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That Darn Cas! - Six Months Go By Like Nothin'

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They sat outside the psychologist’s office and stewed. Cas’s version of stewing was all glassy eyes and shallow breathing, as if he were clinically in shock. Dean’s version involved chasing imaginary pixies around the room, pacing, looking up and down, rubbing his face, sighing; then he’d repeat the performance. Cas came out of his funk twice; both times he managed to prevent himself from saying, “For the love of GOD, Dean, sit DOWN,” although the effort made him want to groan. His torpid glare said it all.

Dean did enjoy a good fuss. He spent eighty-five percent of his time trying to convince you that he was the most easy-going, low-key, tolerant, friendly-without-being-creepy guy you could ever possibly meet, and for the other fifteen percent, he was either riding your ass at work (in a collegial and rigidly non-sexual way) or being the poster hunk for mother-hen butch bi guys. It meant he had transferred his lifetime of fussing over his brother Sam onto your head for a change, in one steady, continuous stream of pleading, nagging, teasing and fattening up — for what were invariably spurious reasons.

They’d been ten minutes early, at Dean’s insistence, and Castiel could feel himself sweating, although the air conditioning worked fine. He swallowed. The waiting room was spartan, but upscale; a memory made its way up through his swamp of a mind as to what the chairs cost, back when they’d been pricing furniture for the new law office. He sighed. That had been when he had a brain and a career. Before he was mugged, and before everything changed, and before he met Dean.

He thought it seemed like a ludicrous amount of money for a curvy piece of extruded plastic and a couple of shafts of metal. Dean’s pacing was making him anxious, but it was better than the world’s most fidgety man confining himself to a chair not built for him and then bouncing around in it like a kid’s wind-up toy for the rest of their wait.

In a couple of minutes Cas would be starting a four day battery of psychological tests. Each day, for six hours, with a few breaks, a psychologist would administer tests to check some aspect of how his brain worked. Or, as was most likely, didn’t work.

The prospect was terrifying. He could have taken some comfort from Dean’s presence — if the poor guy’d only sit down.

Cas’s handwriting and copying fluency would be tested; also, his ability to take notes from lectures. There were dozens of different math tests, reading tests, comprehension tests. There were tests for his memory for instructions and numbers and tests of his balance and posture. There were puzzles and tongue twisters and a big fat dossier to fill with paperwork and notes.

At the end they (meaning Dean, and to some extent his health care plan) would have paid almost eight grand for answers. Sam and Charlie had helped him track down most of the cash that had gone missing after the assault, but Dean wanted him to hang onto it in a lump sum and let Dean ‘take care of him’.

How bad was the damage?

Dean had pushed and pushed at him to go. It was his way of being, when worried about his loved ones. He was insufferable, and the only reason he got away with it was that he’d kissed Cas and cried, and said, ‘could he be blamed for wanting to know what he’d signed up for when they’d gotten married?’ Then he’d really torn it by saying, ‘What if your test results can be used to help others?’  He was going to keep coming up with reasons and recycle old ones until he wore poor Cas down.

Cas had once been the most rapacious first seat in contract and property law that Sam, Dean’s perceptive and hard-working brother, had ever seen in court. After the mugging, he was a little lamb of a man, bleating happily and following Dean around, or so it seemed to those who didn’t know him well. That he’d been key in helping Dean find his way back to a steady moral compass was a given among people who knew them both. And he was damned near as tall as Dean, but Dean carried himself fiercely upright and broad, and Cas never put that much effort into looking manly.

Cas almost smiled, thinking about the way they’d fought and fucked their way through the discussions about the wedding. It had all been fine in the end, and if ‘the fam’ was unhappy they heard about the nuptials after they’d taken place, they’d more than gotten their revenge with the pre-party party, to which those bastards, Cas and Dean, were not invited, since they hadn’t bothered to do more than stand up in front of relatives. That was Cas’s choice and Dean was happy to comply. He had surprised Dean.

“I’m scared by organ music,” Cas said.

“Dude, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” Dean said.

“I am. I don’t think I was this way before I got mugged. I actually get shivers when I hear organ music. If I hear that Bach thingy —”

He hummed it, and then shuddered.

“It gets used for horror music a lot,” Cas said helpfully.

“Oh, I know the one, Frittata and Fugue,” Dean said.

Cas suddenly remembered the right name for it. Dean was the most wonderful man in the world, because he brought laughter with him when he came into Cas’s life, and sometimes he was funny on purpose but when he wasn’t trying he was the funniest man. Cas couldn’t help it. He snorted, and then he saw Dean’s face, since Dean had obviously figured out he’d gotten it wrong, but couldn’t tell how, and Cas flailed around, hooting with laughter, because Dean was so adorable when he was flustered and even more adorable when Cas leaped up to kiss him.

