Bobby.  It was for the best to take it, rather than simply read it.  He couldn’t have the hunters stopping him. 

A day passed where he didn’t spy on Dean.  Castiel had stolen old letters from a man’s private collection, following a new lead for opening Purgatory.  Small sins committed for the greater good. 

Then Sam was praying to him about Ben and Lisa, the family Dean had sought solace with after Sam was gone.  Sam appealed to his heart, pleading, begging Castiel to bring them back.  Crowley.  It had to have been the demon. 

Castiel was repeatedly surprised by the level of emotions he seemed to feel in regards to Dean Winchester.  Angels didn’t feel the way humans did—they didn’t feel as deeply or with the same wide range of emotions.  Angelic emotions were usually few and subtle, but the more time Castiel spent on Earth and in the presence of humans, particularly Dean, the more he found himself feeling.  Usually Castiel tried to repress his feelings, but it had gotten harder to do so lately and he felt his control slipping as everything continued to go south.  Currently, he couldn’t quell the anger he felt at Crowley.  The demon had intentionally gone after Dean, despite Castiel’s warnings.

Previously, when Crowley had sent some of his best demons after the hunters, Castiel had smote them and then threatened Crowley, telling him to leave the Winchesters alone.  Castiel had been able to control himself through the King of Hell’s irritating responses until Crowley had said the word: whore.

Well, I got news for you, kitten. A whore is a whore is a whore.

It had been necessary to bodily throw the demon into a wall and the loud crack from the impact had been exceedingly satisfying.  Something about the comment had sparked a flare of hatred and anger that Castiel couldn’t control.  He didn’t care for the pet name or the implications of the sentence.  Even thinking about it now made his hands curl into fists.

Hoping for an excuse to lash out at Crowley again, Castiel went to the King of Hell to demand answers, but Crowley was crafty.  The demon was getting harder and harder to control, always finding loopholes and manipulating things to his advantage.  It was true Crowley hadn’t hurt the Winchesters directly, but his actions had the same result.  The demon wouldn’t reveal the location of the humans and Castiel found the argument interrupted as he was being called by Balthazar.  Too bad he didn’t get a chance to bludgeon the demon before he left.

His brother was skeptical about Castiel’s plan, citing the dangers of taking so many souls into his vessel.  Uninterested in the potential danger, Castiel simply wanted to know if Balthazar was on his side.  The angel said he was and Castiel hoped he had found another ally—he needed as many as he could get.

When Castiel went to Dean, the hunter was torturing demons for information on Ben and Lisa.  The scene was disturbing to Castiel, though he had seen Dean torture demons before.  The garage smelled strongly of blood.  Conflicted, Castiel remained hidden, uncertain of what he was going to say.  He didn’t have long to reflect on how to approach Dean though.  The demon had escaped the devil’s trap and quickly got the advantage over Dean, hand at his throat.  Castiel didn’t hesitate, he knew the panic of not being able to breathe too well.  Smiting the demon took but a moment, and Castiel could only stare at Dean, willing words to come to him.  The hunter spoke first and he was clearly still angry.

“I didn’t ask for your help.”

Dean was trying to compose himself.

“Well, regardless. You’re welcome.”

Castiel wondered how he could make Dean understand.  Dean didn’t need to ask for help.  Castiel would always watch out for the hunter.

“Why are you here?” Dean asked, as he walked past the angel.

“I had no idea Crowley would take Lisa and Ben,” Castiel said honestly.

“Yeah. Right.”

Castiel turned around, disappointed.  Did Dean really think so poorly of Castiel that he would believe he’d hold people captive? 

“You don’t believe me.” 

“I don’t believe a word that’s coming out of your mouth,” Dean shot back.

Thinking of their conversation the other night, Castiel tried to appeal to Dean.

“I thought you said that we were like family,” Castiel began, recalling how surprised and pleased he had been when Dean had called him a brother.  “Well, I think that too.  Shouldn’t trust run both ways?”

“Cas, I just can’t.”

Dean looked distressed, but Castiel needed him to understand.  He couldn’t lose Dean’s trust.  He needed Dean to believe in him.

Castiel walked closer and spoke slowly, choosing his words carefully, willing Dean to see the truth.  

“Dean, I do everything that you ask.  I always come when you call.  And I am your friend. Still, despite your lack of faith in me and now your threats.  I just saved you, yet again.  Has anyone but your closest kin ever done more for you?”

He spoke sincerely, but still didn’t see what he hoped to in Dean’s eyes.  Castiel continued, “All I ask is this one thing.”

“Trust your plan to pop Purgatory?” Dean asked skeptically.

“I’ve earned that, Dean.” 

The request seemed small to Castiel.  The angel had trusted Dean when he asked him to rebel against his brothers and the existence he had known for millennia.

Dean was shaking his head subtly. It wasn’t working.  He couldn’t get through to the hunter.  The whole conversation would have been easier for Castiel to handle if he weren’t so invested in Dean.  He cared deeply for the man before him; Dean’s trust meant everything. Castiel looked away.

Though Castiel didn’t know Lisa or her son, he knew they were important to Dean.  The idea of them defenseless at the hands of demons filled Castiel with dread.  He knew what it was to be helpless and he vowed to save them.

“I came to tell you that I will find Lisa and Ben.  And I will bring them back,” Castiel promised.  Then he pleaded, “Stand behind me, the one time I ask.” 

It was the wrong thing to say.

“You’re asking me to stand down?”

Dean approached him.

“Dean – ”

That wasn’t what he had been asking.  Castiel needed Dean’s support.

“That’s the same damn ransom note that Crowley handed me.  You know that, right?” Dean spoke angrily over him.  “Well, no, thanks.  I’ll find them myself.”

Castiel was at a loss.  Everything was getting harder and harder to fix. 

“In fact, why don’t you go back to Crowley and tell him that I said you can both kiss my ass.” 

Dean turned away from the angel and Castiel knew he was dismissed. The conversation was over.  He had failed to explain himself and Dean wasn’t interested in his reasoning or his pleas.

Dean was literally, and figuratively, turning his back on Castiel and it was too painful to look upon Dean’s back instead of his face, hoping, uselessly, that he’d turn around and reconsider.  Castiel left.      

 

 

 

Though he was determined to do so, Castiel had been unable to find and rescue Dean’s friends.  Crowley had hidden them well, no doubt with angel warding.  By the time Castiel caught up, Dean had found Ben and Lisa, but things had not gone smoothly.  Castiel appeared to Dean in the hospital where he was sitting at Lisa’s bedside.  It reminded Castiel of when Dean had sat next to him, watching over as Castiel healed from Sam’s attack.  Dean had said Castiel was important and he found himself wondering if it was still true. 

Dean was not happy to see him and rejected Castiel’s apology. Castiel would have given anything to mend what had broken between himself and Dean.  First, he had to fix his mistake and so he healed Lisa.  The damage was great, but the woman would make a full recovery.  This seemed to shock Dean.  At the very least, it earned Castiel a ‘thank you.’

“Dean, I said I’m sorry and I meant it.”

Castiel had to try again.    

But his apologies didn’t change anything.  Dean asked Castiel to do something else for him and the angel couldn’t say no.  Castiel could see the appeal of forgetting bad memories, but didn’t necessarily understand letting go of pleasant ones.  Still, he would do anything to make it up to Dean, so he erased Ben’s and Lisa’s memories of the hunter. 

 

 

Castiel threw everything he had into finding purgatory.  Maybe if he completed his plan successfully and won the war in heaven, then Dean would understand that he had been right.  At any rate he had to succeed.  Raphael would destroy the planet if he got his way. 

He found a creature that had escaped from purgatory years before and she revealed to him how it was possible to open the gates.  Purgatory was the key to everything.  It was Castiel’s only option and he would not, could not fail.  It was too important and Castiel was starting to feel desperate.  It was not a good feeling.

The Winchesters were relentless in their efforts to stop him and Castiel was frustrated they were always a close step behind him, doubting him and trying to diffuse his plans.  Between Crowley and Raphael, they were going to wind up dead…again.  If he couldn’t make Dean understand, then he at least needed him out of the way, he couldn’t risk the hunter’s interference.  There was too much at stake. 

Castiel implored them one last time to go home and leave him to his plan against Raphael, but Dean refused and left Castiel no choice.  He promised to fix Sam afterwards, if they stood down, and then Castiel broke the wall in Sam’s head. 

Castiel knew it was cruel, but it was necessary, and he hoped it was enough to keep the three hunters occupied until after the ritual he had to perform.  He was so close.  He didn’t know if Dean would ever forgive him, but the hunter hadn’t listened to his reasoning and Castiel needed to succeed to save them all.  Even if they would no longer be friends, Castiel had to keep Dean safe and that meant beating Raphael. 

 

 

xxx

 

 

Sam woke up alone in the panic room.  His head and his heart hurt; he remembered everything that he had forgotten from the time he spent soulless.  Still sitting on the cot, Sam held his head in his hands, the rush of memories was overwhelming. 

Even though he had been saving people and hunting things during his year without Dean, he had also hurt people, killed people.  Castiel, oh god, what he had done to the angel—Sam could barely think about it.  Suddenly, Sam was lurching to his feet, scrambling for a container to throw up into. It was sick, he was sick and what he had done to Castiel, his friend, made him physically sick. 

Numbly, Sam realized that there was no way to make it up to the angel.  There was nothing he could say or do that would ever make Castiel forgive him.  But then—Castiel must have already forgiven him. Sam had seen him several times since it happened and the angel had spoken with him (okay, mainly with Dean) and hadn’t Castiel tried to hug him?  Sam didn’t know what this meant, but it had to be a good sign and now that Sam knew, he could apologize.  He could try to make it up to Castiel somehow. 

Then Sam remembered that Castiel had just broken the wall in his mind and maybe that meant the angel didn’t really forgive him after all.  That could have been a sort of revenge for what Sam had done to him.  Part of Sam couldn’t help but feel that Castiel might have been justified in hurting him, besides Sam seemed okay so far, now that he had woken up.

At any rate, Sam was aware that things were extremely strained between the hunters and Castiel at the moment.  He knew Dean was still pissed about Castiel having lied, but he hoped his brother could get over it.  Maybe there was a way for things to be good between the three of them again.  Sam tried to be optimistic, despite the hideous things he had done, but the guilt was already clawing at him.  He had desecrated an angel in such a vile and unimaginable way.  Sam had tortured his friend.  Castiel saved him from hell and Sam had repaid him by brutally raping him.  It was all so disgusting, but the worst was the memory of having enjoyed it.  Sam hated himself for that.

It was inconceivable to Sam that Castiel would ever look at him again, let alone talk to him, after what he had done.  How could Castiel even stand to be in the same room as him?  His friend had trusted him and Sam had taken terrible advantage of him.  Sam didn’t know how to fix it, but he had to try.   

Sam was alone at Bobby’s, but Dean had left him an address and after composing himself, Sam left immediately.  On the drive there, it occurred to Sam that Dean knew about what he had done to Castiel and that his brother had kept it from him.  Damn it, Dean.  His brother was always trying to protect him from everything, but this was the sort of thing Sam needed to know about. 

It was beyond Sam’s comprehension that Dean thought it was okay to hide the fact that Sam had attacked and raped Castiel.  He had hurt Castiel and Sam almost had to pull over as his thoughts strayed to the specifics of what he had done and he suddenly felt sick again.  No wonder Dean had been so driven to get Sam’s soul back.  Without a soul, he was no better than the monsters they hunted.

Thinking of the wrongs he had done, Sam suddenly found himself hoping that Dean had helped Castiel through all the crap Sam had inflicted on him.  Of course, Dean sucked at Feelings, but Sam suspected that his brother might have made an exception for the angel.  Before the current mess they were in Dean and Castiel had seemed like friends, good friends even.  It sort of surprised Sam how connected the two of them seemed to be sometimes and Dean must have felt close to Castiel—he wouldn’t tolerate long intense looks like that from anyone else. 

That just must be what happens when an angel pulls you out of hell, Sam reasoned, until he recalled Castiel confessing that he had yanked Sam out of the pit too.  Sam was mulling this over and didn’t seem aware of any new burst of feelings towards Castiel.  He was grateful, certainly, though he wished the angel hadn’t somehow left his soul behind, but he couldn’t imagine himself staring deeply at Castiel, while standing entirely too close for long silent moments.  Yeah, that was definitely just something weird between Dean and Castiel, no ‘profound bonds’ here. 

Wiping a hand across his face, Sam focused on driving.  The air in the car was feeling weirdly hot and Sam thought he saw flickering light out of the corner of his eye or in the rearview mirror a few times, but nothing was ever there.  He stepped on the gas, edging the car faster and drove towards his brother and Bobby and, probably, Castiel.       

Chapter Text

Castiel had killed Balthazar, his brother, who had betrayed him to Dean, revealing his location to the hunter.  It seemed he could trust no one.  It was hard to understand.  Rachel and Balthazar, Sam and Bobby and Dean, it was too much. Castiel found himself alone in his efforts to avert the apocalypse and it simply didn’t make sense to him.  He had their best interests at heart and somehow Dean was still furious at him, still determined to stop Castiel’s plan to save them all.

Castiel had been certain he could make Dean understand, but he had failed.  Maybe he had been wrong about other things as well.  Perhaps the bond between himself and Dean wasn’t everything he thought it was.  Castiel had hoped that the hunter might reciprocate the strong feelings that he was having, but Dean had said that it meant nothing when he kissed Castiel.  It shouldn’t have been such a surprising and disappointing revelation, but it had been. 

Rationally, Castiel knew Dean didn’t love many people.  Dean loved his brother first and, of course, Bobby and many women for only a night, but Castiel didn’t know where he fit in.  The angel had given so much for Dean and would again, without hesitation.  At some point he had let himself hope that the often overwhelming emotions he had towards Dean might be a feeling the hunter shared.  The kiss had only encouraged that hope, until Dean had repeatedly shot it down and denied it.  It was a mistake, Dean had said.  Castiel was so sick of mistakes.  He felt like he had made too many recently. 

He’d mistakenly left Sam’s soul in hell. He’d been trapped by a soulless Sam.  He hadn’t gone to Dean for help, which had left him lying for months.  Sinking the Titanic, trusting Rachel, Balthazar, being ensnared again in holy fire—all mistakes and Castiel couldn’t handle any more.  So he assured himself he was right about purgatory.  He had to be.  He was done with doubt.

Anticipating more mistakes, Castiel had already rid himself of Crowley.  He couldn’t give the demon any of the souls.  It was too likely to backfire on him.  Crowley had been upset and angry, but he couldn’t do anything about it.  Castiel didn’t need him anymore.  He didn’t need anyone.  He would succeed on his own.

 

xxx

        

As Dean slowly woke up, disoriented, he remembered he was in the currently upside down Impala with Bobby.  His poor baby, why did she always end up taking beatings?  Calling to Bobby, Dean managed to crawl out of the car, cursing at the damage—it felt like he had just finished fixing her.  It took some help from Dean to pull Bobby out as well, since the car seemed to have fallen more heavily on him, but soon they were both up and surprisingly uninjured, some minor scrapes and bruises sure, but they had been lucky. 

They had been upturned by swirling darkness that was undoubtedly demonic.  When Dean had checked previously, the building they were staking out on Balthazar’s intel had been full of angels, but now the binoculars revealed it to be seemingly empty.  Dean felt a stab of panic on Castiel’s behalf, even though he was pissed at him.  It didn’t make sense that a mess of demons might have shown up and taken out angels that were clearly on Castiel’s side.  Dean hoped Castiel hadn’t gotten himself killed with this reckless plan that partnered him with the King of Hell.   He and Bobby snuck inside and kept on high alert, but nothing was there to impede their progress.  It couldn’t be a good sign—something was wrong here.

Unfortunately, Dean was right, as usual, and Castiel was not there.  Instead, Crowley and Raphael seemed to be in the middle of their own incantation which Dean couldn’t let them complete.  He aimed for Raphael’s back and threw the angel blade right at him (her?), but Raphael simply caught it and Crowley knocked them both off the top of the staircase they had been standing on, with a few lazy gestures, before returning to his spell.   

Dean had broken a table and some glass when he fell over the railing and he groaned on the floor trying to collect himself.  It felt like Dean was always the one getting thrown into glass.   Well, better him than Bobby.  Luckily, Bobby had only tumbled down the stairs.  Dean was dimly aware that Crowley’s voice had dropped off.  The incantation had done nothing and Dean hoped they had the spell wrong and that it might be over. 

Then Castiel appeared and he looked different to Dean.  The past few times he had seen Castiel the angel had looked confused and hopeless.  He had seemed resigned and maybe regretful when he broke the wall in Sam’s mind.  Now he seemed assured, confident, and even pleased with himself, it was a little unnerving.  Dean got gingerly to his feet, staring at the angel and feeling worried. Bobby came to stand beside Dean and Dean scrambled to catch up in the conversation between Crowley and Castiel.

Castiel had succeeded and had tricked Crowley into using dog blood for the spell.  Crowley asked Castiel how his ritual had gone and by way of response Castiel began glowing.  It got so bright, Dean and Bobby were forced to close their eyes and even had to raise their arms to shield their eyes further, since the brightness was too intense and absolutely white.  Dean could feel the light all around him as power, different than Castiel’s usual energy, it surged and filled the room in a way that made Dean’s breathing difficult, before it was receding as Castiel once again reigned the power in. 

Dean didn’t need Castiel to say it.  He knew that the angel had succeeded in his plan of opening purgatory and taking in millions of souls.  When Castiel did speak to confirm what Dean already knew, the angel sounded so calm and imperious—Dean couldn’t remember Castiel ever sounding like that before.  Sensing defeat, Crowley left immediately and Dean couldn’t blame him, even Raphael seemed afraid. 

All the fear was warranted.  Castiel was so much more powerful than he had been.  With a snap of his fingers he blew Raphael, an archangel, into oblivion the same way Dean had watched a Sam, possessed by Lucifer, do the same thing to Castiel.  Dean was gaping at Castiel, disbelieving and unable to close his mouth.  They were screwed if Castiel still wanted to be mad at them and in some ways Castiel had been right, maybe deserved to be mad—his plan had worked after all. 

“So you see,” Castiel began, while walking away from where they stood. “I saved you.”

“You sure did, Cas.  Thank you.”

Dean meant it, but still felt apprehensive. He couldn’t be certain how Castiel would react.  The angel wasn’t acting like himself.

“You doubted me… fought against me, but I was right all along.” 

Dean thought there might be quiet amusement in Castiel’s voice.

“Okay Cas, you were,” Dean agreed calmly, not wanting to provoke Castiel.  “We’re sorry.  Let’s just defuse you, okay?” 

Dean felt like the negotiator in a hostage situation, carefully keeping things from turning to shit.

“What do you mean?”

Castiel had a curious glint in his eye that Dean wasn’t used to seeing.

“You’re full of nuke,” Dean reasoned, “It’s not safe.” 

Castiel gave Dean a small smile, as if Dean’s concern was humorous, and let him continue. 

“So, before the eclipse ends, let’s get them souls back where they belong.”

“Oh, no.  They belong with me,” Castiel replied patiently.

“No, Cas, I—It’s scrambling your brain.”

Dean realized the truth of the statement as he said it. 

“No, I’m not finished yet. Raphael had many followers and I must punish them all severely.”

Dean and Bobby exchanged a look and Dean stepped closer to Castiel.

“Listen to me.  Listen, I know there’s a lot of bad water under the bridge, but we were family once.”

Dean needed Castiel to hear him and found himself wishing he had backed Castiel up sooner, forgiven him, maybe they wouldn’t have gotten to this point. 

“I’d have died for you.  Almost did a couple of times.  So, if that means anything to you…please.  I’ve lost Lisa, I’ve lost Ben, and now I’ve lost Sam.  Don’t make me lose you too.” 

Castiel was staring at him, but not in the familiar way he used to.

“You don’t need this kind of juice anymore, Cas.  Get rid of it before it kills us all,” Dean urged. 

“You’re just saying that because I won.  Because you’re afraid.”

And okay, Castiel wasn’t wrong, but it was more than just that.  Dean couldn’t let these souls kill the angel. 

“You’re not my family, Dean.  I have no family.”

Dean had spotted Sam coming into the room earlier, but he had since forgotten him, while he was so focused on Castiel and making him understand.  He was belatedly aware that Sam had picked up Raphael’s dropped angel blade and watched in horror as Sam chose this moment to plunge it into Castiel’s back.  Dean hadn’t thought he’d ever have to see Castiel hurt by Sam again. 

But Castiel was supremely unaffected.  He wrenched the blade out calmly and set it on the table beside him.

“I’m glad you made it, Sam.” Castiel slowly turned halfway to look at Sam, “But the angel blade won’t work, because I’m not an angel anymore.”

He looked back at Dean, who was cycling through emotions, looking for a proper one.

“I’m your new God.  A better one.  So you will bow down and profess your love unto me, your Lord or I shall destroy you.”

Oh shit.  Dean tried not to panic.  This wasn’t Cas at all and they were so screwed.  For a wild moment, Dean found himself blanking on ideas to get them out of this mess, then he realized Bobby was next to him, lowering himself into a kneeling position.  Well, that was one option.  Sometimes Bobby was too pragmatic. 

“Well, all right then,” Bobby began, almost sounding bored, like Castiel was just one more monster he needed to be calm in front of.

“This good or do you want the whole forehead-to-the-carpet thing?” 

Bobby paused, momentarily.

“Guys?” 

So Bobby wanted some company on the floor, maybe that wasn’t such a bad idea.  Dean cautiously moved to begin kneeling, his eyes on the angel and Sam followed the motion, but they didn’t get very far before Castiel interrupted them. 

“Stop. What’s the point if you don’t mean it?”

He sounded a bit disappointed, like he was really looking forward to their professions of love.

“You fear me.  Not love, not respect—just fear.”

“Cas,” Sam stepped closer, but Castiel cut him off.

“Sam, you have nothing to say to me.  You stabbed me in the back.”

There was a cold edge to Castiel’s voice and Sam had no reply. 

Castiel tersely told Bobby to get up and Dean couldn’t think of how to save the situation, but he started speaking anyway.

“Cas, come on.  This is not you.”

“The Castiel you knew is gone.”

“So what, then? Kill us?”

“What a brave little ant you are.  You know you’re powerless.  You wouldn’t dare move against me again.  That would be pointless.  So I have no need to kill you.  Not now.”

Wasn’t that reassuring.  Castiel was angry and he definitely seemed to be enjoying being so powerful.  Dean realized, guiltily, why the angel would be so satisfied that no one could hurt him, why he would be angry with Dean, after all the apologies Dean had refused to accept.  

“Besides, once, you were my favorite pets, before you turned and bit me.”

Castiel had never called Dean belittling names before.  It made Dean think of conversations he used to have with that dick-bag, Zachariah, who was always so condescending, and he couldn’t help but ask, “Who are you?”

“I’m God.  And if you stay in your place, you may live in my kingdom.  If you rise up, I will strike you down.  Not doing so well are you, Sam?” 

Castiel changed topics abruptly, almost sounding pleased.  He looked darkly at Sam, who was swaying slightly and looking unfocused.

“I’m fine,” Sam said, unconvincingly. “I’m fine.”

Dean couldn’t help the swell of anger.  This was all so unfair.

“You said you would fix him.  You promised!”

If you stood down, which you hardly did.”

Castiel had seemed briefly incensed, but the moment passed and his voice became calm and thoughtful once more. 

“Be thankful for my mercy.”  He looked back at Sam. “I could have cast you back in the pit.”

“Cas, come on,” Dean tried again, desperate to get the attention off of Sam, because if Castiel was feeling righteous, it would be easy to imagine him tossing Sam into hell for his sins.

“This is nuts.  You can turn this around. Please!”

“I hope, for your sake, this is the last you see me,” Castiel disappeared then and maybe it was best that he was gone.  It was terrifying to see Castiel like this, worse than a Superman gone dark side.  Dean didn’t have long to dwell on this though, since Sam evidently couldn’t hold it together any longer.  Sam’s nose started bleeding and he fell to the floor, cutting his palm on broken glass when he caught himself with his hands.

Dean called Sam’s name, but it was like he couldn’t hear him. Dammit, Sammy.  With difficulty Dean managed to get hold of his convulsing brother, who thrashed another moment before becoming still and seemingly unconscious. 

Between Sam and Cas and his poor, wrecked Baby, Dean felt more pissed and overwhelmed than usual.   It was difficult to haul his gigantor brother outside and into the car Sam had brought, but somehow he and Bobby managed it.  Now they just had to get back to Sioux Falls and figure out what to do about the crap-fest that was Dean Winchester’s life.

 

xxx

 

With so many things out of Dean’s control, it was comforting to be able to work on the Impala.  Fixing it again was familiar to Dean and it was something within his skill set to complete.  He felt calmer during the hours he spent absorbed in repairing his baby.  Dean took his time, making sure to do things right and pouring love into his efforts. 

Sam seemed to be doing okay.  He had woken up from his latest freak-out and appeared to be behaving more or less normally.  And honestly, Dean couldn’t hope for much more than that.  It was hard not to worry that Sam might get worse or that he was hiding problems from Dean, but Dean chose to believe his brother.  Sam knew how Dean was sick of lies and bullshit and he suspected his little brother was smart enough to tell him the truth.

At first they had no information on what Castiel might have been up to, but eventually the news reports started.  Evidently, the angel-turned-God had more people on his punishment list than just Raphael’s supporters.  Two hundred religious leaders were dead, Ku Klux Klan leaders were dead, even new age motivational speakers weren’t exempt from Castiel’s new brand of righteous justice.  Not all, but a decent portion of the offenders could be tied to some type of illicit sexual conduct once they were dead.  If they weren’t suspected, Castiel had made certain to level accusations in front of crowds, so there could be little doubt of innocence.  Dean suspected Castiel was taking those crimes personally.

Dean wasn’t sure how he had missed the fact that Castiel was holding onto such rage after what Sam had done to him.  He should have made more than one attempt to reach out to his troubled friend.  It had been too easy for Dean to assume Castiel had things under control.  That was clearly not the case.  Now that he was God, Castiel didn’t have to fear anyone and he didn’t hesitate to punish sinners.

Dean wasn’t sure what to make of the killings.  He just knew it wasn’t his Cas.  Taking in those souls had darkly twisted Castiel and Dean was trying not to think about it.  If he thought about it for too long, he became angry and depressed.  Castiel should have just put the friggin’ souls back, he didn’t need them after Raphael.  Now they were messing with his mind and the angel was gone, lost to him like never before.  His friend had transformed into something unfathomable before Dean had managed to fix things between them.  Dean touched his lips, staring through the Impala’s engine, unseeing. 

Now Dean would never know.  He had never been sure what he had thought he could do to change things between himself and Castiel…but he might have tried.  Kissing Castiel had been initially alarming, but once he was able to admit it, it had also been thrilling and comforting and right in a way that brief, drunken kisses weren’t meant to be.  Dean sighed heavily.  The angel was gone and replaced by an out of control being that Dean hoped to see dead.  It was like someone else had hijacked Castiel’s body, obliterating who he had once been and Dean didn’t want to see him like that, it was torturous. 

Sam had joined Dean outside, pulling him from his musings and he brought a couple beers, so they stood talking together.  Talk turned to Castiel and Dean had just finished telling Sam that the angel was off the deep end when Sam surprised him.

“So, what? Try to talk to him again?”

His idiot brother had to be joking, either that or Sam had a death wish.

“Sam.”

“Dean, all we can do is talk to the guy,” Sam reasoned. 

“He’s not a guy. He’s God, and he’s pissed.” This should be obvious; it was to Dean. “And when God gets righteous you get the hell out of the way. Haven’t you read the bible?” Dean spat, hotly.

“I guess,” Sam didn’t sound convinced.

“Cas is never coming back. He has lied to us, he used us, he cracked your gourd like it was nothing.  No more talk.  We have spent enough on him.” 

This was what Dean kept repeating to himself, hoping that if he remembered all the bad things Castiel had done his absence would hurt less.

“Okay,” Sam relented, sensing Dean’s anger.

“Hand me that socket wrench.”

Dean changed the subject, utterly finished with the previous topic. 

The brothers stood quietly for a few minutes with occasional comments on the progress Dean was making on the car.  Taking a break to pick up his beer, Dean was mid-sip when Sam started talking again in a tone that Dean knew wasn’t lighthearted.

“Dean, I haven’t told you yet, but…” and Dean braced himself for the worst, trying to keep his expression controlled.

“After Cas broke the wall in my mind and I woke up in the panic room…” Sam trailed off and Dean waited, trying to breathe and staring at the bottle in his hand.  “When I woke up, Dean, I remembered. I remember everything that happened while I was, ya know, operating without a soul.  I remember all that missing time now.”

Glancing up at Sam, Dean saw his brother watching him hesitantly, waiting for a reaction.  Dean wasn’t sure what to say, so he took another swig of beer and considered.  Even though he hadn’t wanted his brother to remember the things he had done, it had mainly been because he didn’t want the wall in his mind getting screwed up, but that was a moot point now.  Cas had seen to that. 

Oh crap, and suddenly Dean knew why his brother was looking guiltily at him.  Sam remembered what he had done to Castiel.  That wasn’t something he was really prepared to discuss with Sam.  Dean had definitely been trying to forget it the past few weeks.  It wasn’t as easy as he had hoped, since sometimes his hellish nightmares included a bound and injured Castiel that Dean wasn’t able to help.

“Dean?”

Dean snapped his head up to look at Sam.

“Yeah, uh, I heard you.  That’s, uh, you remember.  Well, good, I guess, cause you’re still feeling okay, right?”

“Yeah, Dean. I’m okay. That was a couple days ago and I seem pretty good.”

“Good, Sam, good.”

Dean cleared his throat, looking down at the Impala again.  He was hoping Sam would let it go and shut up.  They both knew, wasn’t that enough, why did they have to talk about it?

“So, were you just never going to tell me, about what I did?” Sam wondered, with slight irritation in his voice, before adding unnecessarily, “To Castiel.”

This was not Dean’s fault. Sam couldn’t make him feel bad about it.  It had been the right call.  Dean shook his head slightly, still looking at the engine. 

“It was for the best, Sam.  Something that big, I had to protect you.  It was too risky.”

The incredulous look on Sam’s face, was the only warning Dean got before Sam’s exasperated outburst.

“You’re always trying to protect me, Dean!  What about protecting Castiel?  Huh? He’s the victim in all this.  Besides, he told me a lot of what I couldn’t remember a couple days after I got my soul back, and the wall was fine!  You could have told me then.  Instead, I’ve been walking around like an asshole, never even knowing. It was the wrong decision, Dean,” Sam finished firmly.  

“Maybe.  But I told Cas you didn’t know.  It was okay with him.  He seemed fine,” Dean said defensively.

“He couldn’t have been fine, Dean.  I mean, you just saw the after of everything.  It—what I did, it was horrible.  I really hurt him, I mean, you know I – I raped him, right?  You must have guessed.  I was physically sick when I realized.”

“Sam, I don’t need to know, okay?” Dean tried not to sound too harsh.  “I saw—look, yeah, I pretty much guessed that, but I don’t need any details.”    

“Details?!  I’m not trying to give you any details, Dean!  Believe me, I don’t want to think about it either.  But I mean, c’mon, Cas is my friend too, and what I did to him…. I never even got to apologize to him and he was still coming when you called and helping us out of jams like normal.  Did you even try to talk to him about it?  I mean, I can’t imagine he would talk to anyone but you.”

Dean could see the hurt and anger in Sam’s eyes, he could hear it in his voice as he tried to grapple with something unthinkable he had done.

“Cas forgave you, Sammy.  He did.  He told me.”

Sam looked like he wanted to believe Dean.

“How could he though? How could anyone after something like that?”

Dean shrugged, he didn’t really know.

“Well, he is—was an angel.  I guess forgiveness comes more easily to them? Hell, he forgave me when I tried to say yes to Michael after he rebelled for me.”

“That’s so different, Dean.  He stopped you, beat the crap out of you, before you were dumb enough to go through with it.  And I just get a pass for this?”  Sam shook his head in disbelief.  “But, so, he told you he forgave me when you talked to him?” 

Dean shifted uneasily, recalling the conversation.  “Yeah, he forgave you.  I tried to apologize since you couldn’t and uh, he forgave us both.  I didn’t know about it at the time of course, but I think he felt partly responsible since your missing soul was kind of his fault.”

Sam nodded in understanding.  

“Yeah, he would try to take the blame for it.  I just wish I could really apologize. I mean, I know he lied to us and broke the wall, like you said, but well, he and I have both done shit to each other.  And for stabbing him in the back—that seemed to make sense at the time, I thought you were in danger, but I wasn’t really thinking straight.”

“Well, too late now, Sam.  There’ll be no talking to the new God.  He’s not Cas.”

Dean desperately wanted this conversation to be over, but Sam was still looking dejected and Dean couldn’t quite yell at him to shut up yet.

“You don’t think he’s in there somewhere? That we might be able to reach him?  Hell, maybe he needs an apology, Dean.”

“That’s not what this is, he’s just, like I said, he’s off the deep end.  It’s not him.  The souls changed him, it was too much for Cas to take on, I guess.” 

“Well, I should apologize to you too, Dean.  You went through a lot when I hurt Cas, you two are so close and—“

“Hey, forget it, Sam.  I know you feel awful about it.  You’re right that it sucked, but I know it’s not something you would ever do.  It was so clearly not you.”

“Thanks.”

Dean nodded in assent and cast his eyes around, searching for something else to talk about, a change of subject, but Sam wasn’t done yet.

“Dean.”

Dean looked up at Sam again and didn’t miss the cautious, hesitant look on his face.  Dean knew he wasn’t going to like what his brother said next.

“Did you like Cas?”

Dean tensed and decided to proceed carefully, instead of yelling immediately.

“What?  Of course, I liked Cas.  He was our friend.  We both liked him.  I mean, he was a nerdy weirdo, like you, but he was good to have around.” 

Dean knew right away that Sam had meant something else and he hoped that Sam would abandon the train of thought and just leave Dean to his humiliation.  Unable to meet Sam’s eyes, Dean stayed very still, pretending to be concerned with the label on his beer and fuck! He could feel himself blushing, the back of his neck got hot and Dean cleared his throat into the silence.

“You know that’s not what I mean, Dean.”

And why, why did Sam feel it was necessary to torture him?  

“I’ve been thinking about him a lot, and well, I think Cas really loved you.”

“Sam!” Dean yelped, slamming his beer onto the workbench and gripping the sides to steady himself. 

“What the fuck!? Cas didn’t, no, he wasn’t—It’s not true, Sam.  Why would you say that?  Just drop it.”   

“It’s just,” Sam was trying to keep his cool, unlike Dean, “once I remembered what I said to him, when I hurt him…  Well, I told him not to tell you and he was afraid of me in that moment, but he still went right to you afterwards.”

“Dammit, Sam, what the hell else was he supposed to do?” Dean ran his hand through his hair and shook his head slightly, agitated.

“It’s not only that, Dean.  After what I did, he still wanted to help you and well, I dunno, he rebelled when you asked him to.  It seemed like he’d do anything for you and Cas has just always been very into you, staring at you and standing too close and all but ignoring me when I’m right there.  Sometimes I would ask a question and he’d still answer you.   Didn’t you say you caught him watching you sleep?  Plus, the look on your face when you were taking care of him?  You don’t fuss that way over me when I’m injured.”

Dean had been gaping at Sam through all of this, like his words were a verbal train wreck Dean couldn’t look away from.  Finally, Dean found his voice and scrambled for something to say.

“Stop, Sam, just stop.  You don’t know what you’re talking about.” 

Dean had actually held up his hands in front of him, emphasizing that Sam needed to stop. 

“Even if it were true…,” crap why did he say that, oh well, just ignore it “…it wouldn’t matter.  Cas is gone.  So none of this even matters.  Shut up about it.”

Sam looked glumly at Dean for a moment, but Dean had been right in thinking he couldn’t really argue that point.  It had been a doozy of a conversation and Dean needed out.  Sam could put the rest of the tools away, the bitch deserved to be on clean-up crew after that little ambush. 

“I’m going to bed,” Dean growled, turning his back on Sam and stalking back towards the house. 

Sam could be so friggin’ nosy.  None of that was any of his business.  Dean tossed restlessly on the cot in the panic room, wishing he had been drinking something stronger than beer earlier.  All he could see when he closed his eyes was Castiel.  The look on Castiel’s face when Dean had yelled at him that the kiss had been a mistake, his expressions of hurt when Dean rejected his apologies, the doubt and disappointment when Dean refused to trust him—why hadn’t Dean put pride aside and tried to work with Castiel?  He might have been able to save him.

It took Dean a long time to fall asleep and he had upsetting dreams where Castiel was in danger and Dean couldn’t seem to save him, but when he finally got to Castiel, the angel didn’t want him and harshly told Dean they weren’t family.  Dream Dean had angrily snapped his fingers then and Castiel and Sam (where did Sam come from?) were both easily obliterated.   Dean woke up in a cold sweat and groaned at his watch.  It was way too early to be up, but Dean didn’t want to go back to sleep, so he sat up, peeled his shirt off and headed for the shower. 

 

Chapter Text

When the hallucinations started, Sam didn’t tell Dean or Bobby.  Though he was pretty sure Bobby knew, since he caught Sam acting afraid of nothing in the cellar.  Sam thought he had a pretty good handle on things for the most part.  Once he realized they were hallucinations, it wasn’t too hard to differentiate them from reality. 

It had been his intention to tell Dean what was going on, but his brother didn’t seem to be doing so well after what happened with Castiel and Sam couldn’t bring himself to disappoint Dean over something else.  It could wait.

After his conversation with Dean, Sam felt fairly certain that Dean was thinking of Castiel as more than just a friend.  He had expected Dean to get angry, but his brother had also been stammering and blushing through his denials.  If he didn’t love the guy, he must have at least been in agreement that Castiel seemed to love him.  Sam wasn’t sure what it meant, if angels could love romantically, but Castiel had often proved himself to be different than other angels.  Sam wished he could have spoken to Dean about it sooner, but he had been angry with Castiel for lying too.  It all seemed unimportant compared to what Sam now remembered.  He wondered how Dean had managed to stay upset with Castiel through it all, but his brother had never been one to forgive breeches of trust easily. 

Initially, Sam considered that the love between Dean and Castiel might just be like the love between himself and Dean—a brother-like bond, but there was too much evidence that suggested otherwise.  Besides if Sam was a friend to Castiel, Dean was obviously more, far more.  But Dean was right, it hardly mattered if Castiel was off his rocker.  The angel had referred to them as his pets last time he saw them—something definitely wasn’t right there.

Unfortunately, their friend was undoubtedly out of control and Sam reluctantly admitted to himself that they had to do something.  Castiel couldn’t be allowed to continue in the same vein, the body count was getting too high.  When he approached Dean and Bobby about it, they agreed, and their quick brainstorming session led to one feasible option—they had to bind Death. 

It was always obvious when the ideas were Dean’s, because he definitely came up with crazy, dangerous plans when they were all out of options.  Sam had to give his brother points for creativity though.  Binding Death and having him kill Castiel was definitely original.  Killing Castiel was something Sam had hoped they could avoid, but they had thought of no other options.  He was too powerful.  Sam suspected that Dean was bitterly glad about having to kill Castiel.  In his current state the angel wasn’t himself anymore, and it would have been difficult to continue seeing him like this.  It just wasn’t natural.

They summoned Crowley, hoping the King of Hell would be able to get them the spell they needed.  Fortunately, after he got over his initial displeasure at being trapped by the hunters, the demon was fairly cooperative and eager to conspire against Castiel. He got them the spell they were demanding.    

With Bobby’s extensive supplies and connections, it didn’t take too long to gather the various elements needed for the spell.  They did have to drive 9 hours and break into some rich guy’s house to get the final rare and expensive ingredient: Fulgurite—sand crystalized by lightening.  To save time, they proceeded with the ritual at the house they were already at.  As they prepped everything, Sam marveled at Dean, who had taken time to pick up pickle chips and a soda for Death.  Evidently, Death had proven himself to have a penchant for fried food, which Sam found hilarious.  But if Dean thought it might make him less pissed and keep them all alive, well, who was he to argue? 

Bobby read the incantation and most of the glass in the room shattered.  Perhaps Death liked to make an entrance.  When he finally appeared to them, Death was unamused at being bound.  Thankfully, Dean took the lead on the conversation, what with him and Death being such good buddies.  He was disinterested in Dean’s fried pickle chips though, knowing they were meant as a bribe, but Death didn’t know why they had bound him.  His first guess was not one Sam wanted to hear. 

Death suggested they wanted him to fix the wall in Sam’s mind due to his hallucinations.  Which, okay, this was not the way Sam had wanted Dean to find out, but it was too late now. Death fixed his attention on Sam and insisted it was one wall per customer.  This news had derailed Dean momentarily as he processed what this meant.  So Sam addressed the intimidating figure before him, explaining that that wasn’t why they had bound him.   

Dean recovered and took up the discussion again.  Despite his bored tone, Death seemed surprised when Dean said they needed him to kill God.   

“Why should I?” Death was calm.

Dean didn’t sound so certain.  “Because…we said so, and we’re the boss of you.”  Sam shot Dean a look and his brother hastily amended, “I mean…respectfully.”

They were all grimly staring at Death, waiting for his response, when a quiet voice spoke behind them.

“Amazing.”

It was Castiel.  Sam was shocked.  He hadn’t considered this scenario at all.  Dean looked just as dumbfounded.  They were screwed.  Maybe if they tried to talk to him? 

“Cas,” Sam began.

Castiel didn’t even look at Sam.  He was focused on Dean, so Sam gazed openly at the new God.  He didn’t look very God-like at all, in fact, Castiel looked horrible.  The skin on his face was inflamed, marred under his eyes, it almost looked like it was gouged in places, or maybe even slightly melted.  As an angel, Castiel had always been able to heal any injuries to his vessel. What could have done this sort of damage now that he was God?  Even the angel’s hands had the strange mottled redness.  Sam wondered if the injuries hurt.  Memories of the violence he had subjected Castiel to popped into his head.  Sam regretfully thought that what he had done had been worse.

“I didn’t want to kill you, but now…” Castiel still had his eyes trained on Dean, who boldly interrupted.

“You can’t kill us.”

“You’ve erased any nostalgia I had for you, Dean.”  Castiel raised his hand to snap his fingers.

“Death is our bitch.”

Castiel paused at Dean’s exclamation.

“We ain’t gonna die, even if God pulls the trigger,” Dean boasted.

Castiel had finally looked away from Dean to Death, who acknowledged this truth by saying, “Annoying little protozoa, aren’t they? ‘God’? You look awfully like a mutated angel to me.  Your vessel’s melting.  You’re going to explode.”

The three hunters flitted their eyes back to Castiel, waiting for his reaction.  If Death was right, it was definitely good news, well, minus the exploding part.  ‘Mutated angel’ didn’t sound nearly as intimidating as ‘God.’ It would explain the disfigurement. 

“No, I’m not,” the mutated angel replied calmly, gazing at Death.  “When I’ve finished my work, I’ll repair myself.”

“You think you can, because you think you’re simply under the weight of all those souls, yes?  But that’s not the worst problem.” Death continued, “There are things much older than souls in purgatory, and you gulped those in too.”

“Irrelevant,” Castiel interjected.  “I control them.”

“For the moment,” Death conceded.

Sam had been following the thread of the conversation, but now he had lost it.  From the looks on Dean’s and Bobby’s faces, they were missing something too.  Dean saved Sam from having to ask though.  He looked between Castiel and Death, trying to catch up, and spoke to Death.

“Wait—uh, what older things?”  

Dean grinned, apologetically, for interrupting two beings who had the power to kill him with a thought.

Death humored him. 

“Long before God created angel and man, He made the first beasts—the Leviathans.”

“Leviathans?” Dean parroted and Death ignored him, continuing his explanation. 

“I personally found them entertaining, but He was concerned they’d chomp the entire petri dish, so He locked them away.  Why do you think He created purgatory?  To keep those clever, poisonous things out.  Now Castiel has swallowed them.  He’s the one thin membrane between the old ones and your home.”

For the first time, Sam thought Castiel had looked a bit uncertain while Death spoke, he had clearly been listening to the information contemplatively. Based on the angel’s reaction, Sam would have bet money that it hadn’t been Castiel’s intention to gobble down these Leviathans along with the souls.  He might not have known about them at all. 

“Enough,” Castiel was looking fiercely at Death, like this new information was Death’s fault.

“Stupid little soldier you are.”

“Why?” Castiel walked towards Death, clearly irritated.  “Because I dared open a door that He shut?  Where is He?  I did a service taking His place.”

“Service? Settling petty vendettas?”

Sam thought he saw Castiel flinch slightly at the words.  Death couldn’t know that some of the figures Castiel had targeted were rapists, could he?  The choice of words had to be a coincidence—Death didn’t know what Sam had done.  Sam resisted the impulse to take a step back as the two powerhouses glared at each other.  Death was unflappably calm as Castiel replied.

“No.  I’m cleaning up one mess after another – selflessly.”

“Quite the humanitarian,” Death mocked, shooting Dean a look that said, ‘can you believe this guy?’

Castiel moved even closer, crowding Death, “And how would you know?  What are you, really?  A flyswatter?”

“Destined to swat you, I think.”     

“Unless I take you first.”

Sam wasn’t sure who was the more powerful of the two, but he found himself worrying for Castiel and his reckless hubris, which made no sense—they had asked Death to kill him after all.

“Really bought his own press, this one,” Death spoke to the room, practically rolling his eyes, utterly unconcerned by Castiel’s bravado. “Please, Cas. I know God, and you, sir, are no God.”

Dean must have been sick of the back and forth.  “All right, put your junk away, both of you.” He urged Death, “Look, call him what you want.  Just kill him now!”

Sam couldn’t see the expression on Castiel’s face as he turned back to look at Dean, but he thought there was a twinge of guilt under the determined look on his brother’s face.  Death seemed happy the whole thing was over and lifted a hand to comply. 

“All right. Fine.”

Before Death could follow through, Castiel severed their binding spell with a snap of his fingers, never taking his eyes off of Dean.  Pleased, Death thanked Castiel, but he didn’t get the angel’s attention back from Dean until he quipped, “Shall we kick box now?”

Castiel only looked at Death, who leisurely made his way to the seat next to the fried pickle chips and started snacking on them.  Then the mutated angel had left without another word and Sam couldn’t quite figure out why Castiel hadn’t killed them.  Maybe he did still feel some ‘nostalgia’ for Dean.  

Sam knew they weren’t safe yet.  Death was Death and he would probably enjoy squashing them all for trying to use him to do their bidding.  Well, either Death was really fond of Dean or really fond of the fried pickles, because inexplicably he let them live and only mildly threatened them if they dared to try it again.  It had been lucky that Castiel had been so disrespectful to Death, evidently the angel irritated him enough that he agreed to help them.

They had a new plan.  Get Castiel to the lab and reopen purgatory during the eclipse (that Death promised to make for them) and ‘compel’ him to return all the souls.  Dean thought the plan was hopeless, that Castiel couldn’t be reasoned with, and once they were back at Bobby’s he settled in with a drink and some cartoon porn to evidently kill time until Castiel destroyed the world.  It didn’t help when Sam tried to be the optimistic one, because Dean was still pissed that Sam hadn’t told him about the hallucinations. 

A news bulletin interrupted their argument, a trench-coated man had massacred a campaign office full of people.  The brief video footage revealed a deranged looking Castiel, sporting a nosebleed, who grinned maniacally at the camera before the feed was lost.  Watching the clip, Sam felt a flutter of doubt.  Maybe Dean was right.  Maybe it was too late to reach Castiel.  Sam looked at Dean, who was looking miserable and dejected, and decided he had to at least try.          

 

 

Sam left Dean to his liquor and porn, disappearing outside.  Walking away from the house and through the junkyard, Sam couldn’t help but debate if praying to Castiel was safe.  The angel had changed so dramatically since taking in the souls.  Pondering that point, Sam made his decision.  Castiel had not yet killed them, even after they tried to force Death to kill him, the mutated angel had not retaliated.  Sam had to trust that there was still some of the Castiel they had known under all those souls. 

If Sam had been capable of raping and hurting Castiel and trying to kill Bobby when he was without a soul, then it made sense that the souls of millions of monsters might warp Castiel in ways he couldn’t control.  Sam hadn’t wanted to do what he had done when he was soulless and he could only imagine that the same was true for Castiel, who was in a sort of opposite situation.   Castiel had evidently forgiven Sam without so much as an apology and even though it was Castiel’s own fault he was in this mess, Sam decided he could forgive Castiel too, for breaking the wall in his mind.  It was a last ditch effort, but Sam hoped his prayer might make a difference. 

“Hey Castiel. Um…maybe this is pointless.  Look…I don’t know if any part of you even cares, but, um, I still think you’re one of us, deep down.  I mean, way, way, way off the reservation, but,” Sam sighed.  “Look, we still have till dawn to stop this.  Let us help.  Please.”

Still gazing skyward, Sam carried on, “And, in case I don’t see you, um, I want you to know, that I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry, Castiel.  For—for the things I did to you when I didn’t have a soul.  I finally remember, uh, when you broke the wall, I remembered everything again.  So, maybe that was for the best… don’t tell Dean I said that.  He said you forgave me, which is amazing.  I don’t understand, but thank you.  And well, I forgive you for breaking the wall.  Maybe I deserved it…” 

Pausing to reflect on what he said, Sam decided it would have to be enough.  “Dean and I can help you, Cas.  Please, it’s our only chance and we want you back.  Both of us.”  Sam only felt momentarily guilty for speaking on Dean’s behalf, since he knew it was true.  Even if Dean couldn’t admit it, Castiel deserved to know. 

Sam waited a couple of minutes before turning back towards the house.  It had been worth a shot.  At least Castiel hadn’t shown up to kill him.  Returning to Dean in the kitchen, Sam accepted the drink his brother offered him.  He was debating the merits of trying to convince Dean that he should pray to Castiel, when he heard it.

“Sam?”

It was Castiel.  He looked terrible.  His skin still seemed to be deteriorating, and his clothing and face were splattered in blood that wasn’t his.  Feeling shocked, Sam couldn’t help but stare in confusion. He had prayed, yes.  He had hoped, yes.  But how often did things go right for the Winchesters? 

“Cas.”

“I heard your call.”

Castiel slumped and had to grip the door frame with a bloody hand to keep himself standing. 

“I need help,” he said unnecessarily.

Sam and Dean exchanged a brief look of surprise before they were both on their feet.  Gripping Castiel’s arms, they steered him into the chair Sam had just been sitting in. 

Castiel nodded up at Sam and then lowered his gaze for a moment, before looking hesitantly up at Dean.  Sam snuck a look at his brother too, knowing he and Castiel would be too busy staring at each other to notice. He was right. 

Dean was standing still, with his hands clasped in front of him as if he didn’t know what to do with them once he had left go of Castiel.  His brother was looking intently at the angel with his mouth slightly open, looking concerned, confused, and maybe even wary of Castiel.  Sam was about to leave so that Dean might remember how to talk again, when Dean caught a hold of himself and turned his expression stern, dropping his hands to his sides in a more typical posture.  He broke off gazing at Castiel and looked at his watch.    

“Sam, we gotta leave soon to get there and get ready in time to do this.  I’ll grab Bobby and pack up the car.”  He had looked at his watch the whole time and then strode purposefully out of the kitchen.

God, his brother could be such an idiot.  Sure, he was right that they had to get moving, but he hadn’t said a word to Castiel and now Sam was alone with the angel, who was looking gloomily at the table, his expression pained. 

“So, um, thanks for coming, I’m glad you listened.  It’s the right thing to do, Cas,” Sam began awkwardly.  “Uh, are you hurt?  Besides the, um, vessel trouble, I guess?”

Still staring at the table, Castiel slowly shook his head no. 

Feeling uncomfortable, Sam picked up his drink again and finished it.  He was uncertain what to say to his friend he had hurt, Castiel, the mutated angel, who had killed hundreds of people.  Sam was tempted to make an excuse to leave the room the way Dean had.  Castiel wasn’t giving any sign that he was particularly inclined to talk.  As he set the empty glass on the table, Castiel came out of his staring fit and looked up at Sam. 

“Thank you for praying to me.  I—I can’t control it any longer.  I was wrong to try.”  Castiel grimaced as if in pain.  “You found another way to kill me?”

“Oh.  No.  No, we have a different plan.  Death is making another eclipse.  We have to go back to the lab and open purgatory again.  You’ve got to put them all back.  The souls, the Leviathans, whatever else you got, just put it back.”     

Castiel nodded, “That should work.  And, Sam, your prayer.  Dean was right, I did forgive you. I do. I know it wasn’t really you.” Castiel paused and gripped his own forearms.  “Anyway, I’m the one who owes you an apology.  I’ve done terrible things.  I should have come to you and Dean for help sooner.  I’m sorry I broke the wall, Sam.  I’d fix it now if I could.  I was desperate to defeat Raphael.  I thought, maybe, if I succeeded you could forgive me.  And Dean.  But, now I know, I don’t deserve—“

“Hey,” Sam interrupted, looking at Castiel, amazed.  The things he had done to Castiel, all while his whole intention had been to hurt and humiliate the angel, and Castiel was able to forgive him.  If Castiel could forgive that, then Sam could forgive this.  Castiel had thought he was doing the right thing.  And the angel’s plan had succeeded, even if the before and after of it had been a disaster. 

“I forgive you too, Cas.”

Castiel gazed up at Sam, seeming a little confused and hopeful.

“You do?”

He looked doubtful.

Sam smiled kindly at him.

“Yeah, I do.  And I’m glad you saved me from the pit.  You saved my life, Cas.” 

If Castiel hadn’t been so covered in blood, Sam might have considered hugging him to prove his point.   Instead, he patted his arm briefly as Bobby came in the back door.  

Surveying the two of them, Bobby came to a stop.

“Dean said you were back. Finally came to your senses, huh?  Seems like you could’ve, you know, thought this one through a bit further.  Usually, it’s these idjits who jump into crap without thinking.  If we live through this, just try to avoid playing God in the future, OK?”

Sam was used to Bobby and knew that even though he was angry, he also seemed to have forgiven Castiel.  Bobby would never say it the way Sam just had, but it was all rolled up and hidden in what he did say.  Castiel seemed to get it though, because he was looking surprised again. 

“Yes.  I know.  I’m sorry, Bobby.  I won’t be so foolish and prideful in the future.” 

Castiel was looking down contritely, and Sam saw Bobby roll his eyes before he gruffly said, “Good.  Be ready to go in five.”  Bobby left the kitchen and Sam could hear him moving around his desk and bookcases, gathering anything they might need. 

 

Since Dean was pointedly ignoring Castiel, Sam found himself hesitantly helping the angel to the car a few minutes later.  He tried to grip Castiel carefully and respectfully tried to keep some distance between them while helping him, but Castiel didn’t seem too bothered by Sam’s touch.  The effort of walking to the car seemed to exhaust Castiel, but before Sam could shut the door on him, the angel was calling to him.

“Yeah?” Sam ducked his head back into the door to see what Castiel wanted.

“Dean.  I—I don’t know—how, does Dean….” Castiel trailed off. 

Sam couldn’t ever recall Castiel struggling with words, but he could imagine what the angel was wondering.

“Look, Cas. You know Dean,” Sam glanced over his shoulder to make sure his brother wasn’t close by.  “He, he can be an idiot about things, but I think he’ll come around.  He’s just pissed still, but he’ll get over it.  Probably.”

Nodding, Castiel slumped back in his seat looking drained.  Sam shut the door and found himself hoping Castiel would sleep during the long car ride.  It would already be awkward enough without Castiel trying to talk to Dean.

 

Sam caught up with Dean as he was going back inside. 

“We ready?”

“Yeah.  You shouldn’t ignore Cas though.”

Dean made a face. 

“Mind your own business, Sam.”

“I’m just saying, Dean.  You know he wants to talk to you.”

“Well, it can wait.  Let’s get out of here.” 

The three of them walked out the door and Bobby promptly said, “Shotgun.”

Sam and Dean turned to look at him and Dean nodded his approval. 

“So… I’ll drive then?” Sam offered.

“Ha, not a chance, Sammy.  You gotta ride in the back with Godspell.”

Sam knew better than to argue with Dean about driving, but he wasn’t too thrilled about sitting in the back where the leg room sucked.  He didn’t really mind sitting with Castiel and hoped it wouldn’t be awkward.  Really, it just seemed strange.  Dean always drove and he was always the one paired up with Cas—that’s just how it was.

Chapter Text

Dean was grateful for the long drive ahead of them.  Driving was always calming to him. Sometimes he liked the silence, sometimes he preferred good tunes to pass the time.  Long roads always gave him the opportunity to collect his thoughts and brood over problems.

It was a little hard to fall into the familiar habit with a car full of people, but they had several hours of driving to do.  So despite Sam and Bobby discussing the plan and offering useless speculation on what could go wrong or hoping it would work, there were long periods of silence in which Dean could think.

All Dean could think about was Castiel.  He was relieved and amazed that Castiel had come when Sam prayed to him.  Dean had really let himself think that his friend was beyond saving.  He had lost hope and felt so grateful to his stupid brother for trying one last time, because Dean hadn’t been able to hope anymore. 

Dean was afraid to keep hoping though.  It seemed like they were on track to make it back to Kansas in time for the eclipse they needed, but Dean was worried something might go wrong.  He had told Castiel the truth when he said he couldn’t lose anyone else—Ben, Lisa, Sam, and then he had lost Castiel.  Dean didn’t know if he could do it again.  This had to work.

Castiel’s worsening condition worried him and Dean couldn’t help glancing in the rear view mirror every thirty seconds to make sure Castiel was okay.  The angel hadn’t said much at all while they drove.  He would either slouch forward, gazing down at his hands in his lap or lean slumped against the door with his head resting on the widow.  Though Castiel never shut his eyes, Dean was thankful that he didn’t look up at the mirror or else he would have definitely noticed Dean’s staring.  Sam caught him a few times. 

It hadn’t crossed Dean’s mind that, maybe, Sam and Castiel shouldn’t be sitting together, but it occurred to him when he noticed Sam’s cautious behavior.  Once or twice Sam started to stretch out his long arms, but then promptly pulled the one in between himself and Castiel back behind his head, like he had been afraid to get too close.  When Sam would restlessly try to get comfortable, Dean spotted him darting a look at Castiel before slowly stilling.  From what Dean could see, Castiel didn’t react at all and Dean thought Sam must have just been acting extra sensitive, trying not to bother Castiel.  He was a good kid.  Thankfully, the car was wide and there was room for space between the two of them. 

Dean suspected Sam had already apologized to Castiel, since he had told Dean he wanted to.  And he figured from Sam’s more relaxed mood, in spite of the hurdles still ahead of them, that Castiel had probably not missed the opportunity to apologize in turn.  Dean was having a harder time letting go of his anger at Castiel for the betrayal and the lies and, most importantly, for smashing Sam’s mind into a hallucinating hell hole. 

Despite his anger, part of him had already started to forgive Castiel.  He wanted to so badly.  Dean thought of how upset Sam had been with him for not telling him what he had done to Castiel.  Begrudgingly, he thought Sam was probably right.  Dean had been too concerned about Sam and not supportive enough of Castiel.  It certainly hadn’t been Dean’s intention to leave Castiel in the lurch, but he had.  He had been too wrapped up in his own panic over kissing Castiel, to man up and deal with the problems. 

Shit, he hadn’t meant to screw things up so badly.  Initially, he had thought he had been handling the situation with Castiel well. He had treated his wounds, gotten Soulless Sam away from him when he realized the truth, he had offered to talk with Castiel, researched the subject… But he shut him out after that damn kiss and things had only gotten worse.  Dean had to resist sighing audibly in the car.

Watching Castiel, Dean felt many things, but affection easily beat out his other emotions.  Close behind was probably fear.  Fear that this wouldn’t work, that Castiel might not make it through this, that he would lose him again, that Dean would never know what these feelings between them might really be.  Dean had to cling to his anger so he wouldn’t succumb to his fear.  It was too much to hope everything would work out.  And besides, when did good things ever happen to Dean? 

 

 

They made it to the lab and Dean couldn’t resist grabbing Castiel’s other arm to help Sam support him inside.  He thought Castiel purposefully leaned more towards him once he did.  Castiel was looking worse after the long car ride. He looked ashen and when they tried to leave him on his own, standing and leaning was too much effort and he sunk down to sit on the floor instead.  The three of them prepped the room.  Castiel had just sent Sam for the blood they would need from down the hall.  Dean was shoving some carts and an old metal bookcase aside to make room for the sigil they would need to put on the wall, when Castiel spoke to him.

“Dean?”           

“What, you need something else?”

Dean felt hesitant.  He hadn’t really spoken to Castiel yet.

“No,” Castiel answered immediately and then spoke slowly. 

“I feel regret, about you. And what I did to Sam.”

Oh no, Dean couldn’t handle an apology.  Not right now. Especially not when Castiel was gazing at him so sincerely and looking so vulnerable.  Dean had to look away and promptly returned to clearing space.

“Yean, well, you should.”

Castiel continued speaking, while Dean busily avoided looking at him. 

“If there was time, if I were strong enough, I’d—I’d fix him now.  I just wanted to make amends before I die.”

Dean felt a panic well up inside him.  He stopped what he was doing and sighed, looking at Castiel on the floor.  No.  Castiel was fearing the same thing Dean was, but the angel couldn’t die.  Dean wouldn’t let him.  He felt a rush of anger at Castiel.  The idiot angel thought he could come back and make Dean hope again and then try to say goodbye right away?!  Not a chance.

“Okay.” 

Castiel probably didn’t miss Dean’s irritation, but he waited a beat before he asked, “Is it working?”

Dean didn’t want Castiel to think he forgave him.  If he did, his friend might give up. 

“Does it make you feel better?”

“No,” Castiel certainly didn’t look like he felt good at all. “You?”

“Not a bit,” Dean said truthfully, returning to his task.  The idea of Castiel apologizing before he died only pissed him off.  He wasn’t fucking allowed to die.  Dean needed him here.  They were so close; Castiel couldn’t just give up now. 

