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Beneath the Ashes

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Prologue

The Deal

24 hours earlier

 

“It’s very dangerous,” the witch said as she paced the young girl’s bedroom. “Once they are sent to this place, the key to break the spell lies within their hearts, and if they don’t have what they need deep down, they’ll never make it back out. They’ll be stuck there forever.” She paused and the long, black dress she wore swayed from side to side. “Is this a risk you’re willing to take?”

The young girl sat on the edge of her bed, hands resting in her lap, and her lips pressed together in determination. “They have it in there and they’ll make it back, I’m sure of it.” She pushed a strand of dark brown hair that was lightly streaked with burgundy from her face and gave the woman a nod. She prayed her parents didn’t wake up, she didn’t want them to ruin the deal she was about to make with the witch.

“Okay,” the witch said as she started pulling supplies from the black bag that hung from her shoulder. She hummed as she sat a stainless steel bowl on the table, along with three glass vials full of red liquids, a bundle of herbs, a larger vial full of black ashes, and a mixing spoon.

The young girl watched the witch pull out a piece of chalk and draw a large symbol on the hardwood floor. The witch then poured the three vials into the bowl, along with the bundle of herbs and ashes, and as smoke began to drift out from the bowl, she closed her eyes, tilted her head back, and began chanting. The young girl couldn’t understand what the witch was saying, she assumed it was in Latin, but after a few minutes, the witch opened her eyes, and yelled one final word. There was a loud bang and a large flame shot out of the bowl. The young girl cringed and her eyes shot to her door, hoping the witch’s spell hadn’t woken up her parents.

The witch took out a small brush and went to the closet. She pushed back some clothes, dipped the brush into the red liquid, and began drawing a symbol on the closet wall. When she was done, she turned to the young girl. “Now, when they both step in, you cut your hand and place the blood to the symbol, then say the magic word and the spell will ignite,” she said as she stepped out of the closet. “Just don’t say the word aloud until it’s time or you’ll ruin the spell. Okay?”

The young girl nodded.

The witch stood in front of the young girl and said, “I’m finished here. I’ll give you the magic word when I receive the payment.”

The young girl pulled out a wad of money from her back pocket and handed it to the witch. “Here, I’ve been saving all summer.”

Handing the piece of paper out to the young girl, the witch said, “Remember, don’t say the word aloud until it’s time.”

“Don’t worry, I won’t do anything that will ruin my chance of this finally happening,” the young girl said as she went and opened the bedroom door. “Thank you so much for doing this.”

The witch paused in the doorway and said, “I watch the show and I think they have those feelings, too. I have faith that this will work.” She smiled, pulled her bag up higher on her shoulder, and then headed out the door.

 

Chapter 1

The Spell

 

“Okay, we’ll be there tonight at eight,” Dean said and hung up the phone. He leaned back in his chair, took a long swig of his beer, and then silently prayed for Cas.

Dean felt his presence even before he was there. He’d noticed this happening more and more lately. A rush of electricity would plummet through his body long before Cas would appear. It was as if Dean could feel him traveling through time. He hadn’t said anything to Cas about this new feeling because he wasn’t sure what it meant. There was a swoosh of feathers and then Cas appeared in front of him.

“Hello, Dean. You called?” Cas asked.

Putting a foot up on the table, Dean casually leaned back in his chair, but as he looked up at Cas, he noticed a streak of blood on his trench coat. He sat upright and asked, “Cas, what happened? Are you alright?”

Confused, Cas followed Dean’s gaze, and noticing the blood, said, “Oh, yeah, that’s not mine. What did you need?”

“Care to elaborate on whose blood it is then?” Dean asked, throwing his hands up at Cas’s vagueness.

“I was trying to get information from a ghoul when I heard your prayer.” Cas took a seat across from Dean, his eyes searching him for answers.

“Oh, okay. Well, I have a case for us tonight. We’re meeting a girl at eight. She says her house is haunted. Sam’s on a hunt with mom right now, so I was wondering if you could come with me?”

“Of course, Dean, you know I’m always here for you. Sounds like an easy case, anyway,” Cas said.

Dean nodded, knowing he could always count on Cas, and then said, “Great, we leave in an hour.”

 

An hour later they were headed down I-65 in Baby. Led Zepplin’s song, Stairway to Heaven, was playing, and Dean had the windows down, smirking when he saw Cas trying to smooth down his hair as it blew wildly around. His grin widened when he noticed Cas’s lips moving as he silently sang along to the song. They hadn’t talked about the mixtape Dean had given him, and Dean never even knew if Cas had listened to it, but it was evident now that he had, and it made him feel good. But he wasn’t about to bring it up. He drummed his fingers against the steering wheel in rhythm with the tune, humming occasionally. He’d already given Cas the details of the job tonight and he hoped it would be an easy one. Tonight was his first night home in over a week and he had anticipated having the night off for once, but he never turned down a hunt.

“That looks like the place up ahead,” Dean said as he peered through the windshield.

Cas looked in the direction where Dean had pointed and said, “That must be the girl you spoke to.”

They looked up to see a young woman walk out of the home. Her long, dark hair was pulled back in a loose ponytail and she pulled the leather jacket she wore tighter around her body, looking like she was cold. She waved at them, and as Dean pulled Baby into the driveway, they both stiffened as a bolt of energy zapped through them.

Dean looked over at Cas. “I’m assuming you felt that?”

“Yes, we just went through some kind of force field. It could be from the house, but I’m not quite sure,” Cas said, scowling as he studied the large, two story home and girl in front of them.

“Awesome,” Dean said under his breath. “We’ll let’s do this,” he said, clapping Cas on the shoulder.

They got out of the car and walked up to the porch.

“Are you Heather?” Cas asked as he stepped forward and shook her hand.

“Yes,” she said and tossed a hesitant look over her shoulder at the house behind her.

“I’m Dean, this is Cas,” Dean said as he shook her hand.

“Hi. Well, this is it,” she said, turning around to face the large, white house.

“So, you’ve been hearing voices and seeing things move around?” Dean questioned.

“Yes, and I’ve also been scratched. Are you ready to see inside?” she asked as she tossed a thumb over her shoulder.

Dean looked over at Cas who nodded. “After you,” he said to Heather, gesturing for her to show them the way.

They followed behind her, Dean casually looking from left to right, always on guard. The old boards creaked as they walked across the huge wraparound porch and into the house. Dean felt Cas tense behind him which caused him to be on guard even more. There was definitely something off about this place. An energy hummed inside, just like what they’d felt when they had pulled into the driveway.

“Up here is where most of the action happens,” the girl said as she motioned for them to follow her up the stairs. “Mainly in my bedroom.”

They looked at each other and Cas gave Dean another slight nod.

“So where are your parents?” Dean asked as he peeked inside a spare room.

“They’re at work, but don’t worry, they knew you were coming. They said they’ll be home in just a few minutes,” the girl said as she pushed open a door that led to a bedroom.

With the bright purple walls, posters of boy bands, and clothes strung everywhere; it was obvious that this was her room. Dean and Cas walked around the room, both inspecting every inch of the space.

“I hear a lot of noises in the closet at night, but I can never make myself open the door,” she said with a laugh and nervously twirled a strand of hair around her finger.

“This door?” Cas asked as he took a step towards it. He always tried going into the dangerous situations first, but Dean didn’t always let him.

She nodded.

Cas slowly opened the door and peered inside. Not seeing anything unusual, he opened it all the way. The closet was a huge walk in type, filled to the max with clothes and accessories, and a head to toe mirror on the far wall straight ahead. Cas looked back at Dean and shrugged as he stepped inside.

As an uneasy feeling hit him, Dean called, “Cas, wait up,” as he hurried to catch up, salt gun in hand.

A sudden rush of energy blew into the closet and Cas grabbed Dean’s shoulder. “Something is happening. Stay back,” he said as he pushed Dean behind him.

They both whirled around when they saw the girl step in front of the door. She said a word in Latin and a symbol appeared on the inside of the closet wall. It was red and appeared to burn around the edges.

“You’ll thank me later for doing this,” she said as she sliced a gash into her hand and pressed it against the symbol.

Dean aimed his salt gun towards her, but as soon as his finger hit the trigger, a blast of air plummeted towards them. He felt Cas’s hands grip him tight and then they were falling onto grass. All of the air rushed out of his lungs as a heavy weight fell on top of him. His eyes shot open to find Cas staring down at him, his face inches from his. They stared at each other and Dean licked his lips and said, “Cas, personal space.”

Cas pushed himself up and murmured, “Sorry, Dean.”

Dean stood and looked around, his tall frame tense and ready to fight. “Where the hell are we?” he wondered out loud.

Cas stood to his right, his stance mimicking Dean’s as he said, “It seems we’ve been cast into an alternate world of some kind. The question is why and what are we going to have to face?”

Dean turned towards Cas and said, “Wait, so you’re saying that girl cast a spell on us? But why would she want to send us to this place, wherever this is?” He waved his arms out in front of him gesturing towards the woods and land that seemed endless.

“Well, she did tell us we would thank her for this right before she placed her hand on the symbol,” Cas stated. He took a step towards Dean and said, “You’re bleeding. Here, let me fix it.” He leaned in and placed his fingers against Dean’s lips, healing the cut instantly. His fingers brushed lightly against Dean’s lips for a second before falling to his side.

