Dean stumbled into the main room of the bunker, holding one hand to his pounding head as he used the other to make sure that he didn't fall into anything. The only thing he could focus on was his intense desire for coffee and medicine, cursing his overindulgence in liquor the night before even as he knew that he would do it again. He noticed a dark shape leaning over a lit laptop as he passed the main room, but he didn't have the brain capacity to process that piece of information yet, so his mind filed it away for later.
As soon as he made it through his first cup of coffee and poured his second, he remembered seeing someone sitting at the main table in the dark, staring at a laptop. Groaning, he fished around in the cabinet over the coffee maker for medicine before heading out of the kitchen. He spotted Sam as soon as he entered the main room, and it was clear that the taller hunter had not even noticed him. "Sam, you're working early."
His younger brother didn't even flinch, hazel eyes glued to his computer screen. "No, haven't gone to bed just yet."
"Sammy, it's seven in the morning. You've usually gone out running by now and had one of your green milkshake breakfast things."
"Yeah, haven't had the chance yet."
Dean sat down beside his brother, leaning close enough to see the screen, but it didn't look familiar and there weren't any pictures of demons or monsters. "What are you researching?"
"It's not research," Sam replied, finally deigning to look up from his screen. "It's, uh, stories."
"What kind of stories?"
"I don't think you would like them."
"Sam, I am too hungover to play twenty questions with you. What are you reading?"
"Fanfics." Dean narrowed his green eyes as his brother paused, determined to get a straight answer without any further prompting. A moment later, Sam relented. "They're stories written by fans of a tv show, book series, or something similar, and there are easily millions of them with anywhere from a handful to hundreds of thousands per fandom. I've read a few hundred short ones over the past few days and a couple of longer ones. I kinda got caught up in one of those last night and wanted to see how it ended."
Dean tightened his fingers around his coffee cup, already sensing that he was not going to like where this was going. "Sam, what show are you reading these fanfics for?"
"So, do you remember how we told Chuck not to publish the rest of his Supernatural books?"
"Yeah. Now that we know who he really is, you gotta admit that was kinda ballsy."
"Uh, yeah, and since he is, you know, God, apparently he didn't listen to us." Sam clicked a few things on his computer, switching to his Amazon account and turning the screen so Dean could see it. There was a screen full of those Supernatural books, all of them with titles that the older hunter did not recognize. He reached out and tapped Sam's screen, opening the product page for the one called "Sacrifice", eyes riveted on the cover image of thousands of bright meteor-like lights falling from dark clouds behind a run-down church where the book characters Sam and Dean were leaning against the Impala.
"He published them."
"He published all of them, up to the moment he and Amara left and you didn't die. It looks like the last few books were officially published by our friendly neighborhood crazy fan. Our old friend Becky is apparently now in charge of Chuck's estate and she sent me an email when the final books were published. She also sent me the kindle versions of the books from all eleven seasons and strongly encouraged me to read them."
"Dude, I have no idea why you would want to read about our lives."
"Chuck writes us very well," Sam admitted. "You should read 'Sacrifice'; it's been proclaimed his best book since 'Swan Song'."
"Which one is 'Swan Song'?"
"The end of season five. It's the book where Michael and Lucifer fight and I drop both of them into the Cage."
Dean frowned and nodded. "Yeah, that's the last one he released originally, right?" He paused with his coffee cup halfway to his mouth. "Sam, what does this have to do with those fanfics you mentioned?"
"Well, when we first read them eight or so years ago, there was only one popular pairing."
Dean raised his hand, shaking his head. He remembered. Wincest. "Gross, man."
"I agree." Sam tapped the screen on his computer, switching back to the webpage he had been reading before Dean entered the room. "You'll be happy to know that Wincest is no longer the top Supernatural pairing. Since the release of seasons four through eleven, a new pairing has taken over the fandom and makes up fully a third of fics on the two main websites."
"Yeah. Supernatural has approximately three hundred thousand fics—"
"Whoa, hold up." Dean raised his hand, pausing for a long moment as he struggled to process that piece of information. "There are three hundred . . . thousand of these stories . . . about the books . . that Chuck wrote . . . about us."
