Things Dean Winchester Loves:
1. Sam Winchester
This one was obvious. Whatever their disagreements, whatever their latest spat or Dean's promise that he would never forgive Sam for dinging the car door or forgetting the pie a second time—"Seriously, what is up with you lately?"—whatever Sam did or didn't do and Dean did or didn't say, Sam came first. Dean loved his little brother with his whole heart, even when it hurt him to do so, even when it was, as Gabriel pointed out, unhealthily codependent. Sam Winchester would always be at the top of Dean's list, and it was something Castiel would never see change in him. Castiel had God, and though he would be heartened to see Dean find faith, he knew that Dean filled that slot in his heart with his brother.
Besides, Castiel had to admit to being fond of Sam Winchester, as well.
"My brother is a moron," Sam told Castiel, "but he'll get there eventually. You just have to wait him out."
Castiel, as usual, bowed to Sam's greater expertise.
2. The Impala
Dean loved the Impala like it was the best part of himself. He once argued in favor of being left to bleed to death on the side of the road rather than ruin the upholstery. Castiel had, of course, called on his remaining grace to move Dean directly to the hospital rather than waste time arguing. It took Dean a full day to forgive Castiel for once more impacting his bowels, but it had been preferable to Dean dying, and Dean had finally admitted, at least, that Castiel's way had saved his baby from being covered in blood. He had even smiled grimly, pale under the hospital lights, and offered, "Maybe someday I'll let you try taking the wheel sometime."
"I'd like that," Castiel said, and though he was not looking forward to learning to operate a motor vehicle, he was very much looking forward to Dean teaching him to drive.
2. The Impala 2. Pie
"This is the best thing ever," Dean moaned around another mouthful of pecan. "You rock, Cas."
"Try the peach next," Castiel said, nudging that plate forward and watching intently the flash of red as Dean's tongue darted out to lick his lips. "I picked it up from a small bakery in Delaware."
"Okay, I was wrong," Dean said after following Castiel's advice. "The peach is the best ever."
Staring at Dean's now shiny mouth, Castiel disagreed.
2/3. Pie/The Impala
"Two great things that go great together," Dean told Castiel, passing the pie tin and a plastic fork to Castiel in the back seat. "But if you spill anything on her, I'll kill you."
"He's not serious," Sam said.
"I'm dead serious," Dean said.
"I will be careful," Castiel said. Pie was not as high on Castiel's list as Dean's, but it was important to Dean that Castiel take part in their post hunt tradition of celebration, and apparently that included pie. In this, as with many things, Castiel would humor him.
4. Bobby Singer
Bobby was probably above pie and the Impala, but Castiel was concerned about room on the list after so many corrections already made, and Bobby's position as a second, surrogate father was something the Winchester brothers didn't discuss. Bobby said only, simply, "They're family," and would go no further. From the way he watched Sam and Dean sort through the weapons, putting aside a sawed off shotgun and three silver knives, his eyes bright and lips drawn down, Castiel didn't believe it was necessary to hear anything more.
5. The Amulet
"Give it to me," Castiel said, and Dean swallowed and handed it over. In that instant, Castiel wondered if maybe, just maybe, he might rank somewhere on the list himself.
Then several days later, Dean asked after his progress and said, not looking up from cleaning the rifle, "Hurry it up. It's practically a family heirloom. I love it more than I like you."
Sam looked up from his position sprawled across the gray bedspread and said, "Aw, you like Cas?"
Dean's head came up. "What? No."
"You gave him your necklace like a promise ring," Sam said. "Might as well have busted out the letter jacket."
"Shut up," Dean said. Then, "And considering you're the one who gave it to me, what does that say about you?"
"Considering you're the one who accepted it—"
Research and weapons maintenance were abandoned in favor of a wrestling match, and neither brother seemed to notice when Castiel disappeared.
6. Ruby's knife
Whatever his thoughts on Ruby herself, Dean loved that knife. When Sam didn't have it, Dean slept with it under his pillow like a favor from a lover, and when he cleaned it, each stroke of cloth against metal was like a caress.
Castiel reminded himself that it would be ridiculous to be envious of a tool in Dean's hands. Castiel wasn't a hammer, didn't want to be, and it made no sense to want to be a weapon of any other kind.
Dean Winchester liked sex. A lot. Allowing Chastity to press her lips against his for a full thirty seconds, Castiel couldn't quite see the appeal. At least, not sexual activity for its own sake. When she pulled away to take a couple deep breaths and attack his tie, Castiel took the opportunity to try to connect on another level. "It's not your fault that your father left."
