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4545

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Chapter 1

 

In the year 4545
You ain't gonna need your teeth,

won't need your eyes
You won't find a thing to chew
Nobody's gonna look at you

Zager And Evans - In The Year 2525

 

~~~~~

 

Days. Nights. Those things don’t matter anymore. Is this world even still worth living in? When all we have is just endless nights; no food, no water? What are we even still fighting for? I know it's blasphemous to say, but maybe we humans don't belong here anymore. We are the Forty-Fivers; 4545 people, all “living” deep in a cave around one of the last non-toxic water sources the planet has left to offer. We survive, but for what? It's not like this will ever end. Why are we still fighting?

 

“Sam, stop writing in your girly diary and get ready. We need to hunt,” Dean growled before he threw an environmental hazard suit in Sam’s lap.

 

Sam gave his brother a bitch face before he closed the tiny notebook and put it back into one of his large jacket pockets. Even though the core of the city was rather warm – thanks to the magma stream under the cave – the outskirts were freezing cold.

 

Hunters usually lived in the outskirts and close by the tunnel to the surface. In case of mutant attacks, they were the first line of defense. So they were used to having to wear thick clothes, all of the time.

 

Sam sighed deeply as he practically crawled into the yellow suit, raising a questioning eyebrow towards his brother. “Something up? I'm not signed up for a perimeter check for the next few hours.”

 

Dean braced his helmet under his arm, already dressed in his yellow suit; an uncomfortable and kind of impractical layer of clothing, but it was the only thing protecting them on the surface. Well, protecting them from the toxic atmosphere. “Council said the last perimeter check was positive for mutants in the vicinity. Hurry up, we haven’t got all day.”

 

“Haha, very funny, Dean.” Sam rolled his eyes at his brother’s lame joke. When you live in a world of endless nights, you don’t know what daylight looks like. Well, other than the pictures and books available in the archives from the old days; so outdated phrases that involved daylight were pretty bad puns.

 

He pocketed his book and finished pulling on his suit, Dean helping him with the zipper on the back and making sure the suit was intact everywhere, from each zipper to every seam. They did this every time before they went out. While it wasn’t a mandatory process, Dean always told him he didn’t want to take any chances. Being compromised by the outer atmosphere meant not being allowed to come back into the city.

 

There were two people always stationed at the cave exit door. There was a quarantine chamber just inside the main tunnel exit. Hunters returning from their assignments were unable to avoid the chamber if they wanted to get back into Zion, so before the main doors would open, they would have to be disinfected and then scanned. If the body scan came up positive for radiation or other contaminations, the hunter in question would be exiled. That’s why they took immaculate care of their protective gear.

 

It would have been great if nobody had to leave the cave system. Their underground city, Zion, was the only thing that kept humanity alive. Their only food source came from mushrooms that they were able to grow in the caves and were synthesized into substantial nutrition. They were then pressed into easy to carry bars and everyone was given a ration of food and water at the end of a productive day.

 

People that weren’t productive didn’t get their ration. Everyone worked for the city, so the city worked for everybody.

 

Hunters had to leave the city though. Because Zion only had the one entrance tunnel, it was easily defendable. But if they didn’t do regular perimeter checks and venture out from time to time, they wouldn’t get the intel they needed about whether the mutants outside were planning an attack.

 

Last week the mutants had attacked another hunter, a young guy that was fairly new to their group. They damaged his suit and he wasn’t allowed to come back in. He had cried, yelled, and pleaded before he turned aggressive and was shot by one of the guards.

 

There had been 4545 people and now there were 4544. And that meant one couple would be allowed to have a child now. A couple that was yet to be selected by the Council of Six.

 

The Council of Six were the leaders, the decision makers, the rulers of Zion. The cave system could contain no more than the 4545 persons who resided within its walls due to the supply of food rations. It was up to the Council to keep the population in check.

 

Sam questioned if it even was such an honor to be selected. Questions he kept to himself though. Especially because his brother didn’t like it when he questioned things they couldn't change. He had always been a good soldier, following their Dad’s and the Council’s every command without a second thought or hesitation.

 

Questions get you killed. Their Dad had hammered that wisdom into their heads his entire life, up until the day he died. And then Dean’s mission was to look after Sam. Which meant Sam wasn’t allowed to question things. Or even think like that. Questioning things was dangerous. Just do your job. Protecting people. Hunting mutants. The family business.

 

A few loose stones rolled down the tunnel entrance when he and Dean finally breached the threshold after a thirty minute walk through freezing darkness. Clouds hung deep and black in the sky, the air was filled with dust and sand, storming around them like a swarm of dung flies.

 

They couldn’t see much with the naked eye so Dean gestured for him to put on the goggles. Heat signatures were the only way to locate mutants in this environment. Sam readied his rifle and followed Dean along a natural fence of rocks before he stopped him and gestured to look over it.

 

Sam could make out two faint heat signatures a few klicks away from them. “Damn,” he muttered. Mutants. Human shaped. Those were the worst.

 

“We have to get closer,” Dean yelled over the storm. Sam nodded and followed him down a rocky path. They had to tread carefully. Something as simple as slipping on the rocks could mean their death.

 

The heat signatures moved further away from them, but they kept up the pursuit. Dean was never one to give up when it came to the safety of Zion. When they reached the time marker for their oxygen tanks, Sam wrapped his fingers around Dean’s arm to stop him. “We should turn around,” he called out, “the tanks are half empty!”

 

He could practically feel Dean’s frustration oozing off of him. “They’re toying with us, Sammy. Only a few more minutes until we’re in range.”

 

Sam could feel and hear the way his heart was pounding in his ears. “They aren’t worth it, Dean. Let’s go back and refill our tanks. We’ll try it again.”

 

Dean growled something, but he finally relented and they turned around. The last thing Sam heard was a loud thump when his brother fell to the ground; a large, fast shadow jumping over them with a growl, swinging its thick tail against Sam's body, knocking all of the air out of his lungs. Sam hit the ground and his vision went black.

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

When Dean woke up, he immediately started to panic at the feeling of being restrained and without his helmet. He was sitting, tied to a metal pole with his hands bound behind his back, desperately trying to make sense of his surroundings. Why am I not dead? That didn’t make sense, from what he remembered, he should be dead.

 

He was under a glass dome, but definitely still on the surface, the endless darkness looming over him evidence of that. And he knew he had to be hallucinating because what he was seeing just couldn’t be… things like that didn't exist anymore, only in books and stories about the time before the big war.

 

He was surrounded by green plants. Trees, he believed they were called, that had branches full of red round things. Dean once saw a picture of a tree in his father's journal. It looked exactly like this plant.

 

“Sam?” he called out for his brother, but no one was in sight.

 

Then he heard a door opening behind him and footsteps approaching. His panic was temporarily forgotten as he tried to turn around, but the rope was extremely tight and Baby, his reliable rifle, was nowhere in sight. A shadow fell over him and suddenly a man in white scrubs and a long, beige coat knelt before him.

 

Dean was stunned by the man’s intense blue eyes, plush lips, and dark brown hair that looked like he had walked through a hurricane. Dark stubble framed his rather attractive face and when he started to speak in a gruff and deep voice, Dean was stunned speechless. He had never met someone so beautiful before. “I'm sorry for restraining you. I wasn’t sure if you would attack me.”

 

“Where’s my brother? And how am I not dead?” Dean asked carefully. Whoever this pretty guy was, he must be a mutant if he was able to survive outside, on the surface. And Dean’s sole mission was to kill those things to protect their city. His home.

 

The other man touched his forehead; feather light touches with soft fingertips. That’s when Dean realized he was injured, he could feel a sticky wetness against his skin and there was a faint coppery smell. He must be bleeding.

 

The man carded his fingers tenderly through Dean’s hair and gave him a sad look. “Your brother is in the room next door. He isn't injured. I can bring him to you, if you want. But first I would like to treat your wound. Is that okay?”

 

Dean just wanted to see his brother, he didn’t care about the stupid cut on his forehead, but it’s not like he was in a position to argue. This man had all of the power and he didn’t want to piss him off. So Dean just nodded carefully and said, “You didn’t answer my question. The atmosphere is toxic, how am I not dead?”

 

The other man pulled a leather kit out of his coat pocket and opened a small white bottle with clear liquid in it. It smelled like the alcohol Gabriel used on them when they had to get blood drawn for tests. He poured a small amount of it on a white piece of fabric before he leaned over and started to clean the blood from Dean’s face. Dean hissed from the way it burned.

 

“I'm sorry,” the man replied, his other hand cupped Dean's cheek as he rubbed his thumb soothingly over the skin. Dean didn’t know how to feel about that. The guy had obviously never heard of things like personal space and boundaries, but for some reason Dean started to feel calmer.

 

Blue eyes met his when the mysterious man spoke again, “You aren’t dead because the atmosphere in here isn't toxic. If you leave the dome without protection, you will die.”

 

Could the guy be human then? Mutants couldn’t breathe the clean air in the cave, but if this man could, maybe he was just another survivor.

 

“Are you hungry?” the mysterious man interrupted his internal reverie with a softly asked question.

 

Dean eyed him suspiciously. “So is that what this is? You’re a cannibal?” That made way more sense. The man was keeping him and Sammy here in order to eat them.

 

The man tilted his head before he frowned and shook his head. "No. I eat vegetables and fruits. I grow them here."

 

“Bullshit,” Dean barked as he quirked his brow in disbelief. He took another cursory look around the room, taking note of all of the different green and brown plant like things he’d never seen before. That’s when he realized... “Shit. I’m already dead, aren’t I? You’re Yama, right? Here to judge my life?”

 

The mysterious man sighed deeply before he got up and went to one of the trees, plucking a round red thing from it. He walked back to Dean and knelt close beside him. “My designation is C.A.S.42,  but you can call me Cas. It’s what my nurse called me.” He held the red shiny thing in front of Dean and added, “And this is an apple. Do you want to try it?”

 

Dean stared at the ‘apple’ for a moment. With a shrug he looked at the guy and leaned forward to take a bite from his hand, figuring if he was dead, eating supposed food given to him by this stranger wouldn’t kill him. When the juice of the food hit his tongue, Dean had to refrain from groaning outright.

 

He’d never tasted anything like it. Dean couldn’t even begin to describe the way its flavor made his taste buds sing with pleasure. Hell, if he was dead, maybe he’d already reached Kolob.

 

“You like it,” the man stated with a soft expression that spoke of contentment.

 

Dean nodded and stared at him in awe. “Are you Bog?”

 

"I'm C.A.S.42," he repeated. The man looked around the room and sighed before he asked, "If I unbind you, will you promise to not attack me? I can get your brother for you."

 

“I’m not gonna attack you,” he assured, more than ready to have the damn ropes cut off.

 

The weird man – Cas – squinted his eyes at him and tilted his head again before he untied the rope around Dean’s wrists. “Your brother refuses to get out of his suit. He said he can’t go back home if he’s undressed. Is that true?”

 

Dean rubbed at where the rope had dug into his skin and nodded. “It is. Which means, if I’m not already dead, then I will be.”

 

Cas suddenly took Dean’s hand in his and gently slid his warm fingertips over the irritated skin. The guy seriously had no comprehension of personal space. When Dean pulled back, the red marks on his skin were gone. “I don’t understand,” Cas murmured with a frown. “Why would you die?”

 

He pointed to his body and helmetless head. “I’m exposed. I won’t be allowed back in my home. And I will not let myself become one of those fucking monsters. I’ll blow my brains out before that happens.” Dean looked down at his mark free wrists and furrowed his brow. “How did you do that anyway?”

 

“I have the ability to regenerate cells of all living beings.” Cas touched Dean’s cheek and stared at him intensely. It felt like his stare was drilling into his flesh. “You won’t turn into one of them. You can die of radiation and the viruses out there. But you can’t become one of them.”

 

Dean snorted in derision. “Well, then there’s your answer. I step outside, I die. And since I’m not allowed back home anymore...” He sighed and shook his head. “Yeah, if you could grab my brother I’d appreciate it.”

 

“What if I help you repair your suit?” Cas asked after a moment, leading him to a door.

 

Dean shook his head. “The damage is already done.”

 

There were no empty platitudes from Cas, no “sorries” or anything of the like. Just a nod of acceptance as he opened the door for Dean. Sam was sitting in his suit on a bench, his arms tied up against it, like Dean’s had been.

 

The man moved to sit next to Sam on the bench in order to untie him when Sam looked up in shock. “Dean! Damnit, are you okay?”

 

Dean nodded. “M’fine, Sam. What happened out there?”

 

Sam shook his head before he breathed out, “We were surprised by a Leviathan. He jumped you and I only saw you get knocked to the ground before he hit me with his tail." Sam nodded towards Cas. "He saved us. He saved us without a suit."

 

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure he’s Bog,” Dean replied as he shrugged. “Your suit’s okay? You can get back home?”

 

Sam rolled his eyes as he stood up. “He is not Bog. He’s obviously a mutant. And what about you? I’m not just giving you up like this. There must be something we can do to... I don’t know... repair your suit or trick the scanner.” Sam’s voice broke as he added, “This can’t be it.”

 

“Sammy, you know damn well that the scanner can’t be tricked. And hey, at least we get to say goodbye. Not a lot of people get that chance.” Dean took a deep breath. He wasn’t about to lose it in front of the god, or mutant, or whatever the hell he was.

 

After he had watched them quietly with a head tilt, Cas offered, “You can stay if you want. I have enough food.”

 

Sam turned to Cas with a raised eyebrow. “How can you have food?”

 

“I grow food in my garden,” Cas answered, pointing in the direction he and Dean had come from.

 

At Sam’s gobsmacked expression, Dean chuckled. “My Bog theory is seeming more and more likely, right?” He turned to Cas and asked, “Can you give him one of your apple things?” He turned back to his brother and added, “You gotta try one of these things.”

 

Sam gave Dean a pointed look. "Funny, Dean. Hey, if you want me to get contaminated and stay, just say the word."

 

Dean chuckled and shrugged. “Worth a shot.”

 

They followed Cas into the other room and Sam froze in the doorway, taking in the lush green trees and colorful plants. "What the... Are those actual trees and plants? Like in Dad's journal?"

 

Dean nodded. “Crazy, right? Gotta admit, I wondered if the old man had been lying at some point. Guess when I die, I’ll owe him a big apology.”

 

Sam still seemed out of breath. “You know what this means, right? If we could find a way to decontaminate the plants, we could grow them in our city. There would be enough food for everyone. Maybe we could even have more people–”

 

“The plants aren’t contaminated with any viruses or bacteria,” Cas calmly interrupted, but Sam shook his head.

 

“Even if that is true, there’s a law that we aren’t allowed to bring anything in from the outside world. Even if it means a new food source. Zion has survived this long because of its strict laws. No one will risk an infection that could wipe out our city.”

 

Cas frowned and looked at his trees with a thoughtful expression. “I understand. The biological weapons claimed as much life as the radiation. It’s wise to be cautious.”

 

“But it’s unwise to not be open to new possibilities. To... I don’t know, make our lives better! Our lives have only been about surviving and it would be nice if it could be about living for once,” Sam added with a low growl. “Maybe I can talk to the Council? I mean, if you’re willing to share your food, maybe there’s something we could do.”

 

Dean rolled his eyes at his brother’s optimism. “They’re not gonna listen to a Hunter, Sam. You know that.”

 

“Then I’ll make them listen, Dean!” Sam scrubbed his hands over his face in frustration. “Things need to change. I know you don’t want me to talk about this stuff, but you know it isn’t right. To live like this, day after day, just barely surviving. Getting real food could change everything.”

 

Finally starting to get frustrated, Dean couldn’t stop the way his voice grew low and adamant, “You know what happens to people who challenge the Council. So, you’re gonna go back, you’re gonna survive, and maybe get assigned a Milowda now they’re down another person. You get me?”

 

“We can't just ignore this, Dean. The fact that a place like this even exists is like the miracle a lot of people never dared to hope for. People have a right to know,” Sam pleaded with him.

 

Dean sighed. Sammy had a point, but he also knew what attempting to convince the Council to do anything outside of their strict rules would bring. Like when they tried to sneak Gunner back in after his suit ripped. Gunner was shot on sight and Dean was thrown into the sunchamber as punishment for attempting to disobey. He’d been kept in that bogforsaken room for four months, but it felt more like forty years. Dean could only imagine what they’d do to Sam if he tried to bring anything from this weird dome place. “I agree, man. But I don’t want you to get thrown in the sunchamber. No human should be forced into that situation.”

 

Sam looked away for a moment before he sighed deeply. “I will be careful. But you can't expect me to pretend this place doesn’t exist.” Sam turned to their mysterious savior with a frown. “Is my brother going to be okay with you?”

 

Cas tilted his head before he nodded. “He can stay as long as he wants. I will take good care of him.”

 

Sam gave Cas a long look before he frowned. “I’ve got a lot of questions, but I need to get back before the timer runs out and my tank is empty.” Sam looked down at the GPS navigator around his wrist. “I only have twenty minutes left. If I run, I can make it in time.”

 

Dean yanked Sam into a hug and patted his shoulder. “Get outta here. Bitch.”

 

Sam pulled him tighter for a moment, whispering, “Don’t give up… and be careful. I will visit you as soon as I can. Jerk.”

 

Dean chuckled and drew back. He took a deep breath and nodded. “Be safe. I’ll pray for you.”

 

“You too,” Sam replied in a determined voice before they accompanied him to the airlock.

 

“You are welcome to visit or stay anytime,” Cas offered and Sam gave him a grateful nod.

 

“Thank you. For everything.” Sam nodded before he left through the airlock, waving at Dean one last time before leaving the Dome.

 

Dean sighed and waved back as he watched his brother’s form disappear. He folded his arms against his chest, willing himself to not fucking cry. Spending his entire life with his baby brother by his side… Dean didn’t even want to think about the fact that he may never see him again.

 

“Do you need a hug? I heard it could bring comfort in times like this,” the weird mutant suddenly offered.

 

“You’ve heard, huh?” Dean scoffed and shook his head. He dropped his arms and fixed the guy with an expectant look. “What’s your deal, anyway? Do you usually rescue random Forty-Fivers?”

 

Cas rubbed his hand over the back his neck. “I didn’t know there were people like you. I only know the others outside and they aren't very friendly.”

 

“How come you don’t need a suit? Sam said you rescued us without one.”

 

Cas nodded before he waved for him to follow. The Dome was bigger than he had thought. Complete with long white, sterile hallways and rooms adjacent to the huge glass dome in the center. Cas opened one of the doors at the end of the hallway. It contained a bed with a white metal barrier, a few books, and a small table with paper and colorful pencils. There was a dark stain on one of the walls and Dean's trained eyes immediately recognized it as an old bloodstain.

 

“This is my room. Nurse Meg looked after me here, um, that was before the others killed everyone and went outside. They left me alone because I’m not like them. The doctors said something went wrong, that I'm broken because I didn't turn out like them.”

 

Dean regarded him for a moment, trying to piece together the puzzle of the man before him. Or mutant. Whatever the hell he was. “So, how long have you been here?”

 

“Since before the darkness, when the sky had still been blue,” Cas replied and showed him a paper on which someone had drawn in blue with white… clouds he was guessing, and green plants like in the dome. There was even a weird yellow and black insect on a colorful plant.

 

Shit. He didn’t even know how long ago that was. Blue sky hadn’t existed in centuries. Dean furrowed his brow and shook his head. “Are you immortal?”

 

Cas shook his head. “I can be killed. But my cells regenerate like everything I touch. I can heal living matter. That is why I don't die outside.”

 

“Then I don’t get how you’re broken. It sounds like we could use people like you.”

 

“I don’t think I'm broken just because I like to create things instead of destroying them. The doctors said I was a failure, because they wanted to create more of the others. For the war outside. In the end, all the doctors died at the hand of their own creation.” Cas shrugged before he gave Dean a thoughtful look. “There are a lot of unused rooms. You can choose one that you like.”

 

Dean nodded and let out a sigh of acquiescence. “I, uh… I’m not good at shit like this, but… thanks. For lettin’ me stay. For saving me.”

 

Cas tilted his head, his expression confused. “I preserve life. It's what I do. There is no need to thank me. Come to the dome when you are hungry.”

 

“You actually part droid, or just that bad at socializing?” Dean asked as he chuckled. At least it made him feel better about the whole thanking him thing.

 

The guy actually looked worried for a moment. “I apologize. It’s been a while since the last time I've talked to someone. My ‘people skills’ are ‘rusty’,” he said, accentuating his words with air quotes.

 

He shrugged and looked away as he asked, “So, uh… which room should I take?”

 

“Whichever room you're comfortable with. I only use the upper level,” Cas explained before he quietly added, “I never go in the basement. The bad things are down there.”

 

“Bad things?” Dean asked as he turned back to look at him.

 

Cas just nodded quickly and abruptly left his room. Before Dean could stop him, he went back to the dome. And damn, the guy was fast. The five seconds it took Dean to decide whether or not he should go after the weirdo, Cas had crossed to the other side of the dome.

 

“Dude, what’s your deal?” Dean called out as he drew closer to Cas.

 

Cas shuffled his feet on the earthy ground before he knelt down and let his palm hover over the ground. It started to glow and a few seconds later, a plant grew from the soil. It had a large, rich yellow blossom and a round, brown inner part. Cas plucked it and handed it to Dean. “A welcome gift for your room. It's a sunflower. It’s not the actual sun, but may it brighten your days in this darkness.”

 

“Man, I thought I was bad.” Dean shook his head in amazement as he grabbed the flower. He was no fan about talking it out, emotions, all that shit – not that any Forty-Fivers were – but Cas seemed outright terrified. Dean moved to kneel on the ground next to him and looked at the guy expectantly. “You gonna run away and grow me a flower every time I ask you for details?”

 

Cas looked away before he slowly shook his head. His voice sounded like a frightened child as he said, “I'm afraid of the basement. I don't want to talk about it. I can't. I'm sorry.”

 

“Hey,” Dean said as he leaned down to catch Cas’s gaze. Their eyes locked and Cas followed when Dean sat up and finished his sentence, “That’s okay. Just say that. Don’t run away from me. I’ll understand you better if you tell me.”

 

Cas nodded slowly. “I'm sorry. I haven’t needed to explain myself in over six hundred years. I'm not used to talking.”

 

Dean chuckled. “And I’m kinda shit at understanding body language. So, if you’re stuck with me as a roommate for a while, we should probably find a good middle ground.”

 

It was the first time he saw the other man smile. It was barely there, but still... it made his blue eyes shine even brighter. “I'm happy you're here.” He then looked shocked and turned away again. “I'm sorry. I'm not happy that you got separated from your brother. Though I still don't understand why he couldn’t just stay too. I have enough space and I'm all alone.”

 

The weird urge to comfort this man was a little surprising, if not entirely unsurprising at the same time. Apparently, being a big brother was so ingrained in him, that he’d project it onto the nearest available person. Or mutant. Dean nodded and explained why Sam couldn’t stay, “Because this isn’t our home. Our home is about ten klicks that way.” He pointed to the east.

 

“Are there many humans like you at your home?” Cas asked with a head tilt.

 

“Enough of us,” he answered vaguely. Even though Dean was stuck here, at the mercy of this mutant, that didn’t mean he was an idiot. The Forty-Fivers had lasted and lived through the dark times for a reason. Never trust anyone.

 

And Cas seemed to accept his answer without question. He was either really bad at spying, considering Dean had all the time in the world to be interrogated. Or maybe he really wasn’t spying at all and simply just a strange mutant that was somehow different from the rest of them. “I could show you the plants and food you can eat.”

 

Dean nodded and moved to stand, holding his hand out for Cas to take. “Alright. Show me.”

 

Cas tilted his head before he took Dean’s hand in both of his, not to pull himself up, but to slide his fingertips over the back of his hand as he slowly stood up. “You’re strong,” he stated, sounding confused before he let go of him and went to the trees. Dean’s hand still tingled from the contact.

 

Shaking out his hand, which wasn’t making the tingling go away, Dean decided to try and focus on what Cas was showing him. Apparently, he was able to eat a lot of the plants in the dome. “Cas, buddy. Maybe it’ll be easier if you just show me what I shouldn’t eat?”

 

Cas pointed at the trees a little further away from – what he had now learned – was the vegetable garden. “You shouldn’t eat those berries from that tree. They‘re poisonous to your organism.”

 

Before Dean could ask why Cas was growing poisonous trees in the first place, Cas answered his unasked question.

 

“The trees filter poison from the air, which is produced in the form of berries, to protect itself. I use the berries to paint the outer walls of the Dome to keep the aggressive creatures from coming too close.”

 

“Good to know,” he said as he looked around, soaking in all of the colors. “Anything else?”

 

Cas gave him a thoughtful look before he pointed at a plant with a lot of round, dark red fruits that smelled very sweet. “Those are grapes. You can eat them, but I want to use them to make wine. It’s an alcoholic beverage. You’ve probably never had one, but let me assure you, it's worth the wait. If there’s a particular vegetable or fruit you really like, tell me and I’ll grow more of it. Some of them only taste good when cooked. There is a kitchen that I can show you.”

 

Dean shook his head in amazement. He had no idea what cooking or a kitchen was, but from what he’d seen, he doubted it was something bad. “If what you show me is anything close to the taste of that apple, I’m sure I’ll like it.”

 

Cas plucked some small red fruits from a tree that appeared to grow in pairs. He threw the stem away before he pressed it to Dean's lips. “Taste this, but be careful when you chew. There is a small pit in it.”

 

Dean cleared his throat and gently took the fruit from Cas’s fingers and placed it in his mouth. When he bit down, the juice of the fruit exploded against his tongue and he was unable to hold back the groan. It was way better than the apple. “What is this?” he asked around the fruit in his mouth, mindful of whatever a pit was. He guessed it was the hard thing that hurt his teeth.

 

Cas gave him another barely there smile. “It’s a cherry. You seem to like sweet things. Maybe I should make you a pie? I have a cookbook and I can make a lot of dishes from the old world.” He looked away, but Dean could see the other man appeared pretty happy. “It’s nice to be able to share this with someone.”

 

“No idea what a pie is, but if it tastes like that, I won’t have a problem eating it.” Dean looked around. “What else can I try?”

 

Cas led him to another tree full of red and yellow fruits that looked slightly furry and soft. He picked a red one and held it out to Dean. “This is a peach. It's very juicy.”

 

Dean took it from him and took a large bite, his mouth filling with juice and the meat of an intensely sweet fruit. “Dude.”

 

Cas suddenly reached forward and used his thumb to rub away the juice running down Dean’s chin. “Do you like the peach as well?”

 

“Uh, yeah,” Dean said as he furrowed his brow and took a step back from him, feeling a bizarre warmth from the contact. “I like everything so far.”

 

Cas nodded and pointed to a basket. “I wanted to cook a soup with vegetables.” He picked up the basket – which contained a few different, dirty looking vegetables that didn’t look as delicious as the cherries and peaches. “It won’t be sweet like the fruits, but I'm sure you will like it. Follow me.”

 

“What’s soup?” Dean asked as he followed him through the garden to the hallway of rooms. He hooked a right and they stepped into what he assumed was the kitchen. It looked a little bit like Gabriel’s lab.

 

Cas put the different vegetables in a bowl and into a sink before he pulled on a tap and water came out if it. Fresh water, unlike the supply they had back in Zion. All of his thoughts about soup were forgotten as he stepped closer.

 

Dean reached out and ran his hand under it. “Wow,” he murmured as he splashed it on his face. He couldn’t help but laugh as he flicked the water on Cas’s face. “Water!”

 

Cas scrunched up his nose before he smiled. “I have a feeling that you will love the shower.”

 

“Shower?” Dean asked as he splashed some more of the water on his face, shaking out a few of the droplets from his hair.

 

Cas nodded before he put the vegetables down and waved for him to follow. “The bathroom only has a community shower, but you can close the door with a key.”

 

He opened a door down the hall from the kitchen. It was a large room that was covered in white tiles. There were two separate little stalls that Cas showed him as a toilet. Dean jumped for joy over the idea of never having to use a sandroom again. Cas then led him behind a chest high wall that separated another part of the room. The wall actually held several lockers and a long bench in front of them. That’s when he saw what Cas called a shower. There were several large circular metal protrusions all along a large tiled wall.

 

Cas reached forward to pull on a tap and water started to come out of one of the metal circles. It was surreal. “This is the shower. You can wash yourself here. I can give you towels to dry your body.”

 

Dean reached out and let the water run over his palm. Without thinking about it, Dean started undressing then and there. He tossed the his clothes over the side of the wall before stepping under the stream. “Holy shit.”

 

Cas looked at him with big eyes before he reached to the tap and turned it. The water turned warmer. “You can adjust the temperature like this. I… I’ll get you a towel.”

 

Dean groaned in appreciation and turned the knob a little more, really hot water now cascading down years long aches in his muscles. “Can I just sleep in here?” he asked, only half joking.

 

Cas smiled softly. “I fear the water won't stay hot. I use electricity to warm it up. You will be freezing after a while.”

 

“I guess that settles that,” he groaned as he shook his head under the water and laughed.

 

“So you don't have showers where you live?” Cas asked curiously as he held his hand under the stream.

 

Dean shook his head. “No. Once a month we’re allowed a day for bathing with recycled bath water. It’s maybe lukewarm if you’re lucky. And it’s not…” he let out a soft groan and finished, “it’s not like this.”

 

“This water is recycled too. It flows through a filter of cleaning plants and sand.” Cas looked rather proud in that moment. “A lot of plants have incredible abilities.” He splashed some water in Dean’s face like Dean had done earlier.

 

Dean barked out a laugh and cupped his hands to fill with water before he tossed the pool in Cas’s face.

 

Cas made a pretty funny and indignant noise before he stared down at his wet clothes. “You made my clothes wet.”

 

“Don’t start a water fight you can’t win,” Dean teased as he chuckled.

 

Cas pulled off his weird coat and quickly removed the white scrubs. His body had more muscles than his bulky clothes would have suggested and his skin was only marred by a couple of weird tattoos. Not that he had time to look at them before Cas started the shower next to him and splashed a lot of water in his face.

 

Dean shook his head and smiled. “That’s it!” He opened his mouth and let it fill to the brim with water. He smacked his cheeks and spit the water in Cas’s face.

 

Cas let out a very funny squeaking noise as he tried to defend himself, covering his face with his hands before he splashed water back at Dean. Cas’s water was much warmer than Dean’s.

 

So instead of splashing him again, Dean pulled Cas under his shower before flipping around to switch places. He groaned in contentment at the feeling of hotter water.

 

Cas shivered under the water of the other shower and gave him a wide eyed look before he sneaked closer under the warm water again, closing his eyes for a moment. “I like warmth. It reminds me of the sun.”

 

“You’ve seen the sun?” he breathed out in awe as he moved slightly to share the shower with him.

 

Cas smiled without opening his eyes. “Yes, it's bright and warm. You can't look at the sun because it's so bright it hurts your eyes. But if you close your eyes and face the sun, you can feel the warmth on your face and all you see is red through your eyelids. And the sky was so blue and endless. I wish you could have seen it.”

 

Dean sighed and closed his eyes as he tried to imagine it. “Me, too.”

 

“I wonder if you can still see the sky on the highest mountains?” Cas wondered out loud after a moment.

 

He opened his eyes and looked at Cas. “Well, no tanks last long enough for me to ever find out.”

 

He wondered if the sky had the color of Cas’s eyes when the man before him opened them. “This is our world now. And I'm glad I can share water and food with you to make your life at least a little bit better.”

 

Dean genuinely smiled then. He supposed if he had to spend the rest of his life in exile, there were worse ways to spend it than with a nice mutant with an endless supply of food. “Thank you for sharing it with me.”

 

The water started to get cold and Cas shivered. He smiled up at him. “Time for a towel.” He turned and went around the wall to grab something before he brought a huge, soft looking white towel back to Dean, handing it to him with a smile before he wrapped himself up in his own.