"Yeah. On these two sites." Amused at his brother's incredulous tone, Sam clicked a few things in his browser, turning the screen so Dean could see it easier. "And a hundred thousand are Destiel. That beats Wincest by more than thirty thousand."
"Destiel? You mean me and Cas? Seriously? They know that we aren't together, right?"
"Oh, yeah, they know. Generally the fics start with you repressing your feelings and Cas being confused about human emotions. Generally they end with you two . . . together."
"Sam . . ."
Sam raised a hand, surrendering in the face of his brother's disapproval. "They're pretty good, you know. I mean, Chuck wrote your unhealthy emotional repression and Cas's attempts to be close to you really well, but these fans are running with that subtext."
"Don't say subtext," Dean groaned, remembering the Supernatural play they had helped with a couple of years earlier and Marie's "you can't spell subtext without S-E-X" comment. "Wait, is there a book about us helping those girls with their play?"
"Uh, yeah. It's actually called 'Fanfiction'. Do you want to read it?"
Dean finished his last gulp of coffee, feeling the medicine he took finally silencing the pounding in his head. "I'm guessing that if I don't read one of the books, you'll make me read one of those fanfics."
"Oh yeah. That's happening."
"Give me the book, then. I'll read it."
Sam apparently had "Fanfiction" in paperback, so he ran to the library and found it, bringing it back to his brother proudly. Dean sighed, took the book, and returned to the kitchen, determined to have some breakfast before he tackled the story.
As soon as the older hunter was gone, a raven-haired shadow detached itself from the library doorway, bright blue eyes meeting Sam's sadly. Cas had left his trench coat in his room, and his dark suit was perfect camouflage in the sparsely-lit early morning bunker. "Look, I got him to read one of the books. He isn't ready for the fanfics yet."
"I noticed you didn't tell him how many of those hundred thousand fics you wrote."
Sam tilted his head. "I also neglected to mention how many of them you beta'd for me." Cas's lips twitched in the slightest of a smile, and he inclined his head in surrender. "He's not ready for the fics yet, man." Cas dropped his eyes to the floor, something inside him deflating as he stepped away. "Cas, don't be upset. I told you that I can help him get over this severe emotional repression problem, as long as you are ready when he cracks."
"I've been ready for eight years," the angel growled, clenching his fists at his side. "I have tried every way I know to show him and tell him how I feel, but he refuses to hear me. I don't know what else to do."
"This will work. I promise."
Castiel nodded and turned to return to his room, pausing as he remembered something that Sam had mentioned to Dean earlier. "You didn't tell him about the Sam pairings on those fanfic websites, I noticed."
Sam blushed and turned back to his computer, running his fingers through his hair nervously. "Yeah, apparently I have a new popular one, though Wincest is still the top for Sam."
"What do they call it? Sabriel?"
"You know, I have never had relations with your brother."
"The fans seem to have a different idea about that."
"Cas, Gabriel has been dead for seven years. When did I have time to really get to know him? The only time we really got along was the day he fought Lucifer."
"I happen to be a fan of Sabriel," Cas replied, finally offering Sam the slightest of a smile. "Much better than that Sastiel nonsense. Samstiel? Whichever."
Sam snorted and switched back to his word processor, opening his latest unfinished fanfic and quickly reading through the last chapter he wrote to decide what he wanted to type next.
Sam noticed over the next few weeks that his collection of Supernatural books was raided, with "Fanfiction" being returned and others being taken, surprisingly in order starting with "The French Mistake" and moving on from there. They took a couple of cases together, Castiel joining them on the second one, but in general they were able to relax in the bunker. Sam noticed that Dean kept watching Cas when he thought the angel wasn't looking, first just once in a while, then more frequently the more books he read. The angel didn't seem to notice, but Sam was keenly aware of where his brother's attention was straying more and more often.
Dean was reading the books at an incredible speed. Sam guessed that he was skimming through some of the parts that he remembered and reading the more intense emotional scenes and the things he wasn't there for. Sam published three more fanfics by the time Dean finally reached the end of season eleven, sitting peacefully at the library table and typing away while his brother hungrily burned through the last few pages of "Alpha and Omega". He seemed to pause at one point, brows furrowed as he reread a few passages, and Sam wondered what scene had him so entranced. He finished the last page and closed the book, green eyes rising to meet his brother's as he tried to decide what he wanted to say.