 

When they were ready to go, Sam still hadn’t returned.  Dean felt briefly worried, but he was already so worried about Castiel it was hard to make room for Sam too.  Pushing concern for his brother aside, Dean fetched the blood Sam hadn’t gotten and returned to paint the sigil on the wall.  They only had one shot to help Castiel and it was time sensitive.  He’d have to trust that Sam would be okay for a few more minutes. 

“That’s good enough,” Bobby said, observing the marks Dean had painted on the wall. 

Dean retreated as Bobby pulled Castiel to his feet and led him to position in front of the sigil.

Castiel swayed slightly on his feet as Bobby read the incantation.  When Castiel started to collapse, Dean darted forward to catch him and steadied him, before reluctantly backing away again.  Cas just had to hold on.  This had to work.

Unfazed, Bobby continued loudly and the symbols started to glow orange as if on fire.  Castiel slowly turned his head back to look at Dean, who was finding it difficult to remember to breathe.  Castiel had caught Dean’s gaze and Dean suddenly wanted to save Castiel from this—it was too dangerous—but he knew it was their only option. 

“I’m sorry, Dean.” 

Dean knew he meant it.  He didn’t want Castiel to look away, but, of course, he did.  The wall in front of Castiel was breaking open to reveal a sucking black hole, that made Dean think of when Sam fell into the pit with Michael and Lucifer. 

White light came pouring out of Castiel’s chest and rushed towards the portal.  Dean shielded his eyes at first, before he realized he didn’t have to.  The light was bright, but not in the same way an angel’s grace was.  The unending stream of light continued to rush from Castiel and disappeared into the howling darkness.  Soon the bright light of the souls bled into gray and then quickly black.  The black seemed more like a liquid to Dean than anything else, but it slipped forward into the hole the same as the light had.    

As instantly as it had begun, it was over and Castiel fell to the floor. 

“Cas?”  Dean couldn’t let himself panic.

Dean and Bobby hurried forward on either side of Castiel and Dean gripped his shoulder to roll the unmoving angel onto his back.  His friend looked terrible, but he had already looked that way and didn’t appear to have any new injuries.  Bobby felt Castiel’s neck and Dean left his hand resting on his arm.

“He’s cold,” Bobby said, softly.

“Is he breathing?” Dean demanded, before moving his hand briefly in front of Castiel’s mouth and answering his own question, “No.  Maybe angels don’t need to breathe.” 

“He’s gone, Dean.”

Dean lifted his hand from Castiel’s arm.  He couldn’t fall apart in front of Bobby.  If he could hold onto his anger he might be able to get the hell out of there without losing it. 

“Damn it.”   

Dean forced himself to breathe and gradually got back to his feet. Bobby joined him.

“Cas, you child.  Why didn’t you listen to me?” 

Dean didn’t know if he could make it.  There was a horrible sinking feeling in his chest and a loud buzzing in his ears.  It was a challenge to look down at Castiel, but Dean forced himself to do it.  How could he be gone?

As Dean looked down, numbly, at his friend, the wounds and blood on his face disappeared and Castiel’s eyes blinked open as he inhaled.

“Cas!?”

Dean crouched down next to Castiel, hardly believing what he was seeing. “Hey! Hey!” 

Castiel was lifting his head. He was alive!  The angel looked slightly confused as Dean and Bobby pulled him by the arms into a sitting position. 

“That was unpleasant,” Castiel commented. Yeah, understatement of the friggin’ century.  Dean had lost him for a few moments and he had felt horrific, hollow, and hopeless.   

“Let’s get him up,” Dean said to Bobby and they helped Castiel to his feet.

“I’m alive,” Castiel looked back at the closed portal behind him in confusion.

“Looks like,” Bobby agreed, looking just as surprised.

“I’m astonished.  Thank you—both of you,” Castiel looked between them and Dean was elated to look into his beautiful, blue eyes again.  This was his Cas, not a twisted version of him.  

“We were mostly… just trying to save the world,” Bobby said sheepishly.

“I’m ashamed.  I really overreached.” 

“You think?”  Dean almost smiled.

“I’m gonna find some way to redeem myself to you.” Castiel had fixed his gaze on Dean again.

Dean nodded. “All right, well, one thing at a time.  Come on.  Let’s get you out of here. Come on.”

Castiel didn’t stop looking at him, as he and Bobby each took one of Castiel’s arms in case he needed help walking again.  They only took a step before Castiel came to a halt and touched Dean’s arm to get his attention. 

“I mean it, Dean.”

Dean nodded at Castiel again.  “Okay.  All right.  But let’s go find Sam, okay?”

“I’ll get Sam,” Bobby offered.  “You just help him outside and we’ll meet you by the car.”

Before Dean could object to Bobby’s attempt to give them privacy, the older hunter was walking away and out of the room.  Dean felt Castiel still watching him.  They were alone.  Dean let out a big sigh and turned to face his friend. 

“Dean, I owe you so many apologies.  I will make it up to you,” Castiel sounded determined.

“Cas.”  Dean tried to interrupt, but Castiel carried on.

“I was intent on trying to handle my problems on my own, but I should have come to you for help.  I didn’t mean to deceive you, though it did make strategic sense at first.”

“Cas,” Dean tried again.  Castiel sounded sincere, but for a guy who didn’t talk much it was almost like he was babbling.

“Let me finish, Dean.  What I did to Sam, it’s unforgivable.  I will do anything to convince you of my regret.  I’m certain it’s possible to make amends—” 

“Cas!  Shut up.”

“What?”

“Just, I get it, okay.  I hear you, but I don’t care about that right now. Just, c’mere.”  Dean tugged at Castiel’s arm and as he stepped forward, looking confused, Dean pulled him into a hug.  With one arm low and the other high on Castiel’s back, Dean squeezed Castiel tightly and rested his chin on Castiel’s shoulder. 

“None of that matters right now.  I’m just glad you’re alive, man.  Now hug me back.”

“Dean.” 

Castiel did as he was told and raised his arms to embrace Dean.  After a moment, Castiel was leaning into the hug, letting some of his weight rest against Dean’s chest and he sighed contentedly against Dean’s neck.  The whole thing felt amazing and Dean was unwilling to let go of Castiel.  He was here, he was alive, he was safe.  They would be okay.

If it hadn’t been in the back of his mind that Sam and Bobby could be waiting on them, Dean thought he might have been content to hold onto Castiel until the angel objected.  Reluctantly, Dean released Castiel and took a step back.  He kept a hand lightly holding Castiel above the elbow, in case he was still wobbly.

The look Castiel was giving Dean almost made him uncomfortable.  It was at once reverent and disbelieving, and also hopeful. 

“Thank you, Dean.”

“Heh, no thanks needed for a hug, Cas. Now let’s get the hell out of here.”

 

xxx

 

Sam finally realized it wasn’t Lucifer saying his name.  It was Bobby, and it was a relief to set eyes on him. 

“You with me, Sam?”

“Uh, yeah. Yeah, Bobby. I’m okay.  I just…”  Sam wasn’t sure how to finish his sentence.  He had seen Lucifer.  He had been talking to him and it had seemed so real. Fortunately, the devil was no longer in sight.  Sam took a steadying breath, uncomfortably aware of Bobby’s analytical gaze. 

“I’m fine, now,” Sam tried.  “Where’s Dean?”

“He should be walking Castiel to the car by now.”

“Cas is alive?!  Thank God. That would have killed Dean if he didn’t make it.”

“You don’t have to tell me,” Bobby huffed.  “I have eyes.  I left them alone for a reason.”

Sam almost laughed.  He should have known Bobby would pick up on it; the hunter was observant.

They walked out together, stopping briefly to grab a few leftover supplies and when Sam could see the Impala through the darkness it looked like his brother and friend had just gotten to it.  Dean assisted Castiel, holding the door open and waiting for him to get situated in the back before he slammed it shut.  Sam was a little shocked when Dean waited for them to get closer and then tossed the keys at Sam. 

“I’m beat,” he announced and climbed into the back to sit with Castiel.

 

Sam felt stunned.  Even when Dean begrudgingly gave up the keys he never sat in the back.  It had probably only happened once or twice, when he was grievously injured and had to lay down while Sam sped them away from danger. 

Exchanging a look with Bobby over the top of the car, Sam just shrugged and said, “Okay, then.”

As they got in the car, Sam was happy to see Castiel had healed, even if his clothes were still a wreck.  The angel hadn’t lost his tired expression though and he seemed unwilling to look away from Dean for long.  Dean was keeping to his side of the car and only glanced at Castiel occasionally, but Sam could tell the tension between them was different now.  His brother had helped Castiel and clearly wanted to sit with him, so they must have already repaired some of the damage between them.  It was a good start, he thought.

They didn’t drive far.  It only took a quick discussion to realize they should try to sleep for a while before attempting to drive the seven hours home, since it was early in the morning and they had all been awake for hours.

When they got to a motel, Bobby went in to see about a room and Sam thought they might get lucky—the lot wasn’t that full.  When Bobby climbed back in he told Sam to pull around to room 14, so he did.  They all got out and gathered their bags, while Castiel watched, with a hand on the hood of the Impala.  Bobby thrust a second key at Dean.

“You and Cas are in 17.”

“What?” Dean sounded concerned.

“Number’s right on it,” Bobby said, starting to turn away.

“No, I mean why?  Didn’t they have a room with a couch I could sleep on?  Cas doesn’t even need to sleep, so…seems silly to waste money on two rooms.”

Sam frowned at his brother’s panicked response and the creep of red on the back of his neck.  Why did he have to be such an idiot sometimes?

“No couches,” Bobby grunted, sounding annoyed and really walking away to open the door.

“We could bunk together,” Dean said hopefully to Sam.

Sam shook his head.  Dean was being pathetic, acting like it meant something if he and Cas shared a room.  It just made sense to pair the two of them up.  Obviously, Castiel probably wouldn’t want to be with Sam, and he didn’t know Bobby nearly as well as he knew Dean.

“I’d rather have my own bed and besides you never want to share.  Look, just go get some rest, Dean.  It’s not a big deal.”

Dean was looking embarrassed and like he was maybe trying to come up with a different argument when Castiel spoke up.

“I don’t have to stay. Or I could wait in the car,” Castiel offered, somberly and Sam smiled, certain that would shut Dean up.  It did. 

“No, Cas,” Dean said, a little sternly, no doubt annoyed at his own stupidity for making Castiel feel unwanted.  “You’re staying with us.  I’m just being an idiot.”  Dean turned to walk towards their room and waved his hand, gesturing for Castiel to follow him.  “Let’s go.”

“Sleep well, Sam.” Castiel followed after Dean and Sam watched them disappear into the room, before he went to join Bobby.  He really hoped Dean would get his shit together and make this work.  Even though his brother was a colossal idiot, he deserved some happiness.

 

Chapter Text

While Dean rifled through his bag, Castiel trailed slowly into the motel room and shut the door.  After a moment’s thought he locked it, and then stood leaning against the door looking at the carpet.  Dean paused on his way into the bathroom, glancing back at Castiel.

“Sit down, man.  I’ll be out in a minute.” 

Dean disappeared into the bathroom and stared at himself in the mirror.  Splashing cool water on his face, he was glad to see that his blush had mainly faded.  Dean quickly brushed his teeth, glad to have something to do that kept him from talking to himself reassuringly.  He wasn’t sure what his problem was, but he felt irrationally nervous.  Sam had been right, it was no big deal, Dean reminded himself as he went back into the room.  It was just Cas.  The guy had been in motel rooms with Dean before.

Castiel had listened and now sat on the side of one of the beds with his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands.  Dean crossed the room and sat on the bed across from Castiel, peeling off his shoes and socks.  The beds were so close together that his knees brushed against Castiel’s. 

Lifting his head from his hands, Castiel looked up at Dean, his gaze piercing and troubled. 

“Dean.”

“Cas?” Dean paused, suspicious.  “Are you gonna start apologizing again?”

“I think I should.”

“You already did, Cas.  I know you’re sorry.  We can talk more about it later, besides I owe you some apologies too.”  Dean covered a yawn and then ran a hand through his hair.  “Think you’ll be able to sleep?”

Castiel nodded once and said, “Yes.  I’m not at full power.  It might be advantageous to rest.”

Standing from the bed, Dean realized that Castiel still hadn’t fixed his clothes and they were covered in blood.  “Uh, why don’t you take that stuff off, Cas? Your clothes are a mess.”

Looking down at himself, Castiel pulled the edges of his coat closer together and then crossed his arms, hugging his elbows.  “I don’t mind.  I’d rather keep them on.”

Dean tried to imagine what it would be like to sleep in his FBI suit and a trench coat and could only guess it’d be extremely hard to get comfortable.

“You’ll be more comfortable if you ditch the clothes.”

“No, this clothing is preferable to the alternative.”

Pondering whether he should push the point, Dean went to his duffle bag and pulled out some clothes. 

“Just, maybe, try these instead.  You can still be all covered up, but it’ll be soft cotton.  You can even layer the tops together like you’re used to.”

Castiel accepted the pile of clothing from Dean.  He looked down at it, before raising his hands and burying his face in the garments. 

“Uh, they’re clean.  Promise,” Dean said, bewilderedly.

“They smell like you,” Castiel replied, lifting his head.

“I’m guessing that’s detergent.  …Is it a good thing?”

“Of course.”  Castiel said it simply, as if Dean were the crazy one.

Dean nodded, as Castiel slowly removed his coat and jacket.  It took him a minute to undo the tie and another for him to fumble to remove his shoes and socks.  Dean didn’t really realize he had been watching Castiel the whole time, until the angel stopped and looked up at him.

“Sorry,” Dean mumbled and then jerked his head at the bathroom.  “If you want to change in there, it’ll give you some privacy.”

Instead of responding, Castiel simply gathered all the clothes, his and Dean’s, and shut himself in the bathroom.

Sighing, Dean flopped back onto the bed. Maybe it wasn’t a ‘big deal’ to be sleeping in the same room as Castiel, but it wasn’t exactly normal.  Not now that Dean knew that Castiel probably liked him… probably as more than a friend.  He also could admit he was definitely, maybe curious about…about maybe liking Cas back and possibly doing something about it. Even though the angel was cruising in a dude’s body—a kind of borderline, ridiculously, sexy dude’s body.  Dean could admit that. 

With the four of them driving together, there had been no extra room for whiskey in the trunk and Dean was really starting to regret letting Sam take it out.

The bathroom door opened and Dean looked around from where he was stretched out across the bed. Castiel draped his stained attire across the chair by the table.  He had donned Dean’s clothing, as suggested, and Dean thought it was a little unfair that Castiel looked better in his clothes than he did.

Everything looked a bit big on Castiel, but not by too much.  Dean had given him a pair of dark grey sweatpants, a faded black t-shirt and a long-sleeved, greenish, plaid button-down.  Castiel was self-consciously adjusting the outer shirt, but he left it unbuttoned.  Without all the bulky layers, Castiel seemed a bit diminished in appearance and pulling a shirt over his head had mussed his hair, but overall Dean found it was a good look for the angel.    

“Better?”

“I still prefer my clothes, but yes, this might be more comfortable to rest in.”

Castiel padded silently across the room and after a slight hesitation sat down on the bed next to Dean.   Then, he slowly moved to lay on his back as well. 

Dean froze.  Uncertainty plagued him.  What was wrong with the other bed?  

He could tell that Castiel had turned his head to look in Dean’s direction across the mattress.  Dean debated just getting up and moving away to the other bed, but curiosity kept him in place.  Plus, he knew Castiel would take it as a rejection if he moved away and he didn’t want to upset him the way he had after the kiss. 

Dean forced himself to turn his head and look at Castiel.  Perhaps, that was a mistake.  The sight of Castiel made Dean hyper-aware of how close they were.  They weren’t quite touching, but their shoulders were dangerously close.  Castiel’s big, blue eyes were very difficult to look away from and, if Dean were honest with himself, he didn’t want to. 

“Dean?” Castiel spoke quietly, he sounded nervous.  “Would we—” He faltered and tried again.  “Could we sleep together tonight?”

It took all of Dean’s self-control to keep himself from bolting out of the bed.  He gaped, dumbly, at Castiel, in shock.  “What!?”

“Like this,” Castiel amended, quickly.  “I meant, we could go to bed together.  If I fall unconscious, I would feel safer close to you.  I cannot defend myself if I’m asleep.”

Dean relaxed by a few degrees.  “You want to actually sleep next to each other, right? That’s not what those sentences mean, man.” 

“My apologies.”  Castiel blushed faintly and looked away.  Dean hadn’t even known he could blush, but he found it endearing.

“Okay,” Dean heard himself agreeing, without thinking. 

The hasty decision was worth it though, because Castiel’s gaze snapped back to Dean and his eyes were bright and a small smile played on his lips.  Dean grinned back, dopily and was busy staring at Castiel for a whole minute, before his brain managed to convince him that this could be weird and awkward.  Ah, fuck it.  There was no real harm in sleeping next to Cas, especially if it would help him relax.  Dean knew the angel had minimal experience sleeping and he was always injured when he did it.  Dean always slept better when Sam was around because of the line of work they were in.  If Castiel felt helpless while resting and healing, well, Dean could relate to that.  Besides, he couldn’t chicken out now. 

Dean reluctantly forced himself to sit up and get off the bed.  He hadn’t gotten changed earlier, so now he walked away from Castiel, pulling off his shirt to switch into a fresh one.  Shoving off his jeans, he wished he had brought another pair of sweats, but boxers would have to be good enough.

Turning back around, Dean saw that Castiel had sat up as well and that the angel had quickly looked away when Dean was once again facing him.  Dean had a sneaking suspicion that Castiel had been watching him change.  It was hard to say if Dean was more embarrassed or amused by the attention and he resisted spouting some cheesy line about asking Cas if he liked what he saw, because No.  Dean was not going to flirt with an Angel of the Lord in some crummy motel room.

Before he made his way back to the bed, Dean turned off the light and double checked the door lock.  He couldn’t have Sam or Bobby bursting in the door a few hours from now, also because monsters and demons or whatever.  The light in the bathroom was still on, so the room was dimly lit by what little light spilled from the cracked door.  Dean got under the covers on the side of the bed Castiel wasn’t seated on, kicking his feet around to dislodge the tightly tucked sheets.  Castiel hadn’t moved to join Dean yet.

“Still wanna get in here?  C’mon, Cas.  It’s so late, or so early.  Time to sleep.”

Castiel stood up and Dean moved onto his side, lifting the blankets for Castiel to climb in, ignoring the twist of apprehension in his stomach as he invited a recently un-mutated angel man into his bed.  Sure, it was strange, but Dean excelled at strange and they were just sleeping. He could handle sleeping.  Castiel had lain down on his side, mimicking Dean’s position and facing the hunter with endlessly staring eyes that Dean could make out in the dark.         

Dean let out a sigh and was bewildered to realize he was thinking of the hug he had given Castiel earlier.  Strictly speaking, Dean did not hug men.  Sam and Bobby and, recently, Castiel were the only exceptions and it was almost always after some particularly dangerous moment that they had managed to live through.  That had been the situation earlier, but thinking of how comforting and satisfying it had been to hold the angel in his arms was one thing and wanting to repeat the action now was unacceptable.  That would be cuddling.  Not gonna happen.

Castiel’s unwavering gaze held Dean’s eyes and if Dean hadn’t been so tired he might have cared more that they were just staring at each other in bed.  The trust in Castiel’s eyes was unmistakable and Dean suddenly felt a little guilty.  Cas had apologized, Dean could too.  

“I’m glad you’re okay, Cas,” Dean began, licking his lips.  “I thought you might die. Let me finish,” Dean warned.  “I’m still angry about Sam, but I know you regret it, and I know that idiot already forgave you.   And I’m sorry too.  I should have tried to listen when you wanted to explain.  Maybe this would have ended better—”

“Dean.  It’s not your fault,” Castiel seemed unable to resist interrupting.

“I’m not done, Cas. Lemme get through this.  I—I’m sorry I kissed you, Cas.  No, that’s a lie.  I’m sorry, I didn’t talk to you about it afterwards.  That was stupid, but I didn’t know what to say.”  The words came more easily to Dean in the dark, tucked safely into a warm bed with his best friend silently accepting him; Dean felt less exposed saying his thoughts out loud. 

“I understand, Dean.  There were things I didn’t know how to say to you, that I clearly should have.”

“Yeah, so maybe we were both idiots.”

“Perhaps,” Castiel agreed, softly. 

Silence fell between them and Dean studied Castiel, noting the exhausted quality of his expression.  The angel had not closed his eyes yet, content to stare at Dean until he fell asleep.  A thought had occurred to Dean, as he reflected on the kiss and he felt silly, but asked anyway.

“Cas?  Did you like kissing Meg?”

And Dean wasn’t sure why the answer was important to him, but suddenly he needed to know.

Castiel narrowed his eyes and tilted his head against the mattress, which Dean found highly amusing. 

“Yes.”  He answered uncertainly, as if expecting Dean to be displeased with his response.

“Oh.”

Suddenly, Dean was less certain about what he was doing here in bed with Castiel.  When the demon, Meg, had kissed Castiel she had wanted to steal his angel blade, but Castiel had immediately responded, grabbing her and kissing back, his hands in her hair.  Against all logic Dean felt jealous.  Castiel’s response to his brief kiss had been to stop Dean and step away.

“You’re making a strange face, Dean.”

“I’m not. I just…it’s nothing, man.  Let’s sleep.”  Dean rolled onto his back, staring up at the shadowed ceiling.  He tucked a hand under his head trying to get comfortable. 

There was silence again and Dean let his eyes drift closed, trying to ignore the fact that Castiel hadn’t moved and was likely still staring at him.  A car door slammed out in the parking lot and Dean realized he better fall asleep soon, before people were waking up and it was too noisy to do so. 

Castiel shifted under the blankets and his hand came to rest on Dean’s arm in between them.

“Dean?” 

“Mhmm.” Dean didn’t bother opening his eyes.

“Kissing you was infinitely better.”  Dean opened his eyes, but didn’t turn to look at Castiel.  “I had to stop you, though.  I didn’t want to, but I was afraid if I started kissing you, I would never want to stop.” 

Blushing furiously, Dean looked back at Castiel, grateful for the dark.  If Dean hadn’t known that Castiel didn’t play games, he would have been certain this was some sick joke.  Castiel continued earnestly, “It would have been so much easier to kiss you back, but then I wouldn’t have wanted to return to heaven to deal with Raphael.  I would have just wanted to stay with you.”

“Oh,” Dean said again, robbed of coherent thought and unable to form a decent response.      

“I liked it, Dean.” Castiel paused and his expression fell.  “But you didn’t.  You regretted it.”

And here was Dean’s chance.  The moment of truth.  He could, he should be honest.  Castiel was being honest with him.  After all the nonsense and bullshit they had been through, he shouldn’t lie.  The lies had gotten them into this whole mess.  As Dean looked at Castiel he found he didn’t want to lie.  If he told the truth, maybe Castiel would stop looking so crestfallen.

Dean cleared his throat and forced himself to respond. “I did regret it, but not for long, Cas.  I don’t, um, I don’t kiss men, so I was confused, but I liked it too.”

“I’m an angel, not a man, Dean.”

“Yeah, I know.  …But you’re kind of a man.  Doesn’t matter, not the point,” Dean shook his head slightly.  “I, uh, it was nice.   I’m glad I, um, kissed you, even though you stopped it and I acted like an ass afterward.  And I should have asked you first.  It was stupid to just grab you like that.”

Dean didn’t know what else to say.  They had already ventured deep into chick-flick territory and Dean knew they needed a change of topic.  He tried to think of a witty comment that might deflect them into safer areas of conversation, but he was tired and distracted by the comforting weight of Castiel’s hand on his arm.

“The civil war in heaven is over, Dean.” 

That was one heck of a topic change. Dean looked at Castiel curiously, wondering where he was going with it.

“Raphael was a threat that I needed to neutralize, but he’s gone now.”

Dean waited, because this was not new information.  He had seen Castiel obliterate the archangel.

“I’m no longer preoccupied with the war in heaven.  I can allow myself to be… distracted,” Castiel finished deliberately, giving Dean a meaningful look.  Dean raised his eyebrows, cottoning on.    

“Yeah?”  Dean was acutely aware of his heart beat quickening as blood rushed in his ears and heat flushed his neck and cheeks.  Now this was just ridiculous.  He was acting like a friggin’ teenage girl.   

Dean was still flat on his back with his head turned on the pillow to look at Castiel, who remained on his side.  But then the angel was pushing himself up to lean on his forearm.  Dean looked up at Castiel and saw his timid but determined expression as he inched closer to Dean. 

Nothing could have made Dean look away from Castiel at that moment.  Even if Sam had crashed the Impala, right through the wall, with Bobby and Crowley on the roof, drunk and dressed as firemen, the angel would have kept his attention.  Dean was sure of it.

Castiel had stopped with his face hovering mere inches from Dean’s nose.  Dean felt uncharacteristically nervous.  He normally excelled at all bedroom related activities.  He felt tense and his mouth was a little dry and if Castiel got any closer he’d go cross-eyed. 

It seemed like Castiel might be about to say something and that made Dean impatient.  There was nothing else to say.  Castiel couldn’t keep torturing him with this ‘almost’ nonsense.  Dean raised a hand to gently cup the back of Castiel’s neck by his hairline and raised his own head the short distance necessary to close the gap between their lips.

The kiss was soft and slow, and Castiel leaned into it as Dean dropped back against the pillow, taking Cas with him.  All the tension melted out of Dean. There was no reason to be nervous.  This thing with Castiel felt easy, it felt right and Dean hadn’t expected that at all. 

Naturally, Dean had shut his eyes for the kiss and he hoped Castiel had enough sense to do the same.  Dean liked the feel of Castiel’s soft hair under his hand, it was a lovely contrast to the slight drag of stubble on his skin that was so foreign to him.  Castiel had gripped Dean’s shoulder lightly to balance himself, since he was still propped on one arm. 

The kiss didn’t last very long.  When Castiel pulled back slightly, Dean had to keep himself from following.  They had shifted even closer, so Castiel’s torso was resting against Dean’s side and part of his chest. 

“That was even better than the first time,” Castiel said confidently, looking pleased with himself.

Dean huffed a little laugh and boldly wrapped the arm pinned between the two of them loosely around Castiel’s waist.  “Agreed.”

Castiel smelled good and tasted divine and Dean was eager to capture those lips again, but Castiel had lowered his head, tucking himself into the crook of Dean’s neck.  He adjusted himself against Dean, with an arm thrown lightly over his chest. 

“Is this okay?” Castiel wondered, once he had stilled.

The warmth and weight of Castiel against Dean was calming and reassuring.  Dean hadn’t expected to be wrapped up in Castiel’s embrace, he really didn’t do cuddling.  One night stands didn’t lend themselves well to the intimate activity and although he had occasionally held Lisa in bed and enjoyed it, there had still been something missing.  She knew lots about Dean’s life as a hunter, but she didn’t know everything.  That was Dean’s fault, for withholding information he didn’t want her to know, for fear of rejection.  But Castiel knew about the worst things Dean had done and the angel, a freaking Angel, was clinging to him, seeking comfort.  It was humbling and Dean felt grateful. 

Castiel shifted and Dean could feel his warm breath against his neck. Dean was feeling drowsy and content.  He didn’t want to move and if Cas felt safe so close to him, well, he couldn’t exactly tell him to get off. 

“’S fine, Cas,” Dean mumbled.

Dean had never imagined he’d be falling asleep with Castiel resting quietly beside him.  He realized he hadn’t felt so at ease in a long time.  The last few weeks had been fraught with endless problems and Dean had slept worse than usual.  The rise and fall of Castiel’s chest against his soothed Dean into sleep, as easily as if Castiel had touched fingers to his head and cast him into a dreamless slumber.  He could get used to drifting off utterly untroubled.

 

xxx

 

When Dean woke up a few hours later, he knew he was in a motel.  The motels always felt the same.  There was a warm body tucked closely beside him and it only took Dean a moment to remember it was Castiel, who seemed to still be resting.  Dean tried to crane his neck around so he could peer down at Castiel’s eyes to be sure.  He couldn’t quite see, but Dean thought he must be right.  Normally if Castiel’s eyes were open, they’d be pointed in Dean’s direction.

Light was leaking into the room, despite the drawn curtains.  Everything seemed more real to Dean in the light of day.  He felt a bit exposed and even vulnerable lying there with Castiel, but no one was there to criticize him.  It was just quiet and peaceful, as if nothing were different. 

It was perturbing to be in bed with an angel. Castiel had a decidedly male vessel and while that was a fact that on some level made Dean want to panic, he found that if he focused on Castiel, his friend, instead of the nuances of his anatomy, then the creep of fear and embarrassment lessened so he could ignore it.  

Dean wasn’t afraid of a whole lot.  He had seen so many horrible monsters and evil people over the years that there wasn’t much that still fazed him.  Blood, guts, demons, it was all old news.  He was sometimes afraid he couldn’t protect his brother and his friends, he was afraid of flying because planes were inescapable, gravity-defying, death traps, but that was about it. It felt friggin’ ridiculous to be afraid of what people might think if he was involved with Castiel.  

Day to day Dean didn’t give a shit what anyone thought. He always did what he wanted, consequences be damned.  Maybe he could try to handle this situation in the same way. 

At the moment, Dean was just content that he was able to provide some level of comfort to his friend.   His attitude and actions concerning Castiel had been pretty shitty recently and Dean hadn’t known if they would be able to get past the damage.  It was such a normal defense for him to rely on his anger in situations he couldn’t control.  It was a way to shield himself from hurt and Castiel’s betrayal had hurt like a bitch, especially since Dean hadn’t seen it coming.  Still, he shouldn’t have clammed up and kept Castiel at a distance.  That certainly hadn’t helped anything. 

Dean was just relieved that Castiel was so forgiving.  It was more than he deserved.  Feeling a surge of gratitude, Dean gripped Castiel tightly with his half asleep arm that was already curled around him and brought his other arm across to grab Castiel’s waist and hug him closer.  The reaction was instantaneous. 

Castiel roughly shoved Dean away from him, while scrambling backwards in the opposite direction.  The shove hadn’t sent Dean far, since his arm had been trapped underneath Castiel, but Castiel’s jerky movements almost sent him tumbling off the bed.

“Woah, woah, Cas, calm down!  It’s just me, it’s Dean.”

Castiel was looking wildly at Dean in confusion and his eyes darted around the room looking for a threat.  Dean reached for Castiel, intending to grip his arm in comfort, but Castiel snatched his arm away, shaking his head. 

“No.  Just don’t touch me.” 

Castiel held up a shaking hand, gesturing that Dean should stop, should stay away. 

“I’m sorry, Cas.  I didn’t mean to upset you.”  Dean bit his lip, unsure of what to do.  “You’re safe, man.  I won’t touch you.”

Castiel climbed off the bed and Dean could see him tremble.  He promptly sat on the other bed, facing Dean, and scrunched his eyes closed.  Castiel hung his head slightly, resting his forehead on his fingers, elbow on his thigh. 

They sat in silence for a few minutes as Castiel tried to collect himself.  Dean kneeling stupidly on the mattress, not moving.  He hadn’t meant to frighten Castiel and he was mentally berating himself for not being more careful.  As he watched his friend, Dean felt a twist of remorse.  Castiel had been dealing with the aftermath of Sam’s attack on his own for far too long.

“Cas?  I’m gonna move closer to you,” Dean cautioned, before slowly sliding across the bed so that he could sit on the edge, opposite from Castiel.  A moment later, Castiel was dragging his hand down his face as he finally looked at Dean.  The angel seemed pale, but he was no longer shaky or eyeing Dean with alarm. 

“I’m sorry about that, Dean,” Castiel said and Dean realized with a pang of despair that Castiel was embarrassed by his reaction.

“No, Cas.  Hey, you don’t need to apologize for that.  It’s okay.  It’s, um, normal to sometimes have bad reactions to, uh, horrible crap that’s happened to you.  The nightmares I had after you pulled me from hell…  I was a wreck.”  Dean watched Castiel as he considered what was said.  “Sam talked to you, right?”

“Yes, he apologized, if that’s what you mean.” 

“Good.  Listen, Cas, I owe you an apology too.  I made that offer to talk to you ages ago, but I should have done more.  I did mean it, though, if you want to talk about what happened with Sam, we still can.”      

Castiel nodded.  “Yes.  Maybe.”  Looking away from Dean, Castiel began picking at his borrowed clothing. 

“How ya feeling?” 

“Better than I have been.  Resting helped.”  Castiel got up, heading in the direction of the bathroom.  He took his discarded clothes with him.  Once the door closed, Dean let out a big sigh, feeling slightly out of his depth. 

Castiel’s reaction had jolted Dean out of his sleepy, grogginess, but he was thinking some coffee would do him wonders right about now.  And a shower.  A hot shower would be great.  Dean froze at the knock on the door, he recognized it as Sam’s.

All at once, Dean jumped to his feet and hurriedly messed up the blankets on the bed no one had slept in, a sad attempt to make it look like one of them had.  God, he was pathetic.  Dean frowned at the bed, embarrassed, as Sam called his name questioningly through the door.

“Yeah, yeah,” Dean groused, unlocking the door and pulling it open.  He had to squint against the bright sun and figured it might be close to noon.

“You guys up?”  Sam asked, holding out a coffee to Dean.  “I got one for Cas… I don’t know if he’ll want it.” 

“We’re up.  Cas is in the bathroom.” 

Dean gratefully accepted the coffees, setting the extra one behind him on the table.  He kind of didn’t want to let Sam into the room for fear he might startle Cas, but being dressed in boxers, he wasn’t inclined to leave the room either, so he stood blocking the doorway.  Unlike Dean, Sam looked freshly showered and had obviously been up for a little while. 

“Give me like, ten minutes to shower and we can hit the road,” Dean suggested, between sips of coffee. 

“Sure.  There’s a diner we thought we could stop in since we didn’t eat last night.”

“Absolutely. Yes.”

Food sounded fantastic.  Dean thought he heard the bathroom door, so he started to close the door on Sam. “We’ll be out soon,” he rushed the goodbye and turned around to see Castiel was fully dressed, in his usual attire, which was now blood free. 

It was reassuring that Castiel had decided he had enough strength to fix his clothes.  Dean smiled at him. 

“Looking good, man.  Sam brought you a coffee, if you’re interested.” 

He gestured at the table while Castiel looked down at himself, probably wondering why Dean had complimented his appearance when he looked the same way he always did. 

“I gotta shower.  Then we’re gonna hit the road, grab some grub.  Sit tight.”

Dean disappeared into the bathroom.  Before he pulled the door shut, Dean saw Castiel sipping the coffee, curiously, and then pulling a face. 

Chapter Text

Bobby had gone across the street to buy a newspaper and Sam was standing around the Impala drinking his coffee, waiting for Dean and Castiel. 

Sam was feeling honestly optimistic for the first time in ages.  Apologizing to Castiel had been cathartic.  Though Sam still wanted to talk to the angel, he still had things he felt he should say, it had been huge just to say the words.  ‘I’m sorry’ was woefully insufficient to properly convey the appalling regret he felt and the horror of what he had done, but it was a starting point. 

Yesterday’s long car ride had been a reminder that there was still plenty that Sam could do to try and help Castiel.  Being stuck in the backseat with the angel for hours had made Sam painfully aware that Castiel probably wasn’t all that comfortable around him.  Sam suspected that Castiel had been too exhausted to pay much attention to Sam or to react when Sam moved around to change position, but from what he remembered it seemed safe to assume that Cas wouldn’t want to be trapped in small spaces with him.  Yesterday Castiel had accepted Sam’s assistance when he seemed too weak to walk, but once Dean had finished acting like a stupid jerk and helped too, Sam saw that Castiel had pulled away from him a bit, clearly preferring Dean.   

Now that Sam knew what he had done, he was determined to watch out for behaviors and situations that might upset Castiel.  His friend miraculously forgave him and Sam wasn’t about to squander his chance to repair the damage.  The angel was likely too stubbornly prideful to tell Sam if certain words or actions might upset him.  Somehow his stupid brother had talked Castiel into the idiotic plan of protecting Sam and ignoring the very real hurt Castiel had been through. 

As much as Sam might like to forget the terrible things he had done, he couldn’t.  Even if he wasn’t truly to blame, it had still happened, they couldn’t all just agree to have mass amnesia and pretend like nothing had changed.  That was just stupid and Sam felt a flare of frustration at Dean for having dealt (or not dealt) with the issue that way for so long.  No wonder things had gotten so bad between Dean and Castiel.  Dean was just a moron. 

Even though Sam was glad he remembered what he had done to Castiel—it was for the best—he hated how vivid the memories were.  It seemed to be that way for a lot of what he had done while soulless.  It was almost like watching an unsettlingly real film with all the 3D effects he never wanted.  He could smell the damp warehouse, the smoke and blood, he could hear Castiel’s pained noises while he struggled to act like Sam wasn’t hurting him, he could see how ruthless he had been.  He could recall every cruel thing he had said, he could see Castiel’s fear and defeat.  He remembered feeling powerful, justified, and satiated.  

Sam dropped his coffee and turned to the Impala, gripping the roof tightly with both hands to steady himself.  He hung his head and tried to focus on his breathing since he was suddenly feeling woozy.  Dwelling on what had happened was helping no one, but sometimes Sam found he couldn’t prevent it.  It was bad enough he was now having nightmares about his reprehensible behavior, he didn’t need to go pointlessly suffering through daytime recollections too.

“You okay, Sam?”

Sam spun around to see Bobby looking at him with concern. 

“Another hallucination?”

“No. No, I’m okay, Bobby.  Just bad memories.”

Leaning against the car, Bobby nodded his understanding and regarded Sam with worry.

While sharing a room with Bobby, Sam had taken the opportunity to briefly confess to the hunter what he had done to Castiel.  It wasn’t so difficult to talk to Bobby, he was good at listening and knew not to interrupt when Sam had struggled to verbalize his thoughts.  Sam wasn’t sure if it was his secret to tell, but he figured making Bobby aware of the situation was more important.  The benefit would be to Castiel, because now they could all be sensitive to his unspoken needs. 

Throughout the years, Bobby had always been supportive, so Sam was unsurprised when he agreed to Sam’s proposed pact to keep aware of situations that might trigger difficult memories for Castiel.  There had been a potentially teary moment afterwards where Bobby had pulled Sam into a hug and reassured him that he wasn’t to blame.  Bobby seemed to agree with Dean that Sam had been off the rails in a bad way when he was soulless.  It was good to hear it again from someone else and Sam hadn’t realized how much he needed the hug until Bobby had forced it on him.    

“About time, Princess,” Bobby teased Dean, as he walked up to the car with Castiel a little way behind him.

“I need my beauty sleep, Bobby.  You know that.  We can’t all wake up looking as gorgeous as you,” Dean answered as he fumbled to pull his keys out. 

The hunters loaded their bags into the trunk and Bobby and Sam climbed into the backseat together.  Sam sat on the driver’s side so he was as far from Castiel as he could be in the car.  If Dean found it strange that they both forfeited the front seat without a word, he didn’t say anything.  Castiel didn’t comment either, but Sam thought he gave Dean a curious glance once he was seated beside him.   

At the diner, Sam and Bobby once again sat next to each other, so that Dean and Castiel could sit together on the other side of the table.  Sam felt a little proud of himself that he even thought of asking for a table instead of a booth.  He knew Dean wouldn’t want to slide in and he didn’t want Castiel to feel trapped between him and the wall.  It was little stuff like that that Sam was determined to watch out for.  He thought he was off to a pretty good start and it wasn’t like it was an inconvenience to the rest of them.  No one cared if they had a booth or not. 

Castiel was looking much better than he had the day before, but there was still a tired quality to his features.  He had cleaned up his clothing though and was looking much more like himself, which made Sam glad.  The waitress brought them all coffee and Castiel a water, though he hadn’t requested any. 

As they waited for their food, Bobby was attempting to engage Castiel in a news article about some ancient bones that had recently been found in a cave in South Africa.  Castiel tilted his head towards the paper as Bobby pointed at the pictures, asking if Castiel could tell by looking if it was a whole new species or not.  Bobby was a voracious reader and knowledgeable on a broad spectrum of topics, and Sam could see that he and Castiel seemed to get on easily enough.  The two of them were discussing early human evolution when the waitress dropped off their plates. 

“I’m outnumbered by you nerds,” Dean said, around a mouthful of food. 

Castiel shifted his attention towards Dean as Bobby folded the paper away, focusing on his breakfast.  Dean was grinning broadly at Castiel, who twitched his lips into a brief little smile, before Dean’s eyes returned to his food.  If Castiel was smiling at Dean while he poked fun at him, then Sam could take it as a good sign.  He just hoped Dean was talking things through with Castiel.  Obviously, the angel was very willing to forgive, Sam just hoped Dean was actually making the apologies.  He was a little concerned that Castiel’s fondness towards Dean might blind him to the fact that Dean had been a real jerk recently. 

Although, if they were both happy with things, Sam supposed he wouldn’t have to interfere.  He knew Dean wouldn’t want him to get involved, but Sam wasn’t sure he was comfortable trusting Dean’s judgements at the moment.  Dean needed to make Castiel his main concern for a change, but his brother wasn’t stupid.  Sam thought some of his yelling, about how hurt Castiel likely was, had gotten through to him.        

Dean was flagging down the waitress for more coffee, while Castiel made an effort to drink some water.

“You look a helluva lot better today, Cas,” Bobby began.  “How ya feeling?  Powers better?”

All three of them looked in Castiel’s direction as he answered.

“Yes, resting with Dean was very restorative.  I can repair the wall today, if you’d like, Sam.”

Castiel had looked right at Sam, who had to raise his voice over Dean’s choking fit to be heard.

“Yeah, if you feel up to it, Cas.  That’d be great.”

Sam wasn’t sure what to make of Dean’s reaction, but it was hard to keep a straight face as Castiel offered Dean his water, looking perplexed.  Sometimes Castiel worded things poorly, but that was hardly reason to forget how to swallow.  It wasn’t like Dean to get so embarrassed, anytime Bobby or Sam kidded him, he took it in stride.  Sam looked suspiciously between Castiel and Dean, suddenly worried Dean might have done something colossally stupid behind the closed doors of the motel. 

“Think you’re up for a little flying?” Bobby distracted everyone from Dean’s crimson face. 

“You got a hot date you’re late for, old man?”  Dean enthusiastically seized the topic change. 

“I can fly.” Castiel assured them both.

“Thought maybe you could beam Sam and me home.  I’d rather not waste another day sitting, staring out a window when there’s things to be done.”

“You’re ditching me for busy work?”  Dean demanded, looking between the two of them.  Sam shrugged.  It was news to him, but he couldn’t deny the appeal.  Arriving home instantly sure beat out being crammed into the back of the Impala, bored to tears all day.   

“Oh, boo hoo, not like you’d let either of us drive anyway.  ’Sides, Cas will stay with you, I bet.”  Bobby looked to Castiel to get his opinion on all of this.

“I don’t mind taking you back.  And yes, I can still ride with Dean.”

“It’s settled then.  Thanks, Cas.  You’re the best,” Bobby told him sincerely.  It wasn’t the type of thing Bobby would normally say, and Sam and Dean both raised their eyebrows at him.  But Sam understood when he caught sight of Castiel, who was looking pleased at the praise, as he nodded at Bobby. 

 

xxx

 

They had left Dean in the parking lot, where he seemed surprisingly agreeable to be on his own with the Impala for a bit.  Castiel had stood between Sam and Bobby, lightly touching their shoulders and then releasing them a moment later when they stood in Bobby’s kitchen. 

“Thanks, Cas,” Sam said, turning towards him.

“Definitely my favorite way to travel,” Bobby asserted.

“Should I mend you now, Sam?”

“Uh, actually, Cas I was hoping I could talk to you first,” Sam began as Bobby walked into the next room and busied himself at his desk.  He was far enough away to give them a little privacy, but still within sight. 

Castiel had followed Bobby’s departure closely and though he answered Sam calmly enough, Sam thought it had taken him a little longer than normal.

“Of course, Sam.” Castiel slowly looked at him, “What would you like to talk about?”

“Is it okay to talk in here?  Would you rather go outside?”  Sam asked, thinking the wide open space might make Castiel more comfortable.

“The kitchen is fine.”

Sam backed up a bit so they weren’t so close together.  “Listen Cas.  I know I already apologized for what I did and you said you forgave me—”

“I do.”

“And I believe you, but, well, I just need to make sure that you understand.  I would never hurt you like that, Cas.  I—maybe I wanted to then, but that wasn’t me and I would never do something so horrible like that again.  It’s tearing me apart inside that I put you through that, everything I said and did, it was just so wrong.”

Castiel was watching Sam very carefully, expression guarded and Sam was so thankful that Castiel was listening without interrupting.  It would be hard to start again and he wanted to make sure he said everything he needed to. 

“I consider you a friend, Cas, and I betrayed your trust by trapping you like that.  There is no excuse for what I did, but I think everything I did came from a place of hatred that must be deep inside me.  I don’t know if it’s because of the demon blood or because I was Lucifer’s vessel, but whatever it is in me, that’s evil, it’s gone.  I don’t have that hatred anymore.  I don’t feel angry towards you at all, Cas.  I just feel terrible about what I’ve done.”

Sam took a deep breath. He could feel the hot burn of tears in his eyes and he was glad Bobby’s back was turned and Dean was hundreds of miles away. 

“Just, please know that I’m sorry.  I hate that I did that to you.  I hate that I hurt you and I’m so sorry.  I’m sorry Dean didn’t tell me about it sooner, so I could start apologizing then.  You’re so strong, Cas, but I’m sure it’s been a struggle for you to be around me and now that I remember I’m gonna do my best to make sure I don’t carelessly say or do things you might not like.  But, please, if there is anything you can think of that I can do to help you, please let me know.  If you’re hiding it all the time, I’ll never know if I’m doing something stupid that upsets you.”

Sam quickly wiped at his face, to get rid of the few tears he hadn’t been able to hold back.  For some reason Sam didn’t feel so embarrassed crying in front of Castiel.  He wasn’t sure if it was because the angel might not understand that men considered it a weakness or if it was just because Castiel seemed like he barely noticed the tears at all.  Either way, it made it much easier for Sam to reign in his emotions.

“Sam.”

Castiel looked away for a long moment before he met Sam’s eyes again

“You’re not evil, Sam.  It was fated that you would be Lucifer’s vessel and that was why you were first given that taste of demon blood as a baby.  I do forgive you, Sam.  I don’t blame you.  Being without a soul, it’s not natural for a human.  I’m sure you remembered your life, but being pulled out of Lucifer’s cage without a soul… you no longer had your morality to guide you.  Your years of humanity were lost to you.  I imagine you wouldn’t have been very concerned for the consequences of your actions.”

Castiel paused and studied the floor briefly, before continuing.

“I know it wasn’t you… but it’s difficult to always remember that.  It was you in appearance and expression and voice.  I have to remind myself sometimes.”

Sam looked sadly at Castiel, as he wrung his hands together and then defensively held one elbow with his hand. 

“The memories are still fresh, but I am trying to forget them.  Rationally, I know that I can trust you, but…” Castiel looked guiltily at Sam.  “…but it’s a challenge to force myself to accept that truth.”

“Look, Cas.  It hasn’t been that long, it’s gonna take time for you to feel okay around me.  You don’t have to force it.  If you’re uncomfortable let me know, or Dean or, heck, just fly away and come tell us later.  And you don’t need to force yourself to trust me.  I can earn that back over time.  Dean was an idiot to tell you to just ignore everything and then act like nothing was different.  It is different now, but we’ll get through it.  And I know you have Dean to talk to, but he can be such an ass about talking.  So if you ever want to talk to me about anything you can.  Bobby too.”

Sam saw Bobby turn his head in their direction briefly, but he didn’t object and Sam knew he had heard him. 

“Thank you, Sam.  I consider you a friend too.  This was a beneficial talk.”

“Yeah.  Yeah I agree, Cas.”  Sam was feeling lighter, having expressed the thoughts he had been wanting to.  It wasn’t a perfect conversation, but it seemed to do the trick.  It looked like Castiel was going to say something else, so Sam waited

“And, you are sincere when you say I can talk to you?  Even if it’s not now, but in the future?”

“Uh, yeah of course, Cas.  Why else would I say it?  As long as you’re comfortable with it, you can talk to me whenever.”

“I wanted to be certain.  Dean made a similar offer, but then refused to speak to me when I wanted to.”

Sam frowned at Cas.  That ass, what was Dean’s problem?

“Well, I mean it, Cas,” Sam assured him.  “I don’t know why Dean would change his mind like that, but he’s an idiot.”

“I think he was just embarrassed to talk about anything after he kissed me.”

There was a dull thud from the other room and if Sam had to guess, he would say Bobby had just dropped some ancient book.  Sam couldn’t help but be confused.  When had his brother been kissing an angel?  If Sam hadn’t just promised to talk with Cas about anything, anytime he might have been tempted to say it was none of his business.  Though, honestly, he was curious.

“Uh, yeah.  That would probably be a good enough reason in his mind.  So, Dean kissed you?” 

Sam watched Castiel, waiting for him to say he had misunderstood, but Castiel voiced no objection and Sam continued.

“And then he, what, wouldn’t talk about it?”  It did sound a lot like something Dean would do, Sam thought, as Castiel nodded once in agreement. 

“When was this?”  Sam needed to know.  It could have been when he was soulless or even just last night at the motel.

Castiel looked thoughtful, for a moment, considering.

“Well, the first time,” Sam’s eyes widened in surprise, first!? “was right after Balthazar sent you both to that alternate reality.”

Sam gaped, disbelievingly at Castiel, before he all but yelled, “Then!? That was ages ago!”

Castiel had recoiled slightly since Sam had raised his voice and flapped his arms in exasperation. 

“Sorry!” He apologized hastily.  He just couldn’t believe it.  So much had happened since then, and Castiel had probably just been confused the whole time.  And Dean, what was he even thinking?

Try as he might, Sam was blanking on what to say next.  Castiel hadn’t really said he wanted to talk about this, but once he had volunteered the information, Sam could hardly let it go.

Seemingly concerned by Sam’s dramatic reaction, Castiel tried to reassure him.  “Dean apologized last night for not talking with me.  He was confused because he thought I was a man.  But then I kissed him and it was much better than before because Dean was sober and I wasn’t startled.”

“Oh.”

Sam felt like he was drowning under this bizarre wave of new information.

“That’s, uh, nice, Cas.  I’m glad you two… talked.”  Peering around Castiel, Sam shot a look at Bobby to come help him.  The older hunter was looking amused, but then he walked into the kitchen to face Castiel.

“You like Dean kissing you, Cas?” Bobby asked directly, while Sam looked on in bewilderment, not sure the conversation could get any weirder. 

“Yes,” Castiel replied without hesitation.

“Good, but you know you don’t always have to go along with what he wants, right?  You may think the sun shines out of his ass, but he ain’t perfect, so if he pisses you off or does something you don’t like, it’s okay to be mad at him, or at least let him know.  You got it?”

“Yes,” Castiel said doubtfully.

“I mean it.  You’re new to kissing, Cas, and Dean’s done it plenty of times.  Don’t let him push you into it if you’re not comfortable.  He’ll listen and if he doesn’t you come tell me.”

“Okay.”  Castiel sounded a little more serious. 

Sam thought Bobby might have been being too protective.  Dean wasn’t some monster who took advantage of people, but then again, it sounded like he hadn’t asked the first time they kissed.  And Castiel did usually do anything Dean asked him to.  Sam decided he was glad Bobby was playing it safe and watching out for Castiel.  It certainly couldn’t hurt and Bobby was right that Castiel would be out of his element, having never had any type of consensual sexual experiences as far as Sam knew.  Clearly, Bobby was taking their little pact seriously and Sam was grateful.

“Good,” Bobby said, satisfied.  “You feel like taking a crack at Sam’s noggin now?”

Sam tried not to be nervous as Castiel nodded his assent.

Chapter Text

Dean was sprawled on his back, across the front seat of the Impala, napping in the mid-day sun.  He woke up a little disoriented and wiped at his mouth; he felt like he was being watched. 

“Dammit, Cas,” He groaned as he spied the angel standing at the window behind his head on the passenger’s side, looking in at him. 

“How long have you been standing there?”

Dean sat up, twisting around to arrange himself behind the wheel.   “Get in.”

“Not long,” Castiel promised, as he climbed into the car.

“Yeah, sure.  And is that ‘not long’ in human time or angel time?” 

Dean was rolling his neck and then fastening his seatbelt.   

“Human,” Castiel answered the rhetorical question.

Dean snorted and started the car. 

“What took you so long, man?” 

“I was mending the wall in Sam’s mind.”

“Yeah?”  Dean glanced briefly at Castiel, before focusing on the traffic he was trying to pull into. 

“How’d it go?  Is he okay?”

“Yes, Sam is fine.  He was worried he might forget things again, but it’s not the same as when Death first returned his soul and created the wall.”

“So, he’s all better now?”

Castiel hesitated and Dean waited impatiently. 

“He shouldn’t have any hallucinations, but Sam was having some issues even before I broke the wall.  I think it should be better this time around though.  Since he remembers everything he did, there is no danger of unknown issues arising from the time lapses or memory gaps.  Sam knows everything and it’s to his benefit.”

“Okay, and if he has issues?” Dean tried to keep his voice calm.  It sounded like good news and Castiel had apologized for breaking the wall, but it was still a struggle to remind himself he wasn’t allowed to be angry anymore.  He was trying to let go of the anger, but it was an unfamiliar process to him.  Dean clamped his mouth shut, refusing to let himself be angry with Castiel when he was attempting to fix things. 

“I told Sam that if he has any issues he should tell me at once.  If there are any cracks or weaknesses in the wall, the sooner Sam tells me, the more likely I will be able to isolate the specific troubled area and repair it.”

“So your plan is to keep laying on mortar as needed, until it’s air tight?”  Dean clarified.

“It’s the best and only option available to us, Dean.  I am sorry for destro—”

“Nah, Cas. You’ve apologized.  I forgive you.  I’m not mad anymore,” Dean insisted, trying to keep his voice even.  It did sound like a decent plan.  Angelic tune-ups were likely pretty powerful stuff.  Castiel had done a damn good job fixing him after the hellhounds tore him to shreds.  Dean would just have to trust that it would be okay.

 

They drove north and lapsed into silence.  It wasn’t uncomfortable.  Silences between him and Castiel were not unusual.  If either of them had something to say, they would.  It was just one of the ways Dean felt at peace around Castiel.  The silence was comforting in ways it wasn’t with other people.  Occasionally, Dean didn’t mind silence with Sam, but more often than not, he would say something to break it or he’d opt to turn on the radio.  With Castiel he didn’t feel the need to fill the void.  It wasn’t empty silence, it was familiar, content, and companionable.

Dean had been thinking about Castiel most of the day already.  It seemed like nothing short of a miracle that the angel was sitting here next to him, after almost dying and everything else that had gone wrong recently.  And now Castiel had a plan to keep Sammy sane and Dean was feeling surprisingly pleased with the turn of events.  Things were far from perfect, but that was plenty normal for Dean, who usually had to settle for things-aren’t-too-shitty-right-now periods of time, interspersed with frequent we’re-all-fucked-and-going-to-die moments.  All things considered, it had been going great since Castiel ditched those souls.

Earlier in the day, Dean had been suspicious of Sam and Bobby’s behavior, worried that they were purposefully sitting as a pair in an attempt to push Dean and Castiel together.  It was totally a nosy Sam move to get involved in Dean’s business, and he had been harping on about Castiel being in love with Dean the other day.  Dean had been briefly pissed that Sam thought it was okay to play matchmaker, until they got to breakfast and Bobby had continued to be extra nice to Castiel.  Then Dean realized their behavior was probably a lot more about making Castiel comfortable than it was about some forced romance between the two of them.  He felt like an idiot again.  Was he always this wrapped up in his own issues?

Dean was uncertain what he could do, moving forward, to help Castiel.  He could actually listen if he wanted to talk, but Dean wasn’t sure what else.  After the incident earlier, he thought he could try to be more careful about touching Castiel without his knowledge, but that had been an honest mistake.  Castiel had been fine all night sleeping next to him.  Dean hadn’t considered that holding him tightly like that would send him into a panic. 

Kissing Castiel had been a pleasure, though it had been chaste and tame and over entirely too soon for Dean’s liking.  Castiel had seemed eager enough and the whole thing had been his idea, which was for the best, Dean supposed.  If there was going to be any more of that, and Dean sincerely hoped there would be, then it would probably be best if Dean deferred to Castiel’s preferences.  Which would be fine, since Dean had no more experience kissing guys than Castiel did, so it was sort of like being on even footing.  Though so far the kissing was largely the same as with the ladies, only more shy, and really better, because Dean had felt giddily happy when Castiel had leaned over him with love in his eyes.  No one looked at Dean like that.  He saw looks of lust all the time, because obviously, of course, but not love or absolute trust.  Dean couldn’t screw this up. 

“I was mad at you,” Castiel said quietly, pulling Dean from his thoughts.

“Huh?” Dean looked away from the road to Castiel who was staring at him. 

“When were you mad at me?”

“You said we could talk, but then when I wanted to, you refused.”

Dean sighed.

“I know, Cas.  I was a jackass.  I shouldn’t have done that and I’m sorry.” Dean glanced at Castiel a few times as he said it.  He wondered if he should pull over, but Castiel had known he was driving, maybe he was just finally in the mood to talk.

“This morning you said you would listen again.  Did you mean it?”

“Yes,” Dean blurted, nodding in emphasis.  He had thought Castiel had given him a cool response when he made the offer earlier.

Castiel cocked his head and considered Dean, staring as Dean drove.  Dean chose to remain silent, hoping Castiel would continue.

“Bobby said I should tell you if you do things I don’t like or that make me mad.”

“Okay.  Sure.” 

Great, now Bobby was butting into Dean’s business. 

“I was upset with you a lot recently.  I was mad when you wouldn’t accept my apologies.”

“Yeah, Cas.  Um, again, I was being an ass.  You tried to talk to me and I blew you off.  I was mad at you too, but we’re past that now, right?  I’m sorry, you’re sorry, and I don’t want to seem like I’m skating past all this, but, well, a lot happened and we’d probably be making apologies all damn day.  I’m no good at this stuff, man.  So the bottom line is that I’m sorry I hurt you.”

Dean adjusted his grip on the steering wheel and was unsurprised to see that Castiel was giving him an appraising look.  Suddenly, Dean worried it wasn’t enough and he blundered on, staring at the road.

“I, uh, made a lot of bad decisions and when I’m angry I can be stubborn as hell, you know that.  But I am sorry, and you’re important to me, Cas.  I shouldn’t have let things get so bad.”

The blush on his cheeks was faint, but Dean could feel it.  Sappy stuff like this always embarrassed him.  It seemed like it was enough for Castiel though. 

“I do forgive you, Dean.  I’m sorry, too.”

“Good,” Dean sighed in relief. 

“Talking does seem to help.” Castiel almost sounded like he was saying it to himself.  “I spoke with Sam again.  It was constructive.”

“Yeah?  Good.  I’m glad.  Are you two… okay?”

“Not entirely, but we will be, eventually.  I think Sam understands better than you do, Dean.”

Dean shot a look at Castiel.  “Understands what better?”  Sam was always better with feelings, but Dean felt a little offended. 

Castiel didn’t answer right away, looking out the windshield. 

“About how… difficult it was after Sam…trapped me.”  Castiel had struggled to find the right words.

“He was the one who did it, Cas, of course he knows better about it.”

“I mean,” Castiel paused to figure out what he was trying to say.  “I meant that Sam only just remembered everything and he has offered to do anything I ask, if it will help me.  I don’t think you understand how troublesome certain things were for me.”

“Sam offered because he feels guilty as hell, Cas.  And he’s the one who’s gonna be able to do things that might make you more comfortable, because he’s the one you’re uncomfortable around.”  Dean gripped the steering wheel tightly and glanced at Castiel.  He didn’t understand what his friend was trying to say. 

“That may be true.  But,” Castiel looked apprehensively at Dean.  “Whose idea was it when the three of you trapped me in that ring of fire?  If it wasn’t your idea, you certainly didn’t object.  You knew what happened and they didn’t.”

Castiel’s voice had gotten quieter and somewhat bitter.  Dean swiveled his head in Castiel’s direction looking hurt and surprised, but Castiel was looking down at his lap, where his hands were balled into fists.

“I didn’t want to do it, Cas, but we had to do something.  Uh, I guess you didn’t like it?”

Dean immediately regretted the levity of his statement, when Castiel looked up at him with disappointment in his eyes.

“Dean, I – I was terrified.  The last time I was trapped like that…”  Castiel pressed his lips together and looked away from Dean, out the window.   

“I’ve never felt so helpless,” Castiel spoke quietly and Dean wished, for the first time, that the Impala’s engine wasn’t so loud.  “I couldn’t do anything… it didn’t matter what I did.”

The opportunity to pull-over presented itself and Dean took it without a second thought.  He threw the gear into park, killed the engine and scrambled out of his seat belt.  Dean had to resist his first instinct.

“Cas, can I touch you?”

Without looking away from the window, Castiel nodded and Dean scooted closer and slowly wrapped Castiel in his arms.  Castiel turned into the hug and buried his face into Dean’s neck.    

“I was powerless, Dean.  I was trapped and powerless, but then Sa—then he tied me up too.  I felt so weak.  I couldn’t escape, I – I couldn’t break free, couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe, but he injured me anyway.  He hurt me when I tried to resist him and he hurt me when—when I tried to…cooperate.”

It was good that Castiel was pressed right up against Dean, because his voice became so soft, Dean didn’t know if he would have heard him otherwise.  Dean bit his cheek in anger as he listened and slowly rubbed circles on Castiel’s back to calm him. 

“He just wanted to hurt me, Dean.  And he did.  There was no real reason.  He just taunted me and hurt me and I couldn’t stop him.  I’m an angel and I couldn’t do anything.  I couldn’t stop him.  It was demeaning and degrading and…” 

Dean didn’t think Castiel was crying, but his voice was rough and he had started shaking and clung more tightly to Dean. 

