Dean doesn’t want to talk about it anymore so Sam stops asking him if he’s okay. That doesn’t stop Sam’s mind from wandering to the subject of what’s changed, of who’s missing. Sam sees there’s an open wound, a hole, another to add to the collection of ones already there, in Dean’s heart. Sam sees it, but he also knows it’s there because he’s carrying it, too.
After a few days, Dean won’t mention anything even remotely related to angels, Heaven, or the trench coat in the back of the Impala. But just the fact that Dean is keeping it safe, in the back of his most precious possession, gives Sam hope that one day they can broach the subject and either hold on to hoping, or start to move on. In the meantime, though, it looks like Dean is using alcohol as his way to cope.
Moving on is harder when the person you’re trying to mourn has a history of coming back from the dead unscathed.
When they stop in a town to fill up on gas and bullets for their equipment, Dean asks Sam to take out the firearms they need to reload, and heads for the store nearby. Sam slides out one long shotgun, a handgun or two, and some of their more obscure weapons. Everything is how Sam expects it to be, until something becomes noticeable by its absence; Castiel’s coat.
Dean walks back out with a couple boxes of ammo and change. Sam tries not to gape, but he can’t believe it isn’t here. Sam doesn’t remember Dean moving it anywhere or packing it in his bag, and he’s still searching for it with hands he didn’t notice were trembling until Dean startles him, pointing it out.
“Geez Sammy, what’s up with you?” He clasps Sam on the shoulder, patting gently afterward. “Something wrong? You’re shaking like a leaf.”
Sam takes a deep breath, wondering why he’s so affected, so mortified by this. “I’m fine,” he lies. Then, “Where’s the coat?” He stops himself from saying Castiel, knowing it puts Dean instantly in a bad mood nowadays.
“What coat?” Dean says without inflection. He withdraws not only his touch, but his emotions entirely, occupying himself with the ammo instead.
“You know,” Sam says evasively, feeling his courage fading by the second. Dean won’t even make eye contact anymore. “The trench coat that was in the Impala for a week.”
Even the words ‘trench coat’ set Dean off apparently—if his body language is anything to go by. Sam regrets having used them, but doesn’t apologize. Sam needs to know it’s not in some dumpster two towns back.
“Sammy,” Dean says softly, in spite of the frustration behind his gaze. “He’s gone. He’s not coming back. What’s the point of keeping it?”
There’s an order to things. It’s the way Dean mourns, and Sam knows it inside-out and backwards.
At first, Dean will refuse to acknowledge anything, denying his body any relief by stifling the emotions and drowning them with alcohol. Eventually, Sam will chip away at his shield, break through the mask with a well-placed comment or suggestion, and the emotions will flood through Dean like his dam had been faulty all along. Then they work through it together, slowly but surely.
But this time, this one time they are suffering not separately but jointly, over the loss of their close friend, Dean doesn’t follow the pattern and jumps ahead when Sam isn’t ready to.
“How could you—” Sam utters, voice low like when they were just two boys without a father around to show them how to do things right. Sam’s choked up long before Dean’s hand is back on his shoulder, rubbing in small circles.
Dean doesn’t know what to say, so he doesn’t say anything. It’s probably best this way, knowing there really isn’t anything he can say to calm the pounding of Sam’s heart against his ribcage, the pulsating blood through his veins, and the pressure whistling in his ears like a kettle.
Sam realizes the combination of symptoms doesn’t seem too promising, that it sounds an awful lot like Sam’s either having a panic attack or heart failure.
Sam walks to his side of the car, and sits down leaving his door ajar, Dean following him, bending down and shaking his brother’s arm. Sam knows Dean’s probably asking questions but Sam doesn’t answer, partly because of the ridiculously loud Led Zeppelin his brother insists on subjecting him to, but also due to the incessant hissing in his ears, his body and mind screaming betrayal over and over. Dean shakes Sam harder, trying to snap him out of it, his tone of voice sounding increasingly frantic.
“Sammy, goddammit,” Dean shouts, “answer me!”
Sam gets his heart rate to slow down when Dean holds the back of his neck, squeezing gently. It reminds Sam of the times when he was too afraid to sleep alone, and he would sneak into Dean’s room, asking his brother to stay with just a look. Dean would just grumble and turn over, petting Sam’s hair until he fell asleep.
“So-sorry,” Sam stutters, moving away from the touch and facing the dashboard instead.
Dean blinks, wiping his watery eyes with the heel of his hand. “You go all catatonic on me and all you can say is sorry? What the fuck happened?”
Sam takes another breath, a big one; it feels like he stopped breathing for a while. He probably did.
“Castiel happened,” Sam sees Dean flinch from the corner of his eye. “Changes happened, his death happened, missing him happened. But you know what didn’t? Mourning.” Sam tries not to let the red he’s seeing bleed out and strike his brother when he’s already down for the count. “We didn’t mourn Cas, mostly because I was waiting for you to, and then you just forget about everything and erase all traces of him from our life.” Sam tips his head forward, leaning it on the dashboard. “I wasn’t ready, Dean,” the first tear falls, and the others follow like clockwork. “I’m not ready to let go. How could you be?”
Dean wants to explain that the coat needed to disappear because he hasn’t moved on, but Sam probably knows. Sam always knows Dean’s true feelings—even before he does.
It was a constant reminder of that day, that scene; all that blood and pain, the fear he saw in the angel’s eyes. Dean couldn’t look at it anymore, or the replaying of it was going to tear him apart, starting with his soul and ending with his sanity. But then, Sam probably knows that, too.
Dean shuts Sam’s door gently, watching as his little brother’s emotions pour out in massive waves. Dean closes the trunk and joins Sam in the front bench of the car.
“It’s in the back, under my seat.” Dean starts the engine, pulling out of the parking lot before any more passersby think that Dean is beating his boyfriend or something equally ridiculous. “I was going to get rid of it in this town.”
Sam turns slowly, watching the flash of hurt over Dean’s face before Dean reaches back and hands the coat to Sam.
“Thank you,” Sam curls his fingers around the edges of it. “I’ll keep it somewhere safe.”
“And hidden,” Dean snaps, sighing afterward. His tone softens, keeping his eyes on the road. “I can’t look at it every damn day anymore.”
Sam keeps his promise, using it as a cover for the large square photo album with memories of his parents and their childhood. He doesn’t take it out often, wanting the last of the pictures to be safe from harm since the others all burnt in the fire. This way, Dean doesn’t have to feel the pang of hurt from seeing the coat, and Sam can have some relief, some closure, in knowing the fabric is wrapped around his family, watching over them, keeping them company.
Castiel was as much family as they were.
Even after weeks have passed, even when he’s drowning himself in cheap liquor, Dean still refuses to talk about it. Sam is worried about his heart, and of course his liver, but mostly about what supressing all the pain will do to him in the future.
Sam calls Bobby for advice, and Bobby tells him to just let Dean be as long as he doesn’t become physically harmful with himself or others. It’s hard to just turn a blind eye on the substance abuse, but Sam tries his damndest. Dean seems grateful for it, even if he won’t say it.
Months pass and Sam doesn’t feel like tiptoeing around the subject, doesn’t want to suffer through it alone. He wants to reminisce and laugh and cry, and experience everything that will make it almost bearable to move on in the coming months. So he breaks the silence again.
“Do you ever—” Sam clears his throat, crossing his legs underneath the table, flipping his laptop shut. “—try to talk to him?”
Dean’s brow creases; not a great sign, but better than him storming out and buying more booze. “No,” he takes a swig of beer. “Don’t see the point. I don’t think he’s up there this time, Sammy.”
Sam wants to agree, but there’s still a single thread, a lonely strand of hope, telling him he shouldn’t give up yet. He isn’t completely gone. That’s why Sam is holding onto his jacket for him.
Sam watches Dean guzzle the rest of his beer; Dean’s getting ready to storm out. Sam musters the courage to speak once more before he does. “Do you mind if I try once in a while?”
“Talking to him?” Dean snorts, walking to the fridge and grabbing another beer instead of running away from the discussion. “Knock yourself out, Sammy.” He pauses. “You want one?”
“Sure,” Sam smiles slowly, taking it from Dean.
It’s not the answer he was hoping for, not the long conversation he’s been waiting for, but it’s progress. Sam’ll take whatever he’s handed at this point.
Sam doesn’t tell Dean exactly how he wants to contact Castiel, but he doesn’t think it matters. Sam’s going to do it his way, when he needs the release, and Dean won’t get in his way because he knows what bottling things up does to his little brother.
Sam waits for Dean to leave on a beer run, or to go to some no-name bar in order to pick up a girl, then he pulls out the stack of lined papers. Sam looks up at the ceiling, feeling a bit silly, but doesn’t let it discourage him. There’s a blue pen on the nightstand, and he crosses the hotel room in two strides to get it. Now comes the hard part, he thinks.
How are you? Where are you? Dean—Dean and I miss you.
Once the first words are down, the rest explode in a flurry of ideas and thoughts, and most of all, hope. Sam can’t stop it, can’t keep his hand still for a moment; there’s too much he’s been thinking about, too much he wants to know. As though he’s possessed, the sentences flow and flow, and Sam’s not thinking, not keeping track of time, not caring about it either, until Dean stumbles through the door and his train of thought is derailed, halted.
“That’s enough for now,” Sam says under his breath.
Dean quirks an eye, but waves a hand dismissively, plopping down on his bed instead.
Sam chuckles softly. “Didn’t go so well?”
Dean grumbles. “She said I reminded her of her ex, and it made her feel weird.” He sighs exaggeratedly. “What’s with this town?”
“At least you got me,” Sam says jokingly. “And I’m done with my research for the night.”
“Is that what the paper full of your sloppy, serial killer handwriting is?” Dean snickers, rolling on his side to look at Sam’s reaction.
“You could say that,” Sam ignores the serial killer comment. “You wanna watch something? Talk about something?”
“TV sounds good,” Dean yawns, clicking the power button. “How ‘bout a crappy made-for-tv movie?”
“Anything you want,” Sam smiles. Sam stuffs the paper in his backpack, next to the jacket.
When they’re about to leave town, Sam grabs his backpack and remembers the letter inside.
“Hey Dean,” Sam says slowly, almost like he’s trying to ease his brother into something. But he isn’t. “You go first. I’ll meet you out there in a bit. I forgot to pack something.”
Dean raises a brow, frowning, but doesn’t ask any questions. “Hurry up, Sammy. This town gives me the creeps.”
Sam waits until the door clicks securely to pull out the sheet of paper. He clears his throat and begins to read it—out loud. There are a lot of questions, concerns, and Sam feels sort of embarrassed that he wrote this, but he continues regardless. Sam forgot to sign it because Dean had come back too quickly, so Sam adds the ending on the spot.
“I hope I can see you again,” Sam struggles to say. “And that you aren’t in any pain, wherever you are.” Sam folds the letter in half, then again, and drops it on the ground when he closes the door behind him.
Someone will most likely find it, either the cleaning crew or another guest, but that doesn’t matter because the words are already free and flowing through the wind like leaves in autumn. Sam’s done what he set out to.
Sam can’t hide the smile when he sits in the passenger seat; Dean looks him up and down, and starts the car, once again, not asking.
Sam tries asking Dean about Castiel again, without mentioning his name, to see if he’s dealing with it any better than he was last week.
“Do you feel anything when you think about him?” Sam says calmly, keeping his eyes on his laptop, not wanting to put pressure on Dean.
“Pissed,” Dean answers without a thought. “I feel mad as hell.” His brow creases. “Of all the people, demons, angels, creatures he could have picked to be pals with…Crowley? Seriously?” Dean kicks his boots off, plopping on his back on the bed. “I’m done.”
Sam knows what he’s thinking about; he was there. Dean practically begged him to stop working with Crowley, offered all of the help he could, basically his entire existence, and Castiel still pushed back. Sam could almost hear Dean’s pain for the next few days. Sam can’t deny that he was angry, too, probably still is, but for Sam it’s mostly because his protector was crumbling due to an angel’s mistake. Dean was always the strong one, and Castiel managed to break him so completely that he could never fit the pieces back in the right slots.
They didn’t think it would end up like this, though.
Sam sighs, leaning back in his chair. “I’m mad at him, too.” It’s not a probability anymore, it’s a definite. Castiel will hear about this soon.
Dean falls asleep with a tear on his cheek; Sam pretends not to see it when he goes to bed.
Sam skips the ‘dear’ this time because this letter isn’t going to be as nice as the last one. He’s practically ripping through the paper with each curve of a ‘u’, each dot of an ‘i’, and cross of a ‘t’. Dean is out buying lunch this time so Sam knows more or less how much time he has to jot this down.
After filling half the page with blame and confusion and betrayal, Sam feels like he’s let the worst of it out. He goes deeper into his psyche now, dipping into the last moments he saw Castiel, trying not to smudge the ink with the tears threatening to fall from his eyes.
As much as Sam wants to continue with the anger he’s holding on to, he can’t. All he can see is how depressed and guilty Castiel looked before he tried to make things right again, and it breaks his heart all over again.
He looks at his watch and puts his pen down, hiding the letter in his knapsack but a few seconds before Dean steps back into the room.
“Got you some tasteless, inedible, green stuff,” Dean smirks. “I know how much you like being a boring, young guy.”
Sam rolls his eyes, but can’t help smiling. His smile grows when he takes a bite; it’s actually the best salad he’s had in a long time. “Thanks, Dean.”
Dean ignores him, shoveling fries into his mouth, but Sam catches the creases at the corners of his eyes.
Dean is sleeping soundly after his carb-filled supper, which would be endearing if he wasn’t snoring like a wild beast. Sam sneaks outside with the letter, going down the stairs, and finds a semi-private area to read it. If he reads it, not only when Dean is occupied, but before they leave for the next town, there’s no way Dean can accidentally stumble upon it. He feels better about this plan.