As Dean could have told him—and did only moments later—this was one of his less well thought out plans.
Castiel's misadventures didn't change Dean's opinions on the matter, and he said, "It's—I don't know, it's awesome. Strangers in the night in for a fun time with no strings, just focused on making each other feel good and forming that brief connection, that reminder you're human. It's—" Dean waved a hand. "I'm too fucking drunk for this, waxing poetic, philosophic bullshit about sex. But trust me, it's good if you do it with the right people."
"I trust you," Castiel said, and Dean smiled brightly and patted Castiel's cheek.
"I appreciate that. I do," Dean said, "but I wish I could show you."
Castiel was quiet a moment, hesitant, feeling perched on a cliff's edge where unsteady ground met open sky, and when he finally spoke, it was quiet enough that Dean could pretend not to have heard: "You could."
"Yeah, well," Dean said, smile gone oddly lopsided, "it wouldn't be the same. We're not exactly strangers."
Castiel thought that was the point, but he just helped Dean back to the car and said, "I will drive."
"My own personal chauffeur," Dean said, and his voice was on the high end of amused now. "I knew those driving lessons would come in handy. Don't scratch the paint or I'll kick your ass in the morning."
Taking a cue from Sam's usual response, as Sam was not here to give it, Castiel leveled a deadpan stare Dean's way and said, "I'd like to see you try."
(He really wouldn't. Even with his, as Dean put it, angel mojo damped down since being cut off from the Host, Dean would still break his hand before he broke Castiel's skin.)
Dean laughed and tumbled in the car. "I have got to stop leaving you alone with Sam," he said, smiling as he struggled with the seat-belt. "He's being a—a bad influence."
Castiel put the key in the ignition and waited for Dean to finally fit the buckle in, gave him the time to figure it out.
7. Dr. Sexy M.D.
"This," Dean said, gesturing at the TV, "is where Becky and the rest of the fangirls should be. Have you seen that man's ass?"
It was at this point Sam walked into the motel room with the containers of Chinese take-away, sweet and spicy scents of beef and tofu wafting over. "Seriously, Dean?"
Dean scoffed. "Like you didn't already know after our adventure with Gabriel and TVLand." Then, "See, Cas, right there, that smoky look? That's called eye-fucking. They totally have a thing. If not for the exploding brain tumor, they'd have gone all HBO on that operating table."
"Here," Sam handed Castiel a white paper carton of mu shu pork. "If you're going to be trapped, you might as well have good food to distract you."
"Shut up, Cas likes it," Dean said and bumped their shoulders as he reached for the fried rice. "Right, Cas?"
"Right," Castiel said slowly and eyed Dean carefully.
Dean held eye contact for nearly a full seven seconds before nodding in satisfaction and jabbing his chop-sticks at the screen. "Now, him, he's a douchenozzle. We don't like him, and if God actually is hanging out and decides to show His presence on Earth, then he'll be written out in the season finale or sooner."
8. Kurt Vonnegut
Dean kept a battered copy of Slaughterhouse Five in his dufflebag, and when Castiel came to awareness—God was not in ancient Rome, and Castiel had apparently reached the limit of his ability to time travel—Dean was reading a passage aloud in a hoarse voice, bent over the book: "When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in a bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say—" Dean glanced up and caught Castiel's gaze.
"How does it end?" Castiel asked, his own voice rough, his vessel's throat uncomfortably dry.
Dean flipped the book closed and said, "I could loan it to you."
Castiel closed his eyes. "Thank you, no." He almost thought he felt Dean's hand cool against his overheated forehead, and Castiel tried to tell him, "But I would like it if you continued." If Castiel actually spoke or Dean heard, Castiel missed it, dragged back under by exhaustion like a sudden ambush.
But only specific types of music. Dean was attempting to introduce Castiel to Led Zeppelin and Sam was complaining about the arrangement.
"You've picked the last five tapes!"
"And Cas sided with me, so you are out-voted two to three. Score one for democracy, baby," Dean said, slotting the tape in the deck with a joyful motion like victory.
"It would be fair," Castiel said, "to give Sam the chance to influence my musical education."
"You've been coaching him while I was in the bathroom," Dean accused.
Sam didn't bother hiding his smile. "You heard him. Democracy rules."
"New rule: driver chooses the music," Dean said, "and I'm driving. Cas's exposure to the classics is just a bonus."
Having made his attempt at bridging peace between them, Castiel leaned back along the bench seat and pulled open a journal he'd procured from a small German library before his powers of instant transportation had finally given in under the strain. They'd had years of experience with petty, lighthearted bickering over music before Castiel joined them on the road, and Castiel trusted they could continue well on without him.