“Shhh, it’s okay, Cas.  It’s okay.  I got you.  No one’s gonna hurt you.”  Dean whispered an endless string of comforting words, the sort of stuff he had used on Sam when he was a little kid, crying about their mom.  If their dad was around, he always told him to stop crying and ‘act like a man’ but usually he was gone and sometimes the only way to make Sam stop crying was to soothe him.

“I thought it would happen again when you trapped me.  You were all so angry,” Castiel said in a very small voice.

“Shit.” Dean was appalled. 

“Then you’re right, Cas.  I didn’t get it.  I didn’t understand how bad it was.  I should have.  I—I just…”  Dean couldn’t remember what he had been thinking at the time.  That Cas was fine?  That he wasn’t traumatized by what happened?  That he was an angel and it wouldn’t bother him?  Didn’t being an angel make it worse? 

“I’m sorry.  I don’t know what the hell I was thinking.  Sam was right, whatever you need, Cas.  You tell me what you need and I will do it.  I promise.  I’ll help you through this.  Shit, I’m sorry, Cas.  I really fucked up.”  Dean apologized and promised and felt angry with himself.  He had let Castiel down when he needed him the most. 

They stayed on the side of the road for a good forty minutes, with Dean holding Castiel and stroking his back to calm him down.  Though Castiel hadn't spoken in several minutes, he abruptly said he didn’t want to talk about it anymore.  Dean just nodded and agreed, before Castiel gently pushed him away and then slid as far as he could from Dean.  Okay, touching time was over, Dean could roll with that. Dean moved back to the driver’s side and the two of them sat quietly for a bit before Dean started up the car and got back on the road. 

The silence seemed a little heavier than normal, so Dean put on some music, but kept the volume low.  He didn't know if Castiel wanted to talk or not.  He hoped the angel wasn’t mad at him, he didn't really think he was, but he couldn't be certain.  Occasionally, Dean pointed out things that they passed that might be considered borderline interesting, like an unusual billboard ad or a tree that had crushed the roof of an old barn. Castiel didn't respond, but he humored Dean by looking where he gestured and Dean took that as a good sign.

 

 

They drove another hour before Dean stopped for fuel, water, and a bathroom, all human things that Castiel had no interest in.  Castiel was standing and leaning against the car looking skyward when Dean returned. 

Once they were back on the road Dean was suddenly worried that Castiel might leave him.  It was true he didn’t normally hang around for long periods of time, but maybe it was about time he started.  Dean didn’t want Castiel to leave.  Things were going well, but he also wanted a chance to make up for his shitty behavior. 

“Thought we could drive another hour or so and then look for a motel.”

That hadn’t been Dean’s original plan.  Normally he’d pack the long drive into one day, but they had been on a late schedule—late to bed, late getting up, late to get on the road.  He didn’t want to drive the last few hours to Sioux Falls today.  Castiel might leave once they got there, but he had agreed to drive with Dean, maybe that meant he would stay overnight if the drive took two days.

“Fine.”

“So, you’ll stay?  You aren’t gonna ditch me in the motel for better digs in heaven?”  Dean tried to hide his apprehension.

“Yes.  As long as you’ll have me, I’ll stay.  I cannot return to heaven.”

This was news to Dean.  Castiel was sounding sorrowful.

“What?  Why not?”

“Dean, I…” Castiel turned his head slowly towards Dean.  “When I was… bad… and I had all those things—the…the Leviathans…writhing inside of me.  I caused a lot of suffering on earth, but I devastated heaven.  I vaporized thousands of my own kind, and I – I – I can’t go back.”  He shook his head.

“’Cause if you do, the angels will kill you,” Dean supplied. He didn’t like the sound of that at all.  Cas was right, he couldn’t go.  He had to stay with Dean, where he would be safe. 

“Because if I see what heaven’s become – what I…”  Castiel sighed.  “…What I made of it… I’m afraid I might kill myself.”

Dean hadn’t been expecting that at all and he looked at Castiel with concern.  They were silent for a minute or two while Dean contemplated what to say to a suicidal angel.  Dean wasn’t unfamiliar with the concept.  There were a few low points in his life where he had been surrounded by the crushing weight of despairing thoughts and the idea of giving up and ending everything had been appealing. 

“Cas, look, I’m not gonna make you pointless promises that things will be okay.  I have too much life experience for that.  And yeah, okay, you messed up, but you’ve done a lot of good things in the past.  You helped me stop the apocalypse once and you did it again all by yourself when you killed Raphael, because he was just gonna start the same shit up again—”

“Dean.”

“No, listen, Cas.  That’s twice you’ve saved the world, billions of people.  Sometimes it isn’t easy to fix mistakes, but it’s your responsibility and it might be hard to stick around and deal with consequences, but it’s the right thing to do.  Look at Sam, he’s helped a lot of people over the years, but just like you, he messed up.  It wasn’t really his fault, but he’s still taking responsibility and trying to fix things with you, even though it’s hard.  I know it’s not exactly the same, but you still can do a lot of good to make up for it and you’ve got plenty of time, right? Angels live friggin’ forever.

“Now, that being said, you can stay here and slum it with me for as long as you want.  Nobody’s making you go back.  I’d rather have you here, but if, or when, you decide to go back to heaven, I’ll help you.  But heaven can wait, man, there’s no rush.  It might be good for you to stay away for a while anyway.  You’ve got plenty on your plate as it is.” 

“Perhaps you’re right… I could do penance.  That might be more useful, I’ve caused so much destruction already.”

The sun was setting, so the inside of the car was bathed in light and shadow.  Dean cast a look at Castiel, glad to hear that maybe he got through to him a bit.  The angel was examining his hands lost in thought. 

Dean drove.  He was both glad at the news that Castiel would likely be hanging around for the indefinite future and perturbed by the reason why.  Castiel’s confession had Dean concerned that his friend might be depressed.  It wasn’t such a crazy thought after all he had been through, and even though Dean prided himself on his ability to read others, he hadn’t been paying close attention to Castiel for a while now.  He’d have to make sure to monitor him, which shouldn’t be too hard if he was really planning on sticking around.

 

xxx

 

They spent another hour or so driving north.  Dean dismissed the idea of stopping somewhere to eat since he would be the only one with an appetite.  Instead, he pulled through the drive-thru of a fast food restaurant for burgers to-go and while he was waiting at the window he texted Sam to say they were stopping for the night.  After Dean got his meal, he pulled in at the next motel that looked like one he and Sam would normally choose. 

Dean went to the office to get them a room and he saw that he had three new texts from his brother.

 

Sammy:   Why are you stopping?  You can’t be that far away.  7:18 PM

Sammy:   It’s not even that late.  And there’s room for Cas here.  7:19 PM

Sammy:   Dean?  I think you should stay on the road.  7:23 PM

 

Weird.  He wasn’t sure why Sam cared.  It's not like it was their money he was wasting.  And sure he could drive another 3 hours and be home at a reasonable time, but he was already at the motel. 

 

Dean:   Already here, bitch.  Lost time pulled over earlier.  Nothing bad.  7:31 PM

 

While Dean was checking them in, Sam was calling him, but Dean just silenced it and finished the transaction.  He listened to the voicemail Sam left while he and Castiel went into the room.  It was just a whiny message from Sam, bitching about how they should finish driving and come home tonight.  He didn’t even offer any real reason, besides the weak excuses he had already mentioned.  It was a little strange, usually he and Sam enjoyed it when they spent some time apart.  Since they were always together and living in such close quarters, it was nice to take a break from each other once in a while, so Dean wasn’t sure why Sam was itching for them to come home.

Dean was seated at the small table, eating heartily, with his feet up on the spare chair.  Castiel had sat on the end of one of the beds and put on the television.  Maybe they could borrow some books from Bobby when they left on their next case.  Dean figured Castiel would appreciate having something else to do.  Another message came through.

 

Sammy:   I don’t know what you’re thinking, but be careful.  7:48 PM

Sammy:   Cas is probably vulnerable.  Don’t push him.    7:48 PM

 

Dean stared at his phone in confusion.  What the hell was Sam talking about?  Nothing bad was gonna happen to Castiel in a motel.  It almost sounded like Sam thought…oh god.  Sam was warning him to be careful with Castiel in a motel room.  When the hell did this become about that!?  Was Sam just assuming Dean was a horn-dog and he couldn’t control himself alone with Cas?  Where would he even get that idea?!  Unless…

“Cas?”

“Dean, you should see this vacuum.  It’s amazing.  The carpet looked clean, but then the water was filthy afterwards.  Do you think these carpets are filthy?” Castiel was still looking at the television, as if the infomercial were the most extraordinary thing he’d ever seen. 

Dean crossed the room and turned it off so that he could have the angel’s attention.

“I’m sure they’re filthy, Cas.  Look, did you talk to Sam today, about last night?”  Dean kept his voice calm, he wasn’t exactly angry.  Well, he was trying not to be anyway, but it was certainly his first instinct.

“About last night?”  Castiel furrowed his brow in confusion and gave Dean a puzzled look.

“Yeah, Cas.  About kissing in the motel last night.”

“Oh, yes.” Castiel paused when Dean grimaced.  “Was I not supposed to?”

“Uh, not really, Cas.  Stuff like that is private.”

“I thought you usually enjoyed telling Sam about your encounters with females.  Is this different because I’m an angel?” Castiel wondered.

Dean was going to correct him and say that it was because Castiel was a man, but the angel hadn’t seemed to agree with that statement the night before.

“Yeah, that’s why.  So let’s not tell Sam or Bobby about any stuff like that between us, okay?”

Castiel frowned at the suggestion and shook his head. 

“I won’t lie, Dean.  I don’t want this to be a secret.  We’ve had too many secrets, they only caused trouble.”

Dean sighed and sat next to Castiel on the bed. 

“I—I just dunno if Sam or Bobby would understand… this, Cas.  It—it might be weird or something.”

Castiel looked briefly away from Dean and down at his leg, then he tentatively laid his hand just above Dean’s knee.  Looking back at Dean, Castiel tried to reassure him.

"They didn’t care, Dean.  I mentioned both kisses and they didn’t think it was weird.  Sam was just glad we were discussing things and Bobby was very supportive.”

So they both knew already.  That was unexpected.  Dean thought he had plenty of time to sneak around with Cas and make up excuses, while he figured out how the hell he might bring it up to Sam.  He hadn’t really planned on telling Bobby at all.  And here was Castiel, squeezing his leg in a comforting way and promising that everyone important to him already knew and accepted it easily.  It seemed too good to be true.      

Castiel was looking at Dean with doe-eyed concern and his expression helped Dean relax a little.  Dean covered Castiel’s hand with his own.  The weight and warmth of Castiel’s hand on his leg had a calming effect on Dean.  Maybe he could have this thing with Castiel and life wouldn’t have to change that much.  If Sam and Bobby really knew and didn’t care, then maybe Dean was the only one who would be making things weird.  It would be a lot less stressful if he didn’t have to hide and he wouldn’t feel comfortable asking Castiel to lie about it, now that he said he wouldn’t want to.   

“Maybe you’re right, Cas,” Dean relented, thinking of Sam’s texts.  His brother hadn’t said anything judgmental, he had only seemed protective of Castiel.  When Sam had been trying to convince Dean that Castiel was in love with him the other day, he hadn’t made it seem like a bad thing, just a simple fact.  Dean had been the one to make a big embarrassed deal about it.

Well, if Sam wanted to act like it wasn’t weird that Dean was kissing a dude who was also an angel, then Dean could try to play along.  Fake it until you make it and whatnot.  He sent a quick response to Sam.  

 

Dean:   Relax.  I got the honeymoon suite.  Champagne, bubble-bath, the works.  Cas likes it.  7:56 PM

Dean:   Classy stuff, I promise.  7:57 PM

 

There.  Now who’s embarrassed. 

 

Sammy:   You’re an idiot.  7:57 PM

 

Good, well, that was normal enough. Dean put the TV back on for Castiel and tried to find him something better to watch.  Nothing was very appealing, so Dean just left it on some action movie and went to get ready for bed at the appallingly early hour.  Dean walked in and out of the room as he brushed his teeth and shaved.  Normally he shaved in the morning, but well, maybe Castiel would appreciate the smoothness.  Castiel didn’t seem to like the movie, he said the fighting sequences were unrealistic and wondered why the villains were such bad shots. 

By the time Dean had changed out of his jeans and into the same shirt he slept in the night before, Castiel had switched the station to some nature program.  It was about bugs. What a dork.  Dean tossed Castiel the outfit he had lent him for sleeping.

“It’s not essential for me to rest tonight, Dean,” Castiel said, making no move to pick up the clothes.

“Oh.  Uh, so you’re not gonna get in bed?” 

Dean felt a twinge of disappointment.  If Castiel was only gonna sleep with him when he was injured, then Dean would never be able to look forward to it without feeling like an asshole.  Not to mention that the angel was rarely that hurt.

“It would be superfluous,” Castiel stated seriously, attentively focused on some sort of large beetle.   

This felt like rejection to Dean, but Castiel was new to all of this stuff.  Maybe he just didn’t get it.

“Well, that’s fine if that’s what you want, but, ah, if you’d rather, I wouldn’t mind company again.” Dean tried to sound nonchalant.

Castiel turned off the TV and turned to Dean. 

“You’d let me into your bed again?”

“Well, uh, yeah.  I—it was nice, Cas.  I liked it, didn’t you?”

“Yes, I liked it very much,” Castiel said emphatically, before he gathered the clothing and retreated to the bathroom to change.

Dean chuckled, amused by Castiel’s sudden change of heart once he had realized that Dean did, in fact, want him in bed again.  Before Dean got in bed, he tidied up the table, disposing of his mainly eaten meal.  He had kind of forgotten about it.  He had just settled in, having pushed all the blankets to the end of the bed since he was feeling a little warm, when Castiel emerged in Dean’s clothes.  Previously, Dean had been considering finding something on TV for the two of them to watch for a while, but the sight of Castiel had Dean guiltily thinking of other activities he’d like to engage in with the angel.

It was strange to Dean that he would feel such an intense attraction to the nerdy, awkward angel who was so clearly not his type.  The only real explanation for it was their existing relationship. It was an unfamiliar and exciting thought that he could have someone who knew him so well, who accepted him, wanted him wholeheartedly and without question.  Castiel was just awesome and he climbed eagerly into bed with Dean, uncertain for only a moment before he snuggled in close. 

They were arranged in a similar fashion to the night before with Dean on his back and Castiel nestled into his side, with one arm across him.  Dean slowly curled a hand around Castiel’s waist and brought his other arm across to rest on his back. 

“What if I have a bad reaction again in the morning?” Castiel asked uncomfortably.

Dean brushed his hand through Castiel’s hair, before bringing it to rest on Castiel’s back again.

“Well, I hate to break it to you, Cas, but that probably won't be the only time that happens.  If you're not sleeping you may not be so startled, but I'll try to be more careful. And when it does happen, just, try to tell me what you need.  If there is anything I can do to help you calm down, I will,” Dean promised and he really meant it. 

"Was that the first time it happened?”  Dean wanted to know.  It might have been since Castiel didn’t sleep, so it’d be less likely for him to be caught off-guard.

“The only other time something like that occurred was right afterwards, while I was in the motel healing.  You had left, so it was difficult to relax, but when I finally did, I’d sometimes wake up… panicked, before I remembered where I was.  Everything was still so recent, it was hard to think of anything else.” 

“Shit, Cas.  Maybe I should have stayed.  I thought getting Sam the hell away from you was the most important thing…” Dean became lost in thought.  It had seemed like the best scenario at the time, but maybe he should have called Bobby to come get Sam, or maybe he should have checked Sam into a different room and stayed with Castiel to watch over him. 

“It’s okay, Dean.  You helped me.”  Castiel tightened his grip on Dean to console him.  “I likely would have had those experiences whether you were in the room or not.”

“I guess,” Dean conceded, suddenly uncertain he had done the right thing.          

Castiel continued, “Sometimes other things would upset me, but not in quite the same way.  I might feel terribly… apprehensive or abruptly furious or fearful.  It’s frustrating that I cannot control the physical and emotional reactions of this vessel the way I once could.”

Castiel was mainly sounding annoyed, which Dean thought was a lot better than hearing him sad.  Dean felt ashamed that he was only just hearing about this now.  It was absurd that he had left Castiel to deal with all of this on his own.  The clueless angel wasn’t exactly an expert with emotions and he’d no doubt been through hell trying to sort all this out alone.     

Dean glowered at the ceiling, aggravated with himself.

“Did I upset you?” Castiel was looking up at Dean, studying his expression with a hand on his chest.

“Nah, Cas.  I’m just realizing what a crummy friend I’ve been to you and ah, it’s not a good feeling.  I’m sorry you’ve been going through all of this alone.”

Castiel focused on his hand on Dean’s sternum.  He moved it slowly, feeling the smooth expanse of Dean’s chest through the t-shirt and reflecting on what Dean had said.     

“I appreciate your apologies, Dean, but maybe you’re right.  We’ve both made many mistakes, it might be mutually beneficial if we agree to move past the regret.  I don’t want to continually upset you.”

It wasn’t an unreasonable suggestion, but Dean didn’t think Cas should let him off the hook too easily.  He was loath to disagree with what the angel wanted though.  Maybe it would be best.  But Dean wouldn’t stop trying to make it up to Castiel.  He didn’t need apologetic words to try and make amends. 

“Whatever you want, Cas.  But even if we skip apologies, that doesn’t mean you need to stop talking about things that upset you.  I think it’s important and I really want to listen and help you through it, so the talking offer stands.”  At this rate, Dean was gonna be an expert at this sensitive, emotional crap in no time. 

Here he was, cuddling for the second time in as many days, and Dean couldn’t even manage to pretend to complain about it, because he was really enjoying having Castiel so close.  It was like he could finally give Castiel the protection and support he so deserved, and that Dean had been too stubborn to recognize and deliver sooner.

Castiel had snuck his hand gradually up to Dean’s neck and started caressing Dean’s bare skin in a very distracting way.  Dean’s skin kindled under Castiel’s gentle touch. Dean wasn’t used to such tender treatment, like he was sacred and valuable and worth the attention of an angel.  The way Castiel trailed his fingers across Dean’s neck and up his jawline to his ear was delicate and exploratory.  Shaving had definitely been the right decision.  When Castiel raised his hand further to cup the side of Dean’s face, Dean turned into his touch, pressing his lips to Castiel’s warm palm.    

Dean thought he’d like to continue kissing along Castiel’s hand, and how easy it would be to get to the angel’s long fingers and suck one into his mouth.  He shook the thought from his head as Castiel moved his hand back down Dean’s neck to his chest, fingers spread.  Castiel was pressing against Dean’s chest as he pushed himself up, so he could hover over Dean.   

“I’d like to kiss you again, Dean.  May I?”

Oh, thank God. That particular desire had made itself known to Dean some time ago, when Castiel had first started with this fondling business.  It was driving Dean mad, but he hadn’t wanted to start things Castiel might not be interested in.

“Absolutely, Cas.  Yes,” Dean agreed enthusiastically. 

The press of Castiel’s lips to his was blissfully quick and Dean happily pulled Castiel closer, across himself, so that the angel’s chest was flush with his.  This kiss was more intense than the last one. Castiel seemed more confident and eager, copying Dean’s movements and probably practicing some Pizza Man moves.  Dean hummed contentedly against Castiel’s mouth before he slowly licked at his lips.     

All Dean wanted to do was taste the angel properly, so when Castiel copied the movement a moment later, Dean eagerly darted his tongue into Castiel’s mouth, pressing against his tongue.  Castiel made a small noise of surprise, but he didn’t stop kissing Dean.  It didn’t make sense that someone who never ate or brushed their teeth could taste so good, so delicious, but Castiel did and Dean happily pushed and swirled his way around Castiel’s mouth.  He had one hand in Castiel’s hair, angling his head gently to deepen the kiss, while the other trailed lazy strokes against Castiel’s side and back. 

Castiel hands kept moving from Dean’s shoulders to his throat, his collarbone, then one wrapped around the back of his neck.  The angel’s touch and scent was surrounding Dean and he wished his shirt weren’t on so Castiel could have more bare skin to explore.  The slow drag of Castiel’s parted lips against his was soft and torturously satisfying.  When Castiel cautiously licked his way into Dean’s mouth, Dean had to restrain himself from devouring the angel with a moan.

Castiel turned his head slightly, breaking the connection between their lips with a breathless little noise.  Dean didn’t miss a beat, he kissed the corner of Castiel’s mouth, along his jawline, and down his throat, as Castiel breathed against his sensitive neck and ear.  Dean was busy kissing and licking Castiel’s collar bone when Castiel breathed his name.

“Hmmm?”  Dean mouthed against Castiel’s skin, unwilling to stray from the warmth beneath his lips.

“Dean.”  Castiel was saying his name again and though Dean loved how it sounded breathy on the angel’s lips, he couldn’t ignore him.  Dean forced himself to pull away from Castiel, holding the angel above him so he could see his face. 

“You okay, Cas?” 

It was hard not to feel a little pleased with himself as Dean took in Castiel’s dazed expression, the flush in his cheeks, and the disarray of his hair.  The sight of Castiel staring intently down at him, with his t-shirt collar awry, and wetting his parted lips was a sinful look for the angel and Dean thought he could get used to it.     

“I’m…yes.  This—this is surprisingly wonderful,” Castiel mused, as he ran his fingers through Dean’s hair.

Castiel dipped his head towards Dean again and Dean pulled him downwards as he stretched up to crush their lips together ardently.  He curled his fingers around the edge of Castiel’s neck and brought his other hand to rest on the small of Castiel’s back to hold him close.  It was Castiel who nudged Dean’s lips apart with his own, as he eagerly sought out Dean’s tongue.  Dean readily allowed him in and then sucked at Castiel’s lower lip, while the angel huffed little breaths into Dean’s mouth. 

Soon Castiel abandoned Dean’s lips in favor of mimicking the trail of kisses that Dean had lavished upon him earlier.  Castiel tongued and nibbled his way down Dean’s neck and then back up to his ear, where he got wildly inventive and bit and licked at the lobe.  Dean tilted his head back to expose his throat.  Castiel was inexperienced, but he was devoted to the cause and unflagging in his efforts.  Castiel’s breath was hot against Dean’s neck, but cooler where it blew over the skin that the angel had just been licking.

Dean had a hand in Castiel’s hair holding him close to his throat.  He thought vaguely of wanting to push Castiel down towards his chest, but he still had a shirt on, for reasons unknown.  Unexpectedly, Dean realized he was uncomfortably warm and Castiel’s body was still pressed firmly against his as he moved above him. And God, his best friend, Castiel, an angel, a man was unerringly turning Dean on with every small noise, clumsy kiss, and heated touch.  Well, Dean could certainly return that favor.                        

Dean seized Castiel’s shoulder and hip and easily directed the unsuspecting angel onto his back.  Castiel blinked up at Dean, looking a little confused, as if he didn’t know how Dean was suddenly above him.  Unable to stand his t-shirt any longer, Dean pulled it off of himself in one fluid motion and tossed it away. 

Dean smiled warmly down at Castiel’s disheveled appearance and his questioning blue eyes.  He was kneeling over the angel, with his hands flat on the mattress on either side of Castiel’s head.  The change in position had caused Castiel to falter, his hands laying forgotten against the pillow.  Determined to kiss away his uncertainty, Dean ducked his head towards the angel and caught his lips in a long, deep kiss, moving his lips and tongue slowly. Dean brought Castiel’s hand to his neck to encourage him to resume touching, which Castiel did a little hesitantly.  After a moment, Castiel raised his other hand and slid them both down Dean’s chest and then around to his back, touching all the new territory available to him. 

Dropping to his forearms so that they bracketed Castiel’s head, Dean allowed himself to press his body against Castiel’s, encouraged by the angel’s hands on his back.  Since Dean was only in his boxers and Castiel still had on all his clothes it only seemed fair to try and get at some of his skin too.  Without breaking the kiss, Dean leaned to his left and trailed his fingers down Castiel’s chest and stomach so he could find his way under the hem of Castiel’s t-shirt.  He moved his hand around to Castiel’s back and the smooth skin there was hot under his touch. 

Castiel squirmed and then stilled underneath Dean, no longer eagerly touching.  It only took Dean a moment to realize and he stopped abruptly, pulling back slightly to look at Castiel and catch his breath. 

“Cas, man, you, uh, you okay?”

Castiel looked up at Dean dubiously, but nodded after a few seconds.     

“You sure?  Because we can stop, just, uh, just say the word, Cas.” 

Dean bit his lip a little and tried to calm himself.  If Castiel wanted to stop, then they would, no questions asked.  But then Castiel was pulling Dean back down into a kiss and whispering that he was okay. 

Relieved, Dean fervently parted his lips over Castiel’s and kissed and licked his mouth vigorously.  Then he brought his mouth to the dip where Castiel’s shoulder met his neck and he bit and tongued at the spot.  He wondered if it was possible to give the angel a hickey or if it would heal instantly despite Dean’s best efforts.  It was certainly worth the small gasp from Castiel and the tightening of his grip on Dean’s back.  Moving his one leg in between Castiel’s, Dean ground his hips and erection against the angel, while nudging with his knee to see if Castiel was as excited as he was. 

“Dean, I don’t think I can do this,” Castiel said in a rush, words tumbling so quickly from his mouth that he almost tripped over them.

“What? Oh.” Dean spoke against Castiel’s neck before he was able to push himself up to look at him.

“Yeah, uh, no problem, we can stop,” Dean agreed, not missing the anxious look on Castiel’s face.  Trying to catch up with the sudden change, Dean shifted his weight off of Castiel, angling his hips away

“I’m sorry,” Castiel said miserably.

He really sounded upset and maybe disappointed. 

“Cas, hey, it’s okay.  Don’t even worry about it.  I’m not upset, I want you to be comfortable.  I, uh, should have reigned it in, but, um, you’re pretty sexy and I kind of lost it.  To be fair, we were going kind of fast.”  Dean flopped down on his back, still a little hot and aroused and wiped a hand down his face. 

“You okay?” He asked Castiel, looking back at him.

“Yes.” Castiel was looking a little lost. “I liked it.  I was enjoying myself, but… it was just too much.  I didn’t—I just needed to stop,” Castiel finished glumly, rolling onto his side to face Dean.

Dean nodded and reached for Castiel’s hand.

“You don’t have to explain, man.  It’s fine.  I’m glad you said something,” Dean gave Castiel a small smile.

“So you’re not… disappointed?”

“Nope.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was ‘enjoying myself’ too, but I don’t want to do anything you’re not comfortable with.  So maybe for now we’ll stick with kissing, and uh, when you don’t like something be sure to speak up and I’ll back off.   Sound good?”

“Yes,” Castiel agreed, looking a bit happier.

Dean sighed and looked down at himself.  He had wound up half naked, while Castiel was still wrapped up in his long-sleeved, layered shirts and the too big sweatpants.  Wondering which direction he had thrown his shirt in, Dean cast a glance at the floor but didn’t see it.  He wasn’t exactly sure how he had let himself get so carried away, well, apart from the fact that he evidently both desperately wanted Castiel and wanted to please him.  It hadn’t been his intention to rush into sexy times, not when he knew that Castiel had only ever experienced the very worst that sex had to offer.       

He thought of the annoying texts Sam had sent him, warning him to be careful and not to rush Castiel.  It wasn’t fair that Sam got to be right, he wasn’t even there. 

Giving up on his shirt, Dean tugged the sheet up to cover himself halfway, in an attempt to maintain some level of modesty.  Fortunately, his arousal was ebbing and Dean was trying not to feel frustrated. 

“So we can try again sometime?” Castiel asked, while focused on Dean’s chest.

Dean did laugh at this.  “Oh, definitely.  We can try whenever you want, Cas.  Practice makes perfect, ya know.”

“I understand,” Castiel replied seriously, before invading Dean’s space and clinging to him like a barnacle. 

Chapter Text

Dean enjoyed another unusually peaceful night and smiled sleepily at the bright blue eyes watching him when he woke.  It was strange to imagine Castiel staring at him through the night, but Dean didn’t want to tell him not to.  All the scrutiny and attention was a bit unnerving, but it was basically Castiel’s favorite past time, so Dean didn’t want to tell him to knock it off.  Everyone should have a hobby.  At least it wasn’t taking him by surprise anymore.

The angel took it upon himself to find other ways to surprise Dean however, as he found out later that morning.  Dean had just stepped from the shower and wrapped a towel around his waist when Castiel was suddenly in the bathroom, startling Dean and throwing his arms around Dean’s neck to hurriedly kiss him and press him up against the counter.   

The hunter hungrily kissed back, as the angel’s hands skimmed over his wet, hot skin and through Dean’s short hair.  Dean didn’t question why Castiel decided to shock him in the bathroom, he just grasped him tightly and took all the angel was willing to give.  And if the towel slipped from his hips during their fervid kisses, well, Dean certainly wasn’t about to stop and pick it up. 

They got on the road fairly early, despite their heated tryst in the bathroom, and Dean found himself in an exceedingly good mood.  They were making good time, Dean had eaten a decent breakfast with strong coffee, and Castiel’s unexpected boldness had been a huge turn on, even if it hadn’t ended the way Dean wanted it to.     

Conversationally, Dean mentioned to Castiel that they were only about an hour away from Bobby’s and once they were on a largely empty stretch of road the angel surprised Dean again by insisting he pull over.  Dean complied and as soon as he switched the car off, Castiel used his angelic strength to manhandle Dean across the seat and onto his lap.  The quick movement left Dean briefly disoriented and unbalanced, but Castiel kept him steady.  Dean managed to kneel and straddle his lap, while Castiel pulled Dean’s lips down against his own.        

It had been forever since Dean had made out with anyone in the Impala and though the angles were a little uncomfortable, he still thought it was really hot.  Not to mention the fact that Castiel seemed unwilling to go very long without sticking his tongue down Dean’s throat, which was a different kind of turn on.  Between all the spirited kisses and groping hands, Dean was feeling more than a little aroused.  He desperately wanted access to Castiel’s skin, but the angel was wrapped up in his usual trench coat and layers.  Dean had to settle for grasping at Castiel’s tie and coat, while he mussed his hands through his hair and kissed all the uncovered skin of his neck that he could reach. 

Despite attending to his morning wood in the shower earlier, Dean was finding himself aroused by Castiel for the second (third if you counted thoughts of him in the shower) time that day.  Ignoring the fact that it was broad daylight and that they hadn’t pulled off into secluded trees or something similarly private, Dean found himself achingly hard and fumbling to undo his jeans to alleviate his discomfort.  He whispered assurances to Castiel that it would just make them both more comfortable, as he clumsily untucked Castiel’s shirt and loosened his belt and trousers as well. 

Dean couldn’t help but push his hips down so that he could rub himself over the hardened length in Castiel’s pants.  It was difficult for Dean to maneuver the way he wanted to, but it was enough and he found himself repeating the satisfying dragging movement that gave them both the friction they craved.  The knowledge that Castiel, Angel of the Lord, was horny and gasping against Dean’s lips and skin had Dean moaning in return and drunk with desire.  Dean got his hands underneath Castiel’s shirt where it had rucked up and he promptly ran them up and down his sides and back relishing the bare, heated skin, so smooth under his fingertips.

Briefly teasing his thumbs over Castiel’s nipples, Dean kissed his friend forcefully, holding his jaw in place with one hand and letting his other slide down Castiel’s covered chest and abdomen to settle firmly near his hip.  Dean kept up his quick movements, reveling in the sweet noises Castiel was uttering, as he tried to maneuver his hips in time with Dean’s.  

All the excitement was clearly unhinging the angel, he had his hands fisted tightly in Dean’s short hair and was kissing Dean with maddening desperation.  Castiel whined against Dean’s parted lips and gasped Dean’s name, squirming beneath him and dropping a hand to Dean’s back where he clawed into the hunter’s shoulder blade as he came with a cry.

Castiel’s hips bucked up uncontrollably to meet Dean’s and the angel melted against his frantic grinding and gasped around Dean’s full, wet lips.  The hunter was furiously kissing Castiel and holding him tightly, immensely turned on by the sounds and jerky motions that had indicated the angel’s release.  Dean was determined to catch up and licked sloppily at Castiel’s mouth and jaw, relentlessly rolling his hips, before he was able to breath heavily into his friend’s neck as his orgasm shuddered through him. 

Normally, Dean would have been embarrassed that he had just dry-humped himself into coming in his pants, but he was far too dopily satisfied to care.  Castiel was new to sex and Dean was new to sex with men and angels and generally, virgins, so if they were starting with basics it was fine with Dean.  It was far from boring, Dean thought dimly, with his head still resting on Castiel’s shoulder.

Castiel felt a little shaky underneath Dean, so the hunter pulled back to look at him.

“You okay, Cas?”    

The look Castiel gave Dean was one of awe and astonishment, like Dean had only just revealed that he was some kind of powerful sorcerer.   Castiel was a wreck underneath Dean, with his shirt and tie loose and askew, his pants hanging open, his cheeks flushed, and the back of his hair sticking up.  Blinking down at the damp spot on his lap, Castiel focused on Dean again.

“That was—you—yes.  I liked it.  You were right,” Castiel murmured thoughtfully, “Practice does result in perfection.”

Dean laughed and slid sideways off of Castiel, ducking his head to avoid banging it. 

“Cas, this was, uh, great and everything, but, wow, there’s so much more I have to show you.  Even better than this, you’ll love it,” Dean promised Castiel with a brief kiss.

Dean got cleaned up and unabashedly changed his pants on the side of the road, poorly hidden by the Impala.  He couldn’t walk into Bobby’s like that.  When Dean leaned against the back door to pull his jeans on, he spied Castiel observing him in the passenger side mirror.  Evidently, the angel found nothing wrong with looking at Dean in various stages of undress and Dean kind of liked the attention.  Maybe Cas needed some time to warm up to the idea of nudity and being undressed himself.

Though Dean was thinking about it now, he couldn’t be certain how Castiel had come to the decision to initiate things physically twice today, after stopping their fun the night before.  Nothing had really changed since then, so maybe Castiel had been intimidated by the bed or uncomfortably reminded of being molested in a motel.  Hell, maybe the urge struck him or he preferred the daylight.  Dean wasn’t sure what to think, besides the fact that Castiel had probably been acting on Dean’s advice to ‘practice.’

When Dean got back in the driver’s seat he was amused to see that Castiel apparently hadn’t moved much.  Dean chuckled, starting the car, and suggested Cas pull himself together and fix his clothes before they got to Bobby’s.  Castiel answered positively, but made no move to act on it, still staring in Dean’s direction.  

 

Eventually, they arrived at Bobby’s and by then Castiel had adjusted his pants, shirt, and tie.  He had manually fixed his outfit and tried to tame his hair at Dean’s insistence.  Dean couldn’t help but feel nervous when he walked in with Castiel.  He wasn’t really expecting any comments from Bobby or Sam, but he was still anxious about it.  So much had changed between himself and Castiel and though it felt obvious to Dean, he didn’t know how it would manifest itself in front of others.  Dean tried to act normally, and was glad to see Castiel was as well.  Although, knowing Castiel, he might not have been aware that they were in a potentially awkward situation. 

Everything seemed more or less the same.  Sam seemed extra conscious of what he was saying and doing around Castiel, but behaved like himself around Dean.  It didn’t take Sam long to bitch at Dean when he absently set his beer on some papers that Sam had specifically gone to the library to print and it left behind water rings.  Similarly, Bobby didn’t waste an ounce of breath to indicate he cared at all what Dean and Cas might be doing together.  After Dean had finished his beer and caught up a bit with the two of them, Bobby shoed him outside to work on a car, saying he needed Castiel to help him move boxes in the spare bedroom. 

Dean later realized that the moving of boxes was evidently Bobby’s only unspoken comment on Dean and Castiel’s relationship.  The spare room was one Sam and Dean had stayed in as kids sometimes, when their father would leave them with Bobby.  There was a full-bed in there that hadn’t been used in ages, since Bobby had so much crammed into the room, weapons, files and files of copies of lore books he couldn’t risk losing, and even some curse boxes.  Castiel had dutifully moved things around and out of the room and into the basement at Bobby’s instruction.  In thanks, Bobby had told Castiel he could use the room, for whatever, when he was at Bobby’s.

Dean tried not to make a face when Castiel informed him of this outside, where he had gone to find Dean once Bobby dismissed him.  It didn’t take a genius to understand that Bobby was essentially making the bedroom available to Dean and Castiel.  After all, what would an angel do with a bed when he didn’t even sleep? 

That night Dean waited until Bobby had gone to bed and Sam had gone down to the panic room before he snuck upstairs with Castiel and into the room with the old bed and clean sheets.  They kissed slowly in bed together with none of the urgency from earlier, before Castiel decided he had had enough and pulled Dean to rest against his chest in a strong hold.  It was surprisingly nice to have one of Castiel’s arms draped around his waist.  Dean had convinced Castiel to ditch the extra layer and to sleep in just a t-shirt. He absorbed himself with brushing his hand along Castiel’s exposed arm, enjoying the look and feel of it.  The angel wore entirely too much clothing all the time.       

 

The next two days passed without incident.  Sam started looking for a potential case.  Dean had insisted that Sam avoid anything that might sound like demons, since he understood, from what Castiel had told him, that Crowley was likely not a big fan of the angel at the moment.  Castiel seemed to enjoy speed reading his way through Bobby’s vast library and Bobby accommodatingly agreed to lend the angel some books for the road when Dean mentioned it. 

While they were at Bobby’s it seemed to Dean that Castiel must have thought it would be respectful or appropriate to keep a bit of distance from Dean unless they were alone.  Apart from a stray hand laid briefly on his arm or Castiel’s preference to sit next to him at the table and rest his hand on Dean’s knee, they didn’t have any physical contact in front of Sam and Bobby. So far, their affections had been saved for the privacy of the small bedroom upstairs, where they had only been kissing and maybe caressing, before tangling themselves together so Dean could sleep and Castiel could keep careful watch. 

Dean had taken to sleeping in just his boxers which seemed to please Castiel, if his constant touching of Dean’s chest, arms, back and stomach was anything to go by.  The touches were titillating to Dean, but he could tell that Castiel wasn’t seeking anything more. The angel just seemed to be exploring and getting comfortable with Dean, meticulously mapping his fingers across Dean’s skin.  Evidently Castiel didn’t know how teasing his attention was, but Dean made a mental note to pay him back later, once the angel was unopposed to sleeping in only boxers.         

 

Dean’s little theory, that Castiel somehow knew to keep public displays of affection to a minimum, was completely blown out of the water on their third night at Bobby’s.  Sam was putzing around in the kitchen with his laptop and Dean was in the next room sitting and relaxing on the couch with a drink and a forgotten newspaper next to him.  He was idly watching Castiel, who was inspecting Bobby’s bookcase.  Not long before, Bobby had retired upstairs to his room, probably seeking some privacy, since he wasn’t used to having such a full house. 

Abruptly, Castiel had turned around and caught Dean’s eye.  Then the angel strode the short distance across the room, intently fixed on Dean, and had brazenly straddled his lap.

“Dean,” Castiel said lowly, with emphasis, before he was forcefully kissing him and Dean fumbled to drop the tumbler he had been holding onto the table at his side.

Pushing Castiel gently away from his mouth, Dean spoke to Sam without taking his eyes from Castiel’s. 

“Leave.”

It was all Dean had to say and it was clear who he was talking to, even though he couldn’t see Sam in the kitchen.  Either Sam was really quick or he had already been alerted to what was happening in the other room, because it only took a moment before he was thundering down the steps to the basement.  It amused Dean to think that Sam was now using the panic room the way it was intended, but that thought was quickly forgotten as Castiel was kissing him passionately again.

Castiel was positioned slightly above Dean, with one hand splayed on Dean’s jaw and neck and the other in his hair, tilting the hunter’s head so he could kiss him more deeply.         

Dean wrapped his hands around Castiel’s waist and leaned back into the couch, pulling the angel closer against him.  Sick of the layers Castiel was always wearing, Dean quickly shucked the coat and jacket off the angel, one arm at a time, until the garments fell off behind him to the floor. 

Returning the favor, Castiel pushed at the plaid shirt Dean had on and Dean rushed to free his arms from the sleeves.  Once he had gotten it off, he wound Castiel’s tie around his hand and used it to pull the angel down, pressing their mouths together firmly.

“Not my tie,” Castiel interrupted. “Just, please, take it off.”

Scrambling to undo the tie, Dean loosened it enough to lift it off and then was back to licking and sucking Castiel’s lips and tongue, happy to grant the angel any request.  

Faintly, Dean recognized that maybe he should halt things and whisk Castiel upstairs to the privacy of their room, but then Castiel was experimentally grinding his hips downward and Dean couldn’t have resisted that, even if he had taken an oath of celibacy—not that he would ever do something so insane. 

Dean moved to kiss Castiel’s neck and clumsily unfastened the top two buttons of his dress shirt, so he could drag his tongue down to Castiel’s collar bone.  Seizing the back of Dean’s shirt, Castiel pulled it up and off of the hunter, discarding it carelessly.  Then his warm hands were all over Dean, carding through his hair, dragging down his back, and curiously brushing his nipples. 

When Castiel adjusted slightly and caught Dean a little more directly with the roll of his hips, Dean moaned into the hot flesh of his chest, feeling thrilled that the angel was such a quick study.  He nibbled at Castiel’s collar bone, worrying the skin under his teeth and tongue.  It seemed that Castiel liked the attention of Dean’s mouth, because he pressed closer and whispered to Dean.

“Kiss me like that everywhere, Dean. Take off my shirt.”

Dean didn’t need to be told twice.  Looking at all the buttons that stood between himself and more of Castiel’s luscious skin, he gripped the shirt with both hands and ripped it open, scattering buttons everywhere.  He had always wanted to do that, but in the past he had been afraid of pissing women off.  Castiel would hardly care when he could fix it with a thought. 

His assessment was correct and Castiel surged forward, still half in his shirt, and kissed Dean decisively.  The glorious feel of Castiel’s warm chest against his was pleasantly arousing, but Dean was already plenty hard, driven mad by Castiel’s insistent movements.  Not wanting to come in his pants again, Dean gripped Castiel around his waist and maneuvered them both so that the angel was on the couch on his back with Dean above him. 

Kissing down Castiel’s chest, Dean finally had an opportunity to swirl his tongue over Castiel’s nipples.  He sucked one and then the other into his mouth.  They weren’t unlike a woman’s, they just weren’t positioned on top of large, fleshy mounds, but Dean was surprisingly okay with that. Castiel was evidently sensitive and he shivered underneath Dean’s tongue.  Straddling Castiel, Dean dropped his hips and ground his erection slowly and deliberately against the angel’s.   

Grabbing at Dean’s hair and back, Castiel strained his neck upwards and pulled at him, wanting to kiss Dean again.  Dean chuckled at the unspoken demand, gliding his hands down Castiel’s chest and stomach, tracing his hip bones with his fingers.

“What, Cas? You like this?” Dean smiled at him and sat back on his heels, out of Castiel’s reach, loosening his jeans and pushing them halfway down his thighs.  He did the same for Castiel, well aware of the angel’s tented boxers, as he pulled Castiel’s pants down around his knees.

Castiel watched this, propped up on his elbows and slightly out of breath.  When Dean moved in his direction again, Castiel grasped at his arms and yanked Dean forward, feverishly kissing him.  Dean reciprocated, tongue in Castiel’s mouth, as he rubbed his crotch repeatedly over Castiel’s, appreciating the freedom of the boxers and the thinness of the fabrics separating them.  He could feel the heat from Castiel’s arousal and he wanted more.

“Cas,” he gasped, breaking the kiss, his hands in the angel’s hair.  “Hands.  Can we use hands, Cas?  You—You’ll love it and I wanna touch you everywhere.”

Dean dithered a moment, before he slid a hand down to Castiel’s waistband and snuck it underneath the elastic.  He took a deep breath to calm himself and then set his hand lightly over Castiel’s cock to demonstrate his intentions.  Castiel’s hips bucked upwards into the touch, with a jolt, and he nodded vigorously at Dean. 

“Yes, Dean! Yes, touch me with your hands,” Castiel agreed emphatically, pulling Dean against him and wildly kissing his neck and chest.  Dean tugged one handedly at Castiel’s boxers, freeing him and gripping him tightly.  Castiel twisted underneath Dean, while the hunter tried to suppress a smile.  He brought his hand up to spit in it, before he took hold of Castiel again and started long strokes, slow and firm. 

Castiel’s cock was leaking pre-cum and Dean swiped his thumb at the head to ease the glide of his fingers over the silken flesh as he quickened his pace.  Dean had only ever done this for himself, but Castiel didn’t seem to realize he was a novice.  The angel was writhing beneath Dean, with his hands everywhere except where Dean really wanted them.  Stilling his hand, Dean found that Castiel was willing to thrust upwards into his fist in order to maintain the friction.  It was all manner of hot, but Dean wanted more.

Castiel was busy sucking at Dean’s neck and thrusting into his hand, when Dean let go and caught Castiel’s wrist and attention at the same time.

“Cas.”

Dean brought Castiel’s fingers to his mouth and sucked on two of them, while Castiel looked on in dazed surprise. Removing the fingers, Dean licked Castiel’s palm. 

“Touch me too, Cas?  The same way. Please.”

As Dean looked down at Castiel, he could see the need and desire in the angel’s darkened eyes.  Without answering, Castiel pulled from Dean’s grasp and plunged his hand into Dean’s shorts, confidently gripping his throbbing cock.  Dean gasped at the sensation, as Castiel strove to mimic Dean’s resumed pumping and jerking. 

Oh, yes. This was what Dean wanted. Castiel hot and frenzied beneath him, as they both moved their slick fists.  Dean dropped his head to Castiel’s shoulder, gasping and muffling his moans against the angel’s skin.  Castiel was pawing at Dean’s back and ass with his free hand, pulling Dean closer as he licked along Dean’s ear and neck. 

Encouraged by Castiel driving them closer, Dean released the angel and yanked his own boxers down, before dropping his hips lower and sliding his cock along Castiel’s. 

Oh God, that felt good.  The heat and glide of Castiel’s cock against his own was all Dean needed.  He gripped them together firmly, as they both thrust and moved into the same magnificent friction that was each other and Dean’s fingers.  Castiel tilted his head back against the couch, baring his neck and softly gasping Dean’s name, as he shakily brought his hand to join Dean’s, aiding in the effort to keep them aligned.

“Cas, yes, keep going. Ah, yes,” Dean murmured against his skin.  He found Castiel’s lips again and kissed him fiercely, while fucking down and against Castiel’s heated length and their sweaty, dampened hands.  Dean tightened his grip slightly and Castiel started thrashing beneath him, jerking his hips upwards against Dean and flinging his head from side to side on the pillow, before he caught Dean’s lips and half cried the hunter’s name into his mouth as he came.   

“Fuck, Cas.”

The sight of Castiel twitching and flailing under him and the feel of him spilling hotly against Dean’s fingers and cock as he orgasmed, had Dean rushing to catch up.  The glide between the two of them was thoroughly slick now and Dean fucked faster, squeezed them together more firmly.  Castiel moaned at the continued movements, dribbling more come onto his stomach as Dean kissed him quiet and lost his pace, jerking erratically, tongue in Castiel’s open mouth.  He was so close to the brink.  Dean focused on the wet heat and drove his hips furiously forward, thinking of Castiel’s mouth and tongue and hands and shit, yes! Oh, fuck, yes, he was coming, shooting all over his hand and Castiel’s stomach and chest. 

Dean grunted as he stroked himself through his orgasm, finally releasing Castiel and dropping against him heavily, as his cock spurted one last time.  While resting against Castiel’s chest and catching his breath, Dean felt the angel move his arms to encircle him in a loose hug.  Castiel kissed Dean’s forehead and grazed his hand lazily across Dean’s sweaty back.    

The last thing Dean wanted to do was move.  He would have been perfectly happy to fall asleep half on top of Castiel, but they were downstairs on the couch, half naked and in need of getting cleaned up.  Oh God, Bobby and Sam were gonna kill him.  It was too much to hope that neither of them heard anything.  Dean didn’t have that kind of luck.

“C’mon, Cas. We gotta move.”

Dean got up slowly, trying not to trip or fall off the narrow couch.  They gathered up their clothing and Dean brought in some wet paper towels to wipe themselves off.  Quietly, Castiel followed Dean upstairs to the bedroom Bobby had given him.  When they got into bed, neither of them bothered to wear anything besides boxers.  Dean savored the feel of Castiel’s skin against his and the way they were entwined together.  He fell asleep quickly.  

Chapter Text

Watching Dean was an activity that Castiel didn’t think he’d ever tire of.  Even the hours Dean spent asleep held interest for Castiel.  Some of the first times he had observed Dean in person had been while the hunter was still and silent and peaceful.  In sleep, Dean was unguarded in a way that he almost never was while awake.  Though Dean tolerated Castiel’s overlong looks while he was conscious, Castiel found it much simpler to contemplate the man while he slept.  He could look with impunity, immersed in thought, endlessly considering Dean’s bright and beautiful soul.   

Dean was at once familiar and mysterious to Castiel.  Though Castiel understood much about the righteous man he called a friend, there was always some level of humanity he had yet to grasp that Dean would reveal to him.  Slowly, he was learning that humans were complicated and, often, contradictory. 

On the surface there were clear facts defining a person that anyone could see.  Dean was tall.  He loved pie, cheeseburgers, and a particular type of rock music.  He was obsessed with his car and enjoyed women and sex and drinking alcohol.  Beneath these obvious observations was where the confusion began, where messy emotions started seeping in, influencing everything. Dean was fiercely loyal and protective.  He loved his brother, would die to protect him, had died to save him.  Frequently, Dean could be crass and coarse, but he was also direct and sincere.  For how honest and open Dean could be when he was asking for help, he could just as easily be defensive, resistent, and closed off.  In all things, Dean exuded confidence and strength, but he knew fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

The more time Castiel spent in Dean’s company, the clearer it became that emotions were fickle and ever changing.  Humans were ruled by these sentiments and Castiel’s glimmer of understanding concerning feelings was faint.  Castiel was learning that emotions could be hard to control and difficult to define. 

As Castiel silently surveyed Dean, he wondered how Dean had come to change his mind so completely about kissing him.  Initially the hunter had seemed angry and upset by his actions, but now he seemed to enjoy kissing Castiel.  It was beyond comprehension how the act of touching lips and tongues together could create both an unrelentingly desperate desire for more contact and a sense of calmingly safe serenity.  It was nonsensical, but Castiel had experienced both scenarios while kissing Dean and he had no explanation.  Castiel was highly skeptical that he would feel the same things kissing anyone else.  He had never wanted to kiss anyone else.

Though Castiel knew the mechanics of coitus, it had never been a deed that held any particular interest for him, it was a repetitive and human proclivity.  As an angel, it held no appeal.  After Sam had forced him to submissively engage in sexual acts, Castiel had been certain that copulating was an ordeal to be endured.  It had been difficult to entertain the idea of sex being pleasurable for both participants, when his involvement was so wholly devastating.

Still, the luxuriant feel of Dean’s lips against his was intoxicating in ways that Castiel couldn’t interpret.  When the Righteous Man kissed him, Castiel felt absolved and purified.  It was as if Sam’s soulless touch had tainted his grace and now it was being restored by every sublime caressing contact between himself and Dean Winchester, with his brilliant soul.  What one brother had inflicted, the other could undo.

The physical nature of his relationship with Dean was quickly eclipsing all previous sensations he had experienced, both as a celestial being and within the confines of his human vessel.   The desire to know and explore all aspects of Dean, a perfect creation of his Father’s, was absolute.  When Dean laid his unparralleled hands upon him, Castiel felt like he was finally obtaining results in his thus far fruitless efforts to locate the divine.  It perturbed him that these thoughts could be considered sacrilegious, but then, what harm was it to unconditionally love and revere one of God’s greatest achievements.  Dean was his charge, his comrade, his friend.  Castiel would protect and love him without fail.  He would remain at Dean’s side until he could truly know him and his inimitable soul in Heaven.  Dean was right; Heaven could wait.

It had always been while acting in accordance with Dean and supporting his decisions that Castiel had died, willing to face the nothingness to aid Dean in any small way.  After those instances, he had been resurrected and, surely, that meant he was doing God’s will.  For all that he had done wrong, his presence in relation to Dean was right; it was the only truth he could be certain of.  He was destined to belong at the hunter’s side, to follow him always, the same way he had unquestioningly fought his way to Dean in the bowels of Hell to grip him tight and raise him from perdition.  Castiel was made to be Dean’s and it was a role he longed to fulfill completely, eager to be whatever the Righetous Man desired.

Castiel had never experienced intimacy with any other being before, but with Dean it was what he imagined true family to be like.  It was at once familiar friendship and affection.  Their intimacy was now physical, as well, and despite his previous feelings on the matter, Castiel was hopeful that the carnal exploits could continue.                    

Dean shifted in his sleep and his eyelids fluttered.  Castiel thought he might be dreaming, but he knew better than to invade Dean’s dreams, tempting as it was.  His eyes drifted to Dean’s chest, the warding tattoo and old scars, then he looked down at his own bare chest.  Though this had been his vessel for several years, he had never spent time examining the parts of his body covered in clothing.  During the past few nights he had spent with Dean, he always wore the clothing Dean had lent him.  It felt strange to be so exposed, dressed only in shorts and he thought of pulling the blanket higher and moving closer to Dean.  He could hear Bobby in the hallway, headed to the bathroom, and suddenly Castiel needed to be dressed.

Castiel moved from his horizontal position to a verticle one beside the bed with a thought.  He spotted his clothes on top of an old dresser where he had set them.  The sight of the crumpled garments was off-putting and he lifted them delicately.  His shirt.  He had told Dean to remove it and Dean had ripped it off him, tearing the fine threads that held the buttons in place.  Castiel frowned at his shirt and the missing buttons, upset.  He could easily fix it and he had been glad when Dean expedited the process with force.  It didn’t make sense to feel inexplicably uneasy about it now.  Castiel used his grace to instantly dress himself and mend the buttons.  He was wholly clothed with his familiar tie and coat in place.  It was comforting to him and he felt somewhat safer. 

The thought occurred to him that maybe Dean’s forceful undressing prior to them engaging in a sexual act was somehow making him think of what Sam had done.  It didn’t make a lot of sense, since he had been consenting and enjoying himself with Dean.  There were no real similarities between the two events, but his feelings regarding Sam’s attack were convoluted.  He couldn’t always define why something might disturb him. 

Unwilling to dwell on the irksome feelings any longer, Castiel went to the kitchen and waited there until morning. 

 

 

Bobby was the first to arrive in the kitchen and he looked curiously at Castiel, who had been distractedly staring at nothing.  After a grumbled ‘good morning,’ Bobby began making coffee.  Castiel thought the smell of coffee was pleasant, though he didn’t enjoy the taste, and he was feeling slightly cheered by the scent filling the room. 

“Usually don’t see ya down here until Dean is,” Bobby said, sitting across from Castiel with his mug of coffee.  “Everythin’ all right?”   

“Yes.”

Castiel felt like he should elaborate, maybe tell Bobby why he had come downstairs, but Castiel couldn’t think of what to say.  He wasn’t entirely sure why he had left the room.  He had just felt unsettled.

“I’m fine.”

“Uh huh,” Bobby murmured, fixing Castiel with a calculating look. 

Castiel wasn’t sure he cared for the scrutiny.  The sound of footsteps on the stairs signaled Sam’s arrival from the basement.  He caught Castiel’s eye and blushed a little, looking away, but Castiel hardly noticed. 

Sam was the same as the Sam that had attacked him. He looked the same.  The clothing.  Sam was wearing the same exact outfit he had been wearing when he trapped Castiel and hurt him. The same combination of shirts and pants.  Castiel didn’t know what to do.  He pushed his chair back like he was going to stand up, but he couldn’t make his legs move.  It looked like Sam and Bobby were talking to one another, but Castiel couldn’t hear them. 

Staring numbly at Sam, Castiel found himself unable to move, but his mind was reeling, not processing, just remembering.  He felt himself teetering towards the edge of his chair and he brought his hand up to grab the table and steady himself.   

Sam and Bobby both looked around at him and Castiel tried to compose himself, tightening his grip to anchor himself in the present.  He didn’t mean to crack Bobby’s table.

“Cas?  You okay?”

It was Sam.  Sam’s voice, but this was the real Sam Winchester, his friend, who was concerned about him.  It’s not him, it’s not him.   

“Cas?” Bobby leaned towards Castiel, ducking his head to try and catch his eye.

Focusing on Bobby, Castiel tried to find his voice.

“Yes.  I—Sorry.  I can fix your table.”

“I don’t care about the damn table.” Bobby rolled his eyes.  “Ya feelin’ okay?”

“I’m fine.” 

Castiel shifted his gaze to the table, painfully aware that Sam and Bobby were both staring at him.  He knew he was being ridiculous and he tried to calm himself.  Nothing was wrong.  He was safe here. Part of him seemed determined to ignore rational thought, however and when Sam walked behind him a minute later, to busy himself at the counter, he felt his body tense involuntarily. Distracted by the movements he couldn’t see, he listened intently to every sound Sam made, absorbed in keeping track of where he was and what he might be doing behind him.  It sounded like he was getting coffee and making toast.  Castiel felt angry over his behavior, it was absurd and unseemly. 

Sam and Bobby had started talking, but Castiel’s thoughts were too muddled to pay much attention to what they were saying.  He could probably ask Sam to change into something else, but the thought was so inane, he dismissed it.  Much of Sam’s clothing looked similar, it was asinine to be so perturbed by one specific combination of apparel.  He was an angel and this outfit could not hurt him.  Nor could the man wearing it.

Castiel could feel Bobby’s eyes on him again and he attempted to wrangle his expression into a neutral one.  The hunter needn’t be concerned over such trivial irritants.  He was fine.

By the time Sam had sat next to Bobby, Castiel was feeling marginally calmer.  This Sam meant him no harm.  He was just eating a banana and stealing a portion of the paper from Bobby.  Castiel kept his eyes downcast, not feeling particularly inclined to look at either of them. 

When Dean entered the kitchen, Castiel was surprised to see him.  Preoccupied with tracing the crack in Bobby’s table, he hadn’t heard the hunter coming down the stairs.  Dean had looked fleetingly worried, but he relaxed when he caught sight of Castiel. 

“’Bout time ya got down here, Romeo,” Bobby said in greeting.  “Were you hopin’ we’d just scold Casanova and let you off the hook?”

Dean blushed, looking away in embarrassment and adjusting the popped collar of his jacket, before he tried to act like he didn’t care.  He shrugged and made for the coffee.  Castiel frowned, uncertain what Bobby was talking about.

“Yeah, well, what can I say?  Cas and I just needed a little alone time.  Don’t get your panties in a twist.”

“Maybe a little warning next time, Dean?” Sam was staring past Castiel at his brother. “I don’t know why you need to corrupt Cas with your hedonistic behavior right in the living room, but maybe, wait until everyone is gone next time.”

“Or maybe you two playboys could use the bedroom I gave ya.  Have some decency,” Bobby grumbled.

Castiel knew they were talking about last night and though there was no menace behind the words, he decided he didn’t like the exchange.  He spoke up before Dean could attempt to defend himself with careless humor.

“It was inappropriate to engage in sexual acts in the living room?”  Castiel asked succinctly.

All three hunters looked at him with varying expressions of surprise. 

Bobby recovered first.  “Uh, yup.  That about sums it up, Cas.  No canoodling on the couch.” 

“I apologize.  It won’t happen again,” Castiel promised seriously.

Confident he had curbed the unpleasant conversation, Castiel resumed his somber examination of the cracked table.  He had lost his control and broken something of Bobby’s.  Castiel tapped his finger against the crevice, irritated with it.  He hardly noticed when Dean plopped into the seat next to him and the men began discussing something else.

 

 

Castiel was grateful that Dean decided to work outside on cars that morning, because it meant he could stay outside with him and he didn’t have to be near Sam.  It was soothing to stand in the sun idly, while Dean worked and listened to the radio.  They didn’t speak much since Dean was often under the car, but a few times Dean took a break to stand with Castiel and drink his beer.  On one such occasion Dean seemed a bit fidgety, peeling absently at the bottle’s label.

“Is something wrong, Dean?”

“Uh, well, I dunno.  You tell me, Cas.  Are you upset? Things seemed pretty good last night, but then you were gone when I woke up.  Did, uh, did I do something you didn’t like?”

Dean was looking down instead of at Castiel standing beside him, but the angel could hear the concern in his voice and it was comforting to be reminded that Dean cared about him.     

“Our experience last night was exhilarating.  You didn’t do anything wrong, Dean.  I was all right.  After you had fallen asleep, I think I became… overwhelmed by emotions as a result of our sexual encounter.”

The sidelong look Dean had been giving Castiel as he spoke, turned sour. 

“So you didn’t like it?” Dean questioned, trying to understand.

“I liked it immensely, Dean, and perhaps that was what troubled me.”  Castiel noticed that Dean looked relieved at this information. 

“Sorting through these emotions is a foreign process and I’m sometimes unfamiliar with what I’m feeling.  Participating in carnal relations and human matters is novel to me.”    

“Okay, well you could have woken me up, ya know, since you were upset.  We can talk about stuff like this, I mean I might not be much help, but I’ll listen.”

“I’ll remember that for next time,” Castiel said, smiling.  “You would be amenable to sexual engagements in the future?”

“Yeah, I’m amenable,” Dean chuckled.  “But you gotta call it something else, you sound like you’re reading the news.”

“What should I say instead?” Castiel wondered as Dean headed back to the car.

“I dunno, try something more subtle or maybe vague,” Dean offered, returning to his work, while Castiel pondered the suggestion thoughtfully.

 

 

When Dean decided to go on a supply run after lunch, Castiel insisted on going with him.  The hunters had been keeping Castiel away from people, fearing someone might recognize him from the photos and video that had been captured of him when he had been playing God and smiting sinners.  He couldn’t risk being seen in his regualr outfit. 

