Dean Winchester comes staggering into Castiel’s afternoon in his typical fashion: inappropriate, loud, and uncontrollably distracting. Castiel jumps to his feet when Dean enters his room just in time to help hold his—ex?—friend up as he recovers from hitting his hip in the doorway on his way in.
“Cas, I need your help.”
“Dean?” Castiel internally cringes at the sound of his own voice, which cracked in a way that he thought his body was finished with. “Do you need to borrow my bike again?”
Dean laughs at this, low and rough. “No, no, Cas, not that. I have the Impala now.” He pauses for a second, looking dazed, before leaning even more into Castiel’s personal space. The sense of urgency comes back to his eyes. “I need your help,” he repeats. “I need you to babysit Sam with me tonight.”
Boy, Castiel really hopes that his face didn’t show the flicker of pure joy that just lit up his brain, but he wouldn’t be surprised if a rainbow spontaneously erupted from his skull and turned into a spinning halo. You could power an entire city with Castiel’s hopeful feelings. Before he gets too far into his rainbow fantasy involving popcorn, Mac Davis records and the Winchester’s living room, however, Dean finally looks Cas straight in the eye. Suddenly, that city that Castiel was powering with his happy thoughts erupts into flames and is attacked by various monsters called forth by the red in Dean’s eyes and the unmistakable smell of marijuana on his clothes.
“You’re on the pot, aren’t you?!” Castiel tightens his grip Dean’s arm and jerks it upward so that he can smell the sleeve of Mr. Winchester’s jacket. He recoils and chokes out a disgusted noise as he drops Dean’s arm.
“That smells like Gabriel’s room.”
Dean shrugs, but in his pathetically uncoordinated, clearly high state, he only manages to shrug one shoulder at a time.
“You did drugs with my cousin?”
“Cas, I just really need your help tonight! I didn’t want to that much but Gabe did that annoying thing that he does, and I forgot that my parents are leaving tonight and I just really need help because Sam.”
Castiel frowns at Dean. Of course. Mr. and Mrs. Winchester’s annual trip is this weekend. This used to also mean that it was the Annual Dean and Cas Sleepover Weekend, though he supposes that they might have outgrown that tradition it this year even if Dean hadn’t dropped out of math club and stopped being best friends with Castiel.
Still, there is Sam.
Cas grabs his jacket and walks toward the door. He nudges Dean’s shoulder with his own on the way out.
“Thank you,” Dean exhales. He’s quick on Cas’ heels as they cross the street to the Winchester house.
“Don’t thank me,” Cas murmurs. “Thank your dealer.”
It isn’t too difficult to sneak Dean away once they are in his house. Mary and John Winchester are currently a tornado zig-zagging across the home checking on last-minute details. Cas barely has Dean shoved into his room and safe behind thenclosed door before he bumps into Mary in the hallway.
“Sorry, Mrs. Winchester.”
Castiel’s heart bruises just a little at the happy look on her face. She grabs him and pulls him into a hug, a little too-tight from her current frazzled state, and a little too well-meaning.
“I wasn’t sure if you would be here this weekend! Dean didn’t mention if you were coming or not. I was hoping, of course, because I know you won’t let the house burn down or anything.”
“I am an angel,” Castiel says loudly, kicking Dean’s door pointedly with his heel. Dean’s response is a muffled groan. He immediately regrets this when Dean’s noise catches Mary’s attention.
“Please excuse me, dear, I need to speak to Dean before we leave.”
“Oh, no!” Castiel says, flattening himself against the door. There is a tense moment of silence. Castiel had never been the one who was good at lying.
“He’s, uh. He had a chili cheeseburger for lunch.”
Another groan. Castiel isn’t sure if this was made to back up the story, or made in indignation.
"He might be in there for awhile, Mrs. Winchester."
Mary immediately backs up from the door.
“Oh! It’s, well. It's just as well. We should be leaving if we’re to make good time, anyway.” She kisses Castiel on the forehead and then swipes a thumb against it, probably to wipe away the lipstick she left there. “You know the drill. And you know where I keep the air fresheners and candles, for when Dean’s done.”
“Have a good time!” Castiel calls down the hallway. She leaves calling a loud goodbye to Castiel and to her sons. In the distance, John is shouting for Mary to come, and yells a reply that is muffled to Castiel's ears but likely laced with curse words. Once he hears the front door shut and locked, he turns around and lets himself into Dean’s room.
