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final fantasy.

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His hands don’t shake. That’s the formless thread of a thought Dean can’t get out of his head, what he can’t stop running his mind across and up and over and down, like fingers catching the ragged edge of a seam. The meeting broke up and Castiel went into their makeshift armory and started putting stuff together for tomorrow, started tucking bullets into clips and clips into gun belts and gun belts into sorted piles. He’s sitting there an hour later fixing the slide on one of the Berettas, racking it back into the grooves with his steady hands and sliding it back a few times to make sure it goes smoothly. Dean watches him for a long minute, standing in the doorway. There’s nobody else around. They drifted off to screw each other or drink crappy moonshine or cry into their newspaper-stuffed mattresses or do whatever it is they do when Dean’s not looking at them, whatever people do the night before a big test, an important meeting, the end of the fucking world. He sent his double off with Chuck- I like past you, fuck, fuck you, fuck you both- to find an open bunk someplace, because there was no fucking way he was going to sleep here in Dean’s space, that sorry piece of shit he used to be, the guy who couldn’t say one simple word at the right moment.

"I wonder sometimes," Castiel says, without looking up.

His hands set down the Beretta and tuck the little gunsmith’s screwdrivers back into a zipper case, carefully, like it’s not the last time, like he will want things to be in order when he gets back, in their right places, correct. “If I’d actually been born human, would I have gotten sick like everyone else? Would I be running around gnawing on the neighbors?” Castiel tilts his head up and even from here Dean can see the black ring of his pupils, wide and dark as dead stars. He’s high as fuck and he’s been loading the guns for forty-five minutes. He stares into the space where Dean is. He smiles and shows his teeth. “Maybe you’d have already put a bullet in my head.”

"This is why you don’t lead storytime anymore," Dean says. "This kind of shit." He comes forward and takes the kit out from between his fingers. He takes Castiel’s hand for a second, turns it over to wrap two fingers around the wrist. An old habit. He hasn’t done it in years, he doesn’t know why he’d start again now. But Castiel’s pulse is slow and even, heavy like a drum. Okay for now. It’s not- it’s fine. Dean lets him go. "Come on," he says. "Go the fuck to sleep." Castiel laughs.

"I’d rather stay up," he says, and looks away, out the window he opened earlier, to off-gas the smell of gun oil. "I’ll sleep tomorrow." He pushes away from the table and walks away, out of the room, out of the cabin, into the dark. Dean watches his back until the nighttime eats him up, swallows even his shadow. He shuts the door after him.

Sometime just before morning while the light is still pale blue, purple where the sun bleeds into the last hours of night, Castiel slides into Dean’s bed, naked from the waist up, cold from the air in the cabin but flushed and pink across his chest, his throat. There are faint marks fading on his skin, round ones, like blunt teeth or the bow of a mouth, running along his collarbone. Dean was already mostly awake, but he still startles a little when Castiel’s hands go under his shirt to pull it up and off of him, over his head, dragging his arms out of the sleeves. “You fucked me already today,” Castiel says. “Want to make it twice?” There’s a smear of something on his stomach just over the waistband of Castiel’s dirty jeans; Dean stares down at it, then rubs his thumb across it, and undoes the top button. “Time travel’s a strange thing.”

"Yeah," Dean says. He peels Castiel out of his jeans and then pulls his own off, listens to Castiel hiss in pleasure when his cold legs touch Dean’s warmer ones. He’s already half-hard and his cock juts into Dean’s hip. Dean rolls him onto his back and runs a finger down the crease of his ass, finds the wet warmth there and prods with one finger. Castiel tilts his head back and sighs. He’s already slick and pink, and Dean gets a second finger and then a third in without any resistance. He’s about to go looking for oil when Castiel throws a packet of something right into his face. "Asshole," Dean says, and goes looking for it in the tangle of bed clothes. Castiel laughs and finds it and picks it up between his fingers, tears the top off for Dean and squeezes the lube into his hand. "Where’d you find this?" Dean asks.

"Saving it for a rainy day," Castiel says, sing-song. "Fuck me." He hooks one leg around Dean’s waist to pull him closer. Dean slicks his cock and angles Castiel up and pushes into him, easy, down to the hilt. Castiel makes a blunt, soft sound and jerks up against him. Dean holds his shoulder down, pulls out, pushes in harder this time, and Castiel inhales sharp and exhales slow and shaky. "Like that," he says, loose, tugging Dean down to lick at the hollow of his throat. It’s the closest they get to kissing anymore. "Just like that." Dean holds him down and fucks him in earnest, pushing him up the mattress a little on every thrust. Castiel groans and sighs and takes it, closes his eyes and puts his hands against the wall over his head to keep from sliding away. He pushes back when Dean pushes in. "Past you," Castiel grunts, and stops for a second when Dean hits a sweet spot and his eyes roll up a little in his head. "Fuck, Dean, fuck,” he sighs, and smiles. “Past you went slower.”