Sam starts reading, the tree trunk slightly poking at his back. Before he can feel bad for what he’s going to say, he blurts the words out. Maybe now they sound harsher, rawer than they need to be, but this is how he felt, how he still feels deep down.
Sam rambles all of the spiteful lines and insults quickly, so he can get to the second half that’s more heartfelt and less aggressive. Sam stops a few times, waiting for any acknowledgement, any sign that Castiel might be listening. There aren’t any.
Then he’s at his favourite part finally; the impromptu ending.
Sam bows his head, staring at his shoes. He doesn’t understand it, but for once in his life, he can’t find the words to say exactly what he wants to. He folds the letter in half, bringing it up to his mouth and kissing it before he realizes what he’s doing.
“Please come back, Cas,” Sam exhales. “We need your help, your company.”
Sam snorts, feeling inadequate and like a hypocrite; he’s not saying what he means. Maybe this is how Dean is, what he’s currently struggling with. Quickly, Sam lets out the truth.
“Dean needs you. I need you, Cas.” He folds the letter in half again, and digs a small hole next to the tree to drop it in.
Sam feels like he’s being watched for some strange reason, but shrugs it off as nerves. Dean closes the curtains and goes back to bed when he sees Sam heading to the stairway.
Dean is singing at the top of his lungs on the way to the next town, his fingers thrumming against the steering wheel. Sam almost can’t believe it, how close Dean is to being his normal self again. He hopes he can reach that state of normalcy soon, too.
Sam looks out the window instead, thinking about what he’ll write in his next letter. There’s nothing but highway and blue sky, which Sam is thankful for; there’s no one to hear Dean’s obnoxiously loud singing. Dean pokes Sam’s arm when he’s quiet too long, and he turns to find a smirk on the older man’s face.
“What?” Sam asks, curious. “Want me to sing karaoke with you? ‘Cause I won’t.”
Dean shakes his head, singing louder. He points to a motel next to, oddly enough, a field of cacti. It’s certainly interesting, but not nearly as interesting as their lives have been. “Is that where you wanna stay?”
“Where we’re going to stay, yes,” Dean grins again, turning the music down. “And if you’re not nice, I’ll make sure you wake up with a prickly surprise.” He chuckles at his own joke, but clears his throat when Sam just scoffs.
It’s not any specific day or time that triggers his need to discuss Castiel, it just happens. Not one to ignore his emotions, Sam gives in each time, trying to bring Dean along with him to set them both free.
“Dean,” Sam watches his brother patiently as Dean flips through twenty more channels. “Dean.”
Dean sits up, propping two pillows behind him. “Yeah, Sammy?” He doesn’t look away from the TV.
“Can we—uh—” Sam rubs at the nape of his neck, hoping to find courage there. “—Talk about him yet?”
Every line of Dean’s body tenses, then relaxes after a moment. He swallows slowly before answering, “Do we have to?” He doesn’t sound angry—yet.
“I want to,” Sam says hesitantly, suddenly feeling too small and weak to stand up to his big, bad brother Dean. “I really want to.”
“Then talk,” Dean shifts on the bed, throwing his legs over the side. “I’ll listen. And maybe add something if I feel like it.”
It sounds better than Sam expected. He pushes his bangs out of his eyes. “I miss him,” Sam sighs. It sounds childish and strange to his own ears; he can’t imagine what Dean is thinking. Sam expects some comeback about him being a woman, or having lost his balls, just a general avoidance of the topic altogether.
“Yeah,” Dean mumbles. That Sam doesn’t expect, though. “Me too.” His lips turn upward at the corners, a crooked smile playing across his lips. “But I wanna kick his ass more.”
Sam chuckles and walks over to his bed, letting himself fall on it like dead weight. This way, they can talk and be open, and Dean can look at the ceiling or pretend to be asleep if something makes him uncomfortable. Sam crosses his arms behind his head, already staring at the ceiling, thinking about the possibility of Castiel being in Heaven once more.
“What if he’s in Hell?” Sam says aloud, to his own dismay.
Dean makes a weird sound in his throat, a disapproving one. “I just hope Crowley didn’t make him his bitch, then.”
Sam tries not to picture the two together. He fails, and then shivers.
“Dude, you’re not supposed to see images in your head,” Dean snaps. “No wonder your brain is so messed up.”
Sam laughs, throwing an extra pillow at Dean. “Yeah, ‘cause yours is so normal, right?”
“Damn straight,” Dean says proudly. “Nothing but liquor and women in here.”
There’s more Sam would like to say about Castiel, and the possibility of him being alive (or perhaps more frighteningly, actually in Hell with Crowley as a slave), but Dean’s jokes are a welcome distraction.
Sam writes the letter when Dean is talking to relatives and close friends of the victim to a ‘dog attack’. He did all the checking up on old newspapers and online surfing he could and now his mind is pleading, asking for permission to tread down the same, dead end road; Castiel.
Writing isn’t as hard as it was the first time, but it’s definitely as emotional. Sam is attached, still, after all these months, and knows Dean must be even more so. The words glide from his pen, the thoughts bubbling up, waiting for this very moment to explode onto paper. There are a lot of questions this time, like the first time, because a new fear has materialized.
What if Castiel is alive but trapped? What if he lost his memory? What if he doesn’t want to come back by choice? What if, what if, what if; Sam writes them all down. He ignores the way the ink soaks into the page every time he has to write the word ‘Hell’, like it’s some sign, like it’s the closest he’s been to knowing the truth.
Sam drops the pen entirely when it starts to leave trails of ink on the page near the end. He’ll have to make do with this, and come up with the rest when the time comes.
When Dean returns, he has a hickey on his neck just above his collar. Sam won’t scold him because he’s not exactly concentrating either.
Sam finds the excuse of needing to get new pens to go outside with the letter, and Dean calls him a dork under his breath. There’s a fondness to his voice today though; Sam is glad for it.
Luckily, when Sam gets downstairs he notices a gift shop and a gas station right next to their motel. One of those places is bound to carry pens; he doesn’t even need to use the Impala to look for writing supplies. Sam decides on the gas station, knowing the gift shop will most likely be overpriced. Before he leaves, he asks the clerk if she has a bathroom he can use. She points to a door a few feet behind her, handing him a key, punctuating the answer with a loud pop of bubble-gum.
Sam rushes to the back and locks the door behind him. He looks for cameras, and since there aren’t any, he feels safe enough to begin reading.
And the rest is a blur of feelings, apprehension and, oddly enough, guilt.
Sam feels weird by the end of the letter, feels like he’s been writing to a dead lover the whole time. An image of Jessica flashes through his mind and his eyes begin to well up. When his vision blurs, threatening to unleash a waterfall of tears if he doesn’t stop it, memories of Castiel appear. Castiel’s earnest smile, his drunken stupor, his fluttering wings, his gravelly voice, all of it pushes down the memory of Jessica.
Sam shakes his head, taking a few deep breaths. No one could ever replace Jessica. She was everything he ever wanted, his whole world revolved around her, and since her, not a soul has even come close to taking up as much of his heart as she had.
That is, not until now, not until Castiel.
Sam feels dizzy, bewildered. He splashes some water on his face and stares at his reflection, urging his thoughts to start making sense again. But they don’t, and he realizes he still didn’t finish the ending of his letter. He’s not so sure he can after that.
Sam says what he can, anything that isn’t too foreboding for Castiel if he is indeed listening. “If you’re in Hell with Crowley, I hope you’re happy there.” His skin tingles, his eyes stinging, the room spinning. Sam holds his head and continues. “If you’re not, know that I won’t give up. I’ll try not to. Even if Dean won’t say it, I know he forgives you.”
Sam’s head starts aching and he clutches the letter, catching a glimpse of something unknown in the mirror before the room spins faster and darkness envelops his vision completely. Sam falls to the floor with a loud bang, and startles the clerk at the front of the store.
Dean is splashing water in his face when he comes to, leaning Sam’s head on his chest, stroking his hair. Sam knows who it is, not by sight or by smell, but by feel. His eyes flutter open and he attempts a smile, despite the dramatic situation he finds himself in.
“Sammy?” Dean’s voice is uneven, most likely from screaming, or crying. “You okay?”
Sam nods, trying to sit up. It’s too soon, he notes, when he nearly crushes Dean under him from his lack of balance. “I don’t know what happened,” he rubs his head. “I just felt dizzy and then passed out I guess.”
“You guess?” Dean wraps an arm around Sam protectively. “I swear this is because of your leafy, long-necked dinosaur diet.”
“I don’t only eat salad, Dean,” Sam answers flatly. But it’s hard to be the stern one when Dean is looking down at him with a mixture of worry and relief. Dean was probably thinking the worst, prepared to have to face a dead brother to add to the dead best friend. Sam can tell from his eyes. “I’m fine now.”
“You better be,” Dean mutters. “Do you need to stay here longer? Or do you want to go upstairs now?”
Sam pushes off of the white tiles of the bathroom floor, the clerk gawking at them as if they’re in some soap opera. “Thank you,” he tells her. “I’m sorry if I scared you.”
She takes out her gum and shakes her head slowly. “Glad you’re alright, sir.”
Dean smirks at that; it’s the first time he’s heard anyone call Sam sir. Sam would smack him if he didn’t still feel wobbly; he wraps his arm around Dean’s shoulders for support. “Upstairs, please.”
Sam passes out again once his head hits the pillow, but to sleep this time. So many things just happened, so much he doesn’t understand yet, but he doesn’t think he wants to either. That’s probably what made him faint in the first place.
There’s paper crumpled underneath Sam when he wakes up. He pulls it out from under his hip, noticing right away it’s the letter he was in the middle of reading to Castiel. He can’t remember if he grabbed it by reflex and stuffed it in his shirt, or if Dean picked it up and recognized the handwriting. Either way, he’s glad it isn’t in that tiny bathroom being read by that young clerk.
A worse thought occurs to him suddenly; what if Dean read it?
Sam glances over at the figure on the bed next to him, it doesn’t look like Dean. It looks like someone else, someone close, someone he undoubtedly knows well. The answer falls onto his lap like a boulder; it’s Castiel.
Sam can do nothing but stare for long moments.
Castiel turns over, facing Sam now, but still lying on the bed comfortably.
“Sam,” Castiel says flatly. “This is a dream.”
Sam blinks, sitting up slowly. The urge to reach out and touch Castiel is stronger than he is, despite what he said. “Are you—alive?”
Castiel sits up also. Sam doesn’t miss his chance to reach further and touch the angel’s shoulder. Castiel watches him seriously, his breathing even and soft. He seems more human than Sam remembers.
“I am,” he answers. “But I’m not on Earth.”
Sam nods, watching the small smile appear on Castiel’s lips. “Can I help you? Do you need help?”
“No,” Castiel replies quickly. “I want to come back, but I can’t right now.”
“Why?” Sam doesn’t mean to sound like he’s pleading, pushing for more answers. “We can help you.”
Castiel shakes his head. “I will return soon, Sam.” His hand finds Sam’s shoulder, squeezing gently. A real smile graces his lips again, his skin smoothing out. “I heard your letters.”
If his heart wasn’t banging against his ribs before, it certainly is now. Sam worries about what the angel thinks of them.
“I’m glad you didn’t give up.” Castiel’s fingers climb further up, finding the hair at the nape of Sam’s neck. “Please wait just a bit longer.”
Sam opens his mouth to say something, but Castiel disappears without a trace, the warmth of his fingers but a ghost of what it was moments earlier. That was the most physical contact he’d ever had with the angel, with his dear friend, with Castiel. Somehow, he craves more of it already.
When he awakes a bit later, the person in the bed next to his is so obviously Dean that he doesn’t even look to know that. His snoring could wake the dead.
Sam feels bad for his brother; putting him through all this questioning, the digging, and now the worrying for his wellbeing. He doesn’t know if saying their friend is alive will relieve him, or worsen his current state of mind. Sam keeps it to himself instead.
For the time being.
Dean’s humming some old rock song in the morning, his fork scraping against polystyrene. As soon as he sees Sam’s eyes blinking open, he puts his fork down. “You feelin’ any better?”
“Yeah,” he answers, honest. “Much better actually.” Picturing Castiel the way he was, happy and healed, makes the dampening of his soul slowly evaporate. “How’d you sleep?”
“Great,” Dean bites into a piece of buttered toast. “You know how I am.”
Sam snorts; he knows exactly how he is. No guilt, no fear, just dead sleep all through the night. If only he could be so lucky. On the other hand, being visited by Castiel is a welcome change to Sam’s usual Hell-fire and blood-filled dreams.
Dean chews slower, watching Sam with narrowed eyes. “Did you get laid while I was sleeping or something? You look way too damn happy.” He scoops some more pancake into his mouth. “Not that I’m complaining. We both know you need some release.”
Sam sighs, rubbing his eyes instead of satisfying Dean with a reply to that nonsense. He stretches slowly, feeling relaxed and oddly content for once. Dean is still watching him with that interrogative look, but Sam ignores it and escapes to take a long, long shower.
Dean creeps out when he thinks the gargantuan man (his words, not Sam’s) is asleep. Sam smirks at how loud Dean is when he’s actively trying to be sneaky and quiet. Not that it matters since he wasn’t sleeping to begin with.
This time, Sam knows exactly what he wants to ask.
The words come out faster and more intrepidly than they have any other week. It goes on and on until his wrist starts cramping up, and he drops the pen then. He doesn’t want to go outside and risk being caught reading it, or worse, fainting again, and having Dean know he’s writing these heartfelt notes, so he begins his discourse right away, from the comfort of his (borrowed) bed.
Before Sam finishes, he tumbles down the rabbit hole again, but this time with somewhere comfortable to fall.
“Sam,” says a deep, resounding voice. “You have to stop trying to contact me. It will only slow things down.”