Dean is sprawled on his bed, staring intensely at his own hands.
“Why do they call them ‘fingers’ if they don’t fing?”
Tonight will be swell.
Sam isn’t even home when his parents leave, which is, at first, a relief to Castiel. He leaves Dean alone in his room, contemplating the mysteries of nomenclature and ignorant to the rest of the world, while he himself goes to the kitchen to get himself something to drink. The last fifteen minutes of non-stop stress has already manifested itself in thirst. At this rate he is sure that by the next morning he’ll have lost hearing in at least one ear and maybe even a limb.
“Father, please help me to not kill Dean Winchester by the morning,” he prays as he pours himself a glass of Ovaltine. Michael flat-out refuses to keep their own kitchen supplied with anything more than milk and water, and so Castiel decides that Ovaltine will have to be his payment for this selfless sacrifice of his.
Despite his melodramatic thoughts, he isn’t feeling too put-out about having to spend the night watching over Sam. He has missed Sam this school year, and he’s actually excited to hear his stories first-hand (instead of the heart-attack he had from the second-hand news of Sam’s streaking incident after gym class). Besides, even counting the disastrous last night he spent here before the school year began, he can’t honestly say that he has ever has a bad visit to this house.
After finishing his first glass of Ovaltine, Castiel opens the refrigerator door to look for some of Mary’s leftovers to reheat for dinner. She is famous amongst the friends of the Winchesters for her barbecued ribs, which he is especially eager to--yes, there!
“Father, thank you for Mary Winchester, your most talented creation.”
He prays in profuse thanks as he pulls out the container with ribs and another tin with one of her equally-delicious peach pies. He turns on the oven to pre-heat it, then pulls out a can of mixed vegetables that he can heat up as a side dish. While he knows he should wait, it takes only one minute of waiting before he decides that, in addition to Ovaltine, having dessert before dinner is another acceptable form of payment for his services.
Inside of the container there is a piece of folded paper taped to the lid. Castiel peels it carefully from the lid and unfolds it with slow care. On the paper is a scribbled drawing of a bear with exaggeratedly long arms, wearing a t-shirt that says “I love you berry much.” It is signed with a heart and Dean’s tight, tall signature and the phrase “MOM=THE BEST.” Despite the young message, the ink looks fresh, perhaps only taped into the tin this morning. It’s juvenile, it’s poorly-drawn, and Castiel has a very strong urge to hug it close to his heart and steal the drawing for himself.
“Father, please help me to not kiss Dean by the end of the night,” Castiel whispers at the bear, who has nothing to say in answer to his prayer.
God does, apparently, decide that now would be a good time to give Castiel a heart attack. Sam enters the house, loudly, and Castiel thinks that maybe he was wrong. Maybe he won’t lose a limb, perhaps he will just jump straight to heart failure. In a panic, he shoves the drawing into his pocket and turns around to face the smallest Winchester.
Who, apparently, has his friends with him.
“Dean is sick!” he announces before the trio even reach the kitchen. Sam stops right outside the kitchen and furrows his eyebrows. His friends, Chuck and Garth, wave at Castiel as they walk in to grab Fruit Roll-Ups. Castiel looks at Sam, eyes wide, worried that the look he is receiving is because Sam heard the love-sick prayer. And yes, most people would not be so scared of a five-foot-nothing, one hundred pound teenager, but most people don’t know the Winchesters.
“He’s sick? Did he touch anything?”
“Nope,” Castiel says, simultaneously crushing the “berry” loving bear in his pocket. “He went straight to his room. Didn’t even see your parents.”
Sam snorts at this and walks over to join his friends, who hand him his own Fruit Roll Up. The kitchen is apparently deemed safe enough to enter. Castiel watches Sam’s gait with amusement. While Sam’s friends are at least growing somewhat into their own still-awkward bodies, Sam’s has yet to adjust to the small steps his body has taken toward puberty. He swings his arms a little too widely while he walks, almost as if he’s hoping that the increased movement will shake his bones into growing.
“Hey, I thought your mom was letting you order pizza for dinner?” Chuck speaks up, pointing his half-bitten roll at Sam.