In order to accompany Dean, Castiel had removed his tie, jacket, and coat, thinking he would be more comfortable in his clothing instead of borrowing from Dean.  Bobby made him wear a baseball cap, as well, and Sam held out a pair of glasses to Castiel, but Castiel couldn’t look at Sam or take them from the hunter.  Dean grabbed them out of Sam’s hand, looking skeptical.

“You really think this is necessary?  He looks weird enough already,” Dean asked, tapping the glasses in his hand and evaluating Castiel.           

Sam shrugged. “That’s the idea, it’s not safe for Cas to look like himself.  So, wear the getup this time and if people don’t look twice then, maybe in the future, he could just do one thing, like the glasses.”

Dean thrust the glasses at Castiel, who put them on and blinked at Dean from behind the weak lenses. 

“Well, I guess it worked for Clark Kent,” Dean said, shrugging.  Castiel didn’t understand the reference, but the other hunters apparently knew who Dean was talking about.   

 

 

The store Dean took Castiel to was colossal, a ‘super-center,’ and not the sort of store Dean went to when he and Sam were on the road.  Dean said they sold everything they needed and Castiel followed Dean around, amazed at all the products, holding the basket Dean had given him.  Castiel fiddled with the brim of his hat, not appreciating the way it obscured part of his field of vision, as Dean piled the basket with food and toilitries.

Castiel stopped at the end of an aisle, inspecting the items on display. 

“Is this… attire for canines?”

Dean glanced back.  “Uh, yeah looks like it.”

“Why?  Animals don’t need clothing.”  It didn’t make sense, dogs didn’t know they were naked.

“Don’t ask me.  I think, maybe, lonely people dress up their pets and pretend they’re people or something.  I dunno, man.  Just a weird thing.”

Castiel dipped his head to look at a blue ‘shirt’ that had I LOVE MY HUMAN written on it.  This only led to more questions.  Were dogs the ones picking out the clothes?  It was certainly curious that humans chose to anthropomorphize animals.

“Do they make clothing for cats?”

“What? I dunno, probably.  It wouldn’t surprise me. C’mon.”  

They walked a ways before Castiel was distracted again by a box that seemed to contain information on how to make bowls out of bacon.  He was unaware that some people evidently wished they could eat the bowls that their food was served in. 

Dean was calling him from the next aisle and he turned from the shelves when Castiel approached.  There were two plastic bottles in Dean’s hand and he shook them playfully at Castiel before winking and dropping them into the basket that was piled precariously high. 

“Can’t forget the lube,” Dean said quietly as he brushed past Castiel, smirking at him and waggling his eyebrows.   

Castiel looked at the innocent bottles in the basket.  Lube.  Sam had used lube, he had told Castiel he had some and said he’d ‘take it easy’ on him, but it had hurt, everything had hurt.  The shelves Dean had gotten the bottles from contained many varieties of ‘personal lubricant,’ but Castiel couldn’t understand why anyone would want to purchase such a product.  And Dean was going to buy some. 

Suddenly, Castiel wished he had his coat on to protect him, it seemed unwise to be without it.  Setting down the overflowing basket, Castiel fussed with his sleeves, tugging them down over his wrists unnecessarily.  He couldn’t make them any longer, so he settled for making sure his shirt was tucked in.   Since he didn’t have his tie, Castiel decided to button the top button on his shirt that was normally undone, but once he had, his collar felt entirely too restrictive and he undid it.

Castiel spied the basket with the lube in it and he stood rooted to the spot, contemplating.  Soulless Sam had insinuated that Dean… wanted him, the same way Sam had forced him.   Sam had said Dean would enjoy it, but… but Dean wouldn’t.  Dean couldn’t want that.  Castiel couldn’t believe what Sam had said.  It had all been lies to torment him.  The assault was not remotely the same as the sex they had last night.   Dean didn’t want to hurt him, so it didn’t make sense that he was buying lube. 

“Dammit, Cas.  I was looking for you, I got halfway to the registers.”  Dean looked from Castiel to the basket he had set on the floor.  “You okay?  The basket get too heavy?”

Dean reached for the basket. “Shit, it is heavy.  Ugh, maybe I should have gotten two.  Let’s go.”

The basket hadn’t seemed heavy to Castiel, but he didn’t relieve the hunter.  Once it had been paid for, Castiel watched as Dean shoved the bottles of lube into his jacket pocket. As they left the store, Castiel helped carry the bags to the car.  Dean had parked his baby far from all the other vehicles. 

“With your new look, you fit right in with the suburban dad crowd, Cas,” Dean  teased, smiling at Castiel, who did not return the amusement. 

While they were driving to Bobby’s, Castiel took off the hat and glasses and toyed with the cuffs of his sleeves again.  The purchase of the lube was worrisome.  Castiel didn’t know what it meant.  Engrossed in thought, Castiel barely heard Dean’s attempts at conversation.

 

 

When they arrived, Dean parked around back and they gathered the bags to go inside.  Castiel was a few paces ahead of Dean when he went in the back door to enter the kitchen.  Sam was seated at the table with an array of weapons laid out in front of him, knives.  Distracted by the lube, Castiel had forgotten to expect that Sam.  Sam had a knife in his hand. 

This was the Sam that attacked him, he looked exactly the same.  He was armed.  It was the knife. Castiel dropped the bags. The glance and smile that Sam had first given him changed to an expression of confused alarm.  Sam stood up with the knife still in his loose grip, it wasn’t raised, the hunter had all but forgotten it. 

Castiel took a slightly unbalanced step backwards and bumped into someone, he was trapped.  Sam’s mouth was moving, but Castiel couldn’t hear a word.  A hand fell on his arm and Castiel wrenched himself away from the touch, not taking his eyes from Sam.  He felt hot and dizzy. His body was screaming that he was in danger.  He had to get out of there.  Without a second thought, Castiel flew away to safety.

Chapter Text

“Son of a bitch.  What the hell, Sam!”

“I don’t know what happened, Dean.  I didn’t do anything!  I was just sitting here,” Sam said, nervously dragging his hands through his hair.

“Yeah, sitting at a table full of fucking knives, that’s real smart.”  Dean picked up the bags he had abandoned at the sight of Castiel frozen in the kitchen, shoving them onto the counter.

“Hey, this is how you always sharpen the knives too.  I didn’t think Cas’d come walking in and freak out at the sight,” Sam defended himself, while looking guilty.

“Right, you didn’t think at all!” Dean crammed stray items back into the bags Castiel had dropped and dumped them on the counter as well.  He cast an angry look around the kitchen as if expecting Castiel to return.

“Like you’re so sensitive.  I’ve really been trying, Dean.” 

“What’s goin’ on in here?  I could hear ya yellin’ from upstairs.” Bobby arrived in the kitchen, eyes darting between the two of them.

“Sam decided to friggin’ traumatize Cas with a big ol’ pile of knives,” Dean spat hotly.

“You’re an ass, Dean.  And Cas was acting weird this morning, maybe you upset him last night, pressuring him with your handsy shenanigans,” Sam snapped back.

“Don’t make me hurt you,” Dean retorted, folding his arms.

Bobby stepped in between them to divert their attention.  “Shaddup, both of you!  And explain to me why you two idjits are arguing instead of looking for Cas?”

“C’mon, Bobby,” Dean said in exasperation. “Shit. He could be friggin’ anywhere.”

“Well, start with eliminatin’ the house, then.  Go check your room and I’ll check the basement.  Sam you stay here.” 

Bobby headed for the cellar and Dean couldn’t resist one last dig, “Maybe put the knives away, huh, Dexter?” 

“Half of these are yours!” Sam called after his brother’s back as he ascended the stairs. 

It only took Dean a minute to check all the rooms upstairs.  Castiel wasn’t there and Dean hadn’t really expected him to be.  Lingering in the small bedroom, Dean prayed.

“Hey Cas, Castiel.  I know you’re upset, man, but no one is gonna hurt you, I promise.  Just come back, we’re worried about you.  Sam didn’t mean to scare you.  We’ll get everything sorted out and, uh, I’ll keep you safe.  So, just, yeah.  Come back.  Please.”

Dean waited impatiently for a minute, sighing and biting his lip when Castiel didn’t appear.  He thought about what had happened.  When he had first walked in the door he hadn’t really been paying attention, but he had looked up when he heard Castiel drop the groceries he was holding.  Sam had been concerned as well, he had stood up and apologized for the knives before Dean had even processed that they had likely been the cause of Castiel’s shock.  But, Sam’s attempts to calm Castiel had gone unnoticed and he had retreated, backing into Dean.  Sam had been repeatedly assuring Castiel that he wouldn’t hurt him, but the angel was unresponsive. It was at that point that Dean realized how panicked Castiel really was. He had dropped his bags too, saying Castiel’s name and grabbing his arm in an attempt to break him away from staring at Sam in fear.  The action had only caused Castiel to shrink away from him and Dean was left cursing a moment later when the angel had vanished.  Sam might have unwittingly caused the initial fright, but Dean’s rash response had only made things worse.  He was definitely more mad at himself than Sam.          

He could hear Bobby’s and Sam’s voices downstairs, so he went to join them. 

“No sign of him up there,” Dean grumbled, blowing past his brother to the back door.  “I’m gonna seach the yard and the garage.  You call me the second he gets back here.”

“Will do,” Bobby assured him. 

Dean stormed out the door, intending to stomp his way around the yard in anger.  He was trying to think of where Castiel might go to feel safe, but Cas always came to him and Bobby’s was the closest thing they had to a home.  When he caught sight of the Impala parked a small distance away, he stopped short.  Castiel was sitting in the dirt beside the car, hunched over with his head and arms on his knees.

“Cas,” Dean breathed, hardly daring to believe it.  The angel was still without his jacket and coat, but it was unmistakably him.  Dean dashed over, slowing before he got too close.

“Cas,” he said more loudly, coming to a stop next to him and cautiously lowering himself to his knees beside his friend.  Turning his head to look at Dean, Castiel remained huddled over, gripping his knees, with the side of his head resting on his arms. 

“Dean.”  It was good to hear Castiel’s voice, though he sounded uncertain.

“Hey, man. Yeah, it’s me.  Are you okay?”  Dean spoke gently, struggling to keep his hands to himself after the pained look Castiel gave him.

“I don’t understand why I feel this way.  It’s distressing.” Castiel sounded miserable.  “Why did I react like that?”

“I think seeing Sam with the knives must have just scared you, Cas.  Made you think of bad memories.”

“I know, but why couldn’t I control myself?  This body… I hate not being in control of my reactions.  I couldn’t—I tried to—to overcome my fear and failed.  I’m a warrior of God, Dean, but the sight of Sam in those clothes…”  Castiel shook his head, slowly.  “I just, I managed to retain my composure for the most part this morning, but with the knife it—it was too much.”

Dean shifted into a sitting position.  “Look, Cas, this thing with Sam, sometimes you might backslide and freak out a bit.  When people go through traumatic events, it’s not that unusal to be upset when something reminds you of what happened.  You said earlier that you’re not used to this mess of emotions.  It’s a lot to handle for anyone, but since it’s all new to you, I’m sure it might be worse.”

Dean paused, but Castiel just continued to look dejected, so he plowed on. 

“You know, flying scares the crap out of me.  Flying in a plane,” he clarified.  “If I have to do it, I kind of freak.  I can’t really control the way I react.  Like I get tense and sweaty and I can’t calm down, can’t sit still.  I hate it, but it’s like a, um, a phobia.  Outta my control.  Now, maybe fear might get the best of you sometimes, but you’re a badass, Cas.  That hasn’t changed.  You’ll get past this eventually.

“But, uh, what should I do if it happens again?  I was saying your name, but I don’t think you heard me.  Then I thought touching your arm would get your attention, but it just freaked you out more, didn’t it?” 

Castiel lifted his head, “I didn’t remember you were there, I think you might have been able to calm me down, but I couldn’t look away from Sam.  I didn’t know it was you grabbing my arm, so I think it did startle me.”

“So… maybe I should try to stand in your line of vision, break your view?” Dean wondered.

“That might have worked.  Seeing you—I think the sight of you would have helped ease my fear.” 

Moving slowly, Dean raised his hand so Castiel could see it and brought it carefully to rest on his shoulder.

“Shit, Cas, you’re still all shaky. C’mere.” Dean moved the same arm to wrap it around his shoulder and Castiel scooted closer into Dean’s embrace.  Sighing, Castiel rested his head on Dean’s shoulder, while Dean rubbed his arm through the thin dress shirt.

“So wait, what’s wrong with Sam’s clothes?”

“It’s so insignificantly foolish.  He—it’s the same clothing.  Sam looked just the way he did when he attacked me.  Then he had a knife and I couldn’t see past it anymore.”

“Oh.  Well, you know Sam would have changed in a heartbeat if you had told him, right?”

“Dean, it was such an inconsequential thing.  I didn’t want to bother Sam over something so trivial.”

“Who cares, Cas?  Sam wouldn’t have minded, hell, he’ll probably get rid of the clothes.  And it’s not ‘trivial’ or stupid or whatever else you’re thinking.  We both want to know if something is upsetting you, so just talk to us, okay, man?  You don’t have to try and handle all this shit on your own.”

Reaching towards Dean, Castiel slid an arm around the hunter’s waist, effectively hugging him.  It occurred to Dean that he should be worried Bobby and Sam could probably see them if they looked out the window, but Dean found it difficult to care.  Cas needed to be held and Dean was happy to oblige, so he wound both his arms around Castiel, pulling him close to his chest. 

“I heard your prayer.  I’m sorry I didn’t go to you.  I intended to, once I collected myself.”

“No big deal, Cas.  I was just worried about you.  I’m glad you didn’t fly too far,” Dean said, rubbing his back. 

“I just thought of you and you’re usually not far from your car, so it seemed a safe choice.” 

They sat together for a while and Dean wasn’t waiting for anything in particular, he was just enjoying being there next to Castiel, but eventually his friend said he felt ready to go back inside.  Dean texted ahead telling Sam to change his clothes, no questions asked, and a few minutes later they went back into the house.      

Bobby and Sam were seated at the kitchen table without a knife in sight.  Thankfully, Sam had changed and he looked drastically different since he was wearing the long nylon shorts he usually ran in and a sleeveless shirt.  Clearly, Sam must not have even realized what the problem had been with his outfit, since, to be safe, he picked out clothes that Castiel had probably never seen him wear before.  Sam was bouncing his leg restlessly, looking anxious. 

Castiel had followed Dean inside and he came to a stop next to him.  It seemed like Castiel was fairly at ease, but he was standing so close to him that Dean raised a hand to breifly touch the small of Castiel’s back to encourage him.        

“You feelin’ better, Cas?”  Bobby started the conversation.

“Yes.  I spoke with Dean.” Castiel shifted his gaze to Sam and if it hadn’t been such a bummer of a situation, Dean thought the overtly concerned expression on Sam’s face might have been comical.

“I’m sorry, Sam.  I didn’t mean to react like that,” Castiel said sincerely, while Sam looked dumbfounded. 

“No, Cas, I—you don’t need to apologize, not at all,” Sam began, before Bobby interrupted, looking angrily at Dean.

“Did you tell him he had to apologize, Dean?!”

“What? No!  Of course not, I’m not an idiot,” Dean argued, offended that Bobby would think that.  Sure, he wasn’t Mr. Sensitive, but he knew Cas hadn’t done anything wrong.

“They’re right, Cas,” Sam spoke again, trying to get them back on track.  “You don’t have to be sorry for anything.  I think you might have had, like, a panic attack or something.  Now, I didn’t mean to, but I know I upset you and I’m sorry.  I guess it was the knives, I should have thought of it, but I dunno,” Sam shrugged.  “Sharpening knives, it’s just like a chore we do.  It didn’t occur to me that it might trigger you.”

“I know, Sam.  It’s all right.  It wasn’t really the knife, well, that was what made it unbearable, but it was your clothes.  All day, you had them on and it’s exactly what you wore… before, on that night,” Castiel clarified.

Sam was looking surprised.

“I had no idea, Cas.  You should have said something.  It’s not a problem.  I’ll just throw those shirts away,” Sam said, adamantly.

“That why ya strong-armed my table this mornin’?”  Bobby wanted to know.

Castiel nodded once in confirmation and Dean felt the need to lighten the mood.

“You know, Cas, a lot of Sam’s clothing looks the same.  I bet he’d wear shorts all the time if you wanted, maybe add some pastels into the mix.  Definitely less threatening that way,” Dean smirked at his brother, who glared bitchily back at him.

“I don’t think that’s necessary,” Castiel replied, missing Dean’s attempt at humor. 

Bobby sighed.  “So, ya talked to Dean and you’re feelin’ okay about what happened?”

“As well as can be expected, I suppose.”

“Good, but Sam’s right, Cas.  Ya shoulda said somethin’ this morning, when we asked if you were okay.  Anything else botherin’ ya we should know about?”  Bobby took a pull on his beer while Castiel considered.

“I’m concerned about the lube Dean purchased today,” Castiel said, matter-of-factly.

It wasn’t quite a spit-take, but it was a near thing and Bobby sputtered and slipped into a brief coughing fit, while Sam looked dumbstruck as he thumped Bobby on the back.  Dean had shut his eyes at the words and bit his lip, silently wishing he could make Cas take him back in time to prevent that sentence from happening.  He felt his face and neck burn with embarrassment.  He opened his eyes to see Castiel looked flummoxed at the reaction his statement had caused.    

By some miracle Dean found his voice.

“This is why sharing is bad,” Dean scolded Bobby, who was just finishing coughing.

“Cas, upstairs.” Dean cleared his throat, at a loss for words.  “Talk upstairs.”  Dean pulled Castiel by the arm out of the kitchen, unable to stand there any longer.  He didn’t have to look back to know the angel was following him as he pounded up the stairs. 

 

Dean flew into the bedroom and he could still feel the flush that had crept down to his chest, he felt hot and mortified.  It was hard to remember the last time he had been so embarassed.  The reality of Castiel outing him for his purchase in front of Sam and Bobby was a little too much to handle.  Dean flopped on the bed and covered his head with a pillow to muffle a groan, thinking it could be worth a cross-roads deal to undo the last five minutes of his life.   

The pillow prevented him from hearing or seeing Castiel, but Dean knew the angel was in the room, probably staring at him and trying to figure out what it was about his disclosure that had gotten such strong reactions from all of them.  Dean knew that getting angry would be pointless.  Bobby had asked Castiel if anything was on his mind, so he could harldy fault Cas for answering honestly.  It still seemed wildly unfair that everyone was currently so involved in his whatever relationship with Castiel.  The whole thing was new to him and strange and he didn’t need any extra people or opinions mucking things up.  He was perfectly capable of ruining things on his own.

It was bad enough they had already been overheard on the couch last night, which was probably on him, Cas couldn’t be expected to know the etiquette of such things, but now to have them all thinking about the fact that he bought lube… Oh shit, he should have tried to say it was lube for the car, maybe the breaks.  They might have bought that, but probably not, his face would have still been burning as he lied.  They would have seen right through his pitiful denials.  Dean groaned again into the bed.  He had to try to be cooler about this shit, if he could just not let it bother him it would be a lot less embarrassing.              

“Are you in pain, Dean?”

Despite the pillow muffling the sound, he could make out Castiel’s voice.  Dean rolled over and sat up with a resigned sigh, wiping a hand down his face.  Castiel was standing in front of the door he had, thankfully, closed.

“Nah, I’m good, Cas.  Just being dramatic.  What’s the problem with the lube? Did you want a different flavor?”  Vexed, Dean spread his hands, questioningly.

“Flavor?” Castiel repeated, with an expression much too serious for the situation.   

Dean shrugged. “Or whatever.”

“I want to know why you bought it,” Castiel demanded and Dean didn’t miss the edge of anger in his tone. 

“Well, I thought we could’ve used some last night and we’ll probably want it next time, so… uh, yeah.  I got it,” Dean explained tentatively, noting that Castiel had curled his hands into fists and looked away.

There was definitely something Castiel wasn’t saying, because Dean was lost as to why he’d be looking pissy and hurt.  He patted the mattress next to him in invitation.

“C’mon, Cas.  Spit it out, because I’m missing something.  What’s going on in that brain of yours?”

Instead of joining Dean on the bed, Castiel glowered at him, before answering fiercely.

“Sam used lube and it was terrible and painful.  I hated it.  Why would you buy it?”  Castiel spat the words at Dean in an angry rush. 

Oh.  It was blatantly clear to Dean why Castiel was so distressed now.  This was definitely something they needed to talk about.

“Woah, Cas. It’s not like that at all,” Dean began, deliberating how to begin correcting this thought.  

“So you don’t want to fuck me?”

Shocked, Dean gaped at Castiel, completely taken aback.  He couldn’t figure out where this was coming from and why Castiel was so angry with him.

“Uh…”

“Sam was right,” Castiel said bitterly, as if talking to himself.  “He said you wanted to.  I didn’t want to believe him.”  Castiel brought up a hand to cover his mouth while he briefly shook his head and then he began playing with the sleeves of his shirt, unbuttoning and rebuttoning the cuffs.  

Standing up from the bed, Dean felt alarmed by Castiel’s words and behavior.  He had noticed him messing with his shirt like that in the car earlier.  This was so messed up.  Castiel was so confused, and Dean was playing catch-up trying to fix things.  He took a step towards Castiel hoping to get his attention.

“Cas.  Stop.  You gotta slow down, man.  It’s not what you’re thinking.  I do not want to hurt you, not at all.  Will you calm down and listen to me?”

A moment later, Castiel ceased his fidgiting and lifted his eyes to meet Dean’s and though he was looking distressed and confused, he seemed willing to listen.  That was all Dean could hope for at the moment.  He tried to think of the best way to approach this shitstorm.

“Okay.  I have no idea what Sam said to you… during that.  But he was a soulless asshole, so it’s probably safe to assume that everything he said was a lie or purposefully cruel.  He was trying to hurt you, right?”

There was a flicker of understanding in Castiel’s eyes, but he was still looking warily at Dean, waiting for an explanation.

“So don’t believe a word he said.  And the lube.  I don’t know, uh, what you know about it, but people use it all the time to make sex better and more comfortable.  It’s lubricant.  If you use it right, it makes things, uh, like slick or smooth, easier.  We didn’t have any last night, so that’s why I licked your hand and spit in mine.  Again, he was trying to hurt you, so even if he used lube, he, uh, didn’t do it right.  Sex shouldn’t hurt.  It feels good, like last night.  What happened to you was an attack, it’s just not the same, Cas.  You understand?”

“I—I think so.” Castiel looked a bit calmer as he answered.

“The last thing I want to do is hurt you, Cas.  And if you’re interested, then we can have sex, when you’re ready.  But it won’t be like with—like that.  We can do whatever you want, no pressure.  We don’t have to do anything, but, just keep in mind, that anything we do, I want to make you feel good.  So… just know that.”

Dean was silently cursing up a storm.  He was angry at Sam and because his presumptuous purchase had somehow led Castiel to think that he wanted to hurt him.  It infuriated Dean to think of what had happened to Castiel, that he had failed to protect him from his soulless brother.  It was so unfair that everyone who came into his life ended up getting hurt. 

Castiel stepped towards Dean and Dean hugged him gently at first, rubbing his back. 

“I didn’t mean to scare you by buying that, Cas.  It doesn’t mean anything.  You know I would never hurt you like that, right?”

“Yes, Dean, I know.  I see now that it was just a misunderstanding.  I didn’t believe you would want to hurt me, but when you bought the lube… I misinterpreted your intentions.”

Hugging Dean back, Castiel tilted his head against Dean’s shoulder and Dean kissed the top of his head, brushing his hair fondly.

As embarrassed as he had been earlier, Dean suddenly felt so grateful that Bobby had asked Castiel if anything else was wrong.  Things could have gotten much worse if Castiel had kept these thoughts hidden from him for longer than a few hours.  It was really a good thing that they had been forced into this conversation.  He didn’t ever want Castiel to have doubts like that about him.  He was gonna have to make the old man an awesome breakfast tomorrow.

Chapter Text

When Sam entered the kitchen, he was more than a little surprised to see that Dean and Cas were standing together at the small stove cooking breakfast, while Bobby sipped his coffee and read at the table.  Though, it would be more accurate to say that Dean was cooking pancakes, eggs and bacon, while Castiel watched attentively. 

Sam said ‘Morning’ to the room as a whole and Castiel and Dean glanced back at him in near unison, as Bobby inclined his head in acknowledgement. 

“Hey.” Dean sounded unusually pleasant for the morning and Sam realized he must have been up and drinking coffee for a while to be so far along in cooking. 

“Sit down, Cas’ll get your coffee.  Breakfast will be up in a minute.”

Sam looked with disbelief at Bobby, as he sunk into the seat next to him.  Bobby barely looked up from his reading.

“Don’t question it.  Just enjoy.  Cas would know if he was possessed.”

As promised, Castiel brought Sam a mug of hot coffee, concentrating on not spilling the contents as he stiffly approached the table and set it before him.

“Thanks, Cas.”

“I’m also in charge of toast.  Would you like some?”

“Uh, no, thanks.  The pancakes and eggs should be plenty,” Sam answered, amused. 

“You can put down a piece for me, Cas,” Bobby requested and Castiel nodded and returned to the counter to toast bread next to Dean.

Drinking a couple sips of coffee didn’t make the whole situation seem any less strange to Sam.  Dean had to realize that he was essentially ‘playing house’ with Cas right now.  If Dean thought of it that way, he certainly didn’t seem to care and Sam had to give his brother some credit.  He was doing a decent job of not behaving like an asshole in light of this new… facet of his personality.  It seemed like Dean was really making an effort to take this whole new relationship thing with Castiel in stride.  Since it had clearly embarrassed Dean, Sam had expected lots of yelling from upstairs after the ‘lube incident,’ but he hadn’t heard anything.  Dean had evidently let his embarrassment subside and kept his anger in check.  Either that or he had learned to yell quietly.

When Dean had shown his face the previous morning, after being impolitely loud on the couch, Sam had been sorely tempted to tease his brother, mercilessly, about the hickey he couldn’t quite manage to hide under his collar.  If Dean had caught sight of something like that on him, he’d be done for.  But Sam had forced himself to remain silent, unsure how Dean might react at being so directly called out.  Sam wasn’t entirely sure what to call Dean’s developing relationship with Castiel, but he knew Dean was likely terrified by it and Sam wanted to be supportive.  Unfortunately, for now, that meant no teasing.  Sam just had to hope that Castiel would plant one on Dean again in the future so he could torture him about it then.

Dean was actually serving them food, well, he was doling out portions and then passing the plates to Castiel, who brought one to Sam and one to Bobby.  After piling his plate extra high, Dean got out a fourth plate and put a small amount of everything onto it.  When Dean sat down with Castiel beside him, he encouraged Castiel to try the food, before digging into his own.

“So, Cas.  You and Dean made breakfast.  Any particular reason?”  Sam couldn’t resist asking and Castiel was the least likely to blow him off.  The angel was nibbling at a piece of bacon, before he answered.

“Dean prepared the meal.  It was his idea to make breakfast.  He said you would both enjoy it and that he’s a better cook than either of you.”

Sam snorted. 

“I didn’t even know you could cook.”

“Yup.  I have many varied skills.  I’m what women call, ‘the whole package.’” Dean grinned.

“Dean cooked this breakfast often, at Lisa’s,” Castiel commented, as he took a bite of plain pancake, holding it as if he were eating a sandwich. 

Briefly, Sam worried that Dean would flip.  He had explicitly forbade Sam from ever mentioning Lisa or Ben to him again after he had Castiel wipe their memories.  He supposed he had never given Castiel the same command though, because Dean was looking at him curiously as he chewed and swallowed a large mouthful.

“How’d you know that?  Were you watching me at Lisa’s?”

“Sometimes,” Castiel said evasively.  “I like the texture of this, it’s soft and warm.”  Castiel nodded at the pancake in his hand. 

Dean surveyed Castiel over the top of his mug, before swallowing more coffee.

Even Sam could admit that Dean had done a good job on the food, so he complimented his brother on it and thanked him.  He wondered if Dean had made the meal to try and smooth over all the uneasiness of the night before.  It seemed like a good idea to try to return some normalcy to their lives, so Sam decided to pitch the potential case he had found.

Two women, both from the same neighborhood in Chicago, had been hospitalized for symptoms of alcohol withdrawl, though the women claimed they only drank occasionally.  That alone was curious, but then the women had gotten into a physical altercation at the hospital, and one of them killed the other.  The woman who survived the fight died shortly afterwards from seizures attributed to her withdrawl, but she had been receiving treatment and with treatment the chances of survival were very good.

“So… lemme get this straight,” Dean said, around a mouthful of eggs.  “Two chicks are treated for symptoms they shouldn’t have, they get into a cat-fight where one dies, and the other one kicks the bucket before the cops figure out why she killed her friend?”

“Well, the women supposedly didn’t know each other, but other than that detail, you got it.”    

Dean shrugged, “We’ve looked into less.  Could be our sort of thing… Chicago ain’t so far.  I’m up for it.”

“Could be weird drugs,” Bobby suggested, standing from the table. 

“Well, we’ll check it out, get out of your hair for a bit,” Dean told Bobby.  “How about it, Cas? You up for a drive?  Could be handy to have your help.”

“Of course. I’ll accompany you, Dean.”

“Awesome.”

 

They decided to depart later that same day, so they spent the morning preparing.  Sam was about to follow Bobby and Castiel out the door to leave, when Dean grabbed his arm to keep him inside. 

“Hold up, Sam.”

“Yeah, what’s up?” Sam turned back to face his brother.  There was an air of apprehension surrounding Dean and he only held Sam’s eyes a moment before he was looking everywhere else. 

“I, uh, I need to know about you and—and Cas.  What, uh, happened between the two of you that night.”

Dean was rubbing the back of his neck, clearly uncomfortable and Sam wasn’t sure how to respond.  Before he could form an answer, Dean was talking again and not meeting Sam’s eyes.

“Just, like, things that might upset him.  Like those clothes you threw away, the knives, your knife in particular, I guess.  I saw he was tied up, so I got that.  I know he doesn’t, ah, like if I pull too much at his tie.  And, uh, that whole, um, thing last night.  Cas didn’t understand why I bought it, since evidently you, uh, used it too.  He wasn’t sure what it meant.”

The vagueness of Dean’s sentence had confused Sam briefly, before he realized Dean was talking about the lube without actually saying the word.  His brother wanted to know what else would upset Castiel and that was a hell of a question. 

“Um... okay. Let me think.”  Sam felt a little lost, everything about what he had done was terrible.  It was hard to pinpoint what aspects might be potentially destructive to Castiel if he encountered them again.  It was also difficult to admit the details to Dean and Sam contemplated writing a list instead, but his brother wasn’t shying away from the troublesome topic and he was acting in Castiel’s best interests.  Sam tried to sound casual as he listed possible triggers.  

“So, yeah.  Uh, maybe fire, belts, probably hates anything that would impede his movement, and, uh, humming.”

Sam looked down, feeling ashamed.  He hadn’t wanted to mention that last one.  He could sense that Dean was finally looking at him again and he forced himself to meet his eyes, trying to convey his immense regret.  As Dean fiercely evaluated Sam, his jaw working furiously, Sam wondered if Dean was going to yell at him.  Instead, his brother fought for control and settled for responding angrily, his voice resigned and low with hostility.   

“Okay.  Fine.  Anything else?”

Sam shook his head, almost wishing Dean would scream at him.  He deserved it. 

“What about the burns?  They weren’t from flames.”

“Oh. Uh, the iron fire poker in the trunk… they were from that.”

“And you said shit about me?  During that?”

Not wanting it to be true, Sam minutely shook his head no, but answered yes. 

Nodding too vigorously, Dean brought his hands to his hips and noisily blew out a long breath.

“Great, Sam.  That’s all fucking great,” Dean said bitterly, before he left Sam standing alone inside. 

After Castiel’s poor reaction yesterday, Sam understood why Dean wanted to know more details about what had transpired.  It hadn’t been painless to say and Sam knew it wasn’t an easy thing to hear.  No doubt Dean’s mental image of what had happened that night just became a bit more complete.  He was sure his brother both hated knowing and probably wanted to know more.

Looking out the door, Sam gloomily watched Dean join Castiel and Bobby by the car.  Castiel’s calm expression brightened when he saw Dean approaching.  Sam felt a bit like an outsider as he observed the three of them.  Bobby and Dean were both able to help Castiel in ways that Sam couldn’t.  Remembering the look of terror on Castiel’s face when he walked into the kitchen the night before, made Sam’s stomach churn.  All his efforts to watch out for Castiel and he’d still screwed it up.  The problem was he was the problem.  It didn’t seem fair; he had never wanted to hurt his friend. 

Sam smoothed a hand through his hair and tried to convince himself that it was a good thing Dean asked those questions.  This was all about moving forward and helping Castiel recover.  It was baffling that Dean chose to bring this up right before the three of them piled into the car together, but it was the first time Castiel hadn’t been at Dean’s side in a while.  Accepting that Dean wouldn’t want to sit next to him for hours at the moment, Sam left the house and made his way towards the back of the Impala.         

 

 

Though Dean had left Bobby’s in a bad mood, Sam could tell his brother was cooling off the further they drove.  By the time they had traveled a couple hundred miles with Dean’s music on and the windows down, Dean had calmed significantly. 

While they drove, Castiel had been meticulously looking over the small amount of information that Sam had collected on the case.  Occasionally, he commented on or questioned the facts they were aware of so far.  Sam had no idea what they were dealing with, but he just hoped he was correct in thinking it didn’t involve demons.  If they encountered demons, then it was possible Crowley could get wind of Castiel being alive and with them.  It was something they were trying to avoid.        

The first four hours went by fairly painlessly, minus the cramp in his leg.  Sam hadn’t been on the road for several days and it was kind of enjoyable since cruising in the Impala was second nature to him.  Around the fifth hour Sam really wanted to ask Castiel to switch seats.  He tried to reposition himself to get more comfortable.  Bored, Sam eventually dozed off, sleeping against the window. 

When he woke up there was a crick in his neck and he moved slowly, rubbing at it and rolling his shoulders.  As he sat up straighter, he saw Dean’s right hand drop from where it was resting on the top of the seat near Castiel’s head.  Strange as it was, Sam had a funny feeling he had interrupted Dean touching Castiel’s neck with his fingers. 

“Sleeping Beauty awakens.  You were snoring, man.  Cas had to stop me from throwing shit at you.” 

“I bet,” Sam said, wiping at his eyes. 

“You were out for over an hour.”

“Do you want to stop soon?”  Sam asked hopefully. 

Their last brief stop was a couple hours back, but Sam was ready to be done for the day after being crammed into the back seat for six hours.  He couldn’t take much longer.  Plus, he was hungry, which probably meant that Dean was ravenous.

“Yeah, I’m thinking we find a motel in the next town and then finish the drive tomorrow.  We need to find some place good to eat.  I’m starving.”

Sam smirked.  Dean never could last long on an empty stomach, especially not coming from a few days at Bobby’s, where they were used to eating whenever they wanted.

 

 

It felt so good to be able to stand up and stretch.  When they arrived at the motel, Sam waited in the parking lot with Castiel and busied himself with stretching out his arms.  He left it to Dean to get them a room.  He wasn’t sure how they were going to handle the sleeping arrangements and didn’t want to assume and book one room or two, only to find out it wasn’t what Dean wanted.  It was best to leave it with Dean.  Sam thought it made more sense to get two rooms since Castiel had been so uncomfortable around him just 24 hours ago.  Also, the idea of his brother and Castiel in the same bed only a couple of feet away seemed like an odd situation at best.

Much to Sam’s relief, Dean had gotten two rooms and a recommendation of where to eat.  They ditched their bags and proceeded to walk the three blocks to the suggested place.  It was more of a bar, rather than a restaurant or a diner, and it didn’t look very impressive, but it certainly wasn’t the worst looking place they’d ever eaten.  Sam slid into the booth across from Dean and Castiel, who had left his coat in the Impala and donned the glasses again to, hopefully, look a little less like himself.

Castiel was sitting rigidly in the booth and frequently touching the glasses.  He wasn’t used to wearing them and the oft-repeated movement made it obvious.  Sometimes when Castiel wanted to look at Sam or Dean he dipped his head and looked over the top of the frames.

Sam had only been gone a few minutes to wash his hands in the bathroom, but when he got back there was a  beer for each of them at the table.  Castiel was dutifully drinking his and watching Dean every time he brought the bottle to his lips.  The waitress came, smiling at each of them as she set a tray with a dozen shots on the table.  Dean hadn’t wasted any time while Sam was gone and he smiled wickedly across the table as Sam frowned at him.  The waitress took their orders, smile faltering when Castiel requested nothing.  It was sort of amusing, considering Dean had slid four shots in front of each of them. 

“What’s with the all the drinks?” Sam asked as the waitress walked away.

Dean shrugged. 

“Thought we could all use a little fun.  You and Cas need to learn how to loosen up.”             

Dean plopped his elbow on the table and raised one of the shots, waiting for Sam and Castiel to mimic him.

“I’m only doing one,” Sam promised, picking up one of his shots. 

“Cheers,” Dean said, winking at Castiel, as the three of them clinked their glasses together and downed the drinks.   

Castiel immediately did a second shot and then looked confused that no one had joined him.

“Are we not drinking them all at once?” 

Grinning, Dean thumped his hand on Castiel’s back a couple times.

“Drink ‘em however you want, Cas.  ’S’no wrong way.”

They drank and ate their food, while Dean enthusiastically regaled Castiel with an old story about the time Sam had a streak of bad luck due to a cursed rabbit’s foot.  It hadn’t been funny at all to Sam when it happened, but listening to Dean laugh and the gleeful look on his face had Sam smiling too.

“He couldn’t walk two feet without falling flat on his face,” Dean snickered. 

“I lost a shoe too,” Sam remembered with a chuckle. 

Dean cracked up again and Castiel smiled, looking between them.  It was good to see Dean laughing while he was drinking.  A lot of the time when Dean turned to the bottle, it was to forget or to numb the pain.  They hadn’t drunk to have fun in a long time.  Sam had another beer but had refused his additional shots, which Dean quickly divided between himself and Castiel.  Though the angel had the most to drink, he didn’t seem very affected, but he was watching Dean’s amused face with warm delight in his eyes.

When Dean realized Castiel was looking at him, he slung an arm fondly around his shoulder and clumsily removed the glasses that were slipping down his nose. 

“Blocking your eyes,” Dean mumbled, setting them on the table.  He and Castiel were staring at each other and Sam felt like he was intruding on something private.  His brother had always done this intense staring ritual with Cas, like they were trying to communicate without words, but now it seemed different to Sam since he knew they were, well, involved.  He contemplated excusing himself, but settled for coughing uncomfortably.  Dean snapped his head around at the sound and smirked at Sam, winking as he got up from the table.   

Turning his head, Castiel watched Dean intently as he beelined to the bathroom, passing a couple men playing pool.

“You feeling better today, Cas?”

No longer able to see Dean, Castiel faced forward again, looking calmly at Sam.

“Yes, Sam.  Yesterday was not an easy day, but I feel much better now.”

Castiel picked up his glasses and studied them briefly, before tucking them into his shirt pocket.

“Things good with Dean?”  Sam asked, rotating his beer bottle on the table.  He wasn’t sure why he was asking.  Honestly, he really didn’t want to know, but if Castiel needed a friend to talk to, Sam could try to fill that role.      

“Your brother’s attention and physical contact is entrancing.  I knew Dean was an exceptional man, but the extent of his unbridled excellence and integrity is staggeringly impressive.”

“So… good, then?” Sam confirmed, trying not to feel weirdly jealous of the praise Dean was receiving from an angel.   Clearly, Cas had it bad when it came to Dean. 

“Yes.”     

Sam cast a glance around the room and spotted an attractive woman at the bar, sneaking sideways looks at him.  Smiling in her direction, Sam considered the fact that he wouldn’t have a roommate tonight.      

“Would you be content with walking back to the motel alone if necessary?”

Bewildered, Sam turned back to Castiel, who was looking around at Dean, standing by the pool tables.  His brother had a pool cue in his hands and was leaning against the table talking to the men there.  Sam couldn’t quite hear what they were saying, but he thought Castiel probably could.  He hoped his brother wasn’t about to try and hustle them.  He had been drinking and it was more than he usually consumed before engaging in pool games and pretending he had too much to drink.   

“Why’d you ask that?” Sam wondered.

Keeping his eyes on Dean, Castiel didn’t answer, but then Sam could read the rapidly changing body language of the men around the pool table and the suddenly oppressive atmosphere surrounding them.  He saw Dean’s expression darken and his stance became defensive as he sneered a remark.  Two of the three men stepped closer to him, blocking Dean from Sam’s view. 

It all happened in an instant and Sam got to his feet at the same time he saw Castiel appear beside one of the men immediately in front of Dean.  Castiel had easily caught the raised fist of the largest man and effortlessly twisted his wrist, bringing the man to his knees.  As Castiel released his arm, the man cradled it and cursed.  The other men looked startled by the quick change of events and Castiel’s unexpected appearance.  Moving to stand in front of Dean, Castiel glared menacingly at them.   

Sam quickly crossed the room and stopped next to Dean in time to hear Castiel’s threat.

“If you so much as lay a hand on him, I will destroy you.”

“Cas. Chill.”

Dean started to grab his friend’s shoulder, but Castiel shrugged him off, staring down the men in front of him.  Hoping no one had called the cops yet, Sam tried to think of the best way to diffuse the situation.  It was hardly Dean’s first bar room brawl, but Sam wasn’t sure how to deal with Castiel.  He had dragged a resistant Dean out of bars once or twice before, but he didn’t want to touch Castiel like that and honestly, if the angel wanted to stay, Sam wouldn’t be able to forcibly budge him. 

“Fucking bitch, I think he broke my wrist.”  The large man staggered uneasily to his feet with the help of his buddy.

“You were askin’ for trouble, asshole.” Dean tried to step forward to be next to Castiel instead of slightly behind him, but, without looking back, Castiel extended his arm to block Dean’s movement.

“We should probably just leave, Cas,” Sam suggested, before adding, “Dean’s fine.”

“You pussies want to hide behind this bitch and then run away?  Told you they were fucking faggots, Bill.”

Sam marveled at how a man with a broken wrist could still be so cocky, but he should have been more focused on Dean, who immediately ducked under Castiel’s arm and proceeded to punch the large man in the face.  Unable to punch back, the man grabbed Dean’s shirt with his uninjured hand and kneed Dean in the gut.  Dean doubled over a little at the impact and the man stepped back, still holding Dean’s shirt.  Overbalanced, Dean tumbled into the man and they both went down in a heap, grappling together. 

Castiel moved forward to pull Dean from the man, but as he bent slightly, Sam saw the guy he thought was ‘Bill’ swing one of the pool sticks over his head.  Yelling Castiel’s name, Sam watched as the pool cue cracked noisily over Castiel’s back, breaking in half.  Fortunately, the angel barely seemed to notice, and he simply continued what he was doing, pulling Dean back to his feet with ease. 

Stumbling slightly, Dean shook off Castiel’s hand from his arm and the angel moved in front of him again.  Bill had cursed at the non-reaction he got from Castiel and he jabbed the pointy end of the broken pool cue at him.  The angel let himself be struck in the arm as he stepped towards Bill and punched him definitively.  The man’s head snapped back at the impact and he went down heavily.  When Castiel shot a dark look at the third man, he took a step back.  He hadn’t really seemed very interested in fighting as far as Sam could tell.

Instead of grabbing Castiel, Sam seized Dean and pulled him towards the door.  His brother was grumbling, but he didn’t resist. 

“We’re leaving, Cas,” Sam called as he pushed Dean in the direction of the exit and dug cash out of his wallet.  Finally, Castiel was moving, abruptly following after Dean, as Sam left a generous amount of money for dinner and drinks on the nearest table.

“Sorry!” Sam yelled in the direction of the bartender, hoping maybe no one would report this.  He didn’t think the bar had any security cameras, but he didn’t like the idea that they had called so much attention to themselves when Castiel was supposed to be keeping a low profile.  He hadn’t even had the damn glasses on.  Awkwardly half-smiling at the people still staring at him, Sam ducked out the door and into the dark street.  No one was there.        

“Crap,” Sam muttered.

It seemed likely that Castiel might have taken Dean back to the motel via angel express.  They didn’t have that much of a head start walking, so if they had traveled by foot Sam should have seen them somewhere.  Sighing, Sam headed towards the motel, walking briskly and thinking how Castiel had asked if he’d mind walking back alone.    

Chapter Text

Dean was a little tipsy and the room spun slightly as he became disoriented, confused at how the sky and wind had disappeared to be immediately replaced with a dimly lit motel interior and still air.  He stumbled, but Castiel’s hands were on him, steadying Dean and at the same time shoving him, so his back collided with the door behind him. Then Castiel was pressing his whole body aggressively against Dean’s, like he wanted them to meld into one being. 

Trapped between the door and the angel, Dean finally registered what was happening and decided he approved.  Castiel kissed Dean ferociously, leaning into him heavily and grabbing at Dean’s ass, hips, and back as he crushed them together.  Dean thought it was safe to assume that Castiel was still a little wound up from their exchange with the assholes at the bar.  Adrenaline had been coursing through Dean as well, but the chill of the night air had abated it somewhat. 

Castiel was assertively kissing Dean and impatiently tugging his outer shirt off.  It fell to the floor behind Dean and immediately Castiel had one hand grasping his short hair and the other pushing his shoulder against the door.  Castiel bit his lip a tad harshly and Dean cursed, moving his hands to grip Castiel, intending to change their positions and take charge, but the angel didn’t want to be moved. He carelessly batted one of Dean’s hands away and caught the other arm in a tight grip, pinning it effortlessly above Dean’s head.

Dean moaned slightly against Castiel’s lips as he tried to move his restrained arm and found he couldn’t.  The idea of Castiel holding him in place was too hot and Dean tried to push the angel away with his free hand, hoping to get in trouble and have it pinned as well.  Allowing himself to be removed, Castiel tore his lips from Dean’s and searched the hunter’s eyes, questioning the hand on his chest holding him an arm’s length away. 

Trying to catch his breath and look at Castiel challengingly, Dean taunted him, willing the angel to understand.

“What?  You think you can be in control, Cas?” Dean smirked, “I dunno if you’re strong enough.”  He punctuated the statement with a wink, hoping Castiel would know it was all in fun.  The angel stared at him for a long moment, eyes boring into Dean’s.  Not breaking eye contact, Dean slowly licked his lips.

“Go on, Cas,” Dean breathed with a mischievous smile, egging Castiel on.

The angel took the bait and slowly curled his fingers around both of Dean’s arms just past the wrists, watching Dean’s expression.  Dipping his head infinitesimally in a nod, Dean encouraged Castiel, who rushed forward, pinning Dean to the door and forcing his arms above his head.  Pausing with his lips barely brushing Dean’s, the angel breathed against Dean’s mouth and murmured.

“You want this.”

The low growl of Castiel’s voice had Dean straining forward eagerly, but Castiel edged back, his lips just out of Dean’s reach.  Who had taught him that!?  It hadn’t seemed like a question, but maybe Cas had been asking permission. 

“Yes,” Dean agreed emphatically.

With that, Castiel dominated Dean with a kiss, while Dean surrendered happily, struggling feebly and savoring the thrill of relinquishing control to someone he trusted implicitly, to someone who could actually overpower him.  Submitting to a supernatural being like Castiel came with an enticing element of danger that Dean found arousing.  He figured it’d be good for both of them.  Castiel could be assertive in a sexual setting and regain some of the power that had previously been taken from him.  The fact that it was insanely hot was simply an added bonus. 

“Caaas,” Dean sighed his name, as Castiel gradually retreated from Dean’s lips, turning his attention to his jaw and neck.  Dean swiveled his head to the side and dropped it back against the door, exposing his throat to Castiel’s tongue and teeth.

There was a banging on the door near Dean’s head.

“Dean?”

“Aw, fuck,” Dean muttered, annoyed, before raising his voice. “Go away, Sam!  We’re good.”

Unperturbed by the interruption, Castiel licked along the shell of Dean’s ear, allowing his teeth to graze the skin just behind the lobe.  He kissed and licked at Dean’s neck, while Dean struggled to remain silent, aware that Sam might not have walked away yet.  Distantly, he thought he heard Sam mumble ‘okay’ and then footsteps. 

Castiel demanded Dean’s attention as he sharply ground his hips against the hunter’s.  Abandoning his grip, Castiel adjusted so that he was bracing both of Dean’s raised arms underneath his one forearm.  All Castiel had to do was lean pressure there and Dean couldn’t really pull free.  This gave Castiel the advantage of a free hand and he wasted no time, cupping Dean’s erection through his jeans and rubbing roughly.

Shamelessly, Dean pushed himself forward into Castiel’s palm, craving more.  The angel’s hand disappeared, slinking under his shirt and Dean’s skin felt electric beneath Castiel’s warm caress.  Castiel smoothed his fingers along Dean’s abdomen and up his chest slowly, skimming over a nipple before arriving at Dean’s clavicle.  Kissing Dean purposefully, Castiel’s tongue invaded his mouth eagerly, as he seized the collar of Dean’s t-shirt from underneath. 

Desperately kissing back, Dean’s attention was elsewhere when he heard a ripping sound and felt cool air on his chest and fabric sliding down his back.  Confused, he glanced down at his chest, which was now bare.  His t-shirt was just gone.  Castiel had torn his fucking shirt off.  It was easily the hottest undressing that Dean had ever experienced and he groaned at his immobility, wanting his hands back so he could put them all over Castiel. 

“Fuck, Cas.  You’re so fucking sexy.”

The angel was busy devouring the sight of Dean’s chest as he trailed his fingertips across his skin.  It changed to a slight scratch of fingernails as Castiel’s hand traveled further south and Dean was just going to lose his mind.  Castiel had dropped his mouth to Dean’s neck and was kissing and sucking at the pulse point there, while deftly undoing Dean’s jeans.  The hunter was trying to reach Castie’s throat with his own tongue, longing to touch him anyway he could.

Tugging Dean’s jeans and boxers down in one strong motion, Castiel stepped back and watched Dean’s reaction as he gripped and held Dean, hot and pulsing in his hand.   Dean stared into Castiel’s eyes and bucked his hips in an attempt to encourage Castiel to move, but the angel opted to torture him more. 

Releasing Dean’s cock, Castiel held his gaze and brought his hand hesitantly to Dean’s mouth.  He brushed two fingers to Dean’s lips and the hunter hurridly licked at the tips.  Emboldened by Dean’s eager response, Castiel inched his fingers closer and Dean sucked both digits into his mouth, pressing his tongue against the pads and licking along the sides. 

Castiel stared at Dean’s mouth, transfixed, during this enthusiastic display and Dean was just glad he could finally participate.  He had to resist smirking around Castiel’s fingers as the angel wet his lips briefly while watching.  Then Castiel abruptly withdrew his fingers, quickly replacing them with his tongue, as he lunged forward, kissing Dean hungrily, and returning his hand to Dean’s cock.    

Dean couldn’t help jerking forward into Castiel’s touch.  He needed the contact, the friction, and Castiel was finally giving it to him with long, slow strokes.  Maintaining the pace, Castiel kissed Dean deeply and possessively until Dean was moaning into his mouth.  Curiously, Castiel cupped Dean’s balls, fondling them and squeezing gently, experimentally, before he returned to his previous efforts. 

“Tighter, Cas.”

The angel increased the strength of his grip and quickened his pace, while kissing Dean with bruising force.  Thrusting his hips to meet Castiel’s movements, Dean tried to free his arms, wanting to grab Castiel so he could mash them further together, but it was a futile effort.  Castiel was jerking Dean incessantly when Dean cursed and gasped the angel’s name into his mouth, breaking the kiss and letting his head thud back against the door. 

Staring raptly at Dean, Castiel’s motions didn’t waver as his eyes drank in Dean’s appearance. The red marks left on his neck, his wide pupils darkening his eyes, the way Dean was biting his bottom lip and gasping, the movements of his arm muscles as he struggled to free himself.  Dean knew Castiel was enjoying watching him come undone and that only made everything hotter.

Stilling his hand, Castiel continued to gaze at Dean and the hunter’s eyes instantly caught his.

“Cas, don’t stop,” Dean panted.

“Move.”

Castiel flexed his fingers around Dean, as he issued the command and the hunter moaned and rapidly thrust into his fist.  The angel watched as Dean fucked into the circle of Castiel’s slick fingers, he observed Dean’s body, his sweaty chest and abdomen as he made frantic movements and tried to lean closer to Castiel.  Exceedingly close to the edge, Dean yearned for more than the angel’s hand.

“Please, Cas,” he gasped, tilting his head back and forth, with his eyes scrunched shut.

Castiel never refused him and so he barreled into Dean, pressing him firmly against the door with his chest, resuming a fast, jerky pace, and kissing Dean covetously.  Finally, Castiel released Dean’s arms, and brought his newly available hand to clutch at Dean’s jaw and hold his head as he determinedly kissed him.  Dean sank into Castiel slightly, as his arms were freed and he scrambled to squeeze the angel tightly against him, grasping at his hair and back.  All he had wanted was to get his hands on Castiel and now that Dean had him he thrust wildly in sync with his friend’s hand and chased his orgasm, wanting nothing more than to come for Cas. 

“Oh, Cas, fuck.”

Yes, yes, yes!  He slid deliciously in Castiel’s hot grip, over and over and licked the angel’s neck.  He had missed Castiel’s skin and now he laid claim to his throat, nibbling and sucking and kissing all the warm smoothness and the rougher, stubble covered terrain.  With a level of skill he shouldn’t yet possess, Castiel pumped his fist over Dean’s cock relentlessly and whispered right next to his ear.

Now, Dean.”

And Dean was finished.  He quivered helplessly in Castiel’s grip as his orgasm engulfed him and Castiel never ceased his motions, jerking Dean as he twitched and came in the angel’s hand.  Dean’s legs were trembling and he collapsed against Castiel, who held him up and kissed him slow and deep. 

Gradually, Dean regained some semblance of control and he was able to remove himself from Castiel’s arms.  He yanked his boxers back up and crouched down to tug his boots off so he could step out of his jeans. He stood up just in time to see that Castiel had brought his spunk covered hand to his mouth and was licking at his fingers inquisitively, with an analytical expression. 

Shit.  Dean gulped and stared for a moment at the sinful sight, before Castiel noticed he was being watched and looked up at Dean, the tips of two fingers still dragging across his bottom lip. 

“Shit, Cas.”

The angel had no business being so sexy.  Dean closed the distance between them and kissed Castiel, tasting himself on the angel’s lips and tongue.  Pressed up against Castiel, holding his face as he licked in his mouth, Dean could feel his half-hard cock.  Feeling a little guilty for having been unable to help Castiel out earlier, Dean pulled off the angel’s jacket and removed his tie. 

There was no way Dean wouldn’t be reciprocating.  Dean prided himself on his sexual prowess and derived great pleasure from satisfying his partner.  He knew precisely what he wanted to do with the angel to pay him back.

“Sit on the bed,” Dean directed, with a slight push of his hand to Castiel’s chest and a nod at the bed.

He sat, while Dean rummaged through his duffle bag for the lube, before making his way back in front of Castiel and dropping the bottle next to him on the blanket.  Standing in front of Castiel so that his legs were between Dean’s, the hunter pressed his hand to Castiel’s shoulder coaxing him to lie back.  Dean climbed onto the bed, above Castiel and kissed him leisurely, slowly undoing the buttons of his shirt before he unbuckled the angel’s belt and loosened his pants.

Turning his attention to Castiel’s jaw line, Dean kissed and licked his way to the angel’s neck and along his collar bone.  Castiel was cradling the back of Dean’s head with one hand while the other rested low on his back, fingertips dipping under the waistband of his boxers.  Tonguing his way down Castiel’s sternum, Dean detoured to lick and suck at both of his nipples, before he resumed his downward trajectory.  He mouthed his way across the warm skin of Castiel’s stomach and skimmed his lips along his hip bones.

Backing off the bed and settling in between Castiel’s knees, Dean pulled his pants and boxers down to his shins.  Castiel’s engorged cock sprang free and Dean felt momentarily doubtful.  He didn’t really know what he was doing, maybe he should have researched.  No, fuck that. Sam was the researcher, Dean was a man of action.  He could do this.  He knew what men liked, well, what he liked.  And at least Cas might not know if he was terrible. 

Castiel was resting on his elbows, watching Dean closely and looking a little nervous.  Dean grinned confidently at him, gripping his cock loosely and pumping his fist twice.

“’Kay, Cas, that’s with no lube or spit or anything.  If I keep doing that, it’ll be rough in a bad way, too dry.  Feel the difference the lube makes.”

After squeezing lube into his hand, Dean made the same motion again.

“Better, right?”

Castiel hummed slightly in response and Dean smirked and kept stroking him, a little tighter.  The angel felt hot and smooth in Dean’s hand and Dean surprised himself by thinking that he looked damn good down here, too.  Dismissing that thought, Dean steeled himself and held Castiel low, bringing his lips to the head of his cock.  Wetting his lips, he took Castiel into his mouth slowly.  The angel’s hips jolted upwards and Dean pulled back, unprepared for the sudden movement.

“Dean!”

“Relax, Cas.”

Dean laid a hand on Castiel, to still his hips, before dropping his head and licking along the length.  This time Castiel kept his body rigid and unmoving.  Taking the angel into his mouth again, Dean tried to get the basics right, sucking as he bobbed his head and moved his fingers in tandem around the base of the shaft.  Castiel had sat up further, watching Dean intensely with his mouth open slightly.  Dean looked back, meeting the angel’s eyes as he tried to swallow him a little further, but it was more difficult than he expected. 

Feeling a little ridiculous with a dick in his mouth, Dean paid attention to Castiel’s reactions instead.  When he swirled his tongue around the head, Castiel bit his lip.  He licked the underside and dipped his tongue into the slit and Castiel moaned.  When he dropped his mouth as far down as he felt comfortable, Castiel surprised him by suddenly grasping at his hair in encouragement and Dean tried to go a bit further.  Pulling back, he sucked hard.

“D—Dean, you—your mouth…”

“Awesome, right?”

“Yes,” Castiel agreed at once and Dean smiled around his cock, before pulling it with a pop from his mouth. 

He got more lube on his hands and slicked Castiel up again, coating his cock and jerking it while dropping his other hand to squeeze and roll Castiel’s balls.  It was partly an excuse to give his mouth a break, but the angel seemed to like it. 

Abruptly, Dean decided he might as well get over all his trepidation in one go and so, while stroking Castiel, he lowered his head and licked at his balls.  It wasn’t as bad as Dean had convinced himself it would be and Castiel was really into Dean’s performance by now.  Not wanting to disappoint, Dean sucked them into his mouth, one at a time, and then licked all the way from his testicles up his cock, before sucking on the head.  Castiel suddenly couldn’t hold his head up any longer and he dropped it back with a breathy, whiny exhale. 

Confident he could elicit additional noise from the angel, Dean went for more familiar territory.  Slowly stroking Castiel, Dean pulled the angel closer to the edge of the bed and pushed his leg up to lick at his ass.  Dicks were brand new to Dean, but he had done this for women before and was more experienced in this realm.  He wasn’t sure how Castiel would react, but he was ready for it.  Just after he started, he could feel the angel shifting uneasily.

“Dean.”

Stilling his hand on Castiel’s cock, Dean looked up at Castiel, who was looking a tad anxious again.     

“It’s okay, Cas.  I’m not gonna hurt you.”

“…I know…”

“Just, relax, man.  Tell me if I should stop, but try to relax and let me make you feel good. Okay?  Trust me.”

Castiel licked his lips.  “Yes.”

Smiling, Dean resumed his lazy strokes and licked at Castiel’s entrance again, tongue flat.  Dean lapped and teased his tongue against Castiel’s hole, swirling around and dipping into the rim.  Stopping to get more lube, Dean was surprised when Castiel pulled at him and lurched forward, kissing Dean needily.  Holding the angel tightly, Dean kissed him back until he seemed a bit calmer. 

“I’m gonna use hands, Cas.  They feel good everywhere else, it’ll be good there too,” Dean promised.

The angel nodded once. 

Dean was certain that he couldn’t physically hurt Castiel—he was an angel, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t gonna be damn sure to go slow and watch out for his friend.  All the danger was in the memory and the emotions that Castiel didn’t always understand. 

Applying lube to Castiel and his fingers, Dean slid one hand over Castiel’s cock and used the other to gently cup and squeeze the angel’s balls.  He dropped his hand lower and touched his fingers to the crease of Castiel’s ass, stroking and rubbing against his perineum and then his warm hole.  Since Castiel felt tense, Dean just kept up the gentle glide over his entrance and took his cock into his mouth again.  Keeping eye contact with Castiel, Dean sucked his hot cock, fisting the section he couldn’t quite cram into his mouth. 

Eventually, Dean suspected that Castiel had sort of forgotten about the fingers pressing and teasing at his ass.  Slowly, Dean increased the pressure, nudging one finger inside as he tried to suck Castiel hard to distract him.  The angel still noticed and he squeezed his eyes shut at the feeling of penetration.

Dean pulled off of Castiel.

“Cas, buddy, hey.  Look at me, focus on me and my mouth. Relax and just keep looking at me.  It’s just me.”

“Dean.”

“Yup.  Relax for me, Cas.”

Castiel zeroed in on Dean, holding his gaze with great intensity.  Dean swallowed Castiel into his mouth again and did his best to pleasure the angel, while not looking at what he was doing.  Cautiously, Dean continued to slide one finger in and out of Castiel, gradually going further.  The angel was so hot and incredibly tight.  Fortunately, Dean had used copious amounts of lube and his slick finger was gliding easily. 

Dean could feel the tension in Castiel’s legs subside as he continued to blow him, slow and easy.  Letting his tongue rest, Dean jerked Castiel until the angel moaned his name.  Certain Castiel was ready, Dean gingerly began adding a second finger, taking his time and returning his mouth to the angel’s cock as a distraction.