This extended to Dean's dreams.
"Cas?" Dean said from his position beneath a woman dressed as some human approximation of an angel, a male stripper-angel dancing next to them. "What are you doing here?"
Castiel looked from the dream strippers to Dean and asked, "Is this a bad time?"
"Uh," Dean said, and the strippers and stage disappeared. "No, I'm good. What's up?"
"I'm trapped in Chicago," Castiel said.
Dean sat up in alarm. "I thought you said you were fine."
"I was," Castiel said. "But then I was arrested for vagrancy."
"Vagrancy?" Dean said disbelievingly.
Castiel's lips twisted, and he admitted, somewhat ashamed, "I failed to take into account my new need for sleep and—had some difficulties in Millennium Park."
"Difficulties?" Dean asked. Then, "Are you saying you passed out in the park and the cops arrested you?"
Dean rubbed his face. "I'll call Bobby. He'll bring Jimmy Novak's license and pick you up."
"Thank you," Castiel said simply. He didn't have much of his powers left, but it was still within his capacity to, with a wave of his hand, bring back the strippers and the pole, to start up music with a steady bass beat.
Castiel didn't wait for a thank you.
"I can no longer feel Jimmy," Castiel admitted one day. They were in a small town in Indiana and had just taken out a small nest of vampires that had tried to throw in with Hell. Castiel was sore from having been thrown into a wall, and the bruises were taking a long time to fade. He'd acquired a gash on his forehead that had only just stopped bleeding. "Occasionally, I thought I felt—echoes. Even those have abated."
The look Dean gave Castiel was one of open wounds, utter devastation, before he visibly gathered control and schooled his face to blankness. "You know what we need?" Dean asked. "Alcohol. Lots of alcohol."
Dean took him to a bar and made him do shot after shot like Ellen had, and when Castiel mentioned this, Dean turned away.
"At the time," Castiel said slowly, his tongue a clumsy thing in his mouth, "I thought I might have felt something." He stared at his hands, the long fingers and short nails Sam had taught him to clip. The bar was unsteady under his palms. "It was nothing like this."
Dean had stuck to beer, nursed it slowly, and Castiel remembered Sam explaining the concept of designated drivers. Dean took another pull now, then rolled the bottle between his hands. Castiel found it difficult to look away.
"I don't wish to be human," Castiel said. "I don't—"
The sides of the shot glass were cool and smooth against his fingers, and the tequila burned the whole way down.
"I like you," Castiel said, throat tight despite the loosening effects of all the tequila.
"But you wouldn't want to be one of us?" Dean asked with a bitter little smile.
"I don't have the strength," Castiel answered. "You and Sam—I would break under the weight you carry."
"You're stronger than you think," Dean said. He settled the tab and half-carried Castiel out to the car.
"Sam," Castiel said while they waited in the motel room for Dean to pick up the pizza, "why has Dean given up red meat?"
"Oh." Sam looked embarrassed. "He hasn't."
"Dean loves cheeseburgers," Castiel said, because this was a fact. "But he has not had one in weeks. When we had lunch today, he ordered a salad." Castiel narrowed his eyes, because Sam would not meet his eyes. "I'm concerned."
The door slammed open, followed by Dean with two cardboard pizza boxes that smelled of cheese, dough, and vegetables. "Pineapple and onions for you," Dean said without preamble, shoving the top box at Sam before turning to Castiel, "and I got us veggie supreme. That okay?"
Castiel turned from Dean to Sam, who hunched in at the look Castiel gave him. "I've already attempted salt, holy water, and silver. What am I missing?"
"What?" Dean said, flipping open the pizza box and grabbing a slice after having dropped the box on the motel's rickety table. "Did you guys start a hunt in the thirty minutes I was gone? Or is this some research geek thing?"
Sam threw his hands in the air. "He's not possessed or a shapeshifter," Sam said. "We were trying to be sensitive."
"Huh?" Dean said around a mouthful of food.
Sam turned to him. "Cas is worried because we haven't had any red meat around him since the Famine thing."
And it all suddenly became clear.
"Dude, the last time you saw a steak you were sick," Dean said. "You threw up on my shoes."
"You said vomiting was a normal part of hang-overs," Castiel said, unable to keep the note of accusation out of his voice.
"But not normally ten hours later," Sam said. "Look—Dean's been sneaking drivethrough when you're not around. He's not being deprived, and it's actually good for him to eat some fruit and vegetables for once."
Dean shrugged. "It's not my thing, but it's growing on me." He proved his point by stuffing the rest of the slice in his mouth.