Sam’s unsure whether he’s still asleep or not, but from the emptiness around them, the deafening silence, there’s no way it is real. He sits at the edge of his bed, watching Castiel pace back and forth.
“What do you mean? Cas,” Sam asks, “Tell me something, please.”
Castiel shakes his head, taking a step closer to the taller man. “I’ll put you in danger,” he whispers. He leans in, even closer, his breath tickling Sam’s neck. “You won’t approve of what I’m doing right now, either.”
“What does that mean? Cas—”
A finger presses to Sam’s lips to keep his voice down. “Just as I can hear you, so can he. The one who wants revenge against the brothers who tried to kill him a year ago.”
Sam’s eyes widen as he moves away from Castiel’s touch. “Don’t tell me you’re working for him,” he holds in the scowl trying to break free. “Cas, say something.”
Castiel grunts, punching the wall in frustration. “I had no other choice. He told me he’d save my life if I helped him for a while in Hell.” Castiel’s shoulders droop. “I do regret losing so much just for this semblance of existence.” His posture drops further, like he’s trying to sink into the floor. “Maybe I should have just died.”
Sam wants to say yes, but seeing his friend, here, broken and tormented, it’s too hard to speak the truth. “How much longer do you have to do—whatever it is?”
Castiel turns slowly, leaning against the wall, forcing a smile for Sam’s sake. “I’ve already completed 11 months, so I have but a month more, and then I’m free to do as I please. That was the deal. ”
“A year? How did you manage that?” It doesn’t sound like Crowley’s way of doing business.
“I—” Castiel looks away, his voice lowering. “I’ve had to do most of his dirty work. Things you could never dream of, Sam.” His voice hitches, but he quickly recovers. “Perhaps things that were done to your soul while it was in Lucifer’s cage.”
Sam can’t believe what he’s hearing. “Don’t tell me this, Cas,” the anger beginning to boil his blood. “I can’t listen to it anymore.”
Silence flitters between them.
Sam takes a few deep breaths, as does Castiel. Sam thinks he’s okay to speak again, trying to forgive the angel for his many mistakes. He thinks he’s okay, but he’s suddenly standing, slamming Castiel into the nearest wall, and wishing the fists that go through the wall were going through Castiel’s skull instead.
“I’m truly sorry,” Castiel whispers, not trying to escape the hold even though he could. “I regret so much. And when I’m back on Earth, I won’t be an Angel of the Lord anymore.” Castiel’s fingers wrap around Sam’s wrists pinning him to the wall. “You are free to do with me what you please at that time.”
Sam wants to hit him even more then, but Castiel is gone before he even draws back his fist.
“Wow,” Dean mutters as he laces up his boots. “Was she not as good the second time around?”
Sam puts the pillow over his head, trying to ignore the ache in his heart, the scrambling of his brain, the endless quips from Dean. He can’t do it, he needs to say something; it has to get off his chest while he still has an ounce of sanity left.
“Cas is alive,” he says, cutting off one of Dean’s many senseless comments. “I know because he told me.”
Dean stares at the lumps under the blanket and pillows; it’s hard to take him seriously when he’s acting like a child. He sits on his bed, carefully peeling off the outermost pillow. “Come again?”
“You heard me,” Sam doesn’t want to repeat his name in case Crowley is listening. “I won’t say it again.” He turns to look at his brother; it looks like he can’t find enough air to fills his lungs, like he’s pulling in carbon monoxide but no oxygen. Sam sits up. “That’s why I fainted.”
Dean kicks his boots back off, falling back onto his own bed. “Wh—I mean—how?” He holds his head, closing his eyes. “What did he say?”
“That he’d be back soon,” Sam mumbles. “I don’t want to talk about the rest.”
Sam knows the rest is what Dean wants to know, though. Surprisingly, Dean doesn’t ask for the answers he’s dying to hear. He struggles to breathe, still holding his head, in silence.
They don’t talk about Castiel when they get to the Impala. Sam figures Dean prefers to get all the information from the source directly. Sam tries to find some other topic to talk about, but all that keeps coming back is Castiel, Hell, and everything between. He says nothing. Dean, however, keeps his string of unnecessary and sexual comments going nonetheless, despite being well aware of the truth.
Sam kind of loves him for that.
During each long drive, Dean invents stranger and more elaborate scenarios. That’s when it gets weird.
It starts with one where Sam is kidnapped by some woman trucker named Georgia that smokes like a chimney and weighs more than him. And Sam was so embarrassed of having enjoyed it, he went outside to cry next to a tree.
(“Wait, you saw me reading the letter back then?”
“I may be dumb but I’m not blind, Sammy,” Dean snorts.)
The next time, it’s an underage stalker who just adores older, bigger men, and can’t get enough of Sam’s womanhood (Dean’s word, not his). That refers to why Sam had some ‘pansy-ass’ letter when he found him unconscious.
When Dean’s sick of talking about that innocent chick (because ‘who wants virgins anyway?’) he throws in a cougar with a sports car who loves to drive around showing off her boy-toy to the town. Sam tries not to smile, wants to stifle the laugh before it leaves his throat, but it’s just too funny. Who else could the cougar be? Here’s another hint; Dean says her name is Dana.
Sam doesn’t want to admit it, never will, but without these insane stories, he doesn’t think he would have made it through the month as well as he did. Or at least not without being angry and upset every waking hour thinking about their friend.
Sam doesn’t know if he still wants to even call him that.
The next day, there’s no time to think about Castiel.
One moment Bobby is with them trying to keep them safe, trying to console them, and trying to get them back on the right track. In the next moment, he’s in the back of the van they stole, bleeding, not answering, and not moving.
Dean holds in the scream, Sam can see it from the flexing of his jaw, when the hospital pronounces him dead. Sam is crying so hard, not even able to stop the tears, he can’t find the will to keep his brother from breaking down.
The drive from the hospital to the next town is too long. It feels unbearable; the silence is eating Sam alive. He knows Dean is blaming himself for another death, but it’s still too soon to speak. He lets him mourn in silence, just as he had for Castiel. Sam thinks it’s the right way to go this time.
Sam is woken up by Dean pushing Castiel into the wall, much like he did in his dream, except his fist does connect with flesh and bone. Castiel crumples to the ground, holding his jaw in pain. If Sam didn’t know any better, he’d think Castiel was as human as they are. But he can’t be; it’s impossible.
Dean moves aside, not bothering to help Castiel up, watching their ex-angel friend wipe away the blood from his lips. Castiel looks up at his former charge. “Feel any better?”
“No,” Dean points to his brother. “Your turn, Sammy.” He gestures for him to come closer. Sam notices Dean’s knuckles are red, like his eyes.
“Sam,” Castiel says quietly. He offers a gentle smile, in spite of the pain surging through his jaw. “I will keep my promise.”
“Promise?” Dean crosses his arms. “You guys banging each other or something? I don’t get it.”
Sam rolls his eyes at Dean, and pushes past him to help Castiel to his feet. He can’t just see Castiel on the ground like that, a shadow of what he used to be, and still feel anger towards him. Not after just losing their father figure.
Dean scoffs. “You’re supposed to hit him, not help him.” He grabs his jacket from his bed, saying nothing more, and slamming the door on his way out.
Castiel looks down at his shoes; they have holes in the sides. His shirt’s not much better what with the fresh red stains on it. He rubs his mouth on his sleeve; it’s already ruined. His gaze moves up to eye level once he’s done with the blood. “I’m ready, Sam.” Castiel closes his eyes and waits, flinching when he feels air nearing his already swollen cheek.
“I can’t,” Sam says under his breath. Castiel opens his eyes. “I can’t hit you when you look so—so fragile.” He watches the skin around his friend’s mouth swell further. “I thought it would be different.”
Castiel blinks, questions obvious in his gaze.
“I thought I’d be the one hurt. That your skin would be rock-hard and it would heal on impact.” Sam pushes Castiel’s hair out of the way, tilting his face; Dean really got him good. Dean must have been thinking about Bobby.
Castiel pulls away, his hair falling over his eyes. It’s much longer than it was a year ago. “That wasn’t the promise, Sam.” The words come out bitter, hateful. “I wouldn’t have healed even if I could. I would have left the marks there to remind me of the wrong I’ve committed, of the consequences to my actions.”
Sam winces; Castiel is sounding more and more like an abused child or wife. It turns his stomach. “Stop it, Cas,” he places both hands on the shorter man’s shoulders. “Just stop. I don’t want to hit you.”
“You will,” Castiel raises his voice. “I deserve it. Do it.” He leans closer. “Do it or I will make you, Sam Winchester.”
When Sam doesn’t move, can’t budge from the trauma, Castiel grabs one of Sam’s hands and makes it into a fist. “Don’t make me force you.”
“Stop, Cas,” he begs. This is ridiculous. This is twisted. It’s wrong in every way. Castiel’s grip is still strong with or without his angel powers; Sam can’t break free of the hold. “Fine!” He says anything just to have the grip loosen, even if only for a moment.
Castiel closes his eyes again, shallow breath brushing against Sam’s skin. “I’m prepared.”
Sam doesn’t know what’s happening more than Castiel does. Their lips press together, his fingers curling around the back of Castiel’s neck to get just the right angle. There’s a tinge of metal to the kiss, but even that doesn’t discourage Sam from continuing, keeping Castiel in place.
Sam does, however, pull away when he feels hands curling into the front of his shirt.
“Sam,” Castiel is breathless, his cheek bruised, and his eyes searching. “Why did you do that?” The hurt tone to his voice instantly pulls out all the guilt in Sam’s gut.
“I—I don’t know,” Sam tries his best to find a logical reason for having kissed his friend who asked to be punished, but there really wasn’t any. “I don’t know,” He says again.
“I don’t understand,” Castiel answers. “Why would you want to kiss me and not hurt me after all I’ve done?” He sounds perplexed, but mostly disgusted with himself.
Sam realizes he still has his fingers curled at the nape of the angel’s neck when he strokes the hair there instinctively, probably craving the touch, the feel of someone else. “I can’t explain it. I just knew I didn’t want to hit you.”
Castiel swats the hand away. “Unacceptable.” He loosens his tie, getting into Sam’s personal space not for the first time. “I worked with Crowley, I threatened my friends, nearly killed you, and yet you still refuse to hit me?”
Sam’s brow creases, reaching out to calm down his friend. His hand is refused this time.
“I tortured people, Sam,” Castiel shouts. “I cut them open, took out their organs, found their souls and crushed them in my palm. I did this every day for a year.” His eyes are dark, dangerous, and Sam can’t see the angelic presence in them he usually does. It scares him.
“It doesn’t matter,” Sam says after a moment. He knows it does. He and Dean have witnessed it, experienced it firsthand. “You didn’t do it by choice.”
“Stop lying to yourself, Sam,” Castiel snaps. “I had the choice to die, and I chose to not only put others but myself through torment instead. Dean was right when he said I made the wrong choice.” He eyes the knife on the bedside table; it triggers something protective inside the taller man.
Sam grabs Castiel’s collar and shakes him. There’s no way he’s letting him go down this path, not after what just happened. Not after Bobby died trying to get them over this fallen angel. “Snap out of it,” he pushes Castiel against the wall. “Dean and I are here, aren’t we? Yeah he left, but he’s going to come back. He could have done much worse to you. We could have just ignored you, left you here all on your own to fend for yourself, but we didn’t.”
Castiel tries to move away but Sam drags him closer. “You’re human now. You know what that means? There’s no reset button if you die.”
“Then please kill me,” Castiel utters solemnly. “Because I can no longer live in this vessel, in this world, knowing all of the bad decisions I’ve made.”
Sam knows what he’s doing this time, and doesn’t let go even when Castiel falls limp against him. He holds Castiel steady, lips crushing, punishing, pulling the blood out of the cut on his lip. If Castiel wants to be hurt, this is all Sam is willing to do. Otherwise, he’ll have to wait for Dean to come back.
It’s not how he imagined it. Castiel is heavy, pressing against him but struggling. His eyes flutter in protest, but the whimpers demand more. He’s one contradiction after another. Sam can’t help but hum though, sucking at the injury, healing it with every flick of tongue. Sam draws Castiel in closer, Sam’s blunt nails digging into the flesh of his forearms; he’s not getting away this time.
A surge of strength suddenly appears and Sam lifts Castiel, putting him down on the bed gently. Castiel’s eyes widen, palms still firmly pressed against the taller man’s chest, but he’s not pushing, just touching. Sam traps the angel under him, pinning his wrists above his head, delving further into the kiss with hungry lips, teeth and tongue.
Castiel said he could do as he wished, he didn’t say it had to be painful.
The angel shivers and squirms each time Sam’s bulge rubs against his own accidentally, his wrists still secure above his head. Sam can’t decide if it’s worse that he’s been imagining this since the moment he met the angel or the fact that he’s going through with it. it’s wrong on so many levels because Castiel is his friend who trusts him, and he’s not fighting back, not as much as he should be. But Sam can’t resist, can’t keep his urges in check anymore; he wants everything.
Sam unbuttons Castiel’s shirt and drags a hint of teeth along the skin, darting his tongue out to soothe it. The skin on his stomach is uneven as though he hadn’t healed properly from an attack. Castiel always healed completely. Didn’t he? Sam looks up from a particularly large scar, waiting for Castiel to say something.
“Crowley,” he whispers. “He didn’t want me to leave.”
Sam kisses over the jagged skin; it goes all the way down past his navel to the top of his hips. Crowley must have tried to cut him apart, literally. The angel, sensing Sam’s change of mood, frees his hands and drags him back up for a gentle brush of lips.
“If you want this,” Castiel says softly. “I want it as well. I told you, you can do as you please.”