The sensation caused Castiel to tense and then squirm slightly, but Dean held his gaze which seemed to ground him.  As Dean continued to lavish attention on Castiel’s cock, he visibly relaxed and Dean was able to properly finger him, with two digits, slowly exploring.  It was satisfying to see that Castiel was enjoying himself.  He had started lifting his pelvis slightly to meet the rhythm of Dean’s mouth and he was propped up on one arm, with his other hand loosely gripping Dean’s hair.            

When Dean stumbled upon Castiel’s prostate, the angel fell back against the bed and writhed under Dean’s touch.  It was awesome and Dean committed the spot to memory, pressing the pads of his fingertips upwards to hit it again.  Castiel whined Dean’s name and trembled.  Maintaining the pace of his fingers, Dean quickened the movements of his mouth, sucking hard and fast.  He could tell Castiel was close, so Dean tried to keep up the rapid motions. 

By this point Dean was undeniably turned on and he was well aware of how sexy Castiel was, twisting before him and gasping.  The hot, slick heat surrounding Dean’s fingers was tight and tempting.  As Dean grazed the sweet spot again, Castiel suddenly clenched around him. The lights in the room flickered and dimmed while Castiel moaned and shook as he climaxed.  Not wanting to be rude, Dean swallowed, stroking and fingering Castiel with his hands, licking at the head of his cock while the angel’s orgasm rushed through him.  Then Castiel was saying his name and grabbing at Dean, forcefully pulling him up to lay alongside him.  The angel kissed Dean endlessly and held him tightly, crushing them together.  His grip was almost too strong and eventually Dean had to break the kiss so he could breathe.

“Calm down, Cas.  You okay?”

Over the past few days Dean felt like he had asked Castiel that question many times and Bobby and Sam had said it as well.  For the first time Dean thought Castiel’s answer was completely genuine, with no unvoiced doubts lingering behind it.

“Yes.  Dean, I’m good.  That was—you were phenomenal.”

Castiel held Dean close, drinking in the features of his face as they breathed against each other’s lips.  Dean found himself somewhat mesmerized by Castiel’s eyes.  He thought he could probably drown in them, awash with the love they contained.  Dean felt sweetly satisfied that he could be the one to restore Castiel’s trust and help him discover that sex could be safe and pleasurable.  It made Dean feel worthwhile to know that he could be that person for his friend. 

If Dean were honest with himself, then he could admit that he had done a lot of things in his life that were important, but, at the moment, he thought healing an angel outranked the rest.  Really, it was the least he could do, Castiel always healed him.  Dean was happy he was capable of returning the favor for once.  He was looking forward to being the person who could continue to help Cas heal.

Realizing he was becoming drowsy, Dean convinced Castiel to move and he cleaned them both up.  After undressing so that he matched Dean’s boxers only attire, Castiel climbed under the covers with him and they kissed.  Spooning the angel, Dean pulled him close and nuzzled into Castiel’s neck as he kissed his warm skin.  His eyelids were drooping, but he was aware of Castiel tracing patterns on his palm before he fell asleep.         

 

xxx

   

The next morning, Dean woke early, feeling well-rested and was surprised that Castiel didn’t stir as he left the bed.  As he showered, Dean wondered if it were possible the angel was getting used to sleeping at night, but that seemed unlikely.  As far as he could tell Castiel was always awake when Dean drifted off and woke up.  Maybe the angel had made a conscious decision to rest, like he did when he needed to heal.

It wasn’t until he went to shave that Dean realized he had a couple hickies that he wouldn’t be able to hide.  Castiel was gonna have to heal them.  He couldn’t pose as an FBI agent looking like this.  There were some bruises as well, where the angel had gripped him too enthusiastically, but Dean just smirked as he looked at them.  His clothing would cover them and it was kind of a hot reminder of the night before. 

Castiel was dressed by the time Dean emerged from the bathroom.  At first the angel didn’t agree that Dean needed the marks healed, telling Dean they didn’t hurt, but Dean managed to convince him it was for appearances. 

“Put them some place else next time and I won’t have to ask you to zap them away.”

“Very well,” Castiel relented, healing Dean with a touch.

The fact that Castiel wanted to leave the marks on him made Dean think of the handprint Castiel had left on his shoulder.  Dean hadn’t considered it a possessive mark before, but now he was rethinking that.  It was sort of a shame it was gone, it had easily been his coolest scar.

He also mended Dean’s shredded t-shirt without being asked.  Dean hadn’t been too concerned about that.  He’d be willing to increase his clothing budget if Castiel decided to continue undressing him that way. 

Dean made and drank the motel coffee.  It was only moderately terrible.  They went to knock up for Sam who was also ready to go. 

Sam seemed pissy and he gave Dean a disapproving look.

“What the hell happened last night?”

“Oh, yeah, sorry for ditching you.”

“I don’t care about that,” Sam said dismissively.  “What happened at the bar?  You guys kind of caused a scene and Cas is supposed to be flying under the radar, remember?”

“Riight, well, I was just trying to play pool and those douchebags started talking shit.  I really think they were just looking for a fight.”

Sam paused before he seemed to decide he should scold Castiel too.

“You got a bit carried away, don’t you think, Cas?  Dean probably could have handled those guys on his own.”

“I definitely could have,” Dean affirmed with a grin.  “Cas was just trying to have my back, right, man?”

Castiel hesitated, looking between the brothers.

“I may have been acting too overprotective, but… I didn’t want them to touch Dean.”

“Yeah, I think everyone got that message, Cas,” Sam sighed.  “Maybe try something more subtle in the future.”

“Give him a break, Sammy.  I doubt we’ll be in another bar fight anytime soon.  And like I said they were trying to make trouble—you can’t always talk your way out of things.”

They dropped the topic and got a quick breakfast before piling into the car to finish the drive to Chicago.  Sam sat up front with Dean, which was fine.  It made sense to take turns, but Dean sort of missed looking across and seeing the angel next to him. 

Once they arrived, they got another motel room and changed into their FBI attire.  It had been a while since they worked a case in a large city.  Dean had forgotten how noisy they were.  They split up to begin their investigation.  Sam went alone to the police station and Dean took Cas with him to the morgue.  It was almost a certainty that grainy photos of Castiel would still be tacked to the ‘most wanted’ board at the police station, so they were going to keep him away from all law enforcement.  Castiel left his coat in the car and put his glasses on without being told.

At the morgue they looked over the reports on the bodies of the two women who supposedly had suffered from symptoms of alcohol withdraw.  They were both in their late twenties and had lived within a couple blocks of each other.  The women both had experienced shakiness, sweating, seizures, and an irregular heart rate, plus a condition called delirium tremens which caused sudden confusion and sometimes made people see or hear things.  The hospital had treated both women with Benzodiazepine which was typical for alcohol withdrawl. 

Teresa Casey was the first victim, she had been killed at the hospital by the second victim, Katherine Farrell, when they had gotten into a physical fight.  Farrell had stabbed Casey in the chest with a pair of scissors, before she died of a seizure.  Neither of the women had seemed to be improving with the treatment they received. 

“Both of these women were healthy,” Castiel said, studying the corpses as Dean looked through the medical file.  “Alcoholism causes damage to the body over time, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease… even high blood pressure, but neither of these women were afflicted that way.”

“Yeah, Sam said they both claimed they weren’t drinkers, not like that anyway.  Oh, get this, blood tests for both of them indicated high levels of oxytocin…  I know that.  We worked a case with a siren a while back that had the same thing, but… this doesn’t sound similar otherwise.”

Dean spoke briefly with the medical examiner while Castiel seemed to be sniffing the bodies.  Dean tried to convey a look that said, ‘cut that shit out’ but he wasn’t sure if he was successful.  So much for assuming Castiel would be more adept at acting normal around dead people.

They met up with Sam, who had only learned that Farrell had no prior arrests.  This murder was the only trouble she had ever really gotten into.  One of the officers had described her as behaving manically.  Farrell had been unrepentant for killing the other woman and hadn’t offered a reason for her actions before she died.  They decided to talk to witnesses and staff at the hospital next. 

Dean swept the room Farrell had been in for EMF while Sam chatted with one of the nurses and Castiel kept the new occupant engaged with a string of irrelevant questions.  The room was clean, but both women had already been displaying their misleading symptoms when they arrived, so Dean wasn’t too surprised.

Sam beckoned them out into the hall.

“The nurse said both women seemed to be cracking up, not eating, not sleeping, just miserable, like they had given up.  They had to be given IVs to make sure they got enough fluids.”

“So, what? Were they depressed?”

“Maybe,” Sam shrugged.  “The nurse said they would cry, sometimes for hours.  The woman, Casey, she smashed the TV when someone put it on to try and distract her.”

“What show?”

“I did ask that.  He wasn’t sure.”

Castiel frowned.  “Why would the show matter?”

“You never know when you’re working a case.  Sometimes dumb stuff like that might give us clues.”

Sam nodded in agreement.  “I’ve got their addresses.  We’ve got a roommate and a sister to talk to.  Want to do more interviews today?”

“No way.  We already skipped lunch, let’s just get something to eat, do some research and start fresh with that tomorrow,” Dean suggested.

 

Dean had just taken a sip of his second pint of beer when Castiel broke the quiet.

“Is this an Irish bar?”

“Yeah, what tipped you off?” Dean asked sarcastically, glancing at the obviously Irish décor.

“And the victims, they both had Irish names?”

Setting down his fork, Sam nodded at Castiel. 

“I noticed that too.  Teresa Casey and Katherine Farrell, they both lived in this neighborhood, Mount Greenwood, it’s got a large Irish population.  Do you think it’s relevant?”

“If they weren’t alcoholics, then what was causing their withdrawl symptoms?”

“That’s what we have to figure out, Cas.  We need more info,” Sam explained, as he dug in his pocket and produced his phone.  “I can give Bobby a call and tell him what we have so far, but it‘s not much to go on.  Hopefully, we’ll get more tomorrow to work with.”

“I think I know what it is,” Castiel revealed, while the brothers looked at him in surprise. 

“What?” Sam asked, a little shocked.

“Ghancanagh. Fae in nature and of Irish origins.”

“Fae?  Like friggin’ fairies?  Spare me,” Dean scoffed.

Sam waved a hand at Dean to shush him.  “Well, what does it do? Why do you think it’s a Ghan… Ghancanagh?”

“Ghancanagh appears as a beautiful man, a smooth talker.  Women cannot resist his charms.  He seduces them for a night or two and then leaves.”  Castiel paused and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose.  “His lovers are brokenhearted and desperate to find him.  The oxytocin, I think it was produced in response to the toxin he secretes.  The women are withdrawing from the high he was able to give them.”

Dean smiled at the look of disbelief on Sam’s face.

“Cas… Did you just save us hours of research?”  Dean gave Sam an open-mouthed grin of mock amazement.  “Is he awesome or what?”

“It sounds like it could fit,” Sam admitted slowly.  “So, their symptoms of withdrawl were because they were essentially addicted to this ghancanagh and he left them?  And the nurse said they weren’t eating…”

“Heartbreak.  They were distraught at being abandoned,” Castiel confirmed.

“What about Farrell killing Casey?” Dean reminded them, wiping crumbs from his mouth. 

“I imagine the women met at the hospital, realized they were both in love with the same man and fought over him.  It’s not unheard of where the ghancanagh is concerned.  The women are so hooked that fighting to death over his love would seem natural.”

Impressed, Dean clapped Castiel on the shoulder, smiling.  “Sounds like solid detective work to me.  How’d you know that?”

“Balthazar.  He found Ghancanagh interesting, amusing.  I think he admired his lifestyle.”

“Did he happen to mention what would kill it?” Dean asked hopefully.

“No, but an angel blade would likely work.”

“I’ve gotta call Bobby.  See if he can dig up any info on Ghancanagh,” Sam said, as he rose from the table to make the call. 

Dean finished his beer and paid the bill.  Together he and Castiel walked out front where Sam was pacing and talking to Bobby.  They returned to the motel and Sam disappeared into his room to search online for more information.  Unlike his brother, Dean was ecstatic to have avoided what would probably have been a whole day lost to researching.  Sam loved that sort of stuff though.

Locking the door and pulling the curtains closed, Dean secured the room and looked around at Castiel who was perusing a pamphlet with motel information. 

“You know, if you’re right about this, you saved us from a day of boredom, doing nonsense research,” Dean pointed out, stepping towards him. 

The pamphlet must have been more interesting than what Dean had to say, because Castiel didn’t look up.  Not wanting to be ignored, Dean moved closer and put out a hand to ease the material away from Castiel.  Looking up, Castiel regarded Dean inquisitively.

“I should really thank you for that, Cas,” Dean hinted seductively.

Tilting his head about 30 degrees, Castiel responded, “There’s no need to thank me, Dean.  I’m always willing to share informa—”

“No, Cas.  I want to thank you,” Dean stressed.

Castiel seemed to realize he was missing something, but, apparently, he didn’t know what it was.

“Okay,” he said slowly, uncomprehendingly.

Dean had moved very close to the angel, but he didn’t back up.  He was searching Dean’s expression, trying to understand.  It was adorable.

How can I thank you, Cas?”

Dean whispered the question and Castiel started to look agitated.

“Dean, I don’t—”

“You can’t think of any way I could thank you?” Dean questioned, sincerely amused.

Rather than answer, Castiel furrowed his brow and Dean grinned, deciding to take pity on him. 

“Okay, I have an idea,” Dean murmured, closing the space between them and tipping the clueless angel’s chin up a tad to kiss him. 

Finally, Castiel got it, or if he didn’t understand the connection, at the very least he seemed content to be kissing.  He slid his hands around Dean’s waist, pulling him gently closer.

Drawing back slightly, Dean teased, “Now, that’s just one example of many possible ways to thank you.”

“I like your ideas, Dean.”

Castiel returned his lips to Dean’s and walked him backwards to the bed.  When Dean’s legs collided with the mattress, he sat and pulled Castiel down with him.  Leaning backwards, Dean maneuvered them into a horizontal position and the men kissed lazily, taking their time, and slowly exploring each other’s mouths.  There was no reason to rush and Dean decided it was fitting that he could use this time to experimentally kiss Castiel and determine his preferences.  It was exactly the type of research Dean could get behind.       

Chapter Text

Katherine Farrell had lived on a third floor walk-up above a café.  She had one roommate, Maya Itami, a petite woman who answered the door and looked up at the three men in surprise.  After carefully examining their FBI credentials, she reluctantly let them in and Sam smiled at her in a reassuring way, before he started with questions.  

The living room and kitchen were clean and cheery.  Dean wandered and discreetly produced the EMF reader.  Castiel was standing nearby, listening as Sam interviewed Maya, who was sounding a bit confused by the line of questioning about cold spots and abnormal behavior.

“Katherine claimed she wasn’t an alcoholic, could you comment on her drinking habits?”

“I didn’t think she was.  I mean, sure, she’d have a beer or a cocktail when she went out, but I never even saw her come home tipsy.  I drink wine, but as far as I know Kathy didn’t even keep any alcohol in the apartment.  Definitely more of a social drinker,” Maya finished, distractedly looking at Castiel, who was touching the suncatchers in the window.                 

Sam flipped a page in his notebook and Castiel turned from the window with a question.

“Did your roommate have sexual relations with anyone new prior to her admittance to the hospital?”

“Um, I don’t know.  We didn’t really talk about things so… directly.  I think she met someone?  She was in an exceptionally good mood for a few days before she sort of went the other way and started with the symptoms.  She actually accused me of sabotaging her love life.  Exact words, but, like I said, we didn’t really talk about her relationships.  I thought the paranoia was part of her symptoms?  We were never close, but we didn’t really fight.”

Waiting a moment to see if Castiel had a follow-up question, Sam took over again.  “Did she mention a name or where she met this guy?” 

Shaking her head, Maya answered no.  “How is this even a case?  Is it because she killed that other woman?”

Dean had appeared back in the living room.  “Family friend in high places, wanted to be thorough.” 

Producing a card, Sam thanked the woman and they left.  Back on the street, Dean ducked into the coffee shop while Castiel stood out front with Sam.  It was breezy out and the street was busy with people.  Castiel thought Sam was looking at him and was trying to decide if he should look back or say something when Sam’s cell phone rang.

“Agent Gamgee.”

Sam took a few steps away and Castiel felt grateful for the interruption.  He had never considered standing alone with Sam to be a challenge, but now he felt like there was a current of expectation when it was just the two of them.  Castiel had never been one to talk to fill the silence and regardless, he didn’t have much to say to Sam.   It was difficult and the quiet between them seemed strained, but Castiel didn’t know what to do about that.

Dean reappeared with two coffees and he made Castiel hold one while Sam was on the phone.  They started walking towards Teresa Casey’s apartment since it was only a few blocks away.  Sam hung up and plucked the coffee from Castiel’s hand. 

“That was the nurse I spoke with at the hospital.  He called to tell me that a man who was admitted yesterday seems to be developing all the same symptoms and tendencies that the first two vics had.  Are we still sure this is ghancanagh?  When I talked to Bobby this morning he said all the lore he could find was about seducing women.  How does this match up?”

“I don’t think it would make any difference,” Castiel answered.  “As long as the ghancanagh can seduce his victims and infect them with toxins, biological sex characteristics shouldn’t matter.”

“We’ve seen monsters adapt before,” Dean added. 

“True,” Sam conceded.  “Well, we need to figure out how to find this thing, fast.  It’s still claiming victims.”

Castiel stepped around a puddle and then out of the way of a woman trotting past them.  “Those infected shouldn’t die if we kill it.”  Someone bumped into Castiel and he frowned, unaccustomed to walking far in populous cities.

“All that means is we’re under a time crunch to gank this dick,” Dean said, raising his voice so both men could hear him, since they had to walk single file down the crowded sidewalk. 

They didn’t speak much until they arrived at Teresa Casey’s apartment.  Fortunately her sister, Teagan was at home and she knew a lot more about what was going on in Teresa’s life than the other vic’s roommate had.  She knew her sister had talked about a handsome man named Finn, whom she hadn’t met.  Evidently, her sister had suddenly fallen out of contact with the man and had been searching for him.  She had even talked about hiring a private detective since she was desperate to find him. 

Castiel observed Dean as he strolled around the apartment and popped into Teresa’s bedroom.  He wasn’t sure what sort of things Dean might be looking for that he would consider clues.  Dean emerged from Teresa’s room and waited for Teagan to finish answering Sam’s current question.  He spoke up in a light tone, raising his coffee cup.

“’S a good dark roast, you ever been to Maria’s Café?  We passed it on the way here.”

Teagan blinked at him, “Uh, yes, often.  Teresa was always going there since she passed it on the way to work.  I went sometimes too.  They have really tasty scones.”

Dean nodded.  “How’s the pie?” 

“Ahh, I don’t know,” she smiled at him.  “I’m not crazy about pie.”

“Well, I think you’ve answered all our questions.  Call if you think of anything unusual we should know about,” Dean said, holding out his card and pointedly ending the interview.

Dean explained that he had seen empty coffee cups in the trash in Teresa’s bedroom.  They were clearly from Maria’s café, which was located beneath Katherine’s apartment.  It was their only lead on something that connected the two women and Dean had a feeling that maybe both women had met the ghancanagh there.

They hurried back to the café, stopping at the Impala parked nearby. 

“I dunno, Dean, do you think the ghancanagh would come back here since he knew the people he infected would be desperately searching for him?” Sam wondered.

“He would,” Castiel affirmed.  “He should be able to shield himself from those trying to find him.  Fae often only appear to those they want to see them.  I’ll go in.  If he’s there, I’ll be able to distinguish him from the humans.”

“Well, what’s the plan if he’s in there?  Can’t gank him at the café.”

Somehow it was decided that the best course of action would be for one of them to approach the ghancanagh and convince him to go back to their motel room.  Castiel thought it should be him, since he was likely insusceptible to the toxin, but he couldn’t imagine what he would say to lead him out of there.

“How would we convince him to go with one of us?”

“And that, Cas, is why you won’t be the one acting as bait,” Dean explained.  “You don’t even know when I’m flirting with you.”

Castiel frowned as Dean continued. 

“Besides he might notice you’re not human and take off.”

“I think you’re best qualified for this, Dean.  You’re a huge flirt anyway.  You and ghancanagh would have a lot in common if women cared that you left them afterwards.”

“Shut up, Sam.”

Castiel didn’t like the idea of using Dean as bait.  “I don’t like this plan.”

Sam glanced at Dean before he responded, “Well, you can be the one to stab him then, Cas.  You’ll have your angel blade and I’ll use our iron sword.  Bobby thinks that’ll work too.” 

 

The three of them went into the café together.  There were arm chairs and a sofa situated around a small fireplace.  Several little tables were surrounded by chairs on the other side of the room.  It smelled delicious inside.  Dean ordered pie and coffee while Castiel scanned the room.  Sam led them to a table in the corner so they’d have a decent vantage point to see.  Castiel sat with his back to the wall with Sam and Dean on either side of him.

“That’s him.  By the fire.”

Sam and Dean took turns discretely glancing in that direction. 

“The dude in the scarf with the electronic cigarette?” Dean asked as he brought a forkful of pie to his lips. 

“That’s him.”

“You sure, Cas?  He’s all right looking, but he’s no Doctor Sexy,” Dean said skeptically. 

“Actually, that fits the lore, Dean,” Sam said quietly, before sipping his coffee.  “He’s usually seen with a pipe, but he doesn’t smoke it, it just makes him seem more suave.  And he likes to sit by fireplaces.  Plus, I think you’d have to, like, engage him to be irresistibly drawn in.  That’s the impression I got.”

Dean didn’t seem at all perturbed by the plan, he just kept eating his pie.  Castiel tried to take comfort in the fact that this was what Sam and Dean did.  They hunted monsters. 

“Should be easy,” Dean said, shrugging.  “Do a bit of flirting, drive him to the motel, Cas’ll fly the two of you and we take care of him inside.  You got your spare key on you to get into the trunk?” 

Sam double checked his wallet.  “Yup. We’re good.”

“All right, go wait down the street or something.  I don’t want an audience.”  Dean waved his hand, dismissing them.  Sam got up and Castiel followed his lead, stealing a glance at Dean before he walked out the door.

They crossed the street and walked a couple of buildings away, loitering in front of a laundromat.  Sam pretended to be on his cell phone and he told Castiel not to stare directly at the café.   Leaning up against the wall next to Sam, Castiel turned his head downwards, while periodically casting his eyes back up the street. 

It seemed to Castiel like they should have spent more time planning their course of action.  He didn’t often rush into unknown situations, but that was sort of Dean and Sam’s specialty.  The ghancanagh’s motives were concerning to Castiel; he was going to seduce Dean.  That was a disturbing thought, but Castiel wouldn’t allow Dean to be harmed.  Of course the ghancanagh didn’t want to harm Dean at all, he just wanted to have sex with him, to poison Dean into loving him.  No, Castiel didn’t like this plan at all.

“How long does it take to proposition someone for sex?”

“Cas, it’s been like three minutes.  Dean’s not that good.”

“I’m uncomfortable with this plan.”

“I know.  You’re jealous.  Just calm down, it’ll work.”

Jealous.  Castiel didn’t know if that was true.  He had never been envious before, but this situation was unprecedented.  Still, his concern for Dean most likely fell under the broad banner of protectiveness.  Castiel hoped that, maybe, the ghancanagh wouldn’t be interested in Dean, but that seemed unlikely since Dean was such an incomparably perfect specimen.  They waited and Castiel felt impatient. 

Finally, Dean emerged from the café and he wasn’t alone.  He had an arm slung around the dark haired ghancanagh and even from a distance Castiel could make out the lighthearted expression on Dean’s face as he laughed.  At once Castiel knew that Dean wasn’t acting, that the fae had already infected him and he felt a swell of possessiveness as the two of them crossed the street walking in sync. 

“Sam,” Castiel growled.

“Don’t panic, Cas.  This doesn’t change the plan.  Dean will still take him back to the motel room and oh, shit.”

Castiel watched the scene Sam was reacting to unfold before him with malice on his mind.  The ghancanagh had backed Dean against the Impala.  They were pressed close together and each had hands on the other.  Dean pulled keys from his jacket and happily handed them over.  When the creature rewarded Dean with a brief kiss, he looked jubilant and they both climbed into the front of the car. 

“Cas, put the blade away,” Sam hissed, crowding in front of the angel to try and block him from view. “You can’t kill him on the street in broad daylight.”

Objectively, Castiel could see the logic in Sam’s reasoning, but it didn’t make him feel any better.  He concealed his weapon that he couldn’t remember consciously drawing. 

“Dean isn’t driving.  We don’t know where it’ll take him,” Castiel tried to remain calm, but he could hear the flare of anger in his voice.

“I bet they still go to the motel, if he took victims back to his place, then they would be able to find him after he ditches them,” Sam reasoned, but Castiel wasn’t interested in the man’s conjectures.  He had to be certain. 

“I’ll come back for you, Sam.”  The Impala had only just started down the street, but Castiel flew to catch up with it.  He heard Sam curse as he disappeared. 

Even though he was shielded from view, it was still a risk to appear in the backseat.  In theory, Castiel surmised that he was strong enough to avoid detection from the ghancanagh, but in practice he couldn’t know for sure.  Fortunately his silent arrival drew no reaction, and he was subjected to the vision of Dean sitting in the middle of the seat, right next to the ghancanagh, purring in his ear as he drove.  Dean had one hand in his hair while the other was hidden from Castiel’s view and he tried not to imagine where it could be. 

Trying to ignore the cloying words Dean was murmuring—words Castiel was confident the hunter would likely never utter on his own—Castiel drove the thought of killing this fae creature, right now, in the car, from his mind.  To do so would risk damage to the car and possibly to Dean if they crashed.  As it was, Dean wasn’t technically in danger at the moment.  He had already been infected and that was the only harm the ghancanaga really caused.  

Intending to simply observe in order to ascertain where they were going, Castiel still found it challenging to refrain from interfering.  Venomous thoughts plagued him as if he were the one who had been exposed to something toxic.  Perhaps Sam was correct in calling him jealous, but it was more than that.  Dean might not be in danger, but he had lost control of his faculties and his thoughts and words were essentially coerced.  It made Castiel uncomfortable to envision where these artificial actions would lead.  Knowing that Dean was being manipulated into expressing feigned affection did little to alleviate the flood of anger Castiel felt when the hunter started kissing the neck of the ghancanaga.  It made it worse.

Fuming, Castiel suppressed his impulsively violent thoughts.  He was certain they were going to the motel; they had gotten close to the area it was located in.  Reluctantly, Castiel flew back to Sam.

“What did you do, Cas?”  Sam demanded in an irritated tone.

“I observed.  They’re almost at the motel.  We should go.” 

Without waiting for Sam to reply, Castiel touched his arm and they appeared in the motel room he had been sharing with Dean. 

“Okay,” Sam began, as Castiel looked to him for the plan.  “Here’s what we do.  We want to take this guy by surprise just in case he has any other powers. We can’t give him a chance to work any magic against us.  You wait in the bathroom, Cas.  I’m gonna stay outside so I can get a weapon out of the trunk after they come in.  You wait, Cas.  Wait for me to come through the door, the ghancanaga will be distracted by me.  You’re much faster, so when you hear the door, come out and stab him from behind.” 

Sam was peering out the window, scanning for the Impala. 

“Any questions?”

“No,” Castiel said brusquely, crossing the room and removing his bothersome glasses.  He shut himself in the bathroom, feeling edgy as he heard Sam exit the room.  His only option was to wait and follow the plan. 

It wasn’t long before he heard the Impala’s familiar engine, snatches of conversation that he wasn’t sure he wanted to hear, and finally, mercifully, the sound of the door unlocking.  Dean’s voice became louder as he and the ghancanagh stumbled across the threshold, but then Castiel could no longer hear either of them talking.  He hefted his blade and gripped it fiercely, laying a hand lightly on the doorknob, ready to spring into action and silently willing Sam to move more quickly. 

Distinctly, he could hear the springs of the mattress as someone fell across it and in that instant Castiel was about to abandon the plan, but then he heard Sam come crashing noisily in through the door.  Launching himself into the main room, Castiel took in the entire scene before him in a less than a second.  Sam had indeed gotten the attention of the ghancanagh and the creature was turned in his direction, slamming Sam backwards without touching him.  Dean was looking dazed on the bed with his jacket off, his t-shirt slightly rucked up, and his belt undone.  Castiel thought his expression was turning angry, like he just realized someone meant to harm his newfound love.  But none of that mattered, since Castiel had already sunk his blade into the back of the ghancanagh.  To be thorough, he twisted his wrist sharply and withdrew his weapon, prepared to plunge it into the front of the fae as well.  It wasn’t necessary however, the ghancanagh was slumping and emiting a green white light which slowly dulled.

Sam was uncoordinatedly getting up from where he had crashed against the wall.  He seemed unharmed and Castiel returned his attention to Dean who had a hand covering his face.

“Dean.  Are you all right?”  Castiel asked, forcing his voice to be calm. 

“Uggh,” Dean groaned.  “Killer headache.  Think I might puke.”

Slowly, Dean sat up on the edge of the bed and lowered his hand, blinking at Castiel and then turning to look at Sam and the cracked drywall behind him.

“You good, Sammy?”

“Yeah, good,” Sam answered rubbing his shoulder.

Castiel moved forward intending to heal Dean, but the hunter waved him away. 

“Too much crazy mojo magic crap already, Cas.  Just lemme be for a minute.  Heal Sam.”

Castiel stepped closer to Sam and healed him.

“Did he scratch my baby?”

Sam laughed, “I don’t know, but you must have had it bad.  Handed those keys right over.”

“Ugh, don’t remind me.  New rule, no monsters in the Impala.”

Sam started to ask about disposing of the body, but Castiel interrupted to point out that the fae was already fading, unable to will himself to stay visible in their realm.  Both hunters watched in silence as the ghancanagh disappeared from view.

Kicking his foot at the empty space where the fae had just been, Sam shook his head.  “I wish all our bodies could be so easily taken care of.”

“I gotta sleep this off.  Gimme like an hour,” Dean said, holding his head.

Sam agreed and started to leave.  He lingered in the doorway, looking back, but left when he seemed to realize Castiel had no intention of leaving with him. 

“At least let me ease the pain in your head,” Castiel requested, not liking to see Dean wincing as he pulled out of his boots and moved to lay properly on the bed.

Castiel wanted to heal Dean completely.  He wanted to wash any lingering toxins from his system.  Selfishly, he wanted to cover Dean in kisses and claim him as his own.  He could see a very faint blemish left on Dean’s neck by the ghancanagh and Castiel wanted to obliterate it from his skin and replace it with his own mark.  

“Nah, I’m good.  Just wanna lie here.”

Resigning himself to honoring Dean’s request, Castiel stood silently at the end of the bed, gazing fondly at Dean’s smattering of freckles, the curvature of his lips, the shape of his jaw. Dean’s eyelids fluttered and he cracked open an eye to peek at Castiel. 

“Cas, buddy, I know you like to watch, but come lie down.

Pleased that Dean was soliciting his presence, Castiel removed his jacket and shoes and climbed into bed next to the hunter.  The view was even better close up. 

Dean rolled on to his stomach, with his head turned on the pillow so that he was still looking in Castiel’s direction despite his closed eyes.  Uncertain if he would be disturbing Dean, Castiel hesitantly brought his hand to Dean’s back and smoothed gentle strokes in between his shoulder blades.  Castiel found it comforting whenever Dean rubbed his back, so it seemed like the right thing to do.  Dean made a noise of contentment and mumbled, “’S nice.”

Castiel continued to tenderly brush his hand along Dean’s back and kept it up long after the hunter had dozed off.

Chapter Text

The first thing Dean became aware of was the warm hand caressing his back.  He blinked and shifted slightly, raising his head to look back at Castiel who was predictably staring at him.  Castiel removed his hand as Dean rolled onto his side.

“How long was I asleep?”

“For 78 minutes.  Do you feel better?”

“Yeah,” Dean mumbled, sitting up and pulling his boots on.

“I didn’t like the ghancanagh touching you.”

“That makes two of us,” Dean said, as Castiel came walking around to his side of the bed.

“You’re certain you’re all right?”

Dean sighed and ran a hand through his hair.  He glanced up at Castiel and the obvious concern in his expression halted Dean’s initial inclination to snap at Cas for fussing over him. 

“I’m sure, Cas.  Sleeping fixed me right up.”

He did feel a lot better.  It had been a little embarassing to him that the ghancanagh had infected him so easily.  He remembered everything that had happened.  Things had been going well in the café as he boldly smooth-talked a man, but it had only taken one touch from the creature for Dean to lose control.  After that he could only remember his actions and feeling a blissful sense of peace with underlying flashes of lust and devotion.  All he had wanted was to do whatever that damn fae suggested.  At the time it had been extremely satisfying, but when Castiel had killed the bastard, Dean felt like all his subdued emotions had come rushing over him all at once.

It was weird to consider that he had his hands all over some dude who wasn’t Cas.  The memory of macking on some supernatural monster pissed Dean off.  He had been busy sucking face when Sam had burst in and good thing Sam hadn’t waited any longer, because things had been headed in a direction he definitely didn’t want to think about.  

The plan to flirt with the ghancanagh hadn’t been too off-putting since Dean considered most of what he and Sam did while hunting to be bullshit.  They BSed their way through everything and, yes, in the past Dean had harmlessly flirted with guys on occasion to get what they needed, which was usually information.  It was all part of the job, it made him a good hunter, a master manipulator.  The plan had been to flirt and drive the ghancanagh to the apartment, not to fondle him in the car and lick the fucker’s neck.  Dean didn’t need to get a reputation for messing around with guys.  He wondered what Sam thought of the whole thing.  At least he and Cas didn’t see much. 

“Stay here, Cas.  I’m gonna go knock up for Sam.  See what he wants to do.”

Castiel looked curiously at Dean before he agreed.

 

 

 

First, Dean checked on his baby and apologized for letting some scumbag drive her. Thankfully,  he couldn’t see any scratches or damage.  He had been too preoccupied during the drive to notice how the fae had been handling her, but he almost wished the bastard weren’t dead so he could be the one to gank him for stealing his ride.    

He went a couple doors down to tell Sam he was up.  His brother let him into the room and sat down next to an open paperback book that he had laid against the bed to hold his page.

“How’s your head?”

“Good.”

“Did Cas kiss it better?”

Dean did a double-take, glaring at his brother.

“No! What the fuck, Sam?  Of course, he didn’t.  The Hell’s the matter with you?”

Sam looked angrily at Dean for a moment, before his expression softened into a pathetically sad one. 

“Nothing.  Sorry. I just—I don’t know what I’m doing here,” Sam sighed, briefly covering his face with both his hands, before he smoothed them through his hair, tucking the too-long strands behind his ears. 

“What are you talking about?”

“You and Cas.  I feel like an uber third wheel.  I didn’t really help on this case and I’ve just been alone in the motel room and Cas wants nothing to do with me, so I don’t know.  Maybe I should leave.”

“Wait,” Dean interrupted.  “Did Cas say that?”

“No, of course not.  He doesn’t have to say it, but I’m the fucking monster who raped him.  Why would he want me around?  You’re helping Cas and what am I doing?  Despite my best efforts, I’m still hurting him.  Sitting around in my clothes was enough to freak him out the other day.”

“Shut up, Sam.  Listen.  First of all, this case, Cas got lucky knowing what monster it was.  It would have been a bitch researching it without you.  And no way can Cas replace you as a hunter.  That idiot is shit at talking to people and that’s what we do 90 percent of the time.  So I need you here, too.” 

Dean paused, considering what to say.  “I thought you and Cas patched things up between you?” 

“Sure, we’ve talked about stuff, but, what I did to him… it’s a difficult reality to live with.”

“Well, you can’t just run from it, Sam.  I’ll talk to Cas.”    

“No, Dean.  He hasn’t done anything.  It’s my issue.  Besides, you two seem to be doing well.  I don’t want my crap to mess it up.”

Dean frowned, feeling distinctly uncomfortable. 

“It’s not really like that, Sam,” Dean said embarrassed.  “This thing with Cas, it’s not…”

Dean had trailed off, uncertain how he wanted to finish his sentence, but before he could get around to it Sam jumped in.

“Don’t do that, Dean,” Sam huffed impatiently.  “Don’t be an idiot about Cas.  We’ve got enough issues.  Don’t start clinging to denial now.”

“I’m not,” Dean denied, though he wasn’t certain what he was objecting to.

They looked at each other in irritation for a minute before Sam changed the subject.

“I called the hospital,” Sam said.  “The guy who we thought might be infected got better.  So I guess you’re not feeling anything weird anymore either?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.  You have’t been researching?  Should we head back to Bobby’s or hang around, look for another case?  Either way, you’re not taking off alone.  And were you complaining about having your own room?”

“Well, I was, but I take it back now that you stopped in to remind me how annoying you are,” Sam joked.

“Bitch.”

“Jerk.”

“Let’s just go eat.”

 

 

 

The three of them found a place to eat.  They were a bit early for dinner, but they had managed to skip lunch again somehow, so Dean was plenty hungry.  It was a small bar that seemed to be a family place.  There were younger kids playing pool and a band was setting up equipment to perform later.  There weren’t too many tables, but they found an empty booth. 

Dean ordered a drink immediately.  He deserved one after the day he had.  He ordered a beer for Castiel as well since it gave the angel something to do while they ate.  It was hard to be certain, but Dean thought the waitress made a surprised face when Dean told her what Cas was having.  In the future he’d have to tell Cas to order for himself.  That would definitely be more normal.  Sam ordered a beer as well and they both chose roast beef sandwiches when the waitress said it was their specialty.

Thinking about what Sam had said earlier, Dean tried to determine if Castiel was treating his brother differently then how he had in the past.  He thought Sam might be overreacting.  Castiel would still look at Sam and he spoke to him.  Sure, the angel didn’t say much, but he had never had terribly lengthy interactions with Sam in the past. 

Trying to force the two of them into conversation, Dean told Sam to tell Castiel about sirens, since they were similar to the ghancanagh.  Dean didn’t know if Castiel knew about sirens or not, but he listened when Sam started talking about the one they had encountered and rambling on about the lore.  Castiel asked a few follow up questions and Dean felt satisfied that he was behaving normally.  When he suggested a second topic to Sam, his brother went along with it again, but when he made an attempt to steer the two of them into a third discussion, Sam made a face at Dean and changed the subject.  That was probably for the best since Dean was getting sick of hearing him babble about shit he already knew anyway. 

The band started up before they left and they were playing covers that Dean actually could enjoy.  They started with a Kansas song, followed by Led Zeppelin, and then Styx.  Dean was considering staying to see what else they might play, but then he realized the loud music had killed off conversation at the table and he knew Sam wasn’t interested in hearing the same songs Dean played all day when they drove.  Castiel, of course, had just been sitting up straight in his seat, staring at Dean who had been drumming his hands on the table.  Dean needed to find some friends who knew how to relax and have a good time.

They got up to leave and Dean stole Castiel’s beer, downing the last of it so it wouldn’t go to waste.  For some reason it hadn’t seemed like a strange idea until Sam looked at him with his eyebrow raised.  Well, whatever, it was perfectly good beer. When they got  back to the motel, Dean invited himself and Cas into Sam’s room.  He wanted to play poker with them both, but Sam opted to waste time on his laptop.  So Dean settled for teaching Castiel how to play blackjack, which the angel grasped annoyingly quickly.  When Dean lost his fifth hand in a row he heard Sam snicker and wondered if the angel was cheating.  He’d have to play again with Cas sometime and see how he did then.  If he was really that good, they might have to make a special trip to Vegas.  Taking an angel to Sin City, yup, nothing wrong with that idea. 

He decided it was time to ditch Sam.  He had been trying to keep his brother company since he was weirdly lonely or whatever, but Sam wasn’t even paying much attention to them.  They said goodnight, even though it was still early, and Dean led Castiel back to their room.

Throughout dinner Castiel had kept a hand on Dean’s leg almost the whole time, which had irritated Dean at first since they were in public.  Then Dean had realized that Castiel’s grip had tightened when they talked about the ghancanagh and he decided he could let the angel be a bit possessive if it made him feel better.  He really kind of wanted Castiel to smother him in kisses and hoped that the angel would be in a similar mood when they got back to the room.

Once Castiel had locked the door behind him, Dean trapped him against it, with his hands flat on the door on either side of Castiel’s head as he kissed the angel slowly.  Immediately, Castiel wrapped his hands around Dean’s waist, pulling him closer and letting Dean into his mouth.  Dean let himself get lost in the kiss, only caring that it was Cas and that he tasted so good.  It was so much better than kissing that stupid fae earlier. 

Dean laid his hands on Castiel, cupping his face and then sliding one hand back to flit through the hair at the base of his neck, while the other slid down his jaw and settled along his throat.  Leaning into Castiel, Dean savored the feel of his friend’s hands slipping under his shirt and traveling up his back.  Dean kissed the angel a bit more insistently, mentally exchanging the ghancanagh’s touches with Castiel’s.  He had his fingers spread across the side of Castiel’s neck, directing his jaw with his thumb and index finger.  Dean didn’t realize that he was holding Castiel’s throat a little too forcefully until the angel easily pulled his hand away, rerouting Dean to his chest. 

Knowing that he had made Castiel uncomfortable, Dean’s first thought was that he should stop and ask if he was okay.  However, Castiel didn’t seem interested in stopping.  When Dean drew back briefly the angel followed him, occupying his lips with more sweet, hot kisses.  So Dean decided he must not be that upset and settled for licking and kissing Castiel’s neck in apology, dragging his tongue across his adam’s apple as he tilted his head back.

Castiel kissed Dean and seized his jacket, pushing it and his other long-sleeved shirt off his shoulders, tugging impatiently when they caught around Dean’s wrists.  Moving to aid Castiel’s efforts to undress him, Dean got the items off, but before he could take Castiel in his arms again, the angel was pulling Dean’s t-shirt off too.  Dean allowed it to be removed and Castiel’s hands were on his chest at once, dancing across his skin like he couldn’t decide where it would be best to stop them. 

Dean hastened to undo the buttons on Castiel’s shirt, cursing into his mouth as he fumbled through them.  Why were there so many?  He’d definitely need to make it a priority to get Cas some simpler clothing.  When Dean finally reached the last button, Castiel eagerly pulled his shirt off and actually moaned when Dean was finally touching his skin, pressing forward into Dean’s hands.  Grinning, Dean ran his palms around to Castiel’s back, pulling him closer and grabbing the angel’s ass.  As Dean drove their hips together, he could feel the bulge in Castiel’s pants against his. 

Castiel had been busy sucking at Dean’s throat and he recognized that the angel was kissing over the same area that the ghancanagh had been earlier.  That was fine with Dean.  If anyone was gonna be leaving marks on his neck, it should be Castiel.  Groping at Castiel’s ass with one hand, Dean worked the other one through the angel’s hair, gently holding him against his neck.  Slowly, Castiel inched his fingers up Dean’s spine and over his shoulder blades.  Then he was firmly gripping Dean’s biceps and he swiftly switched positions with the hunter, so that Dean was between the angel and the door.  Somehow Castiel’s displays of power never failed to turn Dean on and he swept forward to claim the angel’s mouth, seeking out his tongue. 

While he was energetically kissing Castiel, Dean thumbed over the angel’s nipple and gave it a little twist.  Castiel gasped into Dean’s mouth and drew back, staring into Dean’s eyes and licking his lips.  Dean was moving closer to Castiel again, when the angel put up a hand to stop him.

“Dean.  I want…,” Castiel began breathily, and Dean waited, feeling a thrill of excitement that Castiel was verbalizing wants.    

“I want to put you in my mouth,” Castiel said, looking a little shyly at Dean, as he pointedly cupped him through his jeans.

It had occurred to Dean that he should be expecting this.  Castiel had been copying a lot of what they did together.  Dean straddled Cas in the car and then Cas straddled him on the couch.  Dean tore off Cas’ shirt, so Cas ripped his off too.  Dean had gone down on Cas and now the angel wanted to give him a blow job.  Just because he should have realized it was coming, didn’t make it any less tempting.  Dean glanced at Castiel’s parted lips and then back to him.

“You wanna suck my cock, Cas?  You don’t have to,” Dean added. 

“I want to.  It felt good when you did it,” Castiel murmured keenly, his fingertips at the top of Dean’s jeans. 

There was no reason for Dean to object, because Castiel’s proposal was exactly what he wanted, but he didn’t want Castiel feeling obligated either.  Castiel must have sensed Dean’s hesitation, because he looked slightly less confident.

“Would you like me to suck your cock, Dean?” 

Oh God, Castiel repeating those words.  The angel’s voice couldn’t have always been so sexy.     

“Yes,” Dean managed to get out.  “Only if you want to.”

“I do,” Castiel assured him, as his fingers moved to unfasten Dean’s jeans.

Dean caught Castiel’s wrist in his hand and he held his gaze. 

“Tell me you want to,” Dean commanded.

“I want to suck your cock, Dean.”

The angel had barely finished his sentence before Dean was smashing his mouth against Castiel’s and holding his head, so he could kiss the crap out of him.  Listening to Castiel’s gravelly voice spewing dirty talk had Dean overcome with lust.  The hunter continued to kiss him with mad desire, while Castiel enthusiastically responded and fumbled at Dean’s jeans. 

Castiel shoved Dean’s jeans and boxers downwards, before gracefully sinking to his knees in front of him.  Dean blinked down at Castiel.  He hadn’t realized the angel had intended to kneel before him.  Castiel laid one warm hand on his cock, curling his fingers around it, while he brought his other hand to his mouth and sucked on his own fingers while staring up at Dean.  Licking at his own hand, Castiel brought his right to join his left and ran them along Dean’s erection in an attempt to lube him up with spit.  The angel brought his lush lips to the underside of Dean’s cock, moving towards the head.  With one hand low on Dean, he stopped and looked up at the hunter with his mouth teasingly close.  Dean could feel Castiel’s breath against him.

“Don’t move,” Castiel instructed.

Then he wrapped his lips around Dean’s cock and sucked him determinedly into his mouth.  Dean gulped and tried to keep as still as possible.  Castiel was working Dean with one hand and his hot mouth, successfully getting things nice and slippery.  It was almost instantly obvious to Dean that the angel had been paying close attention to Dean’s performance the other day.  He took his time, but set a decent pace, sucking Dean strongly and using his hands to complete the coverage.  As Castiel fondled and stroked Dean and experimentally licked him, he focused intently on Dean and his reactions.  Anytime Dean gasped or groaned, Castiel would repeat the motion.  

Dean let one of his hands rest on Castiel’s head, threading his fingers through his hair without gripping it or guiding him anywhere.  Castiel didn’t seem to mind and he licked his way up Dean’s shaft, before ducking his head lower and mouthing his lips and tongue purposefully over Dean’s balls.  When Castiel started spiritedly sucking at them, looking up at Dean from under his swollen cock, the image was surreal and Dean stared down in mild disbelief. 

When Castiel finally returned his mouth to Dean’s cock, his spare hand stayed on Dean’s balls and Dean could feel Castiel, cautiously, inching his fingers behind them.  It was getting increasingly challenging to remain still and Dean could feel his control slipping.  Then Castiel surprised him by slowing his shallow bobbing motions and gradually taking more of Dean into his mouth.  With every slow surge forward, Castiel’s lips devoured more of Dean, until he managed to take every inch of him into his hot, wet mouth.  Rather than pull off right away, Castiel simply looked up at Dean with his nose and lips pressed against Dean’s skin. 

“Cas. Shit.”

Slowly, Castiel pulled back, sucking Dean the whole way and Dean could only watch as his cock emerged, glistening.  Then Castiel was trying it again and Dean couldn’t stop the forward jerk of his hips.  Castiel startled and retreated slightly while Dean gasped an apology, but then the angel recovered and he swallowed Dean down a bit more confidently. 

Dean dropped his head back against the door and cursed while an Angel of the Lord essentially deep-throated him, holding Dean’s ass to keep him still.  It was all too much.  Luckily, Castiel resumed his less ambitious sucking and licking and Dean thought it was amazing.  He needed the movement.  Then Castiel’s fingers were in the crease of Dean’s ass and he suddenly stopped, removing Dean’s dick from his mouth. 

“We need lube, Dean.  I want to put my fingers inside you.”

Castiel said this from his knees, looking up at Dean, with his wet, swollen lips.  Dean pulled Castiel up by his arms and kissed him, before telling him to take off his pants.  Once Dean was naked too, he hurriedly found the lube and got on the bed, reclining on his back and tugging Castiel by the hand to join him.         

They hadn’t really been entirely nude together before, so Dean spent time enjoying the sight and feel of Castiel, the taste of his skin.  Soon the angel was kissing his way down Dean’s chest and abdomen, stopping to press his lips to the hunter’s erection, before he kissed along his inner thigh.  Then he was pushing insistently at the back of Dean’s thighs and Dean moved so his feet were flat on the bed.  Dean knew it was coming, but he still let out a moan when Castiel pushed his leg back further and started licking boldly at his asshole.  A few women had done this for Dean before and he always loved how it felt.  He got the impression Castiel was enjoying making him twist and gasp in pleasure, because the angel continually pressed his mouth against Dean, tongue licking and pushing. 

Castiel paused to douse his hand with the lube and then brought a finger to join his tongue.  He cautiously worked his finger inside and Dean encouraged him, aware that the angel was leery of hurting him.  It went easily enough and soon Dean was requesting another and Castiel happily obliged.  In no time at all, Castiel was fingering Dean at the right angle to make him moan in pleasure. 

Conscious of the fact that he hadn’t done much for Castiel yet, Dean grabbed and pulled at him until he had the angel’s lips on his.  Clutching his hand around Castiel’s cock caused the angel to lurch forward and gasp against his mouth.     

“Dean.  I—I want to be inside you, but I don’t want to hurt you,” Castiel whispered into his skin.

Pulling back, Castiel looked down at Dean expectantly.  The hunter could see his dark eyes, irises almost completely overtaken by pupil.  Castiel was caressing Dean’s cheek when he found himself agreeing.  In all his fantasies, he was the one fucking Cas, but in his current reality, all he wanted to do was give his friend whatever he desired. 

Uncertain about positions, Dean arranged them both so that he was the little spoon.  Dean only felt slightly nervous as he told Cas to use more lube and to work three fingers inside him.  Castiel complied, propped on one arm with his body aligned behind Dean’s, while he kissed the back of his neck and fingered him open.  There was no way Dean could deny that he was enjoying himself.  If two fingers had been good, then three were great and he found himself wanting more. 

“Now, Cas.  Fuck me now.  Just, go slow.”

Castiel removed his fingers and thoughtfully added more lube, coating Dean and then himself.  Dean could feel Castiel shifting and then the press of his cock at his entrance.  Ever so slowly, the angel slid into Dean, sinking further into the tight heat.  There was a faint burn, but it was fleeting.  Dean had never felt so full and he moaned when Castiel was fully inside.  Panting slightly, Dean waited, but Castiel didn't move, he just held Dean against him, kissing his shoulder.

“You feel magnificent,” Castiel murmured against Dean’s spine.

Dean brought his hand behind him to grab Castiel’s ass and press him forward.

“Move.  You gotta move, Cas.  I’m good, just—fuck,” Dean exhaled as Castiel was finally moving.

His motions were hesitant at first, but then he responded to Dean’s praise and his actions became more confident.  Castiel was moving his hips slowly, but steadily, fucking Dean with long, deep thrusts.  It felt amazing, better than Dean imagined it would, to have Castiel buried inside him.  Twisting his torso, Dean leaned back to kiss Castiel.  The angel met Dean’s mouth eagerly, licking at the seam of Dean’s lips and then granting access when Dean tongued him back.  Castiel pinched Dean’s nipple before drifting his hand lower to grasp his hot, aching cock.

The sensation of Castiel moving inside him while he grasped Dean tightly, mimicking the pace of his hips with his hand, had Dean overwhelmed with the indulgence.  Dean lifted his leg and rolled partly onto his back, improving Castiel’s ability to penetrate him deeply.  He felt vaguely embarrassed that he was so close to the edge so soon, but then Castiel grazed his prostate perfectly and he was adrift with pleasure, uncaring.

Senselessly grabbing at Castiel’s flank and the pillow under his head, Dean tried to find purchase to grind back into the angel.  Castiel was repeating his name and then kissing Dean, sloppy and needy.  Finding the optimal angle to turn Dean into a writhing mess, Castiel thrust and kissed and fucked and stroked him until Dean was moaning.

“C-Cas, yes, oh fuck—fuck me,” Dean panted between grunts.    

The hot, wet slide of Castiel’s fist again and again, coupled with jolts of pleasure as the angel fucked his ass was finally too much.  Dean leaned back into Castiel, head lolling and he couldn’t hold on any longer.  Shit, oh yes, yes, fuck!  He jerked forward into the angel’s steady hand as Castiel drove into him, losing control as came with a shudder.  Dean felt Castiel fall out of rhythm and his thrusts became uncoordinated, as he stroked Dean through his orgasm. 

Then Castiel was gasping Dean’s name and desperately kissing him, hand low on the hunter’s stomach, holding him close as he rocked erratically into him.  Hurtling forward one final time, Castiel came with a shout, pressing into Dean and clinging to him.  His hips stuttered and slowed jerkily, as he panted into Dean’s back. 

After a minute, Castiel eased himself out of Dean and the hunter promptly rolled around to kiss Castiel’s face and lips and cup his cheek.

“Dean.  Dean, that was superb.”

“It was fucking awesome, Cas.  You liked it?”

“Indisputably,” Castiel replied, kissing him and leaning his forehead against Dean’s.  “I enjoy making you feel pleasure.”

“Well, shit, mission accomplished.”

Dean pulled away, intending to get cleaned up, but Castiel was all grabby hands, so Dean explained himself.  Looking in between them, Castiel inclined an eyebrow and touched Dean’s chest with his fingertips, before casting his eyes downwards again.

“Did—did you just use your angel mojo to clean us off?” Dean asked unnecessarily, since it was obviously true.  Castiel didn’t bother answering, but his eyes were amused and he contentedly burrowed into Dean’s arms.

After a few minutes of quiet, Castiel voiced a concern.

“It didn’t hurt?”

Dean opened his eyes and blinked at Castiel’s worried expression. 

“Nah, it felt good, the way it should.  It’s only a bit uncomfortable at first, very briefly, but it didn’t hurt.  Felt fucking amazing,” Dean corrected himself. 

Dean almost added something about how he didn’t expect it to feel so good, but managed to stop himself.  Just cause he still had some hangups about getting drilled in the ass by another man didn’t mean he had to share them with Cas.  He didn’t want the angel to think it was a bad thing, especially not after what Sam had done to him.  And Dean wasn’t lying, it had been awesome to do it that way with Cas.  Hell, he was already thinking of positions that would be possible with the super strong angel.

Dean held Castiel loosely, listening to his even breathing, still a little stunned by what had happened.  His mind was pleasantly abuzz though and Castiel had started lazily stroking his fingertips along Dean’s side.  Soon Dean couldn’t keep his eyes open any longer.

 

 

 

They left Chicago the next morning after breakfast. 

Dean had showered and was glad that his ass only felt mildly sore.  Once he was dressed he had practiced walking, pacing the room to be certain his stride was normal, lest Sam notice.  He was mostly able to hide his hickey from view, under the raised collar of his jacket.  Luckily it was on his left side, so Sam would be less likely to spot it while they were driving.   

When he had first woken up Dean didn’t know what direction they’d be driving in that day, but Bobby had solved that dilemma by calling with a case while they were at breakfast.  So they set out for Oklahoma.  It was a long trip, twelve hours on the road, but Dean crammed it all into one day.  Sam and Castiel took turns sitting up front, but Dean refused to relinquish the keys. 

They were quieter than normal when they finally stopped for dinner.  Dean had run out of things to say after being cooped up in the car all day and he ate listlessly, disappointed in the quality of his meal.  There was a motel they passed a couple miles back and by the time they got there Dean was feeling tired and irritated.  He wanted to lie down and stretch out with Cas. 

When the young guy in the main office told him they only had one room left Dean looked up at the ceiling in annoyance.  He glanced out the window at Sam and Cas who were standing by the Impala.  Sam was pulling their bags from the trunk.  Drumming his fingers impatiently, Dean asked about other motels, but the dude only shrugged and said it’d be in the next town which would be forty minutes more driving.  Dean made a snap decision and got the room.  It was already late.  It would have to be fine for one night.

Sam acted like he didn’t care when Dean broke the news and Dean relaxed somewhat.  Maybe Sam was right, it wasn’t that strange.  They used to always share a room and Cas wasn’t gonna take up time in the bathroom or anything.  It’d kind of be like just the two of them since Cas didn’t really count… except for how he’d be in bed next to Dean.  Sighing, Dean pulled clothes and toiletries from his duffle bag and made for the bathroom since Sam was checking their hex bags.  Castiel was sitting stiffly in one of the kitchenette chairs and Dean dropped sweats and a t-shirt into his lap, before shutting himself in the bathroom.  There was no way they’d be just sleeping in boxers tonight. 

When Dean reemerged he was a little disappointed that the light was still on, since his hickey was no longer hidden, but fortunately Sam was draped across the bed with an arm slung over his eyes. 

“’M out, Sam,” Dean said, after a minute of Sam not moving.  Sam grumbled something as he got up to take his turn in the bathroom. 

Dean was pulling off his boots and socks when he noticed Castiel was still sitting at the table, with his hands on the surface, not looking at anything in particular. 

“Good time to get changed,” Dean offered, stepping out of his jeans.  He got no response.  

“Cas?”

“I think I’ll just sit tonight.”  Castiel didn’t look up.

“What? You’ve been sitting all day,” Dean said.

“Well, I’ll stand then.”  Castiel stood up and looked at Dean.

It should have been good news.  If Cas didn’t want to sleep in bed tonight then Dean wouldn’t have to share in front of Sam.  Still, Dean felt like it would be even more awkward if Cas wasn’t in his bed.  Sam would be expecting them to share and would accuse Dean of kicking the angel out. 

“So you’re gonna stand there all friggin’ night and wait for us to wake up?”   

“It’s not difficult.  I’ve done it before.”

Dean felt himself losing patience.  Was he actually arguing to convince Cas to get into bed? 

“Cas, you standing around, staring at us all night is gonna be all sorts of awkward.”

“I can stand outside.”

Dean almost replied angrily, but then he got it.

“Oh, shit.  This is about Sam.  He’s not gonna hurt you, Cas.”

“I know that.” Castiel sighed.  “I do, but… it still feels uncomfortable.” 

Dean could hear the water running in the bathroom, so he crossed over to Castiel and took his hand, leading him back to the bed. 

“Leave your clothes on if you want, but I’ll sleep between you and him.” 

After getting Castiel to sit, Dean undid his shoes and pulled them off. 

“Just, here, get under the covers.”

Turning off the light, Dean got in on the other side of the bed and pulled Castiel close, holding the angel against his chest. 

“You’re safe, Cas.  ‘M not gonna let anything happen to you.  Promise.” 

“I feel foolish.” 

“Should I let you go?”

“No.”

So Dean wrapped Castiel up in his arms and trailed his fingers through his hair.  When Sam came out of the bathroom and uncertainly made his way across the darkened room, Dean resisted the urge to cease the gentle motion of his hand.  It wasn’t long before Sam was snoring lightly.  Dean didn’t need to open his eyes to know that Castiel was staring at him.  Before he fell asleep he pressed his lips to Castiel’s forehead, mumbling.

“’S safe here, Cas.  Got you.”

Dean could feel Cas softly touching his neck and heard a whispered ‘thank you’ as he finally drifted off.     

 

 

 

When Dean woke up after the night in the shared room, he thought Castiel was okay.  He had been sitting on the edge of the bed looking rumpled from having his suit on all night, but otherwise he seemed like himself.  Dean didn’t want him to be uncomfortable again, so he made sure they got a second room at the motel for the additional nights they spent there. 

The case Bobby found for them in Oklahoma turned out to be vampires.  It took them two days to pinpoint the location of the nest and by that time it was close to sunset.  So they decided to wait another night and make their move in the morning, when the vamps might be asleep. 

While they were working the case, Dean couldn’t help but observe Sam and Castiel when they interacted.  He had been thinking about what Sam had said, how he had mentioned leaving since he didn’t want to hurt Cas.  Dean thought it must be exhausting to Sam, to be so constantly vigilant in regards to what he did or said around Castiel.  When he watched for it, he could pick-up on the way Sam was hesitant with his words and movements in front of the angel.  Dean tried to be mindful as well, but it wasn’t always a present thought and he was a lot less likely to upset Castiel.  There was no obvious solution that Dean could think of to fix crap between Cas and his brother.  The last thing Dean wanted was for Sam to take off, so he decided to bring it up to Castiel, hoping he might have some ideas on making things better between the two of them. 

Dean took the opportunity to broach the subject while he was sharpening his longest blade in preparation for the decapitations he would likely be doling out the next day.  Sam had made a run to the morgue in the hopes of obtaining a few syringes of dead man’s blood, so he and Castiel were alone.  The angel was sitting on the bed, diligently reading the pages on vampires in John’s journal.

“Think maybe you could talk to Sam?  He still feels terrible about what happened between you two.”

Castiel turned a page without answering, but Dean didn’t think he was reading any longer.

“I’m not opposed to conversing with Sam, but I don’t always have something to say.  What would you have me talk about in regards to that topic?”

“Uh, I dunno.  I thought maybe you would be able to come up with something.  He thinks you don’t want him around.”

Shifting on the bed, Castiel closed the book.

“I see Sam everyday now, Dean.  It’s not easy.  I know it wasn’t him, but it was him.”

Dean frowned and set down his  knife, focusing on Castiel.

“So, what, is he right?  You don’t want him around?  Is that what you’re saying?”

“No, but I don’t know what else I can do.  I forgave Sam.  Maybe he needs to forgive himself.”

Unsatisfied with Castiel’s response, Dean didn’t answer, averting his gaze. 

“This isn’t my fault, Dean.  I can’t magically fix it.  Why are you mad at me?”

“I’m not mad at you, just the situation,” Dean said, standing abruptly from his chair, but not knowing where he intended to go. 

“You both told me these things take time.  It hasn’t been that long.  Why does it matter now?”

“Because Sammy is talking about leaving and I can’t—I can’t handle making that choice.”