Cas would kiss Dean when Dean made him laugh. Dean would ask him why he was doing it and even the third time he did it he was still asking and that was funny too because Cas hadn’t changed his reason. Because when Dean made him laugh he was glad he had fallen in love with him all over again and he was going to kiss him to remind him how much he loved him. Dean got used to it, to the point that he’d say something he thought was funny, and then pout when Cas didn’t kiss him.

It was hard to tell what debauchery Charlie had gotten her helpers into the night before at the pre-party-party (Charlie had – of course – signed herself up for organizing the shindig) since all they did during the belated wedding reception the next day was moan about their hangovers and giggle madly every time they made eye contact, and shush each other and say things like “They must never know!” - and then they’d all cackle and honk and squeal like farm animals again and then Jody would wink and say, “Do your Kegels goils!” and the giggling and elbow-digging would all start up again, leaving both Cas and Dean out of the joke. Given how many of them came out as bisexual afterward it hadn’t been tough to hazard a guess on what shenanigans they were concealing so poorly.

“You guys are explosively and infectiously gay,” Charlie said.

“Jesus,” Dean said, “What are we, the egg sacks from Aliens?”

It had been a great reception. Dean’s friends were amazing. They had to be; all of the people Cas had thought were friends turned out not to be. And Jody had taken Mabel, which was good, because while Dean loved her, he’d turned out to be allergic to cats.

He looked at Dean, still pacing, and his lips twitched.

The door opened and Castiel, his mind suddenly blank, rose to meet the challenge of finding out exactly how stupid he really was:

With science!

 

By the end of the week he was exhausted. It was the most sustained intellectual effort he’d made since the assault, and he found himself feeling like his brain was alternately on fire and awash in rapidly drying glue. And then, maybe, that it was both dipped in glue and on fire.

Dean tried to take his mind off his troubles; after the last day he ran Cas a bath and brought him a plastic glass of wine in the tub (which he shouldn’t have been drinking, with his new drug regimen, but he knew Dean would only pour one scant glass when it was really, really needed.)

Then Dean left him alone while he made dinner. It was wonderful to feel pampered and cocooned, and when Cas dried off and got on his bathrobe he finally felt almost human.

Dean greeted him with a smile and a plate of spaghetti and meatballs.

They’d have to wait a week for the report, since it took a human being almost that long to score and interpret it.  In the meantime, Cas could continue to pretend that everything was fine, and Dean could pretend that everything could be fixed whether or not that was even possible.

 

Cas took his frustrations out on Charlie, whose deep and sisterly (and sometimes scary, boundary-less) love for Dean was not complicated by the idea that he was perfect, or even that he was anything but a forehead-smashing mega-dick when the mood hit him. Dean was at work and she’d come from a board meeting of a small local comic convention. She was in a mood to talk about anything but that, and Cas’s troubles seemed to be about the right size after hotel contract discussion had almost gotten physical, and learning that the GoH, who’d already accepted, had been kicked out of her professional association after felony interference with a minor.

 

“So what’s the deal with Dean? You two seem to be doing great.”

“He seems to think I’m a broken machine to be fixed, and that’s just not the way brains work,” Cas groused.

“There is such a thing as neuroplasticity,” Charlie said. She was relentlessly cheerful and nerdy, although her open affection softened anything he might have been offended by. “With the right combo of food, brain exercises and physical exercise, and just possibly something to run chemical interference, ie prescription meds, you can get some neuro-generation. I mean, improvement to your situation.”

Cas frowned. He was not really wanting advice about getting better. A traumatic brain injury can bring out people who love giving medical advice when the specialist isn’t listening.

Charlie saw it and misinterpreted it. “Quit worrying about Dean! The man’s insanely in love with you and will put up with damned near anything; concentrate on recovering what you can. And especially get enough exercise, all the experts say that exercise is super important, and not that slamming the mattress around stuff, although that helps. Swimming and biking and hiking, that’s the kind of stuff you should be working into.”

“When I’m not so frickin’ tired I can’t move,” Cas said. He had good days and bad days. He hadn’t gotten out of bed all day the previous Thursday, and had missed physio, which he’d started up again thanks to Dean’s health plan.

“Dean understands you have to manage your strength the best you know how.”

“I can go longer without collapsing,” Cas said hopefully. “When Dean’s around, I feel more useful.”

“You going longer without collapsing is great, really, Cas,” Charlie said, waving her hands encouragingly. “But, and I say this from a place of deep love, Dean will push until there’s nothing left and you’ll have to stand up to him — and take your rest. That’s what he’s like. He’s going to be a hard, hard person to live with when you have a chronic illness, which excuse me for speaking bluntly, is what you have. At the same time it’s easy for me to say that Dean is also the best kind of person, because once he’s attached to you he will not abandon you, it’s not his way.”