“Thanks, Cas,” Dean said softly. He looked at him for a minute, and then awkwardly ran a hand through his hair before turning his attention to their surroundings. “So, we need to figure out where we are and why we’re here and how to get back home.”

“We should start walking and see if we run into anything that might point us in the right direction,” Cas said as he began to lead the way.

Dean followed behind him and felt something clanging against his waist. He looked down and saw he now had a sword hanging from his belt. “Well, it looks like she wants us to be prepared to fight something,” Dean said as he pulled the sword free and examined it.

Scowling, Cas eyed the sword and said, “This can’t be good.” His own blade dropped from the sleeve of his trench coat and he held it to his side as he began walking again.

They walked through wooded trails for several minutes before finally emerging into an open field.

Cas held his hand up, shielding his eyes from the sun. “This is amazing,” he said softly.

Dean stood to his right and murmured under his breath, “Wow.”

The field was awash with hundreds of red roses. It was breathtaking and Dean shifted uncomfortably when his hand accidentally brushed against Cas’s. He gave him a sideways look wondering if Cas had also felt that jolt when their hands had touched. He figured Cas’s angelic powers must be in overdrive or something.

Cas bent down, his gaze focused on something in the distance. He looked concerned and Dean asked, “What? What do you see?”

Standing upright, Cas said, “I’m not sure, but I think it’s an animal of some kind. And it’s coming our way at a very fast pace.”

Dean peered ahead and drew his sword out when he finally spotted the large animal coming towards them. He felt Cas’s hand press protectively against his chest. “Cas, I’ll be fine,” Dean said.

“We don’t know what it is, so just stay behind me,” Cas instructed as he stepped in front of Dean.

They heard hoof beats thundering towards them as the animal got closer, and suddenly a white horse pushed through the roses and came completely into view, coming straight at them. “It’s not slowing down.” Cas’s voice didn’t waver, but his hand fisted tightly into Dean’s shirt as he prepared to fight for him.

Before Cas had a chance to zap or push them out of the way, the horse slid to a stop in front of them, throwing clumps of dirt at their face. Dean hunkered down against Cas’s back, shielding his face from the debris. Cas didn’t even flinch, he just threw one arm in front of his face, the other arm wrapped protectively around Dean.

“What the hell?” Dean asked as they stared at the animal in front of them.

Cocking his head to the side to study the animal, Cas said, “It appears to be a… unicorn.” The horse let out a whinny as if in agreement and reared up into the air. When all four feet were on the ground, it walked calmly to them and stopped directly in front of Cas, lowering its head. A note was attached to its horn and Cas reached out and pulled the post it note free. “Your ride,” he read out loud.

“Our what?” Dean asked incredulously as he yanked the note from Cas’s hand. He read it and said, “I’m not getting on that thing. And what, we’re supposed to ride double on a damn unicorn?”

Cas looked at him and said, “Well, it is better than walking through all these woods. Plus, it will be faster.”

With a look of shock, Dean watched as Cas took a handful of mane and jumped onto the horse’s back. He held his hand down to Dean. “Are you coming?”

Shaking his head, Dean said, “This is absolutely ridiculous, but of course, it’s not like I have a choice or anything.” He took Cas’s hand and wheeled himself onto the unicorn. “I can’t believe I’m riding on the back of a unicorn with you right now,” Dean mused, fidgeting with his hands when he didn’t know where to put them.

“Put your arms around me,” Cas instructed as he tossed a quick glance back to Dean.

“Do what?” Dean asked.

“You’ll need something to hold onto or you’re going to fly off the back.”

Reluctantly, Dean settled in closer behind Cas and wrapped his arms around his waist. “I can’t believe this,” he griped into Cas’s ear. A shock of electricity surged through him when they touched and Dean thought he saw a hint of a smile appear on Cas. But then the unicorn took off and the thought vanished as Dean had to tighten his grip around Cas’s waist to keep from falling off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2

Disintegrating Denial

 

Thick fog welcomed them into the woods like a lover. It embraced them, and the waves of moisture caressed their clothes and clung to their skin, making it hard to breathe. The unicorn finally slowed down as they followed a narrow trail that led deeper into the woods. The unicorn seemed to know where to go so Cas didn’t have to direct it at all. Dean relaxed a little, loosening his grip and letting his hands fall casually to Cas’s thighs. Once again he felt a surge of electricity, but this time it was more subtle than before. He felt Cas tense slightly when it had happened and that was when he knew Cas had been feeling it too. He wanted to ask him about it, but didn’t know how to bring it up. Instead, he kept the question to the issue at hand. “How do you think we’re going to get out of here?”

Cas looked around at their surroundings, releasing a sigh that was filled with uncertainty when he saw nothing but an endless amount of tall trees. “I don’t know yet.”

They both jerked around when a loud growl floated out of the woods. The unicorn swished its tail and began to speed up, feeling the threat that lurked out of sight.

Dean leaned into Cas and wrapped his hands tightly around his waist, trying not to fly off the back from the unicorn’s increased speed. He peered over Cas’s shoulder and said, “What the hell was that?” The jostling from the horse galloping caused his lips to accidentally brush against Cas’s ear.

“I’m not sure, but I have a feeling we will find out soon enough,” Cas said, as he tossed a look over his shoulder.

They came up to another clearing and the unicorn suddenly stopped and stomped one hoof into the ground.

“She wants us to get off,” Cas stated, turning around to look at Dean.

“So now you’re the horse whisperer?” Dean nudged Cas in the side as he laughed at his own joke.

“Something like that,” Cas said as he elbowed Dean in the stomach, urging him to get down first.

“Okay, okay, I’m going,” Dean said with a grin. With no other choice, he grasped Cas’s waist again and swung his leg over to dismount. He patted Cas’s leg and said, “Your turn.”

Cas swung to the ground in one swift motion and stood next to Dean. They stiffened when another growl came from the woods, this growl sounding closer than the last. They both pulled out their swords and stood back to back when they heard leaves rustling.

“Get ready, something is coming,” Dean said, clutching the sword in his hand tighter.

Branches pulled back to reveal a large wolf like animal with black fur and gold eyes staring at them. It hovered behind the tree line, and when it snarled, large white fangs flickered from within the shadows. It clawed at the dirt, leaving large rut marks in the ground, before quickly charging towards them.

“Shit!” Dean yelled as he stepped in front of Cas and lunged at the beast. He thought he heard Cas yelling behind him, but he felt this strong pull to defeat this beast himself. He thrust the sword at the monster, and dove to the right when he missed. The monster charged him again and he saw Cas coming up from behind. He shook his head at Cas, hoping he would understand that he needed to fight this monster himself. He saw Cas scowl and reluctantly take a step back, clearly torn about the decision, but there was also a look of understanding that showed on his face. No words were needed, because from day one, Cas seemed to have a way of knowing Dean better than he knew himself. Dean focused his attention back to the monster who was now circling him. He squared his shoulders and held the sword out in front of him as he began to run towards it. A loud roar erupted from deep in his throat, sounding foreign and far away. He had no idea where this strong desire came from, but determination to finally end this beast soared through him as he ran directly towards it. He’d never wanted something more in his life than to squash everything about the monster that stood in his way.

As soon as he got close, the monster reared back and thrust out its claws, slashing four deep wounds across Dean’s face. He stumbled backwards a step but quickly regained his footing just in time to see Cas running towards them.

“DEANNNN!” Cas yelled in the background as he ran towards them. The monster cocked his head towards Cas and barred its teeth as it leapt at him. Cas aimed his blade at it, but he missed, and in one swift motion he had whirled back around to face the monster head on. He held his hand out to touch the monster’s head, but just when he made contact to try and smite it, nothing happened. The monster’s front paw quickly lashed out towards Cas, ripping his shirt and leaving four large wounds across his chest, before knocking him to the ground.

Dean yelled and bolted towards them, not understanding why Cas had just stood there. He dove in between the monster and Cas, his instincts wanting to turn to Cas first to make sure he was okay, but he knew he had to kill the monster first. He just hoped Cas could heal himself here. He turned his back to Cas, his body shielding him from the monster that was now creeping closer to them, and readied his sword. As the monster lurched forward, he slung the sword violently towards it, but it veered to the left. He took a few steps towards it, determination showing in his confident stance, while his green eyes followed its every move. He watched its legs sidestep to the right, but his instinct told him to go the opposite direction. He bolted to the left just as the monster changed direction. He drew his sword back and slung it forward with all the strength he had, and as he felt the sword slide deeply into the monsters chest, he gave it a quick twist. The monster let out a wail that seemed to echo for miles and warm blood ran down the sword and onto Dean’s hand. He pulled the sword out and the monster staggered backwards a few steps before finally falling to its side.

A groan behind him made him jerk around and he saw Cas struggling to stand. He rushed over and kneeled in front of him, his hand resting on one knee as he said, “Just relax for a minute, those wounds look deep.” Dean pulled Cas’s shirt up to inspect the damage and his eyes lifted to Cas’s pained expression. “Can you heal yourself?”

He nodded and Dean sighed with relief when he saw the wounds begin to slowly close.