“Oh, are your friends staying for dinner?” Castiel looks over at the container of ribs. It might be tight, depending on how hungry the marijuana is making Dean, but Castiel thinks that he can probably stretch the left-overs to feed all of the boys
“Yeah, she thought it would be okay since we’re old enough that you and Dean don’t have to watch us. Didn’t Dean tell you?”
Castiel squeezes the piece of paper in his pocket even tighter. “But I thought I was here to help babysit?”
The face that Sam makes at this really should be saved forever as the perfect example of what Dean calls a “bitchface.”
“I don’t need a babysitter! I’m not a baby,” he says, slumping down in his chair, acting not-at-all as a petulant child. Garth stops chewing for a moment, looking slightly confused, and speaks up.
“Why are you the babysitter? Aren’t you Dean’s friend?”
Another awkward pause. Lying in the Winchester home sure is full of pleasant moments.
“Both, but, uh. He’s sick. Remember? So I wanted to help. With Sam.”
Garth opens his mouth again, but thankfully Sam elbows him and starts talking loudly about something at school. Not for the first time, Castiel is both thankful and blown away by how sweet and giving Sam Winchester can be. In this interim where the boys are distracted he grabs the pie and two forks and exits the kitchen. At least now he can focus on taking care of Dean.
Who is standing in the hallway, hunched over and feeling the walls.
Castiel rushes over. When Dean sees him, he straightens up as much as he can, the slight hunch putting him at eye-level with Castiel.
“Cas, I can’t handle this right now. I can’t. This place is,” he pauses, looks at the door to his bedroom, and then looks back at Castiel. “It’s freaking me out.”
Castiel looks at Dean’s bedroom door in confusion, then looks back at Dean.
“It’s okay. Sam has his friends, so I don’t need to watch him. Let’s just go into your parent’s room. I brought the pie. I’ll take care of you.”
Dean sags into the wall, relief plain in his face.
“Pie,” he sighs as he turns around and walks towards the master bedroom. He immediately crawls into his parent’s bed and pulls the covers up to his face. Castiel feels suddenly awkward about this. He’s only been in Mary and John’s room a handful of times, and never without their permission. The family dog, Mason, follows Castiel into the room. He closes and locks the door, just in case Sam or one of his friends gets curious. Dean is already anxious about his brother seeing him in such a state, and with his flared paranoia making him unpredictable Castiel is a little scared of what kind of reaction could happen.
The master bedroom is warm and inviting, with a wide bed and soft carpet. His favorite part is, of course, the beautiful and tall bookcase and the lumpy but comfortable chair next to it. This is where he sits now after carefully setting the pie down on the bedside table. Mason lays down next to Castiel’s feet and nearly immediately falls asleep.
“Gabe does this every day,” Dean mumbles from the bed. Castiel sits even straighter in the chair, even more stiff. “He deals with his family when he’s high. He goes to school when he’s high. Why would he do that?”
Castiel looks over at Dean, whose brow is furrowed, blanket tucked firmly beneath his chin. He has an immediate urge to kiss Dean’s forehead and hold his hand until he falls asleep. But there is Dean, his Dean still, sick in the mind. Castiel started off feeling angry about the situation, but that anger was at Gabriel, and at himself, but only fond exasperation at Dean. With Dean, he only feels sadness, guilt, and that ever-present want. He can’t help but wonder if he could have prevented this, if he could have prevented this whole year, if only he had more self-restraint.
“It’s because he’s unhappy,” Castiel answers. Dean accept this answer with a nod.
“That’s right. He’s unhappy. We’re all unhappy. That’s the thing about life, Cas, that’s the horrible thing about life. We’re all unhappy.”
“I’m not,” Castiel insists.
“Yes you are.” Dean is looking straight into Castiel’s eyes now, making him squirm in the chair. “Cas. Yes you are.”
“Not in the same way.” Maybe he should be worried about how easy it is to lie, now. Dean sits up at this, but the blanket still goes with him.
“Why not, Cas?”
“Well, because. I know God is taking care of me.”
Dean rolls his eyes at this and shrugs his shoulders.
“I don’t believe in God.”
Even though Castiel has heard this before, even though he knows it, this information still stings him in the back of his mind, reminds him of all the times he wished that he could just put his fingers to Dean’s forehead and transfer some of his own faith and peace to him.
“I know. That’s why you’re unhappy. That’s why you’re stoned.”
Dean snorts at this and looks away.
“God doesn’t make sense, Cas. It’s not logical.”