"What is it, Dean?" Sam couldn't stand the silence, and his brother's stare was preventing him from focusing on his fanfic.
"Is this really how people see us? The fans, Becky, the publisher, those cosplayer people we met at that convention; do they think of us like this?"
"Yeah, pretty much. It's why they like us so much."
"I still don't get how fans can see this great unrequited love between me and Cas just from reading these books."
Sam sensed that his brother was hooked, but he had to play this very carefully if he had any chance of helping Cas. His first instinct was to roll his eyes at how dense Dean could be sometimes, and how much he ignored everything the angel did to prove his love. His second instinct was to introduce Dean to Tumblr and the insane undercurrent of Supernatural fan art that pervaded the site, but he wasn't sure if risqué pictures of the hunter and the angel or insightful philosophical analyses of the nature of the Destiel relationship would help him at all. So, he settled on his third instinct, which was to treat Dean like a frightened animal just looking for any way out of whatever cage he locked his deepest emotions inside.
"Sure, I can see that," Sam soothed. "I kinda felt the same way you did, so I looked up some of the fanfic sites to try to get a better understanding of their mindset. Let's ignore Becky, who is apparently a die-hard Wincest fan, but there are some pretty great fics featuring other OTPs that might be safe."
"What the hell is an OTP?"
Sam raised his hands, using his most comforting voice in an attempt to keep Dean from getting riled up. "It just means One True Pairing. Every fan has their own idea of who would make the perfect couple, canon or not, and they ship those characters together."
"Okay, I am learning some of those words. Canon means a couple that's the show, right? And ship is short for relationship. So Destiel would be one of these OTPs."
Sam nodded. "The most popular," he added helpfully.
Dean nodded in acceptance. "Okay, I think I can live with that. I'll just do what I did when I was reading the books; I'll take myself out of the story and pretend that I am reading about someone else."
"That's how I do it," Sam answered, an undertone of encouragement in his voice. "If you bring your laptop in here, I'll show you a few of my favorite stories. I promise you, they're pretty tame compared to some of the stuff you would find on your own."
Dean nodded and headed to his room, returning a few moments later with his laptop. Sam showed him the two websites where he could read fanfics, setting the filters on both to limit him to Destiel and keep him away from any pairings he would not like. After saving those settings, he opened a few of his favorite stories in other tabs, bookmarking them so Dean would be able to find them later if he didn't read them all in one sitting. Sam was careful not to point Dean toward any fics that he and Cas had written, not wanting his brother to know how much they were trying to manipulate him. Taking a deep breath to steel himself against anything he might find in these fanfics, Dean began to read.
The hunters settled into a peaceful pattern, one reading fanfics while the other wrote them, sitting in companionable silence at the table or nesting in their separate rooms. Castiel, his own laptop in hand, a gift from Sam, often joined them at the table, glad to be reading something other than books on monsters. He would watch Dean surreptitiously out of one eye for hours, looking away if the hunter noticed, but Sam couldn't help but contemplate their lack of interaction. The angel was desperate for attention from his charge, but even these fanfics did not seem to be having the effect that he and Cas had been looking for. He wondered if there was anything else he could do to help Dean.
Castiel stretched out on his bed, waving his hand at the radio to switch it on and turn it to his favorite old rock station. He knew that he was attracted to the music because Dean liked it so much, and he always thought about the hunter when rock music started to play. He closed his eyes and struggled against the tingly sadness in his chest and the tears that threatened to roll down his cheeks. His eyes flew open in shock as someone slammed into his room, pushing himself into a sitting position as Dean closed his door and stopped at the foot of his bed, green eyes whirling with more emotions than Cas thought he could categorize.
They stared at each other for a few long minutes, the tears that Cas had been trying to hold back leaking out, and he struggled to get a hold of his emotions. Slowly, Dean sat down on the edge of his bed, reaching out to wipe away Cas's tears, his fingers lingering on his cheek. "How long have you been writing Destiel fanfics?"