“I would never ask you to choose between us,” Castiel insisted, as he moved from the bed to walk closer to Dean. 

Meeting Castiel’s gaze, Dean recognized it was true.  He wondered if that was because Castiel knew who he would choose, who he would have to choose.

“Things are improving, Dean.  I’m improving.  I’m not as broken as I was.  I’m no longer lost.”

“You were never broken, Cas.  Just hurt,” Dean said, as he laid a hand on his friend’s shoulder.  “And I know it’s not your fault.  I didn’t mean it was, I just want to fix things between you two and I don’t know how.  Pisses me off, not having a solution.”

“I’ll spend some time trying to think of what else I could say to Sam.”

“Good.  Thanks, man.”

Chapter Text

Castiel thought about Sam very purposefully that night.  He observed the hunter through dinner, evidently staring too much, because Sam twirled his fork on his plate and pushed his food around before asking Castiel if anything was wrong.  Afterwards, back at the motel, Castiel wrestled with the issue and attempted to see things from Sam’s perspective.  He tried to imagine how Sam might be feeling, but it was a challenge.  It was still a struggle to identify his own emotions sometimes. 

Dean was very distracting, walking around the room in his boxers.  It was a little unusual, especially when Dean kept leaning against the door frame to the bathroom and raising an eyebrow at him or stretching his arms while making loud sighing noises.  It seemed like more stretching than was probably necessary since Dean usually only did that when he was first climbing out of the Impala or if he had some sort of injury, but Castiel didn’t question his actions.  For some reason Dean accompanied his irregular behavior with inconsequential questions.

“Ever have any interest in taking a shower, Cas?”

“No.”

“You don’t want to know how it might feel?”

“No.  I’ve been in the rain before.”

Eventually, Dean flopped on the bed next to where Castiel was sitting, slowly moving his flat palm across his naked chest and stomach.  Assuming the purpose of the movement was to create friction, Castiel asked Dean if he was cold.  He wished Dean would put some clothing on.  The sight of Dean’s bare skin was alluring and Castiel was having trouble focusing.  Dean frowned at the question and rolled away to get properly in bed. 

“What’re you so hung-up on anyway?”  Dean demanded, as he yanked the blankets around.

“I’m thinking about Sam.”

“Oh.  Yeah, that would be a mood killer.”

“What mood?”

“Yup.  Exactly,” Dean said, turning off the light. 

Castiel felt confused by the conversation, but he resumed his train of thought since Dean was going to sleep. 

“At least lie down with me.”

Castiel did and Dean threw an arm around his waist, sneaking his hand under his shirt to rest on his warm skin. 

While he was laying next to Dean, Castiel turned over the problem of Sam in his mind, examining it from different angles.  There was no fast and easy way to address the issue.  That much was certain.  Listening to Dean’s even breathing as he slept ushered Castiel’s thoughts along.  Sam and Dean had similar principles and Castiel found himself wondering how he might have convinced Dean to stay if the brother’s positions were reversed. 

He imagined Dean would be doing worse, drowning himself in liquor and self-loathing.  It didn’t seem like such a stretch to think that Sam hated himself for what he had done.  The hunter had stated that he hated his actions.  If it were Dean, Castiel would have to attempt to reason with him and assure him that he wasn’t to blame, that he wasn’t wicked or unforgivable. 

As Castiel pondered, he came up with an idea.  It wouldn’t resolve anything, but it might help convince Sam to stay.  Satisfied with the solution he had arrived at, Castiel turned his attention to Dean sleeping beside him.  The blankets had all been kicked down around his knees and Dean had rolled onto his back.  Castiel found his eyes drawn to Dean’s slightly parted lips and he allowed himself to think about how good they felt when pressed to his.  He had seen kissing before and never understood the purpose, but now it was one of his favorite things to do with Dean. 

Watching Dean sleep, Castiel observed the rise and fall of his bare chest and the unsystematic speckling of freckles there.  Dean was beautiful.  The proportions and symmetry of his body, the contour of his muscles, and the hue of his skin were all aspects of his perfect physique.  Unable to resist, Castiel stretched his fingers towards Dean and delicately skimmed them along his torso.  The hunter barely moved, but the touch wasn’t enough.  Withdrawing his hand, Castiel occupied himself with remembering how it felt to touch and kiss Dean everywhere.  He examined Dean’s hands and imagined them on himself.  The hunter knew the best places to touch Castiel and he never hurt him.  Dean’s hands only brought pleasure and the most wonderful sensations.

Castiel thought of how ethereal it had been to be inside of Dean—to be connected beyond just words, actions or purpose.  From the moment Castiel had touched Dean in Hell he had developed an inexplicable affinity for the man and their bond had only grown over time.  Castiel wasn’t certain how it worked, but somehow the act of sex could be divine or infernal depending on the circumstances.  It seemed to be a strictly human truth and Castiel suspected it was directly related to the emotions they experienced in a particular situation.  It seemed strange that sex could potentially provide an ephemeral glimpse of the perpetual suffering of Hell or the glorious blissfulness of paradise in Heaven, but Castiel knew it to be true.

Lost in thoughts of his physical relations with Dean, it took Castiel a few minutes to realize that the sensation of arousal wasn’t just imagined.  Since his introduction to sex, there had only been one previous time that Castiel had found himself with an unwanted erection.  He had chosen to ignore it as he lay next to Dean, but it had taken a long while to subside.  Unwilling to wake Dean up, Castiel decided he could tend to his erection the same way he knew Dean dealt with his.

Castiel got out of bed and appeared in the shower naked.  He evaluated the knobs and spigot, contemplating their function, before turning one of them.  Water rained down on him soaking his hair and Castiel recognized that it was cold as he witnessed his skin erupting with thousands of tiny bumps.  Staring in fascination, Castiel soon realized his body was shivering and he fiddled with the knobs until his skin returned to normal and the slight shaking faded. 

Castiel was a little surprised to see that he wasn’t as hard as he had been.  He didn’t know how that had happened, but he touched himself and thought of Dean anyway. 

 

xxx

 

Dean was barely awake, rolling towards Castiel in bed when he realized the angel wasn’t there.  Opening his eyes, Dean squinted at the illuminated clock and identified the sound that woke him up as the shower.  It was late and Dean felt confused.  He glanced at the other bed, wondering why Sam would be showering in the middle of the night.  The bed was unoccupied and undisturbed, still neatly made, and Dean sat up feeling more awake.  Sam wasn’t here.  Cas was, but what would he be doing with the shower on.

It was a little steamy when Dean walked into the small bathroom.  He thought of his earlier failed attempts to seduce Castiel and his plan to lure him into the shower.  Dean felt a twitch of arousal at the thought of the angel all wet.

“Cas?  You in the shower?  What’re you doing, man?”

Dean waited and then the shower curtain was pulled back.  Castiel was indeed all wet, standing under the spray of water with one hand at his erect dick.  And oh, shit Dean knew what the angel had been up to.  He could feel himself getting hard as he took in Castiel’s flushed appearance and the pink splotches of skin where the too hot water was hitting him.   Castiel’s hair was drenched and rivulets of water were running everywhere down his skin.  

“You, uh… you need a hand?”

Castiel’s dark eyes were focused on Dean’s body, scanning, but they snapped back to meet his gaze at the question. 

“Yes.  I need your hands, Dean.”

Castiel reached for him, but Dean stepped away. 

“Two seconds, Cas.” 

Bolting from the bathroom, Dean dropped his boxers and scrambled for the lube before returning and hopping into the shower. 

Castiel’s hands were on him immediately as Dean hastily shut the curtain. He was feeling giddily excited at the prospect of shower sex with Cas.  The water was hot and so was Castiel as he insistently kissed Dean, pressing him against the shower wall.  Dean ran his hands down Castiel’s back, grasping his ass with both hands and pulling him closer.  Their cocks slid together and Dean hummed in approval as he kissed Cas.  This was exactly what he had wanted earlier. 

It was such a turn on to find Castiel in the shower touching himself.  Dean slipped his hand around both of them, holding their cocks together in a wet grip.

“You ever touch yourself like that before, Cas?”

“No.”

“What did you think about?” Dean asked as he slowly stroked them. 

“You. This. Us. Your hands and mouth,” Castiel said with his strong fingers cupping handfuls of Dean’s ass.

“You think about me fingering you?”

“Yes.”

“You want me to again?”

“Yes,” Castiel said and Dean deliberately slid his hand lower, teasing Castiel’s entrance. “I want you to, Dean.”

“Damn straight,” Dean said as he kissed his friend again.

Dean picked up the lube from where he had set it and coated his fingers before returning them to Castiel’s ass.  Slowly, Dean worked one digit inside of Castiel and then another, while he stroked them together.  It seemed that Castiel had already gotten himself fairly worked up before Dean got there.  The angel leaned against Dean, bumping his back into the wall as he dropped his head to Dean’s shoulder.  Castiel was making tiny shuddering movements in Dean’s arms, wanting to thrust forward, but not wanting to stray too far from the skilled fingers in his ass.  Dean thought it was unlikely he’d catch up, so he focused more on Castiel, stretching him and searching for the spot that would make him moan.  His efforts were rewarded as Castiel jerked involuntarily forward before pressing back on Dean’s fingers, making all sorts of lovely little noises.

“Ah, D—Dean, oh!  Please!”

“Damn, Cas, you get me so hard.”

It was true. Listening to and watching Castiel lose control was sending waves of arousal straight to his dick.  Castiel was licking and kissing his neck, his grip on Dean’s arm and shoulder tightening every time Dean angled his fingers a certain way.  Everything was wet and slippery and Dean groaned, jerking them more firmly.  Castiel scrambled to kiss Dean, all open mouthed and filthy, like he couldn’t quite focus his attention there. 

“Dean — I — I’m…” Castiel gasped against lips.

“Come on, Cas. Fuck, just, let go,” Dean prompted, releasing himself and gripping Castiel, sliding his fist and fingers hard and quick.

Clinging tightly to Dean’s back, Castiel’s movements stuttered and he came, thrusting into Dean’s hand and gasping his name.  Castiel twitched in Dean’s arms as he slowed his hips and leaned into Dean, pressing him against the wall.  He released his tight grip on Dean and brought a shaky hand towards his cock.

“No, Cas.  I want your mouth.  Please,” Dean asked, hoping he wasn’t being too greedy.  He wanted to come in something besides a fist. 

Castiel pulled Dean close, kissing him, before he sank to his knees and took Dean into his mouth. 

And holy fuck!   It felt so friggin’ fantastic to be surrounded by Castiel’s perfect lips and tongue.  Dean rocked his hips forward, sliding into the delicious heat of Castiel’s mouth.  Dean brought a hand to hold the base of his cock while Castiel licked him everywhere, tonguing Dean’s balls.  Then the angel fumbled for the lube Dean had dropped, squirting some onto his fingers and bringing them to Dean’s ass.  He sucked Dean into his mouth as he tentatively fingered him. 

Dean shifted with Castiel’s movements, overwhelmed by the dual sensations of the angel’s mouth and fingers. 

Everything was so hot and steamy, as Dean curled his hands in Castiel’s hair, moaning.  He didn’t know how Castiel was able to do this to him.  The angel always got Dean so worked up so quickly and he desperately wanted to come in Castiel’s hot mouth.  The angel was sucking him hard and fast, as he gripped Dean’s ass, pulling him close.  Dean was right on the edge and he grasped Castiel’s hair, tugging him forward as he rolled his hips, thrusting into the angel’s mouth.

Castiel’s dark hair and eyes stood out in contrast to the pink flush of his cheeks and his gorgeous swollen lips.  Dean held Castiel’s gaze and then watched as he slipped in and out of the angel’s mouth.  Oh, shit, shit, yes!  The sight, coupled with smooth glide and pressure as Castiel sucked him, had Dean jerking forward, coming right where he wanted to. 

“Fuck, oh fuck, Cas!”

Dean held his hair as he shuddered forward, emptying his load in Castiel’s mouth, but the angel didn’t seem to mind, he just continued to suck and lick, swallowing everything.  Completely spent, Dean leaned against the wall, suddenly realizing the hot water had finally diminished to just luke warm.  Castiel was back in his arms, gently kissing Dean’s neck.  Dean found Castiel’s lips and kissed him leisurely, carding his fingers through the angel’s wet hair.  Feeling sated and exhaused, Dean shut off the water and exited the shower, briefly drying himself off.  Then he did the same for Castiel after the angel just stood, watching and dripping everywhere.

 “I understand the appeal of showers now,” Castiel said as he followed Dean to bed.

“Yeah, I bet you do.” 

Dean pulled Castiel’s naked body closer to him, spooning the angel with his cock pressed up against Castiel’s firm ass.  Castiel tilted his head back and Dean kissed him.

“You’re friggin’ awesome, Cas.  That was amazing,” Dean said quietly, kissing the back of Castiel’s neck once. 

Castiel found Dean’s hand and wove their fingers together, kissing Dean’s knuckles. 

“You’re… awesome too, Dean.  I—I feel… Touching you is inordinately enjoyable.  When you touch me, the pleasure I feel, it’s so…”

Dean chuckled at Castiel’s attempts to vocalize his feelings. 

“I get it, Cas.  You like it.”

“No, I love it,” Castiel said, sounding a little surprised, like he just realized it himself.  “Dean, I—” 

Feeling slightly panicked, Dean interrupted.

“Yeah, I hear ya, man.  Just shut up, I wanna sleep now.”

Castiel didn’t answer right away.

“Okay. Goodnight, Dean.”

Cringing slightly at the trace of disappointment in Castiel’s response, Dean stared at the back of Castiel’s head and wondered what was wrong with him.  He didn’t really know what Castiel had been about to say, but the possibility of what he might have said was too freaking disturbing.  Dean said he loved shit sometimes, like pie and his car, but he had never heard Castiel use that word to express his feelings before.  It was unnerving and Dean found himself shifting so that there was some space between the two of them.  He pulled his hand away from Castiel’s and left it resting on his waist instead. 

Just like that, the easy sleep that had been ready to claim Dean disappeared.  He felt uncomfortable and eventually rolled onto his back, staring at the ceiling.  A few minutes later Castiel rolled around so he was facing Dean, but he didn’t move closer.  Dean could feel Castiel watching him, but he resisted saying anything and closed his eyes.  He couldn’t understand why he was having such difficulty falling asleep and the longer it took the more irritated he got.  After a while he glared angrily at the clock to see he had been trying to get comfortable for nearly an hour.  That was friggin’ great.  Insomnia was just what he needed. 

“You can’t sleep.”

Dean shot a look at Castiel, who was regarding him with apparent worry.  Taking in Castiel’s concerned expression, Dean felt an inkling of remorse for being jerky earlier.

“You always fall asleep right away after sex.”

“Yeah,” Dean mumbled.  He looked guiltily at Castiel and realized what was different. 

Reaching for Castiel, Dean pulled the angel close, holding him to his chest.  He instantly felt better with Castiel’s weight against him, as the angel eagerly cozied up to Dean, curling around him.  Dean wrapped his arms around Castiel, irritated that he needed the contact, but indulging himself anyway.  It wasn’t long before he was asleep.

 

xxx   

 

Dealing with vampires was never what Sam would call fun, but there was something satisfying about killing the bloodsuckers.  They were definitely a threat to humans and Sam felt no remorse when he took them out.  Vamps were always a hassle and Sam wore some of his oldest clothes in anticipation of getting them covered in blood—it was sort of a given when you were decapitating creatures.  

He was riding up front with Dean as they drove to the dilapidated farmhouse beyond the town borders.  They parked a good distance away to avoid detection and observed the house.  All the windows were boarded up.  They hadn’t been able to determine the number of vamps in the nest, but they were thinking it was probably between six and eight.  Sam was glad Castiel was with them.  The angel could kill vampires as easily as he killed demons. 

Armed with blades and emergency vials of dead man’s blood,  Dean and Sam were ready to go.  Castiel transported them to a side door and Dean tried the knob.  It wasn’t locked, but Sam figured vampires probably thought of themselves as top of the food chain—if anyone was dumb enough to walk into their nest they’d no doubt destroy them.  So, naturally, the hunters walked right in with the angel.

The windows were well covered and as Sam eased the door shut they were enveloped by darkness.  Dean was in the lead and he paused, likely listening and waiting for his eyes to adjust.  Sam had a flashlight in his pocket, but he thought it might give them away, so he followed Dean’s lead and let his eyes adjust to the dim sources of light.  Castiel was looking around and Sam noticed he tilted his head up at the ceiling and then down towards the floor. 

Dean started to move forward when Castiel raised a hand to his arm to get his attention.  Looking back, Dean used a finger to make a shushing gesture that Sam wasn’t sure Castiel understood, but he didn’t speak, so he must have gotten it.  Castiel produced his angel blade which registered as slightly odd with Sam since he had seen the angel smite a vampire with his grace in the past. 

They crept through the dark and broken house as silently as possible.  The floorboards were old and rickety.  The house smelled musty.  In what was likely the living room there were a number of decrepit looking couches.  Three were occupied with sleeping vamps and they each approached one, dispatching them in unison on Dean’s silent countdown.  Castiel used his grace and the brightness had Sam blinking spots out of his vision.  As his eyesight recovered, Sam wiped his blade on the couch and saw Castiel approach Dean and lay a hand on his shoulder.  The angel leaned in and whispered something in Dean’s ear.  Dean glanced at the floor and then up at the ceiling, nodding.

Instead of bringing Sam up to speed vocally, Dean signalled that there were still seven vamps upstairs and eight downstairs.  Altogether, it was three times as many as they’d guessed.  Gesturing to the stairwell, Dean ascended the stairs.  Castiel followed him, stepping where Dean had, and Sam thought the angel managed to be even quieter than his brother.  The first room had two beds and three more sleeping vamps.  It was simple to take them out the same way they had for the first three. 

They slunk through the hall to the next room where they were outnumbered by one.  There was a set of occupied bunk beds and another large bed with two more vamps sprawled in it.  Castiel and Dean moved beside the two in bed together, waiting to take them out, while Sam climbed onto a wobbly chair at the end of the bunk beds.  He was positioned high enough to behead the vamp in the top bunk.  They’d all be ready to take out the last one.  Sam just hoped they wouldn’t be loud enough to wake the vamps in the basement. 

Watching for Dean’s signal, Sam brought his blade down in one swift motion, successfully decapitating the vamp in front of him.  Immediately, Sam hopped off the chair he had been standing on, prepared to fight the last vampire if they had to, but his feet never hit anything solid.  As soon as they made contact with the floor, the boards cracked loudly and he didn’t stop falling, rushing downwards into the dark as wood and debris rained down around him.  Sam fell with his arms windmilling, confused that he was going so far.  He glimpsed the quickly vanishing living room before he loudly crashed through more weak wood, falling still further into a darker, damp room.  Finally, he collided with solid ground in a painful heap that knocked the wind out of him.                           

Sam became aware of several things at once as he struggled to catch his breath, coughing through years of dust swirling around him.  He had fallen into the cellar and the quick vampires had already woken up because of all the noise.  He had let go of his blade at some point and it had either not fallen all the way to the basement or else it was buried under the broken boards littering the floor around him.  It was too dark to see much but Sam grabbed for his smaller knife; the syringe in his pocket was broken.  Neither item was much use against eight vamps though.

Shit, he was in so much trouble.  Sam was surrounded.  Most of the vamps were looking at him, but a few were looking up at the gaping hole in the ceiling.  One of the vampires moved swiftly towards him, but suddenly Castiel was there.  Slamming a hand to the approaching vamp’s head in a flash of light, he twirled the angel blade in his other hand and beheaded a second one.  It only took the angel a moment to drop two of the eight vampires.  All the remaining vamps had turned their attention to Castiel and Sam scrambled to locate his blade, but settled for a jagged looking board.  He tried to get to his feet to help, but his leg flared with pain and Sam fell back. 

There were only five vampires left now and Sam heard Dean above him, thundering down steps and calling his name.  Castiel was brilliant with the blade and Sam wished he had another one to offer the angel.  With two he’d be unstoppable.  Sensing defeat one of the vamps fled for the stairs, but Dean was already hurtling down them and he furiously lopped off the creature’s head, following the body as it tumbled down the steps.  Dean’s eyes fell on Sam and he looked relieved for a second before he turned to help Castiel.  The angel dropped another vamp and looked distractedly at Dean since one of the vampires was headed towards him.  Sam saw one lunge at Castiel’s back while his attention was on Dean.  

“Cas! Look out!”        

Sam cursed, feeling so useless on the floor, as he watched the vampire land on Castiel’s back, arms clinging around his shoulders.  The vamp bit Castiel’s neck and the angel cut its arm off, unfazed.  Unable to maintain a grip, the vamp fell off and Castiel beheaded it.  In the meantime Dean had killed the only two remaining vamps, and he rushed to Sam. 

“Shit, Sammy!  What the hell was that?  Are you okay?”  

“I’m fine.  Just busted my leg,” Sam said, gesturing to the injured one.  He caught Dean’s accusatory tone, like he had fallen through two floors on purpose, but ignored it. 

Dean grabbed Sam under the arm and hauled him from the rubble to his feet.  Sam leaned on Dean, testing his weight on his leg.  It hurt and he grimaced.  Castiel wandered over, covered in more blood than Dean, and held his hand up to Sam, resting his fingers lightly on Sam’s face.  The angel healed him.

“Thanks, Cas,” Sam said, releasing his grip on Dean’s shoulder and putting pressure on his healed leg.  The achy feeling that had been plaguing the rest of his body was gone too. 

“Yeah, he really saved your bacon,” Dean said, before rounding on Castiel.

“And you.”  Dean pointed at Castiel.  “Next time, you bring me with you!  You rushed down here alone and reckless and got friggin’ injured too.” 

Sam saw that apart from the oozing bite on his neck, Castiel had a set of scratch marks on his cheek that were bleeding faintly as well.  Sam hadn’t seen that happen, but suspected it might have been from the same vamp that bit him.  It wasn’t so bad for taking on eight vamps at once.  Sam thought of telling Dean that his presence had distracted Cas, but it would probably only make his brother mad.  He wouldn’t want Cas worrying about him to the point that he left himself vulnerable. 

“Are you all right, Dean?”

“I’m friggin’ dandy, Cas.  Heal yourself up.  What’re you waiting for?”

Sam kicked the boards around, rolling his eyes at Dean’s poor attitude.  His brother always buried his concern under anger.  Spotting his knife, Sam retrieved it and when he straightened up again Castiel was healed and his clothing was blood free.  

“Let’s get out of here,” Dean said, heading up the stairs.  Castiel and Sam followed. 

Not wanting to leave behind so many headless bodies, they returned to the house with their spare canister of gasoline and torched the place.  When they got back to the motel, Dean bossily informed them they would be skipping town as soon as he was out of the shower.  Dean walked away, leaving Sam and Castiel standing in front of the door to Sam’s room.  Sam was a little surprised that Castiel hadn’t moved to follow after Dean, but he didn’t comment on it.  He dug in his pocket for the key. 

“Thanks again for earlier, Cas.  You got there just in time,” Sam said, opening the door.  “I’d have been toast without you.” 

“Toast?”

“Uh, yeah, a goner. Dead,” Sam amended.

“Of course, Sam.  I wouldn’t want you to be… toasted,” Castiel said, trying out the word.  “May I speak with you?”

“Yeah,” Sam said, looking expectantly at Castiel.

The angel didn't respond.  His eyes drifted from Sam’s to where the door was open, revealing the room.

“Uh, come in,” Sam said, pushing the door open further and letting Castiel follow him.

Sam felt distinctly awkward.  He and Cas didn’t really spend time alone together, not purposefully anyway, and definitely not in motel rooms.  Sam hadn’t missed the angel’s nervousness when the three of them had shared a room a couple nights back.  Uncertain of what to do with himself, Sam leaned against the small counter space in the tiny kitchenette, while Castiel closed the door and took in the room. 

Castiel’s eyes came to rest on Sam and he felt uncomfortable as the angel evaluated him.  Usually Dean was on the receiving end of the lingering looks Castiel dished out.  It was tempting to glance away, but Sam tried to endure, wondering if he should speak first.  Suddenly, Sam worried that he had unintentionally done something to upset Cas and he tried to figure what it might have been.  Sam started to open his mouth, preparing to apologize for his presumably harmful actions, when Castiel reached into his pocket.  He produced a folded piece of paper and held it out to Sam. 

“Cas, what is it?”  Sam asked, as he took the paper and opened it.

It was a list.

You’re selfless.
You’re supportive.
You love your family.
You’re moral.
You’re compassionate.

You’re protective.
You’re generous.
You’re ingenious.
You’re determined.
You’re trustworthy.

 There were more. The columns filled most of the page.  Sam recognized Castiel’s neat handwriting.

“What is this, Cas?”

“It’s a list.  For you. To remind you who you really are, when you’re feeling doubt.”

“You wrote this?” Sam asked, feeling slightly awed. 

“Yes. Keep it and read it when you need to.”

“Cas, you didn’t have to—”

“I wanted to, Sam.  You’re my friend.  I know we have this obstacle between us that we need to overcome, but it’s okay.  I know you don’t give up.  I won’t either.  And it is getting better.  Slowly, yes, but we’re still moving in the right direction.  Dean doesn’t want you to leave and neither do I.”

So that was where this was coming from.  Dean had told Castiel that Sam mentioned leaving.  Sam couldn’t even manage to be upset by that.  He looked from the paper in his hands to Castiel, who was gazing at him sincerely, and Sam knew none of this was coming from Dean.  His brother may have told Cas what was going on, but Dean had no involvement in what the angel was trying to do for him.

Sam cleard his throat. 

“Thanks, Cas.  It’s… I appreciate this.”  

“Believe me when I say I forgive you, Sam.  Now forgive yourself.”

Sam could read the honesty in Castiel’s expression and he had to quickly look back down at the paper in his hands.  He nodded without looking up.

“I’ll try.”  Sam paused, collecting himself so he could look up again.  “Thank you, Cas.”

Sam folded the paper carefully and slipped it into his pocket.  He noticed Castiel was looking down instead of at him and slightly tapping his fingers against his leg.  Sam thought it seemed like an anxious gesture, so he gave Cas an out.

“I better get showered too.  Dean will be pissed if we don’t get out of here quickly.”

“I’ll stall Dean,” Castiel said, heading to the door.  As he passed in front of Sam, he hesitated and made a movement that Sam thought might have been the beginning of an attempt to hug him.  Whatever the move was, the angel lost his nerve and Sam saw a look of annoyance cross his face.

“Yeah, you do that,” Sam agreed, which prompted Castiel to continue to the door. 

Sam pulled out the paper again and read over the list once more.  It was sort of a sappy gesture, but the words meant a lot to him.  Sam knew they were genuine and since they were coming from his friend, the angel Castiel, whom he had hurt so unequivocally, he felt like maybe he could believe them.  If Castiel still believed in all the good in him, then there was hope.  Folding the paper smaller, Sam tucked it into his wallet for safe keeping.

Chapter Text

Dean was in a good mood.  Ganking vamps gave him a rush of adrenaline and afterwards, when he had hopped out of the shower, Castiel had been there, sitting on the end of the bed.  Castiel was always there for Dean.  He had saved Sammy’s life earlier and Dean just had to straddle the angel’s lap and kiss him in thanks.  Dean tried to convey through touch what he couldn’t bring himself to say in words. 

He loved the way Castiel responded to him, tuned into the slightest touch and how the angel finally seemed to abandon his rigid movements and the tirelessly pensive air he gave off.  It was like Castiel shut down his immense multi-layered consciousness to focus entirely on Dean.  He loved that after a bout of kissing the angel seemed a little dazed, like for all the unknowable information he was able to comprehend, he couldn’t quite believe that he had just been kissing Dean.  The hunter would have been happy to stun him further, but he had told Sam they were leaving, so he reluctantly ceased.       

They spent the rest of the day driving west to put distance between themselves and the extra crispy vampires nest.  Another town, another motel, another bar for dinner.  They had only just arrived and already Dean couldn’t remember what the name of the town was.  It didn’t matter.  They were ultimately just passing through.  The bar was surprisingly crowded and Sam raised his voice to be heard over the music, informing Dean that it was, in fact, a Friday night.  Dean quickly realized that they were likely in a college town as well, judging by the number of youthful looking women in the bar.  The ratio was in their favor.  At least there was no harm in looking.

Plastering a grin on his face, Dean weaved through the crowd to the bar to order some drinks.  He left the challenge of finding somewhere to sit to Sam and Cas.  Waiting for the bartender, Dean noticed a few heads turned in his direction and he winked and nodded appropriately.  After he got his beers, it took Dean a minute to spot his brother and the angel.  They were sitting on stools at a high-top table.  Castiel was sitting as straight-backed as ever and consequently seemed taller than everyone surrounding him.  It made Dean think of an alert prairie dog standing up in a field and he snorted as he sat down with them. 

They both accepted the beer Dean had gotten and Sam bitched that the menu was small.

“We were all in the car looking for somewhere to stop, Sam.  Not my fault this is one of the only places open in this town.”

“Yeah, well if I didn’t know better, I’d think you picked this place—are you even listening?  Stop embarrassing yourself, Dean.”

“What?  They’re smiling at me.  I’m just being polite,” Dean objected.

“He’s right, Sam.  The people in this bar do seem considerably happier than the people in other bars we’ve been in,”  Castiel said, looking around. 

“Ha.  Told ya.”  Dean took a swig of beer.

“Yeah, well, if you’re gonna make that simpering face all night you’ll ruin my appetite,” Sam said, catching Dean’s eye and tilting his head in Castiel’s direction with a deliberate expression on his face. 

The look wasn’t lost on Dean.  He hadn’t forgotten Castiel was there, but it wasn’t like the angel got flirting anyway.  Dean rolled his eyes and adjusted so that he was facing forward and could focus all of his attention on his beer and the menu and his two boring dining partners who wouldn’t know fun if it bit them on the ass.  This seemed to appease Sam and they drank and got something to eat. 

It was later when Sam had disappeared and Dean was on his fourth or maybe fifth beer that his attempts to keep to himself failed.  He had been encouraging Castiel to try bites of different bar food and after enough cajoling the angel humored Dean.  He was unimpressed by coleslaw, mozzarella sticks, and even nachos.  Dean had found that no matter how much hot sauce he drowned a tortilla chip in, Castiel could eat it without complaint or even wanting a sip of water.  Dean was entertained and wondered if there was some sort of hot sauce eating contest he should enter Castiel in.  Not that the prizes were likely to be glamorous, but it would be hilarious to watch the angel calmly eating hot peppers while the other contestants sweated it out. 

Dean had been looking around for Sam when two women sprang into his field of vision.  They were all smiles and stood next to the table in between Dean and Castiel introducing themselves as Tanya and Jen.

Smiling back, Dean took the lead.

“I’m Dean.  This is my friend,” Dean paused, seeing Castiel reach for his FBI badge.

“Agent Jerry Dixon.”

“Wow, you’re an FBI agent?”  Jen took the badge from Castiel.  “That’s so cool, Harry.”

Castiel didn’t correct the name and Dean wouldn’t have thought it was such a glaring error since it was loud in the bar, but there was really no excuse when his name was printed right on the ID.  Castiel reached for his badge, sliding it delicately out of the girl’s hands and tucking it back into his jacket. 

“Are you here on a case?”  Jen wondered, laying a hand on Castiel’s arm.

“We just finished one,” Dean answered.

“You’re FBI too?  You don’t look like an FBI agent,” Tanya told him, rotating her drink on the table. 

“Yeah, well, casual Friday,” Dean quipped, before sipping his beer.

“We were sitting over there,” Tanya continued, pointing.  “And Jen couldn’t help but notice that your partner seems to have a very hot mouth.”

Dean choked a bit and he saw Jen laugh at Tanya’s statement and blush. 

“Because of the hot sauce!” Jen laughed.

Castiel just looked confused and answered like he was explaining a misunderstanding. 

“No, it’s a normal human mouth.  Normal temperature.”

“Are you sure about that, Agent?  I could, maybe, help verify?” 

Dean watched what he could see of Jen’s expression in surprise.  She was definitely flirting with Cas and the angel didn’t get it.  Castiel was giving her a perplexed look and she returned it with a seductive smile that was wasted on the angel.  Torn between amusement and indignation that Castiel was somehow generating more interest than he was, Dean almost missed Tanya’s statement. 

“And maybe you and I could ditch these two and go back to my place?” Tanya said it softly, trailing fingers up Dean’s leg. 

Well, now it was making more sense.  Dean shook his head and moved his elbow to gently knock Tanya’s hand away.

“Actually, we’ve got to get back on the road,” Dean lied, trying to appear disappointed. 

He looked around for Sam and spotted his brother at the bar, chatting with some blond chick.  He heard Tanya saying something about what a shame it was and when Dean turned back around he saw Jen with her back to him.  She was leaning in close to Castiel, with a hand on his shoulder, apparently whispering something in his ear.  The angel still looked confused as he tilted his head, listening.  She slid the hand down slightly on his chest and Castiel’s eyes darted to it, his expression dubious.  And that was just way too friggin’ far.

“Hey, hey!” Dean said a bit louder than he meant to, but it got Jen’s attention and she smiled over her shoulder at him, still too close to the angel.  Dean knew it was all harmless bar flirting, but he didn’t care.  He got out of his seat and grabbed Castiel’s arm, eyes on Jen.

“He’s taken anyway.  And we have to go,” Dean said, tugging Castiel out of the chair and away from the girls.  Dean stalked over to the bar, interrupting Sam and closing out their tab.  His brother wasn’t ready to leave and Dean could see why—the chick he was talking to was hot.  Well, Sam would have to find his own way back to the motel.  Looking around at Castiel, Dean saw he was glancing suspiciously back at the women still lingering near their vacated table. 

Dean made for the door and Castiel followed him, edging through the crowd.  Exiting the bar, the crisp, quiet night air felt welcome after the warmth and noise inside.  They climbed into the Impala and Castiel watched Dean start the car before speaking.

“Those women upset you?”

“Nah, not really.  Flirting was getting a little handsy, but that’s how it goes sometimes in bars,” Dean said with a shrug.

“That was flirting?”

“Yeah, man.  Didn’t you notice that girl was sort of into you?  What was she whispering?  Didn’t that tip you off?”

“No, she was just bragging about the close proximity of her apartment to the bar.  It’s evidently furnished to encourage relaxing.”     

“Uh huh.  She wanted to take you there, Cas, probably help you relax,” Dean spared a glance at Castiel to see that he was considering this.  He thought the angel might finally be getting it.                     

“In the past, your boastful manner concerning women always gave me the impression that it was a challenge to convince them to go home with you, but that was easy, Dean.  I hardly did anything.”

“First of all, Cas, you’re right, you didn’t do anything.  Everyone was flirting successfully, but you.  Second, it was never a challenge for me, but yeah, I enjoyed my frequent successes.  And third, you just got lucky.  It happens sometimes.  Jen was into you, Tanya was into me, so… yeah,” Dean finished lamely, unsure of what his point had been.    

Dean drove the last few blocks without saying anything.  He was pulling into the parking lot when Castiel spoke again.

“Tanya asked you to go home with her, but you said no.”

“Yeah, and?”

“And you didn’t like Jen talking to me.”

“I didn’t like her touching you,” Dean corrected as he turned off the car. “What’s your point, Cas?”

“Normally, you would have said yes to Tanya, but you didn’t.”

Dean felt a little confused. 

“Cas, I went home with you.  I didn’t want her.  You didn’t want me to go with her, right?”

“No.”

“Okay, then.  Good,” Dean said, getting out of the car.  He went into the motel room with Castiel right behind him.  Then a weird thought struck Dean.

“You weren’t interested in that Jen girl, right?”

“Of course not.  Why would you think that?”  Castiel looked confused.

“I didn’t really think that.  I’m just trying to figure out what the hell we’re talking about here,” Dean said as he sat on the bed and began removing his boots.

Castiel sat on the bed across from Dean, undoing his tie and jacket and laying them neatly at his side.  

“You had no interest in Tanya.  You wanted to leave with me,” Castiel said. 

Dean still had no idea where Cas was going with this—stating facts everyone already knew.  He shrugged off his jacket, throwing it on top of Castiel’s, and waited. 

“Will you always want to leave with me?”  Castiel raised his eyes from the floor to look at Dean.

Oh.  Castiel was trying to have the relationship talk.  At least, that’s what it sounded like.  Dean absently touched his neck, thinking.  He was so bad at this sort of thing.  He didn’t really know how he felt about Cas, except for how he did.  He definitely didn’t want the angel to leave.

“Uh. Well, stuff like that.  It’s, uh, you never know what’s gonna happen in life, sometimes things…  I mean, we could both be dead tomorrow, you know?”  Dean gulped.  He wasn’t sure what he had just said. Castiel seemed to be trying to sort out what Dean had babbled about.  Dean wished he wouldn’t, it didn’t really make sense. 

For something to do, Dean pulled off his t-shirt, but then felt dumb sitting there without a shirt.  Well, maybe it would help divert the conversation. 

“What if we don’t die tomorrow?” Castiel finally asked.

“Uh, well then, yeah, maybe.  I dunno, man.  Sure.”  Dean got up from the bed, embarrassed.  “It’s something we can just figure out as we go, right?”

He risked a glance back at Castiel, but the angel was just looking at him.  Dean ambled over to his bag, wondering if Castiel was really going to let him off the hook with those sorry answers.  Disappearing into the bathroom, Dean stared at himself in the mirror, wishing he knew what else to say.  He brushed his teeth vigorously and then did it a second time, stalling.  He lingered in the bathroom longer than usual, eventually getting annoyed with himself.  Hiding in the bathroom was pathetic. 

As Dean closed the door he saw that Castiel had changed into sweatpants and he was lying on his stomach on the bed, reading some book he borrowed from Bobby.  Relaxing a little at the sight of Castiel sprawled on the bed, Dean started to check the locks and hex bags.

“I already did that,” Castiel said without looking up.

“Well, never hurts to do it again,” Dean replied, completing his task. 

Briefly Dean found himself wondering when Castiel had become so ensconced in his life that the angel was comfortable reading half naked on the bed and picking up the nightly chore of securing the room.  It wasn’t a bad thing though.  It was familiar and Dean found he liked that.  He had enough unknowns in his life. 

Dean peeled off his jeans, watching Castiel, appreciating the long, lean lines of his back and the dip before the start of his sweats.  Climbing into bed with the angel, Dean trailed his fingers down Castiel’s spine, observing the movement of his shoulder blades as Castiel shifted to look at him. 

“Hey,” Dean said, tugging the book from Castiel’s hands.  “Oh, shit, did I lose your spot?”

“I’ll remember.”

Dean wrapped a hand around Castiel’s waist and pulled, rolling him onto his back.  Ducking his head, Dean brushed his lips against Castiel’s and kissed him.  As hard as it had initially been to finally admit to himself that he wanted Castiel as more than a friend, moments like this were surprisingly easy.  He wasn’t sure if Castiel had been trying to define their relationship earlier or not.  It wasn’t like the angel had any dating history to draw from.  Somehow Dean was the one more experienced in that area.  Dean realized that he wanted to say something real—to maybe reassure Castiel that they weren’t just screwing around for fun. 

“Listen, uh, I know I used to go home with different women,” Dean began, unable to look Castiel in the eye.  “But, well, life on the road, it, uh, it doesn’t leave room for anything else.  And those kind of nights were fun, but, well, it’s lonely.  None of those chicks knew me.  So, at the end of the day, I’d rather lie down with you.  Since we get each other, you know?  And you’re important to me, Cas.  I, uh, I need you around.”   

Dean wished he had turned the light out, but settled for keeping his gaze averted.  That came out a lot more gooey sounding than he had intended.  Castiel’s hands moved to cup his face and Dean hesitantly met his eyes, hoping Cas wasn’t gonna make the conversation any sappier than it already was.  The look in Castiel’s eyes made Dean momentarily forget how uncomfortable he felt.  Dean was certain he didn’t deserve the look of adoration, but it caught him by surprise and he wanted to be worthy of it.

“You’re important to me too, Dean,” Castiel said slowly, adding to the significance of the words.

Dean swallowed, staring at Castiel, unwilling to look away.  He wanted to believe it—that he could be important to someone like Castiel.  Uncertain, Dean searched Castiel’s expression for any hint of insincerity, but there was none.  And Dean could tell when people lied to him. 

Grinning nervously, Dean decided that was enough mushy crap for one night, probably enough for a few months, really.  By now Dean knew better than to expect Castiel to look away first, so he broke off the staring.  Spotting Castiel’s lips, Dean went for a change in topic.

“Girl at the bar was right, you know.” 

Instead of responding, Castiel slid his hands from Dean’s face to his shoulders and waited for him to continue.

“Said you have a hot mouth and it’s just,” Dean shrugged and shook his head, pushing out his lower lip.  “I think it’s one of the most accurate descriptions of you I’ve ever heard,” Dean said all mock-serious.

Castiel squinted up at Dean who grinned at him in amusement. 

“My mouth?”  Castiel confirmed and Dean nodded, exaggerating the motion.

“Yup.  Afraid so.  And that would be hot, as in, your lips are tempting and irresistible,” Dean said as he leaned in to kiss Castiel softly.  The angel smiled at him.   

“I would describe most of your anatomy in a similar fashion.”

“Oh, now you’re gonna try and do some flirting?  Well, better late than never, I guess.”

“Is it working?” Castiel wondered.

“Mmm, you tell me,” Dean said, lowering his mouth to Castiel’s again and putting a little more heat behind it. 

The hands on Dean’s back tugged him closer as Castiel parted his lips, letting him in.  The angel had gotten surprisingly good at kissing and Dean mentally congratulated himself on being such a great teacher.  Without disturbing the contact between their tongues, Dean settled himself on top of Castiel.  

Dean had always enjoyed kissing, but something about Castiel and his lips was really enticing.  Those lips kept him dawdling in bed in the morning and made him eager to return to the privacy of their room at the end of the day so he could taste Castiel again.  It didn’t even need to lead to something more, Dean was just happy with Castiel’s lips against his.  He tried to blame it on the angel that they would make out like teenagers sometimes, but Dean initiated the kissing just as often.  On occasion, he wanted to kiss Cas during the day, in public.  The urge always caught him by surprise, but he never acted on it.       

Dragging a hand through Castiel’s hair, Dean veered off course, kissing his way along Castiel’s jaw line and nibbling down his neck. Dean spent a satisfying amount of time sucking on a spot of skin just north of Castiel’s clavicle, worrying the tender flesh between his teeth.  He wanted the mark to stay and contemplated telling Cas not to mojo it away.  The angel had been trailing his fingers along Dean’s back and sides, but he finally found somewhere to stop them.  He curled one hand around the back of Dean’s neck and the other grabbed Dean’s ass, pulling his hips closer.

Castiel gasped at the pinch of Dean’s teeth and then flung the hunter onto his side, rolling him to his back as he climbed on top of him.  Castiel ground his hips against Dean as he kissed him, gripping his bicep and sliding his fingers along Dean’s neck.  The move had caught Dean off guard, but he was sure he could get Castiel the same way if the angel wanted to wrestle.  Technically, he probably couldn’t win, but he could still make a fair effort.  At any rate, Cas tended to get more lost in sensation than Dean did and he could use that to his advantage.

Feeling along Castiel’s chest, Dean moved his hand lower, past his stomach and into his sweatpants.  Dean was momentarily shocked that Castiel wasn’t wearing boxers underneath.  That was a new development.  He wanted to know what prompted that decision, but couldn’t bring himself to interrupt the deep kiss Castiel was indulging him with.  Instead, he rubbed his palm against Castiel’s increasingly interested cock, thinking of the fact that the angel had been going commando in his sweats. 

Smearing his thumb through the fluid at the tip, Dean stroked Castiel to further hardness.  When the angel dropped his forehead against Dean’s and bit his own lip with a sharp inhale, Dean knew it was an opportune time.  He moved one leg so he could press his knee along Castiel’s hip and pushed against it, quickly seizing Castiel’s arms as he rushed forward, flipping Castiel and forcing him onto his back again.  The angel went easily enough and looked appropriately confused for a moment, but then Dean caught his wrists and tried to trap them above Castiel’s head. 

Dean realized it was a mistake right away when Castiel’s always intense gaze faltered and his eyes slid slightly out of focus, looking through Dean.  Loosening his grip, Dean was too slow and Castiel reacted, easily knocking the hunter back as he pulled his arms forward and then close to his chest.  The sudden forceful movement threw Dean slightly off balance and he had to throw a hand back against the mattress to stop himself from toppling over.

“Shit, Cas. I didn’t think that—I didn’t mean to upset you.  I was just messing around.  You okay, man?” Dean was leaning away from Castiel, but he was still straddling his lap.  He felt like he should get off, but he was hesitant to move at all.

Castiel sat up slightly on his elbows and licked his lips.  There was a slight tinge of red in his cheeks as he looked at Dean and then away. 

“I’m fine, Dean.  I’m sorry for… shoving you.  I forgot myself,” Castiel said quietly, still looking down.

Dean started to slide off of Castiel, but the angel brought a hand to his leg, stopping him.

“Don’t go.”

“I’m not leaving,” Dean said, uncomfortably thinking about how he had found Sam in a very similar position on top of Castiel, pinning him down.  God, he was such an asshole.  Dean knew that his friend must have just been remembering something along those lines as well. 

Dean wasn’t sure what to say or do sitting astride Castiel.  He felt hesitant to touch him anywhere.  After a moment of silence, Dean decided to play it safe and he laid his hand on top of one of Castiel’s. 

“You, uh, wanna talk about it?” Dean offered.  “And I deserved to be shoved, Cas.  No harm done there.  I should have known better than to, well, to grab you like that.  I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“You didn’t scare me.  You can’t.”

“Uh, okay.  Well, I didn’t mean to startle you then,” Dean amended, thinking Castiel was sounding defensive.    

A minute later Castiel was reaching for Dean, pulling him close.  Dean was ready to offer comfort, but he kept his hands off the angel, leaving them flat on the mattress and supporting himself so he could leave some space between the two of them.  Castiel was kissing him much more aggressively than Dean had been expecting.  He thought it was a little strange since he had been certain they were done with roughness.  Hell, he thought they were done for the night. 

Castiel nudged his knee in between Dean’s legs and then abruptly broke off the kiss.

“Why aren’t you touching me, Dean?”

The question sounded impatient, demanding, and a tad angry to Dean.

“Um, I dunno.  I just thought…  Maybe we should stop, Cas?”

“Why?”

There was no doubt in Dean’s mind that Castiel was angry.  He could hear it in his voice and the angel was no longer looking away from him the way he had been before.  Instead, he was almost glaring at Dean in defiance.  Dean wasn’t sure how to proceed, but he started with sitting back again.

“Well, you seem upset, Cas.”

“I’m not delicate.”

Dean raised his eyebrows. 

“No one said you were, man.”

“Then touch me and let’s continue,” Castiel demanded, gripping one of Dean’s wrists and moving his hand onto his stomach.

Dean pressed his lips into a line, uncertain.  He wasn’t sure if he should go along with what Castiel wanted or not.  The whole situation had sort of spoiled his desire to keep going and Castiel had definitely seemed upset before he turned angry.  Dean sighed, feeling like there was no right answer.

“Look, Cas.  I don’t really know what to do here.  You seem kind of pissed.  Why don’t we hold off and try tomorrow night?  I’ll touch you however you want, I swear.” 

Castiel looked mutinous and after scowling at Dean for a moment he rolled onto his side, pulling his legs away.  Dean moved the rest of the way off of Castiel and flopped down next to him with a sigh.  He looked at Castiel’s back, thinking.

“I know you’re not delicate, Cas.  Or weak or anything like that.  You’re angry.  I get it.  And angry sex can be good, but...”  Dean shook his head.  Shit, if he kept talking he was going to make it sound like he did stop because Castiel was upset.  And that was sort of true, it was part of the reason, but Dean had also been upset.  He didn’t want to hurt Cas.  And, crap, that brought them back to stopping because Cas was delicate.  Dean glared at the ceiling, hating his indecisiveness.  Great, now he was mad too. 

“Do you still want to, Cas?” Dean blurted, exasperated. 

“No,” Castiel answered icily. 

“Well, fine.  Tomorrow then,” Dean promised, still staring at Castiel’s back.  He wanted to move closer to Cas and touch him, but he resisted.  He didn’t think Castiel wanted that right now. 

The light was still on and it was closest to Castiel, so Dean flung an arm over his eyes, rather than ask the angel to turn it off.   

It took Dean a long time to fall asleep.

Chapter Text

When Dean woke up the next morning it was earlier than he’d gotten up in a while.  He felt like shit.  It had taken him too long to fall asleep and then he’d drifted in and out of nightmares he hadn’t had in weeks.  Previously, Dean hadn’t made the association between Castiel and how he’d been sleeping well and was suddenly nightmare free, but now it seemed obvious.  He glanced at Castiel, who was dressed and sitting at the small table.  The angel had a book open in front of him, but he was looking off in a different direction.

Dean felt kind of miserable as he got showered and ready, so he only really greeted Castiel with a mumbled ‘morning’ and left it at that.  Thinking of what happened the night before, Dean was hesitant to bring the topic up before he had any coffee in his system.  When Castiel didn’t mention it either, Dean decided it was a good decision.  He didn’t want to force a discussion neither of them were ready to have. 

Waiting until a slightly later hour to call Sam, Dean was surprised when his brother answered the phone sounding awake.  Sam said he’d meet them at a nearby diner and Dean finally realized that he must not have made it back to the motel last night.  Well, good for Sam.  Someone should be getting laid.  Dean started to wonder how long it had been for his brother, but quickly abandoned that train of thought. 

They met up with Sam at the diner and his good mood only irritated Dean.   As they sat down at the table together Dean was a bit dismayed when Castiel sat next to Sam instead of him.  He shot Castiel a look of indignation, but the angel was calmly perusing the menu.  Dean really needed some coffee.  He hadn’t thought Castiel was still mad this morning, but maybe he was too tired to be reading him right.  Sam was glancing curiously between the two of them and he inched his chair slightly away from Castiel when the waiter brought them all coffee. 

“You look like shit,” Sam told Dean as he sipped from his mug.

“Didn’t get much sleep.  Couple more cups of joe and I’ll be golden.”

Castiel slid his unrequested cup of coffee over to Dean.  Nodding his thanks, Dean considered Castiel thoughtfully.  The angel definitely didn’t seem mad at him.  They hadn’t said much this morning, but they had talked of inconsequential things.

Fortunately the kitchen was quick with their breakfast and Dean was well into his second cup of coffee and a few large forkfuls of food when he realized that maybe Cas was sitting next to Sam simply because he hadn’t been—just to demonstrate that he could. 

“I spoke with Inias last night,” Castiel said while they ate.

“Who?”

“Inias.  From my garrison.  He reached out to me.”

“At the bar?” Sam asked, raising his eyebrows.

“No, it was actually early this morning.”

“I was up early,” Dean reminded him.

“Earlier than that,” Castiel said.  “You were still asleep.  I left to speak with him.”

“What did he want?” Sam turned in his seat to look at Castiel.

“He was wondering what happened to me and where I’ve been.  If I’d be coming back.”

“Well? What did you tell him?” Dean demanded.

Castiel fixed his gaze on Dean. 

“I told him I intend to remain here with you.  That I’ll return to heaven later,” Castiel said simply.

“Later?”

“When you die.  Human lives are so brief.  Staying here for 50 years is not a long time for an angel.”

Both hunters were quiet for a minute.  Sam brought a hand to his mouth, looking at Dean, and then broke the silence.

“Cas, you’ve seen the way Dean eats.  He’ll be lucky to live past 50.”

“Shut up, Sam.  With Cas healing me all the time I can eat whatever I want,” Dean said, taking a generous bite of bacon.  Chewing, he continued, “’Sides, hunting will get me before food will.”

“Regardless, I’d like to stay,” Castiel said, looking between them.

Dean shrugged.  “Fine with me.  Long as you want, Cas.  Right, Sammy?”

“Yeah,” Sam agreed.  “You’ll probably be bored to tears, but sure.”

The waiter appeared to refill their drinks and leave the bill.  They lingered at the table a bit longer, but eventually they got on the road. 

 

 

They traveled west for several hours, before picking a town in New Mexico to hang out in and look for a new case.  They were stopped for fuel and while Sam was in the store Castiel  mentioned that he had spoken with Sam, telling him that he should stay.  Dean felt relieved, but was confused when Castiel said he reminded Sam of all his good qualities.

“What?  You mean, like, how step-stools are rendered useless when he’s around?”

“No.  I mean things like his compassion and selflessness towards others.”

“Oh.  Yeah, he does that, but the step-stool thing coulda been on your list too,” Dean said. Castiel only stared at him, like he was trying to determine if Dean was serious.

Dean dropped Sam off at the motel while he and Castiel ran errands.  Determined to find Castiel something to wear besides his suit, Dean tried his luck at a collection of outlet stores they passed.  Castiel seemed reluctant to want new clothing, so Dean assured him it would simply be for extended cases—that he could still wear his suit the majority of the time.  Having no preference or inclination concerning clothing, Castiel left Dean to chose what he might need.  A few times Dean offered him a this or that option and Castiel tried to make an informed decision, but colors and styles of clothing seemed completely arbitrary to him. 

Dean made Castiel try on a pair of boots similar to his, but he seemed convinced the rest would fit him without trying it on to confirm.  Once they were back in the Impala Dean decided it was as good a time as any to bring up what happened last night.

“You wanna talk about last night, Cas?”

Dean received no answer and felt annoyed.

“Remember I held your arms down, you freaked out.  I think you were upset and then embarrassed.  And then pissed,” Dean added, covering all the bases.

Castiel sighed. “I remember, Dean.  You caught me off guard.  I didn’t mean to get upset and shove you.”

“I’m not looking for an apology, Cas.  I was the idiot.  Total asshole move on my part, I just wasn’t thinking about it,” Dean said.  He hesitated before asking another question.

“What were you thinking about?”

Looking away, Castiel stared out the window a moment before offering an answer. 

“I thought of things with Sam, but only for a moment.  Then I knew I was with you.  I knew you couldn’t hurt me, but I was… irritated that I lost control.”  Castiel looked back at him.  “I wanted to continue things with you.”

“Yeah, I got that, Cas.  I still think it’s good we stopped.  We’re not in any rush, shit like this might happen and you don’t have to ignore it.  I’ll try to be more careful cause it was totally my fault,”  Dean concluded.

Castiel didn’t respond and Dean wondered if that was good enough.  He was trying to handle this stuff as well as he could, but talking was not his strong point, especially with sensitive topics and Cas was no help.  Dean thought the angel might even be less willing to discuss things than he was.  It didn’t seem right to force Castiel into further conversation so Dean dropped it and started the car. 

They met up with Sam again for dinner and Castiel once more sat next to the younger hunter.  Dean decided he didn’t care.  If that’s what Cas wanted to do, fine.  On the plus side, it was easier to look at Castiel—Dean didn’t have to settle for sidelong glances. 

When they said goodnight to Sam in front of his motel door, Castiel shocked them both by awkwardly hugging the hunter.  Sam made an alarmed face at Dean over Castiel’s shoulder as he stiffly patted the angel’s back, holding him loosely.

“Yeah, uh, good night, Cas… ” Sam said as waited for the angel to let him go.

Raising his eyebrows questioningly, Sam looked to Dean for an explanation.  Dean shrugged one shoulder and shook his head.  He didn’t know what to tell Sam.  Castiel kept a hold of Sam longer than he should have.  Dean saw Sam’s expression soften a little before he cautiously held Castiel a tad closer with his hands high and unmoving on his back.  The whole thing suddenly made Dean feel like he shouldn’t be there, but he didn’t know if Cas would want to be hugging Sam all alone, so he just looked away, kicking at the ground.   When they broke apart Dean thought they both looked a touch uncomfortable, but his brother also had an expression of slight awe on his face when he said a quiet, ‘thanks.’

Castiel gave a singular nod and Dean was more than happy to move past all this weird mushiness. 

“Well, I’m not hugging you goodnight,” Dean said, walking away from Sam and disappearing into his room.  Castiel was there a moment later and Dean toed off his boots as the angel locked the door.

“I know what you’re doing, Cas.”

Dean pulled off his jacket, keeping his attention on the angel. 

“Sitting with Sam and hugging him.  You’re acting like you’re got something to prove, but you don’t.  I don’t think you’re delicate, man.  I would never use that word to describe you,” Dean said.  “’Cause you’re not.  You don’t have to convince me.”

“Keep getting undressed,” Castiel said in response, removing his jacket and tie and laying them on top of his coat.  His fingers went to the buttons on his shirt and Dean watched for a moment before he resumed undressing, peeling off his t-shirt and tossing it aside.  Clearly, Castiel hadn’t forgotten Dean’s promise to pick-up where they left off from the night before. 

“All right, Cas.  I know I said we’d do this your way, but you have to promise to say something if shit upsets you.  You don’t need to force yourself through anything you don’t like.  You got it?”

Castiel was free of his shirt and working on his shoes and socks. 

“Yes, Dean.  In the past I let you know when I didn’t like something.  I still will, but if I say I’m okay you need to trust me.”

“I can do that,” Dean said as he dropped his jeans behind him on the bed.  Then he was moving towards Castiel and lightly touching his arm. 

“Those too,” Castiel said, indicating Dean’s boxer briefs.

“Don’t be in such a rush, Cas,” Dean scolded as he closed the distance between them, keeping his lips close to the angel’s, but not touching him.  He stopped Castiel’s hand, which had been at his belt.

“Talk to me, Cas.  What do you want?”

Dean brushed his thumb over Castiel’s lips and then held his jaw gently.  He kept his mouth close, breathing in the angel’s exhales and watching his eyes. 

“You tried to be rough last night.  I can do that.  I want to do that.  I’m not afraid of you.  I know I’m stronger than you,” Castiel tried to kiss Dean, but the hunter inched away.

“Even if you weren’t stronger, Cas, you know you can trust me, right?  I wouldn’t hurt you.”

“I trust you,” Castiel said, pulling Dean in and kissing him. 

Settling his hands at Castiel’s waist, Dean kissed him back softly, taking his time and making Castiel impatient.  If the angel wanted a taste of roughness Dean could deliver, but he still wanted to make sure and pay attention to Castiel’s reactions.  He hadn’t been exceedingly gently with Cas previously, but he had tried not to rush things and he had been willingly submissive at times since the angel’s dominate nature was so friggin’ sexy. 

Castiel pulled Dean against him, rolling his hips and holding his back more tightly.  Dean responded, kissing the angel in a more demanding way that Castiel seemed to enjoy.  Then Dean moved his lips to Castiel’s neck, turning the angel’s waist slightly.

“Turn around,” he whispered with his teeth at Castiel’s ear. 

Slowly, the angel withdrew his arms from Dean and turned away from him.  Dean moved close, wrapping his arms around Castiel’s stomach and chest, while pressing himself along Castiel’s back and licking his neck.  Fleeting goosebumps sprang up on the angel’s skin as Dean skimmed his hands across the angel’s chest, teasing his nipples.  Castiel seemed uncertain about what to do with his hands and he brought one back to grab Dean’s ass while the other settled on his arm.  Dean kissed and bit gently along Castiel’s neck and shoulder while his hands dropped to undo the angel’s trousers.  He dipped a hand into Castiel’s pants, rubbing him through his boxers, while grinding himself against the angel’s ass. 

“Like this, Cas?”  Dean asked, kissing Castiel’s shoulder. 

“Yes.”

Moving so there was a little more space between them, Dean tugged at Castiel’s pants and boxers so they fell down around his ankles.  Dean got Castiel to step out of them and then he was propelling the naked angel forward until his chest was flat against the wall.  Castiel looked back over his shoulder at Dean and the hunter kissed him as he pressed into him.

Toying with ideas for his next move, Dean decided to trust Castiel to tell him if he didn’t like something.  Dean was slowly kissing Castiel, sucking his tongue and lips as he laid his hands on top of Castiel’s and gradually raised them above the angel’s head.  He had gone slow to give Castiel plenty of time to object.  Dean broke the kiss.

“Don’t forget to talk to me,” he murmured into Castiel’s ear before licking it. 

“I won’t.  I still like this,” Castiel said, pressing back into him. 

Dean moved his hands from Castiel’s, trailing them down his raised arms and over his shoulders.  Castiel let his hands slide a little lower on the wall, but kept them above his head.  Hooking his thumbs into his waistband, Dean yanked his shorts down and took hold of his cock, rubbing it over Castiel’s ass.  Dean spat in his hand and fisted his cock before he directed himself along the furrow of the angel’s ass.  He loved how his cock looked nestled between Castiel’s pale cheeks.  Dean licked Castiel’s shoulder blade and brought his hand teasingly close to the angel’s growing erection.  Pressing Castiel into the wall, Dean slowly slid along the crease of his ass.

“Tell me what else you like, Cas.” 

“Your mouth,” Castiel said, reaching a hand back to grasp at Dean’s hair and pull him into a strong kiss.

Dean rocked against Castiel’s ass, plunging his tongue into his mouth and skimming a hand along Castiel’s inner thigh.

“Mhmmm, what else?”

“Your hands, touching.”

“Where?”

“Everywhere.”

Dean snickered into Castiel’s warm skin.

“Imagine that.  Stay here,” Dean said, kissing the base of his neck. 

Quickly, Dean retrieved the lube and coated himself with it.  Resuming his position behind Castiel, Dean adjusted himself so he was just below his ass.  He pushed forward in between Castiel’s thighs so his cock was brushing along his perenium and balls.  It felt so warm and smooth and Dean pressed his hand to Castiel’s outer thigh so it’d be tighter as he thrust forward.  Dean gripped Castiel finally, finding the angel rock hard in his hand.  Castiel tried to move in Dean’s hand, but it was messing up Dean’s rhythm, so he held one of the angel’s hips firmly and crushed Castiel into the wall while jerking him and sliding between his slick, soft flesh. 

“Ah, Dean!”

“Still good?”

“Yes.”

Castiel clenched his thighs and Dean gave a little moan at the tightening, moving faster and knocking Castiel further into his hand.