“He doesn’t need to be logical. I have faith.”
“Faith? Faith based on what, Cas? I mean, what if this is just a dream?” It’s Cas’ turn to look indignant and roll his eyes. Dean has a hard enough time making sense on this matter when sober, let alone when smoking the Devil’s weed. “What if all of this is a dream? What if all of this is a dream, and it’s not even our dream. It’s Mason’s dream.”
Dean is staring at Mason, now.
“Maybe we’re just existing in his mind, and then all of a sudden he’ll wake up to drink out of the toilet, and we’ll all be gone. What’s going to happen if Mason wakes up? It’ll all be over.”
“Life is not Mason’s dream, Dean,” Castiel tries to reason. “We live in God’s world.” Castiel slips off of the chair and gets down on the carpet, face to face with the sleeping Mason.
“Cas, what are you doing?!” Dean hisses from the bed. His voice is even lower than normal, but it’s also scared. Castiel is doing the only thing he can do now to save Dean.
“I’m going to wake up Mason.”
“Cas, no. Don’t wake up Mason.” He’s outright pleading now.
“Dean, it’s okay. Nothing bad will happen.”
“I don’t want you to!”
“Dean, it’s okay. Just have faith, Dean. Have faith.”
The heat and intensity of the moment, of everything that's riding on this, causes his hands to shake as he reaches for Mason. He takes told of Mason’s paws and starts shaking them in the air. Mason wakes up immediately and starts emitting a quiet howl.
“Arise, Mason, arise!” His own voice is happier now, hopeful that this might be the faith that Dean needs. “You see, Dean? Have faith. Believe, Dean.”
For his part, Dean just stares straight ahead at Mason, now yelping quietly and falling back asleep. When Dean finally looks away, it’s at the pie tin.
“Pie now, please, Cas,” he says, quietly.
Castiel, slightly disappointed, gets up to retrieve the pie tin for Dean. He takes the lid off and sets it down, not missing the confused look Dean gives to the lid. Castiel slips one hand into his pocket to ensure that the drawing is still in there before handing over the entire pie to Dean along with one of the forks. This seems to calm Dean down, who happily takes the pie and begins to eat it immediately. As he’s eating, he scoots to one side of the wide bed. Castiel focuses very clearly on keeping his face from flushing as he takes the invitation to sit down next to Dean on the bed, though he tries to keep a small distance between them.
Dean moans quietly as he eats. “This is so good, Cas. This is really hitting the spot. My mom is a food scientist, Cas.”
“I can put some music on. Maybe that will help get the monkey off your back.”
“No, stay,” Dean says, looking him in the eye as he places a hand on top of Castiel’s. His thumb strokes Castiel’s thumb, slowly. Castiel stills and tries to look as passive as possible to hide the fact that his entire hand feels as if it’s on fire, every nerve firing erratically at every point where their hands are touching.
“You’re a good friend, Cas,” Dean says, slightly quieter. “You’re a really good friend. You really saved me. I don’t know what I would have done without you.”
Castiel smiles at this, a very small but genuine smile.
Dean coughs and looks back at the pie. Castiel doesn’t--can’t--miss the red start creeping up Dean’s neck.
“God, this pie is so damn good, Cas. I love my mom.” After a few more bites, he continues, the red now reaching his ears. “And you know who else I love? You. I love you, Cas.”
Castiel can’t even stop the emotions right now, couldn’t if he wanted to. The unicorns and rainbows from earlier are back. They’ve slayed the monsters, they’ve fought the demons, and now they’re parading down the town square loudly playing the sound of Dean’s voice saying “I love you, Cas” repeatedly.
“Why aren’t we friends anymore?”
Maybe it was too soon to hold the parade. Castiel feels as though his entire stomach has bottomed out, worse than that time he rode a roller coaster.
“I thought we still were,” he says quietly to his hands.
“We are,” Dean says. Castiel can feel his eyes. “We are, Cas. But you know, it’s different now.”
“You’re different now, Dean.”
“You’re right. You’re right, Cas. But I’m not going to be different anymore. I’m going to be the same, and we’re going to be best friends.”
The room is too small now, too confined, and this bed is a prison. Castiel starts shifting away and moves off of the bed.
“No, Dean. And you know what? I feel sorry for you. Because tomorrow, when you’re not loaded anymore, you still won’t believe in God, and you won’t want to be my friend.”