 

Dean toweled himself dry before wrapping it over his shoulders, chuckling contentedly as he soaked in the softness. “Is… is there stuff I can do? You’ve done so much for me, I’d like to do my share.”

 

Cas was almost completely vanished inside the towel as he dried himself and hung it over a metal bar when he was done. “I can show you how to cook and you can help me wash and cut the vegetables. You can also help me feed the animals.”

 

“Animals?” Dean was entirely incapable of keeping the excitement out of his tone as he pulled his pants back on. He’d only ever heard stories about animals.

 

Cas nodded. “I have three rabbits, a couple of chickens, and a cow.” Cas pulled his coat over his scrubs. “Do you want to meet them?”

 

Dean nodded enthusiastically as he threw his shirt over his head. “How have they survived?”

 

“The laboratory has a huge catalog of stored animal DNA… Over time I learned how to create and revive animals from those cells, but I only did it with a few. I keep them healthy and they keep me company. But they are poor conversationalists,” Cas explained slowly as they left the bathroom. He pointed at the wall and something in silver letters. “This place was known as the ARK for its catalogs of the different types of DNA. It was a military laboratory back in the day. The primary mission was to create the perfect soldier… one that survived an atomic war. But they also had other projects here.”

 

“Like what?” Dean asked, finding himself more and more distracted from his loss by the sheer, overwhelming amount of positives of being stuck here with the mutant.

 

“Like the storing and cataloging of animal DNA. I sometimes believe that creating me wasn’t an accident. While I was mostly classified as a failure and left alone, there was one professor who taught me a lot. He once told me when everything is over, I would need the knowledge to revive those animals. I sometimes think that he meant after the war and the radiation. That my mission would be to repopulate the planet once it was safe outside again. Sadly, he died before I could learn everything about my abilities and their purpose.”

 

Dean shook his head in amazement. “Is it possible there’s notes or journals or anything he left?” Hell, it’s how Dean knew things other Forty-Fivers didn’t, his dad’s journals and stories. Not that he could read the journal, but Sammy could and he’d read to him.

 

For a moment Cas looked uncomfortable. “Maybe on the lower floors, but I don't go down there.” He shook his head before he led Dean to the dome again. He pointed at one of the doors in the back of the huge glass building. “The animals live there. I keep them there so they don't accidentally go somewhere dangerous.”

 

Dean nodded, feeling a little giddy. “Can we see them right now?”

 

Cas nodded and slowly opened the door. Dean could sense that the air was thicker and smelled... not great. A massive black and white animal was the first one that came into sight. It made a loud moo noise when they entered.

 

“This is the cow. She gives milk that I use to bake,” Cas explained with a soft smile.

 

Dean’s eyes widened in surprise, he approached the animal and stroked over her neck. She was incredibly soft. “Hi,” he said in amazement to the creature. He looked back at Cas and asked, “What’s her name?”

 

Cas tilted his head. “Her designation in the DNA catalog was Pecora Bovidae Bos Primigenius.”

 

Dean started scratching the cow behind her ear. “How ‘bout we call you Cora?”

 

The cow mooed again and licked over Dean’s hand. Cas gave him a soft smile. “I think she likes you and her new name. If you want to, you can name all of them.” He pointed at a huge enclosure next to the cow with two fluffy two legged animals in it and three four legged furry ones with long ears.

 

Dean climbed over the fence and the two legged creatures scattered. He barked out a laugh as he tried to catch one. “These rabbits are fast!”

 

Cas leaned against the fence and pointed at the furry animals with a bright smile. “Those are rabbits. You're chasing a chicken and they don't like to cuddle that much. The rabbits though…”

 

Without thinking about it, Dean went to the real rabbits and picked one up. They were even softer than the cow. He started petting it, unable to hide the smile. “This is amazing.”

 

“The chickens produce eggs we can eat and the cow produces milk. I believe the rabbits were kept as pets because they are soft and nice to look at. Sometimes I pet them for hours and it makes me happy,” Cas explained to him.

 

“I get that,” Dean said as he practically cuddled the small creature in his arms.

 

“You’re good with them. I'll show you tomorrow how to feed and collect the eggs and milk. If you want to, this could be your work here.” Cas had joined him to pet one of the other rabbits between its ears.

 

Dean nodded in excitement. “Yeah, I’d like that.”

 

“Good.” Cas stood up and gave him a smile. “I’ll prepare a meal. Stay with them as long as you want to. I know it was a trying day for you.”

 

“Okay,” Dean said as he gently put the rabbit down and proceeded to try and catch a chicken again.

 

In the corner of his eye he noticed Cas putting the rabbit down and climbing over the fence, leaving the room. Now alone with his thoughts, Dean let the reality of his situation sink in. For the first time in his life he was separated from his brother, the person he had always been responsible for, taken care of.

 

Their situation had been a special circumstance. When their mother, Mary, was assigned to John, their father; they had unexpectedly developed feelings for each other. The majority of the time, people were assigned their Milowda based on how far apart they were from each other in the gene pool. It wasn’t unheard of, but it was rare when the Milowdas actually fell in love.

 

Having kids was a whole different process. You had to apply to the Council of Six for permission to procreate and your application was only reviewed when a Forty-Fiver passed away. Dean had been planned, applied for, earned. And there was a factor in his upbringing that hadn’t existed for a lot of other children. Love.

 

And then everything changed. Dean was three when Mary got pregnant with Sam.

 

Accidental pregnancies weren’t uncommon, but it was standard procedure to terminate the unapproved pregnancy. Their Mom, ever the kind and loving woman, pleaded with the Council to take her instead. She went through multiple trials, arguments with John, punishments… when finally they permitted her to carry the pregnancy to term and live for the first six months of Sam’s life to provide him enough milk.

 

The day Sam turned six months old, the guards stormed into their domicile and dragged his mother from a weeping and bereft Dean. The last memory he had of his mother was her being dragged from his arms like some sort of criminal.

 

After that John had become a shell of the man he once was. With the loss of Mary and the guilt of being left with the child she had died for, he could barely function. So, four year old Dean suddenly became responsible for his six month old baby brother. He had to be a mother and a father to a child, even though he still was one. But it stuck. His entire life, everything he ever did was for Sam. He didn’t think he had an identity outside of Sam Winchester’s Big Brother. And now?

 

Now he was separated from him for the first time in twenty five years. Now he was on his own. Well, not entirely, considering he was now unwitting roomies with a mutant with a heart of gold. Dean felt numb to it, years of having to keep his emotions hidden for fear of being sent to the sunchamber. He might not be smart, but he knew full well the shockwaves of his loss were going to hit him sooner rather than later. Still, it was just easier to distract himself from his thoughts. To focus on taking care of something, even if it was a cow, rabbits, and chickens.

 

Dean smiled down at the animals. “Alright. Let’s name you guys.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

 

Gabriel couldn’t stop hovering over Sam, to the point that Sam swatted him away with a glare. “I’m fine. Nothing happened to me, otherwise I wouldn’t be here and you know it.”

 

“Excuse me for giving a damn,” Gabe returned with an eye roll. “And something did happen, otherwise your brother would be with you.”

 

Sam looked away from the doctor, his lips pressed into a thin line. "We all know the risks when we go out there, but I still never thought..." Sam swallowed the burning in his throat as he willed himself not to cry. No one was allowed to see that or he would end up in the sunchamber.

 

Not that his friend Gabe would say anything. But other people weren't as tolerant. "He isn't dead and he should be allowed to return," he whispered after checking that they really were alone. He knew he could put both of them in danger, openly criticizing the system, but he knew Gabe wasn't one to play by every rule. He knew the truth was safe with him and he needed to tell someone. "I need to tell you what I saw... but not here."

 

Gabe looked at him with a furrowed brow, lips pursed in intrigue and bemusement. “Alright. Where?”

 

“After ration disbursal. I still have to do my perimeter check or I won’t get anything. Come over to my hut. Maybe pretend it’s for a last check up,” Sam suggested. It wasn’t paranoia, just healthy caution. Couples who wanted a child were always the first ones to point fingers when they’d notice suspicious activity.

 

“Okay, fine. In the meantime, can I do my damn job?” Gabe asked, he sounded annoyed, but there was an air of concern.

 

Sam rolled his eyes and nodded. "I was lucky my suit didn't get damaged when I fell. I feel okay, Gabe."

 

“You know the rules, Sasquatch. So shut up and let me run my tests.”

 

He knew better than to protest. Especially because he knew Gabe didn’t just want to do his job because of the law, but because he was genuinely worried about his friend. There weren’t many people Sam would trust so explicitly, but his friend Gabriel was definitely one of them.

 

Gabe had never told him why he quit his position as the physician to the Council of Six. As a doctor, he had that sole right to make such a decision, so he could focus more on his work. But Sam knew better. He assumed that it had very little to do with Gabe’s work as a doctor.

 

The doctor had always been on the verge of criticizing the system and Sam admired him for his bravery. In return, Gabe loved to play pranks on Sam. That was how they became friends. With Gabriel, Sam always had the feeling he could be more open with him, that he could be himself. And he knew that, now more than ever, he needed a friend.

 

Gabe pulled off the electrodes on his chest and lowered his stethoscope. “Alright. You’re clean.”

 

Sam nodded and pulled over his shirt when Naomi knocked on the open door. "Sam, I've heard about your brother. I'm sorry for your loss." She didn't sound very genuine, but Sam didn't expect her to. He knew why she was here.

 

He slid down the cot and nodded towards her. "Curia Naomi. The doctor just gave me a clean bill of health."

 

Naomi nodded, her gaze not once wandering to Gabriel, who also ignored her. "Fine. Would you please follow me? The others want to hear your report and it's your privilege to draw a couple from the pool as you were the one closest to the hunter we lost."

 

"His name is Dean," Sam pressed out through gritted teeth.

 

"Is?" Naomi raised her eyebrow.

 

Sam looked away from her, trying to keep it together. He couldn't tell her what they had found. She would accuse him of working with the mutants and would exile him before he could explain anything. "Was... I  mean. It's still new to me."

 

Her brow stayed quirked, but she nodded her understanding. “Well, these things are inevitable in your line of work. If you would follow me?”

 

“Toodles, Nams!” Gabe called out in a falsely pleasant tone.

 

Naomi squinted at him before she rolled her eyes. “Now, Winchester.”

 

Sam winked at Gabe, who chuckled before returning his attention back to his work and Sam followed Naomi out of the doctor’s clinic.

 

“I didn’t get to see the preliminary report. What was the cause of your brother’s death?” Naomi had a cold and calculated way of asking hard questions with absolutely no sympathy. Being a bitch was what Dean called it.

 

“His suit was damaged in an attack by an animal mutant. I was lucky.” Sam tried to be as vague as possible.

 

Naomi clicked her tongue. “I see. And the mutant? Does it pose a threat to our compound?”

 

Sam shook his head. “No, it was chasing the other mutants that were spotted earlier. We followed them until they were out of reach for us when the animal attacked us and sprinted after them.”

 

And with that Naomi suddenly appeared interested in what Sam had to say. “A mutant hunting other mutants. Was it a new breed? One not on record?”

 

“I think it was a Leviathan. But I’m not sure. It ran away so quickly and I got tossed to the ground, so I didn’t get a good look.” Sam rubbed his hand over his forehead. “But if they’ve got a taste for mutants, we might be in luck.”

 

Naomi nodded. “That could bode well for us. A few less mutants to try and fight off.”

 

Sam nodded before he added wryly, “Would be nice if hunters died of old age for a change.”

 

Naomi made a noncommittal noise and opened the door for him to the Council of Six chamber.

 

It was a round grey room with two tables and six seats for every council member. Sam took his place, standing in the middle of the room in front of them with every council member looking at him. Naomi sat down next to Raphael and Hester, who were both looking as clinical as always.

 

Uriel, Lucifer, and Zachariah were more passionate in their debates, but what they all had in common was they seemed to have a heart made of ice.

 

Without looking up, gaze focused on the paperwork in front of him, Zachariah barked, “Name and number.”

 

“Sam Winchester, 2583,” Sam replied dryly.

 

At that Zachariah turned to finally look up. His expression was unreadable, but there was clear distaste in his eyes. “Proceed with your report.”

 

Sam cleared his throat. On his way back he had carefully thought about his words. He couldn’t just tell them the truth. Dean had been right. They wouldn’t listen. He knew he needed to find another way. “At thirteen hundred my brother…” Another look of disdain from Zachariah and a murmuring from the others led him to be more neutral in his report. “The hunter Dean Winchester, number 2479, and I went on a perimeter check because of reports of mutants in the area. We saw them and hunted them, but they ran away instead of engaging in an attack. We followed them until the PONR threshold and decided to come back. We were attacked from behind by… probably a Leviathan, who was hunting the mutants. I believe the mutant animal was the reason the mutants fled from us. My… hunting partner’s suit got damaged in the attack, so I'm the only one who returned.”

 

Lucifer cleared his throat and shuffled the papers. “Number 2479 was the next in line to further your genes, with his demise that now falls on you. You will be given one day for recuperating and reflection, and are to report back here for your assignment.”

 

How charitable. He didn't say it loud, but he hoped his reply dripped with the implication, "Thank you, Council. Am I dismissed?"

 

“Yes,” Lucifer said with a dismissive wave of his hand.

 

Sam turned around, biting his lower lip as he tried to ignore Naomi, who accompanied him outside. He had hoped she would have forgotten, but of course she hadn’t. She was actually giving him a tight smile. “It’s an honor to draw a name, Sam. Your hand will choose the new citizen in our community.”

 

Sam just wanted it to be over. He hated this system. That people were chosen randomly to be allowed to have children. That someone had to die for someone else to have the right to live. It just wasn’t fair. It was barbaric.

 

“You will be called in later to be given the name of whom will be assigned as your Milowda,” Naomi said, sounding more like she was talking about any normal work day.

 

Sam thought he was going to be sick. He never wanted a woman to be forced to be with him. Since Dean was his older brother, it would have fallen on him, but now that he was gone...

 

"I think I really need this day for recuperation and reflection, Curia Naomi." He hoped that would at least shut her up for the moment.

 

His response was met with a curt nod. “Report back here at 0900 tomorrow.”

 

Do I have a choice? Instead he answered with a resigned, “Will do.”

 

He left Naomi where she stood and went back to the outskirts, crossing his arms as he pulled his jacket closer. It was getting colder. When he finally arrived to his hut, he started the heater a system of pipes that used the magma underground to heat up the huts in the city and held his hands against it to warm them up.

 

It slowly sank in that he was alone now. That Dean wouldn’t be here for him anymore. That he wouldn’t criticize his hair for being too long, complain about his snoring, or stop him before he did something impulsive like yelling his opinion in some of the Council members’ faces.

 

He wasn’t used to being alone. Dean had always been there for him.

 

“Stop thinking like he’s dead,” Sam said to himself as he shook his head. He could visit him, Dean wasn’t that far away. Although with the poisonous atmosphere, radiation, and mutants in between them, he might as well be on the other side of the planet. But Sam was determined to try to visit him the next time he was sent out. But first he needed to talk to Gabriel and tell him everything. So he waited and easily fell asleep against the heater.

 

He woke up to a wet finger being wiggled in his ear. “Wake up, sleeping beauty!” Gabe whispered in a falsely excited tone.

 

“Ew, Gabe. That’s disgusting,” Sam protested as he pulled away with a shudder. “Why are we friends again?”

 

“Because nobody gives good ear like I do.” He winked as he sank down on Sam’s cot with a sigh. “Alright. Talk to me.”

 

“I don’t even know where to start, Gabe,” Sam started, scrubbing his hand over his face. He needed to be more awake for this.

 

Gabe sighed and sprawled out on the cot. “Start with the tiny little fact that you said your brother is still alive out there. How?”

 

Sam took in a deep breath before he folded his hands in his lap and leaned closer to Gabriel. “You wouldn’t believe your eyes. We were attacked by an animal mutant and got rescued by a man, a man that was outside without a suit. He was clearly a mutant and I thought he was gonna kill us, seriously. But he rescued us. He lives in a glass dome about thirty minutes from here. And man… he has plants there and real food growing from them. Dean is staying with him.”

 

Gabe stared at him incredulously. “Are you sure you didn’t hit your head?”

 

Sam chuckled and nodded. “Funny, when I saw all of that I asked myself the same question. The guy, Cas, he’s different from the other mutants. Non-aggressive, very helpful and well spoken. He offered his help and food, but I explained to him that I wasn't allowed to bring anything back here. Gabe… I don’t need to tell you what this could mean for the Forty-Fivers.”

 

“You’re serious, aren’t you?” Gabe asked, looking truly stunned.

 

“Yes, deadly serious. I mean, what should I even do with this knowledge?” Sam asked in a whisper. “It’s not like I can go to the Council with it. This would change everything and I can’t imagine this is something the Council would want or accept. The law is sacrosanct. There is no touching or changing it.”

 

Gabe sighed and nodded. “You’re right about that, but… really? Real food?”

 

“Yes, like food I have never seen before. Other than in books. Dean ate the stuff, he said it was amazing.” Sam rubbed the back of his neck. “I wish I could take you out to see it. But as a doctor, they would never let you go out.”

 

The doctor ignored that particular comment for another question, “So, this mutant guy… You said he could go outside without it affecting him?” Sam could practically see the gears turning in Gabe’s head, the possibilities, probably trying to figure out if there was a way to sneak in a sample of the guy’s blood.

 

“Yes. He has some sort of ability. Cell regeneration.” Sam shrugged helplessly. This wasn’t his field of knowledge.

 

Gabe hummed thoughtfully and tapped his chin. “I’m going to put in for a short exploration leave. I want to go with you the next time.”

 

Sam's eyes widened in surprise. "Are you sure they would let you go? Going out is a high risk operation with an eighty percent chance of getting exposed. And doctors are rare."

 

“Only one way to find out, right? I mean, the Council has to approve it, and considering I’m not on any of their holiday card mailing lists...”

 

“But what will you tell them?” Sam asked, starting to get worried about his friend.

 

Gabe shrugged. “Non hunters ask for leaves. I plan on telling them as much of the truth as I can. To test the atmosphere by grabbing samples of the soil and whatever else I can. It hasn’t been tested in a planet’s rotation. We’re about due.”

 

"Okay," Sam breathed out. "You sure you're up for it if they let you go? It's dangerous outside, that’s no joke. I don't want..." Sam looked down, feeling embarrassed. "I just don't want to lose you out there."

 

That was met with a sharp laugh. “Push comes to shove, drop my ass off where Dean is. I could think of worse ways to spend the rest of my life.”

 

Sam laughed. "Drop off isn't likely. I probably would stay there too if you and Dean were both there. There wouldn't be much left here to come home to."

 

Gabe feigned a gasp. “What? You’re tellin’ me getting accosted by Nams anytime you return home doesn’t fill you with the warm and fuzzies?”

 

Sam gave him a quick grin before he murmured, "They’re going to choose a woman for me, Gabe."

 

“Of course they are. Stupid fucking process. Do you know who?”

 

Sam shook his head. “I don’t want someone forced into being with me. This...” He shook his head. “It shouldn’t be this way.”

 

“Well, last time we tried to get the Council to change their stance, we ended up being down a hundred people. I don’t want to see that again in my lifetime,” Gabe said with a sigh. One of said people had been his best friend Kali, who refused to be committed to the man she was assigned. And that was because she had fallen in love with Gabe.

 

Sam didn’t know if Gabe returned her feelings. It was something he never spoke about, not even to Sam. But every year on the anniversary of Kali’s local star transit, Gabe would recede into his quarters and refuse any company.

 

"I hate it here. I know that we need rules to survive, but... what about living?" Sam murmured more to himself.

 

Gabe scoffed. “That hasn’t existed in centuries.”

 

Sam nodded with a sad expression. "But I want that to change."

 

“Unless you want to overthrow the whole system, you know that ain’t gonna happen.”

 

He rubbed the back of his neck thoughtfully before he sighed deeply. “I'd probably die for even trying it, but maybe… maybe we can get a few of us a new life.”

 

He wasn’t sure how to do it. No one would just go out there because he claimed to have found a promised land. They would think he had lost his mind. But he couldn’t leave and turn his back on these people. His people. He couldn’t just selfishly keep this knowledge to himself. It wasn’t right.

 

Everyone here deserved a chance at a better life.

 

“But first of all,” he added, “you need to confirm if it’s really safe with Cas. When we visit Dean and if he’s still alive, maybe we can get a few more answers.”

 

Gabe nodded. “I agree. Alright, I’ll put in the request and ask for you as my hunter companion. Hopefully I haven’t pissed off the big-wigs too much.”

 

“I hope so too. Seriously, I can't wait to show you." Sam grabbed Gabriel’s hands and squeezed them. “Just imagine, eating real food.”

 

“Do you know of a way to take off the suits without it setting off the detector?”

 

Sam shook his head. "The scanner checks for pathogens or radiation contamination. If there is a way for you to take a scanner with you, we could check if the dome is clear of contamination. I know the radiation level is low because the suit hasn't picked up any radiation in the building. I have no idea about the pathogens though."

 

Gabe grinned. “Bet I could get Crowley to loan us one.”

 

“Are you going to flirt with him?” Sam asked with a half grin.

 

“Are you jealous?” he quipped with an eyebrow waggle.

 

Sam rolled his eyes and shoved his shoulder. "As if I would tell you, even if it were true. Just the implication could get me thrown into the sunchamber. No thank you."

 

Gabe sighed and nodded. “Yeah, that’s the last thing any of us need.”

 

"I seriously wouldn't mind living somewhere else where I can just be... me," Sam breathed out wistfully as he leaned against the heater.

 

Instead of his usual quip, or snarky response, Gabe gave him a serious look. “You sure you’re doing okay? I know Dean isn’t dead, but… you guys have been joined at the hip your entire lives.”

 

"I miss him, Gabe," Sam murmured, crossing his arms over his chest to stay warm. "I still can't believe he isn't here anymore. I don't think it’s registered yet, you know? I keep thinking he’ll come through that door and complain about my hair any minute."

 

Gabe drew him in for a hug. “Want me to bitch about it? Your hair is absolutely terrible.”

 

Sam tightened the grip around his friend as he chuckled. "Thank you, Gabe. That’s exactly what I needed."

 

“What’re best friends for?”

 

Sam smiled at Gabriel, thankful that he wasn't alone for now. He hoped Gabe could accompany him to see Dean and everything would work out.

 

When Gabe left him before curfew, Sam wrapped himself in his blanket, leaning against the heater. He tried to imagine what apples tasted like when he fell asleep, dreaming of weird green plants and colorful food.

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

As the world around him came into bleary focus after the most restful night’s sleep of his life, Dean sat upright in shock before he remembered he was safe. He looked around the room. One of the many free rooms Cas offered. It was pretty bare, save for a dresser, a night stand, and a small full size bed. But it was better than the filthy cots they slept in at the huts. His contentment over the new surroundings quickly faded as he thought of his brother.

 

Dean really hoped Sammy made it back okay. He was damn worried about him. But it wasn’t like he could go back. If Sam did make it, then he would have had to have a meeting with the Council of Six and report Dean’s death.

 

With a deep inhale, Dean shook his head of those thoughts. He still wasn’t ready to face that reality, so instead, he shrugged on a pair of sweats Cas gave him and decided to go and find some food. He was excited to eat more of those cherries.

 

When he reached the dome, Cas was already there, picking an orange round fruit from one of the trees. Dean chuckled as he approached. “How early do you wake up?”

 

Cas visibly startled and dropped the fruit he was holding before he looked at Dean with wide eyes. "Oh... I apologize. Hello, Dean. Um... what?"

 

Dean knelt down and started picking up the fruit. “I asked how early you get up? ‘Cause I went to bed before you and you’re up before me.”

 

"I..." Cas looked away and collected the rest of the fruit. "I don't sleep... much."

 

“Is that ‘cause of your mutant-ness?”

 

Cas shrugged before he stood up. "Maybe... The things, images I see when I sleep, are not... they wake me up." He gave Dean a quick smile. "Are you hungry? I made bread and marmalade. It’s cherry. I think you will like it."

 

Dean nodded. “Yeah, okay. And I’ve got a killer cure for nightmares if you want?”

 

“Nightmares?” Cas asked slowly.

 

“Yeah, that’s what your images when you sleep that wake you are. If it’s scary or whatever, it’s a nightmare. If it’s pleasant or happy, then it’s a dream.” Dean smiled as he held the door to the kitchen open for Cas.

 

Cas looked at Dean in awe for a moment. "A dream," he repeated. "I don't think I’ve ever had a dream." Cas put the basket of fruit down on the counter before he opened another one with a light brown something inside that he put down on a board.

 

Dean frowned as he looked at him. “That sucks. Sometimes dreams are the only way I get to see my mom again.”

 

Cas tilted his head thoughtfully before he pulled a knife out of a drawer and cut into the brown thing, that smelled incredible as soon as the first piece was off. "Why is your mother in your dream?"

 

“Not sure. I used to think it was Bog telling me that she was watching over me, but… As I’ve gotten older, I think it’s just because I missed her so much.” Dean poked the brown thing, it was really soft. “What is this?”

 

Cas smiled up at him. "This is bread. I’ll show you what I do with it to make it really delicious." He dropped to his knees and opened a cupboard that had a light inside and was emanating a wave of cold air. Cas got a glass and another box from the cold cupboard and closed it again before he opened the small box. Inside of it was something yellow. “This is butter. I make this from the co–from Cora's milk." He took another knife from the drawer and spread the butter on the piece of bread before he opened the glass. "And this is the cherry marmalade." He used the knife again and spread the marmalade over the butter. When he was finished, he lifted the bread to Dean's face. "Taste it."

 

Dean leaned forward and took a bite. The moment the taste hit his tongue, he couldn’t help but groan appreciatively. It was like Cas kept upping his game. “Oh, fuck. So good.”

 

Cas seemed to be giddy, smiling brightly as he handed him the bread. "I'm happy you like it. It's so nice that I can finally do this for someone else."

 

“Man, I can’t even. Can I have more?”

 

"Of course. Do you want to try to make one on your own?" Cas suggested, stepping aside as he started to unpack the fruits and vegetables he had gathered from the dome.

 

Dean nodded, holding his hands up expectantly. “What do I do?”

 

“First you take the big knife I call it sharky because of the teeth and you cut a piece of the bread, like I did earlier. Then you take the smaller knife and spread butter on it, after that, the cherry marmalade,” Cas explained calmly as he started to cut into the orange fruit from earlier and peeled the outside off of it. Something wet spurted onto Cas’s face from the fruit. “I apologize. It’s always messy to peel the oranges.”

 

Without thinking about it, Dean leaned close and licked the liquid from Cas’s cheek. “Damn. Does everything here taste good?”

 

Cas stared at Dean with parted lips, having stopped peeling the orange as he slowly lifted his hand and touched the place where Dean had licked him. He tilted his head to look at Dean, his cheeks were tinged a red hue. “Fruits are my favorite taste, too.”

 

Dean grinned broadly and grabbed the sharky knife, cutting crookedly into the bread. He furrowed his brow, but proceeded to try and spread the butter on it. He messed that up too by accidentally cutting the bread and then putting a big glob of the marmalade on it. “You made it look so easy.”

 

Cas chuckled as he leaned closer and wrapped his hand over Dean's hand, carefully guiding him to spread the marmalade on the bread. "You don't need so much force. It almost spreads itself. See?"

 

Dean smiled and nodded. “Cool.”

 

Cas's hands were warm and soft, not like Dean's calloused hands from years of hard labor. He slowly slid his fingertips over Dean’s hand and arm before he returned to his fruit to continue peeling the orange.

 

Dean grabbed Cas’s left hand to halt his movement and opened Cas’s palm before pressing it against his own cheek. “Your hands are so soft.”

 

Cas tilted his head and slid his fingers over Dean's cheek. For the first time he really looked up at him, instead of his usual quick look and bowed head. He appeared curious, touching Dean's eyebrows before he rubbed his thumb over his cheekbone. "You have dots on your skin. They look nice."

 

“They’re called freckles.” Dean smiled and leaned forward, staring into Cas’s eyes. “You have the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen.”

 

Cas smiled at him before he cupped his other cheek too, his hands smelling like the orange fruit. "And yours have the color of new plants."

 

Dean smiled. “I like that.”

 

"The sky sometimes had the color of my eyes. When it was still there," Cas added with a mirrored smile.

 

“That’s what the sky looked like?” Dean breathed out in awe as he reluctantly drew back from Cas. He enjoyed the warmth, but he was also hungry and wanted to eat more of the bread and marmalade.

 

"Sometimes it was blue, sometimes it was red as a fire when the sun dawned or set. In the evening, it was often orange and rose. When it was raining and thunderstorms rushed over the Dome, it was almost like it is now." Cas looked down at the orange. "There was no need for the special light in the dome to make the plants grow back in those days. I don't think I could grow the trees without the lamps that shine like the sun." Another streak of juice hit Cas's face and he closed his eyes with a sigh. “I’m clumsy today.”

 

Dean chuckled and gently wiped the juice away with the pad of his thumb. “I like you, Cas.”

 

Cas blinked up at him in surprise before he started to smile. "I don't think someone has ever liked me before... Um..." He chuckled before he added, "I like you, too."

 

That made Dean smile even wider. He’d never really connected with anyone the way Sammy had. Sam got along great with a lot of the Forty-Fivers. He made friends with so many of them. Dean had only gotten Charlie and Benny, and… well… That ended the worst way it could have. The warmth he felt from the realization that it went both ways made him grateful (for the first time) for getting stuck in the Dome. Because if he had to spend the rest of his life without his brother, he was glad he at least got to spend it with a friend.

 

After Dean shoveled another helping of bread into his mouth, he mumbled around the deliciousness, “Wha- aw we doin’ ftutay?”

 

Cas tilted his head and gave him a confused look. "What?"

 

Dean swallowed the food and caught his breath. “Sorry. What are we doing today? What are your plans?”

 

Cas appeared to think about it before he finally said, "I’ll tend to the animals and the plants, and then I’ll cook or make food. Usually that's my day. Sometimes I draw or I read a book. I wanted to start making new wine today. Do you want to help me?"

 

He couldn’t stop the enthusiastic nod. He needed to feel useful. “Very much.”

 

“It’s a lot of fun to make." Cas grinned before he seemed to be reminded of something. He knelt down and opened another cupboard with a bottle in it. The liquid in the bottle was white-ish yellow and Cas poured some of it in a glass on the counter. "Be careful when you try it."

 

Dean grabbed the glass and completely disregarding Cas’s warning took a large swig. He coughed and shook his head. “It burns.”

 

Cas chuckled and shook his head. “I warned you to be careful. It’s white wine. It contains alcohol.”

 

At that he looked at the bottle in amazement. “Wow. I’ve never heard of drinking alcohol.”

 

"If you drink too much, it can be dangerous and you will get a headache and get sick, but if you drink the right dosage, it can give you a nice, funny feeling. I wouldn’t recommend drinking more than one glass because your body is not used to it," Cas explained as he took the glass from Dean’s hand and sipped from it, looking intensely in Dean’s eyes before he gave him back the glass.

 

This time he just took a sip. “It’s a strange taste. Not awful.”

 

“The first time I drank it, I choked and spat it out.” Cas smiled as if he recollected the moment.

 

Dean chuckled. “Why did you keep making it?”

 

"Because wine has been made by humans for over a thousand years and... there is already so much lost, Dean. I want to keep as much as I can alive, even if it's just the art of making wine." Cas looked at the bottle with a smile. "And making it is a lot of fun."

 

“How do you make it?” he asked as he took another sip, starting to really enjoy the warmth it left in its wake.

 

"I’ve built an extra cuvée... it's a tub where I put all the harvested grapes into. Then I go and have a long shower and wash my feet." Cas grinned, looking almost giddy before he continued, "And then comes the fun part. I go into the cuvée and I stomp the grapes with my feet, so the juice gets separated from the skins and seeds. When that is done, I separate the juice and put it into a barrel, add yeast, and then it just takes some time for the sugar to convert into alcohol."