Just hearing it makes Sam feel like he’s taking advantage of his friend all over again. Knowing that Castiel is a virgin who never did anything beyond kiss someone else—Meg of all people—didn’t really help him to conquer the guilt growing in his chest. “Are you still—”
“I have not been touched,” Castiel murmurs, almost self-consciously. “Not even when Crowley tried to abandon his deal, and turned on me.”
Sam’s fingers circle the skin of Castiel’s abdomen, hoping he can erase the imperfections by will alone. Castiel’s skin jumps under the touch, nervous and excited at once. Sam can definitely tell he’s still a virgin, just with a little more blood on his hands than before. Luckily, he can also tell Castiel is enjoying it far more than he’d like to let on.
Dean storms back in just as Sam is sliding Castiel’s pants down, remembering there were things he wanted to discuss with his angel pal. As soon as they come into view Dean winces, clamping a hand over his eyes and crying out in protest. “Come on guys, get a room!” It is a room, though. He corrects himself, “Get a different room!”
Sam moves out of the way for Castiel to pull his pants back up but the angel just watches him, tilting his head disappointedly.
“Get dressed,” Sam orders quietly, with no ill intent. “We should talk.” About why Dean punched you, about why he’s so much angrier than he’s been in months, he thinks.
“Talk, yes,” Dean says pointedly. “Because Cas here is so good with his people skills.” He gestures for his disheveled brother to fix—whatever it is that’s going on in Sam’s pants that he refuses to look at directly. “Come on, Sammy.”
“I’m sorry, Dean,” Castiel interjects. “I didn’t mean for you to be alarmed. I hope you aren’t angry with Sam because of me.”
Dean squints, watching Castiel hurry to slide his zipper up while (awkwardly) holding eye contact. “That’s,” he scoffs. “That’s just awesome, Sammy.” He doesn’t want to acknowledge what’s going on, but the image has already been seared into his memory for eternity.
Sam stands in front of Castiel, worried Dean might continue to throw punches because of his tendency to hold things in and the situation. Castiel looks over Sam’s shoulder at his ex-charge, rubbing away the folds in his shirt.
“Calm down, guys,” Dean says flatly. “I’m not going to kill you or anything. Not until I get some answers first.”
The tension built up in Sam’s shoulders eases away, “Okay.” Talking he can do, and they definitely need to.
Dean walks to the table in the middle of the room, grabbing a chair and bringing it with him. He puts it down in front of the two beds, gesturing for them to sit down. “This might take a while,” he reaches over to his bed, grabbing a paper bag he was hiding under his mattress. “And Cas,” he points with the bottle in his hand, “no flying away this time.”
“I cannot,” Castiel says dryly, “Even if I’d very much like to.”
Sam gapes at the older man, dropping his weight on the bed. Just how human did he become?
“I’m not human,” Castiel answers quickly, “I’ve just lost some of my powers, perhaps most.”
Mostly powerless he may be, but apparently Castiel could still hear Sam’s thoughts.
Dean opens the bottle, taking a sip from it directly. “So,” he wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, “You’re saying you can’t fly. And you can’t heal?” He tilts his head, leaning back against the chair. “I’d say you don’t have much left.”
Castiel grumbles, sitting on the bed next to Sam. “I can heal, it just isn’t as effective as it once was.” He narrows his eyes, watching Dean’s fingers turn into fists. “If you don’t want to hit me, then what do you want, Dean?”
“An explanation, an apology,” Dean relaxes, waving his hand, “Something. I need you to give me something, man. You’ve been gone for a freakin’ year. Oh,” He squints, leaning forward. “And thanks for telling Sammy here about being alive, and not me.”
The angel looks down, holding onto his knees. “I meant to,” he says, “But I was afraid.”
Castiel looks so small the way he’s collapsing in on himself that even Dean is getting the urge to walk over to him and wrap his arms around him. But Castiel’s the guilty party, he’s the one in the wrong. He needs to face what he’s done.
“I know, Dean,” Castiel mutters softly, finally mustering enough courage to look up into Dean’s eyes. “I know I should have told you first. I’m truly sorry for all of this.”
There’s anger there, sure, but there’s relief, too. Castiel looks over at Sam, giving him a quick smile. “I regret making you keep secrets from your brother, Sam.”
The grief strikes Dean like lightning. Dean can’t keep composed like he wants to, not when Bobby was there to fix everything, and he was the one who broke in the end.
“So what now?” Dean snaps, “Where’s the Castiel from a year ago?” He puts the bottle down, standing abruptly. “Am I just supposed to forget about that guy and forgive everything ‘cause you’re back?”
“Dean,” Sam starts, but his brother turns and gives him a look. It’s the one that turns Sam’s blood to ice. The same look he had when he told Sam never to mention Lisa and Ben again.
Pointing at Castiel, his bottle clutched in his other hand, Dean begins to let it all out. “You were our family, Cas,” he says almost threateningly. “But that doesn’t give you the right to just waltz back into our life, cleaning the mess, like you weren’t the one who made it in the first place.”
Castiel opens his mouth, but Dean puts his hand up. “I’m not finished,” he spits, his fury like a volcano ready to erupt. “I’ve been through a lot of shit in my life. I’ve dealt with being abandoned, watching people close to me die, being betrayed. But never has it been all by the same person.” He turns, scoffing. “I can’t believe the amount of time I spent—” sedating myself with sleeping pills and alcohol this past year, just hating myself over not fighting for you. I kept telling myself it was all my fault, and that Sam would never forgive me for letting you go so dark.
Dean shakes his head; Sam doesn’t need to hear that, doesn’t need to feel guilty. Castiel can just enter Dean’s thoughts if he so pleases.
Dean takes a deep breath and continues, “I couldn’t forgive myself. I’d failed to save someone, again.“
Sam stands, putting a hand on Dean’s shoulder when he sees Dean’s body start to shake. Dean shrugs off the hand, “Not now, Sammy,” he hands Sam the bottle, standing in front of Castiel whose eyes are as big as saucers, his bottom lip dry and cracking more than usual. “The same way you gave up everything in Heaven for me, I would have done it for you. In a heartbeat.” Dean snorts, looking away when the blue eyes start to make him feel dizzy. “I basically did.”
Watching Dean pace across the room like a lion, Sam doesn’t try to get a word in, he knows it’ll only make it worse. The image of Bobby lying lifeless in the hospital bed is still vivid for the both of them.
“And now,” Dean says, fighting to hold the tears back. “Now that’d I’d almost come to terms with you being dead and gone, you pop back into my life like nothing’s changed. Right after Bobby dies no less. Great timing by the way.” Dean’s voices softens, “And I know Sam here had the benefit of having a month head start on me, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel the exact same way I do now.”
Sam holds up the bottle for his brother, knowing he probably needs a drink right about now. Even Sam needs one. Dean takes it without a word, swallowing more than his throat can handle. The burn almost distracts Dean from how much he wants to hit Castiel again. Almost.
“I just,” Dean nearly chokes on the words, his eyes welling up. “You chose a demon. You chose Crowley. Twice. And what good has that done you, Cas?”
Castiel’s residual powers tell him something is going to hit him soon, but he knows he deserves whatever it is. Castiel braces himself, holding on to the edge of the bed. Sam’s eyes widen, and Castiel shuts his own. Castiel can’t anticipate the pain from the chair that hits him. Sam is screaming something at Dean, but Castiel’s world goes black before he can make it out.
So this is what it feels like to lose consciousness. Castiel had almost forgotten.
Surprisingly, when Castiel opens his eyes and the world comes back into focus, it’s not Sam but Dean sleeping at his bedside. Castiel’s friend’s hand is under his own, holding it gently, his body half on the bed and half on the floor of the motel room. The bottle of alcohol is tipped over and empty next to Dean’s leg. Sam sneaks into the room with groceries under his arm when Castiel is leaning over to pick up the bottle. He looks over at Castiel, offering a slight smile. For some reason, it looks more like a frown from Castiel’s spot on the bed.
“Hey,” Sam whispers, careful not to wake Dean. “I got us some breakfast.” He puts the bag on the table, his keys following. “Are you doing okay?” He knows his eyes are red and swollen, but he hopes Castiel won’t say anything.
“I just need some rest,” Castiel says calmly, like he hasn’t just had wood broken over his head by his best friend. “How are you? How is Dean?”
“I think he put more guilt on top of the pile he already had,” Sam sighs. “He’s probably going to be drinking a lot for the next couple of days. Just a warning.”
Castiel nods, shifting slightly away so his voice doesn’t wake Dean. He didn’t want to be hit with another chair while he was still trying to heal. “You didn’t answer how you are, Sam.”
“I’m okay,” Sam breathes. “Glad you’re awake. Glad you’re not dead.” He’s lying through his teeth; he’s been up all night crying, struggling.
“You don’t have to pretend,” Castiel says softly. “I knew Bobby, too. He was a good man.”
For some reason, Sam really wants to hit the angel. Maybe it’s because of how detached he sounds, maybe it’s because Sam isn’t ready for the use of past tense yet. But Sam knows it wouldn’t make him feel better either way. He grips the edges of the table, clenching his jaw.
Castiel is trying his best, Sam tells himself, but it doesn’t make Sam feel any better.
“Honestly,” Sam says flatly, “I’m happy you’re back, but I’m upset with you. I know exactly why Dean did that to you.” He doesn’t dare make eye contact, knowing it might result in an action he’ll regret later. Plus, Dean is finally getting a shred of sleep after having been up all night rampaging.
“I’m sorry Sa—”
“Stop,” Sam cuts Castiel off. He shakes his head, his bangs covering his darkened eyes.
Castiel leans back against the pillow, squeezing Dean’s hand reflexively when he hears him mumble in his sleep. Dean all but leans his head on the angel’s hand.
Sam continues when he takes a deep breath. “We’re not mad about you taking those souls. We’re not mad because you got power-crazy once you had them. We’re mad because it took you so long to realize what you were doing was wrong.” Sam squeezes the edges of the table tighter, feeling his chest cave in against his lungs. “And then when everything was going back into its rightful place, all order was lost again. And Bobby is the one who paid the highest price.”
Castiel tries to leave his spot, but Dean’s grip tightens on his hand, and Castiel doesn’t dare move after last night’s incident.
“I was distracted,” Sam whispers. “Dean was probably thinking about you too.” He nearly falls against the table when his legs can’t hold him up anymore. All Castiel can see are the tears dripping onto the wooden table. “We were so busy thinking about you, we weren’t paying attention to what was going on. We ran ahead. We left him behind. And now look.”
Dean is grabbing onto Castiel’s hand harder in his sleep, like he’s afraid to let go and lose him again. Castiel has never wanted redemption more than in this very moment, having hurt the two people he cares for most in the universe.
“I will be better,” Castiel says quietly. “I promise I will make it up to you both. Even if it takes my lifetime.”
Sam wants to give Castiel an encouraging smile, but the frown feels like it’s permanently attached to his face. It’s too soon, he can’t. Sam won’t be over Bobby’s death for a long time. Maybe it will always hurt. But at least now Castiel is around to take responsibility for his own disaster.
Somehow Sam makes his muscles move—or maybe they’re moving of their own accord—and he brings the groceries into the next room to make them all something to eat. When Sam steps out of the kitchenette, there’s a plate with fruit salad in his left hand, and he puts it down on the table with a cup of coffee. He’s carrying two plates in his right hand, both with sandwiches he made himself. Sam gives one to Castiel, putting the other down on Dean’s bed.
“Can you eat now? Do you want something to drink?” Sam inquires, still not sure what kind of changes Castiel is dealing with. If he’s acting too normal, Castiel will have to play along for a while; pretend he doesn’t see the façade. Sam can’t take thinking about Bobby and breaking down anymore.
Castiel smiles, nodding, “I think the nutrients would help me to heal faster.”
“Really?” Sam feels a tug at his lips; some encouraging news. “Good. That’s good.” He brushes his bangs out of his eyes, “What do you want to drink?”
“Water is fine, Sam,” Castiel says softly, holding the plate on his lap. “Thank you.”
Sam looks down at Dean before going to the kitchen. Dean seems oddly peaceful for someone who broke a chair over an angel’s head. They were probably going to have to pay the damages. Sam sighs as he enters the kitchen. Castiel worries if it’s his fault again, but can’t get himself to stop eating Sam’s sandwich long enough to ask.
Dean wakes up, with his head still pressed to Castiel’s hand. For a second, Dean feels bad about drooling on Castiel’s hand, but then he smells a sandwich behind him and his stomach takes the reins. Castiel blinks as he watches Dean shove the food down his mouth faster than the speed of light.
“Don’t you say a damn thing,” Dean says, glaring at the angel. “Sammy?”
“Right here,” Sam says from the faux-kitchen. “I’m just making more coffee.”
Dean continues chewing, grunting when the bread gets stuck in his chest. He looks over at Castiel who is actively avoiding his gaze. “Dude, why do you look so guilty? Did you and Sam do it while I was out?”
“Dean!” Sam says as he comes out with a cup of coffee. “You’ve been holding his hand this whole time. How could we do anything?”
Dean narrows his eyes, “You could have still made out or something.”
Sam sits down at the table and doesn’t give his brother the satisfaction of a reply.
Dean’s back suddenly hurts, and he remembers that he hasn’t moved from the floor yet. He stands up, his knees cracking, and he tosses himself on his bed. “Much better.”
Castiel wipes his hand on the sheet covering him, “Thank you, Dean.” He folds the blanket down, crossing his arms on top of it.
“I have plenty more where that came from,” Dean chuckles softly. When Castiel tilts his head, he rolls his eyes. “I got it. I’m the one who hurt you anyway, Cas. I don’t know why you’d thank me.”
“For making me realize my mistakes,” Castiel answers quickly. “You seem to be more capable of guiding others than I.” He smiles fondly.
Dean looks away; it’s too early for this love-fest. “Yeah, whatever. You’re welcome.” It’s too early for him to have to deal with repairing relationships, either.