“Cas,” Dean says, setting the pie aside. He starts trying to move and to follow Cas, but the blanket is impeding his movement. “Cas, that’s not true.”
“I hope not,” Castiel whispers as he backs up.
Dean stills. He looks down at his hand, where he is now holding a crumpled piece of paper. In a single, terrifying moment, Dean opens it, sees his drawing, then looks up at Castiel. His whole face softens.
“Cas,” he whispers. Castiel is surprised at how small his friend’s voice can be yet still remain so intense. “Were you going to keep this?”
Castiel takes a deep, shuddering breath. As much as he wants to, he can’t look away from Dean’s eyes. He nods. Dean’s face softens.
“Cas, why did you stop coming over here?”
“I thought you wouldn’t want me here, after I...after I kissed you.”
Dean’s entire face crumbles at this in a way that Castiel can’t interpret. There are too many emotions, and he’s stuck where he is, his feet immobile, though he’s unsure of what to anticipate right now.
“I thought that I had dreamed that.”
“You mean you didn’t start hanging out with Gabe to replace me?”
“God,” Dean gasps. His arm jerks forward to grab Castiel’s arm, but in his drug-induced clumsiness he pulls too hard. Castiel falls forward, onto the bed with a loud whump. Dean is behind him immediately, holding him close. His arms are squeezing tight, almost too-tight, and his breath is hot against Castiel’s neck. “God, no. There’s nobody--nobody can replace you. I just thought you knew, that you knew how I felt, that you didn’t want to see me anymore. Cas, Cas, I missed you so damn much, Cas. I need you here, with me.”
“You won’t mean this--you won’t remember this in the morning,” Castiel insists quietly, though he’s holding only Dean’s arms for dear life. He doesn’t care how real this will be in the morning, he doesn’t care how real this is now, because for right now he can lay here and enjoy the moment where everything he’s been wishing for is blooming to life in front of his eyes.
Dean presses a small, hot kiss to his neck. Their bodies shiver together.
“I’ve meant it for years, Cas. How didn’t you know?”
His arms loosen slightly, just enough to allow Castiel to turn in his arms. Their mouths meet automatically as each boy grabs for one another, Castiel holding Dean’s jacket tight and Dean grasping hard at Castiel’s shoulders. Dean’s mouth is hot and insistent and his hands are everywhere, pulling at his loose tie, moving down his side, pulling their hips together. Castiel stops holding back. He swipes his tongue across Dean’s bottom lip. Dean moans and opens his mouth to Castiel’s tongue, who takes everything Dean is giving. He rolls them over suddenly until he’s straddling Dean’s waist, hips stuttering down and dragging his erection against Dean’s. Underneath him, Dean laughs and pulls back fro
m Castiel’s mouth for a second.
“Cas, baby, Cas,” he says, giving his tie a quick tug to get his attention. “It’s okay. I’m not going anywhere. You can slow down.”
Cas closes his eyes and grins. He drops his head down to press his forehead against Dean’s.
“You’re not going anywhere?”
“Never again,” Dean whispers.
“Thank you, God,” Castiel prays quickly before continuing where they left off.
Somewhere to their right, there is the sound of the pie slipping off the bed and falling to the ground. And, despite what Castiel is expecting, even that isn't enough to stop Dean.
Dean cares more about Castiel than pie? Unheard of.
It shouldn't mean much. But, remembering that bear, it’s enough.
Sam can barely hear the noise over the sound of his own laughter, but the loud whump still grabs his attention. He thinks about how sick Dean is and a shot of fear goes through his body.
“I’m gonna go check on Dean,” he says as he stands up. The fear grows larger when he finds Dean’s room empty. Thankfully, another noise, muffled, comes from his parents’ room.
He opens the door slowly, and then closes it immediately.
Dean and Castiel are full-on making out on his parents’ bed. He just saw his brother’s tongue.
Sam shudders and walks away, quickly. As disgusting as it was to see his brother like that, he can’t stop the happy feeling that’s bubbling up in his chest. He’s glad that Dean stopped moping and finally made a move. Maybe now Castiel would come to their house more! Sam goes back into his own room, mentally making a list of every story he needs to tell Castiel in the morning.
Maybe he’ll skip the streaking one, though. He doesn’t want to scare Castiel away again.