 

Dean furrowed his brow and gave him a half smile. “So, this is feet juice?”

 

Cas chuckled and shook his head. "Don't worry. There are no feet in it."

 

It honestly sounded like a hell of a lot of fun. “When are you going to make more?”

 

"I wanted to see if the grapes are ready or if they need more time. We can check after feeding the animals and collect the milk and the eggs." Cas broke the orange he had peeled into a few pieces and ate one, holding another out to Dean.

 

Dean took it and stuffed it into his mouth. The juice had been delicious, but the fruit itself was even better. He groaned in appreciation and smiled at Cas. “Thank you.”

 

Cas smiled quickly before he looked down at the floor. "You're welcome." He turned to wash his hands and toweled them dry before he looked up at Dean again. "Are you ready for the animals?"

 

“Yeah. I finished naming them all.” Dean grabbed another piece of plain bread and stuffed it into his mouth as he followed Cas.

 

“I’m very excited to hear them.”

 

Dean could see that Cas really looked excited. He wasn’t just saying it. Since they met, he got the feeling that the guy didn't even know how to lie. Back in Zion, things were quite different. No one really said what they were thinking. Everyone lied.

 

Because if you told the truth, you might end up in the sunchamber. He hated that place. It was built long before he was born. Even before his parents. People who went against the rules and laws either faced one of two fates. Exile or being sent to the sunchamber. Which was a misnomer; there was no sun in it. Just a bright light supposedly there to make sad people happy again.

 

One of the rules of Zion was to not show sadness, anyone who did… Dean shuddered at the thought. His time in the chamber made him the exact opposite of happy. The room was cold and isolated, nowhere to sit and once a day he was brought a mushbar, slipped in through a slot. No human contact whatsoever. He shook his head of those memories and came back to the here and now.

 

Dean swallowed the bread and started listing their names, “So the white chicken I named Amelia Egghart, the brown one is Cluck Norris. And the rabbits: the grey one is Rabbit DeNiro, the white one is David Hasselhop, and the brown and white one is Luke Skyhopper. Get it?”

 

Cas tilted his head with a confused smile. "That's a very creative use of putting their traits into a name. Are those people you know?"

 

Dean barked out a laugh and shook his head. “Nah. They’re famous people and a famous movie character from the twentieth century. My Dad was kind of a history buff, even though he shouldn’t have known this stuff. But his Dad was a higher rank than him and taught him everything he knew. We were raised on classical music, although, my dad couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket so I guess I’ll never know if those songs are supposed to sound like that.”

 

"Music," Cas repeated slowly. "I’ve read about it, but it escapes my imagination."

 

“On the floors of Tokyo, down in London town's a go go, with the record selection, and the mirror's reflection, I'm a dancin' with myself,” Dean sang one of his dad’s favorites.

 

He could see Cas's eyes widen when he started to sing, looking at him in awe as his lips parted before he started to smile at him. "That is music? What is dancing?" he asked, still sounding like he was in awe.

 

“Uh, well… Dancing I’d have to show you, I don’t think I could explain it…”

 

Cas nodded with a smile. "Yes, please."

 

Dean chuckled. “Right now?”

 

Cas's eyes widened as he looked in the direction of the dome. "Oh, you're right. The animals are waiting for us. You can show me later." He gave Dean another smile before they went into the dome and Cas led him to a corner with a bigger empty basket. "Take the basket, we need to fill it with lettuce, carrots, and corn."

 

“Uh… One question,” Dean started as he held up his finger, “what are those things?”

 

“I’ll show you.” Cas took his hand and gently pulled him towards a field. He let go of him to kneel down, wrapping his fingers around a green tuft and pulled something orange out of the earth. "This is a carrot. The rabbits love these, but I like to eat them too." He patted the dirt from it before he put it in the basket. He then proceeded to pluck a round light green plant from the ground with big leaves. "This is the lettuce. The rabbits love this, too." He reached over to give it to Dean.

 

He frowned at it. “This is food?”

 

"Yes, but it isn't sweet like the fruits. The carrots are good for soup... The one I forgot to make yesterday... But I can make it today." Cas reached over to another plant that was very high. He unwrapped something yellow from the thick leaves. "This is corn. The chickens eat it, but it’s also very tasty when you cook it."

 

Dean kind of loved how excited Cas got when he talked about food. Hell, anything really. His eyes would light up, the skin around them crinkling with his joy as he spouted out all of the different facts and things he knew. He’d never been all that interested in learning as a kid, hence his designation as a Hunter. Which was interesting. Sammy was interested in school and wicked smart, but for some reason he failed all of his aptitude tests, ending up as a Hunter, too. And he could have been something so much better.

 

Thinking about his brother caused a painful clench in his heart. Fuck, he really missed him. Dean swallowed against the lump in his throat and grabbed the corn, now no longer feeding off of Cas’s bouncy, happy energy. “How much should I grab?”

 

Cas suddenly gave him an intense look, freezing in his movement before he leaned forward and pulled Dean in for a tight hug without saying anything.

 

“Uh… Cas?”

 

Cas leaned back, wide blue eyes looking up at him. "You looked sad."

 

Dean couldn’t help but chuckle. “I was sad.”

 

“Do you feel better now? Because that would mean hugs really work,” Cas explained with his typical head tilt.

 

“Yeah, Cas. I do.” He didn’t have the heart to tell him it wasn’t because of the hug, that it was because of Cas.

 

Cas smiled widely at him, all white teeth and crinkles around his eyes. “Um, just grab a few more carrots and I’ll get the corn. Then I’ll show you how I feed Cora.”

 

The smile that split Dean’s face was genuine. He nodded and proceeded to grab the right amount of all of the vegetables that Cas had asked for. Feeling a sense of purpose in doing some labor. When he finished, he brought the basket over to Cas and held it out to him. “Done.”

 

Cas put a few more pieces of corn in it and smiled before he took the basket. "Thank you for your help."

 

“I’m happy to help. I like being busy.”

 

"I understand that. I like working, too. It makes me content." He opened the door to the animal pen as he put the basket down and waved Dean over to Cora. Cas touched the ground and suddenly a green carpet of plants and flowers started to sprout out of nowhere, surrounding the cow until it grew to the last corner of her enclosure. Cora instantly started to eat the green plants.

 

“This is how I feed her.” Cas smiled before he grabbed a silver bucket from a corner.

 

Dean exhaled in awe. “Wow.” He looked at Cas and shook his head in amazement. “You’re like the best friend every little kid wishes to have.”

 

Cas looked confused by that, but he didn't ask for clarification. Instead he just pointed at the backside of the cow before he knelt down. "Now I can get her milk." Cas put the bucket under the cow and grabbed what looked like several long nipples on a large breast, massaging them with his fingers until milk spurted into the bucket.

 

Dean kneeled down next to him and watched the process. “Does that hurt her?”

 

“It would hurt her more if I didn’t get her milk,” Cas explained calmly. “Do you want to try it?”

 

“How do I do it?” he asked as he scooted closer.

 

Cas took his hand and carefully draped them around the nipple things. "Push at the base and press forward. It's easier if you switch back and forth between both hands, like this." Cas had his hands draped over Dean's as he helped him get a feeling for the movement. “Yes, just like that. You’re doing great.”

 

Dean smiled as he continued to milk her. He craned his neck to look at Cas, never breaking his rhythm. “Thank you for trusting me with this.”

 

Cas hummed and looked at Dean with a smile. "I think you're good with them. They know when people like them and they like you back in return."

 

“I do... like them, I mean.”

 

Cora took that moment to make a loud noise which startled them both so much that they nearly toppled over. Cas was the first one to laugh. "I think she likes you very much."

 

Dean laughed a little nervously. “You sure that wasn’t cow for, ‘get your rough hands off of me’?”

 

Cas sat down on the grass and laughed. "More like, 'keep going I have eating to do'."

 

He honestly couldn’t remember the last time he’d had so much fun. And with an adorable mutant no less. Dean smiled and asked, “When do I know to stop?”

 

"You'll see that they get wrinkled when they are empty." Cas smiled as he took the other two in his hands and helped him. "This way it goes a lot faster."

 

Dean got a little lost in the harmony of working with Cas, enjoying being useful and helping Cora too. He started humming one of his favorite classical music songs.

 

“You have a beautiful voice,” Cas murmured before he stopped milking Cora. Dean realized that Cas had been right. He could see that she was empty.

 

“Did that alcohol hit you hard?” Dean teased.

 

Cas smiled and playfully bumped into his shoulder. “Is it so unbelievable that I like your voice?”

 

Dean shook his head. “Nah, it’s just proof you’ve never heard music before.”

 

Cas leaned back into the grass, picking a little white flower and twirling it between his fingers. "Well, I don't mind if you make music with your voice more often."

 

“You’re gonna regret that.” Dean chuckled and picked another white flower before tucking it behind Cas’s ear.

 

Cas rewarded him with a beautifully shy smile before he shook his head. “I'm pretty sure I won't. I could listen to you all day.”

 

Dean returned the smile and suddenly found himself getting lost in those damn eyes. He’d seriously never seen that shade of blue before. It was pretty mesmerizing. If that’s what the sky used to look like, Dean was ninety five percent sure he’d spend most of his life looking up.

 

It made him feel… weird. Was this what real friendship was like? What he had with Benny was close, but he never really felt mesmerized by him like he did with Cas.

 

Realizing he’d been staring for too long, Dean gave him an awkward shrug. “Sorry. I really like your eyes.”

 

Cas shook his head. “No need to be sorry. Yours are very nice to look at, too. Green is my favorite color.”

 

Dean smiled. As far as fates that included banishment, he really lucked out. “So what’s next?”

 

“Now we collect the eggs and feed the chickens and rabbits,” Cas explained before he reached a hand out for Dean to pull him up.

 

Taking it, Dean was surprised how strong Cas was as he effortlessly helped him up. Because Dean wasn’t expecting to be pulled forward so hard, he stumbled into Cas, who effortlessly caught him to boot.

 

He patted Cas’s chest as he steadied himself, smiling at him in awe. “How strong are you?”

 

Cas rubbed the back of his neck. “Probably as strong as the others that were created as soldiers.”

 

“How strong is that? Can you lift Cora?”

 

“I don’t think Cora would like it if I did that. But I think I could.” Cas picked up the basket and grinned. “I could lift you without a problem.”

 

Dean laughed. “I’m half tempted to say prove it, but I don’t doubt that.”

 

Cas put the basket down before he grabbed Dean’s hip on each side and lifted him up as if it was nothing. “You weigh nothing. You need to eat more. If I have time tonight, I’ll make a pie for you.”

 

Dean let out a surprised laugh and smacked his arm playfully. “Put me down, Tarzan.”

 

Cas slowly put Dean down, sliding his hands over his sides. “Who is Tarzan?”

 

“Another fictional character from a movie. They used to make them in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries,” Dean clarified, although he wasn’t sure if it was much of one.

 

“It's strange that you know more about that time than me, although I’ve lived longer.” Cas shook his head and picked up the basket. “I only know what they allowed me to know and what I read after they were gone.”

 

That sounded pretty sad, but if Dean really thought about it, it wasn’t much different from Zion. His father had been given some banned books that focused on the history of those two centuries when he was a child. His grandfather had also found a box of cassette tapes that he managed to build a player for. He took great risk teaching John all he knew.

 

That’s actually what got Dean’s grandfather sent to the sunchamber for the rest of his life. John had been young when it happened. They destroyed the player and all of the tapes. Well, all but one. A mixtape that was made up of popular songs of the nineteen-eighties and nineteen-nineties. John kept it and when Dean was eight, John started sharing more and more about his past with his oldest son. It was the only time he violated the laws of Zion.

 

When Dean was twelve, John gave him the tape. And Dean treasured that damn tape. Which would now be Sammy’s. And thinking of his brother caused another wave of sadness. He forced a smile and said, “Sounds like your Council was a lot like ours.”

 

“Council?” Cas repeated curiously. As he climbed over the fence of the chicken and rabbit enclosure.

 

Dean followed him with a nod. “Zion is run by the Council of Six. They rule over the six districts and make all of the laws. There’s a process for everything. Even having kids. And if said kids aren’t smart enough in school, we start training for more appropriate occupations. I was chosen to be a Hunter. I made it to about seven before I was pulled from school.”

 

Cas looked very thoughtful and confused at that, like he hadn’t understood everything. He knelt down and started to unpack the lettuce, corn, and carrots and it took only a second before he was surrounded by the animals, greedily eating the food. “What is a school?”

 

He wasn’t quite sure how to answer that, so he tried to explain to best of his ability. “A room where kids are taught things we might need to know, and for the dumb kids, we’re taught a specific trade for Zion. There’s Hunters, like me and my brother. Sanitation, the builders. You know, the labor that the smart ones are too important to do.” Which was another reason why he was confused how his brother ended up as a Hunter. Sam was so smart.

 

Cas petted Luke SkyHopper between his ears before he nodded slowly. "Did you like being a... Hunter?"

 

Dean shrugged. “I mean, it’s not like I could’ve been anything else, so I never really thought about it.”

 

When Cas had emptied the basket, he carefully stood up and smiled. “Nothing in life is predictable anyway. Now you’re here so we can help each other.”

 

That made Dean smile. “Thank you for everything, Cas.”

 

Cas mirrored his smile. “Thank you for staying… I know it wasn’t your choice, but… I’m glad you are here.”

 

“Me, too.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

 

The blaring noise of the morning shift startled Sam awake. His neck hurt because of the way he had slept against the heater and his whole body felt like it was frozen. He grabbed another sweater and slipped into his jacket, while taking every opportunity to hold his hands against the heater to warm them up.

 

“Dean, are you up already?” he yelled before he froze. Stupid! Stupid, stupid.

 

Sam kicked the bucket of sand they used to clean their hands with before he stuffed his hands in his pockets and went outside. His first walk was to the Hunter’s toilet hut, which was over ten minutes away from them. There was a line and Sam greeted Gadreel – who was standing at the end of it – with a quick smile. He liked the guy. He was a gentle and kind man, but still a fierce Hunter when he needed to be.

 

“I’m sorry to hear about your brother, Samuel,” he said as he braced his hand on Sam’s shoulder.

 

"Thank you, Gadreel. I appreciate it." Sam nodded, trying not to look too sad in front of the other men. It was a tightrope walk and Sam was happy to know that Dean was still alive, otherwise he knew he wouldn’t be as calm as he was right now. So, thankfully that meant no one would recommend him for a day in the sunchamber.

 

As if that had ever helped to make people happy. Everyone knew it was a punishment and everyone knew it didn’t cure depression. But no one was brave enough to say it out right.

 

“Would you like to go before me?” Gadreel asked, offering him his place with a kind smile.

 

Did he feel a little bit guilty using his brother’s "death" to get further in line? Yes. But it didn't stop him from taking the nice offer. He really needed to piss.

 

"Thank you, Gadreel. That's really nice," Sam replied as they traded places.

 

Gadreel nodded. “I’ve never forgotten your kindness when my mother died. It’s the least I could do.”

 

Sam had covered for him when Gadreel lost his mother. Sam believed that people had a right to be allowed to grieve and he wanted to give Gadreel the time he needed. So he had lied to prevent him from being sent to the chamber. He had just done what he felt was right, but he knew not everyone believed in such a kindness. Zion was all about efficiency and doing your part. If you weren’t doing your part, you were asocial and you got punished. Punishment meant no rations, sometimes no water, and being thrown in the sunchamber or exiled if it continued.

 

Sam gave Gadreel a soft smile, whispering, “She raised you with kindness. It was the least I could do.”

 

He returned the smile and nodded. “If you would ever like to talk, you’re always welcome in my hut.”

 

Sam was angry with himself that the first thing that popped into his head was how he needed to be careful about those offers. Meetings comprised of two men alone were frowned upon. Three was socially acceptable, but a meeting of more than five wasn't allowed. He swallowed dryly and looked at the ground. "Thank you. I’ll think about it."

 

“Of course,” Gadreel said.

 

In that moment another Hunter approached, a weird guy named Garth, who was just as nice as he was weird. “Howdy, Sam! Where’s Dean?”

 

Gadreel gave him a pained look as Sam cleared his throat and said, “He didn’t make it back yesterday.”

 

“Oh, no,” he proclaimed, his expression immediately turning sad. Garth had always liked Dean, even though Dean found him strange and off-putting. “I... I don’t know what to say.”

 

Sam nodded before he took in a deep breath. “Yeah, you know how it is...”

 

“Metatron!” Gadreel whispered in a panic, immediately causing the three of them to look down and make their expressions neutral.

 

Metatron was the Council’s – for lack of a better word – spy. He was a historian, a knowledge keeper, who found early on if he reported the other citizens to the Council for their emotional states, that he would be rewarded.

 

“Garth!” Metatron barked.

 

Garth immediately stiffened and hesitantly looked up. “Metatron, how are you?” he greeted pleasantly, despite his posture.

 

The spy narrowed his eyes at him in suspicion. “You looked sad a moment ago.”

 

“No, no, no! Not at all, I was just surprised!”

 

“By what?” Metatron demanded.

 

“He just learned that my brother didn’t come back yesterday,” Sam explained, glaring at Metatron as he towered over him.

 

Metatron didn’t even flinch. “Well, then it definitely sounds like you were sad, Garth.” He snapped his fingers and two guards grabbed Garth by the arms, which was definitely unnecessary considering he wasn’t a large guy.

 

“He wasn’t sad, he was just surprised by the news, dickhead. Let him go!” Sam yelled before he could stop himself.

 

“Hmm, you sound like you could benefit from the sunchamber, too,” he sneered and held his hand up, ready to snap his fingers. Metatron paused and said, “Unless you apologize for being so rude...”

 

Sam crossed his arms over his chest and smirked. “I'm not sure if Curia Naomi will be pleased to hear that no new couple will be chosen when I don’t turn up at nine.” It was an old law that the one closest to the last dead person got to choose a couple to have a baby. “So how about you just forget about all of this and walk away, and I won’t mention this to her.”

 

Metatron narrowed his eyes in anger. He turned to the guards holding Garth and snapped, “Take him to the chamber.” He sneered at Sam. “You’ll make your meeting and Garth will spend the time you would have in the chamber on your behalf.”

 

Sam gave Garth a pained look before he said, “I’ll get you out of there.” He turned to Metatron with a glare. “This is arbit–”

 

Gadreel put his hand over Sam’s mouth and stopped him from saying anything more. “Excuse us, Metatron. I hope we didn’t steal too much of your important time.”

 

Metatron rolled his eyes and stormed off.

 

Gadreel drew back and apologized, “Forgive me, but you don’t want to make an enemy of him.”

 

Sam knew Gadreel was right. Tomorrow his protection would be gone and Metatron always found a way to bully people he didn’t like. “I hate this,” he murmured, stepping closer to Gadreel before he looked at him gratefully. “Thank you. Usually Dean reels me back in. Guess I have to get used to getting in trouble now.”

 

“As long as I’m nearby, I’ll try to keep you out of trouble,” he said with a sincere smile.

 

“Thank you, Gadreel.” Sam gave the man another smile as he was next in line. He pulled his jacket over his nose before he entered the semi dark room and closed the door behind him.

 

He got emptying his bladder over with as fast as he could with minimal breathing, willing himself to not smell the air because, otherwise, he would probably be sick for the rest of the day. He quickly left the room again, nodding at Gadreel before he made his way to ration disbursal.

 

There was also a line in front of the counter that was guarded with heavily armed loyalists.

 

They were there to ensure the line moved quickly, otherwise citizens would try to get second helpings. And only the more valuable citizens could have more than assigned if there was enough that meal.

 

Gabe waved at him to come closer from near the front of the line.

 

Sam joined him with a tired smile. “Good morning, Gabriel.” For the benefit of the soldier he added a cheery, “Isn’t it a wonderful morning?”

 

Gabe rolled his eyes. “Delightful,” he replied in a bored monotone.

 

Sam got closer so they would be out of earshot form the guards. “Do you still want to go out there?”

 

“Yeah, I already submitted the request. I’m not giving up a chance like that.”

 

Sam raised a surprised eyebrow at that. No wonder his friend looked so tired. “When will you know if they’ll allow it?”

 

Gabe shrugged. “It’s gotta go through the Council with a majority vote.”

 

“I’ll try my best to get you through it in one piece,” Sam murmured, feeling incredibly worried about his friend. Hunters were trained for outside excursions from a young age. The low temperatures and the heavy suits put a lot of strain on the body. Gabriel wasn’t used to that.

 

“I know you will, cupcake.” Gabe smirked.

 

Sam looked around, hoping no one had heard that before he gave his friend a pointed look. "I meet with Curia Naomi after eating and then I'll be posted at the Hunter station at the entrance. Come and find me when you know something."

 

Gabe nodded. “Got it. You gonna be okay today?”

 

“I have to be,” Sam replied tersely, “it’s not really a choice.”

 

Gabe braced his hand over Sam’s and squeezed. “I know, kid.”

 

"Move along!" One of the guards yelled at them, startling Sam as he quickly walked a few steps further to close the gap again. He wondered how Dean's day was going. If he had something nice to eat, if he was missing him as much as he was missing his brother.

 

Hopefully he could see him again soon.

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

“Cas!” Dean called out as he came into the dome, having successfully spread butter and marmalade on a piece of bread.

 

"I'm here!" Cas waved at him from where he was kneeling next to the dark red round fruits, Dean had now learned were called grapes. He was harvesting them and he had already filled two big baskets, currently working on his third.

 

Dean smiled, holding up the bread triumphantly. “I did it!”

 

Cas's smile brightened. "You really did! It looks perfect."

 

The warmth he felt over Cas’s genuine happiness for him was unlike anything he’d ever experienced. Dean knelt next to Cas as he stuffed the bread into his mouth. “You need help?” he mumbled around the bread.

 

Cas nodded, grabbing Dean’s hand to lick some cherry marmalade from his index finger before he showed him how to cut the vine with a pair of scissors. “Just like that.”

 

Dean grabbed the spare pair of scissors and got to work alongside him. “So what’s your favorite food?”

 

“Popcorn,” Cas replied immediately.

 

“What’s that?”

 

“Remember the corn we picked this morning to feed the chickens? If you dry those and heat them with butter they, um... start to pop and get fluffy. It’s delicious,” Cas explained with a smile.

 

Dean couldn’t help but smile excitedly. “I’d like to try it.” He should have been paying better attention, because he ended up nicking his thumb with the scissors. “Fuck!” Dean stuck his thumb in his mouth as an automatic reaction.

 

“Did you hurt yourself?” Cas asked with a worried expression. “Let me see.”

 

He held his hand towards Cas, the blood bubbling out again. “I cut myself, I’m such a friggin’ klutz.”

 

Cas wrapped his hand around his finger and squinted his eyes in concentration. When he pulled it back, the cut on his finger was gone. "Better?" he asked with a soft smile.

 

Dean looked at him in awe. He returned the smile and nodded. “Much. Thank you.”

 

Cas gave him another smile before he slowly stood up and held out his hand for Dean to take. His hand felt warm and strong as he pulled Dean up and he nearly collided with Cas as he stumbled forward. Cas quickly wrapped his arms around him to stabilize him, looking up at him with wide blue eyes. “I'm sorry. I think I pulled you up with too much force.”

 

“It’s okay, Superman,” he murmured as he patted his cheek.

 

Cas tilted his head again before he grabbed one of the baskets full of grapes. “Can you bring the other one?” He didn’t wait for a reply before he carried the basket over to a wooden basin and carefully poured the grapes from the basket into it.

 

Dean followed his direction, grabbing the other basket. Considering how tiny the fruits were, a lot of them sure were heavy. Dean made a sound of struggle as he poured his basket into the same basin. “Like this?”

 

“Yes.” Cas smiled at him. When Dean put down the empty basket, Cas grabbed his hand. “We need to wash our feet first before we can start the fun part. Come with me to the shower.”

 

He followed, noticing that Cas never once let go of his hand. Dean found he didn’t mind so much. When they reached the showers, Dean started taking off his clothes. “Won’t our feet just get dirty again walking back?”

 

Cas shook his head as he showed Dean a basket in the corner with transparent foil in it. “We’ll wrap our feet in that. I'll help you.”

 

He stripped his white shirt and pants, and carefully folded them on the bench. “It’s better to make the wine without any clothes on. The stains from the grapes are hard to wash out again.”

 

Dean nodded. Considering their clothes were white, Cas made a good point. He turned on a shower head for himself and Cas next to each other. The moment it was hot, he slid under the stream and groaned in appreciation. “I love this so much.”

 

“It's very relaxing.” Cas hummed as he got under his shower. His messy hair flattened under the water that ran down his body. Cas grabbed a block of something yellowy-white that smelled sweet and he started to wash his feet with it. He looked up with a smile. “There’s a soap in front of you too.”

 

Dean looked at him in confusion. “Soap?”

 

Cas held up the block and nodded towards Dean’s side of the shower. “It helps with cleaning your body.”

 

He grabbed it and looked at the block. It was hard and soft at the same time. Dean bent over as he started rubbing it on his foot like Cas had done. It started foaming and he looked up with a bright smile. “Wow.”

 

“I made them myself last month. A lot of them. They are stored in one of the storerooms.” Cas chuckled when he rubbed the soap under his feet. “I hav–gnnn a book about creating those things for my–gnnn–self.”

 

Dean smiled at him in amusement. “You okay?”

 

“Yes, I’m just very ticklish under my feet,” Cas admitted, still chuckling and making the funniest faces while he tried to suppress the laughter.

 

Dean couldn’t help but chuckle as he watched. He shook his head and finished washing his feet, resisting the urge to try and see where else Cas was ticklish. “I didn’t think it was possible for someone to tickle themselves?”

 

Cas put the soap back on the weird dish thing with a shrug. “I seem to have that talent.”

 

At that Dean invaded Cas’s space and tickled the guy’s exposed side, no longer able to resist seeing just how ticklish he was.

 

The reaction was definitely worth it. Cas made a noise that was a cross between a surprised yelp and a squeal as he tried to jump away from him, starting to laugh and holding his hands up in surrender. “Please, Dean.”

 

“Please what? Please more?” he teased as he closed the distance between them and used both hands to tickle Cas’s sides, unable to hide his own laughter.

 

Cas grabbed Dean’s wrist and pushed him gently against the showerwall, still chuckling. “Please, sto–” Cas suddenly frowned and looked down at himself in surprise and confusion.

 

Dean furrowed his brow and looked down too. “You okay?”

 

Cas tilted his head as he frowned at his dick, which had grown hard and long. “I'm not sure,” Cas replied, sounding insecure.

 

He chuckled and clapped a hand on Cas’s shoulder. “Don’t be worried. Happens to me sometimes, too.” Dean had plenty a memory of horsing around with Benny and the same damn thing happening to him. Usually when Benny had him pinned to the ground after wrestling.

 

Cas didn’t look convinced, instead he carefully poked himself, making a soft noise. “This has never happened to me before.”

 

Dean smiled. “It’ll go away. Making it cold helps.”

 

Cas raised an eyebrow before he nodded and went over to his shower, turning the handle until he made a noise of protest and scrunched up his nose. “Ahh, cold,” he murmured as he shook himself and shut down the water, looking down at himself. “You were right. It worked.”

 

“See? Nothing to worry about. Other than being cold,” he said as he gently grabbed Cas’s wrist to pull him under the warm water of his own shower. Dean spat out some water that had accumulated in his mouth. “All better.”

 

Cas got down on his knees and wrapped his hand around Dean’s ankle, carefully lifting his foot. "Let me see if you're clean under your foot."

 

Dean swallowed dryly and looked away, something about Cas in that moment made him feel weirdly warm. He took a deep breath and counted to ten in his head.

 

He could feel Cas's fingertips sliding along his sole. "You don't seem to be ticklish," Cas murmured as he put down Dean's foot and lifted the other.

 

“Yeah, it pissed a lot of people off they could never tickle me,” he said with a nervous chuckle.

 

Cas looked up at him for a moment, the water getting in his face so he squinted his eyes before he looked down again. "That's convenient... Why are you nervous?"

 

“What makes you think I’m nervous?” Dean attempted to keep his tone as neutral as possible.

 

"Your heart rate spiked and you have a slight tremor in your voice. It usually indicates people are nervous. Are you scared I might find a place you are ticklish?" Cas asked as he slowly inspected Dean's foot with his fingers.

 

Dean chuckled and shrugged. “Maybe. But you won’t.”

 

"Really?" He could practically hear the smile before Cas tickled Dean under his foot. “Nothing?”

 

“Nope,” he said as he smiled, “nothin’.”

 

Cas sat back and looked slightly disappointed. "I envy you.” When he stood up again, he touched Dean’s forearm. “Stay here. I’ll get the foil and wrap your feet.”

 

Dean nodded and resisted the urge to pull him back again. Which was weird. But it made him think of his friendship with Benny again. The way he felt calmer in the other man’s presence. And the closer he was, the better he felt. Dean was so glad to have that feeling with another friend again.

 

When Cas came back, Dean shut off the water and took the soft towel from his new friend. Cas had wrapped himself in a towel too before he knelt in front of Dean again, starting to wrap his foot in the transparent foil.

 

Dean clutched the towel and wrapped it a little tighter around his waist. “So will we take these off when we get back to the tub thing?”

 

Cas nodded as he started to wrap up Dean's second foot. "Exactly, you can sit on the rim of the tub. It's very sturdy and heavy. But don’t remove them until we're there."

 

“Okay.” He smiled as Cas stood up and put the foil things on his own feet. Dean liked the way Cas was smiling up at him. There was that warmth again.

 

When Cas was done with his feet, he used his towel to rub himself dry before he draped it over a metal bar. “Now comes the fun part.” He smiled, sounding excited as he reached for Dean’s hand.

 

Dean took it and let himself be dragged through to the room where the large tub was. He laughed at Cas’s enthusiasm.

 

Cas sat down on the rim and started to free his first foot of the foil before he swung it into the tub. He repeated the process with his other and carefully planted both feet into the grapes, waiting for Dean with a wide grin. Dean followed his example, freeing his feet before he carefully lowered them into the grapes.

 

Cas held his hand out again. “And now you just need to stomp your feet.”

 

He held onto both of Cas’s hands as he lifted his right foot and slammed it into the grapes. It was weird, but felt kind of good. The feeling of the fruits being squished between his toes surprisingly satisfying. “I like this.”

 

“It feels funny under my feet, but not in a bad way,” Cas explained as he squeezed Dean’s hands and started to jump around. “It’s nice doing this with someone, instead of alone.”

 

Dean laughed and started jumping around with him, never once letting go of his hands. He smiled and said, “We’re almost dancing.”

 

“That reminds me, you wanted to show me what dancing is.”

 

“Here,” Dean said as he gently braced his hands on Cas’s shoulders, “stop jumping.” He then stepped a little closer and took Cas’s right hand to brace it on his shoulder. Dean gently grasped Cas’s waist with one hand as their left hands came together in an elegant arch. “Now just do what I do, but the opposite. If I step forward, you step back. Get it?”

 

Taking a step forward, Cas carefully followed suit. Dean smiled and gently started to sway him.

 

Cas looked down at his feet to see what Dean was doing before he looked up to smile at him. “This is nice,” he murmured before he stepped on Dean’s foot. “Oh, I'm sorry.”

 

Dean smiled. “It’s okay. We’ll just keep practicing ‘til you get it right.”

 

“Would you make music with your voice again, Dean?” Cas asked with a shy smile.

