The bunker is never really quiet. The machinery in the war room is always humming, and the old heater wheezes like a lifetime smoker trudging up a hill. The lights buzz. The floors grumble and the walls creak. It's a boring soundtrack compared to the squealing brakes and spitting neon signs that loop behind life on the road. After four years, Dean's mostly learned how to tune it out, but tonight ─ tonight, it's just noisy enough to put his teeth on edge.
He's fucking tired. Lady Toni called in a few more heavies once her knuckledusting friend stopped answering the phone; they got ambushed twice on the trip up to Aldrich and again outside the house Toni was using as a hideout. After that, it still took two fights and Cas blasting through a wall to bust Sam out of her basement Guantanamo set-up. The house had caught fire as they were dragging Sam up the stairs. Dean doesn't know why ─ if Cas' remodeling sparked some wires, or if Toni hit some kind of self-destruct button before slithering away. Whatever started it, they barely made it out of there in time.
Cas had healed Sam as they were loading him into the car. Afterward, Sam had coughed himself awake and asked for a bottle of water. Then ─ quietly ─ he'd asked Dean to take him home. An all-nighter was the last thing Dean wanted after a long and bloody day and a half, but ─ fuck. He wasn't going to tell Sam no. Not having a windshield meant keeping to two-lane highways and county roads, and that stretched a ten-hour haul into thirteen. Cas had offered to drive just outside of Sioux Falls, but Dean had still been amped up from the fight. He'd offered again when they hit the Nebraska-Kansas line; then, Dean had been riding a weird second-wind that would've had him jumping and twitching all over the passenger seat.
Dean had just shrugged and leaned on the gas. He'd tapped his hand on his thigh for most of the next mile, half-hoping Cas would reach over and take it. Sam and Mary had been asleep, Mary curled under a pile of blankets and Sam snoring into her shoulder. The wind shrieking into the Impala had beat at Dean's face like an oncoming hurricane.
He hears shuffling in the hallway ─ footsteps, a door closing, the pained whine of old floorboards. Mary's voice rises and falls; a beat later, Cas rumbles in reply. Dean blinks around the kitchen for a second. An exhaustion headache is slowly setting up camp at the base his skull, but if he goes to bed now he'll just stare up at the ceiling until his eyes cross. It took six cups of coffee to get him between Aldrich and Lebanon; the last one had been so muddy and thick he's pretty sure it left skidmarks on his tongue. That much caffeine is going to have him by the back of the neck for at least another hour ─ probably two.
The fridge kicks on with a thrum that feels sharp around the edges. Dean yawns and rubs his gritty eyes, then grabs a pair of beers and heads into the library. Sam's blood is still on the floor ─ heavy smears that have finally darkened into an ugly, rusty brown ─ so he only stays long enough to pop the cap on one of the beers and fling it toward the trashcan. He drains a good third of the bottle on his way up to the garage.
The Impala is waiting for him at the top of the stairs, its engine pinging softly as it cools. Its chrome looks pewter in the garage's dim, yellowish light. Dean drains another third of his beer and skims his fingers over the hood.
"Sorry, Baby," he mutters. The Impala has always taken good care of him; he hates it when it can't return the favor. "I'm gonna get you fixed up again."
He kills the bottom of his beer and sets the bottle on the floor. Then he walks a slow circle around the Impala to assess the damage. A new windshield is a given. He can smooth out the buckle in the trunk himself ─ same with the slight twist in the fender. But the tail-light is shot to hell, and the denting in the quarter-panel is beyond a simple pull and pop. He'll have to hit up a salvage yard in the next couple of days. The closest one is about a half an hour south in Cawker City, but its stock is mostly farm equipment and heavy machinery. His best bet is probably Hastings.
Sighing, Dean leans back against the Thunderbird across from the Impala. He rubs his hand over his face and tries to do the math in his head. The tail-light won't cost much, but the windshield could run two hundred, easy. The quarter-panel should be about the same, but it depends on the schedule at the salvage yard. Earl is a cool dude about Dean's age who loves Zeppelin and drives a sweet '71 El Camino; Ron is a crusty good-old-boy pushing seventy who overcharges anyone he pegs as a hippie, a city-slicker, or a Democrat. Dean's got just enough cash to cover it either way, but it'll leave things kind of tight. His current credit cards are starting to wear thin, and the idea of hustling pool with his mom around is making the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.
The stairs creak. Dean pops the cap on his other beer and asks, "Cas? That you?"
Cas pauses at the Impala's nose. He's down to his white shirt and slacks. "He's resting."