"I don't write them, Sam does," Cas argued, his voice breaking as he lost what little control he had been able to hold onto over the past few weeks since Dean started reading those same fics. He had no idea that Dean had found any of the ones that Sam had written, reasonably certain that the younger hunter had very carefully hidden them from his brother. "I just proofread them and flesh out some of the more emotional scenes."
"But you do write your own feelings and thoughts, or you at least tell him what to write, yeah?" Cas nodded a confirmation, dropping his eyes and steeling himself for the rejection or anger that he had come to expect from the elder Winchester. "The, uh, the story that you two wrote about your fall from Heaven, were you really thinking about me? Newly human, your grace stolen and your siblings falling from the sky as a shower of meteors, were you thinking about me?"
Cas nodded, struggling to keep his breathing steady. "I thought about how I let you down. You were right about Naomi and Metatron, and the angels fell because I didn't listen."
"Cas, the 'you' in that fic said that he deserved to be human, that he deserved to be hungry and cold and homeless because his fellow angels had lost their home and were suffering. Did you really feel like that?"
"I did deserve it, Dean. And after you threw me out of the bunker, I knew that you blamed me as much as I blamed myself."
Castiel gasped as Dean jerked him forward into a tight embrace, the hunter's breathing ragged as he tangled his fingers in the angel's raven hair. "Cas, it's not your fault. I don't blame you and I never did. I sent you away because Gadreel threatened to kill Sam, but I never should have done that. You just wanted to help your fellow angels, and you did not deserve what Metatron did to you or to them. I am so sorry for what I said and did, and I will never let you go hungry or be without a home ever again."
He lost it. Can broke down at Dean's words, sobbing into the hunter's shoulder as he twisted his hands into the front of his flannel over shirt. Even though he had been welcomed back by the brothers, even though Heaven was open again and he had his grace back, Castiel still carried that dark ball of guilt and self-loathing, secretly certain that Dean would never be able to love him with all of the terrible things he had done. Sam hadn't known; he just thought that Cas was a good writer to turn out a scene as "angsty" as that, but the angel had poured himself into that character, hoping against hope that Dean might read it one day and forgive him. He had never expected for the hunter to say he was sorry for what had happened.
"I'm sorry I lost my grace and couldn't heal Sam," Cas sobbed, unable to control his emotions now that they had been let free. "If I had, you wouldn't have needed Gadreel."
"Cas, don't think like that," Dean answered sharply. "You didn't lose your grace; it was stolen from you. And you were amazing, adapting to humanity after spending billions of years as a 'multidimensional wavelength of celestial intent'. None of your fellow angels would have been able to survive. I can see why Chuck always liked you."
The angel smiled at that, taking a few deep breaths to silence his tears, furiously scrubbing at his cheeks as the two pulled apart. "I was happier as a human, even starving, than I ever was before I met you," he admitted. He knew that the time had come for him to admit his feelings, to say the words that Dean had always refused to hear, and he prayed to Chuck that the hunter would listen, just this once. "My life was nothing before I met you; I want you to know how much you mean to me."
Dean smiled, his eyes a brighter green than Cas had ever seen. Sam said the color was called fanfiction green, as in a color you could only see in stories. The angel was just glad that the color was real. "Yeah, I know how much you care about me. I read enough of your fanfics. How long have you been in love with me, Cas?"
"Since I gripped you tight and raised you from perdition," he replied, his voice warmer and kinder than it had been that day in the barn, but no less imposing and intimidating. Sometimes Dean forgot that his Cas was a powerful, incredibly deadly, Angel of the Lord and had killed more of his kind to protect Dean, Sam, and humanity than the hunters could ever fathom. "But it took me some time to realize it."
"Can't say I understand that. I wasn't much to love back then."
"You've always been worthy of love, Dean. I saw your soul that day, I held you within my grace and pieced you back together. Our Father ordered the angels to love humanity, and when I saw you I finally understood that command. I loved you against Zachariah, Uriel, Anna, Michael, Raphael, Naomi, and Metatron. You have been my greatest mission, my most important charge, and my salvation. Dean, I am nothing without you. I need you."