There was a loud pop as the monster burst into flames, disintegrating into thick, black ash. They both shielded their eyes from the ashes, and when the air cleared, they looked at the spot where the monster had been. The monster was gone, but in its wake there was one word spelled out in the ashes. Denial.

A rush of relief washed over Dean as he stared down at the word. He felt Cas’s presence behind him even more clearly now, and when he turned back to him, he felt the love he had for him emerge from a hidden spot deep inside his heart. He’d had these feelings tucked away, trying to deny their existence for some time, but the key had finally been found. He stared at him not sure what to say exactly when Cas reached his hand out to him.

“Let me fix that,” Cas said as he gently touched the side of Dean’s cheek. The wounds healed immediately but Cas let his hand stay a minute longer as if he could feel a shift in Dean’s feelings. His dark brows furrowed when Dean reached out and placed his hand on top of Cas’s, giving it a light squeeze while his thumb stroked back and forth. “Why did you tell me to stay back? You could’ve been killed, Dean.” Cas’s voice was soft with worry and he reluctantly let his hand drop from Dean’s face.

Dean tilted his head to the side as he looked at Cas. His face softened and his voice dropped an octave when he said, “Because I’ve been holding back way more than you have been, so it was my fight.” Dean leaned in and gently brushed away the dirt from the light scruff on his cheek and smiled. They had been here less than twenty four hours and Cas already had a fair amount of peach fuzz. He brought his other hand up and held Cas’s face in his hands, his eyes roaming over every inch of his face. There was something that he needed to say. It had been on his mind for a while now and he finally found the courage to say it. “I’m a little late to respond to what you said when you almost died a few weeks ago, but I wanted you to know that I love you, too.” The words rolled off his tongue without hesitation and Dean wondered why it had taken him so long to finally tell Cas.

He pulled Cas into a hug, squeezing him tightly as he rocked him back and forth, his hand clutching the collar of his trench coat as he struggled with these newfound emotions that he was now feeling.

A smirk appeared on Cas’s face when he said, “Well, it’s better late than never. Isn’t that, uh, what people generally say?”

Laughing, Dean wrapped his arm around Cas, pulling him close as he led him away from the ashes of denial. “Yes, Cas that’s what people say when someone shows up late to something.”

The unicorn walked out from behind a tree and stopped in front of them. It turned its head to Cas and nudged him, demanding attention. Cas smiled and patted the horse on the neck.

“I think she likes you. Should we name it?” Dean asked as he ran a finger up its horn and winced when his finger ran across the tip. “Yeah, that’s sharp.”

“Hmm…” Cas placed a finger to his lips as he thought about it, and then his eyes brightened as he said, “How about Willow?”

“Okay, Willow it is,” Dean said as he examined the tiny hole on his finger.

Cas pulled himself onto its back and extended his hand out to Dean. He pulled him up and his lips twitched into a smile when he felt the warmth of Dean’s body as he settled in close behind him. His body relaxed as Dean’s hands slid up under his trench coat, wrapping around his waist.

Dean rested his chin on Cas’s shoulder as he studied the mountains that were coming into view. Thin strands of bright yellow light barely peeked out from the side of one of the mountains as the sun began to set. It was hard to gauge how fast darkness would come upon them in this land, so he knew they had to find a spot to rest for the night soon.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3

Wrangling Worry

 

Another hour passed and the darkness had taken over. When they finally found a spot to settle in for the night, Cas signaled for Willow to come to a stop. Being in a different land with no electricity, there were no lights at all when the sun had finally set, so they had no choice but to halt finding a way out until the morning. They sat under a large oak tree as the horse wandered around nibbling on grass. Cas had taken off his trench coat and laid it out onto the grass so they had something to sit on instead of the ground.

Dean stretched out his legs as he sat down, feeling that hint of spark shoot through him when his foot rested against Cas’s. “So, the plan is to keep searching for a way out of here as soon as the sun rises in the morning. Surely, there’s a way out of this damn place?” His voice was thick and low as he watched Cas loosen his tie and he smiled when the top two buttons of his white dress shirt casually draped open.

Cas looked up at him and nodded. “I would assume if there is a way in, then there should be a way out.” Seeing Dean’s eyes fix on him, he said, “What?”

Dean shook his head and tore his gaze away from Cas. “Nothing.” They hadn’t talked about what he’d said earlier, and Dean didn’t know where to start, but knew, after all these years of pushing it to the side, that he needed to say something soon. He leaned forward, pulling his knees up towards his chest and rested an elbow on each knee as he thought about what to say. He suddenly realized he was worried to explain to Cas what he’d really meant when he had said he loved him. Anytime he opened up to someone, it never went the way he’d wanted it to. What if Cas didn’t feel it the way he did. Was Cas even capable of loving someone in that way? He had no clue. For all he knew, Cas just knew love as in brotherly. The day Dean had told Cas he was their brother shot through his mind. He’d wanted to say more that day, but yet again, he didn’t know how to put it into words. Now, he was full of worry and regret that that love he’d never voiced was nothing more to Cas than what he’d said it was. Brothers.

He fell back onto Cas’s trench coat in a heap of uneasiness, resting his head on his hands as he looked up at Cas. “We should probably get some rest, it’s hard telling what time the sun will rise in a place like this.”

“I don’t sleep, Dean,” Cas said, looking down at him. “But you get some rest and I’ll watch over you.”

“Ah, that’s right. Okay, then, I’m beat so hopefully the sun stays down for at least four hours,” he said as he turned on his side, not bothering to argue with Cas about how creepy it was for him to watch over him while he slept, because here, he probably needed the watchful eye of his angel.

 

 

Light barely peeked through the horizon, and as Dean began to wake, he felt something holding him down. His eyes shot open in panic and he looked down to see an arm curled around his chest. He felt the warmth of the body pressed against his back and saw two legs intertwined with his own. He cast a look over his shoulder and saw two blue eyes.

“Good morning, Dean,” Cas said.

With Cas so close, his warm breath tickled Dean’s neck as he spoke, but he found that he had no urge to pull away.

“You were shivering so bad last night. The temperature had dropped significantly in the middle of the night and I didn’t have a blanket to put over you, so I used my body heat,” Cas said as he started to uncoil his legs from Dean’s.

Dean grabbed his arm and let out a grunt in objection. “Stay.”

“Okay,” Cas said, his voice was deep and rough as if he’d just woken up himself, but he’d been awake all night listening for any noises that signified a predator was getting close. He slid his legs in between Dean’s and relaxed as he nuzzled up against him.

They laid there together watching the sun as it slowly lifted from the ground, sending bright orange and red hues out into the sky like laser beams, and Dean couldn’t help but think how beautiful the scene was. Whatever was happening between them felt right, he was no longer in denial about his feelings, but there were still doubts and worries that simmered beneath the surface of his mind.

“Dean, it’s beautiful,” Cas whispered. His lips brushed against the side of Dean’s neck when he spoke, and he thought about moving, but he stayed put like Dean had asked him to.

Dean let his hand fall on top of Cas’s as he said, “Yes, it is.” His eyes softened as Cas turned his palm over and intertwined their fingers together.

The sun rose even more, casting its rays across their faces. Birds began chirping as morning descended upon them and Dean felt reluctant to get up, but knew they needed to start their search for a way home. “We should get going,” he said hesitantly.

“You’re right. We don’t know how long it will take to find our way home,” Cas said as he slowly unwrapped his body from Dean’s.

Dean felt the same reluctance from Cas that he felt and sighed as he pushed himself to his feet. He reached down and grabbed Cas’s trench coat, shaking off the dirt before handing it to him.

They started walking down the path towards a small stream. Dean leaned down and washed his hands and face off before cupping the water in his hands and drinking. Cas mimicked Dean, and when they were done, they turned to find their unicorn waiting for them.

“Our ride is waiting,” Dean joked as he followed Cas to the horse.

They climbed onto Willow, and Cas grabbed a handful of the horse’s mane as the unicorn went into a canter. His tie flew behind him from the wind, and Dean had to push it away from his face. They rode for hours, searching and scheming for a way out. Waves of heat dropped down from the deep orange sun, and large, white puffy clouds hung above their heads as they rode through the foreign land they’d been cast into. This was their first opportunity to really explore the new land and they rode quietly as they studied their surroundings. Dean’s fingers played with the edge of Cas’s trench coat, running it back and forth between his index finger and thumb, as he let his mind drift to home. He wondered what Sam was doing. If he knew yet that they were missing. And he wondered what the reasoning was for the girl to send him and Cas here. She had to have a reason because it had been a thought out decision. Seeing the collar flipped up on Cas’s shirt, he reached up and began to adjust it, his fingers skimming across the soft skin on the back of his neck. He saw Cas turn his head slightly to see him from the corner of his eye, and when Dean was done, Cas let out a murmured ‘Thanks,’ his lips tilting casually to one side in a little smirk.

Dean rubbed his legs and said, “I need to stretch my legs for a minute, we’ve been on this horse for hours, Cas.”

“Dean, the more ground we cover, the faster we’ll find a way out. But, if you really need to take a break, I’m sure I can get Willow to stop.”

Rolling his eyes, Dean said, “Great, thanks Cas.”