"I, um. I should ─" Dean clears his throat and points at the stairs with his beer. "I should ─"
"He's resting," Cas says again. "Your mother is with him."
"She should be in bed."
"So should you. Stubbornness seems to run in the family."
Dean huffs out a laugh. "Yeah. My dad was a pigheaded sonofabitch, too." He raps his knuckles on the Impala's roof. "I guess Sammy and I were born to lose."
"Dean." Cas' voice dips. Gently, he touches Dean's arm. "Are you okay?"
Dean doesn't know how to answer that. He's in one piece. His headache isn't anything a couple of aspirin and a few hours of sleep can't fix. But his mom is back from the dead. His brother spent the last three days getting worked over by professionals. He spent the last year with God's sister's meathooks in his head. And Cas ─ fuck. Cas.
His hand twitches at his side. He wants to pull Cas in ─ pull Cas close ─ but he isn't really sure where they stand. What they had was still pretty new when Lucifer walked off with Cas' meatsuit. Dean finally gave in after Rowena lifted the attack-dog spell; watching Cas seize up and collapse had been enough to shatter the last of Dean's walls. He'd broken down and held Cas' face like he'd always wanted. He'd let his fingers brush through Cas' hair. When they got back to the bunker, he hovered beside Cas' bed until Cas asked him to lie down.
He almost didn't. He'd had time to second-guess himself by then; his gut instinct had been running away. But he could still see Cas sprawled on that warehouse floor ─ not moving, not breathing. As soon as Dean climbed under the blankets, Cas rolled over to meet him. He skimmed his hand down Dean's side and tucked his head underneath Dean's chin. He fell asleep with his mouth pressed to the hollow of Dean's throat.
A few good weeks ─ that's all they got before Lucifer happened. Dean should've figured it out sooner. He should've tried harder to get Cas out.
Cas murmurs, "Dean," then cuts off with a soft noise. His throat bobs as he swallows. In the shitty light, his eyes are more gray than blue.
"Dude." Dean knocks back some more beer and blots his sweaty forehead on his sleeve. "You're staring. Am I ─ is there blood on my face?"
"No. I'm just ─" Cas squeezes Dean's arm, then slides his hand down to Dean's hip. "I truly thought I lost you this time."
"Cas, it's ─"
"Don't tell me it's 'all right.' I believed you were dead ─ dead, and beyond any hope of resurrection." Cas' voice dips again. His fingers dig into Dean's hip. "I speak every language known to man, and most of what's been forgotten. None of them have the words to describe what that felt like."
Dean doesn't need him to describe it; he already fucking knows. He remembers watching Cas walk into that river. He remembers how cold and raw and empty he felt when he came crashing down from Purgatory alone. "Jesus. Just ─ just c'mere, will you?"
Cas leans in with another noise. His nose bumps Dean's cheek and his breath fans against Dean's jaw. Dean sets his beer on the Impala's hood and wraps Cas into a hug. He curls his fingers into Cas' hair. He presses a soft kiss to the shell of Cas' ear.
They just stay like that for awhile, quiet as the lights hum and the shop sink drips. Cas tucks his hands under Dean's shirts and slides them up Dean's back. He kisses the hollow of Dean's throat and the corner of Dean's jaw. Dean noses in until their mouths meet, and then they kiss a few times, easy and soft. The Impala creaks against Dean's back. Dean strokes his thumb into the dip behind Cas' ear.
The caffeine ditches him all at once -- one second he's still buzzing with it; in the next, his knees are wobbling and his shoulders feel like they weigh a hundred pounds. He mumbles, "Hey," around a yawn and skims his fingers down the side of Cas' neck. "I'm beat. You wanna come upstairs?"
"Yes." Cas nods and leans back slightly. "I should check on Sam."
"No ─ I mean, yeah, we're gonna check on Sam. But I, um ─ I want you to stay. With ─ you know. With me."
Cas smiles. "Yes. I would ─" he cuts off at tips his head to the side. "What about your mother?"
That ─ yeah. Dean would be lying if he said that didn't worry him a little. But Cas deserves better. They both do. "She's gonna find out sooner or later. I mean, if we ─" he waves his hand "─ if we're really gonna do this."
"We are," Cas says firmly.
Dean gives him another quick kiss, then grabs his beer off the Impala's hood. There are only two or three mouthfuls left, but his stomach isn't interested now that he's half-asleep. He dumps it in one of the floor drains and chucks the empty bottle at the trashcan. It shatters against the wall, but Dean just shrugs and turns around. He can deal with it tomorrow.
"C'mon," he says, reaching for Cas' hand. "Let's go to bed."