“No, Dean. I want you to fuck me,” Castiel said, looking back at him with a hand stopping Dean’s hip.

Dean licked his lips, easing up on Castiel. “Yeah?”

“Yes,” Castiel said, turning around and looping his arms around Dean’s neck, kissing him forcefully.    

The suggestion sounded awesome to Dean.  Of course he’d been wanting to, and the thought of finally fucking Cas made him moan with desire as he slipped his tongue past the angel’s lips.  He dropped his hands to Castiel’s waist, pulling him closer.  Leaving only a smidgen of space between their mouths he asked, “You sure? You gotta keep talking to me.”

“I’m sure.  I want you, Dean.”

Tangling a hand in Castiel’s hair, Dean kissed him and walked him a few steps backwards until he bumped into the table.  Castiel wanted to, he was asking Dean to fuck him and the hunter couldn’t resist the invitation.  Dean couldn’t mess this up.  He would go slow, pay attention, make sure Cas was ready.

Dean caught Castiel’s ass with both hands, giving it a squeeze. Then he turned Castiel around and pushed him so he was bent over the table.  Castiel propped himself up on his forearms while Dean grabbed the lube and then admired the view.

“You look so fucking good, Cas,” Dean said, pressing a hand between Castiel’s shoulder blades and then running it down his back until he reached his ass. 

Castiel turned his head to stare back at Dean and he bit his lip when Dean teased his hand lower.  Leaning into Castiel, Dean kissed him again, mussing his hand through the angel’s hair. 

“I’m gonna lick your ass, Cas, would you like that?”

“Yes.  Do it.”

Dean went down on one knee, spreading Castiel’s cheeks and taking in the angel’s puckered hole, before he slipped his tongue against it.  Nudging Castiel’s legs further apart, Dean licked at him, lapping over his entrance and kneading his ass with his hands.  Castiel moved slightly against him and Dean buried his head further, tonguing Castiel’s rim and pushing inside. 

“Dean, oh, use your fingers,” Castiel gasped. 

Eager to oblige, Dean coated his fingers with lube and rubbed some of the slippery substance over Castiel’s asshole.  Dean moved his hand to give Castiel a few lazy strokes which the angel tried to thrust into, but then he turned his attention back to the perfect ass just waiting for him.  Gently, Dean eased a finger into Castiel, watching him as he started to slide it in and out.  Castiel’s eyes fluttered shut for a moment, but then they were open again and he noticed Dean’s gaze.

“It feels good,” Castiel said.  “Keep going.”

Dean smirked at him, pushing one of Castiel’s ass cheeks so he could better see his finger’s slow exit.  Pressing it in again, Dean tried to stretch Castiel’s rim so he could sneak the tip of his tongue in with his finger.  He was successful and Castiel squirmed a little beneath him.  Dean continued to open him up, adding a second finger and scissoring them inside Castiel.  The angel was so hot and tight and the sight of his fingers pumping in and out of Cas’ wet hole had Dean longing to be inside him.  He licked and bit at the cheek he was holding back, sucking a mark there.

Evidently, Castiel realized that both of Dean’s hands were occupied, because he brought his hands back to spread himself for Dean’s convenience. 

“Oh shit, Cas, I wanna fuck you so bad.”

Dean couldn’t resist licking up and down his ass again and tonguing the entrance, before returning his fingers to dip deeply into Castiel.  He watched them disappear and added a third, stretching Castiel further.  Bringing his free hand to Castiel’s cock, he found the angel was dripping in his excitement and he jerked him lightly. 

“Ah, Dean—I—you,” Castiel gasped and twisted on the table as Dean purposefully went for  his pleasure zone.

Taking one of his hands back to prop himself up, Castiel rocked back onto Dean’s fingers, steadily fucking himself.  Dean rushed forward to kiss the angel with excessive tongue, pistoning his fingers in time with Castiel’s movements.  Dean pulled his fingers out and added more lube to Castiel.  He slicked up his cock, rubbing the head over Castiel’s ass and his fluttering hole. 

“Wait, wait. Dean, wait, I want to see you.” 

Dean groaned involuntarily, hauling Castiel up by the arms and impatiently shoving him towards the bed, pushing him onto his back and climbing up on top of him.  Arranging himself between Castiel’s legs, Dean positioned himself at his entrance and then forced himself to slow down.  He glanced up at Castiel who was looking all wide-eyed and flushed as he stared back at him.  Crawling over Castiel, Dean kissed him deeply.

“That was good, Cas.  Keep talking to me, don’t leave me in the dark,” Dean said, before he quickly kissed his way back down Castiel’s torso. 

“Yes, yes, Dean.”

Grinning up at Castiel, Dean slid his three fingers inside him again, stretching the angel a bit more.  He eased Castiel’s thighs towards his stomach, exposing him further.  Then he directed the head of his cock to Castiel’s ass once more, teasing the faintly pink entrance, absorbed in the sight.  Cas looked fucking gorgeous with his legs spread and his glistening hole ready, crowned by his swollen cock.

“Dean, I’m ready,” Castiel interrupted.

Pleased, Dean pressed against Castiel, slowly sliding past his rim, watching as Castiel’s ass gradually devoured him.  Darting glances between Castiel and his ass, Dean was relieved to see the angel’s face remained calm.  None of his changing reactions or small noises appeared pained or distressed.  Dean bit his lip as he sank deeper, marveling at the heat and wonderful tightness until he was fully sheathed in the angel with his hands resting on his chest. 

“Dean.” 

It was the only thing Castiel said before he was pulling him closer and kissing him urgently.  Dean wanted to move, but he tried to hold still as he returned the kiss.  While clinging to Dean’s back, Castiel moved his hips slightly as if he were testing the sensation.  He moaned and Dean licked inside his mouth.

“You move, Dean.  You can move,” Castiel pleaded, gliding his hands down Dean’s back and leaving them just above his ass.

So Dean moved, sliding slowly back a bit before rolling his hips forward, keeping his movements slow and pushing himself in deep.  Castiel’s dark eyes were glued to Dean’s as the hunter moved inside him. 

“You’re so fucking gorgeous, Cas,” Dean said, as he carded his fingers through the angel’s hair and then cupped his cheek.  Castiel leaned into Dean’s hand, his eyes drifting closed and his mouth falling open.  Dean had to lean closer and kiss him.  It felt friggin’ unbelievable to be buried inside Castiel and kissing him at the same time.  Castiel was so tight and hot around him. Dean laid a hand over his chest to steady himself and maintain the long, slow thrusts.  He could feel Castiel’s heart beating wildly under his palm.

Lowering himself, Dean rested his forehead against Castiel’s as he drove forward into the angel.  Thumbing over Castiel’s nipples earned him a slight twitch.  Dean loved how responsive Castiel always was and watched as he opened and closed his mouth wordlessly, licking and biting his lips as Dean moved inside him.  Thrusting faster, Dean moaned and Castiel gasped beneath him, forcing Dean closer by grabbing at his thighs.

“Y—yes, Dean!  Ah, yes, keep going!”

Castiel tilted his head back with a soft cry and Dean kissed and licked his throat, mouthing along his jaw line and sucking at his adam’s apple.  The angel was breathless and emiting uncontrolled utterances as Dean fucked him slow and deep.  Sliding his hand from Castiel’s chest up to his neck, Dean skimmed his fingers over Castiel’s lips. Castiel licked and bit at the pads of Dean’s fingers before Dean slid them forward into the angel’s mouth.  Sucking them eagerly, Castiel hummed and gasped around Dean’s fingers as they gently massaged his tongue.

“Oh, fuck, yes, Cas!  So good, so fucking good for me.”

Dean rocked harder into Castiel, pushing him slightly along the mattress as he pounded into him.  Withdrawing his fingers from Castiel’s mouth, Dean curled them around the angel’s cock.  The first touch had Castiel gripping Dean’s back tightly and clenching around him. 

“Dean! Ahh, yes, please!  Touch me, Dean, please.”   

Rushing forward, Dean caught Castiel’s lips with his, muffling his incoherent sounds and stroking him swiftly.  Leaning heavily against Castiel, Dean thrust more roughly into him.   He smoothed a hand down Castiel’s neck and along his arm, groping blindly for his hand and then weaving their fingers together when he found it.  Stretching his arm, Dean brought their clasped hands above Castiel’s head and held them together firmly.  Dean pressed himself into Castiel, mashing him into the bed as he kissed him furiously.      

Dean could feel himself getting close as he quickened his pace and drove into Castiel repeatedly, brushing his prostate intermittently.  Oh, shit, yes, fuck yes! He could tell every time he got the angle right because Castiel’s whole body would tense and Dean fucked more and more desperately into the tightening heat.  Inundated with swells of pleasure, Castiel was thrashing continually beneath Dean and urging him closer by wrapping his legs around his waist, while gasping Dean’s name and a string of encouragements.

Dean jerked Castiel with renewed vigor, aiming to fuck him where it counted. 

“C’mon, Cas!  Let’s go.  Fuck! Yes, c’mon, babe, come for me,” Dean demanded, licking at Castiel’s mouth and then forcing his tongue inside, swallowing Castiel’s moans.

The angel lost control, digging his fingers into Dean’s back as he cried and moaned against Dean’s mouth.  Constricting his arms and legs, Castiel squeezed Dean closer while launching his hips upwards into Dean’s hand.  

“Oh, shit, Cas! Fuck, fuck!”

Dean could feel Castiel’s orgasm as it ripped through him and the angel tensed and shuddered while Dean fucked him faster, loving the clenching heat surrounding him.  He jerked Castiel until the angel had nothing left to give and he dropped his head back against the bed.  Then Dean kissed the corner of his mouth and hooked his elbows under Castiel’s knees, pressing the angel’s thighs closer to his pliant body.  Dean plowed into Castiel, rocking him along the bed and making him moan.  Castiel clung loosely to Dean, as the hunter thrust wildly, lost to the smooth glide and hot pressure. 

“Fuck, Cas!”  

Shit, shit, oh fuck, yes!  Dean gave in and came with a moan, smothering his mouth over Castiel’s and quickly pumping into him.  He had a hand wound in Castiel’s hair as he jerkily moved against him.  Finally, Dean stilled his hips and released Castiel’s legs.  For a few moments Dean couldn’t move at all and he stayed where he was with his head resting close to Castiel’s neck. Listening to their slowing breathing, Dean felt Castiel’s gentle hands on his back.  Dean couldn’t stay inside Castiel any longer so he pulled out.  Exhausted, he moved to lie alongside Castiel, draping an arm and part of himself across his chest.  Castiel turned his head to look at him, sliding his arm around Dean’s waist.

“Dean.”

“Is that all you can say?” Dean grinned at him and pressed a kiss to his shoulder.

Castiel seemed slightly hesitant. 

“Dean, I loved it.”  Castiel paused.  “Is that okay?”

Confused, the hunter blinked at Castiel, then he remembered that the last time Cas tried to say he loved something Dean had cut him off and responded jerkily. 

“Course it’s okay, Cas.  I—uh—I loved it too,” Dean said, trying to make amends for before.

“We have to do it again,” Castiel said, fixing him with a serious expression.

“Uh, you mean later, right?”

“Yes.”

“Then, yeah.  Fucking definitely, Cas.  It’s a deal,” Dean promised.

Rolling out of bed, Dean requested an angelic clean-up, which Castiel fulfilled.  Dean pulled his boxer briefs back on and tossed Castiel’s to him in case he wanted them.  Hurriedly checking the locks, Dean turned off the lights.  Climbing back in bed, Dean pulled Castiel against him and yanked the sheets over their legs.  Castiel kissed him for a few lazy moments before tucking his head under Dean’s chin and getting comfortable. 

“I didn’t know it could feel like that,” Castiel said.

“Told ya sex is awesome,” Dean said and then he yawned.

“It was you, Dean.  I just felt you, like you were everywhere.  You were inside me, but nothing hurt—with you it felt amazing.”

Dean opened his eyes, trying to focus on Castiel’s words.

“Mhmmm,” Dean hummed his agreement, gently squeezing Castiel closer.  So much for articulate conversation.      

“Sleep, Dean,” Castiel said with a hint of amusement.

A moment later, when the angel started gliding his hand softly along Dean’s arm, Dean knew he wouldn’t be awake much longer.  Something about Castiel’s presence and his gentle touches put Dean completely at ease and tonight was no exception.

 

Chapter Text

Dean woke up feeling great.  He had awesome sex with Cas last night and the angel loved it and wanted to do it again.  Seeing the bright sapphire eyes that greeted him made he feel even better.  Dean lingered in bed holding Castiel and kissing him like some drippy over-sentimental sap.  The angel seemed more than happy with the attention though, so Dean decided it was okay and continued to kiss Castiel sweetly, holding his face.  Eventually, Sam was texting him so Dean forced himself out of bed.      

After a quick shower, they got breakfast with Sam, who told them he was down to his last pair of clean socks.  So, afterwards, they reluctantly went to the laundromat.  Dean hated doing laundry—too much down time.  The nerds were no help, both of them sat reading and left Dean to his boredom.  There were a few arcade games there and Dean spent a couple dollars shooting zombies and chomping ghosts, which killed some time.     

After the laundry was done, Dean dropped Sam off at the library and took off with Cas.  He had spotted a self-serve car wash station, so they went there and Dean spent some time washing and cleaning out his baby.  He always liked to wash the Impala himself if he could and Castiel stood talking and watching Dean. 

They were in the shade, but it was pretty hot out.  Dean was working in just his t-shirt.  If Sam had been around Dean would have hit him with the hose.  Dean shot a mischievous look in Castiel’s direction, wondering if the angel could handle a joke or if he’d get all cranky like Sam did.  There was only one way to find out and Castiel was pretty quick, maybe he’d dodge it.  So the next time Dean walked along the side of the car Castiel was closest to, he spun around quickly, briefly flicking the hose in the direction of the angel, blasting him with a stream of water.  To say Castiel was caught off guard would be an understatement. 

The angel didn’t move or try to block the stream with his arms or duck out of the way or anything.  He had just let it him him squarely in the chest, slightly turning his head from the ricocheting spray and squinting to protect his eyes.  Dean bit his lip, trying not to laugh at the non-reaction and waiting for Cas to say something.  The angel looked down at his wet shirt and tie and then up at Dean in confusion.  Water dripped from his hair and Castiel wiped his hand over his face.

“What was the purpose of that?”

Dean was trying to keep a straight face.

“Just, uh, thought you looked hot, man.  Didn’t that cool you off?”

“The water wasn’t that cold,” Castiel said.

“Aw, damn, sorry about that.  Better luck next time, right?”

Castiel narrowed his eyes, looking at Dean in suspicion.  The hunter grinned, smirking at the dress shirt clinging to Castiel’s front, and went back to rinsing the car.  Then he promptly started drying it to avoid watermarks.  Dean should have known better than to turn his back on the angel, but he honestly wasn’t expecting a retaliation. 

So when he took a couple steps back to admire his work, wiping his forehead with the back of his hand, the shot of water to his side caught him by surprise and he foolishly turned towards the stream while trying to block it with his arm.  Castiel hadn’t left him in the line of fire for long, but the right side of his t-shirt was drenched anyway. Dean left his wet arms where they were in the air, like he was carrying someone bridal style. He turned to look at the angel.

“Oh, you are so dead,” Dean promised, moving towards the soapy bucket of water and pulling the large soaked sponge out of it. 

He was intending to throw it and was contemplating where it would be best to hit the sneaky bastard when Castiel responded.

“Are you sure you want to do that, Dean?  I do have the tactical advantage,” Castiel said, wielding the hose in his hand and keeping it aimed at Dean.

“You wouldn’t dare hit me again,” Dean said, taking a step towards Castiel with the dripping sponge still raised. 

Castiel quirked an eyebrow and kept the nozzle pointed at Dean.

“Just remember, you brought this on yourself, Cas,” Dean said grinning, before he chucked the sponge forcefully at Castiel and rushed towards him.  The angel ducked to avoid the sponge and blasted Dean with water as Dean tried to force his hand over the nozzle, soaking them both with the strong spray-back.  His plan had been to take the hose from Castiel, but he sort of forgot the angel had an unbreakable death grip when he wanted to.  Instead he tried to keep covering the opening so it was mainly spraying backwards.  Castiel jerked the hose away from Dean’s grabbing hands.

“Hey, watch it!”

They both looked around at the guy washing his car two stations over whom they had accidentally sprayed.  Castiel had stopped the water and was pointing the hose at the ground, looking at Dean next to him. 

“Sorry!” Dean called over, waving a hand in apology and realizing how ridiculous the two of them must look, but then he turned to Cas and couldn’t help laughing.  The angel was drenched.  His hair was soaked and all his layers were sticking to him.  Dean snatched the hose from Castiel and sprayed his already wet shoes for good measure. 

Now, we’re done,” he said, walking away to return the hose to its holder. 

Dean ran a hand through his hair and evaluated himself.  Maybe he hadn’t really thought this plan through.  He pulled off his soaked shirt and wrung it out, tossing it to Castiel and opening the trunk.  He was busy looking for a clean shirt when someone wolf-whistled from across the street.  Dean turned to see a group of what were probably high school kids loitering in front of a convenience store.  He wondered if it was more serious or mocking, but found he didn’t care.  Slipping his dry shirt on, he took the wet one back from Castiel and wrung it out again, before adding it to the trunk. 

“Was that some sort signal?” Castiel asked, casting his eyes across the street at the kids there.

“Nah, just, uh, kids being kids,” Dean said. 

His jeans were wet too, but his backside was dry so Dean didn’t feel too bad about sitting in the car with them on.  The angel on the other hand was gonna be a different story—he was completely soaked.  Dean wondered how Cas could stand having the trench coat and jacket on still.  They must be weighing him down.  Moving to empty the buckets, Dean tidied up and returned the supplies for the next person to use. 

“I might have to leave you here, Cas,” Dean said, shaking his head at the wet angel.  “You’re too wet to get in the car.  You could meet me at the library to pick-up Sam, right?”

Dean was mainly kidding Castiel, thinking the angel could wring out his layers as well and maybe borrow a shirt from Dean if he wanted to. 

“That won’t be necessary, Dean,” he said, striding to the passenger side door and opening it with a cocky smile.  “Did you forget I could do this?”  And the angel was completely dry, smiling in satisfaction at Dean’s fleeting exasperation, before he climbed in the car.

“Hey,” Dean hissed, getting in on his side and starting the car.  “That’s cheating.” 

Castiel didn’t seem to agree.  During the drive Dean pestered Castiel to dry him as well, but the angel refused.  It was kind of unpleasant to be in went bottoms, but the wet socks bothered him more.  They stopped to get Sam who briefed them on a potential new case he had found.  Sam, of course, didn’t notice Dean was a bit soaked still until they got out at the motel and he smirked at Dean’s wet pants.

“What the hell happened to you, Dean?”

“Don’t worry about it,” Dean said evasively, handing Sam his duffle and shutting the trunk.

Sam turned his puzzled expression to Castiel and saw the angel had a small smile on his face.

“Dean initiated an ill-advised aquatic battle at the car wash and is still suffering the consequences of underestimating his opponent,” Castiel supplied, sounding amused.

“Hey, I won.  You were drenched, Cas.”

“Wait, it’s true?  You got in a water fight with an angel? Oh, I wish I hadn’t missed that,” Sam laughed.  “Glad you fought back, Cas.  Dean always thinks he’s so funny with a damn hose.”

“It was funny.” Dean shrugged.  “I stand by my decision.”

 

xxx

 

Sam watched Dean and Castiel disappear into their room and he realized that he really did regret missing out on the fun the two of them had had together.  It was important that he go to the library, since somebody had to be looking for their next case, but he hadn’t gotten to have a good time with Dean in a while.  Knowing that his brother and Castiel were able to have a water fight like they were freaking kids made Sam smile.  They all needed nice moments like that in their life.  Maybe Dean was feeling unusually relaxed because of Cas and they could take some time to do more things that might be fun. 

Sam felt slight apprehension that Castiel might not be as comfortable if he was attempting to join in on their fun, but the angel had been trying to be less cautious around him.  Castiel had sat with him while they ate and he made a point to hug Sam the other day which surprisingly meant a lot to the hunter.  He didn’t realize that he’d wanted that from Castiel until the angel had hung onto him, clearly trying to display that he wasn’t afraid of Sam and that he was forgiven. 

Of course, Castiel had said he’d forgiven Sam more than once already and Sam was trying to remember that.  He had the list from Castiel and thought of it often.  The angel was right, he needed to forgive himself and work on repairing their relationship.  It seemed especially important to Sam since Dean and Cas seemed so happy together.  The angel had said he wanted to hang around until Dean died and his brother had accepted it without batting an eye.  Sam definitely wanted to talk to Dean about that.  He didn’t mind if Cas wanted to stick around, but it was bizarre to hear Dean commit to something like that so casually. 

Though Dean and Castiel had only just recently gotten together, Sam couldn’t remember ever seeing his brother quite so smitten.  To be fair, he hadn’t really seen Dean in a relationship at all before, but he was still a little taken aback by how obvious and disgustingly cute they were together sometimes.  He could only imagine that Dean must not realize his feelings were showing, because surely it broke one of his macho rules of constant denial to be affectionate in public with a man.  Castiel just seemed to be Dean’s exception to all the rules. 

Some of the behavior probably shouldn’t have surprised Sam, like Dean fixing Castiel’s tie and straightening his coat to make him more presentable to pass as FBI or how he’d absently touch Castiel’s arm or back to prompt him to move through a door or towards their table.  Dean would stand too close to Castiel, something he had always scolded the angel about in the past.  The frequency of their staring showdowns hadn’t diminished even though they were constantly together.  Sometimes they’d stare like normal, but there would be a small smile playing on Dean’s lips that made Sam uncomfortably concerned that they had forgotten he was there and he worried that they might start going at it right in front of him.

Dean wasn’t shy about clapping Castiel on the shoulder or throwing an arm briefly around his neck either and that wasn’t too unusual.  It was something he might do to Bobby or Sam if he were in a good mood.  Although, more than once in the car, after they’d been driving for a while, Dean would throw his arm across the back of the seat (which was normal for him) but then he’d start trailing fingers through Castiel’s hair or along his neck like Sam was blind.  Similarly, when they’d be sitting at a table and Dean had either not started or already finished eating and drinking, the hand next to Castiel would disappear.  He didn’t know if they were holding hands or grasping legs or what, but it amused Sam to no end—if Dean thought he was being discrete he was sorely mistaken. 

Typically, Dean didn’t like to share food, but he had started to share everything with Castiel, determined to find something he might like.  Sam wasn’t certain that Castiel liked food at all, but at Dean’s enthusiastic insistence he’d take a small bite of whatever Dean was suggesting.  He never went back for more.  Dean had even shocked Sam by letting Castiel take a bite directly from a few of his cherished burgers, before devouring the rest himself.  His brother was always quick to order Castiel a beer as well, though the angel rarely finished them—usually Dean did.  It was a little baffling to Sam until he concluded that Dean loved food and drinking and he probably just wanted to share those experiences with Castiel.          

Well, Sam had a thought of another experience Dean loved that he could share with the angel.  One that the three of them could use as a perfect excuse to hang out and relax.  He walked to the store nearby rather than bothering with the car to pick up a six-pack of beer and some microwave popcorn.  Sam was pretty sure that Dean still had some beer, but he wasn’t sure how much.  Though Sam had noticed the beer and liquor wasn’t disappearing as quickly as it normally did and he figured that Dean must have found alternative ways to waste time in the evening.      

Sam wasn’t sure he would be able to find somewhere to rent a movie.  When he asked about it at the motel office, the lady at the front desk explained that the rooms had DVD players because they had a collection of movies that guests could borrow.  Sam sifted through the outdated titles and picked two he thought Dean might appreciate.  His brother always liked to call him a nerd, but Dean made an alarming number of pop culture references because he loved movies.

Sam took the beer, popcorn, and movies to Dean’s room and when he got no immediate answer after knocking, he realized that maybe he should have texted Dean a heads-up that he was coming over.  Deliberating between knocking again and walking away, Sam was saved from making a decision when Dean yanked the door open, while running a hand through his hair.  Dean gave Sam a lopsided grin and leaned on the doorframe. 

“Heya Sammy. What’s up?” Dean asked, peering at the items Sam was holding.

Fighting against commenting on the fact that Dean was slightly breathless and blocking the entryway, Sam tried to appear oblivious as he held up the beer and movies.

“Thought the three of us could have a movie night?  Maybe order some pizza instead of going out.  You haven’t had Cas try pizza yet.”

“Yeah, uh… ” Dean glanced over his shoulder.  “Yeah, sounds good.  We could do that,” he said, backing up so Sam could come in.

Sam spotted Castiel standing beside one of the beds and he knew it was the angel, but he gaped a little bit at the sight of him.  Castiel wasn’t in his suit.  He was dressed in nice fitting dark blue jeans, with a fitted grey t-shirt and a long-sleeve black button down top that was open.  Sam had never seen Castiel wear anything else and it was weird.  The clothing definitely wasn’t Dean’s.  Castiel looked nice, but Sam noted that his hair was in disarray, pushed in conflicting directions. 

“Nice clothes, Cas.  When did you buy him clothes, Dean?”  Sam turned to his brother who was looking embarrassed and dramatically casual as he struggled to remember when he had purchased clothing for the angel. 

“Um, just the other day.  Thought it, uh, might be good to have a few changes of clothes, you know. That way if we have a longer case, he won’t look weird wearing the same thing every day.  Cas was just making sure it all fit.  Lemme put that beer in the fridge,” Dean changed the topic and quickly stole the beer out of Sam’s hands.

“Uh huh.” Sam turned his attention to Castiel again.  “You like ‘em, Cas?”

“I’m not as fond of this outfit as Dean is, but it seems acceptable,” Castiel said as he straightened his sleeves. 

Sam grinned down at the movies in his hands.  He loved it when Castiel said unintentionally embarrassing things.  Looking back up, he saw Castiel was focused on Dean who was still behind Sam.  The angel was making his squinty-eyed, head tilt, face of confusion, but after a moment he brought a hand to his hair and tried to smooth it down.  Sam could only assume that Dean had been behind him gesturing that Castiel should fix his hair. 

Turning abruptly to face Dean, Sam saw his brother snap his attention to Sam as he innocently scratched at the side of his chin.  Sam deserved a million good-brother points for curbing his inclination to embarrass Dean further.  And it was really hard to resist since Dean was being so obvious about the fact that they had clearly been all over each other before his arrival.

Instead of mentioning anything, Sam got Dean’s approval on the movies: Batman and Batman Returns.  Then Sam ordered the pizza while Dean got them each a cold beer and made the popcorn.  They got the first movie going and Sam was pleased that Castiel was sitting on the side of the bed closest to the bed Sam was lounging on. 

Castiel took the movie a little too seriously at first and asked occasional questions in an attempt to make sense of it.  They ate the pizza (Castiel took one bite and then Dean finished his slice) and Sam and Dean competed to see who could go the longest in a row catching popcorn in his mouth.  Sam was pretty sure he won since Dean started cheating by throwing extra popcorn in Sam’s direction to try and mess him up.  When Dean tossed a piece to Castiel, he caught it easily in his mouth and Sam felt happy that they were all smiling together. 

They decided to go ahead and make it a double feature.  Dean cleared away the food and got another beer for Sam and himself.  The room was getting steadily darker and Sam turned off the light to avoid a glare on the TV.  Sam was surprised that Dean didn’t pull away when Castiel laid a hand just above Dean’s knee and started stroking his thumb there.  Maybe Dean thought Sam wouldn’t notice or maybe his brother was just letting himself be for once, without worrying how it would look.  Castiel’s questions tapered off and after a half hour of quiet while the movie played, Sam spotted Dean’s head drooping onto Castiel’s shoulder. 

Sam thought that explained Castiel ceasing his questions, because the sequel was really even stranger than the first movie.  The angel must have known that Dean was falling asleep.  It wasn’t that late, but Sam wondered if he should leave.  Castiel was still gently moving his hand on Dean’s leg, looking from him to the TV.

“Is he out, Cas?  You want me to go?” Sam whispered.

“He’s asleep, but I’d like to finish the movie. You can stay,” Castiel said quietly, carefully adjusting himself so he could shift from a sitting position to a reclining one.  He tucked an arm around Dean, gently maneuvering him so he was resting against Castiel’s chest instead of his shoulder. 

Shocked that Dean hadn’t woken up, Sam’s amazement continued when he saw that Castiel was rubbing his back and Dean legit snuggled into Castiel.  Sam couldn’t quite believe his eyes.  His brother had always been a light sleeper—it kind of came with the territory of the job, but he looked downright peaceful in Castiel’s arms.  The sight of the two of them cuddling together was a strange one, even more so since Castiel was wearing his new clothes which just looked bizarre.  Sam didn’t realize that he was openly staring until Castiel looked at him and he promptly fixed his attention on the TV again. 

The movie played on and when it finally ended Castiel spoke again.

“This was a pleasant way to spend time, Sam.  Thank you for suggesting it.”

“Yeah, it was fun, right?  Did you like the movies?”

“I think so.  Though it seemed unlikely that a man who associates himself with bats would find enemies in a woman who dresses like a cat and a man who identifies as a penguin.  And there were a few parts that struck me as far-fetched,” Castiel replied thoughtfully.

“Only a few?” Sam laughed lightly, keeping his voice low as he collected the DVDs.  He gestured at Dean.  “I can’t believe he’s sleeping through all this.”

Castiel looked fondly down at Dean. 

“We were up late last night,” he said, brushing his fingers through Dean’s hair.

“Oh.  Well, he just was never a very sound sleeper, but I guess that’s changed,” Sam said, still speaking softly.  “Would you want to do more things like this, Cas?  Things that are fun for the three of us?  Not mission based.”

“Sure, Sam.”

“Okay. Good.  Dean doesn’t usually like to waste a lot of time on things that aren’t cases, but I have a feeling that if you want to, he’ll be more likely to agree,” Sam explained.

“It sounds like a good idea,” Castiel said and he gave Sam a tiny smile before looking back at Dean. 

Sam could take a hint so he said goodnight and left the room.  It was probably a good thing Dean didn’t wake up while Sam was there, no doubt he’d be embarrassed to wake up and find himself cuddling with Cas.  It was a very educational evening, Sam decided.  He thought it was adorable that Dean was so sweet with Castiel—it was fortunate they had each other, really.  Seeing the two of them so relaxed together made Sam feel good and Castiel hadn’t seemed uncomfortable at all in the dark with Sam while Dean slept.  Overall, Sam considered the night a success. 

 

Chapter Text

When Dean woke up early in the morning, he was momentarily unable to remember why he was sleeping in bed, fully clothed, on top of the blankets.  Castiel was curled around him and Dean would have sworn he was asleep or as close as he could get as an angel.  Dean held Castiel closer, lightly rubbing his back and pressing a kiss to his forehead.

Castiel stirred, looking up at Dean.

“Hello, Dean.”

Dean smiled at him.  “’Morning, Cas.”

“You missed the movie.”

“’S’ok I’ve seen it before,” Dean replied, languidly kissing Castiel’s cheek and then moving to his lips. 

Dean rolled onto his back, taking Castiel with him and appreciating the warmth of the angel pressed against his body.  Weirdly, he felt as if he could be content just kissing Cas for hours.  Somehow it was like Castiel was worming his way further and further past all the barricades Dean built to protect himself over the years. And now that the angel had finally snuck in, he had promptly kicked them all down for good measure.  Dean was so screwed—far out of his comfort zone and hardly caring at all. 

The angel was still dressed in his new clothes and Dean thought he looked friggin’ sexy, but then Dean thought he looked sexy in his regular outfit and in Dean’s clothes and in nothing at all.  Dean casually carded his hands through Castiel’s hair, tangling his fingers in the dark locks.  Dean loved the angel’s uniquely Cas scent and how he tasted like no one else.  The feel of Castiel’s lips parted around his was so fucking perfect.  Dean really didn’t know when he had decided that, but it didn’t matter, he just wanted to keep their lips locked. 

Castiel held Dean’s face all unnecessarily tender, stroking his neck and it would have been deemed 100% corny if Dean were thinking properly, but Cas had a way of making his brain shutdown when they were all wrapped up in each other.  Eventually, Castiel moved so that he was straddling Dean’s lap as he leaned over and kissed him, straying from Dean’s lips to his throat.  Dean felt his cock twitch in interest as Castiel brushed against him.  Thoughts of enticing Castiel to join him in the shower were interrupted by Sam’s knock on the door. 

“Dammit,” Dean said, looking disbelievingly at the clock.  Somehow he had been making out with Cas for over an hour.  Scrambling out from under Castiel, Dean kissed him quickly one last time before he began tearing his clothes off. 

“Don’t let Sam know I just got in there,” Dean whispered, grabbing up his duffle and disappearing into the bathroom.  Sam had interrupted them in a similar situation the day before and Dean didn’t want to be caught twice in a row.    

Behind the safety of the bathroom door, Dean rushed through his morning routine.  He was feeling grateful he didn’t have to see the knowing smirk on Sam’s face.

When Dean emerged from the shower and returned to the bedroom to get dressed, Castiel was back in his suit and coat.  Sam evidently hadn’t stayed after knocking at their door.

Dean saw he had a text from Sam, asking him to come to his room without Cas.  It was odd, but Dean figured Sam just wanted to tell him something privately.  Since Castiel never had to attend to human issues like taking a leak, he was practically always at Dean’s side. 

Sam answered the door right away. 

“Hey, Sammy.  What’s up?”  Dean wandered into his room which looked identical to the ugly room he and Castiel were sharing.  Way too much maroon. 

“This case, Dean.  I told you about the guy, Berry, supposedly being in two places at once.  Held up a liquor store, outran the cops, but was also at home with his wife and a broken ankle?”

“Yeah, I remember,” Dean said. “We’re thinking shifters, right?  Either that or it’s nothing, people lying with bullshit cover stories.”

“Right.  Or it’s something we haven’t seen before,” Sam added.

“What’s your point, Sam?  Why are we talking about this in secret?”

“Because I was looking into it more after the movie last night,” Sam said, gesturing towards his laptop.  “And there’s a new witness report mentioning black smoke.”

“Aw, shit.  So, maybe demons now?”

Sam shrugged. 

“We won’t know till we get there, Dean.  It’s only like 70 miles from here though.  I thought we could still check it out, we’d leave Cas here,” Sam hurried to say before Dean could object.  “If we eliminate demons as being responsible, then you let him know where we are and he comes to help.  If it is demons, well, we deal with them and then meet up with him afterwards.” 

Dean considered this.  He really hadn’t wanted Castiel anywhere near demons after he had found out the angel screwed the King of Hell out of a contract.  Crowley took his contracts seriously and the last time Dean had seen the demon he had been very willing to help them in their plan to have Death kill Castiel.  Dean thought Crowley might believe Castiel to be dead, since his temporary stint as ‘god’ had ended shortly after that.  He didn’t want some chance run-in with a demon to blow the angel’s cover.

“Cas isn’t gonna like it, but I think you’re right,” Dean agreed. 

Sam nodded.  “That’s why I wanted to tell you alone.” 

 

 

Dean explained the situation to Castiel while Sam checked out of his room and booked another night in the room in which they were going to leave Castiel.  The angel definitely wasn’t happy that they were ditching him.

“I don’t like this plan.”

“I’m not crazy about it either, Cas, but it makes sense.  Okay?  So we’ll check it out and figure out what’s going on and take it from there,” Dean said, as he plugged one of their spare phones in to charge. 

“What if it is demons and you don’t resolve the situation today?”

“If that happens we’ll deal with it, Cas.  I’d probably let you come meet us at the motel, but you’d have to stay out of the hunt,” Dean said, watching Castiel’s eyes narrow. 

“I’m not a child, Dean.  And I’m not afraid of demons or Crowley.  I should come with you,” Castiel argued.

“Look, man, I’m just trying to keep you safe.  Crowley will probably be pissed at me and Sam if he finds out we didn’t kill you.  We don’t need a demon chasing after any of us.  It won’t be forever, but we should at least try to stay off Crowley’s radar until more time has passed.  I’m sure that son of a bitch holds grudges.”

“You should at least tell me where you’re going,” Castiel said sullenly.

“I’m gonna call you, Cas.  You remember how to use the phone, right?” Dean gestured to the cell phone he had left on the table for Castiel to use.     

“Don’t patronize me, Dean.  I know how to use a phone.”

“Okay, okay.  I’ll call once we’ve had some time to poke around, maybe like, six hours from now?  I’ll tell you what we’ve got and we’ll go from there,” Dean promised as he picked up the TV remote, clicking through the stations. 

“I’m not seeing any bugs, Cas, but how about dolphins?  They’re cool too,” Dean said, tossing the remote onto the bed. 

Castiel glanced from the TV to Dean, looking irritated. 

Sam knocked at the door and then stuck his head in.

“We ready?”

“Yeah,” Dean said, slinging his duffle bag over his shoulder.

Looking apologetic, Sam raised a hand to wave a vague goodbye to Castiel as he retreated from the door. 

“Just, hang out here, Cas.  Enjoy some me time.  Or, hey!  Go pop in on Bobby, scoop up some new books to read.”

Dean chuckled as Castiel’s expression wavered between sulky indignation and piqued interest.  He backed up a few steps closer to the door. 

“I’ll, uh, I’ll talk to you later, man.”

Dean took a last look at Castiel and gave him a nod as he disappeared from the room.  

 

 

Castiel stood, listening as the Impala drove away.  He walked over to the door and locked it simply because that’s what Dean always did.  Castiel thought he should have argued more.  He was certain Dean would have if they tried to leave him behind. 

Looking around the room, his eyes fell on the television.  Dolphins did seem interesting.  With nothing else to do Castiel sat on the edge of the bed, but a commercial came on.  There were lots of breakfast advertisements and Castiel was surprised to realize that he wished he were at a diner with Dean and Sam, like normal.  He imagined the hunters would likely stop somewhere on their way.  It would probably smell like coffee and bacon.  The program returned, but ended shortly afterwards.  Castiel hadn’t learned anything and he clicked the TV off.  

He had two of Bobby’s books with him, so Castiel sat at the table and continued the one he had already started.  It was a more recently published book about the Ptolemaic Kingdom.  Castiel found himself marveling again at humanity and their diligent record keeping and dedication to the preservation of knowledge, still researching and writing books with new insight into events that occurred 2000 years prior.  Humans were so industrious.

It took him about an hour to polish off the rest of the book and Castiel decided he would return it to Bobby.  Dean wouldn’t be calling for hours still so Castiel left the cell phone there. Dean had said it was charging anyway.  When Castiel arrived in Bobby’s living room the hunter wasn’t there.  Castiel could tell he wasn’t in any other part of the house and he felt slightly disappointed. 

Studying Bobby’s bookcases he saw several interesting looking books, but he didn’t want to take any without permission.  Castiel left the book he was returning on Bobby’s desk where he would be certain to see it.  He considered waiting for the hunter to return, but he could be gone for hours as well and Castiel wasn’t entirely confident that Bobby would like him to be there while he was out.                

Castiel returned to the motel room, sitting by the window, at the table that Dean had pushed him onto the other night.  The angel slowly allowed himself to become absorbed in thought.

 

xxx

 

Dean drove. He felt like the car seemed a little bit empty, which was weird, because Castiel hadn’t been driving around with them for that long.  He wondered if it was because this was one of the first times he’d been away from Castiel since the night he regurgitated all those souls. 

They had stopped to eat shortly after getting on the road, primarily because Dean could only deny himself coffee for so long in the morning.  They were passing by a whole lot of nothing at the moment and Dean couldn’t get a clear radio station to come in.  He reached for his box of tapes, but Sam said he wanted to pick and Dean generously let him.

An Aerosmith tape he hadn’t listened to in forever came booming over the speakers and Dean decided it was a decent choice.  Of course, when choosing from his collection, it was impossible to go wrong.  By the time the fifth song rolled around Dean remembered exactly why he hadn’t listened to this particular tape in a while.  He glared around at Sam who was trying to keep a straight face as the opening notes of the song ‘Angel’ played over the speakers.  Dean ejected it before any of the lyrics were sung. 

“Cute, Sam.  Real cute,” Dean said, as he tossed the tape over his shoulder while Sam sniggered. 

“You could have at least waited for the chorus, Dean.  How’s it go?” Sam started singing and Dean hoped he was trying to sound awful, because he really did.  “Baayaaby, you're my angel, Come and save me—oww.” Sam rubbed his arm where Dean had punched him.

“That’s a warning shot, Sam.  You don’t get any more.” 

Dean popped another tape in and dialed the volume louder.

They were nearly at their destination.  Dean was eager to get to work and determine what exactly they might be dealing with if anything.  He knew their first stop would be the police station to check out the surveillance footage from the liquor store.  If a shapeshifter was caught on camera then its eyes should be a dead giveaway. 

Sam turned the music down so he could speak.

“So what do you really think of Cas wanting to stay till you die?”

Without taking his eyes off the road, Dean shrugged.  “Sounds good to me.  What, did you think I was lying?”

“Well, not lying, but, uh, and don’t freak out Dean.  But, I mean you guys are sort of like, uh, dating, aren’t you?”

Sam was looking at Dean cautiously, but instead of answering, Dean adjusted his grip on the steering wheel, shifting his shoulders while keeping his gaze resolutely straight.

Dean kind of knew what Sam was trying to say.  Maybe it should have perturbed him that Castiel was talking so concretely about staying indefinitely with Dean since they were more than friends, but it really didn’t.  He didn’t want Castiel to leave.  Rationally, he figured Castiel would eventually leave, but Dean preferred not to think about that—it was surprisingly upsetting.  When Dean thought of Castiel’s trusting eyes and the bright way he looked at him, Dean knew he wasn’t done with the angel.  That he didn’t want to be done with him.  All those sweet little smiles Cas would flash in his direction and the way Dean could completely be himself around Castiel without fear of rejection was absolutely what Dean wanted.  Of course, he never got what he wanted for long, so he might as well enjoy it while he could.  So yeah, he wanted the dorky angel around.   

“So… if I take your silence as a yes,” Sam said with a hint of annoyance in his voice.  “Then I have to figure that Cas saying he wants to stay here, with you, until you die would have made you, I dunno, run in the opposite direction.  I just never really pegged you as being the type of guy who… commits.”

“Oh, that’s bullshit, Sam.  I’m committed to this job every fucking day,” Dean complained, glaring at Sam in indignation.  “And I made shit work with Lisa for a whole year.  The only reason I couldn’t stay there is because this job is more important—and I committed to this first.  Plus, you were nice enough to finally tell me you were alive after all and, well, I don’t need to commit to being your brother.  That is what it is.”

Dean was satisfied that Sam had raised his eyebrows in surprise.  Good.  Samford always thought he knew everything. 

“Jeeze, Dean.  I know you’re committed to the job, I wasn’t trying to insult you.  I just thought… You know what, never mind.  I guess I was wrong.  Sorry,” Sam said calmly, looking away from Dean and out the window.

“Yeah, well,” Dean said huffily, “you wouldn’t have ‘run in the opposite direction’ if Jess had said she wanted to to be with you forever, right?  I dunno why you’re dumping on me for commitment issues when my thing with Lisa was a lot more recent than anything you’ve had going on.”

Dean saw Sam look around at him in shock and he felt slightly guilty.  Maybe he shouldn’t have brought up Jess, but he didn’t think Sam was being fair in his assumptions.  Sam knew what life on the road was like.  There was no room for long-term anything.  That was what Dean meant.  His brother should know that unless the person was in the Impala along for the ride, they just weren’t gonna last.  Sam was still staring at him in disbelief and Dean considered apologizing.

“You know how I felt about Jess.  You know I loved her,” Sam said slowly. As Dean glanced at him, he could see his brother was still surprised.

“Yeah, I know, Sammy.  I know you don’t like talking about her.  My bad, man.”

“No, Dean, I mean… did—did you just compare Cas to Jess?” Sam asked incredulously.

Teetering on the verge of answering, Dean realized what Sam was trying to say.  He felt his face heat up and darted a glance in Sam’s direction.  His brother’s mouth was slightly open and his eyebrows were sky high, waiting in anticipation for Dean’s response.

“No,” Dean blurted.  “That wasn’t what I meant.”  Dammit, how did Sam always rope him into these uncomfortable conversations?

“Uh huh,” Sam said, unconvinced.  He paused.  “Dean, you do know, that I have absolutely no problem with you and Cas, right?  You’re the only one who acts weird about it sometimes.”

“Yeah, well, it’s kind of weird to me,” Dean said roughly, refusing to look at Sam.

“I get that, Dean, but you’re my brother and well, I’ve seen how happy you’ve been recently.”

Dean briefly shut his eyes, wishing Sam would just shut up.  There was no reason to be talking about this, but Sam was still going.

“I just want you to know that you have my support.  You always do.  And Cas seems to be doing better.  So I think you two are good for each other.”

Dean leaned on the gas pedal as if he could accelerate away from the conversation with enough speed.  It wasn’t his fault that talking about feelings made him so uncomfortable.  He thought he’d been handling things pretty well considering Castiel was a man and an angel and was raped by his brother.  All of those aspects created a situation that could easily turn horrible.  Not to mention that Dean had minimal relationship experience and Castiel had none.  The fact that he was kind of scared and excited by how important Castiel was to him was definitely not something he could talk to Sam about.  He wanted to tell Sam to shut up, but Dean knew he was just trying to be nice.

“You done, Sam?”

His brother stared at him for a long moment before sighing.  “Yeah, I’m done, Dean.”

“Good.  You know I don’t want to talk about this stuff, man.”  Dean paused and cleared his throat.  “But thanks.  It’s, uh, good to know.”  He spared Sam a brief nodded acknowledgment and turned the music back up, effectively ending the conversation.

 

xxx

 

Castiel had just come to the conclusion that perhaps he’d like to sit outside and people watch.  The Winchesters spent entirely too much time indoors—in the car, in motels, in diners, and bars.  There was no reason for Castiel to wait in the motel room.  As long as he took the cell phone, he wouldn’t miss Dean’s call.         

Before Castiel was able to execute his new plan to pass the time, he heard the phone ring.  It was too early for Dean to be calling.  Three hours had barely passed.  Castiel moved to the bedside table to answer the phone, but once he got there he realized that the cell phone wasn’t ringing.  It was the motel phone.  He contemplated letting it ring—Dean and Sam would call the cell phone, so it likely wasn’t a call meant for him.  It occurred to Castiel that it could be the front office calling, but he didn’t have anything to say to the proprietors of the motel.  After ten rings it was still going.

Castiel picked up the receiver and looked at it before raising it towards his ear.  Unfamiliar with this style of phone, Castiel wondered if he needed to hit a button, but he didn’t see any green colored button or one labeled ‘talk’ like he’d seen on cell phones.  He could hear noise on the line, but no one said anything.  Castiel put the receiver back down. 

A moment later the phone was ringing again and Castiel frowned at it, answering much more quickly this time.  He held it to his ear and waited, listening.  Faintly, he could make out breathing.

“Cas?”

“Dean?”  Castiel looked at the phone in his hand in confusion.  The hunter didn’t sound right.  He sounded upset.  “What’s wrong?”

“Cas, man, you’ve gotta come help us.”

“Where are you?”

“I need you, Cas.”

There was no mistaking the touch of desperation in Dean’s voice and Castiel knew he had to get to him at once.

“Dean, tell me where you are,” Castiel demanded, but all he could hear were muffled noises.

“Dean?  Are you there?”  Castiel was pressing the phone tightly to his ear, listening for anything. 

“’Fraid not, kitten.”

The familiar voice was not one Castiel wanted to hear and he bit back the diatribe he longed to hurl.  Castiel fought to keep his voice level.

Crowley.  If you hurt him—”

“Oh, please, Castiel.  I know how attached you are to your little pets.  It makes them the best bargaining chips… your favorite boys—the bloody Winchesters.”

“What do you want, Crowley?”

“I want you, dove.  Just a little chitchat with my old business partner, on my terms.”

Castiel knew it was a trap, that he shouldn’t bend to the demands of a demon, but he didn’t care.

“Tell me where, Crowley.”

“With pleasure.” 

Once Castiel had gotten the information he needed, he hung up the phone.  It was hard to resist a mad desire to pick up it back up and throw it against the wall.  He noticed the cell phone and after a moment, he picked it up and called Dean.  There was always a chance the demon was lying—Crowley could be very crafty.   

The line continued to ring and Castiel felt himself losing patience.  For a moment he thought the hunter picked up, but it was only the voicemail message and Castiel squeezed the phone tightly in frustration.  He was going to hang-up, but then he decided to leave a message, just in case.

“Dean.  I—Crowley called. He say’s you’re in Eastonville, at an old restaurant, Caroline’s…  I’m going there unless you call me back.”

Castiel stared at the phone in his hand, willing it to ring.  This shouldn’t be happening.  He should have gone with them.  Slipping the phone in his pocket, Castiel went to Bobby’s.  The hunter’s house was still empty and Castiel shook his head, liking his options less and less.  Standing in Bobby’s kitchen, Castiel fished the phone out of his pocket and tried Dean again.  Voicemail.  Castiel tried to remain calm and still.  He was trying to wait, to give Dean time to call him back, but he was angry and he knew he should be doing something besides standing quietly in Bobby’s kitchen.

Every second was painfully long.  Castiel couldn’t remember ever feeling worry like this before.  He felt terribly axious and decided he couldn’t stand idly by any longer.  With a last look at the silent phone in his hand, Castiel flew to the place Crowley had indicated.    

 

Caroline’s was indeed a long closed restaurant from the looks of it outside.  The building looked like it was in need of maintenance with peeling paint, a cracked window, and graffiti.  There were a couple of neglected looking cars in the parking lot.  Weeds were growing through the cracked asphalt.  The Impala wasn’t there and Castiel wondered if that meant Crowley had captured the brothers somewhere else and brought them here.

Castiel didn’t know what he would find behind the wooden, double doors, but he strode forward purposefully, burying his fear with every step.  The doors swung open as he approached and he quickly crossed over the threshold, bypassing the first small entrance area and proceeding into the larger main dining area. 

It was dim inside and all the old chairs and tables were stacked along the walls.  Castiel didn’t stop when he spotted Crowley on the other side of the room.  He was before the demon in an instant, angrily grabbing his lapels and dragging him closer.

“Where are they, Crowley?”

“Tsk, tsk, mind the suit, darling,” Crowley said, supremely unconcerned by Castiel’s aggressiveness. 

The demon met the angel’s eyes and Castiel roughly released him, watching as Crowley smoothed out his jacket calmly.  Castiel had to resist his anger.  If Dean and Sam weren’t here, then he needed Crowley to tell him where they were.

“You wanted me here.  I’m here.  Now where are the Winchesters?”

“I told you I wanted to chat first, sweet cheeks,” Crowley said, lightly tapping Castiel’s cheek. 

“Now between the two of us, we both know who can be trusted to keep a deal and who can’t…  So we’ll be continuing on my terms,” Crowley smiled at him and indicated the empty space behind Castiel.  “Which means, get in the circle, angel face.”

Castiel looked behind him and could see the oil outlining a circle on the floor.  He turned back to Crowley with an irritated expression. 

“I don’t think that’s necessary, Crowley.  I’ll speak with you.”

“Oh, but I think it is.  You’ve already proven that you can’t be trusted, but you can trust me to let you out afterwards, Cas.  I freed you after the Winchesters trapped you in fire and abandoned you, didn’t I?”  Crowley smirked and Castiel couldn’t deny it. 

“Now, I have it on good authority that Dean is one of your two favorite people to worship, so if you want him back, with his pretty little face intact, then I suggest you get in the circle so we can have our chat,” Crowley smiled wickedly as Castiel considered.

“And afterwards you will release me and return Dean and Sam unharmed?” Castiel confirmed.

“You have my word as a businessman,” Crowley assured him. 

After a moments hesitation, the angel made his decision.  Castiel felt uneasy as he walked willingly into the circle, but he kept it from his expression when he faced Crowley, glaring at him in anger.  The demon looked delighted and he snapped his fingers causing fire to erupt around Castiel.  The sight and sound of the flickering flames brought an unpleasant shiver over Castiel and he struggled to keep himself from shaking.  There was a flutter of dread in Castiel’s stomach at being trapped and powerless again, but he tried to ignore it.  He knew Crowley was likely up to something, but he could endure his words if it meant Dean would be safe. 

“So,” Crowley said thoughtfully, as he walked closer to the blaze, “Soulless Sam was right.  You are incredibly gullible.  Might want to work on that, mate.  Not the best quality to have in negotiations.”

Castiel felt a glimmer of apprehension creeping through him.  It was true that Crowley knew Sam had no soul once, but why was the demon mentioning him now?  Castiel said nothing in response and tried to keep his face impassive.

“More to the point, no one breaks contracts with the King of Hell,” Crowley snarled, losing some of his cool exterior, but he recovered quickly and started to pace the perimeter of the circle. 

Castiel wished he wouldn’t and for a moment he couldn’t decide if he should leave his back to Crowley or not, but as soon as Crowley slipped from view, Castiel felt compelled to turn and face him.  The demon moved slowly so it was simple to keep him in sight, but Castiel didn’t like that he had to turn his whole body to watch Crowley.  Eventually, he would have to shuffle his feet and the movement required him to step back somewhat and Castiel thought that made him appear afraid.  Crowley began ranting.

“You screwed me, angel, so now I get to screw you!  Imagine my surprise when I found out a person beat me to it and Sam Winchester at that.  I’ll have to send him a fruit basket… incidentally, do moose eat fruit?” Crowley cocked his head in question.

Castiel’s movements faltered when Crowley mentioned Sam again, but he got himself under control, trying to comprehend what Crowley was suggesting.  He didn’t like the sound of it.

“Actually, let me bring Colossus out here.  Oh, Sam!”  Crowley had stopped his circling and walked a few paces away, calling in the direction of a dark doorway that Castiel presumed led to the kitchen. 

Castiel wasn’t confident that he wanted to see Sam at the moment, but a friendly face could be reassuring.  However, the Sam that walked out from the dark room was not a welcome sight.  His clothing was similar to what he had been wearing when he trapped Castiel, but it wasn’t exactly the same and it certainly wasn’t what Sam had been wearing earlier.  Also, the figure was almost definitely an exact replica of Sam, but Castiel could tell it wasn’t his friend and he felt suddenly terrified by that.  As the fake Sam walked closer, Castiel unconsciously took a step backwards so that he was in the center of the circle.  Castiel caught Crowley staring at him with amused triumph and he tried to quickly make his expression devoid of emotion. 

Happily, Crowley spread his hands wide in front of him, speaking with loud enthusiasm.

“Shifters and demons working together!  Will wonders never cease?  Well, one shifter.  He owed me.  I should have gotten two, but, don’t worry, he can do either of them.  He can switch back and forth.  Moose, then Squirrel, then a little more Moose, maybe?  Course the clothing won’t be right for Squirrel… but then, clothing isn’t necessary, hmmm Cas?”

Fear Castiel couldn’t quite seem to squash was blossoming in his chest.  Crowly was working with shapeshifters.   That meant he knew.  If the shifter had already copied Sam and Dean previously, then it would have had access to the thoughts and memories of both hunters.  The shifter had likely told Crowley everything about Sam.  Everything about Dean.

Castiel could feel himself losing control.  He tried to focus solely on Crowley, ignoring the fake Sam, but they were standing near each other and the fake was in his peripheral vision.  The room was getting hot and between the smoke and flames and a very authentic looking Sam who was wearing uncomfortably familiar clothing and a fierce expression, Castiel was feeling a touch dizzy.  He squeezed his fists tightly to remind himself that this wasn’t the same as before.  The outcome didn’t have to be the same.  This wasn’t Sam—he could hurt the creature.         

“I must admit, Castiel, I was a bit surprised.  I didn’t know you’d drop trou for both Winchesters.  I mean, what kind of an angel bends over for humans?  Though, I have to say, I think Sam’s version of what’s sexy is much more my speed,” Crowley said, leering at him.  

Castiel found his voice.

“Sam and Dean aren’t even here, are they?  You never had them.”

Crowley feigned an apologetic look.

“No, not here, lamb.  I don’t know where they are.  Well, they’re probably busy playing FBI dress-up for that little case we set up.  I knew Dean would want to keep you away from anything demony.”

Castiel felt completely foolish.  He had gotten himself trapped for nothing.  Dean had never been in danger.  And now he was in the presence of a vengeful demon and a creature who could replicate the two men he had been trying to save in order to torment him. 

Then his phone was ringing.  It took Castiel a moment to remember that he had it on him.  He glanced at Crowley as he pulled it from his pocket, but before he could answer the call the phone flew from his hand and into Crowley’s outstretched one.  He answered it with a smirk and a singsong voice.

“Castiel’s phone.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Sam and Dean were at the police station.  The first time Dean’s phone rang, he silenced it while apologizing to the officer they were speaking with and asking him to please continue.  The officer had been apprehending the man Berry, who robbed the liquor store and it was sounding more and more likely that they were dealing with a shifter.  Ones he had encountered in the past were fast, strong, agile and had regenerative abilities to heal themselves.  If one had copied the guy, it could have easily outrun some police and the broken ankle wouldn’t have been a problem.  The shifter could have fixed his borrowed form right up. 

When his phone rang again, less than five minutes later, Dean felt a little annoyed.  Silencing it, Dean discreetly checked the caller id and saw that Cas was calling.  Dean shook his head as he shoved the phone back in his pocket.  For someone who’d been alive for freakin’ forever, Cas could be so impatient sometimes.  Dean told him he’d call.  There was no reason for the angel to be jumping the gun and bothering him when he knew they were trying to conduct an investigation. 

Dean hated leaving Castiel behind, so he was eager to get this case over and done with.  He and Sam waited while a different officer pulled up the surveillance from the liquor store.  They were hoping there was a clear shot of Berry’s eyes so they could confirm if it was a shifter or not.  Fortunately, the retinal flare was clear from the footage and, just like that, the hunters knew what they were dealing with.  Of course, catching a shifter would be a tough job, especially since this one may have just committed the robbery and skipped town.  It didn’t help that he had a day’s head start.   

As they left the station, Sam suggested that they go speak to Berry’s wife who had made a vague report about seeing wispy black smoke in her house while they were both at home during the time of the robbery.  It was probably best to check it out.  Although, it seemed unlikely that the case would involve shapeshifters and demons, but still there was a first time for everything. 

While they were driving there Dean remembered about Cas calling and he dug his phone out of his pocket.  He saw he had a voicemail.

“Watch the road, Dean,” Sam scolded him, yanking the cell phone out of his hand.

“Cas left a voicemail.  What’s it say?”

Sam got to the voicemail and held the phone up to his ear.

Glancing in Sam’s direction, Dean felt a little alarmed as Sam’s face drained of color and he stared at the phone in his hand.  For one wild moment Dean’s uneasiness morphed to embarrassment.  Maybe Castiel had left Dean a private message, something sexual that was causing Sam to look so wide-eyed.  But Dean quickly pushed that thought away, Castiel wouldn’t have the first clue about leaving raunchy messages.

“Dean, you have to pull over,” Sam said.

“What? Why? What’s wrong?” Dean jumped from embarrassment to concern, but he pulled over and quickly put the car in park.

“Just listen to the message,” Sam said in the same worried voice as Dean snatched the phone from him and played it again.

Castiel’s voice sounded upset and Dean’s worry multiplied as he listened in horror.

“Dean.  I—Crowley called. He say’s you’re in Eastonville, at an old restaurant, Caroline’s…  I’m going there unless you call me back.”

“Oh, shit,” Dean turned to Sam.  “You don’t think he went there, do you?”

Sam shrugged and shook his head, “I hope not.”

“Figure out how far we are from Eastonville,” Dean ordered as he dialed Castiel, fighting against the trickle of fear in his gut.  It had been too long.  Castiel wouldn’t have waited.  The angel was too friggin’ reckless and if he thought they were in trouble then he probably went.  Dean never should have left him alone.  He should have answered his phone.  Why didn’t Castiel call more than twice? Why didn’t Dean pick up when he called?  Why hadn’t he told the angel where they’d be? 

On the fourth ring, Dean’s panicked thoughts were interrupted as someone answered the phone.

“Castiel’s phone.”

Shit.  Dean rubbed his hand down his face and put the phone on speaker as his despair was overtaken by anger.

“Crowley.  You son of a bitch.  Put Cas on the phone.”

“Sorry, Squirrel, but your little love bird and I are having a chat.  Once Sammy and I are done playing with him I promise to let him out of his cage so he can fly home to you.”

Dean looked in confusion at Sam, who appeared just as puzzled that Crowley had mentioned him.   

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“Oh, that shifter you’re looking for, he’s a friend.  He can do a very convincing Sam and his Dean’s not half bad either.  Of course, as Sam he had some delicious suggestions on how to effectively punish a trapped angel, so I decided a little re-enactment was in order.”

“I swear, Crowley, if you fucking touch him,”  Dean growled, swallowing past a lump in his throat.  

“What an excellent idea, Dean!  Sam and I will fuck and touch him,” Crowley said loudly and Dean knew he was saying it like that to mess with Castiel.

“Lovely chat, Squirrel.  Kisses to Moose.”

Crowley hung up and Dean threw the phone down against the seat.

“Fuck!”  Dean slammed his hands against the steering wheel and then covered his eyes with his hand.  He took a couple deep breaths to get himself under control. 

“Dean,” Sam said quietly.  “I pulled it up on my phone.  It’s less than 30 miles from here.”

Snapping his head up, Dean looked wildly at Sam and started the car. 

“Which direction?”

“You wanna turn around,” Sam said.  “Want me to drive?”

“I got it,” Dean said, peeling out from the shoulder to make a u-turn.

There was no way Dean could let Sam drive.  He wouldn’t be able to sit still in the passenger seat with nothing to do but think.  That would really make him lose it.  Dean couldn’t believe this was happening again.  It was bad enough he let Soulless Sam do all that crap to Castiel, but now he was trapped with a fucking demon and a shapeshifter intent on making him relive it all.  Dean stepped on the gas.  Maybe Castiel could stall them.  Maybe Crowley would waste more time enjoying himself talk. 