Cas let the horse canter for another thirty minutes before signaling for it to stop. Dean was pretty sure he’d waited that long on purpose, but didn’t argue with Cas about it. As soon as Dean slid off Willow, her head jerked to the side, her ears flew forward on high alert, and she stomped her foot anxiously. Dean hurriedly gesture for Cas to get down, and as soon as Cas’s feet hit the ground, the horse whinnied and took off at full speed, its tail swishing wildly.

“What the hell is wrong with her?” Dean asked as they watched the horse speed down the hill.

“She’s anxious and frightened which means something is coming,” Cas said, letting his blade drop from the sleeve of his trench coat.

“Are your angel powers not working here? I mean, usually you know things before they get here,” Dean said as he pulled out his own sword.

Cas frowned as he looked around. “My powers only seem to work when I need to heal us. For whatever reason we’re here, they want us to stay alive.”

“Oh,” Dean said. “Well, that’s good to know.”

The ground began shaking and they spun around, standing back to back as they waited for whatever monster was on its way. Trees began to sway violently as huge gusts of wind swept around them. They heard the roar before the monster appeared. It pierced the stillness of the field, doing its best to terrify them.

“Get ready, Cas,” Dean said as he tightened his grip on his sword.

Cas nodded even though he knew Dean couldn’t see him. “I’m always ready,” he said.

Just then, a large creature jumped out of the woods, landing on the ground a few feet in front of Cas. It wailed, and saliva dripped out of a mouth that was full of large fangs. Two red, beady eyes studied its prey with rapt fascination behind a mound of gray fur. It stood still and tilted its head, daring them to make a move. With his blade held high in his hand, Cas yelled and charged towards the monster. He faintly heard Dean yell in the distance, but if he could help it, he would do his best to keep Dean out of this one. The monster veered to the right, out of his reach, and began to head towards Dean. Cas whirled around, his blue eyes wide with panic when he saw where the monster was headed. He knew Dean could hold his own, but he always felt like his protector. He couldn’t imagine if something were to happen to him.

He saw Dean’s fist slam into the side of the monster’s face and then there was a blur of dark fur and plaid as the monster tackled Dean to the ground. Cas ran towards them and leapt onto the monsters back, beating his fist into the back of its head. It began thrashing, twirling around in circles as an angry growl bellowed from its throat, and Cas clutched onto the beasts fur to keep from flying off. With all his strength he let go with his right hand to withdraw his blade. He quickly drew his blade back and rammed it into its neck. Blood spurted from the wound like a geyser, and as it stumbled backwards in surprise, Cas pulled his blade out and thrust it back in again. It howled and shook its head to try and dislodge the blade. As Cas went to jump off, the monster fell to its side, and suddenly he felt all the air in his lungs vanish as the monster collapsed on top of him. He tried to use his Angel powers to zap out from underneath it, but to no avail. They only thing he could do was heal. He heard Dean’s panicked cries, but they were muffled from beneath the monsters weight. If he wasn’t an Angel, he didn’t think he’d survive this. As darkness began to cloud his vision, his thoughts went to Dean and how thankful that he was here and not him, because there was no way Dean would’ve survived this fall.

The hoarse cries from Dean beckoned him to fight past the darkness that threatened to sweep him away. He began to fervently push against the monster with the little ounce of strength he had left, but the beast was enormous. He couldn’t heal himself while he was fighting to stay alive. He needed out from under the monster to be able to use his powers correctly. He winced when a loud pop exploded against his ears, and within seconds, he was nestled in a bed of ashes. He heard Dean clearly yelling his name now and felt hands gently rubbing against his face.

“Cas, dammit, open your eyes so I know you’re okay,” Dean said as he gently wiped away ash that covered Cas’s eyelids.

Cas inhaled a deep breath, instantly feeling his powers buzzing as he began to heal from the inside out. When he finally opened his eyes, he saw Dean staring down at him. His green eyes softened and his jaw relaxed when their eyes met. “Dean?” Cas said, his eyes scanning the worried face in front of him. “Are you okay?” he asked.

Dean laughed, shaking his head as he said, “An enormous beast just fell on top of you, almost killing you, and you’re asking if I’m okay?”

“Yes,” Cas said, reaching up to touch a scratch that lined his neck. He rubbed it and a smile erased the worry on his face when it slowly disappeared.

Without thinking, Dean pulled Cas up to his feet and into a hug, his hands clutching him tightly as his mind replayed the scene. He thought he’d lost him for sure this time. He was lucky he was an Angel, because there was no way he would’ve survived that fall if he was human. Dean felt Cas’s hands wrap around his back and squeeze, and before Dean could second guess himself, he found his lips brushing against Cas’s neck as he whispered in his ear. “I was so worried I thought I’d lost you.”

He felt Cas shudder and pull him in tighter. “Dean, you’ll never lose me.”

Dean knew it was time to lay his feelings out there point blank. “Cas, you know when I said that I loved you too, that I meant it more than just as a brother, right?” He watched Cas for a minute, staring into his eyes and hoping that he saw the same love beneath their blue surface, hoping he had meant it the way he had. Hoping and praying he wasn’t wrong.

“Yes, Dean, I know and I feel the same way,” he said calmly and squinted as the sun seemed to shine down on them even brighter. He was glad that Dean had finally told him that he loved him, it was something that made him feel complete, but he still had doubt that Dean meant it the way he did. The fact that Dean had said he loved him more than just a brother wasn’t lost on him, but he wasn’t sure that Dean knew how deeply he truly loved him. He turned his gaze back to Dean and asked, “Is that…okay?”

Dean raised an eyebrow as he looked at Cas. “Yeah, that’s definitely okay.” He didn’t know where they were going with this, but he knew it felt good to get his feelings off his chest, and he was relieved that Cas felt the same way he did.

Dean pulled away and his eyes went to the ground behind Cas. Beneath the ashes the word ‘worry’ was spelled out. They both stared at it and Dean shrugged. “I have no idea what is going on here or what kind of messed up place we’re in. First there was ‘denial’ and now ‘worry’.”

Without a care or worry in his mind, he grabbed Cas’s hand, intertwined it within his own, and led him away from the scene.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4

Disappearing Doubt

 

Cas tugged Dean’s hand, pulling him to a stop. “There’s a stream up ahead, I can hear it. We need to get cleaned up.”

Dean looked down at their clothes and nodded. “Yeah, that’s probably a good idea.”

They were both filthy, but Cas had ashes and blood coating his entire body. As they made the trek down the steep hill, Dean watched Cas in front of him. He couldn’t help but think about this different type of bond that was forming between them and wondered if it would continue once they got home. He seriously doubted it. He looked around at the bright green foliage and the beautiful orange sun that was starting to set and guessed they were just in some kind of fantasy land, and once they were back home, these feelings they had for each other would disappear. It was a shame, because these feelings felt good.

“There it is,” Cas called back to him as he stomped through a mess of weeds before stopping at the edge of the water. He began pulling off his trench coat and unbuttoning his shirt.

Dean came up beside him, his eyes falling to Cas’s bare chest as he began to casually undress. After all these years, he had yet to see Cas completely naked. The only other time was when he had shown up on his car naked, and covered in bees, but the bees had hid most of everything. Now, there was nothing covering his body and Dean found himself blatantly admiring his lean, muscular build. He looked good and Dean wished he hadn’t been hiding that body under all those clothes for so long.

Feeling Dean’s eyes on him, Cas looked up, and said, “What? I’m dirty,” and then dropped his pants and walked into the river.

Dean stood speechless at the bank as he watched a naked Cas slowly disappear into the crystal clear water. He looked down at his own dirty clothes and shrugged his shoulders as he began to undress himself. As the last piece of clothing fell onto the rocky bank, he began walking towards the water. He dipped one foot into the water and jerked back. The frigid water stung his skin and he winced. “I wasn’t expecting it to be so damn cold,” he said as he stared at Cas and wondered how it wasn’t bothering him at all.

“Since I’m an Angel, the temperature doesn’t bother me like it does you,” Cas said as he calmly stood waist deep in the water. He dipped his head underwater and stayed under for several seconds before finally emerging a few feet in front of Dean. His eyes traveled up his bare chest and a mischievous gleam lit up his blue eyes. His lips twisted to one side in a devious smirk.

“Cas, what are you thinking?” Dean asked as he started to back away.

“Dean, the best way to get used to the water, is to jump right in,” he said and then quickly lunged for Dean.

“Cas, no!” Dean shouted, throwing his hands up in front of him, but it was too late. Cas was on him in one swift motion. Strong, wet arms wrapped around his waist and pulled him under the water. He held his breath and tried pushing Cas off him, but he was too strong. A few seconds later, their heads emerged to the surface. Dean gasped and wiped the water from his face, his eyes narrowing on Cas. “Dude, what the hell?”

Cas gave a little laugh. “You were being a wuss about the cold water,” he stated with a shrug.

Dean’s eyebrows shot up. “A wuss?” he asked as he took a few steps toward Cas.

Cas nodded slightly as he looked at Dean wearily. “Yes,” he replied, his voice stern even though he was wondering what Dean had on his mind.

Dean was just inches from Cas’s face now and his eyes dropped to the light sheen on his parted lips. Dean’s hand found Cas’s leg and he smiled when his eyes widened.