"I need you, too," the hunter whispered, reaching up to cup Cas's cheek in his hand, repeating the words that had broken the angel free of Naomi's control so long ago. Cas's heart soared at the words, at the closest Dean would probably ever come to a confession of love, but it was enough. He understood the hunter, and it was enough. Dean leaned forward first, Cas meeting him halfway in a kiss he had waited the better part of a decade for, one that was as warm and forceful as he had expected, but somehow gentler and more possessive, as well. He had never written any of the sex scenes in Sam's fics, preferring to keep his fantasies to himself, but this was more than he had ever hoped for.
Dean deepened the kiss, pushing his angel back against the bed and slipping him free of that ever-present trench coat. He pulled back, running his fingers through Cas's hair as he stared into those blue eyes he loved so much. "You know, you wear too many layers."
Cas narrowed his eyes at Dean, pushing him back so he could sit up. "I wear too many layers?" Cas roughly jerked the hunter's leather jacket off and tossed it on a nearby chair, slipping him free of his blue flannel over-shirt and gesturing for Dean to take off his gray t-shirt. "Dean, three layers down and you are still clad in a tank top."
Dean chuckled and ran his hand through his hair, pausing as he noticed the angel's eyes darken with lust as he watched the hunter unintentionally flex his muscles. He realized that Cas rarely saw him without a shirt—or three—on, and he couldn't remember seeing his angel out of his signature dark suit except for the brief time when he was human. Dean carefully gripped the bottom of his tank top and pulled it off, carelessly throwing it as far away as he could. He sat perfectly still as Cas reached out and ran tentative fingers over his abs and chest, circling the dark stain of the anti-possession tattoo above his heart. He started to relax under the gentle touch and adoration, wondering why he had never let Cas truly love him before.
Those thoughts evaporated in a sharp pinch of oddly pleasurable pain as Cas's questing fingers found his left nipple, twisting it and using it as leverage to force the shirtless hunter onto his back. He released one nipple and pinched the other, pleased at the reaction he evoked in his Righteous Man. He could feel Dean's heart pounding under his hand, a flush spreading across his chest as Cas claimed his lips once more. He would never tire of kissing this man, of holding him close, and he knew that he could never, ever let him go. Even if Dean had not expressed a desire for an intimate relationship, the angel would refuse to ever leave him again. He pulled back slightly, his eyes glowing with the slightest touch of his grace, a low growl rumbling from deep in his chest. "You're mine, Dean Winchester."
"Of course I am," the hunter whispered back. "Didn't you mark me that day you pulled me from Hell? I've always been yours."
Cas smiled and leaned down to bite the hunter's nipple, moaning as Dean jerked his hips up at the sensation. He felt Dean help him out of his suit jacket and tie, carefully unbuttoning his dress shirt and throwing it across the room. He reached down and palmed Dean through his jeans, smiling against the hunter's chest at the sharp groan he received in response.
The two men jerked as the door to Cas's room slammed open, Sam entering before he could process the scene in front of him. "Hey, Cas, have you had a chance to look over . . . that . . ." He trailed off, hazel eyes widening in shock at the sight of a shirtless angel on top of his equally shirtless brother and clearly resisting the urge to grind his hips down. "Holy fucking hell."
"Yes, Sam, that was the plan if not for your incredibly rude interruption," Cas growled, a trace of grace flaring in his eyes. "If you would be so kind as to close the door when you leave and never enter my room without permission again, I would appreciate it."
Sam nodded and backed out, unable to remove his eyes from the bed as he closed the door.
Dean chuckled and leaned up to kiss Cas's lips, tightening his arms around the angel's neck. "That was pretty hot, baby. I love it when you take control like that."
"Good." Cas popped the button on Dean's jeans, quickly sliding his zipper down and snaking his hand under the heavy material. The hunter groaned and thrust into Cas's warm palm, gasping as the angel bit down on his neck, hard. "I've waited a long time for this, Dean."
The hunter ran his fingers through Cas's hair, his fanfiction green eyes meeting the angel's blue. "I'm sorry I made you wait so long. I'm sorry I'm too stupid to see what's right in front of me."
"I don't care that I had to wait. I have you now and I am never letting you go."