"Oh, did he," Dean says, and hooks Castiel’s leg over his elbow, slams down until Castiel’s arms tremble and he groans, wide-eyed, stunned-looking, staring at Dean. "You liked it?"

"Yes," Castiel says. He tilts his chin up and Dean rocks back to fuck him a little harder, a little faster. After a second Dean licks his hand and starts to jerk Castiel in long strokes that drag his hips up, wanting. "He was- ah, ah, he was sweet.” Castiel smiles again, sharp and mocking, and Dean pushes his knee to his chest, slams into him so hard his back cramps. Castiel breathes ragged and fast and spreads wider for him and Dean goes in, in, in, leans over him and pulls his cock and breathes the sweet, stale air between them. Castiel smells like sweat and unwashed sheets but also like the outdoors, like wet grass and flowers. For a second Dean wonders if his double fucked him outside in the woods, the garden, Castiel on his back with his hair in the clover, the moon overhead, his feet in the dirt. He shuts his eyes and tries not to see him, to see anything. But he can’t do it. He still sees him, sees his face go soft and slack under somebody else, somebody Dean used to be.

Cas,” he says. He doesn’t mean to. He feels a hand come around the back of his neck then, just fingertips that skim his spine and hold him there, steady pressure, and Dean keeps his eyes closed and goes so deep he sees fucking starbursts. Cas comes over his own stomach. Dean opens his eyes for that. And comes a minute later, propped on one elbow with Castiel’s knee still over his shoulder, panting with his face curled down into his chest. He stays there for a second and then pulls out of him and Castiel flops his leg back down onto the bed, stretches his bent arms. They don’t talk. They clean up and get dressed. Castiel finds his shirt on the floor where he dropped it before getting into bed, tugs it over his head, pulls his pants up his legs and then takes one of Dean’s jackets off a hook on the wall. Dean doesn’t say anything. He does that, sometimes. Sometimes when they’re fucking again, he steals Dean’s clothes, wears them around camp. And he does it sometimes when he’s fucking somebody else, too: he screws somebody or a bunch of somebodies wearing Dean’s shirts, his coats, leaves them in Dean’s cabin afterwards, hanging on the back of a chair. Dean pulls his own boots on and sees Castiel find something in the pocket of his jeans, squint at it for a second, and then pop it into his mouth. “Hey,” Dean says. He gets up. “You gonna be able to shoot straight?” Castiel turns to look at him.

"Does it matter? As long as I make enough noise?" He tilts his head. "I could shoot up into the air if I wanted to."

"Answer the fucking question."

Castiel rolls his eyes and pulls Dean’s gun from its holster, sitting on one corner of the table. He racks the slide fast and the bullet flies out and Castiel catches it with the same hand, quick and sure. He tosses it at Dean and Dean picks it out of the air and rolls it in his palm.

"I know what I’m supposed to do," Castiel says. "Don’t tell me again."

He clips the gun belt on and puts a few things into his duffel and acts like Dean’s not there anymore, like he’s invisible. Dean packs his own bag and Risa drifts in at some point, grabs her stuff and takes a second bag out to the trucks. She doesn’t say anything to either of them, and she doesn’t linger. After a while Dean clears his throat and Castiel ignores him in favor of looking for another ammo pouch.

"Who you riding with?" Dean asks. Castiel looks up at him then, eyes narrowed.

"I’m taking the jeep," he says, flatly.

"Right," Dean says. Castiel stares at him. "What?"

"You’re kidding me," Castiel says.

"Oh, fuck you," Dean says, and slings his bag over his shoulder. He’s at the door- he’s got one hand around the doorknob- when Castiel yanks the bag off his shoulder. "You fucking-" Dean starts to say, and Castiel grabs his face with both hands and shuts him up, opens his mouth against Dean’s and kisses him, hot and angry and insistent. Dean kisses back and pushes him against the doorframe, bangs his head against the wood and licks the inside of his mouth, and Castiel groans and yanks his hair harder and turns his head to slide their tongues together. He kisses and sucks and then pulls away, pushes Dean back by the shoulders and holds them apart with one hand at the side of Dean’s face. He cups Dean’s cheek and rubs his thumb over the bones under Dean’s eye. Dean doesn’t know what he’s feeling. Doesn’t know if he’s feeling anything at all. His hands are still knotted in Castiel’s stolen jacket.

"You’re too late," Castiel says.

"Yeah," Dean says. "I usually am."

Castiel leans forward and kisses him on the side of the face, close to his mouth, at the corner where the lines have started to show. And then Castiel lets him go.