“Dean, wh- what are you doing?” he stammered, and his eyes fell to the water. The remaining light from the sun reflected onto the water, illuminating Dean’s hand on his upper thigh. Cas watched his hand gently squeeze his leg and inch upwards. His stomach flipped and he couldn’t help but like what he felt.

Dean leaned in close, his lips threatening to brush against the full lips that had always been a soft spot for him, and said, “What’s the matter, Cas? Am I invading your personal space?” His lips quirked into a half smile as he watched Cas fumble for an answer.

“Um, no, I don’t mind you in my personal space, Dean,” Cas replied softly.

Dean smiled and said, “Good,” as he grabbed his leg and yanked it towards him, pulling Cas under the water. He laughed as he watched the Angel flail around, trying to get his barrings. When Cas finally shot up out of the water, Dean couldn’t stop laughing. Suddenly, he forgot about being cold.

“Dammit, Dean,” Cas said, his voice was full of irritation but he also had a hint of a smile that he was trying not to show.

“Serves you right for dunking me,” Dean said, giving him one last splash before turning around and heading for the bank.

The warm rays from the sun felt good against his skin and he slid his boxer shorts on and laid on the bank. He wrapped his arms around himself, trying to stop the shivering. He saw Cas walking towards the bank, and as he emerged from the water, Dean got a full view of his front side. He considered looking away, but couldn’t, and if he were to be honest, he kinda liked the view.

Catching Dean staring, Cas gave him a smirk as he reached down and grabbed his boxer shorts. After sliding them on he sat down beside Dean and said, “You’re shaking.”

Giving him a sideways glance, Dean said, “Yeah, I’m freaking cold. The sun is setting which is taking away the little bit of warmth that I had.”

“Come here,” Cas said as he held out his arm.

“What?” Dean asked. It was one thing to find Cas snuggled up to him in the middle of the night to keep him warm, but for Dean to voluntarily snuggle into him was a little different. But he was freezing and he found that he wanted to be close to him.

“I can keep you warm, come here,” Cas said, his arm still out in invitation.

Dean gave him one last uncertain look before he gave in and scooted over, letting Cas envelope him into an embrace. He immediately felt his warmth. He closed his eyes as he felt his body begin to thaw and smiled when he felt Cas’s fingers trace the side of his bicep. The slow intensity of his fingers sliding up and down his arm began to lull him to sleep. His head began to fall and Cas situated him so that his head was lying in his lap. He felt long fingers slide through his hair as Cas began to play with his hair, and the soft humming coming from his chest made Dean relax even more. His eyes fluttered to the beautiful sunset for just a few seconds before closing.

 

 

A small flicker of light began to peek out from the sky and Dean opened his eyes. He was now lying on his side and felt Cas pressed up against his backside. His arm was draped across his waist just like the night before, but this time, he felt Cas lean in close and press his lips against his neck, kissing him gently. As he did this two more times, Dean felt his body react to the touch. He reached down and grabbed Cas’s hand and squeezed it gently before flipping over to face him. Their eyes met and Dean was suddenly nervous. He had never been nervous about a little kiss, but this kiss was different. Cas was his best friend, what if things didn’t work out between them when they got home? Would it ruin their friendship?

As if reading his mind, Cas said, “Dean, I’ll never leave your side no matter what happens. I could never do that. Do you want me to stop?” he asked as his lips brushed against the heavy stubble that coated Dean’s flushed cheek. Cas was praying he’d say no. He had wanted to kiss Dean for a long time, but he never knew how he would feel about it. He didn’t even know himself what to think about it or what it all really meant. He just knew it was something he wanted to do. But now, he was realizing Dean might just be okay with it. He would give anything for him to be okay with it. And the words that Dean said next soothed some of the doubt Cas was feeling.

Dean shook his head and said, “No, actually I don’t.”

Cas gave him one last look before slowly pressing his lips over Dean’s. Their kiss was soft and tender at first, and when Cas slipped his tongue into Dean’s mouth, the moan that escaped them sounded like a hum of relief. Cas reached up and cupped Dean’s face, bringing him closer, needing to feel his body against his own.

Slowly, their kiss became desperate, needy, and Dean found himself wanting more of Cas. He slipped his hand around his waist and underneath his white dress shirt, his fingers finding the bare skin along his side. He raked his fingers up and down, feeling Cas shiver at his touch.

As soon as he felt Dean’s fingers slip under his shirt and caress his bare skin, Cas swung his leg over and straddled Dean, their lips never parting. Cas ran his hand through Dean’s hair, gently tugging, and when Dean moaned, he pressed his hips harder against him. He pulled himself away from Dean’s lips and trailed light kisses down his jaw and along his neck. His teeth grazed the delicate skin, gently nipping, before replacing the sting with a kiss.

Dean sucked in a sharp breath, his hands gripping tightly around his waist, pulling him closer as he begged for more. Just as Cas began to move his kisses down towards Dean’s chest, they heard a whinny in the distance. They both jerked up, knowing the whinny was nothing but a beacon of dread that waited for them.

Dean would rather stay here in this moment, this moment he had been secretly fantasizing about for years. “Dammit!” he grumbled, aggravated at the interruption. It had taken them forever to get to this point, only to be interrupted by a damn unicorn in distress.

Cas gave him one last long look before planting a soft kiss on his lips and pushing himself up. He held out his hand to Dean, and as he pulled him upright in one swift motion, he took a step forward, closing the distance that separated them. With their hands still laced together, Cas tilted his head up, leaned forward, and crushed his lips against Dean’s. The kiss was hard and passionate at first, and as Cas found Dean’s tongue again, he caressed it slowly, savoring the moment as if he doubted he’d ever get this opportunity again. When the whinny came again, they jerked apart and turned their head towards the hills.

“We’d better see what’s going on.” Cas’s voice came out in a breathy whisper and his blue eyes dropped to Dean’s lips, but he didn’t make any indication that he wanted to move.

Nodding his head in agreement, Dean reluctantly pulled his eyes away from Cas’s and withdrew his sword. He sighed and his shoulders slumped as he said, “Let’s check it out.”

With weapons drawn, they followed the narrow trail to the hills, and when they got close, they heard hoof beats thundering across the ground, along with a loud screeching sound. They took off in a run and when they got to the clearing, they skidded to a stop when they saw a large vulture flying low. Every few seconds, it would dip down and attack Willow.

“What the hell is that?” Dean asked as he held up his hand to shield his eyes from the sun.

“I’m not sure, but it’s massive,” Cas said as he tilted his head up at the creature.

“We’d better do something before it kills our unicorn,” Dean said, and then gave Cas a nod as he took off in a run.

“Dean, wait!” Cas yelled as he took off behind him.

They ran towards the center of the clearing where the unicorn was rearing up, trying to fight off the large bird. When the bird caught sight of them, it turned its attention on them, leaving the unicorn alone. The unicorn whinnied and ran off, its tail swishing behind it.

The bird let out a loud screech as it swooped down towards Dean. He covered his ears at the loud noise and flung his sword up into the air as the bird came at him. It barely grazed the creature, and he ducked when long, black feathers fell on top of him as the bird shot back towards the sky.

“Dean, are you alright?” Cas asked as he came up beside him, his hand clutching his shoulder.

Dean looked down at his body and nodded. “Yeah, I’m fine. But, I missed.”

Cas looked up into the blue sky and said, “Don’t worry, we’ll get him when he comes down again. But we need to keep moving. There has to be a way out of here somewhere.”

Just as they began walking, the screech echoed in the distance again. They stopped, hands held out as they waited for the bird to appear again. They heard the flap of wings before it flew into view.

“Get ready,” Dean whispered to Cas.

The bird cocked its head, one beady eye studying them, as it calculated its next move. It flew down a few feet above their heads, but not close enough for them to reach it.

“It’s sizing us up,” Cas stated.

It circled around and began to pick up speed, its wings flapping so fast they were nothing but a blur. It flew towards them, and just when it seemed it would be out of reach again, it dropped down towards them at the last minute. Their swords raised into the air in unison, both plunging deep into the birds body. It yelled out in pain and fell to the ground. They took a step back at the sight of the bird now on the ground with them and watched it struggle to get to its feet. Even though blood dripped from its body and coated the ground, it took off towards them, its beak open wide as it screamed. Cas charged towards it and Dean circled around behind it.

The bird lunged for Cas and he readied his sword for the attack. Its outstretched wings began flapping as it built up speed, causing large clouds of dust to form around them. The visibility was next to none and Cas shielded his eyes from the dirt with one hand and aimed his sword with the other hand. When he saw the shadow of the bird through the cloud of dust, he aimed his sword outward and took a few steps forward. Large wings swooped around him, almost knocking him off balance. As he tried to regain his balance, he was flung backwards by a large wing. He skidded to the ground and heard Dean yell. Cas grabbed his blade and quickly got to his feet, running towards the bird that now had its back to him and was going after Dean.

As the bird descended on Dean, he veered to the right to miss the large wing, and then spun around and slammed his sword into its side. It shook its head in pain and began to thrash around, trying to reach around to grab the sword that was now sticking out of its side.