 

The smile made him feel that warmth again. Dean nodded as he returned the smile. With a soft sway of the hips and spinning Cas with him, he decided to sing another song his Dad liked, “You put the boom boom into my heart, you send my soul sky high when your lovin' starts. Jitterbug into my brain, goes bang bang bang ‘til my feet do the same.”

 

Cas gave him an awed look while simultaneously still managing to look confused. He didn’t ask anything though, just let himself be swayed around in the grapes while he listened to Dean’s singing. When he finished, Cas smiled widely. “Another one please.”

 

Dean chuckled and went with a slower song, “I hear the drums echoing tonight, but she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation. She's coming in, 12:30 flight, the moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation…” As he kept singing, he drew Cas a little closer, teaching him the good, old fashioned slow dance.

 

Cas rested his head on Dean’s shoulder. Dean could practically feel how he relaxed under his fingers as he softly swayed with him and continued to sing.

 

“Do people dance a lot where you come from?” he asked quietly when Dean finished singing – although they didn’t stop swaying to some inaudible music.

 

“Not really. Mom liked dancing and Dad showed us to, uh... for her, you know?” Dean wrapped his arm around Cas’s waist and held him as they swayed.

 

Cas shook his head against Dean’s shoulder before he murmured, “So you could dance with your mother?”

 

Dean sighed and leaned his head against Cas’s. “So we could remember her.”

 

“I see.” Cas wrapped his arms a little bit tighter around him. “I don't have a family, Dean. I never had a mother or a father... well, my creator called himself my father sometimes, but my point is, if I say or ask something that is out of line, then it's because I don't have much experience in this area.”

 

Dean smiled against the crown of Cas’s head. “I’d be happy to explain what you don’t understand.”

 

Cas was quiet for a moment before he asked, “Humans are little when they are born, right? How old were you when your mother left you?”

 

“Yeah, we start as babies. She, uh... she was taken when I was four and Sammy was a baby.” He hoped Cas didn’t ask more questions. Dean didn’t mind telling Cas if he asked, but he didn’t like to think of it, because it made him sad. And being sad was a bad thing.

 

Cas leaned back slowly so he could look at Dean, one hand reaching up to his cheek, cupping it. “Was she sick?”

 

Dean swallowed and shook his head. “My brother wasn’t an approved pregnancy. She asked them to take her instead of Sammy.”

 

Cas frowned before he tilted his head. His voice sounded hesitant, as if he already had an idea what had happened, but just couldn’t imagine it. “What do you mean? Taken where?”

 

“Outside. She was exiled.” Dean sucked in a breath to steady his breathing, clinging to Cas tighter than he meant to.

 

Cas gave him a shocked look before suddenly a tear fell from his eyes. “They killed her just because she had a child? I don't understand...”

 

Dean cupped his face, gently wiping Cas’s tears with the pad of his thumb. “We have a strict population. When someone dies, an assigned couple is allowed to procreate. And if they get pregnant with more than one baby, the pregnancy is terminated. My mom wanted Sammy to have a life, so she got approval from the Council.”

 

Cas pressed himself close to Dean and he could feel him shaking his head. “Everyone has only one life,” he whispered breathlessly, “and no one has the right to take it. I'm... I'm sad... so many lives have been lost over time. It’s so senseless.”

 

Dean just held on, taking comfort in a sympathy he’d only gotten to share with his brother when they were out of sight of being reported. And Benny, when they spent half the night talking in his tent, sometimes getting sad.

 

Benny had been assigned a Milowda. Andrea. They had loved each other, which was rare, but not unheard of. Much like Dean’s parents. And after two years, they had been given approval from the Council to procreate.

 

It took them months and it finally happened. Benny had been so happy. And then the complications started. Dean didn’t understand exactly what happened. The words used by the doctors were beyond the comprehension of Hunters. But Andrea ended up dying during childbirth and the child didn’t make it either. Benny lost everything in a matter of minutes. And yet he still never got sent to the sunchamber.

 

So when Benny broke down that first time, instead of reporting it like he should have, Dean listened, and held him, and they cried together. Dean gripped Cas a little tighter and pushed down his tears.

 

“On the plus side, me being lost to my home means an assigned couple can now try to have a kid.”

 

Cas leaned back to look at him, his fingertips softly tracing his right eyebrow before he sighed and looked down. He cleared his throat. “And I promised you fun, stomping grapes.”

 

Dean chuckled and gently grasped Cas by the chin to tilt his head to look him in the eye. “I’m happy here, Cas. You make me happy.”

 

Cas’s eyes went wide before a big smile split his face and he went in for a tight hug. “I'm so glad. You make me very happy too, Dean.”

 

He couldn’t help but melt into the embrace, swaying them slightly again. Dean was happy. Happier than he thought possible. Which made him miss his brother all the more.

 

As if Cas had read his thoughts, he suddenly asked, “Do you think your brother will come back here... and would he maybe choose to stay?”

 

Dean wanted that more than anything, but he wasn’t stupid. Sammy still had a chance to have a life. A family. He shouldn’t give that up. “I think he’ll do what’s going to make him happy, and I can’t be mad whatever he decides is right for him.”

 

“For the time you are separated from him; me, the rabbits, chickens, and Cora will try our best to make you happy.” Cas started to stomp the grapes again, taking Dean’s hands in his as he started to jump up and down, chuckling.

 

Dean smiled and started jumping with Cas. “It’s working so far.”

 

“Good,” Cas sounded like he was slightly out of breath before he chuckled again. “Oh, that reminds me! Have I already showed you how chocolate tastes?”

 

“What’s chocolate?”

 

Cas just gave him a mysterious smile. “I can’t describe it. You have to try it. Please remind me later, should I forget again.”

 

 

Dean nodded and proceeded to jump along the the edge of the rim, chuckling as the fruits continued to squish more and more, juice starting to accumulate. Dean jumped so hard, a grape managed to smack against Cas’s chest, leaving a purple-ish red stain in its wake.

 

Cas looked down at himself before he grinned at Dean. “Now you know why I didn’t want to do this in clothes.”

 

Without thinking about it, Dean grabbed a half mushed grape and pressed it against Cas’s neck, drawing a line down to his stomach before drew a happy face on his left peck. Dean chuckled and said, “I kind of want to see what our clothes would look like.”

 

Cas retaliated by smearing a red handprint on Dean’s shoulder. “Probably very artistic, don’t you think?” He then painted a rabbit on Dean’s chest, his fingertips running softly over Dean’s skin.

 

Dean smiled and braced his hand on Cas’s cheek, laughing outright at the expression on Cas’s face. “The color suits you,” he teased.

 

“In my ears it sounds more like a cheap excuse to paint my face in grape juice.” Cas accentuated that by painting a dot on Dean’s nose.

 

“You can’t prove anything,” he returned as he dipped his finger in the juice and painted Cas’s lips red.

 

Cas’s breathing hitched and he closed his eyes for a moment before he looked up at Dean in surprise. When Dean retracted his fingers, Cas licked slowly over his lips with a thoughtful expression. “That felt nice. My lips still... tingle. When I touch my lips it doesn't feel like that. How did you do that?”

 

Dean shrugged. “I don’t know.” He touched his own lips and felt nothing. Dean grabbed Cas’s wrist and drew his hand up. “Do it to me, see what happens.”

 

“Wait.” Cas dipped his hand into the grape juice before he softly traced Dean’s lips with his index finger.

 

The tingling Cas talked about seemed to work on him too. Dean furrowed his brow in amusement. “That’s weird.”

 

“Maybe it's something in the grape juice,” Cas wondered out loud.

 

“Must be,” Dean agreed and dipped his finger in the juice before he touched his own lip. Still no tingling. But for some reason, he didn’t tell Cas that he didn’t think it was the grape juice. Still, it wasn’t too worrying. Dean had felt this once before. Benny made him feel weird and tingly sometimes.

 

Cas stomped along the rim a few more times before he critically observed their work. “We’re done. Now we just need to wait.” Cas climbed out of the tub and opened a basket nearby, waiting for Dean to follow him before he poured something yellow and grainy into the tub. “This is yeast. It will help the fermentation process.”

 

Dean nodded. “And how long does that take?”

 

“About ten days,” Cas replied as he waved for Dean to follow him back to the showers. “Then I’ll start the clarification process, separating the yeast and the other left overs from the wine with a filter and pour the wine into a barrel. The longer I leave the wine untouched in that barrel, the smoother it gets in its taste.” He turned around and smiled at Dean. “This is why I start early to make new wine and don’t just wait until I’ve finished the last bottle. Wine making takes time.”

 

He was a little amazed by Cas. Dean smiled and said, “You’re so smart.”

 

Cas rubbed the back of his neck and looked away from Dean with a soft smile. “I learned this from a book. I just follow the instructions someone else wrote down.”

 

“Still. I could listen to you talk for hours, even though I don’t know what you’re saying half the time.” Dean reached the stalls first, turning the knobs for the stalls next to each other, letting the water warm up a little first.

 

Cas shut down the water of his own shower again before he stepped under Dean’s when the water got warmer. He rubbed his hand gently over Dean’s shoulder, where he had left his handprint. “I did this, I should also be the one to clean it up.”

 

Dean chuckled. “If that’s how that works, then we probably should both clean each other.”

 

Cas nodded with a grin before he rubbed his thumb over Dean’s lips, his other hand gently rubbing over his cheek. “The professor here taught me what responsibility is. If you make a mistake, you need to make it right. If you make something dirty, you clean it up. Those were some of his many rules.”

 

“Something we have in common,” Dean murmured as he rubbed his hand over Cas’s peck. “Having to obey a lot of rules. The Council imposed a lot of rules on us. Sammy hated them.”

 

Cas frowned and nodded. “I can see why, if you have rules that kill people.” Cas slid his hand over Dean’s shoulder and chest before he rubbed a thumb over his nipple.

 

Dean gasped at the strange sensation. It wasn’t bad, kind of the opposite really. Like the tingling-lips thing earlier. He drew back and stared at Cas in surprise. “Yeah,” he said absent-mindedly.

 

Cas gave him a puzzled look. “Did I hurt you?”

 

“No, uh... it was weird, but it didn’t hurt.” Dean shrugged helplessly and dunked his head under the stream to wet his hair.

 

“Maybe I found a spot where you are ticklish?” Cas smirked before he playfully rubbed over the area again.

 

Dean gasped as that tingling coursed through him again. “I... I don’t think it’s a ticklish thing.”

 

Cas tilted his head, looking suspicious. “Are you sure? You made a very funny noise.”

 

“Yeah, but...” Dean shook his head. “I don’t know how to explain it. Kind of like when I touched your lips.”

 

Now Cas looked confused, retracting his hand to inspect his own fingers. “I don’t have any juice on my fingers anymore,” he murmured thoughtfully before he touched Dean’s lips again, rubbing his index finger gently over it.

 

Dean held Cas by the wrist and stared at him, carefully licking over his lip before he swallowed and nodded. “I don’t think it’s the juice.”

 

“Then what is it?” Cas asked, sounding a little bit out of breath, his blue eyes never leaving Dean’s.

 

Dean cupped Cas’s face in his hands, swiping the pad of his thumb over Cas’s bottom lip. “I think it’s you.”

 

Cas’s breathing hitched before he shook his head gently. “No, it must be you. Because I’m feeling it again. Everytime you touch me, it feels nice. Very different from when I touch myself.”

 

There was something about Cas, something that made Dean feel irrevocably drawn to the mutant. Dean internally winced at thinking about him as such. Cas wasn’t what they had been taught or seen in mutants. He was special. The good kind of special. Dean smiled at him. “I still think it’s you.”

 

“That is a very unscientific thing to say,” Cas replied in a tone of voice that sounded like he was mimicking someone else’s. He smiled though before he touched Dean’s lips again. “I like the feeling. I like touching you, too.”

 

Dean chuckled and pressed a kiss to Cas’s fingertips. “Have you never been shown affection, Cas?”

 

“Affection?” Cas gave him a confused look before he pursed his lips in a mimic of the kiss he had left on Cas’s fingers.

 

“Yeah, that’s what this is. What hugs are. Affection,” he clarified as he chuckled at Cas’s continued mimicking of the kiss. He braced his fingers on Cas’s lips for him to practice on.

 

Cas pressed his lips against his fingers before he drew back with a head tilt. “Touching your fingers with my lips. What is that called?”

 

“A kiss,” he murmured as he stared at his fingertips for a moment.

 

“A kiss,” Cas repeated slowly before he nodded. “I have never done that before, but I know hugs. Meg sometimes hugged me when I... saw bad images in my sleep. Nightmares...”

 

Dean smiled at him. “Who was Meg?”

 

“She was a very nice woman who worked here,” Cas replied before he washed his hair. “But one day she just didn’t return. I don’t know what happened to her. They never told me.”

 

Dean gave Cas a half smile, hoping he was conveying his sympathy. “I’m sorry.”

 

“It was a long time ago. I’m glad that she wasn’t here during the uprising.” Cas looked down at himself and nodded before he stepped away from the shower and toweled himself dry. “Did you kiss or hug other people before?”

 

“A few,” he responded as he toweled his hair dry.

 

“So being affectionate is normal where you come from?” Cas asked thoughtfully. “Because it wasn’t normal here.”

 

Dean shook his head. “Not all touching and affection was okay. But if you were quiet about it, and safe, then we would take the risk.”

 

Cas looked confused as he pulled his shirt over his head and toweled his hair dry. “What do you mean? Isn’t affection something nice? Why wouldn’t it be okay?”

 

“It depends. Only assigned couples were legally allowed to show affection. But sometimes you want to be affectionate with friends and family.” Dean sighed and remembered the first time Sammy hugged him and John chastised him, warning him how dangerous that could have been for both of them. Sam was three.

 

Cas frowned and pulled up his white pants before he sat down on the bench. "Now you're here. You don't need to follow those rules anymore. If you want to be affectionate, you can anytime you want."

 

Dean smiled as he pulled on his own pants. “Thanks, Cas.”

 

"I don't think rules are necessarily a bad thing, if they make sense. But sometimes rules are just bad, because the people that made them are bad people." Cas shrugged before he walked over to Dean when he was finished redressing himself. He hugged him tightly before he murmured, “It’s time to taste some chocolate.”

 

“Lead the way,” he said as he slipped his hand into Cas’s.

 

Cas squeezed his hand and gave him another giddy smile. “I can’t wait to see your face when you eat it.”

 

Dean chuckled. “What if I don’t like it?” Which wasn’t even likely. He’d liked everything Cas had shown him so far. Even the weird green things he had him eat. Dean couldn’t remember what Cas called them.

 

“That’s not possible.” It sounded like Cas was stating a fact.

 

“Alright, show me this chocolate,” he said with a pushy tone.

 

They went back to the kitchen, where Cas opened a cupboard with all sorts of different containers. When he opened one box, the heavy smell of something sweet danced around his nostrils. It smelled mouthwatering. Cas held the open box towards Dean. Inside were brown pieces of (what he assumed was) the chocolate, in different shapes and sizes. "Take one."

 

Dean took a small round piece and held it up. He looked it over before stuffing it into his mouth. The moment the chocolate hit his tongue, his eyes widened as he looked at Cas in amazement. He’d never tasted anything like it. It was sweet in a way the fruits weren’t, but... there was so much more to it that he couldn’t even form into words. “Holy shit, Cas.”

 

"I told you," Cas replied smugly before he picked a piece for himself.

 

The way the flavor lingered got Dean thinking. He ran to the bowl by the cold cupboard and grabbed one of the orange fruits. Instead of using one of Cas’s sharkies to open it, Dean dug his thumb nail into the peel and started ripping the fruit open. He pulled a piece off and stuffed it into his mouth and grabbed another piece of chocolate, stuffing it into his mouth too.

 

Dean had a feeling the two flavors would be amazing together, but he almost groaned at how good they tasted. He grabbed another orange piece and immediately stepped right in front of Cas. “Open,” he commanded softly. Cas needed to know this taste too.

 

Cas parted his lips with a curious look on his face, his tongue grazing Dean's fingers when he fed him the orange fruit and chocolate concoction. Cas closed his eyes as he slowly chewed around it, before he hummed in appreciation. After he swallowed, he looked at Dean with bright eyes. "Maybe we could make chocolate and fill them with other fruits too? Like strawberries or raspberries!"

 

Dean nodded. “We should try it with all of them.”

 

Cas nodded and handed Dean an empty basket. "Go to the garden and pick different fruits. I'm going to prepare the basic chocolate, so we can fill them with the fruits."

 

Taking the basket in hand, Dean smiled and darted into the garden. He grabbed the cherries first, then some strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, a couple of apples and bananas, and some of the fruits he hadn’t gotten to taste yet. Dean hummed happily as he filled the basket and made it back to the kitchen.

 

He couldn’t hide the smile at Cas getting everything ready for the fruit. “Is this good?” he asked as he placed the basket on the counter.

 

"Perfect." Cas smiled at him as he put a few bowls out on the counter. "Wash them please and distribute them into the bowls." Cas had a big bucket looking thing on the stove. A quick peek inside showed him that he was melting a huge chunk of chocolate. "When it's melted, I'm going to pour it into a form and put it into the fridge to cool down and get the chocolate solid again. I think it'll be easier to fill the chocolate if we mash the fruits."

 

Dean nodded and carried the basket to the sink, he washed and separated all of the fruits in the bowls as Cas instructed. He smiled as he brought the bowls closer to Cas in a couple of trips, looking over his shoulder at the melting chocolate. “It smells really good.”

 

"You can thank Cora for most of the ingredients." Cas smiled as he stirred the now liquid chocolate. With his other hand he pulled a rectangle and transparent mold that had round dents in it closer to the stove. He poured the liquid chocolate in each of them, filling them up. Dean wondered how they were going to fill them if Cas poured the complete chocolate into it.

 

His question was answered when Cas carefully rocked the mold to spread the chocolate everywhere before he counted out loud to five and poured everything back into the bucket thing again.

 

Cas put the mold back on the counter and Dean could see that the dents were still covered in chocolate, just the filling was missing. “It gets solid very quickly,” Cas explained with a smile before he set the mold in the cold cupboard. “Now we can mash the fruits.”

 

“I’m guessing not with our feet?” he teased.

 

Cas chuckled and opened a drawer, handing Dean a tool. It was a metal tool with wavy lines at the bottom made of the same metal.

 

“So why do you use your feet for the grapes?” Dean asked as he started with the strawberries.

 

"Because it’s such a huge amount of grapes and it would be very tiring to do it with such a little tool. It's easier to do it with your feet... And it's more fun than hard work," Cas explained as he took another one of those masher tools and started on the raspberries.

 

He couldn’t argue that. He really did have a lot of fun making the wine. Dean nodded and bumped his hip into Cas’s. “I can’t wait to try these.”

 

Cas playfully bumped him right back with a smile. "Me neither. You had a very good idea." He scooped up some of the raspberry mash with his finger and carefully spread it over Dean's lips with a gleeful smile.

 

Dean chuckled and rubbed his lips against the side of Cas’s mouth. He smirked at him.

 

Cas scrunched up his nose before he tried (and mostly failed) to lick it away from the corner of his mouth.

 

Dean wiped off some of the fruit mash with the side of his thumb. He licked it off himself. “We make a good team.”

 

"In cleaning each other after we make the other dirty?" Cas smirked.

 

Dean chuckled. “Yeah.”

 

Cas took the bowl with cherries and poured them on the counter to cut them in half with a knife, filling the bowl again after he removed the pits. "Everything I need to do now only takes half the time since you're here. I think for the first time I might just have free time where I won't know what to do."

 

“Then we just have to find new things to do with your free time,” he said as he washed off his tool and started mashing the bananas.

 

“Sometimes I draw things. I would love to draw you,” Cas murmured as he started mashing the cherries.

 

Dean smiled. “I’d like to see that.”

 

“Maybe we can do that while we wait for the chocolate to be finished. My drawing things are in my room.”

 

“Sure. So what do you draw?” Dean asked as he moved on to the blackberries.

 

“Things from my memories... before the war. And things I think are beautiful,” Cas explained before he cut a peach into small pieces and started to mash it.

 

Dean chuckled. “That mean you think I’m beautiful?”

 

Cas gave him a surprised look. “Yes. You are the most beautiful human being I have ever seen.”

 

He ducked his head at the compliment and gently pushed Cas. “Shut up.”

 

“You asked... Did I make you uncomfortable? Meg always said I'm too direct sometimes,” Cas stated carefully, a worried expression on his face.

 

Dean shook his head and pulled him in for a hug. “I like that you’re direct.”

 

Cas pressed his face against Dean’s throat as he hugged him back, humming, “I like hugging you.”

 

“Me, too,” he said with a chuckle, rubbing a soothing circle on Cas’s back.

 

Cas leaned back and gave him a smile before he looked away and continued to mash his peach. "I feel bad about being happy that this happened to you. That you’re stranded here."

 

Dean shrugged and proceeded to finish mashing the blackberries. “You know, I thought I’d be sadder about it, but I’m not. I miss my brother. Fuck, I miss him so much...” He took a deep breath and steadied his voice as he continued, “But I wasn’t lying when I said I’m happy here.”

 

Cas touched his shoulder, rubbing his thumb over the thin fabric. "Do you think he will visit us again?"

 

“I hope so, but he might not get the chance.” Dean looked down and tried to not let the reality of that situation hit him in the gut like it was threatening to.

 

Cas pulled him into a tight hug. "I hope so, too."

 

Considering he wasn’t all that experienced with hugs, Dean found in the few days he’d been living with Cas that hugging was more and more of a thing between them. And he didn’t mind it. Kind of the opposite really. Dean smiled and reluctantly drew back. “Alright, so what are we doing with all this mashed fruit?”

 

"We’ll put them in the fridge. We have to wait for the chocolate to get solid in the mold before we can fill it." Cas gave him a quick smile. "So, that means now we have free time."

 

Dean returned the smile. “Still wanna draw me?”

 

Cas nodded enthusiastically before he started to put the bowls in the cold cupboard. "Yes, very much so."

 

After helping Cas finish putting the bowls in the cold cupboard, he closed the door and smiled down at him. He offered his elbow to Cas, the way he’d seen his dad do for his mom, and said, “Lead the way.”

 

Cas just gave him a confused look and a head tilt when he noticed Dean's elbow.

 

Dean chuckled and grasped Cas’s arm, looping it around his own. “This is called being a gentleman.”

 

"Gentle-man? Because you gently took my arm?" Cas asked thoughtfully as he walked with Dean to his room.

 

“You know? I honestly don’t know. It’s just what Dad called it.” When they reached Cas’s room, he opened the door for his friend and followed him inside.

 

Cas gestured for him to sit down on the chair when he sat opposite of him, pulling pencils out of a drawer and a thick pad with paper. "Your father seemed to know a lot of things."

 

Dean sat down on the chair and nodded. “He did. He was surprisingly smart considering he was just a Hunter, like me. But then, Sammy is smart, too.”

 

"He also seemed to like to preserve the past, teaching you things like music from before the war," Cas stated thoughtfully as he started to draw. Dean couldn't see what he was doing though, because he leaned the paper against his knees to work, occasionally looking up at Dean, studying him.

 

Dean tapped his knee and looked around Cas’s room, taking in everything. The other drawings he had done, all of his supplies to draw, all stuff he’d seen on his first day. When Dean looked at his bed, that was when he noticed a bizarre metal contraption at the head of it. Dean furrowed his brow and replied (almost absent-mindedly), “I was lucky. Very few of the Forty-Fivers even know what happened before the big war.”

 

Cas looked at him with a frown. "So your... Council? They don't preserve knowledge?"

 

“No, they do. But only the smart people are allowed to know it.” Dean shrugged and could no longer hold back as he pointed to the weird metal contraption and asked, “What’s that?”

 

Cas turned around to see what Dean was pointing to before he returned his concentration back to the paper and drawing. "Handcuffs. They bind me to the bed."

 

Dean furrowed his brow and stared at Cas. “Why?”

 

"So I don't get lost," Cas stated quietly. "Because of the nightmares."

 

“You sleepwalk?” Dean asked as he leaned against the back of the chair to get a better look at the handcuffs. They were old and slightly rusty. They probably hurt like hell.

 

Cas shook his head. "They always put them on me at night because they were afraid I would vanish. I think it's because of the bad things that happen when I sleep. I think the handcuffs keep me from disappearing, so I can come back to my room."

 

That didn’t make Dean feel better. “Do they hurt?”

 

Cas nodded before he looked up at Dean again. "Yes, but I feel safer with them. I'm too scared to wake up and see that half of my body is gone. I'm sure the handcuffs help with that, otherwise the people who had worked here wouldn't have given them to me. Everytime I wake up, I'm whole again, so they must work."

 

Dean shook his head in bemusement, eyes narrowed in suspicion at the handcuffs. “What else did the people who kept you here tell you?”

 

"That I'm very special even though I was an accident. But I could still be useful." Cas shrugged and continued to draw. "There was one Professor who took a special interest in me. He gave me the book with instructions to create things, like wine or butter, to use the animal library, and the database about plants. He educated me."

 

“Could he do what you can do?” Dean asked as he looked at the drawings scattered on the nightstand by Cas’s bed. There were drawings of Cora and a stencil of a woman with a sweet face and a smirk. He wondered if that was Meg.

 

"No, he was a human. And I was the only mutant with this ability," Cas explained as he exchanged his pencil for a green colored one.

 

Dean nodded and smiled at the concentrated expression on Cas’s face. “What else did he teach you?”

 

"He taught me about the scientific method. How to approach problems and use the resources I had in this facility. The rest of the time he gave me tasks. He mostly ordered me to make cells grow." Cas exchanged his green pencil with a yellow one and licked over his lips in apparent concentration as he continued to draw.

 

“So, what made you start drawing?”

 

"Meg." Cas smiled and only then Dean realized that he hadn’t smiled in a while.  "She always complained about my room. It just had a bed, desk, and chair. She brought me the pencils, paper, and all of the books in here. She said I would go stupid if I just sat here all day, waiting for my next task. So she taught me how to draw. The Professor didn’t like it, but Meg yelled at him until I could keep everything."

 

Dean chuckled and pointed to the picture on his nightstand. “Is that her?”

 

Cas nodded with another smile. "She was a very fierce woman. Very protective of me. I liked her a lot."

 

“Did you love her?”

 

"Love?" Cas asked with a confused head tilt.

 

Dean nodded. “Yeah, Cas. Love. Do... do you know what love is?”

 

Cas slowly shook his head. "Not really, no."

 

How the hell was he supposed to explain what love was? Dean barely understood it himself. “Well, it’s hard to explain. And there’s different kinds of love. But the best way I can try to explain it is: when you like a person, want to spend time with them, want to protect them, and help them, and can’t imagine your life without them? Then it’s love.”

 

Cas frowned before he slowly nodded. "So, I love you?"

 

Dean chuckled and couldn’t help the smile that curled his lips. “You feel that way about me?”

 

"If everything you said is the definition of love, then yes. I like you, I want to spend time with you, I want to protect and help you in any way I can, and I really don't want to imagine my life without you," Cas explained thoughtfully.

 

There was that damn warmth again. If love really was that simple, Dean was a little amazed to realize in that moment, he felt the same way about Cas. “And that’s just regular love. Love- love is apparently even more intense.”

 

Cas chuckled before he asked, "Love-love?"

 

Dean smiled and nodded. “Yeah. Sometimes the assigned couples back home would fall in love. It’s different from regular love.”

 

“What is the difference between love and falling in love?" Cas asked with a curious tone in his voice.

 

Now that he had to think about. Dean had never been in love, considering he was never assigned a Milowda. He shrugged noncommittally and said, “I know what my Dad said it was like. But... It’s not the same for everyone. I think it really just comes down to sex. Wanting to have sex, wanting to make offspring. I think he called it attraction?”

 

"The only thing I know about sex is what I read about the reproduction of mammals." Cas looked down at his paper and changed to a different pencil again. "Did you ever have sex?"

 

Dean shook his head. “I wasn’t assigned a mate.”

 

Cas looked up from his drawing with a raised eyebrow. “What if you were assigned to someone and you didn’t like her?”

 

“It happens, but they try to assign you to someone you’re compatible with. And when you’re given the go to procreate, you don’t really have a choice.” Dean smiled and moved to stand, to draw closer to Cas. “Can I see?”

 

Cas drew the paper against his chest. "Patience. I'm not done." He smiled at him before he asked, "Are you sad that you can't create a child with someone now?"

 

Dean returned the smile and went back to his seat. “Honestly? I never thought about it. And now it doesn’t matter.”

 

"Meg made a lot of comments about sex sometimes," Cas mused as the adorably concentrated frown appeared on his face again. "She seemed to enjoy sex with people she didn't want to procreate with."

 

His eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Sex without procreation? What’s the point then?”

 

"She said she sometimes needed to scratch an itch. I don't know what that means. I was too scared to ask." Cas tapped the backside of the pencil against his chin, looking over his drawing.

 

“So, you and her never... you know?” Dean asked, surprised by the heat rising to his cheeks for asking such a personal question. But considering Cas basically asked him the same thing, it wasn’t likely he was going to offend his friend.

 

Cas's eyes went wide. "No! Never." He grimaced before he shook his head. "I'm not even human. I don't even know if I can have sex."

 

Dean furrowed his brow. “You have a dick. Your body looks human.”

 

"I once asked my Professor out of curiosity and he told me I shouldn't even think about sex. I’m an abomination, I wasn’t even born. I don’t have parents like you do. I was never a child. I was already in this body the first time I woke up. I was made in a laboratory. I’m not sure if my... penis even works properly. They didn’t design me to procreate.” Cas’s voice broke on the last word and he looked away from Dean. “I may look like a human, but I’m not.”

 

Without even thinking about it, Dean moved to sit on Cas’s bed, close enough to him to brace his hand on his knee. He gave him a pointed look. “I’ve seen a lot of shit, Cas. Real, true abominations, and I promise you, that isn’t what you are. As far as your penis working, I don’t know. If you can piss, and I saw you get hard, I’m pretty sure it does. And I don’t care if you aren’t human. You’re my friend and that’s all that matters to me.”

 

Cas covered Dean's hand with his own, squeezing it. "Thank you. You're the first person who treated me like an equal. I'm happy you think of me as a friend." He put the paper on the table before he turned to Dean with a soft smile. "I finished your picture."

 

Dean looked down and gasped at what he saw. It was... Wow. He picked it up and took a closer look. It was incredibly realistic. Which made him think that maybe the drawing of Meg was pretty accurate. “You made me pretty.”

 

“I just drew what's there, Dean. You are very beautiful."

 

He was sure he was blushing as he ducked his head and looked away from Cas. “Shut up.”

 

Cas looked at him with a confused head tilt before he rubbed the back of his neck and said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to say something out of line.”

 

Dean shook his head and grabbed his hand. “You just embarrassed me, that’s all.”

 

Cas rubbed his thumb over the back of Dean's hand. "Why would you be embarrassed by something good?"

 

“I don’t know.” Which was true. He was just as embarrassed by Cas’s compliments about his appearance as he was when Benny told him similar things.

 

"You shouldn't be, Dean." Cas cupped Dean's face, his thumb tracing over Dean’s cheek. "I also really like your... freckles? Was that the word?"

 

Dean nodded and leaned into the touch. “Yup. Angel kisses is another term. But I think it was something my Mom made up.”

 

"What's an angel?" Cas asked quietly.

 

“They’re the guardians and protectors of Kolob. Bog’s children,” Dean clarified, but at the furrowed brow and squinted eyes, it appeared to not be a very good one. “Do you not know about Bog?”

 

Cas shook his head before he gave Dean a thoughtful look. “It sounds like you’re talking about religion.”

 

Dean nodded. “The one religion. The true religion.”

 

Cas gave him a thoughtful look before he carefully said, "My Professor said religion is the opiate of the masses, that a god had no place in science."