“He could do better,” Cas said quietly.

Charlie made a dismissive snort. “Kid, I’ve seen Dean with other partners and he is a different person around you, one I personally like a lot better. And Dean can’t help it. He wants to be there for you. He told me that he still forgets that he’s married to you once in a while and when he remembers he smiles, every time. That is the second most amazing thing I’ve ever hear a person say about their spouse.”

“What was the first?” Cas asked obediently.

Charlie micro-grinned, and then an expression of staring solemnity crossed her face. “Kiddo, until the Grim Reaper himself beckons me menacingly one last time, I shall never, ever forget it. My cousin leans over to me once her hubby’s out of the room and says, ‘You’re not going to believe it, but his farts don’t smell.’”

Cas burst out laughing.

Charlie maintained her solemn expression by a force of will Cas found both hilarious and Charlie-grade scary. “I didn’t believe her either - but I knew it was true love.” Her face relaxed into her normal cheerful expression. “Your body language, before and after you leave the room - the both of you - it’s a really weird place, like living poetry or something. It’s almost painful to be around you two sometimes, it’s like a forcefield of bliss. I want to know how you do it.”

“I gave up,” Cas said after a minute. “I gave up pretending he wasn’t the most important person in my life the day he came into it.”

“Oh my god, you two are something else.”

His smile from recollecting that conversation faded. Cas was still frightened. Dean had married him in spite of his disabilities, but that wasn’t what scared him. What scared him was the idea that if he started to work on being smarter, he’d turn into the person that everybody hated again. He was enjoying people liking him. It was hard to understand why the person he’d been enjoyed dominating others and winning so much, but the evidence that he had was overwhelming.

And he didn’t want to be that person any more. He’d been repellent and competitive and sarcastic and demanding and autocratic and bad-tempered and a completely self-centred germ-phobic perfectionist.

It was hard to imagine that man jamming his tongue into Dean’s ass for twenty minutes while Dean squealed and wiggled and begged for more. “Spoil me rotten,” he’d moaned into the pillow. There was something about how he’d said it that stuck in Cas’s usually porous memory.

“What are you grinning to yourself about?” Dean asked. He’d gone back for seconds on pasta and watched with affectionate amusement as Cas slowly and carefully ate.

“Rimming you,” Cas said. He speared a meatball with his fork and licked it with a questioning expression, and suddenly Dean was chuckling airlessly and the world was a better place because he’d made Dean laugh. It didn’t matter that it had been what he was thinking about.

“Remind me never to ask you that question at mealtimes,” Dean said, voice shaking slightly.

“It made me think of something to try, though,” Cas said.

“God help me, I’m suddenly scared to ask,” Dean said.

Cas said, his mouth full of meatball, “I was thinking of pushing ben-wa balls into your ass with my tongue.”

“Euh,” Dean said. Recovering, he said, “Well, don’t let me stop you.”

“So I don’t need to ask for consent to do that?”

“Fuck, Cas, we talked about this. Your brain damage and my um - enthusiasm - means we both have to be extra special careful about consent.” He eyed Cas reproachfully. “That said, if I’m conscious and not dying of flu or something please feel free to make heroic efforts at getting ben-wa balls into my ass with your tongue.”

They grinned at each other.

“I’m way too tired right now to do anything but lie down and let you do all the work,” Cas said.

“I won’t even make you do that if you need to sleep.”

Cas just barely made it through the rest of his food before sleep knocked him over. He woke up a couple of hours later, disoriented until Dean whickered like a horse in his ear. Dean didn’t exactly snore, but he certainly made interesting noises as he slept.

Sometimes night was on the wrong side of Cas’s disturbed sleep cycle, and he’d lie awake, or even sit up, watching Dean sleep, and instead of being angry at the sleep deprivation, he’d feel privileged, knowing he was the only person since Mary, Dean’s mum, to so tenderly watch over this beautiful boy. And he was beautiful. There wasn’t much to see at night, of course. There was a Boba Fett nightlight on the far wall, and by that light Dean was a mountainous shape.

In sleep, his face was smooth and calm. Awake, his face was so expressive, his mischief ever ready to burst out to the surface. His laughter bubbled up like a fountain now — (‘he wasn’t like that before he met you, so cynical’) — when he wasn’t worried about Cas. His beautiful man. He felt sleepy again and lay back down, sighing with contentment.

 

 

They waited for the results.

 

The clinical psychologist, a short, heavy-set woman with brilliant blue eyes and blonde hair and a mesmerizing speaking voice, gave them the news.

“The good news is that in terms of raw intelligence, you’re as smart as you’ve ever been. The bad news is that certain areas of your brain are not working well together.”

“How so?” Dean asked, frowning.