Sam returned to the library and his abandoned computer, alternating between amusement and horror at what he had seen. There was a tiny, childlike part of him that was dancing for joy at seeing his brother and their resident angel getting it on at last. "One more day of UST and I might have strangled one of them."
He froze in shock at the tow-headed man sitting in front of his computer, his hair curling just at his shoulders and his golden eyes scanning the screen. He saw something that disagreed with him, and he wrinkled his nose before snorting and looking away. "There's no way I would say something like that."
"I'm pretty sure that I haven't put a single line in there that you haven't tried on me," Sam countered smoothly, reaching down to lift the archangel out of his chair so he could reclaim it, holding Gabriel gently in his lap as he got himself settled again.
The blonde archangel rested his head on Sam's shoulder, one eye still glued to the screen. "I do believe this is the first time that I've featured in one of your stories."
"I think you might be right, half-pint." Sam leaned over Gabe for his abandoned beer, frowning as he realized that it was suspiciously empty. "Really? Stealing my beer?" The archangel snapped his fingers and another one appeared, chilled and ready for the hunter. "Thanks."
Gabriel looked up as Sam downed half his beer in one swig, resting comfortably across the tall hunter's lap. "You seem a bit cheerier than usual. Where's Dean-o?"
Sam shrugged. "Under your brother at the moment. Getting his brains fucked out."
Gabriel cackled like a hyperactive child, waving his hand and causing confetti to fall from the ceiling. "I win! I win, I win!"
Sam rolled his eyes and leaned back from his computer, wrapping his strong arms around the archangel dancing on his lap and brushing the bits of paper and shiny plastic off his keyboard. He had forgotten about that bet until now. "Yes, yes, you win," he conceded. "Somehow you knew that your brother is a top, though I have no idea where you would learn that since he was a virgin before we corrupted him."
Gabriel stopped his dancing and spun around in the chair, kneeling in Sam's lap and facing him with one eyebrow raised in disbelief. "You think Cassie was a virgin? Oh kiddo, he was one of my most disobedient siblings. I must have snuck him down to Earth at least a half dozen times after I left, changing my form with my trickster powers so he wouldn't recognize me later. He took on male and female vessels, and I taught him to enjoy sex with both genders, though he did seem to have a preference for being with a man while in a male vessel. Honestly, I think he was happy when he was chosen as one of the angels for the mission to rescue Dean. He got a chance to wear a male vessel and learn to flirt."
"That was Cas flirting?"
Gabe shrugged. "I never said he was good at it. I tried to teach him what I could, but he is not the smoothest. How did he finally manage to catch himself a hunter?"
"I'm not sure, exactly. I got Dean to read through all of Chuck's recently-published books and then pointed him toward some pretty tame fanfics. Destiel, of course. I'll have to check his browsing history and see if he found something more interesting."
Gabriel wiggled his eyebrows and ran his hands down Sam's flannel-clad arms. "Maybe we'll get some ideas, eh Samsquatch?" He felt the hunter stiffen under him, and he tilted his head as he lowered himself deeper into Sam's lap. "I want a kiss."
"The bet, Sammich. I won, and I want a kiss. A proper kiss."
Sam flashed a quick grin, his hands gripped tightly on the edge of the table. "What is it with angels wanting us Winchesters?"
"You're just so damn sexy, with these big muscles and that incredibly intense streak of violence. Also, it's hard to find a human strong enough to mate with an angel."
Sam's hazel eyes widened, the green in them darkening. "You didn't say anything about mating; you just asked for a kiss."
"You're twice my size," Gabriel purred; "I have to start small." The archangel cupped the hunter's face in his hands, rubbing his thumbs over those completely unfair cheekbones before leaning in to claim his prize.
Sam wrapped his arms around the archangel, pulling him closer even as he arched up into him. It had been so long since he had been intimate with anyone, and here was this hyperactive bundle of sexual energy just begging to be fucked. How could Sam have hoped to resist? He could hear every teasing word, every flirtatious phrase that the archangel had offered him over the past few years during their secret friendship, and he found himself incredibly curious if the blonde was as good as he implied. Gabriel shifted his legs slightly, grinding his erection against Sam's thigh, and the hunter pulled back.