 

Dean was taken aback. He’d never heard anyone speak out against Bog. He furrowed his brow. “That kinda talk gets people sent to the sunchamber.” He left the “or worse” part out.

 

"Sunchamber?" Cas asked carefully, sounding worried.

 

“It’s where people who don’t obey go.” Dean swallowed as he thought about his time in that awful place. And all of the loved ones who were sent there and never came back.

 

Cas gave him a shocked look. "It's a punishment?"

 

Dean nodded and sighed. “Sometimes a forever one.”

 

"Does that mean people die there?" Cas asked, sounding breathless.

 

“I think so,” he said in a resigned tone, missing his Dad, his Mom, Ash, and Benny; oh so much in that moment.

 

"You don't know?" Cas asked, moving next to Dean on his bed before he wrapped an arm around him, pulling him close.

 

He leaned into Cas and sighed. “They never came back.”

 

“I’m sorry, Dean.” Cas pressed the side of his face against Dean’s hair and murmured, “There is no sunchamber here. So at least you’re safe from something like that with me.”

 

“Unless you get sick of me and shove me outside,” he teased with a chuckle.

 

Cas leaned back and gave him an appalled look. "That will never happen."

 

Dean smiled. “You’ve never tried to wake me up. Apparently, I become a bear.”

 

“How do you know what a bear is?” Cas chuckled.

 

He couldn’t help but laugh and shrugged. “I actually have no idea. It’s what my Dad said I was when he tried to wake me up.”

 

Cas stood up from the bed and got one of the books from his shelf. He sat next to Dean and showed him the cover. It was a yellow book and it showed a yellow figure with weird round ears on the top of its head. The face was hidden in a large pot. There were letters on the book, but it was so long ago that he had learned them in school. Cas opened the book and showed him another picture of the weird figure with the round ears on its head. "This is a bear," he explained, "his name is Winnie the Pooh."

 

Dean gently caressed the page in awe. It was colorful and like nothing he’d ever seen before. “Wow.” He continued to stare in awe at the book, flipping to the next page and smiling brightly. “That’s a rabbit!” he exclaimed proudly at the grey and white creature that sort of resembled Rabbit DeNiro.

 

Cas nodded with a smile before he thumbed through the pages and showed him another picture, explaining, “And this is a piglet. It’s the baby form of a pig. And this here is an owl. An owl is a bird. They used to fly in the sky.”

 

“And this?” he asked, pointing to an orange and black animal.

 

"That is a tiger." Cas smiled and rubbed his finger over its tail. "It usually runs on four paws and not on its tail like in this picture."

 

He turned another few pages and showed him the next animal. "This is a kangaroo. It carries its baby in a pouch on its belly."

 

Dean smiled as he looked over the colorful pictures. He pointed to the letters and asked, “What does it say?”

 

“You can’t read?” Cas asked with a surprised expression.

 

At that, Dean turned away in a little bit of shame. Cas was so smart, how he liked Dean he would never understand. “When I was pulled from school, we weren’t allowed access to books. I forgot what I did learn.”

 

Cas nodded, giving him a curious look before he asked, "Do you want to learn how to read again?"

 

Dean looked at him in amazement, feeling a surge of that damn warmth again. “You’d teach me?”

 

"Of course, if you want to." He handed Dean the book. "Then you can read all my books whenever you want."

 

In that moment the light suddenly switched to a threatening red and Cas looked up at it with a sigh. "But teaching you has to wait. I need to leave you for a few moments."

 

“What’s going on?” he asked. Red lights were usually bad. “Do you need my help?”

 

Cas shook his head. "Don't worry. It must be a problem with one of the windmills. Sometimes, when there are bad sandstorms, the sand gets stuck and they can't run anymore. I’ll just go out and check. You can't follow me there."

 

Cas stood up and went to the door. "I was cleaning the windmill when I saw your brother and you getting attacked. You're lucky I was out there, noticing you. Otherwise we would have never met."

 

Dean smiled and was surprised how much he meant it when he said, “Well, then I’m glad your windmill was broken that day.”

 

Cas returned the smile and nodded. “Me, too. I’ll try to be quick. You can stay here in my room if you want.”

 

“Okay. And, Cas?”

 

Cas turned around in the doorway. “Yes?”

 

Dean smiled at him. “Be safe.”

 

Cas gave him a reassuring nod before he turned around and left the room.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

 

Of course Curia Naomi kept him waiting after he had finished the random selection process of choosing the next couple to further and fill in their population. He had been in this blank grey room for – what felt like – hours, having nothing to do but fiddle with his thumbs. When Naomi finally entered, she smiled at him. Not a friendly or warm smile though. One that seemed out of place and not genuine. He would prefer it if she just didn’t smile.

 

“Sam Winchester. I hope you didn’t wait too long.”

 

He had waited forever and Sam was sure she had done that intentionally. “Not at all,” he replied in a falsely pleasant tone.

 

“Good.” Her smile grew even more false. “It’s time that you meet the woman our system has chosen for you.”

 

“Already?” Sam swallowed dryly against the lump in his throat. He thought he would have more time.

 

Naomi nodded and shuffled the papers in a Manila folder in her hands. “Yes. She’s actually a higher stature than you, she’s a care provider for the orphaned children, but when she learned you were to be assigned, she insisted she be considered.”

 

“Becky Rosen?” Sam asked with wide eyes.

 

She appeared taken aback, but mildly impressed. “Yes. After several tests and compatibility algorithms, Rebecca was the most logical choice for you.”

 

“Great,” Sam replied dryly, trying to smile. He had known Becky for a long time now. He knew she had feelings for him and – when they were younger – she tended to follow him around everywhere until their paths started to diverge when Sam became a Hunter.

 

Naomi hummed noncommittally as she pulled one of the papers out and handed it to him. “You will be assigned to her living quarters, this is the order. Might I suggest you gather your belongings and join your Milowda.”

 

Sam looked down at the file that showed Becky's number and where her living quarters were. "Yeah," he murmured before he turned around and left Naomi without another word.

 

This was it. He was ordered to give up their family home just like that. If he hadn't known Dean was actually alive, he probably would have broken down at that point, earning him a stay in the sunchamber.

 

The walk back home was weird. As he entered the hut and collected his things, he knew he shouldn't be so sentimental. The hut was cold and shabby, but damn it, it was still their home. They had carved their initials in the doorframe when they were kids, right under the initials of their parents.

 

He touched the letters of his father and mother, a sad smile on his face when he said goodbye in his mind. After that he packed up his diary, stuffing it at the bottom of his sack. Sam hoped Becky wouldn’t find it. He had written things in it that would probably get him exiled, or worse.

 

He wondered if he could trust her. If she specifically requested Sam as a mate, maybe that meant she still had feelings for him. So maybe she wouldn’t say anything if he told her something incriminating.

 

Sam needed to be careful about what he did say in front of her, at least until he knew he could trust her.

 

With a soft sigh he touched the doorframe one last time before he left his home without looking back. Now no one was there anymore anyway. Only ghosts and memories. Sam didn't plan to stay in Zion forever anyway. If Dean was still okay and the mutant’s offer to provide food and shelter for more people still stood, then he wouldn't stay here.

 

When Sam made his way into the city center, it gradually got warmer. He had to remove his coat when he searched for the right number of Becky’s living quarters. The huts in this part of the city were stacked and much closer to each other than in the outskirts. Becky’s quarters were on the ground floor.

 

Sam took in a deep breath and knocked on her door.

 

The door flung open and the young woman’s eyes lit up at seeing him. Becky practically barrelled into him as she yanked him into a hug. “Sam!”

 

Sam awkwardly hugged her back, but his smile was genuine. Becky was still as energetic as he remembered. "Hi, Becky. Um, look... I don't know if it's a good time for you right now. Just got the order to move here and that you're my Milowda."

 

She drew back and straightened her dress, shaking her head. “No, please, please come in. This is your home now.” Becky stepped aside, holding the door open for him.

 

When Sam entered, he took a cursory look around. Hunter habit. Becky's living quarters were really nice. The walls had a nice, warm yellow color and she even had furniture; like a desk and a very large, cozy sleep area. It was also warm. “You have a really nice home, Becky."

 

“We have a really nice home,” she corrected as she grabbed his hand and took him on a whirlwind tour of her living quarters.

 

He wasn’t supposed to know this, but his ill-advised friendship with Gabe had found Sam in the man’s living quarters late one night. Friendships among different leveled humans were permitted, but the lower your level, the lower your station. Which meant you were not permitted into the domiciles of a higher level.

 

Sam was stunned to find Gabe had rooms with doors. An open room for people to congregate, a room for sleep, a decompression room that Gabe had turned into a makeshift laboratory, and his own sand room.

 

Becky wasn’t quite the level of Gabe, but care providers were only two levels below clinicians. When she opened the door to her own sand room, she bounced with an excited energy. “Now you don’t have to go to the commune and wait in line!”

 

Instead of feeling happy, like a normal person probably would about all of the luxury, he felt angry. It was unfair that hunters, or workers from a similar status, had to live like cockroaches. Their work was just as important as other work. Zion needed all of them, whatever their job assignment. And who even decided who got to live like Becky and who had to live like the rest of them? It just wasn't fair.

 

He gave Becky a quick smile before he replied, "Yeah, that's great, Becky."

 

When she led him to the bedroom, she smiled shyly at him. It appeared they’d already brought in a couples cot. Larger and slightly more comfortable than the individual cots everyone else was given. “Here’s where we’ll sleep.”

 

"Nice." Sam nodded, feeling uncomfortable over the thought of sharing a bed with a woman. He rubbed the back of his neck and gave Becky another quick smile, trying to remember that it wasn't her fault that he was in this weird situation. "Looks more comfortable than my old bed."

 

“Mine, too,” she said with another shy smile. Becky looked over what he had brought, which basically fit in his rucksack. “Is... is that all you wanted to bring?”

 

"It's all I have," Sam replied. "Mostly things to remember my parents and my brother." He sighed deeply before he added, "Can I put them somewhere?"

 

Becky nodded sweetly. “Anywhere you’d like. This is your home now. I want you to be comfortable.”

 

Sam nodded, looking around before he found a corner to set down his bag. "I still need time to get used to this."

 

“I’m sure. If...” Becky paused as she rifled through a small desk near the left side of the bed. She pulled out a piece of paper and handed it to Sam. “I put in a request for your domicile to remain in your possession. I don’t know if it would get approved, but I remember how much your family meant to you.”

 

"Becky..." Sam had no idea what to say. He had no idea she could be so thoughtful. "Do you really think it would work? They’ll probably give it to another Hunter."

 

She shrugged. “It was worth a shot. We’ve lost three Hunters this week alone.”

 

"Three?" Sam asked with a raised eyebrow. That was news to him. He only knew of two. Who else died this week and why hadn’t he heard of it?

 

“I believe the most recent was a man by the name of Robert?”

 

"Bobby? Bobby Singer?" Sam asked, his heart clenching with dread. The older Hunter was like a second father to Dean and him.

 

Becky nodded her head sadly. “Yes. This morning. So unnecessary, too. His suit ripped on his way back into the compound.”

 

Sam gasped and held his hand in front of his mouth, trying to rein in his emotional response. "Damn it, no." He turned around to hide his face from Becky, taking in a shuddered breath. No, no, no.

 

He didn't even get the chance to tell him about Dean.

 

“Were you close?” Becky asked, gently bracing her hand on his shoulder in a gesture of comfort.

 

Sam nodded slowly. "He was like a father to Dean and me after Dad died. I will miss him dearly."

 

“I’m sorry for your loss, Sam.”

 

He needed a distraction. He didn't want to break down in front of Becky. Sam cleared his throat. "Thanks... um, Becky? Why did you pick me?"

 

At that her expression turned sheepish and she rubbed the back of her neck nervously. “You were the only one who was kind to me in school. And I missed you when you were assigned your occupation.”

 

Sam couldn't help but smile at her then before he reached over and drew her in for a tight hug. It was actually nice to see a friendly face from his childhood. "Thank you. I'm actually glad it's you."

 

And it was true. He knew Becky. She was a little weird and clingy, but she was always very kind. She had a good heart and always meant well.

 

The way she hugged him back was almost surprising, a lot of strength in her movement considering how petite and seemingly delicate she was. When she drew back, she was looking up at Sam as though he were the only person in existence. “Do you really mean that?”

 

"Yes. I  mean... I know you're a good person. I could have been paired with anyone, you know?"

 

That lit up Becky’s face. She drew him in for another hug, wrapping her arms around his torso as she pressed her face against his chest. “I’m so happy.”

 

Sam chuckled and patted her back. "Yeah, okay, please let me live. Damn, you have a pretty tight grip, Becky. Have you been working out?"

 

She released him, head ducked in embarrassment as she murmured a soft, “Sorry.” Becky rubbed the back of her neck and asked, “Does chasing and lifting toddlers count as working out?”

 

Sam chuckled and nodded. "I'm pretty sure it does."

 

They both went back to the communal area known as a living room and sat down, Sam folding his hands over his lap. "Tell me about your work. How have you been?"

 

Becky smiled and said, “I love it. I was actually offered to be the next level as a librarian, but having been raised as an orphan, I requested a demotion. I just hope I’m helping them.” She stood up and grabbed a drawing she had pinned to her wall and handed it to Sam. “Jose drew this for me. You just can’t get that sort of love from a book.”

 

Sam looked over the colorful picture, remembering his own short time in school and what a rarity it was when they were allowed to draw. Colored pencils were scarce. They recycled paper, so that wasn't a problem, but pencils couldn't be produced anymore. When the last pencil was gone, no kid would be able to draw anything anymore. It was nothing people talked or thought about though. "What is it?"

 

“It’s me I think. I didn’t have the heart to ask.”

 

Sam squinted his eyes at the picture as his finger hovered over the yellow area. "You might be right. This looks like it could be your hair... or an eruption of sulfur from the pits..."

 

Becky playfully smacked his arm. “Thanks.”

 

Sam gave her an embarrassed look. "I didn't mean... Your hair... um, it doesn't look like a sulfur pit explosion."

 

“It’s okay, I know my hair isn’t as pretty as yours,” she teased. Becky sat back down and smiled. “Tell me about your work. Are you happy being a Hunter?”

 

Sam shrugged noncommittally. "It's what I was assigned to do. It's a dangerous job, but important. We keep the city safe." He looked down at his own hands. "And you need to be prepared for the fact that every walk outside could be your last."

 

He took Becky's hand in his and squeezed it. "You never saw what it's like outside. To think that our own planet, the place we were born in, is so toxic to our life? Our ancestors did this to our world... It's hard to imagine if you don't see it everyday."

 

“I’m kind of glad I don’t,” she breathed out in amazement, not letting go of his hand. “Can I ask you something?”

 

“Of course.”

 

Becky pursed her lips in hesitation before she asked, “How did you fail your aptitude tests? You were smarter than most of the students our year.”

 

She wasn't the first one to ask that, but Sam was still surprised that someone outside of his family had noticed it. "I did it on purpose because I didn't want to get separated from my brother."

 

Her eyebrows shot up in surprise. “You sacrificed your future for your brother?”

 

"I never saw it as a sacrifice, Becky. I got to stay with my family, the people I love."

 

At that her expression softened. “You are an amazing man, Sam Winchester.”

 

Sam felt heat rising to his cheeks as he turned away from Becky with an embarrassed look. "Becky... Actually, I think you're the amazing one. Not everyone would turn down a better job opportunity. You’re still very compassionate and I like that time hasn't changed that about you."

 

He was rewarded with a bright smile. Becky reached into the pocket of her cardigan and pulled out a mush-bar. “I wasn’t hungry this morning and saved my ration. Would you like it?”

 

Sam shook his head in shock. "No, Becky. I... I don't know when or if I’ll get my next ration, so just save it for yourself. I’ll probably need to go out on a mission with Gabriel later, if he gets permission."

 

Without missing a beat, she put the mush-bar in his hand and gave him a pointed look. “Then I absolutely insist you take it. I don’t want my... Milowda going on a mission on an empty stomach.”

 

“How about a compromise?” Sam touched her cheek with a smile. “Being a couple is about compromise, right? At least that’s what my dad always told me.” He broke the mush-bar into two pieces and held out the slightly bigger one to Becky. “We’ll share it.”

 

Becky smiled and pressed a kiss to his cheek as she took it. “Okay, Sam.”

 

Sam had never been kissed on his cheek before by someone other than his mom. It felt weird, but also nice. He gave Becky a shy smile. “Thank you,” he murmured as he tucked his half in his pocket. “I should get going. I need to see about my work schedule.”

 

Becky nodded, ducking her gaze as she tucked her hair behind her ear. “I hope you have a good day.”

 

"Thank you, Becky. I hope you have a good day too," Sam replied, awkwardly rubbing his hand over the back of his neck. "See you later."

 

“Sam?”

 

"Yes?" he asked as he turned around at the door.

 

“I’m sorry about your brother. I know we’re not supposed to show emotion, but when I heard the news about Dean... I had to take a moment. He was always sweet, even though he seemed uncomfortable around me.” Becky offered him a sad smile.

 

Sam took in a sharp breath before he walked forward and pulled Becky in for a tight hug. "Thank you for saying that. Um..." He leaned back to look at her, hating that he had to lie to her about his brother. Maybe one day he could tell her, but the truth was that he barely knew her. "You know, when it's just us... You’re safe with me. Always. I would never tell anyone if you had a bad day or felt sad."

 

Becky smiled and gently cupped his cheek. “I hope you know you’re safe with me, too.”

 

Sam gave her a wide smile, rubbing his thumb over her cheek. "I know we still have to get to know each other again. But you know what? I'm looking forward to it."

 

The smile on her face grew exponentially as she nodded excitedly. “Me, too.” Becky playfully smacked his arm as she drew back. “Now go see about your schedule.”

 

Sam rubbed his arm playfully even though it didn’t really hurt and winked at her before he left his new home. It was weird to think of this place as home now. He knew it would take him some time to get used to it.

 

He walked through the city and up the stairs towards the gate. His way to work was a lot longer now and he needed to take that into consideration for his next shift. Sam reached a small bridge that crossed from the inner city to the outskirts. It was an amalgamation of wood and concrete, having been built upon and repaired with whatever materials they could find over the years.

 

 

Sam braced his gloved hands on the splintered railings and took a deep breath as he looked out over his home. But it didn’t feel like home. Not anymore. Not without his brother. The mismatched and shakily constructed huts of the outskirts, where the lower level people, “lived,” blending in with the dankness and darkness of the cave system; dark colors, dusty sand, and dirt coming out as a drastic contrast to the higher level domiciles.

 

While still a lack of any real color, the domiciles were cleaner, an almost systemic organization to the structure, despite a crampness that, no matter your level, was suffered by all. The downside of living underground. Sharp lines and squares, built up in a haphazard pattern that gave the illusion of height, despite none of the buildings reaching higher than any other. Sometimes the squares became rectangles, when certain people were given permission to merge their domiciles.

 

The closer to the center of the city, the cleaner the homes, the more warmer the atmosphere and the colors. The majority of the buildings were dank browns and greys. But the closer you got to the center, yellows and subtle oranges broke up the monotony. Sam shook his head. It was almost poetic how drastically better life was for the higher levels just from looking at their living quarters alone. And no one ever questioned it.

 

And now with Dean gone, he had no one to stop him from questioning it. Sam swallowed against the lump in his throat and turned away from the warmth of the inner city as he returned to the task at hand.

 

The gate house was full with other Hunters at such an hour and his gaze automatically looked to see if Garth was back, but he couldn't see him anywhere. That bastard probably really did drag Garth to the sunchamber.

 

Not for the first time Sam felt angry and helpless about the situation. It just wasn't fair. Garth was there just because Metatron was an asshole. He spotted Gabe leaning against one of the heaters talking to Gadreel. He nodded at them before he went over to greet them. “Gabriel, you’re already here?”

 

Gabe’s lips curled up in a triumphant smirk as he held up a piece of paper. “Thought you’d like to know, I heard back from the Council about the excursion request.”

 

"You can go?" Sam asked with a surprised tone in his voice. He almost couldn't believe it.

 

“Yeah, I’m surprised, too. But I made a good point about the lack of soil testing and none of the other doctors are willing to do it since what happened last year.” Gabe nodded to Gadreel as he grasped Sam by the shoulder. “Can we have a minute, Gads?”

 

Gadreel gave them a soft smile and nodded. "I'll see you later. Be careful out there."

 

Sam leaned against the heater next to Gabe, bracing his fingers against the warmth to unfreeze them. He had totally forgotten to wear his gloves on his trek up here. Something he’d likely forget regularly with the heat near the center of the city. "So what's up?" he whispered.

 

“They’re giving me four hours for testing. When’s your next shift? I’m going to put in a request for you to be pulled for my excursion. Hopefully we can do it in the next day or two. Still gotta bribe Crowley for a loaner scanner.”

 

Sam held up a finger. "Wait here for a moment." He walked over to the board and looked over it to find his number. His shift started in two hours. When he jogged back to Gabe he said, "If two hours is enough for preparation, you could come with me then. I'm sure you can just choose whoever you want to accompany you. You're the boss here. If you say something like you need to go now because of whatever made up scientific reason, no one will question you."

 

Gabe chuckled and quirked his brow. “Don’t want to spend your first night with your Milowda?” he teased.

 

Sam raised his eyebrow. "Word travels fast."

 

“You told me, remember?” He chuckled.

 

Sam nodded. "Right. You just sounded like you already knew who my Milowda is. It's Becky Rosen, can you believe it?"

 

Gabe barked out a laugh and shook his head. “Oh, man. Your former stalker? You have the shittiest luck.”

 

It was weird, a few hours ago Sam probably would have agreed to that assessment, but now he felt the need to defend Becky. "She is actually very nice... She’s a good person, Gabe."

 

“Shit. You sure Nams didn’t give you a lobotomy?” Gabe smirked.

 

Sam gave him a pointed look before he playfully shoved his shoulder. "I'm serious. She’s really... nice."

 

Gabe snorted. “Uh, huh. Anyway, okay. I’ll see if we can get a go for eighteen hundred. You sure you want to leave your love on your first night together?” The man’s tone was entirely sardonic and condescending.

 

"I already told her I'll be out on a mission." Sam rolled his eyes before he smirked. "Why are you so interested in my first night with Becky?" He leaned over to Gabe and whispered, "Are you jealous?"

 

That was met with a quirked brow. “I can assure you, I’m not.”

 

Sam raised his eyebrow too before he winked at him. "Okay, I say you get everything you need for our expedition and we meet back here in an hour. We’ll get you a suit and go over some ground rules."

 

“Got it,” he barked as he nodded to Sam and made his way out of the gate house.

 

Sam smiled at his friend’s retreating form before he joined Gadreel and the other hunters at the table. He sat next to him with a soft nod before he addressed all of them, "I heard about Bobby this morning. It was just yesterday that we lost Dean and now Bobby. So I'd like to say something."

 

He cleared his throat. It was tradition when they lost a fellow Hunter that everybody said something nice about that person. Like a reference letter for Bog in the afterlife. "Bobby was like a father to Dean and me. After our Dad died, he was there for us. Taught us what was important and tricks on how to survive out there. He will be missed dearly." He knew he couldn’t say more. Otherwise he wouldn’t keep his cool.

 

Gadreel smiled and nodded. “Robert was an inspirational Hunter. He’d lived the longest of any Hunter and while the loss in numbers is striking, it will be his caring, attentive nature that will be missed most of all.”

 

Sam pinched his leg hard so he wouldn't tear up when everyone shared a story about Bobby before they all started to tell stories about Dean. He wanted to contribute, but he just couldn't. It was safer to keep his trap shut because if he didn’t, he knew everything would bubble out of him like the outburst of a volcano. And he wouldn't be able to stop talking, and raging, and crying about the unfairness of their situation.

 

One of the gate guards was already eyeing him suspiciously. When they were finished, he nodded and cleared his throat. "Thanks, everyone... for sharing."

 

Gadreel was the first to stand up. “We should probably get our assignments.”

 

Everyone stood up, murmuring and leaving the table, and Sam couldn't be more grateful for Gadreel in that moment. He needed a minute to pull himself together. He already had his assignment so he just waited, leaning against the heater, for Gabriel’s return.

 

“Are you alright, Samuel?” Gadreel whispered as he gently grasped his shoulder.

 

Sam leaned against Gadreel before he looked at him and gave him a soft smile. "Yeah, thank you..." He cleared his throat and clarified, "For earlier."

 

Gadreel returned the smile and patted his arm. “You’re a good man, Sam Winchester. And I hear congratulations are in order?”

 

Sam gave him a wry smile. "Yeah, Becky Rosen was chosen to be my Milowda."

 

His eyebrows shot up in surprise. “But she’s above our level.”

 

Sam nodded with a soft smile. "I know, she specifically asked to be considered and we were compatible. In the end, genetics trump social status."

 

Gadreel appeared impressed and he clapped his hand on Sam’s shoulder again. “I wish you both joy in your coupling.”

 

Sam wondered if his face now had the same color as the magma fields in the lower cave systems, because he certainly felt that way. He cleared his throat and rubbed the back of his neck. "Yeah, um, well... thank you. She’s very nice."

 

Gadreel chuckled and nodded. “Well, you deserved good news after the week you’ve had.”

 

“You guys know two men shouldn’t be alone together, right?” Gabe said as he snuck up behind Sam and poked his side.

 

Sam made an embarrassing squeaking noise before he gave Gabe a pointed look. "Well, we aren't alone anymore. You're here now. Got everything?"

 

Gabe nodded as he held up a rucksack. “Let’s get going, wouldn’t want to miss the sunset,” he joked. Which caused Gadreel to roll his eyes.

 

Sam punched Gabe's shoulder just for Gadreel's sake before he nodded and waved to his friend. "See you in four hours."

 

Gadreel waved and turned to go to his hut.

 

Gabe gave Sam a pointed look. “You two are getting friendly.”

 

Sam turned to Gabe with a raised eyebrow on their way to the gate room to get their gear. "What are you implying?"

 

“Nothing. I just want you to be careful. You remember what happened to Benny.” He’d never heard Gabe sound so serious before.

 

Sam took in a deep breath and looked away for a moment. Gabe had told him that Benny and Dean had been physical with each other. His brother was so innocent about all of it. They all knew that homosexual acts were against the law, but Dean didn't even understand what that entailed. Benny did and when he was ratted out by someone, he took all the blame. And was then executed for it.

 

They had agreed to never tell Dean about it. He was afraid Dean would have done something stupid and gotten himself executed too. He wasn't proud that he lied about it, but he couldn't lose his brother.

 

He sighed again and whispered, "I'm not stupid, Gabriel. There’s nothing going on with Gadreel and me. We're just friends."

 

Gabe shrugged and started heading towards the gate. “Still, I just want you to be careful.”

 

Sam bumped Gabe's shoulder with a grin. "Are you worried about me, Doctor?"

 

At that Gabe fixed him with a serious expression. “If you get carted off to the sunchamber because of some bullshit law, I...” He hesitated before he sighed and shook his head. “I don’t know what I’d do.”

 

Sam gave his friend a soft smile before he leaned over and whispered, "If it ever happened to you, I would break you out of there."

 

Gabe chuckled and shook his head. “Then let’s go see if our future sanctuary is sustainable.”

 

Sam chuckled quietly. "Does that mean you want to elope?"

 

“I thought that’s what this was? Is it not? If that’s the case, I’ll head back to my domicile,” he said as he turned to walk in the other direction.

 

Sam chuckled and grabbed his friend's arm to turn him around. "You're funny. Come on. We don't have all day."

 

Gabe rolled his eyes before he smirked. “Guess we know who the woman is.”

 

"You?" Sam replied with a raised eyebrow before he shushed him. "Okay, no more jokes until we're safely outside." Sam chuckled again and shook his head. "It’s really ironic that I just said that."

 

“Yeah,” Gabe said as he narrowed his eyes. “I’m really questioning that lobotomy now.”

 

Sam rolled his eyes before they entered the gate room and went to the bench with the protective suits. He helped Gabe to suit up since it had been a few years since he went out. Sam proceeded to explain the communication device in the helmet, the oxygen tank, and the radiation meter.

 

Gabe repeated every piece of information dutifully and with a bored eye roll as they walked over, now in full gear, to the double door system.

 

"Alright, when we're outside, walk slowly and tread carefully. Stay close at all times. As you know, the suit protects us, but it will still be cold and hard to walk on the surface. If you need a break, tell me."

 

“Yeah, I got it. I’ve done this before, Sam.”

 

“I know, but I feel better saying it out loud and I just don’t want anything to happen to you out there,” Sam admitted quietly. He had no idea what he would do if he lost Gabe out there. And lately, the outside area had been a lot more dangerous.

 

Gabe smirked at him. “You’re definitely the woman.”

 

Sam nodded and gave him a proud smile. "Thank you for the compliment. I always wanted to belong to the stronger gender."

 

“Oh, yeah. I forgot that history lesson.”

 

Sam tsked and shook his head. "You deliver babies. You should know that they’re stronger. Could you imagine going through so much pain?"

 

Gabe shook his head in dismay. “Why is that always the go-to? Not the fact that men fucked everything up and that’s why misogyny and patriarchy was wiped out?”

 

Sam shrugged before he smirked at Gabe through his helmet, waiting for the pressure doors to close so they could open the outside door. "And that, of course. So I’ll take your compliment about me being the woman."

 

“Got the hair for it,” he quipped as he turned to face the door and braced his hand over his oxygen valve.

 

"And you the way you walk," Sam replied as he looked out of the security glass window to check if the perimeter was clear. Everything looked fine behind the wall.

 

“Good to know my hard work paid off. Getting your attention.”

 

The light over the door turned green and Sam braced his gloved hand around the handle. "You don't need to work hard for it. You got it."

 

He didn’t wait for an answer as he pushed against the heavy handle and opened the outside door. Freezing cold struck their protected faces and the sandstorm was deafeningly loud. He clicked his communication device on. “Okay, ready for an adventure?”

 

Gabe chuckled and said, “Too late to turn back now. My suit’s dirty.”

 

Sam's heart started to beat faster, like every time he stepped outside. Dean had taught him it was normal and healthy to be afraid. It would made his reflexes better. "Alright, let's do this. And remember, stay close," he repeated before he readied his rifle.

 

“Yeah, I got it,” his tone was cocky, but Sam caught the tremble in his voice.

 

When Sam closed the door behind them, he reached back and took Gabriel's hand in his, squeezing it. "You're going to be fine. I won't let anything happen to you."

 

Gabe turned to look at him, his expression fond. “Who needs a guardian angel with you around, huh?”

 

His heart suddenly stumbled and Sam had no idea why. It was a good thing that Gabe couldn't see his face in the freaking sandstorm, because it was probably bright red again. "I try my best," he replied lamely before he focused on their route, taking a quick glance at his GPS device.

 

Sam hoped Dean was okay. He couldn’t wait to see his brother again.

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

Dean was waiting in the kitchen for Cas to come back. He’d gone to check on the windmill and Dean couldn’t help but feel worried for his friend. Which was stupid. Cas was fine. He did it all the time.

 

He decided to get some bread and marmalade ready for Cas. Dean was getting better at cutting the bread, but Cas was still better at it. He grabbed the jar of peach marmalade and butter from what he learned was the fridge.

 

Grabbing sharky, Dean sliced up four pieces and carefully, ever so slowly, spread the butter. He couldn’t help but smile as he recalled the first time Cas showed him how to do this properly. It was strange, he missed his brother, more than he thought possible, but he was really starting to love his life in the Dome.

 

There was real food, which in and of itself was its own magic, but there was so much more than that. For the first time in... ever, Dean felt safe. Safe to be himself. The way he felt when he was with Benny.