Cas came up behind it, quickly ducking his head to avoid being hit with its wing, and then slammed his blade deep into its chest. The bird screeched loudly, staggered a few feet, before falling to the ground. They both stared at it for several seconds, making sure it was really down this time, and then looked at each other.

“Well, at least we came out of that one unharmed,” Dean joked, brushing the dust off his clothes.

“Yes, that has to be a first for us,” Cas replied, and began to walk towards the creature.

“Wait Cas, don’t you think we need to make sure it’s actually dead?” Dean asked as he took a few steps toward him.

Just as Cas paused mid-step, there was a loud bang.

“Cas!” Dean yelled as he shielded his face from the explosion.

Cas took a step back as black ash shot up into the sky and then flew all around, coating them in soot. Dean came up beside him and looked him over to make sure he was alright.

“Dean, I’m fine,” Cas said, pushing his probing hands away. He cocked his head at something in front of them and said, “Look, another word.”

They walked towards the pile of ash and stared down at the word, Doubt. Feeling a spark of electricity shoot through them, they both looked at each other.

“Did you feel that this time?” Dean asked, one eyebrow raised in question.

Cas nodded and said, “Yes, I did. I feel…different, too. I don’t know how to explain it though.”

A smile appeared on Dean’s dirty face. “I think I know what’s going on here. Let me see if I can help you out. Do you suddenly feel certain about anything?”

Cas gave him a hard look and then looked down at the ground.

“Cas?” Dean said, confused by Cas’s reaction.

Cas tore his eyes from the ground and looked up at Dean, a pained look coating his face. “Dean, I’m not good with these human emotions,” Cas stated. “I’ve only experienced them completely once, when I was human. But the more I’m with you, the more I feel. And the feelings I have for you are not the same that I feel when I’m with Sam.”

Dean snorted. “I hope not.”

Cas narrowed his eyes and looked at him, one eyebrow arched. “Why not?”

Taking a few steps towards him, Dean said, “Because, Cas, being here in this place,” he threw his hands up as he looked around, and then continued, “has made me realize that we have feelings for each other that go deeper than friendship or brothers. I know I’ve been trying to fight it off, but I think you’ve known all along, but have doubted that I feel the same. That’s why you didn’t feel anything after we killed the first two monsters. It seems that every time we kill a monster, another negative emotion that we’re feeling about us, dies with it.”

“Dean, I’ve known the whole time how you feel about me, but I saw all the conflict that you felt with it. The doubt I had was if you’d let yourself feel that way for me. But now I’ve realized that you are okay with it,” Cas said, his voice becoming more confident.

Dean took another few steps and took his face in his hands. “I can be stubborn,” he said with a laugh.

One eyebrow raised as he said, “I think stubborn is an understatement.”

Dean leaned in close, his lips brushing against Cas’s cheek. “Anyway, I wanted you to kiss me this morning because I do love you,” he stated and then pressed a kiss to own up to the confession, doing everything in his power to make sure Cas had no doubt about his feelings.

His hands gripped Dean’s hips, bringing him closer as any doubt about Dean holding back began to disappear completely.

When they finally broke free from the kiss, they were both smiling.

“Come on, let’s get going,” Dean said as he grabbed Cas’s hand.

They retrieved their swords from the pile of ash before disappearing over the hill, hand in hand.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 5

Fighting Fear

 

They rode their unicorn until the sun was threatening to fall behind the grass, eagerly searching for a way out. Dean was hoping to run into a portal of some kind, like they had found when they were in purgatory, but they had yet to find anything. The night was alive with frogs croaking, wolves howling, and other animals that they more than likely didn’t want to run into.

“It’s getting dark,” Cas stated as he coaxed the unicorn to a stop. He looked over his shoulder at Dean and said, “Let’s get off here and we’ll start our search again in the morning.”

Dean slid off the unicorn and began searching for a safe spot to sleep for the night. He followed a path of wildflowers that led him up and over a small hill. As he got to the top of the hill, he looked to his right and saw a small ledge that had an amazing view of the land. It was a perfect spot to settle in for the night. He went to the edge of the hill and motioned for Cas to come up.

“What do ya think?” Dean asked when Cas finally made it, throwing his hands out at the view below them.

Cas walked to the edge of the cliff and gazed out into the distance. “It’s beautiful,” he whispered. He turned around and held out a hand that was full of colorful wildflowers. He looked down at the ground bashfully as he said, “I picked these for you.” Blue eyes were finally visible as he looked up at Dean and added, “I saw them and just thought, that, um…”

The corner of Dean’s mouth twitched to one side as he took the flowers. There were only a few times that he saw Cas shy and it had always made his knees weak to see the stiff Angel turn awkwardly adorable. He leaned in and gave Cas a kiss, a wide smile appearing when he saw him blush. “Thanks, Cas, I love them,” he said as he brought the flowers to his nose.

Cas nodded and turned around, looking out over the edge of the cliff.

Dean walked up behind him and wrapped his arms around his waist. His chin dropped to Cas’s shoulder as he took in the view. “This place isn’t so bad,” Dean mused as he gave Cas a gentle squeeze.

They stood like that for a while, Dean standing behind Cas, his arms wrapped around his waist. And Cas clutching Dean’s hands, his head leaning back and resting against Dean’s shoulder as they watched the sun slowly dissolve into the bright green landscape below them. Birds soared through the air and on the ground they saw a herd of wild horses running.

“Dean, look!” Cas exclaimed as he pointed at the horses.

“I see them,” Dean laughed, amused at how Cas could go from a warrior to almost childlike at the sight of something that excited him. But it was rare for them to be alone and have a moment where they weren’t fighting for their life or a monster of some kind. They never had a chance to sit back and enjoy life. Fear was always close on their radar, and when they returned home, he had another fear he now had to worry about. Fear of losing Cas in the way he had him right now. He found himself afraid of leaving this place. Leaving here and returning home only for them to get caught up in always fighting something that they would rarely get opportunities like this, and then to have this intimate connection slowly dissipate. He began to fear that getting his hopes up like this wasn’t going to be worth it in the end. Things never seemed to work out for any of them.

“Dean, this is nice,” Cas said, pulling his arms around him tighter.

“Yes, yes it is.” Dean kissed him softly on the neck.

Thirty minutes later, they were lying on their backs, staring up at the stars in the sky. Cas had one leg draped over Dean’s, his bare foot constantly rubbing against his, and every once in a while he would brush against a sensitive spot that tickled. Dean would jerk back and Cas would smile but wouldn’t stop. Dean’s hair had grown out enough that Cas was able to twirl strands around his fingers. As he did this, he hummed a soft tune in his ear. It wasn’t lost on him that it was always a Led Zepplin song, which tugged at Dean’s heart.

“The stars are so much brighter here,” Dean said as he stared absently into the clear sky.

“Yes, this world has remained untouched by man. It’s pure. We’ll until we showed up,” Cas said, his fingers twirling aimlessly in Dean’s hair.

Dean rolled over onto his side, facing Cas. He studied his lips for a minute, contemplating how to say what was on his mind.

“What’s the matter, Dean?” Cas asked, his finger pausing mid twirl in his hair.

Meeting Cas’s eyes, he said, “Are you afraid of how things will be between us when we get home?”

Cas’s eyebrows drew in when he asked, “Why would I be afraid? I love you, Dean. The only thing I was scared of was you not letting yourself love me the same way. What else is there to be afraid of?”

Dean looked away from his questioning eyes. “Everything,” he said simply.

Cas readjusted himself so that he could look Dean straight in the face. He placed one hand on his cheek, forcing him to look at him. “Dean, are you afraid to be with me? Of what people might think?”

Dean’s eyes widened in panic. “No, Cas. I’m not afraid of being with you. I’m…” His eyes danced around. He was never good with expressing his feelings. “I’m afraid of losing what we have in this moment right now. How can we keep this when we’re always fighting to stay alive or trying to save people? Here, it’s just us. Back home, we’re hunters. Our love can be used against us even more now.” The more he talked about his feelings, the more he began to fidget. “I don’t know, man,” he started, and then shoved a hand in his hair in frustration. “Maybe we’re just kidding ourselves here.”

Cas’s face softened at the realization of Dean’s words and he reached out, tenderly placing his hand on Dean’s leg to still his nervous jitters. “But you know you’re wrong about that, right, Dean? We’ll make time for us. You’ll see. There’s no need to make things more complicated than they are. And we’ve been pitted against each other from the start and always find our way back to each other. I have faith we always will.” Cas pulled him close, now feeling fearful that Dean would pull back when they got home in order to keep himself from getting hurt. He rocked him gently as he kissed the top of his head and told himself he wouldn’t let that happen.

Dean looked up and gave Cas a kiss, wanting a distraction from the fear that was riding shotgun in his mind at the moment. Cas’s lips felt good, and when he opened his mouth to let him in, Dean immediately found comfort when their tongues collided. Their kiss felt different this time. It was urgent, almost as if they both felt their time here was coming to an end. And both fearful of what was ahead. Cas thrust his hands into his hair, gently tugging the longer strands, and Dean gripped his hips and pulled him closer. He couldn’t have him close enough. Any space between them felt too far.

Cas pulled back, breaking their kiss. “Dean,” he began and pulled his bottom lip into his mouth as he thought about his words.