"You want this? With me?" His confused hazel met Gabriel's determined gold, and he could see something new there, a powerful desire that far surpassed the normal teasing he was used to dealing with. "Why?"
"Sam, I have wanted to jump your bones since the moment I met you. Why do you think I kept coming back time and again? Why do you think . . ." He trailed off, clenching his jaw as he remembered back to their first few tumultuous meetings. "Why do you think I brought Dean back? I couldn't stand to see that pain in your soul."
Sam smiled, leaning forward and resting his forehead on Gabriel's. "How long has it been since you, uh, 'mated' with a human?"
"Never have," the archangel shrugged. "Mating is more than just casual sex, and that's as far as I've gotten with humans and gods alike."
Sam grinned, reaching up to cup the archangel's face in his hands. "Well, let's see what you've got, half-pint."
It took Dean and Cas three hours to emerge from the angel's room, the hunter's hunger finally overriding his sex drive. As soon as he learned that Cas could "reset" him after every orgasm, he had taken the opportunity to try out most of his fantasies and some of the angel's. Cas had been incredibly well-informed about human sexual practices for someone who claimed to have been a virgin for eleven billion years, and Dean had begun to wonder if the angel had been entirely truthful about his celibacy.
Dean's stomach growled as he entered the library, hoping that his brother would be up to go out. "Sam?" He spotted his brother's laptop on the table, but his brother was nowhere to be seen.
A startled gasp and the sound of falling books answered him, Sam emerging from behind one of the bookshelves a minute later, clad only in his jeans, his hair sticking out in all directions. Dean glanced over his shoulder at Cas, the angel shrugging. "Hi, Dean. Uh, how's it going?"
"Fine. What the hell is going on?"
Sam cleared his throat and ran his fingers through his hair, straightening it out as he stared at his bare feet. "Not hell, exactly . . ."
Cas straightened as he sensed an intruder in the bunker, his angel blade appearing in his hand an instant later. "We're not alone."
"Wait, Cas, it's okay!" Sam caught the angel as he lunged forward, zeroing in on the sound of movement behind the younger Winchester, Dean grabbing his arm and pulling him back. They both froze as a short, blonde angel joined Sam beside the bookshelf, his own hair mussed, though at least he was wearing jeans and a shirt.
"Gabriel," Cas breathed, his angel blade vanishing as he reached out to his lost brother. "You're dead. You've been dead for years."
Gabriel shrugged and stepped forward, embracing the taller seraph. "I faked my death. I tried to kill Lucifer and I failed; I knew that his demons would be after me if I showed my head again. I thought it would be best to lay low until you guys threw him back in his cage."
"Dude, that was years ago," Dean growled, a lot less willing to forgive than his boyfriend. "We could have used you, man, to stop the Darkness. Even Lucifer stepped up to the plate for that fight. Where were you?"
Gabriel glanced over his shoulder at Sam, sighing. "Sam asked me to come. He prayed to me, begged me when I appeared to him in a dream, but I couldn't. I didn't agree with Dad when he locked Amara away the first time; I wasn't too keen on helping him make the same mistake a second time. I cloaked myself, hid so far under the radar that even Dad couldn't reach me, and I waited for you to save the world."
Cas returned to Dean's side, leaning against him gratefully as the hunter slung a comforting arm across his shoulder. "Gabriel, I needed you. I needed one sibling who didn't hate me or hunt me or try to reprogram me."
Gabriel's eyes darkened at the angel's sad, broken tone. "I'm sorry, Cas, really I am. I didn't even start visiting Sam until the angels fell and I had to find a new hiding place. I visited you for a bit when you were hunting Metatron, remember?"
"I thought that was a trick."
Gabriel shrugged. "So did he, but I slipped in. I wanted you to know that I was proud of you, of everything you've done to protect these boys."
"And why are you back now?" Dean's tone was still threatening, but slightly softer than before. He could tell that Cas wanted Gabriel around, no matter the reason, but the hunters had been burned by the trickster before.
Gabriel grinned, as energetic as always. "To see you, of course. Sam told me about baby bro's plan to snag you through the use of those stories they write, and I wanted to lend a hand."