 

Dean remembered the first time he and Benny were alone. They’d bumped into each other at the Hunter communal sandroom. Dean had been sick and tired of waiting in line every morning, so he got the idea to go to sleep earlier to hit the sandroom before everyone else got up.

 

Apparently Benny had the same idea and Dean had been so annoyed that he beat him to it. Mostly because it meant that they would have had to get someone else to join them per the law. Benny simply laughed and told him he could keep a secret.

 

He’d been so grateful he found himself sharing time with his friend, even though it went against everything he’d been taught.

 

Cas made him feel like that. Like he was worth the risk. Dean chuckled to himself and when he heard one of the doors close, he called out, “In the kitchen, Cas!”

 

When he turned around he saw Cas holding his hand against his chest and there was blood everywhere on his clothes. "I apologize for getting blood everywhere. Can you start the water in the sink so I can wash it off?"

 

Dean’s eyes widened in panic as he approached him. “What happened? There’s so much blood!”

 

Cas tried to hide his hand away from Dean. "It's nothing. The sandstorm flared up and moved the windmill blade and I injured myself because my hand was still working on the electronics." He tried to step around Dean to the sink. "I just need to wash it."

 

Without hesitating he turned the tap on and gently grasped Cas by the wrist. There was so much blood and Dean was starting to freak out. He didn’t like seeing anyone hurt, but when it was someone he cared about...

 

Dean grabbed one of the small towels Cas kept in a drawer in the kitchen and returned to him, flashing him a reassuring smile as he grasped his wrist again, gently pulling his hand away from his chest. He gasped when he saw that two of his fingers were missing. Ripped open stumps bleeding excessively were all that remained. “Cas!”

 

Cas shook his head. "I wish you hadn't seen this. I'm sorry." Cas used his other hand to turn the tap to a colder temperature before he held his injured hand under the water with a pained wince. "Don't worry, Dean. It’s okay."

 

He cupped Cas’s cheek and gently caressed the pad of his thumb over the skin. Dean locked eyes with Cas, giving him a worried look. “Does it hurt?”

 

Cas gave him a wry smile. "Yes. But it will heal. My cells regenerate very fast."

 

“Still, pain sucks,” he said as he started rifling through all of the cupboards. Dean didn’t know what he was looking for. What could help the pain of a ripped off limb?

 

"If you want to help me, you could distract me," Cas told him with a soft smile, “I bet the chocolate is cooled down by now. You could start filling it with the fruits we mashed. I’ll just quickly change into different clothes and be right back with you."

 

Dean returned to Cas and gently wrapped the towel around his washed hand. “There. So you don’t drip.”

 

Cas used his uninjured arm to hug him and press his face against his cheek. "Thank you, Dean."

 

He couldn’t help but squeeze him close, soaking in the warmth. “I don’t want to see you hurt.”

 

"Should this happen again, I promise I’ll try to hide it from you, so you don't have to see it," Cas murmured as he pulled him closer.

 

Dean chuckled, swaying them together. “I’d rather you not let it happen again.”

 

Cas leaned back, his face close to Dean's as warm blue eyes looked up at him. "I’ll try my best, Dean. I hate worrying you."

 

“I know it’s probably lame, and I know you’ll be fine, but yeah...” He shook his head at his own lack of eloquence. Dean finally drew back entirely. “What should I use to put the fruits in the chocolate?”

 

Cas gave him a cheeky grin as he turned and leaned against the doorframe. "Surprise me." He gave him another quick smile before he left the room.

 

Dean laughed and shook his head. He grabbed a weird round shaped thing, pulled out the trays and a couple of the bowls. He decided on the cherries and strawberries because the colors worked well together.

 

Using the round thing, he started scooping the puréed fruit into the open spaces of the chocolate. He started humming one of his dad’s favorite songs. It was the first song he ever taught Dean.

 

He startled when suddenly two hands wrapped around his stomach and pulled him in for a close hug. Cas looked over his shoulder with a smile, holding his hand out for Dean to see. It looked completely normal again. Like nothing had happened. All five fingers and not even a scar. "See? I told you it's fine."

 

Dean chuckled and pursed his lips at him. “I’ll still worry.” He held up one of the cherry chocolates and held it in front of Cas’s lips. “Wanna be the first to try it?”

 

Cas leaned forward, his eyes never leaving Dean's as he parted his lips and took the treat from Dean's fingers, his lips grazing them softly. His eyes fluttered shut for a second and he hummed around the chocolate in his mouth. When he looked up again, he smiled. "This is perfection."

 

“You’ve got a little...” He started as he swiped the side of his thumb on the edge of Cas’s bottom lip, mopping up the chocolate. Dean laughed softly and sucked the chocolate off, letting out a contented groan as the flavors exploded on his tongue.

 

Cas took another piece of chocolate from the tray and held it to Dean’s lips with a smile. “You should try a complete one.”

 

Dean leaned forward and wrapped his lips around Cas’s fingers and moaned as he bit down on the treat. The way the exquisite flavors melted together, he shook his head in amazement. “You and I make a good team.”

 

“Like chocolate and fruits make a good team?” Cas asked before he licked chocolate from his own fingers.

 

“Definitely.” Dean chuckled when he noticed Cas somehow got chocolate on his lip again. He drew forward and licked it off.

 

Cas gasped and moved forward to softly slide his lips over Dean’s before he felt Cas’s tongue against his own, hesitantly licking over Dean’s. Just for a second before Cas pulled back and looked at him with wide eyes, breathing heavily.

 

Dean touched his own lips and laughed a little nervously. “Weird. That tingling is back.”

 

Cas nodded slowly before he breathed out, “I felt it in my whole body.”

 

He furrowed his brow and cupped Cas’s face. “Do it again.”

 

Cas stepped forward, hesitantly leaning in. His lips ghosted over Dean’s before he used his tongue to lick over Dean’s lips.

 

Dean felt it too. The tingling all over. He breathed out a surprised chuckle. He licked the seam of Cas’s lips. “Cool.”

 

Cas’s breathing hitched before he leaned back with a gleeful smile. “Your lips and your tongue feel really nice against mine.”

 

“Yours too.” Dean grabbed a chocolate with the strawberry purée and put half of it between his lips before he leaned forward and closed the gap between them.

 

Cas gave him a playful smile before he leaned forward, biting half of it off before he moved his lips over Dean’s with a soft groan, his tongue finding Dean’s as both of them parted their lips.

 

Dean carded his hand through Cas’s hair, smiling as they continued to explore each other. The combination of the taste and the tingling made the warmth inside of him flare up higher. So much so, Dean’s dick started getting hard. He couldn’t help but groan.

 

Cas suddenly drew back and looked completely confused before he looked down at himself. His thin white pants didn't hide that he was hard too. "Again?" Cas murmured out of breath.

 

Dean shrugged helplessly. “Happened to me, too.”

 

Cas gave him a surprised look. "Is it because we were touching each other with our mouths and tongues?"

 

“I’m guessing.” Dean hated that he couldn’t answer that question with confidence. Being yanked out of school at the age he had been also meant that he wasn’t given the opportunity to learn more things. And for some reason, his dad refused to talk to him about stuff that wasn’t the history of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

 

Cas touched the side of Dean's hips as he looked down at his tented pants with a thoughtful expression. He pulled him closer before he looked up at him again. "Did this happen to you before, when you touched someone else with your lips?"

 

“Only one other person,” he said, his heart aching as Benny’s face filled his mind.

 

Cas touched his cheek, rubbing his thumb over it as he gave him a worried but searching look. "You sound sad. Is this a bad thing? That this is happening?"

 

Dean clutched at Cas’s wrist. “I remembered a friend.”

 

"Oh." Cas looked away for a moment before he chewed on his lower lip, giving him a shy glance as he looked up again. "Is this friend... still at your old home?"

 

He bit his lip to stop its trembling and shook his head. Dean sighed and looked down. Damn. He missed Benny.

 

Cas gave him a pained look before he nodded softly. "I'm sorry." He leaned forward, his lips softly ghosting over Dean's lips again.

 

Dean gave him a half smile. “Don’t be.”

 

"It feels uncomfortable in my chest to see you sad," Cas murmured.

 

Bracing his hand against Cas’s chest, Dean started rubbing gentle circles. Like his mom would do on his stomach when he was sick. “Does this help?”

 

Cas gave him a soft smile and nodded before he leaned over and pressed his lips to Dean's again.

 

Dean startled and they jumped apart when the perimeter alarm went off and the red lights started flashing. “Did you see something out there?” he asked, the old habits of his job as a Hunter kicking in.

 

Cas shook his head, looking worried and almost frightened as he grabbed Dean's hand to squeeze it. "We should go to the door and look."

 

Without hesitating, Dean stepped in front of Cas, hand braced out as he carefully headed towards the door.

 

Dean looked through the thick glass bulkhead from the security double door system at the front of the building. It was weird that it looked almost the same as the gate at home. Maybe both of those rooms were built by the same people?

 

He could only see dust and sand as he tried to see anything through the bulkhead window in the chamber that led outside.

 

"Can you see something?" Cas whispered, clearly frightened from the tremble in his voice.

 

Dean shook his head before he startled as he saw a gloved hand knocking at the window. And then he noticed the contours of a helmet. He gasped when he recognized it. It was Sam.

 

“It’s my brother,” he breathed out in excitement.

 

Cas visibly relaxed before he gave him a shaky smile. “Then we should let him in.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 5

 

It was strange to hug his brother in an environmental suit when they finally made it through the quarantine door. "Dean, it’s so good to see you. How are you feeling? Are you okay? Do you feel sick or ill?”

 

Before Dean could answer, Cas laid his hand on his shoulder. “He is in perfect health. You really don’t need to wear your suits inside. It’s safe for humans.”

 

Sam looked over at Gabriel. He was the doctor and he had the equipment to check for pathogens in the air.

 

Gabe shook his head. “No offense, doe eyes, but we still need to test the atmosphere,” he said as he pulled out a Geiger counter and his testing kit.

 

Dean smiled at them. “Don’t you guys think I’d be sick or dead by now?”

 

“That reminds me, I’ve got to get a blood sample from you, Dean.”

 

Dean groaned and rolled his eyes. “I feel fine!”

 

Gabe gave Sam a pointed look, as though he was secretly pleading for Sam to help him out. Well, maybe not pleading, more along the lines of, ‘please rein your brother in before I punch him.’

 

Sam gave his brother a long look. "Dean. I believe you, but we still need hard evidence, okay? So don't be such a baby. It's just a little pinch."

 

Dean narrowed his eyes at Sam, but it was short lived when he smiled and asked, “How long will it take?”

 

“No more than half an hour,” Gabe said as he got to work on setting everything up.

 

Cas tilted his head and knelt in front of Gabe. "We have a fully equipped lab here. If you want to use it, you're more than welcome."

 

Gabe’s eyes lit up. “I more than want that.”

 

Cas smiled at him. “Then follow me. I’ll show you the way.”

 

Cas turned to Dean and gave him an awkward little wave with his hand before he walked down the hallway with Gabe and vanished behind a door, leaving them alone.

 

Sam raised an eyebrow as he turned back to Dean. "So... you two are getting along?"

 

Dean’s smile was almost shy. “Yeah. He’s great.”

 

“Great, huh?” Sam grinned impishly. “What’s with the smile on your face?”

 

“Shut up,” he murmured and rolled his eyes. “How have you been?”

 

Sam sighed and his smile immediately vanished. “I’ve got some bad news, Dean... Um... Bobby died.”

 

Dean shook his head. “No, you’re wrong. It must have been another guy,” he said adamantly.

 

Sam sighed deeply and shook his head. "No... it's true. I'm sorry. He had an accident with his suit outside. I’m so very sorry, Dean."

 

Dean swallowed dryly. He had always been really good at keeping his emotions in check, Dad had trained Dean. But for the first time since they were kids, he watched his brother succumb to his emotions.

 

“Fuck!” Dean cried as he slammed his fist into a wall. Sam could hear the sounds of bones cracking.

 

"Fuck, Dean." Sam wrapped his arms around his brother and pulled him close, which was still weird in a suit. When he pulled back, he looked down at Dean’s hand. "Did you hurt yourself?"

 

He let out a shaky exhale and nodded. “Yeah. It’s fine.”

 

"I'm sorry, Dean. I wish he could have seen all this." Sam made a vague gesture towards the dome. "When Gabe finds out it's safe in here, maybe we can... I don't know... talk to the Council about getting food supplies? Maybe a few of us could live here... I have a Milowda now... um, it's Becky Rosen." He knew he was rambling, but he wanted to distract Dean from his negative feelings.  

 

Dean’s eyes widened. “The blonde girl who followed you everywhere?”

 

“Yes.” Sam gave him a small smile. “She’s actually really nice.”

 

“Man, Sammy, I’m so happy for you.” Dean hugged him again, drawing back with a sigh. “I can’t wait for you to take the damn suit off. We have so much for you to try.”

 

“You mean like food?” Sam asked. “Real food?”

 

Dean nodded excitedly. “Real food. Cas has been showing me how to cook.”

 

"What's cooking?" Sam asked with a smile. Dean's enthusiasm was infectious.

 

“You mix foods together with other foods and use heat to make new kinds of food. It’s like magic. And then I’m gonna bring you to meet Cora.”

 

“Cora?” Sam smiled even wider. “I thought Cas lived alone here.”

 

Dean chuckled. “Cora’s a cow. A real, live cow.”

 

Sam stared at him in disbelief. “Like an extinct animal? From the past? How? Um, can I see it... her?”

 

“Cas can regenerate DNA. He rebuilds them. We have chickens and rabbits, too.”

 

"I have no idea what those are, but I really want to see them. They aren't dangerous, right?" Sam asked in a careful afterthought

 

Dean chuckled and shook his head. “No. Nothing here is, expect the poisonous fruits that filter out the bad stuff from outside.”

 

Sam raised an eyebrow. "Okay, great! Um, yeah, then show me around. Tell me what you've been up to while I was gone."

 

He grabbed Sam’s arm and dragged him to the main section of the dome, pointing up to a tree covered in orange circle things. “That’s a fruit tree, Sammy,”

 

Sam remembered the dome from his first time here, but he didn't have the time to really look around. It was incredible. So many different green trees and smaller green plants full of colorful fruits. It looked like a dream. “And Cas just creates these? How?”

 

“He just holds his hand over the ground and stuff grows. He can probably explain it better.” Dean walked to another tree and pulled off a small red thing. He held it out for Sam to see. “These are my favorites. Cherries.”

 

"Oh, man. I really hope Gabe gets a good test result so I can try this. It looks really good." Sam put his hand on Dean's shoulder. "So that's what you do all day? Eat and... cook?"

 

Dean nodded and smiled. “And tend to the animals, and whatever other work needs to be done.” He chuckled and looked down, an almost far-away look on his face.

 

Sam gave him a smile. “What is it?”

 

He waved dismissively. “I’m just so glad to see you again.”

 

"Me, too." Sam chuckled. "Seriously, I was really worried about you. Leaving you here with this... Cas. We don't really know anything about him."

 

Dean shook his head. “Cas has been nothing but nice to me.” His eyes lit up and he grabbed Sam’s arm, dragging him through the Dome down another hallway and into a large room with white tile floors and walls in a corner of the room.

 

He walked towards a large knob on the wall, standing to the side as he turned it. Suddenly a stream of water came out of the weird metal thing above the knob. Dean held his hand under the water and smiled. “Water, Sammy.”

 

Sam's eyes widened as he gasped. "Water... it just comes out of this... thing? What?" He couldn't believe it. This was like being in Kolob.

 

“Yeah, Cas recycles it so we can use it for the plants, and cleaning the fruits and vegetables, to drink, to shower.” Dean’s smile was beaming.

 

"This is amazing, Dean!" He stared at the water before he gave Dean a bright smile. "You look really happy here."

 

“You know,” he started, sounding a little amazed, “I miss you, I miss our home, I’m pissed Bobby never got to see this... but I am. I really am happy here.”

 

Sam was happy for Dean. He really was. He wasn't just surviving, he was really living his life. "I couldn't be more happy for you, Dean. This is incredible." Sam shook his head with a smile. "It would be awesome to live here. Do you think Cas would be okay with me staying here, too? I mean, if Gabe gives the thumbs up and I finish trying to convince the Council."

 

Dean furrowed his brow. “What about your Milowda?”

 

"I would ask her to come with me."

 

Dean’s smile returned, eyes lit up in joy. “You’d both come? I can’t wait to tell Cas!”

 

"Before you tell your... um, Cas... let me ask her first and above all, let's wait for Gabe's test results. Should we go and see what they’re doing?"

 

Dean nodded. “Yeah, good idea.” He practically dragged Sam back to the hallway where Cas had taken Gabe to his lab.

 

Sam couldn't stop laughing when he saw Gabe jumping and running around in the lab like a kid that was allowed to draw with crayons. Cas looked slightly afraid of him, standing in a corner with widened eyes. “I see you’re having fun,” he directed at Gabe.

 

“Sam! This guy has some insane technology! What was this again?” Gabe asked Cas as he held up a clear glass in a round shape with a handle.

 

“A coffee pot,” Cas explained timidly.

 

“No idea what that is, but look at this stuff, Sam!” Gabe started tinkering with different objects, skittering around the lab like an excited child.

 

“Please don’t break anything,” Cas pleaded meekly.

 

Gabe appeared to either not hear him, or was outright ignoring him, when he accidentally dropped a thin glass tube that shattered the moment it hit the floor. “Whoops. Sorry,” he murmured as he leaned down to pick up the pieces.

 

Cas bit his lower lip before he went over to Dean and stood behind him, whispering something that sounded a lot like, "He is scary."

 

Dean chuckled and shrugged. “He is.” He winced then and held his fist towards his chest again as he let out a soft hiss.

 

Cas was standing in front of Dean in under a second, carefully taking his hand in his. "You're hurt."

 

And then something incredible happened. Cas's hands started to glow. Sam stared at both of them not sure what was happening when Cas murmured softly, "Better?"

 

Dean cupped the side of Cas’s face with his now apparently healed hand. “Thanks, Cas.”

 

When he turned to see if Gabe saw everything, the guy’s mouth was agape for a moment before he gave Sam a pointed look.

 

"Don't look at me like that! I had no idea he is magic!" Sam defended himself.

 

Gabe ignored Sam and approached Cas. “Can I test you?”

 

"What?" Cas squeaked before Sam held Gabe back by his shoulder and gave him a pointed look.

 

“Don’t give me that look. I’ve gotta know what this guy is,” he murmured. Sam could practically see the way Gabe’s brain was plotting out all of the different possibilities.

 

"Well, first of all he’s a person, Gabe!" Sam chastised his friend. Especially when he noticed how Cas tried to hide behind Dean again.

 

Dean took a protective stance, but his gaze was focused on Cas, neck craned to look at him over his shoulder, smiling reassuringly.

 

Gabe sighed. “It’s no different from the tests I’m gonna run on Dean. I swear.”

 

"I... I don't want to," Cas suddenly pressed out before he turned around and practically fled the lab.

 

Dean groaned. “You’re a dick, Gabe,” he barked before storming out of the lab after Cas.

 

Sam squinted his eyes at Gabe. "Seriously, man. You saw that the guy was uncomfortable and you know he’s a mutant. I mean, I told you he can breathe outside."

 

Gabe approached Sam, grasping his upper arms. “Sam. Mutants can’t do magic. Not in all of history. You know that. Tell me you aren’t dying to try and figure out what he’s about.”

 

"But he’s clearly afraid. I mean, what do we really know about him?"

 

“That’s what I’m trying to figure out!” He let out a soft laugh and shook his head. “Oh, there’s no radiation and the atmosphere is non toxic by the way. We can take off our suits,” he murmured as he started grabbing different supplies. The idiot was so distracted by Cas and this place that he apparently didn’t realize his suit was still on.

 

"You’re telling me now?" Sam replied incredulously. “I’m dying to know how those fruits taste.” He slowly pulled off his helmet before he turned around. “Are you going to stay here or find those two with me?”

 

Gabe shrugged out of his suit without hesitating. “You kidding? I want to try real food.”

 

Sam folded his suit on a bench before he walked into the hallway to look for Dean and Cas.

 

He found them in the kitchen, witnessing how his brother was holding Cas in his arms and pressing a kiss to the crown of his head. He couldn't hear what he was saying, but Dean's voice sounded soft and quiet as he murmured into Cas's hair.

 

Sam was angry with himself that he felt weird witnessing them being so close. Back home they would get in a lot of trouble for behavior like that. It was what had gotten Benny killed. He cleared his throat to let them know he was there, not being able to look his brother in the eye.

 

Dean turned and smiled at Sam, not pulling away from Cas. “Your suits are off! You ready to try some food?”

 

"Yes," Sam replied excitedly before he went over to Cas with a soft smile. "Please excuse my friend Gabriel. He won’t hurt you, there’s no reason to be afraid. He’s a doctor.”

 

"The people who worked here," Cas replied softly, "were doctors, too. So your reassurance doesn't work."

 

Dean grabbed Cas’s hand. “I won’t let him touch you.”

 

Cas gave Dean a soft smile and then they just stared at each other. The uncomfortable feeling in his chest grew even more when he looked over at Gabe, who gave him a surprised look.

 

"Um, Dean, can I talk to you... outside for a moment?"

 

Dean shrugged his shoulders and gave Sam a confused smile. “Sure.”

 

Cas touched Dean’s hand, giving him an insecure look. He obviously had problems being alone with Gabe. Sam rolled his eyes. “I promise you, he will behave. Right, Gabe?”

 

“Yeah, yeah. Didn’t even bring any of my equipment,” Gabe said as he raised his hands in surrender.

 

Cas offered Gabe something round and brown filled with something red. “Do you want to try the chocolate while they are gone?”

 

Sam didn’t wait around for the answer, but pulled Dean out of the kitchen with him, walking a few steps down the hallway. “We really need to talk, Dean.”

 

“Okay?” he said in confusion. “What’s going on?”

 

“I saw you kissing Cas,” Sam whispered before he could stop himself. He hadn’t meant to be so blunt about it, but maybe with Dean it was for the best. He deserved to know the truth.

 

Dean shook his head in confusion. “Yeah, and? I’ve kissed Dad and...”

 

“That’s different, Dean. That’s family. You act with Cas like he’s your... Milowda,” Sam explained slowly.

 

He narrowed his eyes at Sam. “No, I don’t. I did this with Benny sometimes. He wasn’t my Milowda. We were just friends.”

 

Sam took in a deep breath before he braced his palm against the wall. This wasn’t going to be easy. He massaged his forehead before he murmured, “You know the laws back home. How two men aren't allowed to be alone together... What you and Benny did was against the law. Benny knew that, that’s why he took full responsibility for what happened between the two of you.”

 

“I don’t understand,” Dean said as he shook his head, “what do you mean he took full responsibility?”

 

Sam took in a deep breath before he explained softly, “Dean, homosexual acts... two men kissing for example, are punished with a death sentence.”

 

He could actually see as his brother started mentally connecting the dots. Dean’s expression went from confused to devastated. “I... I caused Benny’s death?” His lip trembled as he started backing away from Sam.

 

Sam quickly shook his head. “No, Dean. You didn’t know. It’s not your fault.” The old anger started to flame up over his own words. “Benny knew though and he should have told you instead of bringing you into such a dangerous situation. They would have taken you too because of that...”

 

“So I’m... I’m a sodomite?” he asked in dismay, his hands shaking as he drew further and further away.

 

Sam walked up to Dean, touching his shoulder, trying to calm his brother down. “No, Dean. You’re innocent. You didn’t even know you did something illegal.”

 

Dean shoved him off, backing even further away. “I didn’t know it was illegal because it didn’t feel bad, or wrong!” He shook his head as he stared at the ground. “Benny’s dead because of me,” he breathed out.

 

“No, he’s dead because we live in a messed up world, Dean!” Sam suddenly yelled at him. “Do you think it was my fault that Mom had to die? Do you think it’s fair they throw us into the sunchamber every time we show emotion? This isn’t on you, Dean!” Sam pressed his hand over his mouth. An outburst like that was something he was trained his entire life to not have. He was trained to keep his cool and now he had lost it. But he was so sick and tired of complying. And he couldn't just leave his brother to think he was a bad person.

 

“Yes, it is! If it’s illegal and I’m clearly doing it again, but with Cas, I was the cause! I should just walk outside and let the atmosphere take me. I’m an abomination and should be put to death,” he breathed out in a dejected tone, lip trembling as a solitary tear ran down his face.

 

“Do you really think that, Dean? You obviously found a friend here, someone who needs you. Do you really think what you did was so bad that you deserve to die for it?” Sam stepped a little closer again, swallowing dryly. “Do you think I deserve to join you because I... I sometimes... think of holding and kissing someone too, that I shouldn’t?” He had never even admitted it to himself, but now that it was out there, the thoughts were hard to push down and deny again.

 

Dean let out a shaky exhale, eyes shimmery with unshed tears as he looked Sam in the eye. “Then why did you tell me? Tell me that what I was doing with Cas was illegal. Was bad.”

 

"Because you had a right to know about Benny... and..." Sam turned around and hit the wall before he leaned against it. "And I don't know. I just want you to understand what you're doing this time. You're here now. Those laws can’t touch you anymore, but I still need to go back in two hours. I still need to forget about this side of myself and it's difficult, Dean."

 

Dean furrowed his brow and sighed. “So, we’re both broken and have to try and fix it?”

 

Sam gave him a pained look. "Do you feel broken, or like something is wrong with you? You told me it didn’t feel wrong to you." Sam had hoped it wouldn’t. He needed to hear it.

 

“No, but you said it was wrong.” Dean let out a mirthless chuckle and pressed his back against the wall, sliding down until he was crouched on his knees. “And if there’s laws against it, it must be wrong.”

 

Sam knelt next to him and shook his head. "I didn't say it was wrong, Dean. I said it was illegal. And I don't think that every law we have is a good one."

 

Dean looked at him, eyes rife with pain and his internal conflict. “What am I supposed to do, Sammy? Tell me.”

 

Sam softly touched Dean's arm. "The only thing I ever wanted for you was to be happy and live your life instead of just surviving every day. You have that here. Dad always told us to trust our instincts. We should listen to him... I don't think liking him is bad if it doesn't feel that way."

 

“I don’t want to be like this,” he breathed out in a broken whisper.

 

Sam took in a deep breath before he looked over at his brother. "Dean, if it doesn't feel okay, then stop doing those things with him. You might give him the wrong impression."

 

Dean sighed. “I just don’t want Cas to get hurt because of me.”

 

“You know that the Council doesn’t even know that you’re alive, right? Cas isn’t in danger. Neither of you are.”

 

“If they made it illegal, there must be a reason,” Dean argued as he wiped his face with the back of his hand.

 

Sam huffed out a breath. He shouldn’t have been surprised. Dean had always been the one who followed rules better than he had. Dean had never questioned a thing, unlike Sam who felt the need to question everything. “It’s illegal because you can’t produce children with another man, Dean. And the first commandment is to help humanity survive.” He knew he sounded bitter. For a long time now “surviving” was not at the top of his list. It was achieving happiness. To find a reason to live, that was more than just donating his DNA to produce an offspring in a time that was seen as a transition. Where everyone put living on hold until the earth could be a place that humans could live again. Human place cards.

 

“So it isn’t because Bog forbids it?”

 

Sam shrugged and gave him a long look. "He created us in his own image. So it can't be wrong if he let you feel this way, right?"

 

Dean sighed and wrapped his arms around his knees. “I don’t know.”

 

"That's the thing about believing, Dean." Sam wrapped his arm around Dean's shoulder to pull him closer. "We will never know, but you should have faith in yourself and in what you think is right. Trust your heart."

 

Dean gave him a half-hearted smile and nodded his understanding. “Why did you warn me about Cas if you don’t have a problem with it? Or... do you?”

 

"You didn't know what you were doing the last time and I wanted to make you aware what it means and to think about it," Sam murmured before he admitted, "my hang-ups are my own to get over. I... my heart and my mind confuse me with mixed signals."

 

Dean held Sam’s hand and gave him a pointed look. “We’re safe here, Sammy. Safe from the Council. What’s going on?”

 

Sam took in a deep breath, looking away for a moment. "I have urges, feelings for another man. I have a Milowda now and I should feel those things for her. But when she touches me I wish it was this other person." It was weirdly freeing to say it out loud.

 

Dean pulled him into a hug and rubbed a soothing circle on his back. “I’m sorry, Sammy. I guess it was naive to hope you’d get the same luck Mom and Dad had.”

 

"Yeah," Sam breathed out, chuckling before he looked at Dean with a soft smile. "But you know the feeling Dad had for Mom... I think I feel that too. Just not with Becky."

 

Dean smiled and looked back to the door that led to the kitchen. “I think I do, too.”

 

Sam rubbed over his own chest with a smile. "And it feels nice, right? Not wrong at all. So I don't want to believe it's wrong."

 

“I didn’t know it was wrong until you told me.” Dean looked down and took a deep breath before he turned back to Sam to ask, “Did Benny really take all of the blame? Maybe they would’ve been more lenient if they knew it had been both of us...”

 

Sam shook his head. "They would have killed you both. He told them you were innocent in all of this. You didn’t know."

 

“Why?” he asked, tone bewildered and a little shaky.

 

"Why? You mean why would they have killed you?" Sam asked back.

 

Dean shook his head. “No, I understand that much. I wanna know why he didn’t tell them the truth about me, too. I was violating the law as much as he was.”

 

"Let me ask you something. If you would have been in his position, would you have wanted Benny to die, too?" Sam asked with a frown.

 

“Of course not!”

 

"Then you know why he did that for you. He cared about you, Dean." Although Sam was still angry with Benny having put his brother in such a situation, at least he was grateful for the fact that he took the sole responsibility. That he cared for Dean enough to protect him.

 

Dean swallowed and looked down. “I miss him, Sammy,” he croaked as a few more tears escaped.

 

"I know, Dean." He pulled Dean close to his body, carding his hand through his hair. "I know."

 

“It’s dumb. He didn’t deserve it. He was a good man.”

 

"You're right. No one deserves to die because they care about someone. That is the only thing that feels wrong," Sam murmured as he pulled back and look at Dean. "He didn't deserve it and you didn't either, Dean. They had no right to do that."

 

Dean sighed and shrugged helplessly. “I don’t know if what I felt for him was like what Mom and Dad had. I didn’t even know that could happen between two men.”

 

Sam nodded before he leaned his head back against the wall. "But it's different now, isn't it?"

 

“What do you mean?”

 

Sam shrugged before he looked over at Dean. "Do you feel for Cas the same way you did for Benny? Or is it different?"

 

Dean chewed the inside of his cheek for a moment as he appeared to contemplate Sam’s question. He sighed and said, “I don’t know. It’s a lot like how it was with Benny, but sometimes it’s different.”

 

“Different how?” Sam asked curiously.

 

“It’s kinda hard to explain. Like, with Benny, I liked when we kissed. I liked when he held me. With Cas, it’s kinda like I need it. Does that make sense?” Dean looked to Sam, brow furrowed in confusion, like he barely understood what he was saying himself.

 

Sam let out a laugh and nodded. "Yeah... actually that makes a lot of sense." He knew that feeling. Oh, so well.

 

Dean smiled and looked at Sam with an almost insecure look. “So... what I’m doing with Cas... it’s okay?”

 

Sam shrugged and gave him a smile. "Yeah, at least I think so. But it shouldn't matter what I think, Dean. What do you believe?"

 

Dean looked incredibly serious then. “I think love is always a good thing. That’s what Dad taught us. Mom, too. Even though you never got to meet her. Not really. So, why should any love be a bad thing?”

 

Sam smiled at Dean. He was damn proud of his brother. "I agree. And I'm happy for you, Dean. Just knowing that you have a good life here... it makes me really happy."