“Yes?” Dean said, wondering what the Angel had on his mind.

“We’ve known each other for a long time, and I feel like this is our last night here in this place. But I just want you to know that…” he paused and looked away for a second. When he brought his blue eyes back to Dean’s, he said in a low voice, “I love you, no matter what happens between us, I love you more than you’ll ever know.” His eyes dropped, and he looked defeated, almost like he was already giving up. He didn’t want to sound uncertain, because he had never been more certain about his feelings for Dean, but he could feel Dean’s fear and it was overwhelming him. No matter what he did to prove himself to Dean, he never did the right thing, and he was afraid he would fail at this too.

Anger stirred in Dean at the look on Cas’s face. He needed Cas to be strong, because he knew when it came to letting people in, he was weak. “Cas, don’t you dare do this,” Dean said, his tone turning stern.

Cas looked up at him in confusion. “Do what, Dean?”

“Disappear like you always do when things get tough.” Dean looked him square in the eye, daring him to even acknowledge that that was on his mind.

“And you’re perfect, Dean? As if you never push me away when you’re angry or hurt or feeling any kind of emotion in the least bit?” Cas challenged, his tone was rimmed in anger even though he didn’t want to be angry at Dean. But he was feeling all these emotions that he wasn’t used to and it was clouding his judgment.

Dean stood and began to pace. “I’ve always been there for you, Cas,” Dean spat out.

“Yes, you have. And I, you,” Cas countered. He stood, hands resting on his hips as he watched Dean pace angrily.

“So you’re saying we’re just going to return home and fall right back into the same old routine? When things get tough, you’ll disappear, and I’ll get angry and lash out at you? Well, that’s just great, Cas. That’s exactly what I’m talking about.”

“Dammit, Dean, will you stop pacing?” Cas said and reached out to grab his arm.

Dean stopped and stared at him, wanting to pull him into a hug and also wanting to jerk his arm out of his grasp. They stared at each other, both contemplating their next move, when suddenly he was being shoved backwards, his feet almost tripping beneath him. In one swift motion, one of Cas’s hands was gripping his shoulders as he pinned him up against the tree, the other one was clamped against his mouth. The intensity of his blue eyes as they bore into Dean’s was disturbing.

“We are being watched. You need to be ready, okay?” Cas whispered through clenched teeth.

Dean gave a slight nod and Cas slowly removed his hands. They both calmly pulled out their weapons as they discreetly scanned their surroundings. It was hard to see with the sun almost gone now. The most they could make out were dark shadows dancing around the woods. As soon as Cas said, “To your left!” a large beast, resembling a black panther, jumped out of a line of trees and charged towards them. It drew back a large paw and swatted at Dean. He darted back and the cat just barely missed him.

“Dean, watch out!” Cas yelled as the cat lunged at Dean again.

Just as Cas ran towards Dean, the cat’s paw plunged into Dean, knocking him to the ground. The cat jumped on top of him and sank its teeth into his neck. The loud scream that Dean let out echoed throughout the night, piercing every ounce of Cas’s core, and he felt his heart ricochet in his chest. Cas dug his hands into the animal’s thick fur and, with all of his strength and then some, pulled the cat off of Dean. A beam of light from the bright moon that now hovered overhead shone down around them and Cas vaguely caught sight of blood pooling around Dean’s body, but his focus right now was to kill the animal. The anger that he felt surged through his body, making each vein ignite into a fiery, red glow. He wielded his blade and swung it out at the cat. The cat tried to swat the blade out of his hands, but Cas held onto it, striking its right leg. It hissed, baring its teeth and flattening its ears before lunging forward at Cas.

The cat jumped on him, its claws digging into his skin. He felt the hard ground beneath his back and he knew this would be the end of them if he didn’t fight with everything he had. He knew he had to let go of the fear of losing Dean or he’d never win this battle. His hands were pressing against the cats neck trying to keep its mouth away from him. As saliva dripped down onto his face, he removed one hand and searched the ground for his sword. The cats mouth inched closer and Cas felt his arm losing strength. Just when he thought he couldn’t hold the cat off any longer, his fingers wrapped around his blade. He let out a snarl as he shoved the blade into the belly of the cat. The animal wailed and Cas felt hot blood trickle down onto his body. Breathing hard, he pushed the large cat off of him, and crawled over to Dean.

“Dean!” Cas screamed as he cradled his face in his hands. He quickly covered the gaping wound on his neck with his hand, and sighed with relief when he felt his angelic powers begin to heal. White light blazed from his hand, and when the wound vanished, Dean opened his eyes and sucked in a large breath.

“Cas?” Dean asked as he tried to see Cas clearly in the dark. When his vision finally adjusted, he squinted and said, “Hey, why are you crying?” His hand reached up and wiped away fresh tears that were streaming down Cas’s face.

Cas helped Dean sit up and pulled him into a hug. He held him tight as tears continued to quietly fall. With his body shaking, he said, “Because I thought I’d lost you just as we had truly found each other.” He pulled back and looked into Dean’s eyes for a second and then pressed his lips desperately against his. Cas broke the kiss and said, “Dean, you don’t have to worry about me disappearing again. I’m never leaving your side no matter what happens.” He gave a slight nod and added, “I want to be with you. I’m all in.”

The corner of Dean’s mouth quirked up at the amount of emotion Cas was showing. He had been showing more and more emotion throughout the years, but never anything like this. He reached out and cupped his face and said, “I’m all in, too.”

As soon as their lips pressed together to seal their proclamation of love, there was a loud pop of air and a flash of white light.

And then, they were gone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 6

Heading Home

 

 

 

 

A flash of light appeared before they did, and before they knew what was happening, they were falling onto the floor of the closet. They both rolled several times and Dean felt his head slam into something before they came to a stop.

“Ouch!” Dean groaned and looked up to see Cas once again on top of him.

“Sorry, Dean,” Cas said, and as he leaned down and gave him a light kiss, they heard a loud squeal behind them. They both turned their heads and saw the girl, Heather, bouncing up and down in excitement.

“It’s about time you guys came out of the closet,” Sam said with a smirk. He was leaning back in a chair, his legs resting on a coffee table, and his arms crossed as he stared down at them.

“Excuse me, but we were in some fantasy land fighting freaking monsters and riding a damn unicorn. And why the hell are you just sitting there? Did you not look for us?” Dean asked as he took Cas’s hand and stood.

Sam laughed and said, “That’s not what I was talking about. It’s about time you guys finally admit your feelings. You don’t know how many times I’ve wanted to lock you two in the closet myself and not let you out until you’ve admitted it.”

Dean cocked an eyebrow. “You’ve known this whole time?”

Smiling, Sam stood and said, “Uh, yeah, it’s plain as day, Dean. Anyway, I saw the piece of paper on the table with the address you’d jotted down, and when Heather finally admitted her plan, I was all in.”

Dean finally looked at the girl, Heather, remembering her pressing her hand against the symbol and telling them they would thank her later. “So, you put a curse on us?” Dean asked.

The girl shifted nervously and said, “No, it’s not a curse, exactly. It’s a spell that sent you guys to that land, but the only way you’d come out was if you both truly had those feelings for each other deep down. If you didn’t, then…”

Dean held up his hand and said, “Wait, so you’re saying that we’d be stuck in that place if we didn’t truly love each other that way?”

The girl nodded.

Dean turned to Sam. “And you were all in? Dude, what if we never came out?”

Sam waved him off. “I had no doubt that you guys would come back home,” Sam said.

Running a hand through his hair, Dean said, “Well, you’re lucky it all worked out. And how long were we gone?”

“You’ve been gone five days,” Sam said.

“Awesome,” Dean said and then looked at Cas.

Cas pushed past Dean and reached his hand out to the girl. She stared down at it and then hesitantly shook it. “Thank you,” Cas said and added, “I was worried it would never happen, but you helped us conquer our fears of letting each other in.”

Dean squeezed Cas’s shoulder and said, “Yes, thank you, now we’d better get going before things turn even more strange.”

Clasping a hand on Dean’s shoulder, Sam said, “A unicorn?”

Heading towards the door, Dean paused, tilted his head back, and looked up at the ceiling. “Don’t ask.”

Laughing and shaking his head, Sam followed them to the hallway, wishing he could’ve seen them riding a unicorn.

The girl showed them out and Dean turned to Sam. “How did you get here? Because I’m pretty sure we went through a force field of some kind

“I let him in,” Heather said. “I wanted him to be a part of this because it wouldn’t be complete without all three of you here. I just can’t wait to see it all canon on the show for season 13.”

Dean’s green eyes widened. “The show?”

“Yeah, you know, Supernatural?” Sam reiterated.

“Ah, that’s right, the show Supernatural. We’ll be looking forward to that, too.” Dean gave her a wink and followed Cas down the steps to Baby.

Sam stopped at the side of Cas’s truck that he’d borrowed. “This is nice,” he said as his eyes dropped down to their hands that were now intertwined.

The gesture had been so natural that he hadn’t given it a second thought. “Okay, okay, let’s go home,” he said rolling his eyes and giving Cas’s hand a squeeze.

 

 

Thirty minutes later, Dean walked out of Cas’s room carrying an old record player.