Sam pretends he doesn’t see the moment between them, holding his new cup of coffee in his hands. “Did you want some, Dean?”
“Yeah, sure,” Dean stretches his legs out on the bed, looking over at the bruise on Castiel’s cheek. “Sorry,” he says remorsefully, under his breath.
The angel dips his head, taking another sip of the cold water. Sam hopes they can continue to get on like this for the rest of the day.
The next day, Dean wants to know everything.
“So your angel mojo is low,” Dean asks, “Is that what you’re saying?”
“Something like that,” Castiel answers. “I can’t fly because it requires too much of my power and it drains me. But I can heal over a longer period of time. And I can still hear thoughts if they are strong enough.”
“What about teleporting?” Sam says, curiosity getting the best of him. It could come in handy if they were in a pinch.
Castiel looks up, considering it. “I haven’t tried yet. But I assume it would have the same effect as flying.”
Dean licks his lips, leaning over the end of his bed. “Do you think you’re getting weaker or are you just stuck at this level of power?” Sam shoots him a look, his brow creasing. “What? I just want to know.”
The angel looks down at his hands, his vessel’s hands. “The more I use my powers, the longer it takes for them to regenerate.”
Sam looks at Castiel with sadness in his eyes. “Eventually, you’ll be human then?” He asks solemnly.
“That is what I expect will happen,” Castiel looks over at Dean. “But I will train. I will learn to shoot like you do. I won’t let it weaken me.”
“Cas,” Dean watches the angel’s eyes narrow in concentration. “Aren’t you pissed that Heaven hasn’t got your back? I mean you did some bad things, but you killed that Raphael douche. He was going to destroy half the planet.”
“It is of no import,” Castiel forces a smile. “My work is now here on Earth. I don’t need to be powerful to accomplish great things. You and Sam are proof of that.”
They both stop asking questions after that.
Dean isn’t sleeping. He’s trying, but he can’t. Sam notices it from the bags under his eyes and his impatience. When Dean does manage to get any sleep, it’s because he’s consumed more liquor than any one man should. That’s no good either. Sam doesn’t want him to die of alcohol poisoning.
Castiel offers to use his powers to allow Dean to sleep, but Dean promptly refuses the help. Sam can understand.
The next time Dean falls asleep, he’s sitting next to Sam in the Impala as they cross state lines. Castiel is in the back seat, leaning out of the window and enjoying the breeze. Sam watches him in the rear view mirror, smiling. Sam wants to feel his body, wants to kiss him. But until he and Dean can come to terms with everything, with Bobby’s passing, it will have to wait.
It’s night time when they get to the next motel. It’s the first time Sam has had to check in with someone other than Dean. The clerk at the front desk is looking at Sam like he’s stolen something from her and Castiel beams up at her in response. It seems to make matters worse.
Castiel has enough strength to carry an unconscious Dean up the stairs on his own, which is a relief for Sam. Sam’s exhausted from the twelve hour drive.
Sam decides to take just one room since they are running low on cash and need to save a bit. If Bobby’s house hadn’t burnt down, if he was still alive, they could just stay with him for a while. But then again, the reason they aren’t making any money is because of Bobby not being around.
Castiel drops Dean on the bed on the right, aware that Dean usually likes to choose the side of the room furthest from the door; it’s to allow Sam to slip out first, in case anything happens. Sam smiles, glad that he didn’t have to mention that to the angel. Even now, their bond runs deeper than he can even fathom. Sam sighs when jealousy starts to rear its ugly head; it’s sweet, it’s not something he should be envious of.
“Do you want the other bed or the couch?” Sam asks, keeping his voice down.
“You can have the bed,” Castiel says without looking up. He’s pulling off Dean’s shoes, and sliding his legs under the blanket. “I don’t need as much rest as you do.”
“Okay,” Sam says, swallowing the rest of the words. He wants to offer to share his bed with him, wants to wake up with Castiel in his arms, he just wants the ex-angel. And the wanting never fades even through the pain and agony. “Okay,” Sam says again, trying to convince himself. It might bother Dean if he sees them like that in the morning, anyhow.
Sam forces his body to cooperate and strips himself of his outer layers quickly, climbing into bed with an elaborate yawn. Castiel looks up at the younger man then, an oddly human expression on his face. “Good night, Sam.”
The angel removes his coat slowly, folding it and putting it on the kitchen table. He slides out of the next layer, unbuckling his belt and carefully putting the two items on the ground. Castiel starts to unbutton his dress shirt, but he stops when he notices Sam is watching him from his bed.
“Are you having sleeping trouble? Do you need me to help?” Castiel asks softly, soothingly.
Sam can’t get over how gentle and warm the angel seems with each passing day, with each moment Castiel loses an ounce of his heavenly power. Something about his humanity is more amazing than his angelic aura could ever be. Castiel was barely within reach before.
“I’m fine,” Sam smiles, admiring Castiel’s slight build again before turning on his side. “Sleep well, Cas.”
Sam wakes up in the middle of the night covered in sweat. Memories of Bobby have nothing to do with it this time.
Sam knows something is off, can feel it. He can’t explain why he knows, or how, he just does. Dean is gone. But surprisingly, that isn’t the reason he woke up in a sweat either. It’s not the first time Dean has left in the middle of the night to go find a liquor store when he couldn’t fall asleep (or stay asleep). Sam assumes that’s where Dean is again. Or maybe he just needed to take a drive and work through the things on his mind. Either way, Sam knows he’s not gone for good, and not far away.
The reason Sam’s in a sweat, still trying to control his breathing, is because Castiel is there. He can hear the shallow breaths, and feel the soft buzz against his skin that he only experiences in the presence of the angel. It’s not usually this alluring though, not this magnetic. But on the other hand, Castiel doesn’t normally sleep nearby, let alone sleep in the same room.
Sam is hardly in control of his body when he’s standing all too sudden, walking over to the unconscious figure on the couch. He just needs to see, just for a moment. Even if only for a second.
Sam kneels next to the angel, in awe of his ever-present grace, not for the first time.
Castiel turns in his sleep, his arm behind his head, the thin sheet slipping down enough for Sam to see the top of his bare chest. If he can just touch, just a bit, just slightly. But his fingers are reaching out before Sam’s given them permission, tangling in the dark locks, tracing the line of his jaw and lips, sliding down his neck and lower to his shoulder, circling his collarbone.
“Sam,” the angel murmurs, still partially asleep. “Is that you?”
The fondness in his tone, in the way he says Sam’s name like he’s known him for his whole life, makes Sam’s skin practically hum with desire.
“It’s me,” Sam shushes the angel when he tries to ask what’s wrong, “Don’t worry.”
Sam’s fingers return to Castiel’s face, holding his cheek gently. There’s so much he wants to do, so much he could do, but it’s still too soon; his heart is still trying to mend itself. His fingers start to pull away, and Castiel grabs them quickly, bringing them to his mouth. He places a chaste kiss to them, smiling.
“It felt nice,” Castiel says warmly. “I understand that you’re still hurt. I’m sorry.”
Castiel can always hear Sam’s thoughts like they’re being broadcasted for everyone to pick up. It’s intimidating to know your deepest, darkest, dirtiest thoughts aren’t safe in the confines of your mind. Sam’s so distracted by the repentant look on the angel’s face that he doesn’t notice his hand is being guided exactly where he wanted to put it: underneath Castiel’s sheet.
“Cas,” Sam starts, but his muscles tense up when he feels just how much the angel wants it. “Okay,” he leans in kissing the corner of Castiel’s lips. He can’t seem to find words when he’s around him.
Sam’s fingers wrap around the length, his head leaning against Castiel’s shoulder as he watches Castiel’s hips jerk beneath the white fabric. The angel moans, turning to catch Sam’s lips in a light kiss. But his sounds turn heady, raw, and the kiss deepens to a level there’s no turning back from. Sam’s fingers drag along the under part of Castiel’s cock, Castiel’s hips thrusting up at the sudden change, his tongue delving into Sam’s open lips in retaliation.
Sam wraps his fingers tighter around Castiel’s cock, pulling all the way up to his slit in one long, firm stroke. Castiel bites the younger man’s lip, drawing it into his mouth, sucking on it hungrily. A tremor of emotion drives through Sam from his toes to hair, and he pulls at the length faster. Castiel arches, grabbing hold of Sam’s wrist, trying to slow him down before it’s over too soon.
Sam’s tongue dips into Castiel’s moaning mouth, licking along the edge of his taste buds, making his bottom lip slippery and shiny, his own lips claiming them afterward. Castiel can’t keep the hold anymore, and his fingers slide into Sam’s hair instead, gripping the strands to keep him firmly planted in this world. Sam’s hand jerks faster then, feeling the need pulsing through Castiel just as it is in his own groin. His strokes concentrate on the head of the angel’s cock, right near the tiny slit at the top.
Sam can sense the storm, the avalanche of pleasure on the edge of Castiel’s skin, and he does his best to pull it along faster, not wanting to torture the poor virgin.
Castiel buries his face in Sam’s neck, biting down on his shoulder as he comes with a loud cry, his limbs frozen with the ecstasy zipping through him repeatedly like an electrical current. Sam takes this moment to breathe in the contrasting smells of clean sweat and soiled skin all over the angel’s body. It’s not helping his heart rate slow down one bit, not with the way each inhalation makes Castiel whimper and squirm below the sheet with aftershocks.
Sam almost doesn’t want to let go of the throbbing cock in his hand, can feel it getting hard again, but he knows this is probably all Castiel can handle for one night, so he does. The long, drawn out sound Castiel produces when Sam pulls away makes his own cock twitch, hard, in his pants. He needs this man desperately. And soon. The sooner, the better.
“Sam,” Castiel breathes out like a prayer just for him. “Sam, let me,” Sam can tell he’s trying to remember how to control his soon-to-be human body but failing.
“Shh,” Sam kisses Castiel on the forehead. “Just breathe. You don’t have to do anything else. I just wanted to do this with you.”
Castiel nods, watching Sam with half lidded eyes. He might as well give Castiel one more present for the night. Sam licks each of his soiled fingers one by one, a sheepish look on his face. There is even something amazing in his semen, the way it glides down his throat like something meant to be savoured, something pure. He feels like he’s glowing just from tasting it.
“Sam,” Castiel moans, “I can try too.”
Castiel’s recovery time is impressive, Sam notes, probably because of the leftover heavenly energy still coursing through him.
Before Sam can voice any protest or convince him otherwise, Castiel pushes Sam’s pants down far enough for his cock to escape the cotton prison. It bounces in between them, and Sam almost feels embarrassed for how hard he is, how much his body is giving in, betraying him.
Two fingertips slide along the top of Sam’s cock cautiously, unhurriedly. Castiel wants to make sure he’s doing it right, even if it is his first time. Sam has to brace himself on the back of the couch behind Castiel’s head not to simply evaporate from the light touch. He nearly head-butts the angel in the process though, and Castiel can’t hold back the laughter then.
It’s a fairly normal thing to do when a log of a man nearly crashes down on you from a barely-there touch, but it shocks Sam somehow. Then the answer is bright, bold, and he can’t hold back a smile. Castiel has never laughed before. Not even with Dean. And the sounds Castiel’s making, raw and new, too high compared to his resounding guttural voice, make him sound all the more human.
If that isn’t a turn on, Sam can’t think of a better explanation for the mess his cock is making from the sudden realization.
Castiel composes himself quickly, a slight flush crawling up from his chin. Sam frees one hand and cups his cheek gently, leaning in for a taste of the reddened lips. They don’t feel as dry as they look, but he swipes his tongue across them all the same, to make the slide of lips and teeth and tongue just that much easier.
The angel thinks this to be the right time to wrap all of his fingers around Sam’s cock, and pull from base to tip with the same pace that makes Sam feel like his insides are going to shoot out when he comes. Castiel laughs against Sam’s lips. Sam really needs to keep his thoughts in check.
Sam deepens the kiss substantially, tilting to the side to fit his lips just so onto Castiel’s, drawing any and all sounds out of him with each flick of his tongue and tug of his lips. He can feel Castiel shuddering with each new taste, his fingers squeezing tighter, but still not moving fast enough.
Sam pulls away just enough to speak, “Cas,” he breathes against the now swollen lips, “Don’t tease me. I can’t take this. And Dean might be back soon.”
Castiel manages a nod, but doesn’t utter a word. Instead—and Sam wishes he had a forewarning—the angel’s grip changes; his palm is so warm, so secure around his cock, that he swears he’s actually fucking into someone. Sam digs his fingers into the couch where they’re leaning, the other hand wrapping around the nape of Castiel’s neck to keep him steady, his breath ghosting over the swollen lips.
“Have I improved the situation?”
And it shouldn’t be so erotic, so sensual-sounding, but it is. It is because Castiel is trying so hard to please Sam, to make him feel just as good as he felt, and it’s almost adorable.
“Yeah, Cas,” Sam says quickly, “Keep going.”
Castiel grins, claiming Sam’s lips as his long, warm strokes turn into short, needy grabs at the head of Sam’s cock; he already picked up the trick. Castiel’s learning much faster than a typical virgin, that’s for certain.
“Please ejaculate for me,” Castiel whispers, licking the shell of Sam’s ear tentatively.
Sam’s head falls back, his knees practically giving way beneath him, just from the quick feel of Castiel’s tongue in his ear. Or maybe it was the innocent attempt to dirty talk, which did in fact do just what was intended. Sam’s spilling into the angel’s palm with ribbons of white, trembling with each spurt of come exiting his body.
Castiel smiles, dipping his head in the crook of Sam’s neck, breathing in. “So this is how it smells.”
The shiver visibly travels across Sam’s skin, leaving it upraised and sensitive. Sam pants, trying to remember how to breathe, how to move, how to speak, basically how to go on living after he’s been given a birthday present early. Castiel continues to take in the scent, clearly enjoying it, his fingers still dragging along the overly aware flesh of Sam’s languid cock.