 

“You will too, Sammy. You’re going to love it here, I just know it.” Dean moved to stand up, holding his hand out for Sam to take. “You should invite the guy to come here, too. In fact, I’ll talk to Cas. I bet there’s room for a lot of people.”

 

Sam nodded with a soft smile. "I'll definitely ask him. I hope he wants to stay here... but if he doesn't then... Dean, if he says no, I might not stay here either. Because I can't leave him. Even though it’s dangerous back home."

 

Dean nodded his understanding, but Sam caught the flash of disappointment in his eyes. “I get it. I would’ve come home with you if I could, even though this place is amazing.” Dean pulled Sam to his feet and chuckled. “So... who’s the guy?”

 

Before he could answer, Gabe poked his head out of the door, his face covered in a brown substance. “If you don’t get your ass back in here, I’m eating your share of the chocolate.”

 

Sam held his hand in front of his face and rolled his eyes, but he had a hard time hiding his grin. "Seriously, Gabe? You eat with your mouth, not with your whole face."

 

“That’s ‘cause you’ve only tasted those shitty mush-bars. Seriously, get your ass in here before I eat your share of everything.” Gabe winked at him and disappeared back into the kitchen.

 

Sam gave Dean a long-suffering look. “He’s the worst.”

 

Dean chuckled and nodded. “He’s your friend.”

 

Sam chuckled before he murmured, "Yeah, he is."

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

Dean had been through an emotional ringer in the last ten minutes of his private conversation with his brother, that when Gabriel had poked his head through the door and harassed them, it was actually kind of welcome. The distraction, the thought of seeing his brother’s face the first time he tasted a piece of real fruit, was enough to take away the negative thoughts.

 

Like the fact that he was the cause of his best friend’s death. That their relationship had been illegal and Benny took the blame. He’d saved Dean’s life and Dean never knew to what extent. Then there was the fact that all of this made him feel so stupid. More so than usual. It was conflicting and overwhelming. But he wanted to not think about it. At least not while he had a time limit with his brother.

 

They made their way back to the kitchen. Gabriel was sitting on one of the stools, cheeks puffed out like one of the rabbits when they’d stuffed as much grain and lettuce as they could in their cheeks.

 

Cas looked a little terrified. He chuckled and gave Cas a reassuring smile as he grabbed an apple, holding it out to Sam. “You’re gonna get to eat whatever you want. But I want this to be the first thing you taste.”

 

"Any reason why?" Sam asked with a curious tone in his voice as he took the apple and looked at it from every side.

 

Dean flashed a smile in Cas’s direction as he said, “It was the first thing I tasted.”

 

Cas smiled shyly back at him before he looked away to busy himself with the stove, stirring something.

 

He heard a crunching sound and turned to Sam again as his brother bit into the apple with wide eyes. "Uhh shit, that's..." He didn't say more, just started to annihilate the apple.

 

Gabriel snorted around a mouthful of what appeared to be bread as he grabbed one of the fruit chocolates and invaded Sam’s space, holding it to Sam’s lips. “You gotta try this.”

 

Sam leaned forward with a grin and snatched the chocolate from Gabriel’s hand with his lips, his eyes never leaving Gabriel’s as he bit down. Sam's eyes widened and he groaned. "Oh my Bog!"

 

Dean chuckled as the two of them got lost in the exquisite tastes. He sidled up next to Cas and tried to see what he was making. “What’re you doing?”

 

Cas gave him another shy smile. "I'm making a vegetable soup for later. We ate so much sugar today, we need something healthy."

 

“Will it be ready before they leave?” he asked, unable to hide the smile as Gabriel and Sam proceeded to feed each other different fruits.

 

"I fear not. I didn't anticipate they would eat so much. Especially the small doctor. Should I make something else?"

 

Dean smiled. “What else can we make?”

 

Cas seemed to think about it before his eyes widened. "I'll be right back. I just need to go to the storage room. Can you watch and stir the soup as long as I'm gone?"

 

He nodded and reached for the wooden utensil Cas was stirring the soup with. “I just keep stirring it?”

 

Cas cupped his cheek softly with one hand and nodded. "Yes. Thank you."

 

“You’re welcome,” he breathed out. The way Cas looked at him, Dean couldn’t fathom how anything so pure could be seen as bad.

 

Cas gave him another smile that made his heart skip a beat before he left the kitchen and Dean was distracted by Sam's chuckle. "He really seems to like you."

 

“Well, I don’t try to do tests on him,” Dean quipped as he stirred the soup. “So, what do you guys think?”

 

"This place is like... made of dreams, Dean. And Cas is really nice," Sam replied, licking chocolate from his finger with a groan.

 

Dean chuckled and nodded. “Right? I never knew food could taste like that.”

 

“I think I like the chocolate the best,” Gabriel said, popping another chocolate in his mouth.

 

"So do you think Cas would be okay with more people living here? Or maybe sharing food with Zion?" Sam asked after he smiled in Gabriel’s direction with a slight head shake.

 

Dean shrugged noncommittally. “He mentioned there are more rooms if more people wanted to come here. I don’t think he’d have a problem with it. But we should still ask.” He couldn’t help but feel hopeful, that his brother would come live with them. Hopefully whoever the guy he had feelings for would agree to come.

 

Gabriel leaned against the table with a thoughtful expression before he sounded serious again, "So, Cas... he can heal injuries and he can create plants, and even animals?"

 

“Yeah, he’s amazing,” Dean said, unable to hide the amazement in his tone.

 

"Yeah, yeah, I get it." Gabriel grinned before he asked, "Do you know what his story is? I mean, what is this place? The building has the same faded markings on the walls that some of the old Council buildings have. It even has the same security doors."

 

Dean actually didn’t know, because whenever he asked questions about that part of Cas’s life, he usually shut down, randomly growing a sunflower for Dean or something as a means of distraction. “I know he’s been around for a long time. He’s seen the sun and the sky. He was here before the big war happened.”

 

"Damn." Gabriel raised an eyebrow. "He looks really good for being that old." Dean could see that Gabriel was thinking hard as he absentmindedly bit into a carrot instead of the chocolate he was reaching for. "Do you think he would tell me what they actually created him for, what his purpose was?"

 

At that Dean shook his head. “When I’ve asked, he only tells me he was a mistake. And you scare him, he really won’t talk to you.”

 

Gabriel rolled his eyes, waving around the carrot in his hand as he spoke, "Do you know if there’s another lab somewhere? Or maybe notes, documentation on what this place is?"

 

“There’s a basement. I haven’t had the chance to check it out yet. Cas won’t go near it.” Dean focused on stirring the soup for a moment before turning back to them. “You think this place would even have that kind of information?”

 

"It's worth checking out." Gabriel checked his gear around his wrist and sighed. "But not in this time window. We’ll have to come back for that. Is there any way you can talk your friend into giving me a blood sample to take home with me?"

 

Dean quirked his brow at Gabriel and sighed. “I’ll ask. But if he says no, I won’t push. Maybe you’ll have to try and come back and do it the next time.”

 

"It's really important, Dean. He could be the answer to all of our problems," Gabriel pleaded, "please help me convince him.”

 

“Hey, I get it, but... I don’t like seeing him freaked out. I know you see all of the possibilities of what he is and what that could mean for all of us, but I see my friend. And his feelings matter more to me than your stupid ass experiments.”

 

"It's not some stupid ass experiment. I just need some blood." Gabriel sighed dramatically. "Don't you see? He can safely walk outside. If I could find a way to reproduce that ability, we could all live on the surface again."

 

And that was an amazing thought. Dean would give anything to try and reach that mountain top to try and see the sky. See if it was anywhere near as pretty as Cas’s eyes. But he didn’t want Cas to be hurt for it. That wouldn’t be worth it. Dean sighed. “Look, I’ll try to convince him, but you’ll need to back off and give him time. Okay?”

 

Gabriel held up his hands in defeat. "Alright, alright. Where is he anyway?"

 

It was in that moment Cas returned with a little basket and a soft smile. His eyes finding Dean's as soon as he entered the room. "I can make um, noodles. They cook fast and we can all eat a real meal together."

 

Dean grinned broadly. “That sounds awesome, Cas. Do you need help?”

 

Cas nodded and opened the basket. It contained tomatoes, onions, garlic (and Dean was very proud of himself for remembering the names of them), and some straight, thin yellow hard things he had never seen before.

 

"Can you cut the onions and the garlic into tiny pieces?" Cas asked as he put two more pots on the stove, one of them he filled with water, oil, and salt. He added a piece of butter to the smaller one. “But remember to remove the outer skin first before you cut them.”

 

Dean nodded and grabbed the onion and garlic out of the basket. When he placed them on the piece of wood Cas used to chop vegetables on, he waved for Sammy to come closer. “This is what I mean by cooking.”

 

"It looks difficult," Sam murmured, but Dean could see he was fascinated. Sam leaned against the counter next to him and looked at Cas. "Cas, thank you for sharing your food with us. It really means a lot."

 

Cas rubbed the back of his neck and looked away with a smile. Sam gave Dean a quick smile before he asked, "Would you be okay if more people came to live here, Cas? Or maybe, if we clear it with the Council... provide the city with food?"

 

Cas looked up in surprise before he nodded. "Of course."

 

Dean smiled at Sam and proceeded to start chopping the vegetables with a smaller version of sharky. “Do you think the Council will okay it?”

 

Gabriel laughed sarcastically and Sam sighed before he replied, "I guess we'll have to see."

 

"We have to be very careful about the information we take back, Sam. You know that. Especially about our boy wonder here."

 

Cas turned around with a raised eyebrow and Gabriel nodded. "Yes, you."

 

"What about me?" Cas asked quietly.

 

"You're a mutant we practically know nothing about. Our society hunts and kills your kind. Your friend here, that was his job. All of his life. My point is that the Council won't trust the food source, especially if it comes from a mutant."

 

Cas looked down at the pot with water again, not reacting except for a silent nod.

 

Dean could have decked Gabriel. He narrowed his eyes at the doctor and handed Sam the knife. “Just cut them into little pieces like I have been.” Before Sam could protest, Dean drew closer to Cas and braced his hand on his shoulder. “Cas?”

 

Cas didn't look up at him, he just stared at the little bubbles the water was making. "Do you want to kill me because I'm a mutant?" he asked quietly.

 

Without hesitating he flipped Cas to face him before he cupped his face. “No. You’re my friend.”

 

"Even though I'm a... mutant?" he asked timidly, his eyes looked almost glazed over.

 

“Yeah, Cas. Even though you’re a mutant. You’re so much more than that. And you’ve never once tried to attack me,” Dean reassured, giving him a small smile, never letting go of Cas.

 

"Why would I attack you?"

 

"Because your brothers out there aren't exactly friendly," Gabriel answered before Dean had a chance to. "Look, you're a nice guy. Dean knows that. We know that. But the Council doesn't, okay? To them, you’re just like the rest of them."

 

Dean nodded and gently swiped the pad of his thumb along Cas’s jaw. “But not to me. You get it? You’re different. You’re special.”

 

Cas nodded gently, but Dean could tell that throughout this whole encounter since Sam and Gabriel arrived, he had gotten more closed up and timid. He started to close up and it felt like there was a wall between them. Dean didn't like it. Cas put the yellow hard thingies in the water as it started bubbling more and turned around to Gabriel. "How would you convince them that I'm not like the others?"

 

"Would you give me a blood sample?" Gabriel asked with a grin.

 

“You don’t have to if you really don’t want to, but... it might be a good idea, Cas,” Dean added.

 

Cas looked really uncomfortable, bordering on afraid. "What would you do to me?"

 

Gabriel walked a little bit closer, his voice softer now – much to Dean's surprise. "Just the same thing I did with Dean earlier. You saw that, right? It’s just a little pinch and I take some blood from you for me to analyze at home. Nothing dangerous. I'm sure Dean will stay with you while I do it and maybe even hold your hand. What do you think? Can you do it?"

 

Cas gave Dean a timid look before he looked at Gabriel again. “What do you want with my blood?”

 

“I’m just trying to find out why you can survive out there,” Gabriel admitted.

 

Cas looked down with a frown. “Because my cells regenerate the damage that is being done to me. But it's not comfortable. I feel my lungs burn with the acid in the air. It hurts."

 

“But you heal again,” Gabriel replied, "if I could find a way to utilize it..."

 

Cas shook his head. “I’m sorry, I can’t give you my blood.”

 

“But... why?” Gabriel asked, shooting Dean a pleading look.

 

“I have my reasons.” Cas turned around to the stove and it was clear he was done with the conversation.

 

Dean approached Cas, gently bracing his hand on his shoulder again. “It’s okay, Cas. We won’t make you do anything you don’t want.”

 

To Dean’s surprise, Cas flinched under his touch and stepped away from him, giving him a timid look. "Okay," he breathed out before he focused on cooking again with a frown.

 

That was weird. Dean furrowed his brow and stared at him in concern. He turned to Sam and Gabriel. “Would you guys give us a minute?”

 

Sam didn't wait for Gabriel to answer. He just grabbed his sleeve and pulled the guy outside.

 

Now alone, Dean focused solely on Cas. He stepped next to him to try and get his attention. When Cas still wouldn’t look at him, Dean gently grasped his chin to turn his head. “Hey. Talk to me.”

 

Cas timidly looked up before he suddenly surged forward and pressed his face against Dean's throat, his hands gripping Dean's shirt tightly. "I'm sorry," he mumbled.

 

“Hey,” Dean murmured as he carded his hand through Cas’s hair, “you don’t have anything to be sorry for.”

 

"I'm afraid... I don't want to get used anymore for my abilities," Cas murmured before he leaned back. "I'm safe with you, right?"

 

Dean nodded and gently caressed the side of Cas’s face. “I promise. I’ll never let anyone hurt you or use you.”

 

"What about your friend?" Cas asked, sounding afraid again, "will he hurt me now because I said no?"

 

Dean furrowed his brow and shook his head adamantly. “No, of course not. And even if that’s something Gabe would try to do, which he wouldn’t, I’d protect you.”

 

"Why?" Cas asked with a shy look. "You heard the doctor. He wants to use my blood to help your people."

 

Dean smiled and shrugged. “I already told him, you’re my friend. If you don’t want to do it, I’m on your side. Besides, it’s not like there’s a guarantee your blood would help.”

 

"So you don't think I'm selfish?"

 

“I think you’re perfect,” Dean blurted out. He drew back and ducked his head sheepishly. “That just came out.”

 

The huge smile Cas was giving him was worth it though. "Thank you. That's very nice of you to say..." Cas leaned forward with a shy smile before he pressed his lips to Dean's cheek.

 

The way the warmth coursed through him, Dean realized that maybe his brother was right about looking at Cas like his Milowda. But he couldn’t fathom how such an amazing feeling could ever be a bad thing. Dean returned the smile and went back to the cutting wood. “I’m sorry about Gabe, by the way. He can be scary, but he’s a good guy.”

 

"He really eats a lot of chocolate for being such a small man," Cas replied dryly after a few moments, stirring the stringy things in the pot.

 

Dean chuckled. “Guess that means we’ll just have to make more.”

 

Cas gave him a quick smile and nodded as he started the stove and melted the butter, adding the cut onions and garlic to it. "Would you cut the tomatoes?

 

“Sure. What way?”

 

“Just make them as small as possible.”

 

Dean nodded. “You got it.”

 

After finishing up the tomatoes, Dean brought them to where Cas was. “What now?”

 

Cas added the tomatoes to the pot and opened a cupboard above them. He pulled out a container that smelled incredible when he opened it. "Nothing. These are spices. I’ll just add them when the tomatoes look all mushed together. It's a very easy dish to cook."  

 

Dean smiled at him, feeling the most content he’d ever felt. “Is there anything you can’t do?”

 

Cas looked down with a smile. "Dean... there are a lot of things I can't do."

 

“I don’t believe you.”

 

"You taught me this... kissing." Cas leaned forward to kiss Dean's cheek again. "I didn't even know it existed."

 

Dean chuckled. “Not knowing and can’t are totally different. You can kiss now, right?”

 

“I’m not sure if I can judge that, Dean. Can I?” Cas whispered back with a smile.

 

“You definitely can,” he murmured as he leaned forward and pressed a gentle and chaste kiss to his lips.

 

Cas's breathing hitched before he kissed him back, murmuring, "I really like doing this, Dean."

 

Dean smiled and nodded, ignoring the maelstrom of negative thoughts flooding his head from everything his brother told him earlier. But again, Dean was really struggling with how something that made him feel so good, so happy, could be bad. “Me, too.”

 

Cas rubbed his finger over Dean’s cheek and gave him a warm smile before he startled when the tomato sauce splattered on his shirt. "Oh."

 

Dean barked out a laugh as he swiped his finger through it and sucked the sauce off of it. Damn, another win for Cas. “Is it almost ready?”

 

“Yes, it's ready. Can you put plates and forks on the table? Oh, and glasses. We could drink orange juice with it.” Cas suggested as he put the spices in the sauce.

 

“Sure,” he said as he got to work on setting the table. It was a small, round table with four chairs. Kind of perfect for the amount of guests they had. After placing the plates and utensils on the table, Dean grabbed the glasses and pulled the jug of orange juice out of the fridge.

 

He placed the jug in the center of the table and made his way to the door to grab Sam and Gabe. “Hey, guys...” Dean stopped mid-sentence when he realized they were gone. Without thinking about it, he ducked his head in the kitchen. “Cas, they’re gone.”

 

“What?” Cas looked up and moved the pot from the stove before he cleaned his hands with a towel as he walked up to Dean. “What do mean?”

 

Dean shrugged. “I went to grab them and they’re nowhere in the hallway. I’m gonna go look for them.”

 

“Maybe they are in the dome with the plants?” Cas suggested as he followed Dean down the hallway.

 

“Couldn’t hurt to check,” Dean said as he held the door open to the dome for Cas. After Cas stepped in, they looked around, not seeing them in the main section of the dome, where all of the plants and trees were. He headed towards the north west section, wondering if they had found their way to the animal paddock.

 

When they reached the waist height gate leading to the paddock, Dean had to refrain from chuckling. Sam was petting Cora, while Gabe was running around in circles, chasing Cluck Norris.

 

"We should have known, Dean," Cas commented dryly.

 

Dean chuckled and nodded. “Yo! Gabe! Don’t scare her!”

 

“Why does he need to scare everyone here?" Cas whispered into Dean's ear.

 

He couldn’t help but smile down at Cas, a warmth and fondness coursing through him. “He also scares people back home, if that helps?”

 

Cas gave him a skeptical look before he shook his head. "Not even a little bit."

 

Sam walked up to them with a big smile on his face. "These animals are amazing!"

 

“Right? Want a proper introduc ...” Dean rolled his eyes and barked, “Gabe! Seriously, stop scaring her!” His outburst caused Cora to moo at him in discontent. Dean gently patted her back. “Sorry, Cora.”

 

Gabriel jogged back to them with a bright smile on his face. "Seriously, chickens, a cow, and rabbits! I only know them from an old anatomy book! Do the chickens really lay eggs?"

 

Dean rolled his eyes at Gabriel but nodded. “Yes. And Cora here gives us milk. That’s how you got to eat all of that chocolate.”

 

“That’s pretty ingenious of you, Cas... to use all of these resources to produce food," Gabriel stated with a raised eyebrow, looking at Cas.

 

Cas cleared his throat and mumbled, "The food is ready. We should eat, otherwise it will get cold."

 

Dean gave Cas a reassuring smile and nodded for his brother and Gabriel to follow them back. He turned to Sammy and said, “This place is amazing isn’t it?”

 

"Yes... It's unbelievable." Dean had never seen Sammy smile so much in one day.

 

It filled him with even more warmth. What had started out as an exile, was fast becoming a future for Dean and he could only hope that it would be a home for his brother, too. When they reached the kitchen, Dean guided Sam and Gabriel to the table before returning to Cas’s side to see if he needed any help.

 

“Can I do anything?”

 

Cas gave him a warm smile as he filled the plates and handed the first one to him. "Give everyone a plate?"

 

Dean nodded and took the first two plates to the table, setting them in front of Gabe and Sam. “I haven’t tried this dish yet.”

 

“What is it?” Sam asked as he smelled it with closed eyes. “It smells mouth watering.”

 

Cas took his and Dean’s plates and sat down at the table with them. “It’s called pasta with tomato sauce.”

 

Gabriel was already halfway through with his plate as he mumbled, “It’s great,” around a mouthful of pasta, the sauce covering half of his face.

 

Dean let out a disgusted chuckle and looked to his brother, to silently try to communicate: He’s your best friend.

 

Sam just gave Dean a happy smile and reached over to wipe the sauce from Gabriel's cheek with his thumb. "Gabe, again. You should eat with your mouth."

 

Gabriel simply grinned at him as he kept eating. Dean watched the exchange in curiosity. Sam was a lot more relaxed here. It was nice to see.

 

Dean turned his attention to his own plate and started stabbing at the noodles, trying to get them on the fork. After several failed attempts, Dean dropped the fork and picked the noodles up with his hand, suddenly feeling bad about judging Gabriel for his eating habits as he ended up getting the sauce all over his chin as he stuffed the noodles in his mouth.

 

The taste was even better with the noodles. It was all so delicious. Dean smiled at Cas and nodded, mouth too full to tell him how awesome it tasted.

 

Cas looked like he had a hard time trying not to laugh, especially when Sam also put his fork down with a frustrated noise and started to use his hands. Cas leaned back then with a soft head shake and twirled the pasta easily around his fork before bringing it to his mouth.

 

“How?” Dean demanded around a mouthful of pasta.

 

Cas put his fork back down and stood up. He walked up behind Dean, covering his hand that had picked up the fork again to help him with the movement. "See, you just go in there, twirl the pasta around the fork, and lift it."

 

The warmth of Cas’s hand was a little distracting, but Dean attempted to twirl the pasta like he was guiding him to do. When the first string twirled around the fork, he looked up at Cas with a bright smile. “Thanks, Cas.”

 

"You're welcome." Cas returned the smile before he leaned forward and kissed the top of his head.

 

Dean noticed Gabriel's wide eyes and the look he tried to exchange with Sam.

 

Suddenly, under the scrutiny of someone who wasn’t his brother, Dean flinched away from Cas. At the surprised and saddened look he received in response, he had to refrain from reaching out to Cas and take his hand. But in that moment, he remembered that they weren’t where the Council could see them, where he could get in trouble. Hell, like his brother said, they all thought Dean was dead. Steeling himself and taking a deep breath, Dean leaned over and pressed a kiss to Cas’s cheek. “Sorry,” he whispered.

 

"Did I do something wrong?" Cas asked, still looking startled.

 

Dean shook his head. “No. It’s just... where we’re from, what you and I just did is illegal.”

 

Cas squinted his eyes at him. "Why? Is it something bad?"

 

Sam cleared his throat and shook his head after swallowing his pasta. "No, it's not," he replied in a firm tone of voice, "we just have very stupid laws."

 

Gabriel quirked his brow at Sam, but didn’t say anything. He focused his attention on the rest of his food, not even bothering to attempt to use the utensils anymore.

 

Dean sighed and gave Cas a reassuring smile. “If it doesn’t feel bad, I don’t think it should be seen as bad.”

 

"I see," Cas mumbled thoughtfully as he sat down and continued to eat in silence.

 

"So, um, Cas..." Sam started after a moment, looking uncomfortable, "Do you think you can even produce enough food, that you could share it with our city? I mean, if the Council will be open to that plan."

 

Cas nodded slowly. "I can grow plants in a very short time. This shouldn't be problematic. But how would you get them from here to your city?"

 

“We’d have to get authorization to bring sealed containers here to load up.” Gabriel sighed and gave Sam a pointed look. “And the Council hasn’t permitted external foreign objects onto the grounds in hundreds of years.”

 

"Well, with good reason." Sam sighed deeply. "There was a breach in security over a hundred years ago, which caused fifty people to die from one of the pathogens outside. At least, that’s what I learned in school.”

 

Gabriel scoffed and rolled his eyes. “It was a damn virus and they refused to allow the doctors to treat it.”

 

Dean furrowed his brow at Gabriel. “How would you know that?”

 

“I used to be the private doc for the Council members, remember? I had access to all of the juicy shit they don’t allow the rest of us to know.”

 

They had all wondered why Gabe gave up that position. He was the highest level physician and would have lived out the rest of his life in the sort of comforts Hunters could only dream of. But after his friend Kali was sent to the sunchamber, Gabe requested a demotion and no one knew why. Hell, Dean didn’t even think Sammy knew.

 

“So, what really happened then? How did they heal the people if doctors weren't allowed to go to them? How did they keep the virus from spreading?" Sam asked carefully.

 

Gabe shook his head and sighed. “Trust me, you don’t want to know.”

 

Sam looked like he had lost his appetite for a moment before he looked up at Cas with a quick smile. "Your food is really amazing, Cas. I have never eaten something so fantastic in my life."

 

Cas rubbed the back of his neck and gave Sam an embarrassed smile. “Thank you. I hope, when you visit the next time, that you can stay here.”

 

Dean nodded. “You think you will?”

 

Sam looked slightly embarrassed before he cleared his throat. "Um, look, I can't give you an answer right now. But I really hope I can stay."

 

The urge to smack his brother upside the head was overwhelming. “What about you, Gabe?”

 

“Damn right I’d stay!” Gabe gave him a look like it should have been obvious.

 

Dean noticed how Sam's smile suddenly brightened and he asked, "You would?"

 

Gabe laughed and smacked Sam upside the head. “Don’t be dumb. Honestly, if we could just not go back I’d prefer to do that, but we owe it to the other Forty-Fivers to at least try and make life better for them. I’m surprised you even want to think about it. Did you not just eat the same food as me?”

 

Sam just smiled into his plate. "I don’t want to agree to stay here before I know a certain person will stay here, too."

 

Gabe groaned. “Are you really gonna invite Becky?”

 

Sam looked slightly uncomfortable. "Um, well... Yeah? I'm going to ask her, I think it's only fair... but I wasn't talking about her."

 

“Then who?” Gabe asked. “You only talk to me and Gads.”

 

"Can we change the subject?" Sam squeaked.

 

Dean chuckled, unable to hide how amused he was by his brother’s discomfort. But first and foremost, Dean was Sam’s older brother and would always protect him. “That’s not true. Sam talks to Garth, too.”

 

“Oh, Bog. Please tell me it’s not Garth!”

 

Sam glared at Gabe. "It's not Garth... And I think we need to get ready to leave, Gabe."

 

“Shit. You’re right.” Gabe sighed and moved to stand. “Cas, thank you for feeding us. And I’m sorry about the blood thing. I’m hoping you’ll change your mind, because it could really help a lot of people and –”

 

“Gabe,” Dean warned.

 

“Yeah, yeah. Okay. Sorry.”

 

"I won't change my mind. I'm sorry." Cas looked away before he added, "I hope you can accept that."

 

Gabe extended his hand out and smiled at Cas. “I can.”

 

Cas carefully reached out for his hand and shook it. "Thank you."

 

That was met with a nod and wink before Gabe approached Dean. “C’mere, big guy,” he said as he opened his arms.

 

Dean rolled his eyes, but smiled anyway as he pulled the smaller man in for a quick hug. “You take care of Sammy for me, okay?”

 

"'Course. Always do, right, Sammy?" Gabe winked at Sam, causing his brother to roll his eyes before he hugged Dean.

 

"Pray for us, Dean," Sam whispered as he pulled back. "Hopefully everything will turn out alright."  

 

Dean nodded and gripped Sam’s shoulder. “I know it will. I have faith. I can’t wait for you to come home. This home.”

 

“Me either,” Sam replied with a happy smile before he walked over to shake Cas's hand.

 

"Thank you again, Cas. For taking care of Dean."

 

"It's my pleasure," Cas replied with a soft smile as they walked them to the security door and Dean helped them with their suits and equipment.

 

Dean watched in silent sadness as his brother suited up and they stepped into the decompression chamber. Watched them through the small window before the main door opened and they braced against each other as they stepped out into that awful, terrible world. To go back to a place that Dean was starting to realize was almost as terrible.

 

When they became dots on the horizon, Dean turned back to Cas and smiled. “My little brother’s in love I think.”

 

"Is that what he was talking about when we ate? The person he wanted to ask to come here with him?" Cas asked as he took Dean's hand in his and squeezed it.

 

Dean nodded and let out an amazed laugh as the realization suddenly dawned on him. The laugh grew louder and longer and he shook his head to try and compose himself. “Son of a bitch,” he murmured more to himself as he let out a final shaky laugh.

 

“What?” Cas asked in confusion as he tilted his head and looked at him with wide, curious eyes.

 

Dean tongued his canine and smiled. “I know who it is.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 6

 

The trek back to Zion was luckily without any incident. Sam felt weird having to go back. On one hand he knew it was his duty to help the other people still trapped in the system, not knowing they could have a better life; on the other hand, it was hard to leave his brother behind again.

 

At least now he knew that Dean was okay... well, more than okay actually. His heart beat faster when he thought about a future for himself with a certain person, wondering if he could be as lucky as Dean.

 

Going through the quarantine door, they had to wait until the gas in the chamber had done its job and killed every bacteria or pathogen on their suits before the lamp turned to green and showed that they were clean. This step was always the one every Hunter feared the most. That the lamp would stay red and the door wouldn’t open.

 

The guards asked Gabe a ton of questions because of his specimen container until he finally snapped at them, telling him that he knew how to do his job, thank you very much.

 

Sam couldn’t help but grin at him as he followed him back to his examination clinic.

 

When Gabe closed the door behind Sam, he collapsed against him as he let out a relieved laugh. Sam was trapped between the wall and Gabe’s head braced against his shoulder.  “I was half tempted to spray Dean’s blood in their faces to get them to back off.”

 

"That's disgusting, Gabe." Sam chuckled before he put his arms around his friend, feeling relieved that they had made it. "But seeing their faces would have been worth it."

 

“I’ll keep that in mind for next time,” he said in a chuckle as he drew back from Sam and flipped on the small lamp when they reached his office. Gabe placed his equipment on his desk before he turned to lean against it, folding his arms over his chest. “Is there seriously a possibility you won’t go back to live there?”

 

Sam shrugged before he cleared his throat, trying to be as vague as possible. "I have responsibilities here."

 

Gabe scoffed and quirked his brow. “Bullshit.”

 

Sam sighed and rifled his fingers through his hair. "I just... can we... not talk about this? Please?"

 

“Fine.” Gabe moved to sit down behind the desk. “Alright. What are you thinking? Apply for more excursions, or present our findings now?”

 

Sam raised his eyebrow at Gabe, wondering why he was asking him that. Gabe was the expert and he had the most experience with the Council. "I don't know. Do you think you have enough evidence to prove the Dome is a safe environment, now that you have Dean's blood? He is healthy, right?"

 

That reminded him that he felt a little weird in his stomach. But he guessed it was because he wasn’t used to eating something other than mush-bars.

 

“I don’t think the Council will okay it, even if we brought Cas and your brother in here. So, I’m just askin’ if you want to get your rejection right away, or if you want to drag it out.”

 

Sam crossed his arms over his chest and glared at him. "So, why are we even doing this? Are you saying there’s no chance we can convince them? That we just should give up on all the people here and flee?"

 

Gabe shrugged. “What do you want me to say? I told you I only came back here because of you.”

 

“What?” Sam stared at Gabe in shock.

 

“I said it back at the Dome. I’d stay if you didn’t want to try and bring more people, give our people a chance.” Gabe sighed and looked down at his desk as he started pulling out the samples. “Just because I don’t think your hope will get you anywhere, doesn’t mean I want to completely kill it either.”