“Dean, what are you doing?” Cas asked as he followed behind him.

Looking over his shoulder, Dean said, “Bringing your stuff into my room.”

Cas paused in the doorway and watched Dean sit his record player on top of his dresser. His eyebrows pulled together as he asked. “Why?”

Dean stopped what he was doing and looked up at Cas. Even though he was tired, the confused look on his face made him smile. “Because I don’t want you all the way down the hall when you can be right here.” He waved a hand around the room. “Is that okay?”

Cas took a step inside Dean’s room and headed to the record player. His back was to Dean as he ran his hand along the edge and then moved his fingers around the vintage player. Suddenly Led Zepplin’s song, Thank You, played softly in the room. When he turned around and saw Dean smiling, he said, “Yes, it’s completely alright for me to stay in here. As long as you’re okay with me playing Led Zepplin at night?”

The corner of Dean’s mouth twitched into a proud smile. “I guess you liked that tape I made for you?”

“Very much so. I now know all the words to every song on there.” Cas took a seat on the bed as he began mouthing the words to the song while nodding his head.

“Well, I’m pretty sure I can deal with that.” Dean took his shirt and pants off and climbed into his bed in just a pair of black boxers. He leaned back onto the bed and stared up at the ceiling. His thoughts drifted to the girl, Heather, and her deal. He was thankful for the eye opening experience, but it also hurt him to know that if she hadn’t stepped in, they wouldn’t be where they are now. Why had they both been so stubborn to let themselves feel this?

“What’s the matter, Dean? You look troubled,” Cas said as he slid one leg onto the bed and turned towards him.

“Just thinking. Why don’t you shut the lights off and come lay down with me. I’m beat.”

Cas looked down at his clothes and said, “Um, Dean…”

“Yeah, Cas?”

“I don’t normally sleep so I don’t have any pajamas,” Cas said.

There was a hint of embarrassment hiding in his voice and Dean couldn’t help but think how cute it was. “You can borrow mine. There’s sweat pants and a t shirt in the dresser.”

“Thanks, Dean,” Cas said as he pulled a drawer open and began to look through it. He pulled out what he needed, slipped his trench coat off, and draped it across a chair. He undressed and pulled on a pair of red flannel sweat pants and one of Dean’s old, faded AC/DC shirts. He turned the lights off and slid into bed next to Dean.

Seeing Cas in his old band shirt tugged at Dean’s heart. “Are you sure you don’t mind laying here with me?” Dean asked.

“No, of course not. I am surprised you asked though,” Cas said as he pulled the covers up to his neck.

“Even though we were fighting for our lives in that weird land, I slept better next to you than I have my entire life. It was nice and I don’t want it to stop.”

“You’re probably regretting all those nights you turned me down when I said I’d watch over you, aren’t you?” Cas said, his voice was laced with sarcasm and he gave a little laugh.

Dean pulled the pillow out from beneath his head and swatted Cas with it.

Cas jerked in surprise as the pillow slammed against his face. “Dammit, Dean!” he yelled, and then pulled his own pillow out, hitting Dean with it.

“Cas, I’m warning you…” Dean threatened. A smile tugged at the corners of his mouth but he kept his tone even so Cas wouldn’t know.

“Warning me about what, Dean? This?” Cas said and then swung the pillow at his face, again.

Dean’s arm shot out, trying to block the blow, but Cas was too fast. The pillow smacked him in the face again and suddenly they were both swinging the pillows at each other at full force. Just as Dean thought he had a second to snatch the pillow from Cas, he’d get blindsided by another shot. It didn’t help that the light was off and he could barely see a few inches in front of him. His head whipped back as Cas got another shot in. “How are you a pro at pillow fights, dammit,” Dean cursed as he threw his arm up to shield another blow. Cas was really getting into this, he thought.

“You started this, Dean,” Cas corrected as he swung again.

“Ouch, that one hurt!” Dean yelled as he swung his pillow. He laughed when he felt it make contact against the side of Cas’s face.

“Dean!” Cas growled.

The lights suddenly flicked on and they both froze mid swing and looked up. They wore the same shocked expression as they sat on their knees facing each other, pillows dangling from their hands, and feathers falling onto the bed and into their hair. Dean swatted a feather away from his face and watched it fall on top of his leg.

“Dean, are you okay?” Sam stood there motionless as he took in the scene. Dean’s bare chest was heaving from the adrenaline and he looked down to notice he was only wearing boxer shorts. Cas was out of his trench coat and wearing Dean’s old shirt, his hair was mussed up, and the covers were strewn all over the bed. He just stood there for a moment, not sure what to do or say. “Um, oh my God, I’m sorry. I thought something was attacking you. I mean, like a monster or something. Um, I’m going to go to my room.” He ducked his head, switched off the light, and shut the door before quickly heading to his room.

Dean and Cas sat there for a minute before they burst out laughing.

“I call truce,” Dean said as he tossed his pillow back into its spot.

“Alright, truce,” Cas agreed as he brushed the loose feathers off the bed and laid down.

Dean fluffed his pillow and groaned.

“What’s the matter?” Cas asked, tossing a look over at Dean.

“I’m pretty sure most of the feathers on the bed were from my pillow,” he said with a huff.

“Come here,” Cas urged as he tugged on his arm. “You can rest your head on my chest.”

Dean let himself be pulled by Cas and settled against him, his head resting on Cas’s chest. He sat there listening to his heart beat and felt Cas’s fingers begin to twirl in his hair. Evidently playing with his hair was something Cas enjoyed doing. He figured it must be just as relaxing to him as it was to Dean.

The last thing Dean remembered was Cas kissing the top of his head.

 

He awoke the next morning to an empty bed. Groaning, he got up, dressed, and headed into the kitchen.

“It’s about time, sleeping beauty. I thought I might have to come kiss you to wake you up or send Cas in to do it,” Sam said with a laugh.

“Funny,” Dean said. He turned when he heard Sam erupting into laughter. “What?” he asked as he cocked his head in confusion.

“Um, you have pieces of feathers in your hair,” Sam said as he pointed towards the back of Dean’s head.

Dean brushed the feathers out of his hair, giving Sam an annoyed glare. “Shut up,” he said.

“So, pillow fight or a weird game of foreplay?” He waved his hand and said, “Never mind, I really don’t want to know the answer to that. I don’t know why I asked, other than the fact that it was a really strange scene to witness that I still can’t unsee. I’m pretty sure I had nightmares about it last night.”

“No, it wasn’t some kinky foreplay,” Dean said as he leaned against the counter and crossed his arms.

“Ah, so you and Cas had a pillow fight before bedtime,” Sam said laughing.

“You, shut it right now,” Dean said, pointing his finger at Sam. He looked around the kitchen and asked, “Where’s Cas?”

Sam shrugged and said, “I don’t know. There was a note on the table that said he had some business to take care of and he’d be back.”

Dean froze as every other time Cas had left plummeted in his mind. The scenario never came out good. They hadn’t even been home more than twenty four hours and Cas was already gone “taking care of things” by himself. What on earth did he have to go take care of? He pulled out his cell phone and began pacing his kitchen. Cas’s automated voice came on directing him to make his voice into a mail and Dean tossed the phone onto the table. “Dammit!”

“Dude, I’m sure he’s fine,” Sam said reassuringly.

Dean stared at him. “Like he’s always fine every other time he vanishes?” He began pacing again and said, “Dammit, he promised me he wouldn’t disappear like this again.”

Sam’s eyes widened. “He did?”

“Yeah, he did. Looks like he can’t keep promises, though.”

They both looked up when they heard the door open. Cas came down the stairs, holding two sacks in each hand. He sat the sacks down on the counter and smiled wide as he walked up to Dean. He paused when he saw the look on his face. “What’s the matter? Did something happen?”

Dean sighed, feeling ridiculous at his earlier thoughts. “Nothing. I just thought…” He paused and looked away.

Cas walked towards him, his feet stopping inches from Dean’s, and said, “Dean, I promised you I wouldn’t disappear again, and I won’t. I went to buy food to make you breakfast.”

Dean finally looked into Cas’s blue eyes. “You what?” he asked, one brow raised in question.

Cas held up a finger, walked over to the sacks, and pulled something out. He slipped off his trench coat and pulled something red over him. He turned around and grinned, pointing at his stomach. Sam burst out laughing and Dean just stood there dumbfounded. “What do you think? The cashier insisted that I buy it,” he said, still smiling.

Shaking his head, Dean walked up to him and read what was on the front of the apron out loud. “Kiss the Cook.” He shrugged and said, “Okay, I can do that.” He leaned in and gave Cas a tender kiss. He pulled away and rested his forehead against his and said, “Don’t ever scare me like that again. Just tell me when you’re going out, okay.”

Cas nodded. “Okay.”

“Now, make me breakfast, I’m starving,” Dean said. He pulled Cas into him, pressing another kiss against his lips.

Sam coughed and they broke their kiss and stared at him.

“What? I’m hungry, too,” he said with a shrug.

Cas turned and began making breakfast. As he cracked the eggs, he began to hum the tune to Led Zepplin’s, Whole Lotta Love. Dean smiled, recognizing it was one of the song’s from the mixtape he’d given him, and realizing they both had a Whole Lotta Love for each other.