All Dean knew was that he had to protect Castiel.  That he couldn’t let those monsters touch him.  Cas was too good for this shit.  He had made too much progress to be torn back down.  Dean could remember what poor shape Castiel was in when he first came to Dean all tied up and bloody.  How he looked so vulnerable and human and how fucking brave and stupid it was for him to go to the bedroom of the person who hurt him, but he had done it anyway to see Dean. 

The hunter thought of all their intimate moments since then when Castiel had sought comfort in his arms and the way he was shy but eager to kiss Dean.  How he had slowly become more comfortable in his own skin and more confident in what he wanted from Dean.  It had been so satisfying to help Castiel discover touches that were pleasurable and to see his hesitation fade away.  Dean knew that Castiel wasn’t completely better, but he had come so far.  And now the angel had thrown himself into danger because he thought Dean needed him.  It was all his fault for not answering the phone, for leaving Cas behind in the first place.     

Though Dean didn’t know everything, he knew enough of what happened to Castiel that night to be really fucking scared.  Plus, Crowley had an ax to grind and probably wouldn’t hesitate to make things even worse if he could. 

He thought of Castiel’s trusting blue eyes and the sweet way he kissed Dean.  Castiel was always stroking Dean’s arm or brushing his hair as he fell asleep.  Dean couldn’t let anything bad happen to his beautiful, kind friend who loved him despite his many faults.  Though he wasn’t sure if Castiel would be able to hear him if he was trapped in a ring of fire, Dean prayed anyway, not caring that Sam was right there.

“Cas, buddy, we’re coming to save you.  I promise.  Just hang on, man.  I’ll be there soon,” Dean said as he tightened his grip on the steering wheel and gunned the car faster.

 

 

xxx

 

 

Crowley was speaking on the phone with Dean.

“What an excellent idea, Dean!  Sam and I will fuck and touch him,” Crowley said, grinning in Castiel’s direction and puckering his lips.

“Lovely chat, Squirrel.  Kisses to Moose.”

Crowley ended the call, carelessly dropping the phone on the floor. 

“Now, back to business.”

The conversation had been brief, but Crowley had made his intentions clear.  Not that Castiel hadn’t been able to surmise what was likely about to happen, but hearing Crowley mention Sam and punishing him with a re-enactment erased any doubt from his mind.  It was confirmation of what he feared.  With this realization Castiel felt slightly numb and unresponsive, like a heavy fog had settled in his mind, making his thoughts sluggish.  His brain wasn’t working properly and even his vision seemed affected—he was staring at Crowley and the shapeshifter, but he was also looking through them at nothing. 

“You’re looking awfully pale, mate,” Crowley said.

Castiel wondered if he was in shock and he tried to get control of himself.  The situation was already bad enough without him reacting poorly.  Things weren’t all bad though, Dean and Sam were safe—he took comfort in that fact.  It was likely they were on their way here as well.  Castiel had at least had enough sense to have left a voicemail letting them know where he was going.  The hunters should have gotten it.  Though they could be hours away for all he knew.

“Sweaty, too,” Crowley said, wrinkling his nose.  “Strip off that coat.”

“No.”

Castiel was pleased his voice didn’t waver.  He didn’t want to give the demon the satisfaction of knowing he was afraid.

“You’ll take it off yourself or I’ll remove all your layers,” Crowley said lightly with a wave of his hand.

Castiel didn’t want either of those things to happen, but he refused to cow to the demon’s threats. 

“No,” he said again.

“Last chance to cooperate,” Crowley offered and Castiel remained silent, glaring at him.  “Have it your way, sugar.  Personally, I prefer a resistant submissive.”

Snapping his fingers, Crowley smirked at Castiel who was now naked from the waist up.  Castiel’s clothing had appeared in Crowley’s arms and he dumped everything onto the table behind him without taking his eyes from Castiel.  Fighting against a shiver, Castiel refused to look down at himself.  He kept his attention on Crowley and tried to calm his increasingly erratic breathing.

“Mmm, simply sinful,” the demon said, raking his eyes over Castiel.  “Now, I know all about your one-night stand.  I got it all in great detail from Sam here—riveting stuff.   Quite frankly, I didn’t know Moose had it in him.”   

Crowley nodded to the fake Sam and the shifter took a few steps back, lifting a heavy, familiar looking weapon into his hands.  He moved closer, the iron poker swinging alongside his leg as he walked.  Unable to take his eyes from the eerie threat of the sinister Sam in front of him, Castiel watched him approach the ring of fire as Crowley continued to speak.

“Now, let’s see…what was the first step?  Trap an angel.  Check.  Mock.  Check.  I think ‘Render Unconscious’ was next.”

Castiel could hear the amusement in Crowley’s voice, but he spared no attention for the demon.  It was important to keep his focus on the shapeshifter who had started strolling the circumference of the circle, letting the iron drift through the flames.  Castiel couldn’t allow himself to be struck in the head.  Sam had tied him up when he was unconscious.  If he were restrained like that again he would be truly helpless. 

Though he was attempting to remain completely centered in the circle, Castiel knew it wouldn’t really help him.  Sam had long arms and the iron made his reach even longer.  The shifter was finally speaking to him, in Sam’s voice, a cruel expression twisting his features.

“Trapped again, huh, Cas?  Always with Dean as the bait, you know he wouldn’t do the same for you.  Even now.” 

The fake Sam smirked at him.  Castiel’s mouth was unpleasantly dry, but he responded anyway.

“You are not Sam.  You know nothing about Dean.”

“Oh, I’m basically Sam,” the fake assured him.  “And I’ve been Dean too.  I know all about the lies he tells you so that you’ll let him fuck you.  Sam may have been first, but Dean’s going for frequency.”

Castiel didn’t dignify that with a response. The words irritated Castiel, but he knew they were trying to torment him and he refused to let the fabrications bother him.  The angel knew how Dean felt about him, his actions made it clear.  Poisoned words from an obviously ill-intentioned fake weren’t going to sway him. 

The shifter took a swing at Castiel.  As a shifter he was quicker than humans, but Castiel still managed to dodge out of the way and the iron made a slight whistling noise as it cut through the air.  Castiel felt fear clawing at his insides.  This couldn’t happen again.  This wasn’t even Sam. It was a creature and it could turn into Dean.  Crowley had made it sound like he’d be involved as well.  Castiel had to escape. 

Resuming his slow pace at the edge of the circle, the shifter had his eyes locked on Castiel looking for an opening as he twirled the iron through the flames.  Castiel knew he wouldn’t be able to avoid the blows forever.  He was slower locked in the ring and had few places to maneuver, plus he knew Crowley wouldn’t tolerate his success for long.  It was imperative that he gain the upper-hand quickly.

Allowing the shifter to get closer, Castiel was prepared the next time the iron came whipping in his direction.  Ducking slightly Castiel brought his arm up to block the impact.  It struck him too close to his wrist and Castiel felt the bone break and his skin sear from the heat. Ignoring the pain, Castiel caught onto the iron with his other hand, yanking it down with all his strength and even letting himself fall to his knees so he could throw his weight into the movement.  It was enough to pull the shifter off balance and he tumbled down across the flames, breaking the ring.

It was all Castiel needed and he appeared outside the compromised circle as fake Sam shrieked and tried to roll out of the fire.  Easily lifting the shifter from the flames, Castiel destroyed him with a touch and rounded on Crowley.

“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t utterly obliterate you,” Castiel said, moving within arm’s reach of the demon.  He was clothed again.   

“Well, for starters, dove, you broke the contract and screwed me out of souls that were rightfully mine.  I was entitled to retaliate.  What would it say about my business practices if I let you off the hook unpunished?  I have to keep up appearances.  Let me get that,” Crowley said, making a move to straighten Castiel’s tie.

Castiel jerked out of Crowley’s reach.

“Don’t touch me,” Castiel said, pausing between each word and gazing furiously at the demon.

“You’re right, Crowley.  I screwed you.  Now you’ve tried and failed to get revenge.  Don’t cross me again or there will be no hesitation on my part to destroy you.  You will stay away from the Winchesters.”

Crowley smiled.

“I can live with those terms, but it’s your pathetically plaid prince charming who can’t stay away from me, darling.  Always a pleasure.” 

The demon disappeared and Castiel was left alone.  Feeling mildly shaky, Castiel gripped the back of a chair with his good arm to steady himself.  Then he turned to contemplate the ring of fire still burning and the fallen fake Sam beside it. 

 

 

xxx

 

 

Dean was driving way too fast, fortunately Sam had enough sense to keep his mouth shut about it.  Listening to Sam’s directions, Dean sped along until they were on the correct road.

“It’s a few miles up ahead on the right.  We should have a plan, Dean.”

“You got any?  Cause I’m planning on rolling in and taking that damn demon out for good.  I’m not leaving Cas alone in there one second longer than he has to be.”

“There’s the shifter too, it could be tricky with the two of them and being able to look like us or hell, maybe even Cas.  Though I dunno if he could copy an angel,” Sam trailed off, thoughtful.

“Yeah, well there’s two of us and I’ll know if he copies Cas.  The plan is to get Cas out of there no matter what.”

“We will, Dean, but... well, just remember you might not like what we find… going in,” Sam said quietly. 

“He’s gonna be fine, Sam.”

Dean intended to say more, but his throat felt tight and he couldn’t force the words out.  The whole drive he had already been thinking about the horrors Cas might be going through.  He didn’t want to see it in person, didn’t want to see someone who looked like his brother hurting his friend, but nothing was going to stop him from storming in there and kicking ass. 

They finished the drive in silence and Dean took the turn into the restaurant’s lot too quickly, parking immediately.  Sam swiftly opened the trunk, but Dean strode past it without stopping.

“Dean! The shifter, we need the silver knife and bullets… dammit” Sam mumbled, turning back to the trunk and grabbing out supplies.  Dean was always so impatient and Sam understood his brother’s desperation to get inside, but he was being foolish about it.

Hardly believing his eyes, Dean stopped in his tracks as Castiel came out the door.  The angel didn’t look injured and he was walking stiffly towards Dean, coat billowing behind him. 

“Cas.”

He was safe.  In that moment, Dean knew he was gonna kiss him, he really was, it didn’t even fucking matter that Sam was right there.  Dean took a couple quick steps forward and pulled Castiel into a tight hug.

“Shit, Cas.  I was so fucking scared, are you okay?” He mumbled into the angel’s neck before drawing back to look at him properly. 

“Yes, Dean.  I’m all right.” 

That was all Dean needed to hear. He moved his hands from Castiel’s shoulders to his jaw and kissed him.  His angel was safe and Dean could feel Castiel’s arms wrapped around him, holding him close.  The danger had passed but Dean’s adrenaline was still pumping and if Sam hadn’t been there Dean would have dragged Castiel to the back of the car and kissed him everywhere to be certain he was all right.

Dean pulled back.  His relief that Castiel wasn’t hurt was quickly replaced by anger that he had been in danger in the first place. 

“Don’t ever pull crap like that again, Cas!  You can’t just race off into God knows what kind of danger without backup, without a plan.  You could have gotten yourself killed.”

“Dean, shut up,” Sam said.  His brother had wandered over and Dean dropped his hand from Castiel’s arm so he was no longer touching him.  Like he could pretend Sam hadn’t just seen him kissing the guy. 

“Are you sure you’re okay, Cas?  What happened?”

Castiel looked at Sam and seemed pleased to see him.

“Oh, Sam, it’s good to see you,” Castiel said, surprising the brothers.

“Is it?” Sam wondered, sounding a little worried.

“Yes, you, real you.  Not… well, Crowley told you he was working with a shapeshifter,” Castiel said and they both nodded. 

Dean was marveling at Castiel, he was so fucking relieved his friend was okay.  He didn’t appear hurt, but Dean didn’t know what had happened and he found himself still concerned.  Just because Castiel was looking and acting okay didn’t mean he wasn’t upset or that he hadn’t been hurt or terrified before they got there.  The hunters waited for the angel to say more, but instead Castiel changed topics slightly. 

“I’m glad you’re both safe.  I thought Crowley had taken you.”           

“That bastard couldn’t get the jump on both of us, Cas.  Is he still in there?  I’ll kick his ass,” Dean said, starting towards the door. 

“He’s gone, Dean.  The shapeshifter is dead,” Castiel said, touching Dean’s arm to stop him. 

Sam moved restlessly, glancing from the restaurant to Castiel.

“The shifter, Cas.  Does he still—does he still look like me?”  Sam asked a little hesitantly.

“Yes.”

“That works out then,” Dean said and the other men looked at him curiously.  “We might as well just leave the body.  The more we can convince law officials that Sam and I are dead, the better.  Sometimes we have run-ins with the police that make us look bad,” Dean added by way of explanation to Castiel.

“Whatever you think is best, Dean.  I’m going to wait in the car,” Castiel said, walking away from them.  Dean considered stopping him, but decided he should let Castiel do what he wanted.  As for Dean, he wanted to check out the restaurant and motioned for Sam to follow him inside.

The fire was still burning away and it smelled unpleasantly of burnt flesh and hair.  At first the scent had Dean worried, thinking Castiel was burnt like he had been when Sam trapped him, but then they saw the somewhat charred looking Sam on the floor.  Dean found it was disturbing and the look on his brother’s face suggested he would agree. 

Sam had spotted the cell phone they had given Castiel on the floor and he scooped it up. 

“What do you think happened?” Dean asked.

“What do you mean?”

“You know what happened to Cas before.  Crowley said ‘re-enactment’ how far do you think they got?” Dean was trying not to sound angry, but it bleed through to his words anyway.  He was looking for clues as to what might have happened in the circle, but there was nothing.

“Oh, um, well if they were doing everything the same… then I think it might not have been that bad,” Sam said hesitantly.  “After Cas was trapped, um, I knocked him out, blow to the head with the iron—”

“You mean like that fucking one over there?” Dean gestured to the weapon on the floor near the shifter.

“Yeah, but Dean, after that I tied him up and I burnt him to wake him up.”  Sam spoke quickly to get to the part of his story that wouldn’t have Dean glowering at him.  “The burning was what kept him from healing, so maybe they didn’t even get that far.  Otherwise he’d probably have a gash on his head that he couldn’t heal right away.”

Dean shook his head still looking at the fire and the shifter.  Suddenly, he felt freshly furious looking around the room that Castiel could have been raped in.  He wondered if the room Sam had trapped Cas in had been as nondescript and dismal as this dark, dirty, abandoned restaurant was.

“I’m sure Cas will tell you more, Dean.  He might be in shock still or something.  We should probably get him out of here.  We can go back to the motel, then maybe, I dunno, we could go see Bobby,” Sam suggested.

“Yeah, let’s get out of here,” Dean agreed.

 

 

The drive back to the motel was mainly quiet.  Castiel had been sitting in the back seat when Dean and Sam returned to the car and offered no further details on what had happened while he was trapped.  Although, he did explain about how a fake Dean had called the motel pretending to need help before Crowley got on the line.  It pissed Dean off that some shifter had used him as bait to lure Castiel into danger.  Unable to keep his mouth shut, Dean started to reprimand Castiel for rushing into what was clearly a trap when Sam interrupted him.

“Shut up, Dean.  You would have done the same thing if Cas or I were in trouble.”

It was on the tip of Dean’s tongue to say that it was different for him since he knew what he was doing, but the bitchy look on Sam’s face stopped him.  And good thing he kept his mouth shut, because Cas was evidently upset with him too.

“If you didn’t leave me behind or had told me what town you’d be in or answered your phone, then I would have been able to confirm that you were all right.  I even went to Bobby’s, but he wasn’t home,” Castiel said sullenly.

That definitely shut Dean up.  He lapsed into a sulky silence, feeling guilty all over again.  His efforts to keep Cas safe by ditching him were entirely counterproductive since that dick Crowley had played them all. 

Once they made it back to the motel, Sam had enough sense to go get a room for himself to give Dean and Castiel some time alone.  As soon as Dean shut the door behind him and set eyes on Castiel, he felt concern for his friend take over as his primary emotion.  The angel was standing idly by the bed and Dean sat down on the edge of it, studying Castiel. 

“Are you mad at me, Cas?  I shouldn’t have left you behind, but I thought it was a safe move.”  Dean waited a moment, but Castiel said nothing.  “I’m sorry I didn’t answer the phone and that you had to go along with Crowley.  I never wanted that to happen.”

Dean reached out his hand, taking Castiel’s lightly in his own.  The angel looked at their clasped hands and then met Dean’s eyes. 

“I’m not mad at you, Dean.  I know you were trying to keep me from Crowley.”

“Did he hurt you?” Dean asked, gently pulling Castiel closer by the hand. 

Castiel was immediately in front of him now and Dean stared up at him, noticing that his cobalt eyes were sorrowful. 

“No.  They didn’t touch me,” Castiel said, his voice strong but quiet.

Dean let out a breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding.  Wanting Castiel to sit beside him, Dean tugged at his hand in suggestion.  Castiel surprised him by lowering himself to straddle Dean’s lap and carefully twining his arms around Dean’s back, leaning into his chest.  Content to have Castiel in his arms, Dean held him, slowly rubbing his back through his coat.  They sat like that for several minutes and Dean felt calmer feeling Castiel against him.  He had felt so friggin’ worried and helpless from the second he listened to that voicemail and it was reassuring to have Castiel whole and unharmed in his arms.    

“I’m glad you’re all right,” Castiel murmured into his neck.

Dean laughed lightly, feeling the same way. 

“That’s my line, Cas.  You were the one in actual danger,” Dean reminded him, feeling a niggle of anxiety about what Castiel might not be telling him.

Though he wanted to ask questions, Dean wasn’t certain if he should.  He was hoping that Castiel would volunteer more information on his own.  The angel withdrew his arms and was leaning into Dean more heavily, pressing into his chest.  Dean allowed himself to be pushed so he was lying on his back, still holding Castiel to his chest.  Castiel moved to get more comfortable, straightening out his legs and adjusting so that he was only halfway on Dean, one hand resting on the hunter’s shoulder.  

Resuming rubbing Castiel’s back, Dean could feel Castiel relaxing against him.  After some time, he spoke again.

“It wasn’t that bad.  Not like it could have been,” Castiel said, tightening his grip on Dean and the hunter held him closer.  “It was threats and intimidation.  They intended to hurt me, but by then I knew Crowley didn’t have you.  I knew I had to find a way to escape.  I couldn’t let it happen again.”

Dean chose not to comment on the fact that Castiel made it sound like he might not have tried to break free if Dean were still in danger.  It was preferable not to think about that scenario.  Instead Dean thought of the burnt shifter and wondered aloud, “Was the shifter in the circle with you?  Did you knock him into the flames?”

“He was outside of it, trying to strike me with the iron.  I let him and grabbed the weapon, pulling him off balance, so he fell.  His body broke the ring, so I could leave it.  Then I killed him,”  Castiel said. 

“He hit you?” Dean questioned lowly, feeling a surge of anger that he couldn’t hurt the already dead shifter.

“Just my wrist.  It was a calculated move to—” Castiel stopped explaining as Dean sat up. 

“This one?” he asked and Castiel nodded, sitting up and keeping his arm still as Dean tried to roll back his coat sleeve.  Castiel flinched and Dean stopped touching him, aghast. 

“That hurt you. You haven’t healed?”

Cradling his arm to his chest, Castiel frowned down at it. 

“Not entirely.”

“Dammit, Cas.  Why didn’t you say something?  Take off your coat so I can see it,” Dean said, helping Castiel once he started removing his coat and then his jacket.  Carefully undoing the button on Castiel’s shirt sleeve, Dean folded it back revealing Castiel’s bruised and swollen wrist.  The line of scorched skin explained why it hadn’t healed yet. 

“Son of a bitch.  Stay here a minute.”

Dean left the room, stopping at the car and rooting through their first aid supplies, gathering what he’d need to make a splint.  Luckily for Cas, it wasn’t the first wrist injury he’d come across.  After stopping at the front office to get a bag of ice, Dean returned to the room and sat on the bed next to Castiel again.

“Can we take off your shirt?  It’ll be easier for you to wear something without long-sleeves.”

“Okay,” Castiel agreed, removing his shirt with a little assistance from Dean.

Busying himself with the homemade splint, Dean gently slid a strategically cut sock over Castiel’s hand and aligned his fingers and thumb so they came through the holes.  Then he laid a wooden ruler on top of the sock, against the inside of Castiel’s forearm, so that it went from his palm to near his elbow.  It wasn’t as good as a splint he could buy at the pharmacy, Dean thought, as he wrapped the elastic bandage around Castiel’s arm and the ruler to keep it straight, but it would get the job done. 

“How’s that feel? It’ll keep it still until you’re healed,” Dean said as he secured the bandage.

“Better.  Thank you.”

Dean helped Castiel into one of his t-shirts and then kissed the fingers of his injured hand. 

Lying back on the bed, Dean opened his arms to Castiel who joined him, setting his bound arm across Dean’s chest as he leaned against his side.  Dean brought the bag of ice to rest on top of Castiel’s wrist and softly rubbed his back.

“It’ll be healed soon, Dean.  It shouldn’t take long, the iron wasn’t as hot as before.”

“Good,” Dean sighed. He knew Cas was on the mend, but Dean still wished he could have been there.  Though he was grateful nothing else had been done to Castiel, the thought of him hurt, particularly when he was vulnerable like that, was distressing. 

“Cas, there, uh, there was no burn through your shirt, were… were you naked?” 

Dean felt Castiel tuck his chin closer to his own chest and wondered if it was indelicate to ask such questions.

“No.  My shirts—Crowley took them when I refused to take off my coat.  I—I wasn’t naked.”

“Fucking Crowley.  I guess he took off after you killed the shifter?”  Dean asked, resuming their earlier conversation.

Castiel shifted against Dean.

“No.  I let him go.”

“What?!” Dean blurted out.  In his shock he had stopped rubbing Castiel’s back, but he tried to pick up the motion again to avoid seeming like he was mad at Castiel.  Dean was upset, because he didn’t understand—the demon had come so close to traumatizing the angel and Cas had let him go.  He kept his voice calm and tried again.

“Why?”

“Crowley was trying to get revenge for my breach of contract.  I don’t think he’ll attempt it again.  And I’ve already left Heaven in shambles, Dean.  It seemed unwise to do the same to Hell.  At least Crowley is an enemy we know,” Castiel said as he fussed with Dean’s sleeve. 

It didn’t quite seem like a sufficient explanation to Dean, but he knew how much Castiel regretted his genocide in Heaven.  It was already done, so Dean decided to accept Castiel’s reasoning, though he didn’t agree.  If the demon had been successful in carrying out his plan Dean would have subjected him to a whole world of pain before killing him slowly.  Probably still would, if he could manage it.

“Yeah, well, you let that dick off too easily.  That spineless asshole better stay the fuck away from you if he plans on living much longer,” Dean said fiercely, holding Castiel possessively.

The angel modified his position, sliding closer to Dean with his head under his chin.  They stayed like that for a while in relative silence.  When Castiel’s hand slipped from Dean’s shoulder to the bed, Dean realized the angel might be sleeping. 

“Cas?”

Dean got a quiet hum in response.

“You tired, Cas?  Wanna go to sleep?”

Pulling the angel slightly off him so he could see his face, Dean watched as Castiel opened his eyes.

“Maybe.  I didn’t exert much energy, but I feel mentally fatigued,”  Castiel said and Dean sat up, bringing the angel with him. 

It was barely dinner time, but Dean removed his clothes, so he could sleep in his shorts and t-shirt.  Castiel followed his lead, changing into the sweats he sometimes borrowed.  Dean texted Sam that they were going to sleep so he wouldn’t worry.  Dinner could wait, there was no way Dean was going to leave Castiel alone while he got something to eat and he didn’t want to drag Castiel off to a diner when he was exhausted.

So Dean joined Castiel in bed, pulling the angel’s back to his chest and peppering kisses on his neck.  Without warning, Castiel flipped himself so he was on his other side, facing Dean and drawing him in to kiss him.  Dean slotted his leg between Castiel’s so he could move closer, bringing a hand to rest at Castiel’s waist.  Clutching and squeezing Dean with one arm, Castiel kept his mouth firmly on Dean’s, moving his lips and tongue tenderly but consistently.  Dean read it as needy and managed to get both of his arms around the angel, holding him tightly.

Castiel calmed and Dean stroked his hair, kissing his way around Castiel’s face.  The hunter wanted Castiel to feel safe with him, so he kept mild pressure on the arm holding him.  Recalling how scared he had been earlier, Dean thought it was reasonable to assume Cas had been afraid as well.  Probably for Dean first and then, once the angel had enough sense to worry about it, himself. 

“You’re safe, Cas.  We both are,” Dean affirmed.

Eventually, Dean felt Castiel relaxing in his arms and he gently rubbed his back.  He watched Castiel, studying his face, as he did the angelic version of sleeping.  It seemed the same as regular sleeping to Dean.  Observing Castiel all still and with his eyes closed made him seem vulnerable and Dean just wanted to protect him.  He knew Castiel didn’t need his protection, the angel was a fighter, perfectly capable of defending himself, but that didn’t stop Dean from wanting to keep him safe.

It was the same thing with Sammy.  The kid didn’t need Dean to fight his battles, but they were brothers and Dean loved him, would do anything to keep him safe.  Sam and Bobby were the only family Dean had and he’d included Cas in that small circle before, but looking at the sleeping angel in his arms Dean knew it was where he belonged.  Previously, he thought of Cas as a great friend and a brother-like companion, but they were so far past that, so far beyond those simple descriptors.  Cas was indisputably family and Dean recognized the significance of that acknowledgement to himself—the gravity of what it meant.  It didn’t terrify him the way he thought it might.  The realization that Castiel could have died without Dean letting him know—well, that was what scared him    

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Castiel was suddenly awake and his eyes fell on Dean next to him.  The hunter was still resting peacefully and Castiel watched Dean breath for several minutes as he calmed down.  As an angel Castiel didn’t really dream, but memories of being duped and threatened by Crowley and raped by Sam had come to the forefront of his mind.  The accompanying panic had forced Castiel from his slumber.      

It was still the middle of the night and the room was dark.  Castiel didn’t want to disturb Dean, but he gently rested his fingers on the hunter’s face anyway—confirming his presence by touch.  The recollections had been upsetting, but Castiel’s anxiety was ebbing.  Rational thought told him he was safe here.  Dean was safe.  Sam…  Castiel hadn’t seen Sam for several hours, but he had been safe.  Still, Castiel decided he’d rather check on the younger hunter to be certain. 

Easing himself out of the bed, Castiel switched back into his clothing and appeared in Sam’s room.  It was dark inside and Castiel watched Sam sleep for a minute.  He was sprawled across the whole mattress, twisted up in the blankets with his long limbs sticking out and Castiel smiled.

Returning to Dean, Castiel stood observing him.  He had rolled into the space Castiel had vacated and was snoring lightly.  The brothers were both safe and that eased Castiel’s mind tremendously.  The previous day’s events had been upsetting, but Castiel found himself deeming the troubling experience beneficial. 

When he had first gone to Crowley, he had suspected the demon wanted revenge.  It never occurred to Castiel that he might have knowledge of what had transpired between himself and Sam or of his evolving relationship with Dean.  That revelation and Crowley’s intentions had been immediately distressing, but once Castiel had reined in his fear the situation changed. 

Instead of letting panic render him immobile, Castiel had taken control of himself and managed to get free.  He had fought back against a fake Sam and won.  It was fortunate Crowley had tried to go for a ‘re-enactment’ because Castiel had know what to expect and was able to protect himself.  The first time he had been blind-sided by Sam’s blow, but this time he had known it was coming.  It was almost like a second chance to correct what had happened. 

Smiting the shapeshifter had been supremely satisfying.  Though he looked like Sam, Castiel could see him clearly as a copy, an impostor.  He was simply the perpetrator and Castiel had taken care of him.  It had felt good to see him sprawled next to the flames, defeated and unable to harm him again. 

Castiel’s thoughts were disrupted by a rumble from Dean’s stomach that seemed loud in the silent room.  It was likely the hunter would be awake and hungry soon, so Castiel decided he would get Dean something to eat.  Locating Dean’s wallet, Castiel was uncertain how much money to take.  He never paid any attention to prices and payment when they were out to eat.  Castiel took about half of the $300—he’d be bringing the leftover money back anyway. 

Not wanting Dean to wake up and wonder where he was, Castiel left a note on the motel stationary explaining that he went to buy food.  In less than a second Castiel was in front of the all-night diner they had stopped in a few days ago and a couple states away. 

It wasn’t very crowded inside and a tired waitress tried to lead him to a table, but Castiel shook his head.

“I’d like to purchase food to take with me,” he said.

“Okay, sure, hon.  You need a menu?” 

She held one out to him and Castiel accepted it, looking through the items.  He wondered if Dean would want breakfast or dinner.  Noting the prices, Castiel realized he had taken entirely too much money.   After a few minutes of indecisiveness, Castiel decided on breakfast and ordered eggs and bacon with hash browns and toast along with pancakes, a slice of cherry pie, and a large coffee.       

There were lots of unexpected follow-up questions.

“Scrambled or over-easy?”

“White or rye?”

“Butter or jam?”

“Regular or decaf?”

Castiel knew Dean liked his toast buttered and ‘regular’ coffee seemed like a good option, though he thought Dean usually asked for ‘black.’  He hoped he made the best choices.  Castiel paid and waited until the food was ready.  Walking outside with the bagged containers in one hand and the hot coffee in another, Castiel appeared back in the motel room. 

Dean was still asleep as Castiel set the items on the table.   It was just past 2am and Castiel was expecting Dean to be awake soon—assuming he had drifted off at a similar time.  Castiel had fallen asleep first, around 6pm, and he hoped Dean hadn’t remained awake and bored and hungry while he had slept.  Eyeing the food, Castiel worried that Dean might not have been able to sleep, that he wouldn’t be up for hours and that Castiel had wasted Dean’s money on food that wouldn’t be eaten. 

Removing his coat and jacket, Castiel rolled back his sleeve and undid the splint Dean had made for him.  His wrist seemed better, the bruising and swelling was gone.  The burn mark had faded away.  Tentatively, Castiel rotated his wrist, pleased that there was no pain with the movement.  Resting had been a good decision.  A few minutes later Dean was moving, propping himself up on his forearms and looking on either side of the bed for Castiel.

“I’m over here, Dean.”

Rolling over, Dean turned his head in Castiel’s direction.

“Smells like coffee,” Dean mumbled as he sat up and rubbed a hand across his face.

“Yes.  I got you breakfast,” Castiel said.

Dean turned on the bedside lamp, squinting through the brightness at Castiel sitting at the table. 

“Breakfast?”

Castiel hesitated at Dean’s confusion.

“Should I have gotten dinner?”

“No, man.  Breakfast sounds great,” Dean said, standing up and walking over.   “I was just surprised.”

Dean took a sip of the coffee and then started opening the different containers.

“This smells delicious, Cas, and I’m starving.  I didn’t have lunch yesterday either, so good call.  And you got pie!  You’re the best, dude,” Dean said, leaning over to kiss Castiel.

Dragging a chair closer, Dean sat next to him and began eating enthusiastically.  The angel watched, appreciating Dean’s enjoyment and the way he grinned at him around mouthfuls of food as he chewed.  Castiel smiled back.  Evidently he made all the right decisions about what to get, because Dean was eating heartily and didn’t complain about any of it. 

“Your wrist seems better.”

“Yes.  It’s healed now,” Castiel said, presenting it for Dean to examine.  The hunter looked it over before nodding his approval.

“Good.”

Castiel set Dean’s change on the table and Dean raised an eyebrow at all the money, but said nothing.  Having eaten most of the food, Dean moved on to the pie.  He scooped a small piece onto his fork and held it out to Castiel.

“Try the cherry pie.”

Castiel started to reach for the fork, but Dean brought a hand to his arm, stopping him.  He moved the fork closer to Castiel.

“Open up, angel,” Dean said, smiling warmly at him.

Dropping his gaze, Castiel’s mind flashed to Sam telling him the same thing when he had him pinned to the floor.  It was unfair that the memory popped into his head so easily while he was sitting happily with Dean.

“Uh, Cas?  Something wrong?” 

Dean had lowered the fork and was looking at Castiel with concern. 

Shaking his head, Castiel opened his mouth, watching Dean’s green eyes.  He didn’t want to spoil this.

Resuming his previous action, Dean hesitantly tipped the fork into his mouth.  Castiel wished he could taste the food the same way Dean did.

“No good?”

“It’s okay,” Castiel said, unable to give Dean’s favorite food a bad review. 

Taking a mouthful of pie for himself, Dean swallowed and smiled at him. 

“Well, my bite was delicious.  Here taste it,” Dean said, leaning forward to kiss him.      

Castiel met Dean’s lips, tasting the hunter amidst traces of pie that he didn’t care for.  Dean drew back.

“Delicious, right?”  

“Yes,” Castiel agreed, moving to kiss Dean again. 

He knew the longer they kissed, the better Dean would taste.  Dean apparently had a different agenda.  He was gripping Castiel’s hands and pulling him out of his chair and back towards the bed.  While mouthing along Castiel’s neck, Dean brought his hands to his tie and started undoing it.

“Could you ditch your clothes?”

Castiel agreed, enticed by the thought of nothing separating the two of them.  Dean slowly undressed him, in between kisses, until he was in his boxers.  Steering Castiel to the bed, Dean pushed him towards the middle of it and Castiel arranged himself on his back.  After Dean removed his t-shirt, Castiel reached for him, pulling the hunter in close for a kiss.  He loved having Dean’s arms coiled around him, strong and protecting. 

It seemed like it had been a long time since Dean’s warm body was pressed against him.  Castiel was moving his hands over the expanse of Dean’s back, caressing the supple skin and fluid muscles.  Blocking out external stimuli, Castiel tried to focus exclusively on Dean as the hunter caught his arm and pressed kisses to his hand and fingers before starting a path along his arm. 

Dean continued to kiss across Castiel’s chest and down his stomach, occasionally sucking and licking the skin as he went.  Closing his eyes, Castiel centered his attention on Dean’s rough, but gentle hands and his hot, wet mouth as it trailed kisses and bites down one leg and up the other.  Fingers slipped into his boxers and Castiel lifted his hips so they could be tugged off.  Dean was gone for a moment as he tore out of his own shorts, but then he was back, lying on top of Castiel and kissing his mouth again. 

They were both gloriously naked and Castiel struggled to touch Dean everywhere all at once. 

“Ah, Cas, my Cas.  Fucking gorgeous,” Dean murmured against his lips. 

Castiel didn’t miss the possessive language and he felt a swell of affection.  Dean wanted him, had told him to stay, and now was claiming him with words and dozens of kisses all over his body.  Ever since he had rebelled from Heaven, Castiel hadn’t felt like he belonged anywhere, but he wanted to belong with Dean.           

“Yours,” Castiel whispered into the kiss.

Dean drifted back, staring down at him.  Castiel worried that he said the wrong thing as Dean’s eyes searched his face.  Trying to determine Dean’s expression, Castiel contemplated apologizing, but he had meant it.  This reaction wasn’t one he had anticipated.

“Dean?” 

Castiel gripped his shoulder and then Dean was on him, pressing him into the pillow with his forceful kiss.  Dean slid his arms around Castiel’s back and ran his fingers through his hair, dragging the angel closer to him, kissing him until they were both breathless.

“Cas.  Can we—do you want to?”

“Yes,” Castiel agreed, knowing Dean was asking to have sex and not caring for the specifics as long as Dean kept touching him.  He wanted Dean’s hands on him, wanted Dean inside him.  His chest ached for Dean who asked permission and never hurt him.  Castiel needed the reassurance and love he felt in every kiss.  He needed to be held safely in Dean’s embrace.  He needed to be in control of what was happening. 

Dean hopped out of bed and returned with the lube.  In his brief absence, Castiel had gotten to his knees, impatient to grab Dean as soon as he knelt back on the bed.  Throwing an arm around Dean’s waist, Castiel slung him onto his back on the mattress before climbing on top of him.  Castiel sucked on Dean’s nipples, proud of the moan he was able to elicit from the hunter, before drifting down his stomach.

Then Castiel was kissing along Dean’s inner thighs and kneading the flesh with his fingers. Watching Dean, he saw the hunter tuck an arm behind his head so he had a better view.  Castiel knew how much Dean enjoyed his mouth, so he continued ever closer to Dean’s cock. Gently rubbing his face against it, Castiel nuzzled into him, dragging his lips and occasionally darting out his tongue.  Fingers threaded through his hair as Dean made an indistinct noise of approval. 

Castiel licked along his half hard cock, sucking the head into his mouth and swirling his tongue.  He kept his eyes on Dean, who melted back into the pillows, relaxing underneath Castiel’s mouth and hands.  Castiel started off somewhat slowly, taking his time stroking Dean and trying out different angles and varying amounts of pressure. 

Dean moaned as Castiel dragged his tongue over his balls, slowly sucking on them and then mouthing up the side of his cock.  He repeatedly lapped at the head, before sucking it into his mouth and shifting to accommodate more of Dean.  Sometimes Dean would have his eyes shut or would be staring up at the ceiling, biting his lip.  Castiel liked to watch Dean and his changing reactions, the way his mouth fell open and how he licked his lips.  The hunter always met his eyes when he looked down and Castiel loved the way Dean focused on him, reacting to his every move.  Swallowing Dean further, Castiel kept his tongue moving along the underside of his shaft, fondling his balls as he did so. 

“Shit, that’s good, Cas.  Get back up here,” Dean growled, tugging at Castiel, who crawled up and kissed him. 

“Let me take care of you now, Cas.  I want to make you feel good too.  Can I?”

“Yes, Dean.  Please,”  Castiel said, content with the fact that he could trust Dean.

“Flip around, Cas.  Head back down that way, legs up here,” Dean said, pushing Castiel the way he wanted him to go. 

Allowing Dean to maneuver him, Castiel was still on his hands and knees over Dean, but he was facing away from him.  He glanced back uncertainly at Dean who was adjusting the pillows behind himself so he was more propped up.  Then the hunter grasped his hips and pulled him back so Castiel’s calves were under Dean’s shoulders and his thighs were resting on his biceps.  Castiel noticed Dean’s warm breath ghosting over his skin before he felt his tongue licking at him.

“Oh, Dean,” he gasped, dropping to his elbows and resting his forehead on Dean’s thigh.   

Castiel was aware of Dean chuckling and then his hot tongue was back.  Shutting his eyes, Castiel focused on Dean’s mouth and tongue, licking and sucking.  Castiel couldn’t see what Dean was doing, so he had to rely on the sensations he was feeling.  It was similar to when Dean bent him over the table.  This position was infinitely better though, because there was still plenty of body contact.  Castiel heard Dean opening the lube and when he blinked his eyes open he saw another benefit of this arrangement. 

As Castiel took Dean in his mouth again, the hunter carefully eased a finger inside him.

Giving and receiving at the same time was a bit overwhelming to Castiel.  It was impossible to concentrate on his actions while Dean was stroking him on and off and slowly stretching him open with his skillful fingers.  When Dean’s persistent touches pressed perfectly inside him, Castiel moaned involuntarily around Dean’s cock, causing the hunter to grip his ass tighter.  If Castiel’s amateur efforts had ever had any level of finesse, he was certain that he had lost it, the same way he was now lost to the sensation of Dean filling him.  Soon Castiel was a squirming jumble of need and want, pawing at Dean’s thighs and moving his hips slightly in rhythm with the motions of Dean’s hands.  The tide of pleasure and desire for more—more Dean—was flooding Castiel’s thoughts.

“Dean, now,” Castiel said, moving quickly away and turning himself around so he was facing Dean once again. 

Dean started to sit up, but Castiel placed a hand on his chest, keeping him where he was.

“Just like this,” Castiel said, as Dean’s jaw fell slightly open.  Dean wordlessly spread lube over himself before Castiel seized his cock and lowered himself onto it, breathing through the additional stretch.  He kept a hand on Dean’s chest to steady himself. 

“Oh, fuck.  Cas, you—shit,” Dean panted, watching through half-lidded eyes heavy with lust.

Castiel sank lower, taking in all of Dean as the hunter fiercely grasped his hips.  For a moment Castiel, couldn’t move, staring at Dean beneath him as he adjusted.  When he finally rocked forward they both groaned and Castiel slowly rolled his hips, starting a continuous rhythm.  Watching Dean, Castiel thought he was beautiful stretched out beneath him, all defined muscles and golden freckled skin.  Dean raised a hand to smooth it down Castiel’s torso.

“You look fucking perfect like this, Cas.  So good,” Dean said, moving his hands to grip Castiel’s ass and urge his motions faster.

Castiel slid forward more quickly at Dean’s insistence, undulating to match the rhythm.  Lowering himself to kiss Dean, he lifted slightly off him as he leaned forward.  Dean hands guided him in a new direction so that Castiel was moving more up and down and Dean was penetrating him at a different angle. 

“Dean, ahh, yes,” Castiel gasped, dropping his head back as Dean’s strong hands helped lift him up and pull him down again and again.  Dropping forward against Dean, Castiel kissed him desperately.  Pressing into Dean brought the added element of friction to his aching cock as it was trapped between them.  Castiel was too caught up in the fullness of Dean inside him and the way he was rubbing along Dean’s stomach to maintain the pace properly.  Dean noticed and squeezed his arms around Castiel, pulling him forward and then thrusting up into Castiel rapidly.

Castiel moaned as Dean drove his hips upwards while holding Castiel tightly against his chest.  Trembling in Dean’s arms, Castiel could feel himself coming undone as he repeated Dean’s name and left open mouthed kisses along his throat.  Dean’s relentless pace pushed Castiel over the edge and he smothered his cry in Dean’s neck as he grabbed onto him.  Castiel’s tensing and shaking had Dean slamming into him more frantically and he felt it the moment Dean came deep inside him. 

Their sweaty chests were heaving together and Castiel couldn’t think of a single reason why he would ever move from his current position—he couldn’t think much at all beyond his singular consuming thought of Dean.  Which led him to kissing the man beneath him.  When Dean pulled out, sliding from beneath Castiel, he felt a distinct sense of loss.  He was less full, less warm, less connected and he stroked a hand down Dean’s chest as he shifted to his side. 

Dean held him to his chest.  Castiel could feel the hunter’s heart thudding steadily beneath him.  The beating had been evening out as they calmed, but Dean was suddenly squeezing Castiel tightly and the pace picked up again.  Castiel adjusted so he could look up at Dean and was surprised to see him looking nervous, no, scared and he immediately felt concerned.

“Dean?  What’s wrong?” Castiel asked, stroking his fingers along Dean’s face.

Dean grasped Castiel’s hand and kissed it before pulling the angel down and kissing him. 

“Cas, I’m so glad you’re safe.  I—I need you here.  If—if anything h-had happened to you…” Dean trailed off, looking away from his friend.

“It’s okay, Dean.  I’m here.  I’m safe,” Castiel said, brushing a hand through Dean’s hair. 

“I just, I wouldn’t have been able to forgive myself, Cas.  And you—you’re so…I mean,” Dean sighed.  “Dammit.”

Castiel furrowed his brow, uncertain what Dean was struggling to say.  Bringing a hand to his forehead, Dean smeared it down his face until it covered his mouth and then focused on Castiel above him.  Feeling increasingly concerned, Castiel opened his mouth to say something, but Dean jumped in.

“I just… I care about you.”  Castiel nodded.  “A lot,” Dean continued. 

Castiel wasn’t sure if he should interrupt. 

“Fuck. C’mere,” Dean insisted, pulling Castiel down and holding him tightly, burying his face into his shoulder. 

Dean tried to muffle his words as he whispered them into Castiel’s neck, but the angel still heard him.  Though Dean said them in a rather confrontational way, like he was expecting Castiel to reject him for it, Castiel responded calmly, sincerely.   

“I love you too, Dean.”

As difficult as it seemed to have been for Dean to say, Castiel had spoken with certainty and would have repeated the words endlessly now that it seemed he was allowed to say them.  However, he knew it would only make Dean uncomfortable and so he resisted.  They laid together for a while longer, with Dean keeping his face tucked along Castiel’s neck.  Eventually, Castiel kissed him out of hiding and suggested they take a shower together which helped Dean perk up a bit and he was able to banish the insecurity from his face, replacing it with an easy grin. 

 

 

xxx

 

 

The shower had definitely been a good idea.  Dean had an excuse to run his hands all over Castiel’s wet skin and in between washing themselves they had found time to kiss under the warm stream of water.  Once they were both dressed, Dean cleaned up the trash from his awesome breakfast.  He made the executive decision that it was late enough to rouse Sam and get on the road to Bobby’s.  His brother wasn’t happy with the early hour, but he agreed to be ready in 20 minutes.

Dean drove with Cas to pick-up more coffee and some Sammy appropriate food so they wouldn’t have to stop again right after they left.  They were leaning against the car waiting for Sam to emerge.  Dean was sipping his new cup of coffee when Castiel turned towards him.

“Dean, during breakfast, you called me ‘angel.’  You don’t normally, but, maybe, don’t do it at all?”

Frowning, Dean tried to recall the moment.  Maybe that had been when Castiel had looked briefly spooked. 

“Sure, Cas.  I won’t if you don’t like it,”  Dean said, wondering what exactly Castiel disliked about being addressed that way.

“Thank you.”

Castiel didn’t seem to be keen on elaborating, but Dean bet he knew what it was in relation to.

“Is that like a bad memory thing?” 

“Yes.”

“Okay.  Well, I’m glad you told me, Cas.  I still want to know about things you don’t like,” Dean said, bumping their shoulders together so Cas would look up from the ground.  Dean smiled at him as Sam came banging out the door. 

“Good morning, Sam.”

“Hey, Cas. Doing all right?”  Sam asked as he set his duffle in the trunk.

“Yes,”  Castiel said, holding out a bag to Sam.  “Dean got you a yogurt parfait, an apple, and some almonds.”

“Nice, thanks.”

“All right, in the car, let’s hit the road,” Dean said, pleased to see Sam grabbing the handle to the back door.                    

 

Chapter Text

 

It took two days to get to Bobby’s and Dean realized on the second day that there wasn’t even really a reason to be going there.  When Cas had been trapped by Crowley, it had made sense to head somewhere familiar so they could regroup and put off hunting for a few days.  Dean had been thinking of Cas and had been expecting him to be more troubled after that set-back, but the angel seemed to be doing a lot better than Dean originally anticipated. 

They stuck to the plan anyway and arrived at Bobby’s in the evening.  Dean’s sleep schedule was still out of whack and he was soon yawning loudly on the couch.  Instead of waiting for the others to go to bed and slinking off with Cas in some sham of secrecy, Dean stood in the middle of the living room, looking defiantly between Bobby at his desk and Sam on the couch.

“Cas and I are going to bed now,” he announced, daring the hunters to object.

“’Kay,” Sam said, quirking an eyebrow at Dean’s blunt declaration.

“’Night,” Bobby replied, not even taking his eyes off the book he was reading.    

Dean nodded in approval at their acceptance as Castiel laid his book aside and stood to follow Dean from the room, offering a casual goodnight to the men behind him.

Once they were settled in bed together, Castiel scooted closer to Dean, kissing him and petting along his chest.  Dean was out in no time.

 

In the morning Dean slipped from underneath Castiel’s arm, accidentally waking the angel.

“Dean?”  Castiel propped himself up and looked around.

“Hey, Cas.”

Dean brought a hand to Castiel’s arm and got him to lay on his stomach again.  Then he knelt astride the angel, kissing across his shoulders and down his spine.  Producing a plastic bottle, Dean dribbled scented liquid onto Castiel’s bare back.

“What is that?  It’s cold,” Castiel complained.

“Sorry, babe, it’s massage oil.  It’ll warm up,” Dean promised, ignoring the endearment he had unthinkingly thrown out there. 

“Massage oil?  I’m not in pain.”

“I know, but it feels good.  Saw it in the store yesterday.  Thought I might wake you up this way…” 

Dean rubbed his hands over Castiel’s back and then brought them to his neck to work his fingers there, kneading the flesh.  Slowly, Dean moved his hands further down Castiel’s back, delicately searching for any tense areas and soothing them with his thumb and fingers.  Castiel was gradually oozing further into the mattress, relaxing under Dean’s constant touches and occasionally making involuntary sounds of pleasure. 

When Dean had seen the massage oil for sale at the gas station, next to the lube and condoms, he had thought it seemed like an excellent idea to get some.  Turned out he was right, as usual.  Dean knew how much Castiel loved to be touched and a gentle massage was evidently no exception.  Feeling proud of how the angel was turning into putty in his hands, Dean started to switch from his lower back to his arms. 

“What—what time is it, Dean?”   

The hunter blinked.  He didn’t think he had ever heard Castiel ask for the time—his internal clock was unshakably accurate. 

“Uh, ten of eight?” Dean said uncertainly.

Castiel groaned into the pillow. 

“We have to go downstairs,” Castiel said, sounding disappointed.

“You want me to stop?  Why?”

Castiel rolled around as Dean slid off him. 

“No.  I don’t want you to, but I told Bobby and Sam that I’d have you downstairs by eight thirty.”

Dean was instantly suspicious.  “Why?”

“I can’t tell you.  It’s a surprise,” Castiel explained, sitting up and kissing Dean’s cheek.

“Oh, no.  Nope.  No way.  You tell me right now,” Dean insisted, wanting no part in a surprise.  What was he—six years old?

“I’m sorry, Dean.  I said I ‘can’t,’ not I won’t.  I don’t know what the surprise is.  Sam didn’t trust me not to tell you.  I just know there is a surprise and that I’m tasked with ensuring your prompt arrival downstairs.”

“Uh huh,” Dean said, distractedly wondering what the hell Sam was up to.

 

 

Arriving in the kitchen a little while later didn’t yield many more answers.  Sam and Bobby were eating bagels and remained tight-lipped about what they had planned. 

“You told him there was a surprise, Cas?”  Sam asked, sounding half-amused, half-annoyed.

“I had to, Sam.  Dean wouldn’t have wanted to stop otherwise and we would have been late.”

“Stop sleeping, he means,” Dean said quickly, with a nervous chuckle. 

“Told you Cas couldn’t keep a secret,” Bobby said to Sam.

Dean sucked down a cup of coffee and ate some breakfast, contemplating what his brother might be planning.  It seemed odd that Bobby was going along with this scheme, usually he was very no-nonsense.  Whatever it was, evidently Castiel’s suit wasn’t appropriate, because he had dressed in the new t-shirt and jeans Dean had purchased for him—another request from Sam. 

When Sam led them all out back and got into the driver’s seat of the Impala, Dean felt a fresh stab of annoyance, but his grumbling that they were using Baby to carry out their evil plans fell on deaf ears and he found himself sitting in the back with Cas.  It was hard to keep his mouth shut about Sam’s sucky driving.

They drove for less than an hour before Sam was cruising through a wooded area and following signs for a park.  He stopped the car near a large glittering lake.

“It’s a lake,” Dean said as they all climbed out of the car.

“Yup,” Sam agreed.

Bobby and Sam were pulling items from the trunk, fishing rods, a tackle box, two coolers, and bait.  Bobby had even packed a collapsible seat for himself.  Dean raised his eyebrows.

“We’re supposed to be hunting, Sam, not lounging lakeside,” Dean said.

“Fishing is a kind of hunting,” Sam offered with a shrug, thrusting the rods at Dean.

“I haven’t been fishing in… hell, I can’t even remember the last time.”

“Exactly, Dean.  We never do anything just for fun, but we just had that successful vampire hunt and then that mess with the shifter.  We should take a break.  Might as well relax a bit… and Cas told me he wanted to do stuff like this.  The three, well, four of us having fun, right, Cas?”

“Yes,” Castiel agreed, his attention on the container of worms he had opened.

Dean looked from Sam who was giving him puppy dog eyes, to Cas who was completely engrossed in the worms, to Bobby who had taught him how to fish years ago and he felt his objection shrinking.  They were already here, it was a nice day, and Sam had sneakily gathered all the supplies they’d need.  Dean figured he could sit by the water and drink beers for a few hours.  There were worse ways to spend a day.

“Fine, fine, we’ll fish.  Happy now?” 

Bobby turned to lead the way to the lake.

“Don’t get attached to those worms, Cas.  They’re bait,” Dean said as they walked along the perimeter of the lake to a quiet area far from where people were starting to swim.  They found a shaded stretch of grass with some strategically placed logs to sit on. 

Settling in, they started to get set up and Dean sat with Cas, explaining what he was doing as he picked through Bobby’s tackle box, selecting hooks, bobbers, and weights.  He showed Cas how to tie a simple clinch knot to secure the hook to the line and the angel replicated it on his own.  It was kind of nice, methodically working to set up both fishing poles and then demonstrating how to cast them out into the water.  Cas was a good student and he gave Dean his undivided attention as he explained what to expect and how he should watch the bobber.  It was a task Castiel took very seriously, staring intently at the water and declining when Sam was passing out beers, claiming it would spoil his concentration. 

Bobby got the first of the action and as soon as his bobber dipped infinitesimally beneath the surface, Castiel alerted him to the fact by saying his name in an exuberant whisper.  Dean wondered if he would have shouted it if they hadn’t told him that it was important to be quiet.  Bobby waved Castiel over and let him try his luck, talking him through trying to set the hook so he could hopefully reel a fish in.  They weren’t successful, but Castiel’s excitement over that first nibble had them all smiling.       

They continued to sit and wait, talking on and off.  Sam had the first catch of the day, though the fish he got was fairly small.  They were only there for fun, so catch and release was fine.  Sam showed Castiel how to remove the fish from the hook and gave it to him to return to the lake.  Squatting along the edge of the lake, Castiel released the fish and then stayed there for a little while staring into the water.  Bobby drew their attention to a hawk flying by and later Sam spotted a turtle peeking out of the still surface and pointed it out, primarily for Castiel’s benefit. 

Dean was going for another beer when he realized the second cooler had sandwiches and he grinned appreciatively at his brother.   Sam really had planned the day out well, Dean thought as Castiel returned to his side.  After a few more missed opportunities that involved replacing bait, Castiel managed to reel in a fish on his own line while Dean reminded him what to do.  His fish was even smaller than Sam’s, but Cas seemed pleased as all hell and Dean couldn’t stop grinning at him.  He was such a dork.

After he had released his fish as well, Castiel sat next to Dean again.

“I always wanted to go fishing."

“Oh, yeah?” Dean was surprised.  “Why is that?”

“It’s something you dreamed about.  You had so many bad dreams, so I always thought fishing must be something special,” Castiel said, baiting his line again.

“Do you like it?”

“It’s peaceful.  The lake is beautiful, although it’s not the one from your dream, but I like being here with you… and Bobby and Sam,” Castiel added.  “So, yes, I like it.”

Dean took a couple bites of his sandwich.  Maybe Sam was right, they should stop sometimes and enjoy themselves.  Apart from time, this was only costing them a few dollars for a container of worms.    

As the day grew warmer and shifted into the afternoon, Dean peeled off his outer layers so he was just in his t-shirt, enjoying the breeze on his arms.  The fish action had slowed down, but Castiel kept his eyes on the lake and their lines, waiting. 

“You wanna see more fish, Cas?”

The angel turned his head to Dean, eyes lingering on the water before they pulled away and met Dean’s.      

“Okay.”

Yanking off his boots and socks, Dean rolled his jeans up to his knees and told Cas to do the same.  Dean led Castiel away from where they were sitting so that they wouldn’t scare the fish and started down a well-worn path to the edge of the lake.   Stepping into the water, Dean took a few steps forward through the mud and then stepped to the side so Castiel could follow behind him. 

The water was only up to their knees, but Dean knew that if they kept still little schools of fish would come flitting closer eventually.  Dean wondered if he’d be able to spot any other wildlife, insects, snakes, maybe a frog.   Cas would have a fucking field day with a frog.  Castiel had been trailing his hands in the water, but when Dean told Cas to stay still he became a freaking statue, staring down and waiting. 

Upon entering the water, Castiel had wandered a step or two past Dean.  So, while Cas studied the water, Dean studied Castiel’s profile.  The angel’s easy fascination with every simple thing at the lake had Dean considering what else they might be able to do for fun.  Dean was willing to bet that this was the first time Castiel had been in a body of water, at least in human form. 

The fish appeared after a few minutes and Castiel leaned forward with his hands on his knees to get a closer look.  Dean watched them too, but he also watched Castiel, amused by his rapt attention.  Shifting his weight, Dean made to step closer to Castiel, but his foot slipped on the muddy bottom and he landed on his ass with a splash. 

“Dammit.”

Castiel looked with surprise at Dean in the water.

“What happened?”

“What do you think, Cas?  I slipped,” Dean said, slipping again in his attempt to get back on his feet and falling forward.  He heard Sam laughing in the distance—the bitch.  Castiel stepped closer and caught Dean’s arm, steadying him as he finally got up. 

Dean’s first instinct was to storm out of the lake, but as he stood there, soaked and dripping, he couldn’t help but notice how dry Castiel was by comparison.  That didn’t seem fair.  He had just thought it might be good to introduce Castiel to new things.  This could count.  Dean laid a hand on Castiel’s shoulder, slightly pushing him as he swept his leg out from under him.  The angel toppled backwards, grabbing at Dean’s arm as he went and pulling him down as well. 

Floundering in the shallow water, Castiel looked slightly panicked as his hands slipped on the lake floor and he tried to keep his head above the surface.

“Dean!”

“Calm down, Cas.   Here.” 

Dean reached out to Castiel who seized his arm with both hands and clung to it. 

“You’re fine, Cas.  Just sit up,” Dean said, pulling Castiel up so he was sitting instead of lying  sprawled in the water.

“Why did you push me?”  Castiel demanded.

“Sorry,” Dean said sheepishly.  “Uh, I thought it might be funny.  I guess you didn’t.”

Castiel’s sour face confirmed it.  Struggling to his feet, Dean carefully braced himself so he could pull Castiel into a standing position as well. 

“It was like a bath, right?”  Dean asked lightly.

“I  wouldn’t know, but I hope not.  That was unpleasant,” Castiel said unhappily, keeping a hand on Dean’s arm as they moved cautiously towards the shore line.

“Maybe I should teach you how to swim some time, so you don’t freak out in two feet of water.”

Castiel bristled at the suggestion of returning to the water, looking for all the world like a nearly drowned cat with his sopping hair and waterlogged clothes. 

They returned to Bobby and Sam and Dean peeled off his shirt to wring it out. 

“Walk much, Dean?”  Sam teased him.

“Yeah, yeah, it was slippery.”

Castiel followed Dean’s lead and took off his shirt to squeeze water out of it.  Evidently he had decided that there were too many people nearby to dry himself instantly.  Dean realized he was staring at the droplets of water running down Castiel’s chest and he quickly sat down.  Castiel joined him and used Dean’s previously removed, long-sleeved shirt to dry his face and hair.  Dean stole it so he could do the same, twisting the water from his shirt one last time before tugging it over his head.  Thankfully, Cas put his shirt back on too.  Dean didn’t want to be distracted so obviously in front of Bobby and Sam.  There wasn’t much to be done for their wet jeans. 

They only stayed at the lake for another hour or so and Castiel dried and cleaned them both before they got into the front of the Impala to drive back.  No way was Dean gonna let Sam drive both ways. 

 

 

Back at Bobby’s, Dean made burgers for dinner, while Sam made some sort of salad that looked a bit too green to taste good.  Bobby was playing blackjack at the table with Cas and Dean was satisfied that he was primarily losing—that must mean Cas was actually good.    

After dinner, they all played poker.  Dean spotted Cas the ten bucks that they all put in up front, but that worked out fine since Dean beat them all anyway.  By the end of the night the angel’s poker face had gotten fiercely impressive and Dean couldn’t read him at all.  It would be a problem for future games. 

When Dean dropped into bed and Castiel joined him a moment later, with a gentle hand on his neck and a sweet press of lips to his, Dean smiled into the kiss.  He couldn’t remember having a better day. 

 

 

Two days later it was time to leave Bobby’s.  Sam had found them a new case in Tennessee and Dean wondered if they could find a motel with a pool to help familiarize Cas with being in water.

As Dean drove Baby away from Bobby’s, with Castiel sitting next to him and Sammy in the back trying not to complain, he felt kind of excited about what the road had in store for them.  He knew that Bobby and his welcoming nature and endless support would always be in his rearview mirror or a phone call away when Dean needed him.  Sam and Castiel weren’t all better yet, but the endeavor Sam had been making to repair the damage between them was substantial and Dean appreciated his brother’s efforts.  

It occurred to Dean that Sam now had options if he wanted them.  It might not happen right away—it didn‘t have to happen at all—but Dean was optimistic that with Castiel by his side, Sam might finally be able to have what he wanted as well: out of the life.  If that was still something Sam wanted, he would no longer be leaving Dean alone if he decided to go back to school, maybe meet a girl.  It was a bittersweet thought, but if that was what Sam wanted, Dean would support it.  Dean would miss him like hell, but ultimately he always wanted Sam to be safe and happy. 

Castiel could stay as long as he wanted and with him as backup, Dean could see many years of monster slaying still in his future. The angel was at once his best friend and now his… what? Companion? Lover? Boyfriend? None of those titles struck Dean as an accurate description of everything that Castiel was to him. Though he might not have a name for it, Dean knew it was a role that he didn’t want anyone else to fill.  So as long as Castiel would want to stick around, Dean would be happy to have him.

Dean looked fondly across the seat at Castiel who was gazing contentedly out the window.  He couldn’t stop the genuine grin that crept onto his face.  It was a little ridiculous how much the sight of the angel filled Dean with warmth and a serenity he had never known.  After Lisa, Dean had never wanted to try for something permanent again.  He didn’t think he could have something so positive and good in his life.  Relationships didn’t often end well for hunters, but Castiel was someone who knew the truth of Dean’s life and he wasn’t afraid.  He wanted to be there, fighting at Dean’s side and sharing a bed every night. It was more than Dean had ever allowed himself to hope for.

Castiel was everything Dean had never known he wanted or was missing. With the angel at his side he felt he could face anything and he knew Sam had his back, always and in all things.  Dean was undisputedly surrounded by love and he was looking forward to the three of them saving people and hunting things together, teaching Castiel the family business.  Dean was ready for the ride and whatever the road had in store for them.          

End.