“Memory for instructions is key for practicing law, especially courtroom appearances. As you can see from the test results -“

And she walked them through it.

“Essentially, everything is going to take longer and be more taxing mentally. What it means in practical terms is that you can probably work again, but it won’t be in the law courts, and I’d advise working from home so you can sleep and eat whenever you need to.”

She outlined strategies, gave them reading suggestions, and said, “For what it’s worth, you’ve already recovered at least 50 percent more of your neurological function than the neurosurgeon initially thought likely from your injury, and much more than your original occupational therapy assessment was willing to guess. You’re also very fortunate in that you don’t suffer from daily headaches, which is an extremely common consequence of the specific kind of injuries you were subject to, and the surgery.”

Then she tried to talk them into paying for another week of specific aptitude testing to, as she put it, “Really refine what employment you should be looking for,” and Dean said, with an expression which made Cas very embarrassed, “Maybe we’ll wear out my copy of ‘What Color is Your Parachute?’ first, since we don’t have another eight grand lying around.”

“It’s only four thousand dollars, and believe me -“ and Dean cut her off.

“My husband and I will discuss our options and get back to you,” he said.

Cas smiled at Dean. He did pretty much every time he said, “My husband,” since it still blew him away that he was married to the totally succulent babe, Dean Winchester.

“Good luck,” the clinical psychologist said, and shook his hand.

 

 

“And fuck you very much,” Dean said, retelling what had happened in his own way, waving an ice cold beer around after cracking it open the instant he got home.

Cas felt the flannel weight of brain tiredness. Sleep beckoned with a slinky dance leading toward that awesome memory foam bed that by now bore the traces of more than a few of their sexual antics. “Dean, I’ve had a stressful day. You should stop being so reactive, anyway.”

“Why?” the pout, the evil pout, the sometimes fucking arrogant pout, which was also at times completely innocent and sometimes parodic. This was in fun. His voice dropped. “You like it.”

“If you’re talking about the way you fucked me back to good health the ‘Dean Winchester way’, yeah, I do. Or that you’re ready to do pretty much anything I ask you for sexually.”

“After the ben-wa balls comment, what’s left?” Dean shrugged.

“Really?” Cas said. “I was thinking of cuffing you, hands behind your back, standing with a spreader bar on your knees for maximum strain, and then after putting on nipple clamps as tight as you could stand them, blindfolding you and putting you in a ball gag and then blowing you while I massage your prostate with a variety of toys.”

Dean’s face, at this remarkable riff on a few of his kinks, started to pink up around ‘cuffing you’ and his eyebrows jumped at ‘spreader bar’ and he almost winced at ‘you could stand them’ and then his whole head went back and his mouth dropped open a little at ‘ball gag’ and at ‘prostate’ he loudly exhaled and waited a beat to say, “Jesus, Cas, it won’t be necessary. I just came in my pants.”

“You did not,” but Cas didn’t sound entirely sure. Dean had taught him to have a lot of faith in his own sexual power. It was a very nice feeling, but it went away when Dean said, in that same criminally low and sexy voice,

“Come over here and check.”

“I was born at night, but not last night,” Cas said primly.

“And you may have brain damage, but not that much brain damage,” Dean added.

Cas laughed, and Dean said, “Now I’m gonna kiss you.”

Dean whispered into Cas’s neck after what he jokingly called a decent husbandly osculation, “Do you have any idea what you want to do? What you think you might be able to do?”

“Yes,” Cas said. “I want to be a beekeeper.”

“Just like that?”

Cas spoke in a grumpy monotone, a sign that he was about to check out, maybe even fall asleep in the middle of his rant. “I wish you hadn’t gone off on the psychologist, Dean, all you had to say was we’ll think about it, not get pissy about the money. If it was necessary I know you’d find a way to pay for it, it’s just how you are. But if you’d waited I could have told you as soon as we were alone and then I could have been spared the embarrassment and I find embarrassment physically painful, as I believe I’ve told you. I would have told you I don’t need aptitude testing I’m going to be a beekeeper.”

“Cas, I know you’re about to pass out and maybe we’ll have to have this conversation again in the morning, but what the fuck, dude? What the hell you do you know about bees?”

“I worked in an apiary from the time I was twelve to the time I was fourteen. I fell in love with bees, but my parents —” Cas sighed and slumped a little. He wasn’t quite asleep.

Dean got him into bed and stroked him, petting his cheeks and his chest and his thighs in long smooth strokes. Cas smiled sweetly and his breathing slowed into slumber. Dean said to the sleeping face he loved above any other, “My husband, the beekeeper.” He was trying it on for size, and liked how it sounded.

Dean gave a little chuckle and smoothed the hair that fell across his forehead. “Only you, Cas. Don’t ever change.”

 

-FIN-