Sam concentrates on that.
It practically hurts; Sam was so hard for so long, and it feels like he emptied his body entirely of semen for the next year. He flinches away from the touch when it becomes unbearable, when it feels like he’s going to have calluses on his dick tomorrow.
“Sam?” Cas says softly, looking up into his eyes. “Are you alright?”
“I’m fine,” Sam mutters. “I just need time to recover.”
Another aftershock hits, and Sam falls limp against the angel. Maybe something about Castiel’s powers is making Sam feel it this strongly. Not that he can even jumpstart his brain long enough to consider that as the source.
After another few moments of remembering how to breathe, Sam fills his lungs with air and opens his eyes finally. Castiel is watching him with concern, his brow creased and his eyes narrowed.
“I’m fine, really,” Sam whispers, “That was amazing, Cas.”
Castiel beams at that, pressing a chaste kiss to Sam’s lips. “I’m glad I could return the favour.”
Sam tangles his fingers in Castiel’s hair, rubbing at the nape of his neck in counter-clockwise circles. This might be distracting enough for his limbs to obey him in the near future. Castiel shifts on the couch to let Sam sit next to him, but Sam can barely unfold his knees.
“Look what you did to me,” Sam chuckles. “I think I’m broken.”
Castiel frowns, wanting to pet Sam’s cheek, but noticing the come on and in between his fingers. He stares at it like he’s an astronaut on a distant planet discovering a new life form. Sam shakes his head, but with a playful look on his face, though.
“I’ll get you some tissue for that,” Sam starts, but Castiel is already moving his hand up to his mouth. “Wait!”
Castiel’s index disappears into his mouth first; his cheeks hollowing out in a way that makes Sam’s cock want to wake up again if it could. Sam stands, or tries to at least, until the rest of Castiel’s fingers disappear between those pink, glossy lips. Of all the creatures in Heaven and on Earth, Castiel has to be the most desirable right this moment.
Sam’s mind drifts to all the things that mouth could learn to do, all the sucking it could accomplish with a bit of instruction, and his cock desperately tries to wake from its comatose state. Castiel gazes at Sam then, smiling around his fingers, and pushing them further into his mouth. There are no words for the perfection Sam is watching, so he just enjoys it, his mouth hanging open.
Castiel slips them out when Sam’s eyes look like they might fall out of their sockets. “I think the taste could come to please me greatly.”
Sam licks his lips, inhaling sharply. All his brain function is reduced to a minimum with that declaration. He pushes himself off the floor after some trouble, keeping his eyes away from those blue jewels, that pink flesh and most of all the cock poking below Castiel’s sheet.
“I’ll get that tissue now,” Sam rushes to the bathroom, ignoring the soft sound Castiel makes as he leaves.
Sam splashes water in his face a few times, ripping a length of toilet paper from the roll. He leans back, seeing Castiel still in the same position he left him, staring down at his reborn erection. When the angel feels the eyes on him, he turns, but Sam ducks back into the bathroom. Castiel might be ready for round two, but Sam’s heart might stop if he tempts fate. Not to mention the awkward situation they’d be in if Dean returned and he was pounding the angel’s brains out.
Sleep. Sam needs to sleep if he wants to survive another day.
Sam steps out of the bathroom, shutting off the light and padding to the couch. He hands Castiel the bunched up toilet paper, his fingers lingering on the warmth of the angel’s hand. It’s so embarrassing; Sam feels like his body has reverted to a pubescent stage when any contact made him harder than stone.
“Clean up your fingers and chest,” Sam says surprisingly calmly, “I’m going to sleep. For real this time.”
Castiel nods, smiling. “Okay, Sam,” he stands and kisses the taller man. “Sleep well.”
Sam rushes away before he continues some more, diving in his bed and tucking himself underneath the blanket. It’s unbelievable how far Castiel had come from that angel who didn’t even know how to speak to humans and treated them like disobedient pets. Castiel’s charming now—if charming can be replaced with the word desirable. Sam’s cock seems to think so.
Sam sighs, throwing the blanket over his head. It’s going to be a long night.
Who is he kidding? A long week, month, years even.
When Sam wakes up, he feels warm, too warm. He blinks the sleep away and turns to see if Dean is still sleeping. He’s not even there. Sam rubs his eyes then, worry stepping in. What if Dean was attacked while he was out? What if he was in an accident from driving under the influence? What if he fell asleep at some strange woman’s place and had to wait to sober up to be able to leave? Well, that would be the lesser of three evils by far.
“He left a note,” Castiel says, startling Sam from sheer proximity of the sound.
Sam turns to see Castiel snuggled next to him, on top of the cover thankfully. That would explain the overwhelming warmth from earlier. Sam resists the urge to push the stray locks of hair out of the angel’s face, concentrating all of his brain power on Dean.
“How do you know?” Sam asks.
“Because it’s on the table right there,” Castiel points next to the clock radio. “And said for me to tell you once you awoke.”
Well that’s definitely progress, trusting Castiel to be a messenger again.
Sam tries to lean over, failing when it feels like a slab of cement is on his stomach. “Cas,” he says gently. The angel perks up, leaning closer, his knee brushing against the side of Sam’s cock. Why isn’t he wearing his pants? Because he forgot them on the floor next to the couch, like an idiot, that’s why. “Not that I don’t like cuddling, but you’re kind of heavy.”
Castiel frowns, but shifts over (if an inch can be considered moving at all).
“Thanks,” Sam mutters. He reaches for the note and unfolds it carefully. Castiel lays his head on Sam’s chest to read it at the same time.
Why are your pants—Nevermind I don’t wanna know.
I went out for a supply run, I couldn’t sleep. Even after a bottle of tequila.
Just make sure you and Cas are decent by early afternoon.
I don’t want to see any parts that I don’t need to see.
And don’t be a bitch about it, Sammy.
Sam scoffs and looks down at Castiel who is rubbing his stubbled cheek against Sam’s chest. He’s shirtless, but the rest of him is covered; decent enough. Sam could be considered decent as long as he didn’t remove his blanket or the body draped over him.
“I’ll go get your pants,” Castiel offers, bouncing out of the bed and over to the couch.
Castiel bends down to pick them up, and the view, the angle, the lines of his body, everything about how he’s folded over in that instance is making Sam’s heart race and his mouth go dry. Sam wants Castiel, and he’s never wanted another man before—not like this. But this is Castiel, not just some guy off the street or from college. This is a friend, a guardian, an angel. There’s something forbidden and exciting about being wanted by, not only a supernatural creature but, a close friend.
“I understand, Sam,” Castiel says as he returns to bed, the pants folded over one arm. “You don’t have to feel bad. I’ve always had strong feelings for you as well.”
Sam opens his mouth to explain, but decides otherwise. They should talk about something more G-rated, just until everything is settled at least.
Sam clears his throat, sitting up. “I’ll just—get dressed now.” He stands quickly, throwing the blanket over Castiel accidentally, making him chuckle under his breath.
There it is. The humanity again, shining even more than his wings probably do in the sunlight. Sam buries the urge to kiss the angel senseless, and barely has time to slip his pants on before Dean is busting through the door with two plastic bags and breakfast.
“Sammy,” Dean sighs, grateful. “Glad you’re not naked.” Dean looks over at Castiel—who’s flipping the blanket off, and isn’t undressed either—and gives him a quick nod. “I brought some grub, and some other stuff for the road.”
“Where are we going?” Sam says, his brow creasing. He thought they’d be staying here for a while longer, just until they could think again.
“A case,” Dean says almost cheerfully. “I saw some news while I was at the gas station. I think we should head out in an hour.”
“But I thought—”
“Sammy,” Dean cuts in. “I can’t sit here, eating and drinking and not sleeping. I need to get my mind off things.” He drops the bags on the round table, walking over to his duffle bag. “I’m not saying I’m over it, ‘cause I’m not. I’m saying it helps a hell of a lot that Cas here is back.”
Castiel blinks, watching Dean with wide eyes, taken aback by Dean’s honesty.
Even Sam didn’t expect it to come out this soon; he knew that it was under the surface somewhere, but thought it would never be said, at least not directly to the angel. Things have changed, though. Dean is losing people left and right, and maybe he’s sick of keeping it all in finally. Sam didn’t even need to coax him for once. Sam’s so proud of his macho, big brother right now.
Dean sighs and unpacks the bottles of water and Chinese take-out boxes. “Enough mushy, feeling sharing for today.” Sam is grinning. “Don’t look at me like that, makes me feel like I’m turning into you.”
Castiel is smiling, too, standing and pulling Dean in for a gentle hug before the hunter can prevent it. “Okay. See, this is why I don’t tell you guys shit. This lovey-dovey bullshit makes me nauseous.” Castiel’s strength is still somewhat monstrous, and Dean can’t break free. “Get off, Cas!” Dean shouts without much anger behind his words.
Castiel complies, but doesn’t stop looking at Dean with gratitude in his eyes. Sam can’t help the grin from spreading to his own eyes; Dean’s finally getting back to a good place, and so is he.
They eat fairly quickly because they’re all starving and under rested, and Castiel enjoys each mouthful more than he did that hamburger back when Famine was in town. Dean showers first, and Sam forces himself to look up the details of the case Dean found while Castiel hovers over his shoulder not commenting.
Dean steps out fully clothed and Sam rushes in, needing to be a safe distance from the buzz of Castiel against his back. As soon as the warm jet of water hits his stiff muscles, they relax, and his mind goes blank. And then there’s Bobby, his grumpy face, his cheap liquor, his house, his spot-on advice, everything about him that made Sam wish he was their real father. Sam doesn’t like that the second he’s away from Castiel, away from the numbing tingle, all these memories wash over him and leave him gasping for air.
If the streaks sliding down Sam’s face are more than water, he doesn’t say.
When Sam’s done, he makes sure to look presentable enough to pass for FBI or the like, just in case, and rejoices in the feel of Castiel tickling his skin once more, distracting his senses. Dean watches him suspiciously, can probably read through the shield, but Dean mentions nothing.
They pack their stuff, waving to the clerk who still looks like a woman scorned, and head off with the Impala full of gas.
Castiel does train like he promised; he learns how to shoot, how to recognize the different monsters without using his abilities, how to pick locks, and how to make fake badges. His knife skills were already satisfactory, so he just polished them a bit more.
The Leviathan continue to spread like a plague, and they do research constantly to try and figure out a permanent way to stop them, but even the knowledge Castiel brings from Heaven proves to be useless, because they’re older and more powerful than his kin.
Dean is often frustrated, upset, because he can’t call on Bobby for help in these situations, but he tries not to lash out too much. Castiel offers to be their fake superior when they need to visit crime scenes, and that alone makes Dean’s restlessness settle a bit.
In the meantime, Sam concentrates on each case, on researching the Leviathan’s background, and not on touching Castiel—at least not in a sexual way.
Hugs are permitted.
Sam sets these strict boundaries because he knows how much his body is craving the experience, and it scares him to no end. It reminds him of the demon blood he would literally kill to obtain, and of sex with Ruby that made him crash and burn in the end (you might remember the apocalypse). But this time, somehow, it’s worse.
Every time a reminder of Bobby pops into Sam’s mind, his body tenses and starts to search out Castiel to ease the pain away. And Sam knows it’s not healthy, not okay to just avoid feeling completely, so he struggles to keep a distance between them until he can reach a point where he’s not just using Castiel as an outlet for the emotions bleeding out of him. It’s not fair to Castiel, and it’s definitely not the real reason Sam wants to be near him.
Days pass, then weeks, and they all notice the change.
Castiel heals less quickly, is more injury prone because he can’t sense as well, can’t travel any way except on foot and by car, and has to rely on his more recent training with the Winchesters because his warrior past is starting to dissipate. Unfortunately, things aren’t only leaving Castiel’s vessel, but his thoughts as well. Parts of his mind that he could draw from to help them on cases are quickly fading, and his millions of years spent in Heaven start to feel like a hazy dream.
Sam bends his rule a bit then, letting Castiel sleep with him, convincing him it will be okay. And they fall asleep together, tangled and both desperate for the comfort. Dean notices, but can’t complain; he knows Castiel needs a shoulder just as Sam does, and Dean’s is an unfitting one.
Especially since Dean usually ends up nursing a bottle of 40% alcohol to drift into slumber.
Castiel continues to hunt alongside them, despite the transformation (or perhaps downgrade), and Dean tells him know just how reliable and capable of a hunter he’s become. That, along with the cuddling he shares with Sam every night before bed, seems to lift his mood.
And because they’re involved in cases, adapting to a more mortal Castiel, and looking for a way to thwart the Leviathan’s plans, they mourn less often and for shorter periods of time. Bobby would be proud of how much they’d evolved.
Dean announces to the household—in this case being a motel room with Castiel and Sam reading newspapers—that he needs some downtime before they go after the werewolf kidnapping and murdering women. Sam is about to subtly tell him it’s a bad idea, until Dean explains his plan.
“I’m going to go there, mingle with the people, maybe get some phone numbers, and then hustle some money back into our pockets.” Dean says with a smug smile. “Any objection now, Sammy?”
“I guess not,” Sam shrugs. “Just be careful, and call if anything happens.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Dean rolls his eyes. “I swear you’d think you were the older one.”
Dean grabs his coat and adds, “I’ll be back in the morning-ish, with a wad of money and a hangover.” The door is closed before Sam can complain about anything else in general.
Castiel looks over his newspaper at the frown on Sam’s face. “I think you needn’t worry. Dean is a very strong, cautious man.” Castiel smiles softly. “Besides, he will call if he needs us.”
Sam smiles, looking back down at the newspaper for clues. He’s okay with it, almost, until he realizes he’s alone with Castiel again, and will be for the rest of the night. Dean would leave them for a couple hours at most to buy food, or to visit a witness. They haven’t been left alone like this since that first time when they did some specific (and terrific) hand things. Sam is a big boy, he has self-control (sometimes); he can get through 6 hours with Castiel in the same room. They were both reading anyway.