The warm feeling that suffused his chest was, Castiel thought, probably what most humans felt when experiencing happiness. Even so, Castiel said, "Enough time has passed that I don't believe it would be a problem for me."
"Thank God," Dean said, dropping the next slice he'd picked up. "I'm ordering in sausage and pepperoni with extra pepperoni."
Sam smiled and said, "It was nice while it lasted. Enjoy your scurvy, Dean."
"I will," Dean vowed.
Castiel now had new cause for concern.
The sound Dean made was a curious mixture of surprise, horror, and panic. "I thought you were hanging out at the library with Sam!"
"I'd forgotten a book we required," Castiel said.
Dean's flush extended down his neck and chest, turned the tips of his ears a bright red. The red was set off by the dull white of the sheet he'd hastily pulled over his lap. Dean hit a button on the remote and the moans and wet, slick sounds emanating from the television ceased.
"Um," Dean said. "It's not what it looks like?" he tried.
"You weren't watching homosexual pornography and masturbating?" Castiel asked, keeping his tone carefully neutral.
Dean cast a despairing look at the ceiling, then said, "Would you really believe me if I said that?"
"No," Castiel said kindly, "but I won't tell Sam."
"Right," Dean said and put a hand over his face.
Castiel retrieved his book. Before he left, he said, "Dean, I know your soul. Do you truly believe this is a surprise?"
"Only you," Dean said, "could make this more embarrassing for me."
"It could have been worse," Castiel said.
"I don't believe you."
Dryly, "I could have noted how much the man on the bottom resembles my vessel."
Dean's strangled sound followed Castiel out the door.
Investigation [Written in a different hand:] Snooping
"Dean can't help himself," Sam had explained once. "He has no sense of privacy. I kept a journal for all of three days in high school before he read it and mocked me for weeks. What I'm saying is: hide your stuff or keep it on your person, because he will totally find it."
"I don't have anything to hide from Dean," Castiel had replied, but now, watching Dean's face as he read through Castiel's list, he wondered if perhaps he should have taken Sam's advice. Dean's expression was blank when, it being obvious he had finished, Castiel collected the list from the table.
"That's a nice list, Cas," Dean finally said after a long moment of staring and he gently extricated it from Castiel's hand. "But you got one thing wrong."
Dean grabbed a pen and pressed the list flat against the motel room's table, the nib making tiny scratching sounds against the cheap paper, before he pressed it back into Castiel's hands.
"There, fixed it for you."
Castiel stared at the addition and its place in the list order, then back at Dean. "Really?" Castiel asked softly.
Dean looked intensely discomfited, but he said, "You're my best friend." He fidgeted with the pen a moment before dropping it on the table. "Don't let it go to your head. You're my only friend, really, outside of Sam, and he doesn't count, because he's my brother."
"You're my best friend, as well," Castiel said warmly. After a moment's consideration, "Though Sam is also my friend, and Bobby Singer." Castiel smoothed the paper between his fingers, cherishing the soft rasping noise the parchment made with each stroke. "But my regard for you is separate from my feelings of friendship for them."
A long silence stretched between them, and when Castiel looked up, Dean was staring at him with an expression so edged with hope it approached fear. "Regard?" Dean asked hoarsely. "For me?"
Castiel frowned. "I have not been subtle, Dean." Then, because Dean's expression was still one of wondering disbelief, "Dean, I chose you. Out of Heaven, Hell, and all of humanity, I chose you."
"I thought," Dean swallowed. "I thought you chose mankind." He took a step forward. "You know, team free will."
"Yes." Castiel placed his hand over Dean's shoulder, slid it purposely to the mark he'd left there with his grace. "And you."
Dean trembled minutely beneath his grip.
"They're not the same thing." Castiel leaned in close and waited.
Dean made a noise low in his throat and met Castiel halfway.
27. Women's underwear
"Wait," Dean said later, looking the list over again. "How did you know about the women's underwear?"
"I had assumed," Castiel replied, not even bothering to lift his head from Dean's shoulder, "that you enjoyed it on women and the act of removing it. Is that not the case?"
Dean cleared his throat. "Uh, right. Right." A pause. Then, awkwardly. "If it—wasn't the case, would you have a problem with that?"
Castiel lifted his head to stare blankly at Dean a moment, processing. Then, "Dean, do you really think there is anything you could want that I would be unwilling to give you?"
Dean cleared his throat again. "That's, uh. That's sweet, Cas." Then, more quietly, "Me, too."
Gently, "I know, Dean."
Things Dean Winchester Loves:
2. The Impala 2. Pie 2/3. Pie/The Impala2. Castiel