Dean turned to the side, astounded jade green meeting sheepish azure. "That fanfic thing was on purpose? You wanted me to read them?"
"I didn't think you'd find the ones Sam wrote," Cas argued. "I just wanted you to read the books that Father wrote and maybe some of Sam's favorite stories. I didn't know how else to tell you how I feel that you would believe."
"Besides, it worked," Sam added, grinning at his older brother. "Wait, you read the stories I wrote? Which ones?"
Dean cleared his throat and glanced at his feet sheepishly. "I don't know, all of the ones under five thousand words, I guess. And that really long one about the angels falling. That's all."
Sam chuckled, reaching out to grab Gabriel's shoulder. "We were wondering what had finally pushed you into his arms. Which fic was it, specifically?"
"You know, I liked it better when we were yelling at the runaway archangel," Dean growled, crossing his arms defensively over his chest. Cas smiled and threaded one hand under his arm, gently breaking his stance and holding his hand tightly.
"Dean, which story was it?"
The hunter sighed and relented. "It was a scene in the one about the angels falling. Cas wrote a conversation that he and I had, word for word, when I kicked him out of the bunker. That wasn't in the book, and I knew where it had come from. After that, I went to the author page and found a ton more fics that were full of conversations between me and Sam or me and Cas that never happened in the books. I put two and two together."
Sam's eyes widened as he turned to glare at the angel. "You didn't tell me that the conversation was real! Cas, you asked him to kill you!"
"Not precisely," Cas argued. "I told him that I would rather die than go back to living on the streets like I had been. I told him that I could barely handle being a human and I didn't want to try it again without him."
"What the hell, Cassie?"
"Gabe, it's fine. I know now why he sent me away. At the time, he told me that the angels would find me if I stayed; they knew that I would return to Dean no matter what, and he didn't want me to go any more than I wanted to. He gave me some money and suggested some places I could try for work before driving me to the bus station."
"I told him that it was better that I didn't know where he went," Dean added, "in case an angel asked me."
"And that one scene was enough to convince you? Why did you read the rest of those stories?"
"Well, Sammy, I figured that you wrote the bulk of the narrative, but I could tell where Cas let his own feelings show. I just wanted to see how he truly felt before I asked him about it. And maybe I needed some time to work out how I felt, too."
Sam smiled at his brother, proud of him for finally opening up to the raven-haired angel. "So, you two are together now? For real?"
"Yeah," Dean answered. "But if I see this shit in a fanfic, I swear to God I will end you."
"Duly noted." Sam returned to his laptop, closing the lid before glancing at Gabriel. "Can you, um, put all of the books back?"
"Sure!" Gabriel snapped his fingers, fixing the mess behind the bookshelf as Sam's abandoned shirt appeared on the table.
Sam slipped his shirt over his head, smiling as the archangel moved to his side and wrapped his arms around the hunter's waist. "So, Dean, me and Gabe—"
"We're not talking about this," Dean interrupted. "I'm already going to have nightmares. And I had better never catch you having sex in the library again."
"Cross my heart."
"Sorry Dean-o," Gabriel added apologetically. "Heat of the moment, and all that."
Sam groaned and covered his face with his hands. "Dude, you promised not to mention that song ever again. It was a key facet of our continued friendship."
Cas snorted. "Sam, you can't really reprimand him after you said 'holy fucking hell'. That's a fanfic line, not something you actually say in real life."
Dean rolled his eyes. "Okay, we're done with all this weird bullshit. Sammy, let's take our new boyfriends out to eat, shall we? I'm starving."
Gabriel snapped his fingers, returning both himself and Sam to their former completely-clothed states, reaching over to take the hunter's hand. "You know, I'm almost fourteen billion years old, and I have never been called 'boyfriend' before."
"Yeah, well, get used to it," Sam murmured, kissing the blonde's forehead.
Dean rolled his eyes and pulled Cas toward the door, pausing at the top of the stairs as he waited for Sam and Gabe to catch up. "Hey, Sammy? Thanks for convincing me to read those books."
"Seeing you and Cas together is thanks enough. You two deserve to be happy."
"We are, Sam," Cas whispered. "We are."