Castiel is back to reading, his eyes following the words intently, a hand propped under his chin. He grabs the cup of tea next to his arm and sips it slowly, never tearing his eyes away from the writing. Sam can’t help but stare; Castiel’s so focused, so deeply involved in whatever he’s reading. Sam pushes away the words charming, alluring, enticing; anything that will lead to physical contact.
Sam sighs, forcing his eyes to cooperate, and concentrate on researching. It works for all of ten minutes, until Castiel clears his throat and Sam’s eyes immediately dart up to watch the ex-angel. If Dean were around, he’d say Sam was dreamy-eyed. Thankfully Dean was nowhere near this crime scene.
Castiel looks up when he can’t ignore the glances, the gaze burning holes in him. He smiles when Sam fidgets and pretends he wasn’t just watching Castiel. The older man (much older) shifts in his seat across from Sam, his leg stretching under the table to rub against Sam’s bare ankles. They’d done this in bed before when they were cuddling, but it felt different, heated.
Sam pulls his legs away, hiding them under his chair. Castiel seems unaffected, like he wasn’t just playing how to successfully distract Sam. Castiel doesn’t continue with that, though, which Sam is immensely grateful for. But Castiel does let his fingers linger on his lips too long, dragging them along the bottom one, his eyes a piercing blue flashing side to side as he continues to read. Or pretend.
It’s obvious even before Sam looks down, but he needs the confirmation; he is hard. He’s hard and they haven’t even touched yet. They’ve barely even looked at each other in an hour. And as though on cue with Sam’s train of thought, Castiel leans back and stretches in his chair, his shirt lifting enough for Sam to see that thin line of dark hair that leads…somewhere.
Sam can’t even think about where, doesn’t want to remember the weight of Castiel’s cock in his hand, or how much he’s been dreaming about actually seeing it without the damn sheet in the way like it was last time.
Just like that Sam went down the road he meant to avoid, his imagination running laps around all the possible ways Castiel’s cock could look.
Sam swallows the bulge in his throat, wishing he could erase the one in his pants just as easily, and pulls out his laptop from his bag under the table. This would surely keep him busy for another hour at least. Sam glances over at the spread thighs under the table just for a second and sees instantly. Castiel is hard, too. Sam doesn’t mean to feel so satisfied with himself, but he is. It was good to know he wasn’t the only one affected by this situation.
After clicking through various online libraries and fan-made sites about supernatural beings, Sam’s eyes start to hurt. He’s been staring, really staring, at the screen for about two hours nonstop just to keep himself from getting any harder than he already is. Castiel didn’t say anything about the silence, but Castiel isn’t very talkative to begin with.
When sentences start to run together, and words that aren’t really there appear out of thin air, Sam calls it a night. He just needs to lie down a bit and stare at the safe, uninteresting ceiling. And later, when he’s tired, he can shower and sleep with Castiel wrapped in his arms as usual.
Sam stands quickly, trying to hide the stretch of his jeans from Castiel who sees everything, but he assumes he fails. He half expects a comment about it, but Castiel isn’t that type of person, doesn’t throw things in your face and won’t tease you—not unless you ask him to.
Sam’s in his bed, staring at the uninteresting ceiling like he planned, but he isn’t safe. The floor creaks when Castiel is following after him, climbing into bed before he can come up with an excuse for him not to; they always share a bed.
“Are you tired, Sam?” Castiel says quietly, in case the answer is yes.
“No,” Sam mutters, wondering why he didn’t just lie. Just this once. “I’m just resting my eyes.”
“The computer?” Castiel asks, not bothering to finish his thought. His arm wraps around Sam’s waist, a leg pressed to the inside of his thigh. It’s too close to his erection, much too close. Sam’s mouth goes dry but he’s convinced this isn’t more than their usual touching.
“Yeah,” Sam’s voice sounds rough even to his own ear. “I was staring too long without my contacts.”
Castiel’s hold at his waist tightens, and his leg shifts, his knee brushing against the side of Sam’s erection. Sam bites his lip not to moan, turning away until the contact is tolerable again. Castiel sighs, nuzzling in the space between Sam’s neck and shoulder, the angel’s lips pressed softly to his collarbone.
Sam closes his eyes before he looks down at that mess of hair, those curves that keep him up at night, and just concentrates on breathing. Castiel kisses the skin, shifting again until he’s half on top of Sam, holding him closer.
If Castiel’s not doing this on purpose, Sam is afraid to see what it’s like when he is.
“Cas,” Sam breathes, his eyes screwed shut. “What are you doing?” His tone sounds almost accusing.
Castiel props up on an elbow, looking at Sam. “I enjoy our touching, and I liked what we did in the past. I simply wanted a little more. If I’m human now, shouldn’t I get to experience all of the advantages along with the disadvantages? Don’t you want to touch me?”
Sam finds he can’t argue with that. He’s been dealing with the downside to falling from Heaven more than anything. The only upside Castiel had found so far was how cheap it was for him to get drunk, and, of course, their companionship.
“Okay,” Sam says, opening his eyes. “Just a bit, though.”
Castiel beams, leaning in for a chaste kiss. He pulls back, his fingers rubbing steadily at the side of Sam’s waist. He lets his lips drag along Sam’s collarbone, drinking in the taste in case he doesn’t get to have this again for a long time.
Sam arches slowly, but Castiel’s leg is keeping him pinned down. His leg becomes an entire body when Castiel decides to straddle Sam instead. Luckily, the angel isn’t as heavy as he was, and Sam can push him over if he chooses to. The angel, still innocent as ever, doesn’t grind or touch the bulge like Sam anticipates, he just leans in for another gentle kiss.
Sam can deal with kisses. Probably.
Castiel cups Sam’s face with both hands, his hips unmoving as he slides his tongue over Sam’s lips. Sam opens his mouth without considering the consequences, and Castiel is anything if not a fast-learner. Castiel’s just exploring with his tongue, Sam knows, but he manages to find every single spot in Sam’s mouth that makes him turn to goo.
Sam pulls away, a whimper slipping past Castiel’s swollen lips, and Sam sits up. “That’s enough,” Sam says between deep breaths. “I need to stop.”
Castiel blinks, his lips parted and puffy, disappointment clear across his face. “Okay,” he says softly.
Castiel’s lips may have stopped driving Sam to the brink of insanity, but his fingers are still circling Sam’s hip bone stubbornly, and there’s really no reason for that area to have become an erogenous zone, but it suddenly is. Sam turns his head to get the sight of the disheveled man out of view, but those digits refuse to stop, and they even venture lower, dipping into the side of Sam’s jeans.
“Cas,” Sam utters, trying to keep in mind that the reason he doesn’t want this is because he’s not ready yet. He wants it to be real. “I can’t do this.”
The fingers still, moving away from Sam’s hip, but then they drag across the outline of his erection, and Sam’s using every swear word he can think of. He can’t be bothered with worrying about being in the presence of an ex-angel if it’s said angel who is making him curse.
“Sam,” Castiel says firmly. “I wish I could wait longer, but I can’t.” He squeezes gently, relishing in the thickness of it in his palm. “It pains me to restrain myself around you, to pretend like sharing a bed is sufficient.”
“You want it, I know you do.” Castiel presses his forehead to Sam’s, his fingers tracing his jeans softly. “Why is it so wrong for us to give in to our desire?”
It’s funny how memories work. Sometimes it’s a smell, sometimes it’s a taste, and other times it’s a touch. That gentle press of skin to his own, only one other person had done that in the past, someone Sam’s never forgotten no matter who he’s been with or slept with or loved. Jess.
And for Castiel—an ex-angel who has so little knowledge of human contact—to know exactly what to do to calm his aching, his turmoil, is astounding.
Sam’s attachment for Castiel developed over time. His need may have been because of Bobby’s death, but this love, it’s nothing like what Sam felt when he’d pin Ruby down, drink her blood and fuck her into the mattress. It was pure and real, and deep. It was just like the love he carried in his heart for Jess.
Why did it take him so long to realize?
“You’re right,” Sam says warmly. “I do want this. I want to be with you. I love you, Cas.”
Castiel moves back, trying to read the human emotions he doesn’t recognize. He’s heard of it before, known about love for a long time, but he thought it was only something humans could feel, not something a fallen angel could acquire or be worthy of.
“I—love you too, Sam,” Castiel says softly, pressing a kiss to the corner of Sam’s upturned lips. “You’ve made me happy.”
Sam chuckles at the formal ring to it, but appreciates it nonetheless. “So,” he swallows. This is it. “How far do you—Oh.”
Castiel’s hand is already searching out the length straining against fabric, pulling it free. “I want to enjoy all the perks, Sam,” he says before leaning over the head of Sam’s cock, darting his tongue out.
Sam bucks, hitting his head against the wall, “Fuck, Cas.”
“Sorry,” Castiel looks up from between Sam’s legs, his tongue darting out again. “Better?”
“You don’t have to—”
“I want to, Sam,” Castiel answers, holding the base of Sam’s cock with one hand, his tongue dipping into the slit filled with pre-come. “I like the way you taste.”
What was it about Castiel that made him feel like a teenager with too many hormones? And no matter how little angel energy was left in Castiel, no matter how much more earthly he became, that buzz never, ever stopped. Maybe that was the cause of the sexual tension, the chemical imbalance in Sam.
“Please,” Sam says, tilting his head back against the wall. He can’t even understand what he’s asking for, but maybe Castiel can guess all the same.
Castiel squeezes the base gently, his mouth taking the head of Sam’s cock in, sucking wetly. Sam’s toes curl, and his hand automatically reaches for Castiel’s messy strands. “Yes,” he moans, tugging on the dark locks slightly. “Are you sure you’re a virgin, Cas?”
“I intend to change that,” Castiel says seriously, climbing between Sam’s legs and sliding more of Sam’s cock down his throat.
Sam yanks a bit too hard on Castiel’s hair, but it’s to protect Castiel’s throat from the violent thrust he would have no doubt choked on. “Sorry,” Sam murmurs, letting go.
Castiel crawls closer, pulling Sam’s pants all the way down and putting a palm flat against each thigh. He really is a fast learner. Castiel looks up through lidded eyes, licking his lips seductively before dipping back down and sliding the length of Sam all the way down his throat.
“Fuck, Cas,” Sam yelps, completely unprepared for such talent.
Castiel smiles around Sam’s cock, drawing back and tracing the veins with his tongue slowly. He hums, the vibration making Sam’s hips jump again, but Castiel is ready for it this time. He swallows Sam’s cock again, slurping and groaning in the back of his throat, a steady trail of saliva dripping between his stretched lips.
“Stop, stop,” Sam pushes Castiel away, getting a wide-eyed, guilty look in response. “I need to kiss you, that’s all.”
Castiel is happy to oblige, his lips already spit-slicked and sensitive from Sam’s cock. Sam steals the taste of himself, knowing it’s not something he’d actually say he wanted to do aloud, and wraps his tongue around Castiel’s. Sam kisses him for what feels like hours—but is probably only minutes—sucking on his tongue greedily and nibbling over his abused lips. Castiel is grinding instinctively down on Sam’s cock, even though it’s getting him nowhere, even though he’s still fully clothed.
“Let me help,” Sam says against Castiel’s panting mouth.
Sam unzips Castiel’s pants, shoving them down with less grace than usual, pushing down his briefs afterward. Castiel whimpers, kissing along Sam’s jaw, down his neck, and returning to his favourite spot: his collarbone. He laps over it as Sam explores Castiel’s body, finally getting to see the cock he’s been fantasizing about.
It’s long, longer than Sam expected, and considerably thick for someone so narrow. Sam is in no way disappointed, and he grabs it dragging the pre-come from the tip, jerking quickly to get it even harder. Castiel mewls unabashedly, sinking his teeth into Sam’s collarbone. Sam bites his lip to keep from coming just like this, and lets his hands roam. His fingers slide down the inside of Castiel’s thighs, then back up and spreading his cheeks gently. Castiel arches at that, seems to really like it.
“You want me to—”
“Yes, Sam, yes,” Castiel answers promptly. “Anything. Everything.”
Sam smirks, the tongue now lapping lazily at his throat as he squeezes Castiel’s ass with both hands. Castiel whimpers again, grazing his teeth across Sam’s collarbone in an attempt to coax him to move faster. Even without that hint of teeth teasing him, Sam’s been leaking pre-come for hours, and he can’t torture Castiel despite wanting to.
“I’ll get you there, Cas,” Sam says in Castiel’s ear. “Just relax now.”
Sam spreads Castiel’s ass, wishing he could get up and see just how his entrance looks, but that will have to wait until they’ve had sex a few times. Castiel bends down to lather Sam’s chest in saliva, carefully circling each nipple with his tongue, biting down for good measure.
Sam’s hips jump again, but luckily his cock only hits Castiel in the chest. He takes his time tracing the ring of muscle, bringing one hand to his mouth and wetting two fingers. Sam presses inside Castiel slowly, carefully, and Castiel freezes, his head falling forward. It’s overwhelming and unbelievable; nothing could have prepared Castiel for this, and he loves that he can always be surprised by humanity.
Castiel lets out a breath after a moment, resuming his trail of kisses and nips to Sam’s chest and abdomen. Sam tries his best to ignore it, and slides the fingers in further. Castiel arches—glutton for punishment or pleasure, you decide—forcing the fingers deeper inside his entrance, crying out.
“Sam,” Castiel pants, “I need you.”
Sam can’t deny the angel when he’s begging with his lips so swollen, his body covered in a sheen of sweat and his eyes screwed shut so tight he may never be able to open them again.
“Okay, open your eyes,” Sam says raggedly. He won’t last much more if it continues like this.
Castiel, for whatever reason, thinks it’s a good idea to suck at the head of Sam’s cock to lubricate him. It would be a good idea if he wasn’t already a second away from coming. “No, Cas,” Sam grabs Castiel by the throat gently and occupies his mouth with his own instead, placing him down on his lap. It’s go time now.
“Please,” Castiel urges, writhing against Sam’s aching cock.
Sam nods, words no longer available to him, and he lines his cock up with Castiel’s (barely) stretched entrance. When the tip pushes through the tight ring, Castiel’s jaw goes slack and he can’t keep the saliva from dripping down the corner of his mouth. Sam watches it, follows its trail, and it falls on Castiel’s cock like it was intended to land there.
Sam grabs Castiel’s cock and jerks it with the spit, using that as a distraction to push in further, the pressure squeezing his cock so hard Sam’s afraid it might break. Castiel isn’t screaming, but he isn’t moaning either, until Sam slides in deeper, slowly, eventually bumping against his prostate. Castiel’s eyes snap open, a dangerously sexy shade of blue looking down at Sam in expectance.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Sam repeats like a mantra, holding back the impulse to just hit it again to make those eyes see nothing but him.
Sudden panic and guilt strikes Sam in the middle of a particularly hard thrust that impales the angel mercilessly. Castiel might not be able to walk tomorrow; he can’t heal like he used. Sam forces his nerves, his muscles, to settle down, easing into a more reasonable pace. Castiel thrashes, rolling his hips, and falling forward to hide his flushed skin from Sam.
“Sam, I think—ah”
Sam is panting, covered in sweat, sticky with saliva and pre-come, but somehow he’s not ready to throw in the towel. He grabs Castiel’s hips and rams into him, making sure he hits that spot each time, his other hand wrapping around Castiel’s leaking cock to stroke in time with his thrusts. Castiel is rambling, mumbling and growling, mostly in Enochian, and Sam didn’t think he could get any hotter, but he just upped the level from a hundred to a thousand.
Castiel comes with a long, drawn-out groan, splashing hot liquid onto Sam’s stomach. And, surprising even to himself, Sam’s not done yet. Sam practically bounces the languid angel on his cock, skin hitting skin in an almost violent fashion. Sam is seconds away from bursting at the seams, and Castiel leans in to pull Sam’s tongue into his mouth with loud, explicit sounds. It pushes Sam over that inch that was missing, and Sam cries out loud—probably waking all the customers—filling Castiel with almost every ounce of come in his balls.
Castiel moves to Sam’s neck, still moaning for some reason, and Sam feels the hard jut of Castiel’s cock poking at his stomach. Castiel’s hard, again. Sam finds energy in some reserve he didn’t know he had, and pulls him into oblivion for the second time, Castiel shuddering and arching as his come paints a picture on Sam’s taut stomach. Castiel falls down onto him, Sam petting Castiel’s hair with a lazy smile on his lips.
They don’t move, can’t, until Sam considers that Castiel might have the wrong idea of cleaning them up with his mouth again. It was too much this time for that.
“Don’t,” Sam says, trying to get even the muscles of his vocal chords to work, “lick this mess up.”
“Tissue,” Castiel says worn out and still out of breath. “I can get some.”
Sam waits for him to lift himself up, but he doesn’t. Sam chuckles, petting the soft, dark strands. “I’ll get it in a second.”
“I can’t seem to move,” Castiel says, confused.
“Recovery for us humans is slow like this,” Sam grins when Castiel narrows his eyes at him. “You know what I mean, Cas.”
Castiel manages to roll off, and lies next to Sam, holding his hand gingerly. Sam just wants to stay like this forever with the warm palm in his own, the sound of shallow breathing, and the post-sex drowsiness creeping up on them. But the feel of not one, but two puddles of semen on his stomach is enough to snap him out of dreamland. And, at the same time, his brain function returns.
“There’s tissue in my bag. Let me just—”Sam reaches between the beds and searches with closed eyes until he grabs hold of the small packaging. “Here,” he hands Castiel a folded up tissue. This would have to do for now.
“Sam,” Castiel mutters, embarrassed. “Can you…”
“Sure,” Sam smirks, turning on his side.
Sam strokes the tissue down Castiel’s stomach—careful not to awaken The Mighty Kraken that is Castiel’s cock for a third time—sliding down each leg, lifting his knee slowly to dab at the come leaking out of his reddened entrance. Sam might have gotten a bit carried away, after all.
“I feel pained,” Castiel whispers while Sam wipes up whatever’s left. “Will I be alright tomorrow?”
“Maybe not,” Sam says, guilty. “I was kinda rough with you for your first time. Sorry.” He places a quick kiss to Castiel’s cheek.
“It does not matter, I enjoyed it.” Castiel mumbles during a yawn.
Sam barely has time to get the double dose of semen off his stomach before Castiel turns over and presses into his every curve. He sighs and throws the used tissues in his bag. Sam pulls as much of the blanket out from under Castiel as he can—Castiel’s like deadweight when he sleeps—and pulls it over them, wrapping his arm loosely around the angel’s waist.
Dean would have to deal with a dash of nakedness in the morning, but that’s his fault for leaving so long.
The sun is too bright, the birds are too loud, Dean’s snoring is insufferable, but none of that is out of the ordinary. Sam stretches, feeling his shirt ride up under the blanket, and he glances down to see he’s fully dressed, and light. Light is a bad sign.
Sam shoves the blanket down and sits up promptly, instantly aware of the ex-angel not clinging to him like usual. Something is wrong.
Sam’s mind jumps from one horrible scenario to another, until his chest is tight, restricting, and he can’t see straight. Leviathan, Leviathan is all his mind keeps screaming.
This disappearance wouldn’t bother him if it was Dean. Dean leaves notes, he calls, he drops hints, messages, he’s careful. Castiel, alternatively, doesn’t just go off on his own; he can’t fly, can’t drive. He couldn’t go anywhere.
If that aura, that presence, that sensation that calms Sam and rouses him all at once wasn’t gone, he wouldn’t be half as worried. But as it stands, it’s completely and utterly lost to him, just as Castiel is. Sam is suddenly too awake, and jumps out of bed, shaking Dean frantically.
“Cas is gone. I think something’s wrong.” Sam’s shouting before he even notices he’s speaking, and Dean is struggling to keep his eyes open, let alone understand what his hysterical brother is saying.
“Wait,” Dean says in a sleep-deprived voice. Dean can’t get his voice to work; the Jack Daniel’s basically burned a hole in his throat the night before. He uses his eyes instead, and sees what Sam was screaming about. There’s no sign of Castiel around whatsoever.
Sam is pacing as Dean tries to sit up, everything too loud for his hangover right now. “Call him,” Dean says, voice ragged and deeper than usual.
Sam nods and pours his bag out on the bed, scrambling for the phone and pressing ‘call’.
It rings, and it sounds close. It rings a second time, and Sam doesn’t think he developed superhuman hearing overnight. When it rings a third time, he follows the sound, and finds it in a bathroom. Castiel didn’t bring it with him, or maybe didn’t have time to.
Sam is shaking his head, hoping this is just some misunderstanding. That it’s a dream, a nightmare, he’ll be waking up from soon. Dean’s hand finds his shoulder, and he crumples under the touch, his brother catching him just in time. His mind doesn’t stop questioning even if his body is out of commission.
“Did you see—”
“There’s no note, Sammy,” Dean says quietly. “I checked everywhere.”
Sam sits on his bed, silent for the rest of the day. Dean offers him a beer to take the edge off, but he turns it down. Sam stares at his hands, lost, bewildered. He feels the eyes on him. Dean is worrying more about his little brother’s sanity than the angel’s disappearance. It hurts. Everything hurts.
Sam’d never taken a step back and just looked at how he reached this point, but today, that’s all he can do.
Bobby slips into his thoughts. He was their surrogate father who never let them down and always put them first. It’s been a long time since Sam thought about Bobby, but in this moment, amidst this panic, he needs his guidance more than ever. His heart was cracked after he had to bury Bobby. It was Castiel’s fault they needed Bobby, but it was also Castiel’s fault they’d lost him. But Castiel was forgiven. Even Dean let the ex-angel back in.
Sam shakes his head, ignoring the look on Dean’s face when the first tear falls.
Castiel, who was taken from them over and over, had returned after a long year. And now, he’s gone again. If Sam has to spend the rest of his life trying to find him, torturing those lousy Leviathan to get the truth out, then so be it. And that thought shatters whatever was left of his broken heart
“You need to eat, Sammy,” Dean says softly. “Or at least drink something.”
Sam ignores it; doesn’t want to face reality; can’t handle another rug being pulled from under him. And this was exactly like all those times he fell for someone and they turned on him, were murdered, or just never came back. He can’t take it happening with Castiel. Not after he’s finally come to terms with his feelings for him.
Dean stops nagging when Sam lies down, fully clothed, and sleeps the day away.
Sam can’t feel Castiel the next day, so he goes back to sleep.
Dean grumbles something about ‘damn angels’, but stops when Sam shoots him a pointed look. Dean’s his brother, that’s true, but that didn’t give him the right to just hate everyone who hurt Sam. Especially when Sam is so convinced Castiel isn’t gone by choice.
The third day, Dean is prepared to force-feed Sam, so Sam drags himself out of bed.
It doesn’t taste like anything, Sam doesn’t feel full, and he can’t see anything except the extra wrinkles on Dean’s face. Nothing is the same and nothing will be until Castiel comes back. He’s empty, mind body and soul. He thought it was bad before, but he wasn’t in love with him a year ago.
After swallowing the last of the vegetarian platter Dean bought him, Sam treads back to the bed with just a hint of Castiel’s scent left in it. Sleep comes easy once he imagines their fingers intertwined.
Sam’s memories were always vivid, but never like this. He can feel the inside of his hand burning with body heat from that special someone else. And it’s so perfect, so right, that he doesn’t care much to open his eyes; his hopes would just be dashed then.
“Sam,” It’s barely a whisper. “Sam, wake up.”
Sam shakes his head, urges the voice to stop. This isn’t fair.
“Sam, it’s Castiel,” the voice says. And Sam recognizes it, puts two and two together; it is Castiel’s voice, but it doesn’t mean he’s really there.
And then, against what Sam’s mind is telling him, he opens his eyes. The buzz hits him full force; bright and strong, and powerful. Shining blue eyes are staring back at him, brow creased and fingers stroking the middle of Sam’s palm back and forth.
“Sam,” Castiel mutters. “I’ve returned.”
Sam can’t breathe, his chest too tight, his vision blurring, but this time for the opposite reason.
“Cas,” Sam says incredulously. “Cas, where were you!” He’s sitting up, and Dean turns over in his sleep, oblivious once again that anything has changed.
Castiel mirrors his position, reaching out a hand tentatively. Sam can’t help but lean into the touch. The happiness in his heart trumps the anger by far. Something in the angel’s touch is different, renewed. Just like how Sam could always sense Castiel’s presence, he could measure to what level it had diminished three days ago. The awareness across Sam’s skin is at full power, super charged, even more than when they first met years ago.
Sam watches Castiel’s gaze drop between them, “They asked me to resume my post in Heaven,” he says quietly. Sam knows how much it means to the angel, but also what it means for their hunting trio.
“Oh,” Sam says, forcing a smile. “That’s good, right?”
Dean frowns from behind them, rubbing the sleep from his eyes and throwing his legs over the side of his bed. He clears his throat, “So they realized they were being dicks? Or are they jerking you around?”
Castiel looks at Dean, “I’m not sure, but I want to continue helping.” He turns to Sam, “I'll only go if they really need me.”
Sam smiles, but knows it means they will have to find someone to replace Castiel for whenever he’s gone—which used to be often.
“I will be staying here,” Castiel says firmly. “I explained to them already.” His fingers trace Sam’s cheek “They abandoned me and you two never did, despite all my wrongdoings.”
Dean is less tense at that. He’s glad, pleased he can finally count on someone again.
Castiel grips Sam’s hand and smiles. “The level of disorder in Heaven is low recently because Raphael and his minions were killed. As you know.”
Dean mouths the word ‘oh’. And Sam watches Castiel with a fondness he hasn’t felt since college.
They forgot about that slight detail, considering Castiel thought he was God at that point and scared them into hiding. That was in the past, though. All that matters is Castiel’s back to his old self, completely, and he’s with them to stay.
Dean is happy that Castiel is always around. He likes the way Sam lights up when the angel’s around, and since Castiel hardly leaves, Sam’s always as bright as the 4th of July.
Sam is worried at first that it will be weird sleeping next to Castiel when he doesn’t need to rest anymore, but Castiel continues to do it, just to make Sam comfortable. Castiel tells Sam it’s easy to enjoy it when he’s next to him because the sound of his subtle breathing is appeasing to his old soul. Sam couldn’t make it up if he wanted to.
Thankfully, Castiel didn’t lose the human touch he’d gained, and Sam notices how easy it is to be around him now. Castiel's easy to talk to, and touch (they still cuddle every day), and won’t be broken in the morning if Sam is accidentally too rough. Castiel understands more than anyone in Heaven what it means to love and care for someone deeply, to live and survive, and everything that makes living on Earth beautiful and sad.
Castiel makes everything tolerable for Sam, and even Dean (though he won’t admit it). He helps them sleep whenever they deal with a particularly hard case, he tells them stories of how Earth was when he was first created, he protects them, guides them, repays them for all they’ve done.
Sam stays up late at night talking to Castiel, giving him crash courses in ‘human existence’, and Castiel fits in better over time. Secretly, Sam withholds information, just to keep the part of the angel he fell in love with intact.
They don’t abandon hope of saving whoever they can from the Leviathan, and continue to complete smaller cases, too. The world may be imperfect, but it's their home, and it brought them together. That’s all the reason they need to keep fighting for it.