 

For a moment Sam didn't know what to say. His stomach was doing flip flops and now he really felt sick. He groaned and rubbed his hand over his stomach before he quietly shook his head. “I...” He shook his head again. “What about my friends? Gadreel... um, Becky. I can’t just leave them here, letting them think I died. Gadreel nearly ended up in the sunchamber the last time... and I... I can’t just leave him.”

 

He bit his lip before he looked at Gabe. “Is there no one on the Council who would listen if you had enough evidence? Do you need more samples?”

 

Gabe never looked up from the paperwork he started filling out as he said, “More samples couldn’t hurt. And since you’re asking Becky to come along, why don’t you just ask Gadreel, too?”

 

Sam shrugged and looked away. "I don't know if I can trust Becky yet. She’s nice and a really good person, but I need to get to know her better before I can ask her something like that and... Gadreel..." Sam sighed and scrubbed his hand over his face. "Yeah... I'll ask him. Just not sure how to start that conversation yet."

 

“He’s got a soft spot for you, you can probably just ask outright.”

 

Sam rubbed the back of his head. "You think?"

 

“I don’t know, Sam! I’m not him!” Gabe sighed and braced his head against his open palms.

 

Sam stepped next to him and touched his shoulder. "Hey, are you okay?"

 

Gabe sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose with a nod. “I’m fine. I’m sure it’s my gastrointestinal system adjusting to what we ate.”

 

Sam groaned and leaned his forehead against Gabe's arm. "So it's not just me. I feel really sick."

 

“Yeah,” he breathed out in a chuckle. “I should have known better.”

 

Sam looked at Gabe with a grin. "But the food was worth getting a stomach ache. I had no idea food could be so incredible."

 

Gabe chuckled and chucked Sam’s chin. “I’m not looking forward to our next rations.”

 

Sam shook his head with a grin. "Yeah, me neither. Never thought this day would come..." Sam felt the heat rising in his cheeks as he added quietly, "I'm glad Dean is okay over there... and that he’s happy with, um, Cas."

 

Gabe tongued the corner of his mouth before his lips quirked up in a half smirk. “Right.” He returned his attention to organizing the samples.

 

Sam felt his chest constricting from Gabe's reaction. His voice was even more quiet than before when he asked, "Do you think it's wrong?"

 

The way he laughed, it came out as a sharp bark. Gabe shook his head. “You remember what Benny did to save his ass, right? You’d think Dean would’ve learned.”

 

"So you think he shouldn't do it?" Sam asked, biting his lower lip nervously.

 

“Who cares what I think? We’ve seen what they do to men like that.” Gabe chuckled mirthlessly and shook his head. With a deep sigh he said, “Ignore me. I think a lot of bad memories came back seeing them like that.”

 

Men like that.

 

Sam swallowed and looked away from Gabe, suddenly feeling even more sick. “I thought you...” He shook his head, walking over to the door. “I should let you work.”

 

“Is this what’s gonna keep happening between us?” Gabe asked in a frustrated tone. “Just stop talking to me, stop being honest with me?”

 

"When have I ever not been honest with you? You're the only one I’ve told about Dean. You're the only one I trust," Sam replied, his chest constricted with pain. The knowledge that Gabriel obviously didn't approve of Dean and Cas's relationship left him cold and uncertain.

 

He knew what this meant for his own future with Gabriel. That he would lose him as a friend if Gabriel found out that Sam was just like his brother in that aspect.

 

Gabriel stood up and braced his arms against his chest. “Then tell me what’s going on with you right now.”

 

Sam looked away from Gabriel, swallowing dryly before he pressed out, "I thought you wouldn't judge him."

 

That was met with a scoff of disbelief. “I don’t give a fuck what your brother does, but I would’ve thought he would have the sense to not just... be like that after everything we did to keep him alive.” Gabriel cleared his throat and shook his head. “I mean, what Benny did.”

 

Sam squinted his eyes at Gabriel. "What aren't you telling me?"

 

“What aren’t you telling me?” he countered with a defiant shrug.

 

The frustration with the situation was building up to an unbearable level and Sam had trouble containing the outburst that was on the tip of his tongue. "Dean is safe now. And I think he has a right to be happy. And you sounded very judgy when you said he should try to stop 'being like that' because guess what? If you’re like that, you can't just stop. Even if you try and really want to be different."

 

“Oh, is that right, Mr. Expert?” Gabriel challenged. He rolled his eyes. “I don’t care if your brother is a homosexual, Sam.”

 

Sam stared at Gabriel for a few more angry seconds, his eyes were burning with unshed tears he managed to hold back. "Would you care if I was like that, too?"

 

“But you’re not.”

 

Sam scoffed and shook his head. "Yeah, because admitting it here would be pretty stupid, right?"

 

Instead of arguing, or volleying some snarky comeback, Gabriel took Sam by surprise when he sighed in resignation and nodded. “It is. Damn stupid.”

 

He had no idea what he should say to that. Sam just felt numb. He turned to the door, mumbling, "Sorry that I'm apparently as stupid as my brother."

 

Gabriel shook his head. “You’re smarter than this, Sam.”

 

No, he wasn't. He might not start something with a man, like his brother had done, but it didn't change that he wanted to, that his heart belonged to another man.

 

"See you, Gabe," he mumbled as he pulled down the door handle. "Don't want anyone to get the wrong impression about us, right?" Sam pressed out before he left Gabriel's office and started to head back to his new home with Becky.

 

He still felt sick, but he wasn't sure if it was just because of the food or about his conversation with Gabriel. He thought he knew his friend.

 

He tried to stir his concentration back to his plan to get to know Becky. To find a way to get her honest thoughts about life in the city. It wouldn't be easy, but he wasn't ready to give up on people just because it was hard.

 

After checking his arm gear, he saw how much time he had left before he had to return to the Hunters’ house. Two hours. It was enough time for a quick chat with Becky. He hoped he would find time to speak to Gadreel when he came back.

 

When his thoughts strayed back to Gabriel, he had to forbid himself from thinking about him any longer. Repress, repress, repress. First rule if you want to survive.

 

He was so busy repressing his emotions that he knocked at Becky's door, forgetting that it was his home now too.

 

When she opened the door she gave him a confused look.

 

“Oh, no! Did something happen?”

 

“What? Why? No, everything is fine.” Sam tried to pull himself together, worried that his emotions were on a public display. “I just wanted to spend my work break with you.”

 

Becky’s eyes lit up as she pulled him in for a hug. “You’re so sweet!”

 

Sam chuckled uncomfortably, but he was happy that he had distracted Becky from her former question. “I don’t have much time,” he explained as he pulled her back in her... their living quarters. “Why don't we sit down and talk for awhile? I really want to get to know you better.”

 

“I’d like that. Do you need anything?” She looked up at him sweetly as she sat down in one of the chairs.

 

He sat down next to her, turning so he could face her. “Like what?” he asked in confusion.

 

Becky smiled and shrugged. “I don’t know. You look a little... tired.”

 

“I just got back from a four hour mission,” Sam explained with a soft smile. “It’s very exhausting to be outside.”

 

“Did you find what you were looking for?”

 

Sam shrugged, looking away from Becky. “I just accompanied Gabriel. Don’t know if he has found what he wanted.”

 

Becky smiled and nodded. “I’m sure you would have heard if he didn’t. Over and over,” she teased.

 

Sam gave her a quick smile. It was hard to not think about Gabriel when they talked about him. "Can I ask you something, Becky? Something you don't have to answer."

 

She nodded and folded her hands in her lap. “Sure.”

 

"Do you think it's okay... to hide and repress your emotions out of fear that you might get reported for being emotional?" Sam asked carefully before he added, "You don't have to answer me if you're not comfortable with it, just know that I would never betray your trust if you wanted to be honest with me."

 

Becky looked unsure for a moment before she said, “Is it okay? I guess my answer would be yes and no. It’s not so much that it’s okay as it’s necessary sometimes. Some people deserve to feel their emotions sometimes. Not all the time, but I think it would be okay for there to be exceptions.”

 

“Like what?” Sam asked curiously, happy that Becky was willing to talk to him about it. He was afraid she would have just left the room, or even worse, reported him for being subversive. But someone had to break the circle of mistrust to move forward. Someone had to be brave.

 

“Um, like with my parents.” Becky ducked his gaze and fiddled with the hem of her skirt. She’d been orphaned when she was five. Her father had never returned from a hunting trip and her mother was so bereft with grief, they dragged her to the sunchamber. Becky never saw her again.

 

Sam nodded and bit his lower lip. "I think we should be allowed to grieve over the people we’ve lost," he whispered. "I know we're not allowed to say it, but I don't believe all our rules are good ones." He grabbed her hand and squeezed it. “A friend of mine, Garth, was dragged to the sunchamber yesterday just because he was shocked hearing about my brother.”

 

Becky shook her head in dismay. “That’s awful,” she whispered.

 

"I tried to explain the situation to the guards. Garth is the last person on the planet who would get depressed, you know? He’s always smiling and happy."

 

“Hopefully that will be on his side? Perhaps he won’t spend much time there?”

 

“He shouldn’t have to spend time there in the first place, Becky,” Sam explained before he took in a deep breath and asked, “If it was possible... would you want to live somewhere else? Without these rules?”

 

Becky shook her head and grabbed his hand. “I want to be here with you.”

 

It was the first time Sam realized that he would possibly be leading Becky on by asking her to go with him. He wanted her to have a better life, but he didn't want to spend his life with her as his Milowda.

 

He looked away for a moment, clearing his throat. "If we could both go somewhere else... you could choose to have a new life. You wouldn’t be forced to be with me."

 

“Is... is that how you feel? That you’re being forced?” Becky asked, voice timid and unsure.

 

Sam felt really uncomfortable now, but he couldn’t lie to Becky. “You know I had no choice in this, Becky.”

 

Becky nodded and kept her gaze on her fidgeting hands in her lap. “I know.”

 

“But it doesn’t change the fact that I’m happy it’s you. You’re a good person,” he tried to reassure her.

 

There was a beat of uncomfortable silence before he heard her let out a little sniffle. “Thank you.”

 

Sam bit his lower lip before he touched her chin, tilting it up. “Hey, I didn’t want to make you sad. Come on, give me one of those cute little smiles.”

 

He could actually see her cheeks darken a pleasant red as she fought against the way her lips curled up in a shy smile. Becky grabbed his wrist and gently squeezed. “I’m sorry I’m not what you wanted though.”

 

Sam gave her a sad smile and rubbed his thumb over her cheek. “Becky, any normal person would be happy to have someone like you in their life. I just wish they let us choose.”

 

Becky furrowed her brow and tilted her head slightly. “Who would you choose?”

 

Woah. Sam leaned back from her and stammered, “Um, you know what? I really need to go, I think.” He checked his arm gear and nodded quickly. “Yes, I’m running late. Um, see you later?”

 

Becky appeared taken aback, but she didn’t argue, she simply nodded and gave him a sad smile. “Okay.”

 

"Have a fun time with the kids, Becky." He waved to her from the door with a friendly smile, hoping he could at least cheer her up a little bit. "I want to hear all about them when I get back."

 

“Okay,” she repeated, but this time her smile was genuine. “Be safe, Sam.”

 

Sam nodded at her before he quickly left their living quarters and made his way up the hill to the Hunters’ house. He closed his jacket when he left the outskirts of the city with its interleaved houses. He already missed the warmth of the Dome and especially the colors of the trees and plants. Down here everything was cold and dark.

 

He hoped Gabriel would get another expedition cleared so they could go over there again soon.

 

He pushed his hands deeper into his pockets, using his elbows to open the door to the Hunters’ house before he immediately went to the heater to warm up his hands.

 

He startled when Gadreel leaned against the heater next to him. "Oh, hey," he greeted his friend with a warm smile, happy to see him.

 

Gadreel returned the smile as he held his hands over the heater as well. “How are you, Samuel?”

 

Gadreel was the only one who called him that, but Sam was weirdly okay with it. His friend radiated so much calmness, it never failed to make Sam relax around around him. “Better, now that I’m here.”

 

“I can imagine an excursion with Gabriel was rather trying,” he teased with a soft chuckle.

 

Sam couldn't help but grin, playfully elbowing Gadreel in the side. "Yeah, that's an accurate description of what happened."

 

Gadreel smiled and nodded. “Well, I’m glad to see you made it back safely. I’m a little tired of saying goodbye to my friends.”

 

Sam nodded before he carefully looked around, seeing that the guards and other Hunters were distracted with their own conversations. "Gadreel, um, can we talk somewhere without... an audience?"

 

That was met with a raised eyebrow, seemingly surprised. Gadreel nodded tentatively as he cast a cursory glance around. “Where would you like to go?”

 

"My old home. It's still empty," Sam suggested quietly.

 

Gadreel looked around again before he leaned in to whisper, “Now?”

 

Sam nodded quickly, knowing both their schedules by heart. No one would miss them if they left now.

 

“Okay,” he said as he let Sam guide him to his old home.

 

It wasn't far away from the Hunters’ house. But it was weird to come to his old home again, now that it was just empty and cold. Familiar and yet so changed.

 

He closed the door behind them and started the heater, leaning against it and waiting for the warmth to bring this place back to life. Gadreel took his place against the heater next to him, giving him an expectant look. Sam had no idea how to start and he chewed on his lower lip for a moment, trying to come up with something before he stammered, “Gadreel, um... you’re one of my best friends... and, um, there’s something I have to tell you, well... ask you really, but you have to promise me to keep it to yourself.”

 

“Of course, Samuel. I value our friendship.”

 

Sam's heart was beating too fast and he felt slightly sick again, afraid of Gadreel's reaction. "Okay.” He laughed nervously and took in a deep breath. "So what I'm going to tell you is pretty unbelievable, but it's true, okay? Um... so my brother, he, um, he isn't dead. He’s actually alive and very well."

 

Gadreel quirked his brow and tilted his head in bemusement. “I don’t understand.”

 

"It's a long story, but we found a... a Dome. A building outside that has perfect living conditions. Dean's suit got damaged so he couldn't return with me, but he’s living in that Dome now."

 

There was a beat of silence as Gadreel just stared at him, his expression a little dumbfounded. Finally, he breathed out an amazed sounding, “Dean’s alive?”

 

Sam gave him a bright smile. "Yes. He’s alive and well. Thanks to this new place and the person who lives there with him." Sam looked away for a moment before he grabbed Gadreel's hand and squeezed it. "There’s food and water, Gadreel. And no Council. No sunchamber."

 

Gadreel looked shocked, his lips curling up in an amazed smile. “How? How does such a place exist?”

 

Sam shook his head before he carefully admitted, "The person who lives there... he’s responsible for it being such a great place. He’s very special. He makes plants grow and he even has animals... like from before the war."

 

Gadreel’s eyes widened. “Real animals?”

 

"Yes, you should have seen them. They were incredible. Soft fur and warm and... I... I want you to come with me. I'm planning on leaving this place and living there, and I really want you to come with me." Sam stared at Gadreel with wide eyes, swallowing nervously because now it was out.

 

“Are you serious?” he asked, tone even more amazed and awed.

 

"Yes. Very... I know all of this is dangerous to even talk about and it's a lot to take in. Especially, um, the guy that lives there, um... he’s, um, a mutant. But totally not like the ones outside. He’s very nice and my brother really likes him... a lot."

 

Gadreel nodded and took a deep breath. “And you wish for me to join you?”

 

“Yes,” Sam breathed out. "I could never leave you behind."

 

The smile that he was rewarded with was bright enough to light up a room. Gadreel grabbed Sam’s hand and nodded. “I would be honored to accompany you.”

 

Sam smiled brightly at him. "Yes! Awesome." He laughed before he tried to reel in his emotions. "I will talk to you as soon as I have a plan. Of course, my first priority is to help as many people as possible. But if the official route doesn’t work out, well... we’ll just leave this place."

 

Gadreel nodded. “Is that why you went with Gabriel? To gather samples?”

 

"Yes, exactly. Gabe doesn't think the Council will see this as an opportunity to make all our lives better, but I don't know... It’s such a big thing. Can we really just keep this to ourselves? It doesn’t feel right, not to try.”

 

That was met with a soft chuckle and sweet smile as Gadreel carefully tucked Sam’s hair behind his ear. “I admire your heart, Samuel. I’m glad you’re trying to do right by our brothers and sisters.”

 

Sam returned the smile before he murmured, "I'm glad at least one person understands me."

 

“I know what’s in your heart and your intentions,” Gadreel said with a soft smile as he rubbed his hands together to warm them up over the heater. “I must admit that I’m happy to hear you didn’t lose your brother.”

 

Sam chuckled as he pressed his freezing hands against the heater. Just for a moment because it was too hot for direct contact. "Believe me, I wouldn't have kept it together that well if something had actually happened to him."

 

“I thought you were handling it remarkably well,” he said with an understanding smile.

 

"It's just another reason we need to leave this place. I don't want to have to hold back every time I feel something. It's not right," Sam whispered, not looking at Gadreel.

 

Gadreel braced his hand on Sam’s shoulder. “I hope you know your emotions are safe with me.”

 

Sam looked up at Gadreel and in that moment he wished he could tell him everything, but he just didn't feel brave enough. Instead he just smiled and nodded. "I know, that's why you're my friend. I trust you."

 

“Thank you for trusting me with this, Samuel.” He moved to sit up against the wall next to the heater and smiled up at him. “So, tell me about this fantastical place.”

 

Sam slid to his knees and close to Gadreel's body heat as he leaned against the wall. "It's almost indescribable. There’s a huge dome and you can see the dark sky and clouds above you, but it isn’t dark. There are lights in it and the dome is full of green plants in different sizes. And they carry food of so many different colors and... it smells so good, Gadreel. And the taste... Dean made me try one particular food thing, um... what was the name? Abbel? It was a green and red round thing and I have no idea how to describe it. I just know that I can’t wait to see your face when you try it.”

 

Gadreel smiled as he looked up at the ceiling, a little dreamily. “That sounds amazing. And your brother is doing well?”

 

"Um, yeah," Sam murmured quietly. "He and Cas, that's the other guy's name, they... um, really like each other. He’s very happy."

 

“I’m happy for him. Your brother deserves it.”

 

Sam bit his lip and turned to Gadreel, looking at him carefully. He wasn't sure what he was saying. He took in a deep breath before he mumbled, "I think they like each other... like a couple."

 

Gadreel’s eyebrows shot up and he leaned back as he looked at Sam. “Like Benny?”

 

Sam didn't allow himself to breathe. "Yeah."

 

“Well, I’m glad that he’s not at risk of losing his new friend this time.”

 

Sam's heart was beating a million klicks a minute as he let out the breath he was currently holding. He smiled at Gadreel and nodded. "Yeah... so you, um, think it's okay? That Dean likes a man like that?"

 

Gadreel gave him a pointed look. “I know it’s illegal to say such things, but considering the context of our conversation, I will assume I can speak freely. I understand that homosexuality denies the continuation of our species, but I think the Council is wrong to execute homosexuals.”

 

Before he could think about it, Sam leaned forward and drew Gadreel in for a tight hug. "Thank you... thank you for saying that."

 

“I’m glad my response was well received.” Gadreel chuckled as he reciprocated the hug, rubbing a soothing circle on Sam’s back. “And thank you for being the type of friend with whom I can be honest.”

 

"You have no idea how much it means to me that you said that,” Sam murmured into Gadreel's strong shoulders before he reluctantly leaned back.

 

His gaze fell on something, reflecting the cold blue light from the outside window. "What’s that?" he murmured as he leaned forward and over Gadreel to pull something from a shelf. It was the tape Dad had given to Dean. "Oh... I forgot about this. I should give it to Dean the next time I go to him," Sam murmured more to himself before he pocketed the tape.

 

Gadreel smiled and nodded. “Now I hope we get an assignment together so that I can see him again.”

 

"Dean would like that."

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

Usually when Dean’s bladder woke him up in the middle of the night, he’d ignore it for as long as possible, mostly because after Benny’s death, Dean was terrified he’d make the wrong move and end up being taken to the sunchamber, without even a chance to say goodbye to his brother. But when the reality of where he was soaked in, Dean chuckled to himself and smiled at the fact he didn’t have to worry about that anymore.

 

Dean had only been asleep for a few hours, but Cas had insisted he drink a lot of water to balance out the wine they shared after Sam and Gabe had left. He pulled on a shirt and spare pair of sweats that Cas had given him as he tiptoed into the hallway to the bathroom.

 

The hallway was dark, which meant Cas was actually sleeping. Dean was proud that his muscle memory had already adjusted to the layout of the Dome. And after relieving himself, he made his way back to his room.

 

He was stopped by a weird sound coming from Cas’s room. Dean couldn’t quench his own curiosity, so he pressed his ear to door to try and make out the noises. When he heard what sounded like a pained cry, Dean immediately turned the knob and opened the door.

 

There was a faint light from a little red bulb on the wall that made it possible for Dean to see Cas in the darkness. One of his wrists were handcuffed in an awkward angle to the top of his bed and Cas was writhing on the bed, like he was trying to get away. Even in the faint light he could see that his wrist was bleeding. Cas was murmuring in his sleep, his voice sounded broken and in pain as he begged, "No, please, no, it hurts. Don't take my leg. Please."

 

Without hesitating, Dean approached Cas and sat on the side of his bed, gently cupping his face. “Cas?”

 

He did not expect Cas to violently flinch away and whimper under his touch, crying again before he startled awake with a gasp, staring at Dean with wide eyes, breathing hard. He looked confused for a moment, his face wet with tears. "Dean?" he whispered hoarsely.

 

Dean gave him a reassuring smile. “Hey. I’m here. You’re safe.”

 

Cas moved forward and it looked like he wanted to fall into Dean's arms, but he flinched again when the handcuffs held him back. "Um... could you? The key is on the wardrobe."

 

“Yeah,” he murmured as he grabbed the key and carefully unlocked his handcuffs. Dean wrapped his arms around Cas the moment he was free. “I’m here,” he repeated.

 

Cas pulled him on the bed with him, pressing himself close to Dean, His face pressed against his throat. "Please don't leave," he whispered, his body trembling.

 

Dean shook his head as he gently started swaying with him. “I won’t. I’m here for you.”

 

"Every night those bad images come and I don't know what to do... I'm so afraid." Cas tightened his grip on Dean's shirt.

 

Dean’s heart ached for his friend. He was no stranger to nightmares and he wished he could just take them all away. No one deserved to suffer nightmares, but considering their world... it was unsurprising they existed. But it hardly seemed fair when, for the most part, they were all living in a real life nightmare. “I know, Cas. But they’re gone now, right? Now it’s just you and me, yeah?”

 

Cas nodded against his shoulder before he looked up tiredly. "I wish I didn’t need to sleep. I hate sleeping."

 

Dean smiled at him and shook his head. “Sleep is good. Nightmares are bad.”

 

"Those are the same things to me, Dean. Everytime I go to bed, I'm alone and afraid... Afraid of the men in white masks. They always come at night and steal me... Steal every part of me," Cas mumbled that last part, but Dean had heard it. "Not even the handcuffs help. I don't know why I still use them."

 

He pulled Cas closer, pressing a gentle kiss to his temple. “They’re not real, Cas. But this is. Right now. You being here with me.”

 

Cas nodded slowly. "It always feels so real... I wish you could just stay with me.” Cas looked away from him for a moment, his cheeks tinted a red hue.

 

Dean smiled and nodded. “I can do that. Scoot over.”

 

Cas made space for him on his bed while giving him a hesitant look. "Are you sure? It's probably not very comfortable."

 

“You forget, I used to have to share a shitty cot with my brother. This is an actual bed.” Dean chuckled as he crawled into the bed and extended his arms in invitation. “Besides, I don’t mind staying with you if it keeps your nightmares away.”

 

Cas fit perfectly in his arms, almost like he was made for it, as he laid down next to him with a soft sigh. Dean could feel him slowly relaxing, Cas's warm hand rested gently on Dean's stomach. It was very cozy and comfortable. "Thank you, Dean. You make my life so much better just by being here."

 

Dean was grateful for the darkness of the room, otherwise he was sure he would have turned an embarrassing shade of red with that compliment. “I know what you mean, Cas.”

 

Cas's hand started to slowly wander over the expanse of Dean's chest, his fingertips trailing a soft pattern on his shirt. "It will be lively when your brother comes here with his friend."

 

“You sure you’re okay with Gabe comin’ here? I know he freaked you out a little.”

 

"As long as he keeps his needles away from me, I'm sure I'll be fine." Cas leaned back to give him a soft smile. "And I have you to protect me from him."

 

Dean returned the smile and nodded. “Damn right you do.”

 

Cas snuggled back into his arms with a contented sigh before his fingers started to trail over Dean's chest again. Dean wondered what he was drawing or if it was just a random movement of his hand. It tingled where he touched him and Dean wished there wasn’t a shirt between Cas's fingers and his skin. “This is nice,” Cas murmured, pressing his face against Dean’s shoulder.

 

“It really is,” Dean whispered as he soaked in everything. The closeness, the contentedness, everything he had been denied for so long having to live in Zion.

 

Cas’s fingers wandered lower, trailing over his stomach and around his navel before running along the hem of his shirt. "Is this okay?" Cas asked quietly.

 

Dean swallowed dryly and nodded. It was weird how good such a small, simple touch was making him feel. “I like when you touch me.”

 

"Can I touch you under your shirt?" Cas asked after a moment.

 

Without answering, Dean pulled off his shirt and tossed it to the ground. He smiled at Cas, feeling weirdly nervous and excited all at the same time.

 

Cas returned the smile before he carefully touched Dean's chest. "Your heart beat spiked. Are you nervous?" Cas asked breathlessly.

 

Dean nodded tentatively. “I don’t know why.”

 

"Do you want me to stop?" Cas asked slowly.

 

“No. I like it,” he answered honestly.

 

Cas answered with a warm smile, his fingers tracing the muscles on Dean's chest. "I really like your freckles. They seem to be everywhere on your skin."

 

Dean chuckled and tentatively reached out to touch Cas’s cheek, trailing down to his neck. “They are everywhere.”

 

Cas's breathing hitched and he closed his eyes for a moment. "I saw them on your legs and your back when we showered. I wonder how many there are."

 

“Too many to count,” Dean breathed out when Cas’s fingers teased along the hem of his pants, causing him to let out a soft gasp.

 

"I feel very strange, Dean," Cas mumbled, his breathing coming out in shallow pants.

 

Dean looked at him in concern. “What’s wrong?”

 

Cas shook his head before he murmured, "My heart is beating so fast and I feel dizzy... and my stomach and chest feel like there are bees inside of me. Bees are flying insects," he added as an afterthought.

 

“Mine, too. I think it’s you again,” he said with a soft smile.

 

"I never had that effect on someone else, Dean." Cas tilted his head and slid closer to Dean, his palm stroking over Dean's chest, leaving goosebumps in its wake.

 

Dean let out a soft groan and arched into the touch. “Can I touch you?”

 

"Of course." Cas looked down at himself. "Do you want me to remove my shirt, too?"

 

Dean bit his lower lip and nodded.

 

Cas braced himself on his elbow before he knelt on the bed to clumsily get his shirt off. Dean had almost forgotten about the weird number tattoos that covered parts of Cas's skin.

 

He couldn’t take his eyes off of Cas. The form of his body, the muscles, the lines, everything. Dean’s mouth went dry as his eyes raked over Cas’s chest, his arms, before finally reaching his face. In which he was met with a demure and insecure expression. Dean smiled. “You’re beautiful, Cas.”

 

Cas looked away with a shy smile. "That's very nice of you to say."

 

He bit his lower lip before he carefully lowered his body next to Dean's again, sliding close and trailing his hand over Dean's chest. "I never felt this way before. It's strange, but very nice. Touching and feeling you close... I had no idea something like this could feel so good."

 

Dean nodded, feeling brazen, excited. Wanting to try something. He leaned in, trailing his hand down Cas’s side as he pressed a tentative kiss to his lips. The tingling magnified.

 

Cas gasped, his lips chasing Dean's for another soft kiss. Dean's name tumbled from Cas's lips as he slid closer, his fingers sliding over Dean's nipple.

 

The groan that escaped was beyond his control as heat slowly took him over. The tingling went to his dick and it twitched, causing Dean to gasp.

 

"Do you want me to do that again?" Cas asked with an awed tone in his voice.

 

“I... I think so,” he breathed out, nervously licking his lips before he drew Cas in for another kiss.

 

Cas playfully rubbed his fingertips over Dean’s nipple again, that had become hard under his ministrations, as he kissed him back, his tongue experimentally darted forward to lick over Dean's upper lip.

 

Dean let out a shaky breath as he braced his hand behind Cas’s neck and deepened the kiss, gently tapping his tongue against Cas’s as he lost himself to the sensations that were fogging his brain.

 

The breathy sounds Cas was making made his dick hard and he could feel Cas was in the same situation as he rocked his hips forward against his leg. Cas gasped and stopped kissing him before he looked down at himself in surprise.

 

Dean let out a soft chuckle. “Me, too,” he assured his friend.

 

"This keeps happening, everytime we touch each other with our lips." Cas hesitantly reached down to his own body and touched himself, gasping in surprise. "Uh... that feels different."

 

Dean nodded and gently pushed Cas against the mattress. “Can I try something?”

 

Cas nodded and Dean could feel how pliant his body was under his touch. "Of course," he answered breathlessly.

 

He smiled and slowly slid down until his face was eye level with Cas’s chest. Dean looked up into Cas’s eyes as his tongue darted out and he licked a swipe around Cas’s nipple.

 

Cas gasped out loud and his eyes fluttered shut. Dean could feel how he instinctively rocked his hips against him. "Oh, uh, Dean... wow." Cas was breathing hard and looking at him with wide eyes and parted lips.

 

Dean smiled at Cas and did it again, this time sucking the hardened bud between his lips.

 

Cas groaned beautifully as his breathing hitched again. He gave him a begging look, murmuring, "What are you doing to me, Dean?"

 

“I honestly don’t know,” he murmured as he crawled up to press a gentle kiss to his chin. Dean looked down at him, unable to hide the fondness he felt. “What do you know about homosexuality?”

 

Cas shook his head. "I have never heard that word before. And my knowledge about sexuality is limited. Very limited." He seemed embarrassed as he looked down. "I'm sorry."

 

Dean smiled reassuringly. “It’s okay. I don’t know much either, but I think... I think I am one.” It was weird to say those words out loud. Weird but also kind of liberating.

 

Cas tilted his head. "What does that mean?"

 

“Remember I told you about sex and attraction?”

 

Cas nodded slowly. "It's what your father felt for your mother. But... I'm not a woman. You can't procreate with me."

 

Dean nodded. “That’s why homosexuality is illegal back home. But it’s... it’s what I feel for you. That’s why I think I’m a homosexual.”

 

Cas gave him a thoughtful look before he slowly asked, "So what we are doing is sex?"

 

“I think so?” Dean shrugged helplessly. He knew very little about sex and none when it came to homosexual sex, but he remembered seeing his parents hold and kiss each other the way he had been doing with Cas. And eventually it led to his baby brother being born. It made sense.

 

Cas gave him a shy smile. "So I guess I'm this..." He frowned before he continued, "Homosexual, too. Because I like what we are doing and I don't care that you're a man. I think you are very beautiful and I like touching you, and being touched by you."

 

The way his heart fluttered, Dean was surprised he was still breathing. He cupped Cas’s face in both of his hands and shook his head in amazement. “I’m glad I got attacked by leviathan and rescued by you.”

 

Cas chuckled and wrapped his arms around his back to pull him closer. "I'm glad too, not that you got attacked, but that you're here with me." Cas slid his palms over Dean's sides and down to his hips before he leaned up for another gentle kiss. "It also feels nice when you lie on me like this."

 

“You’re comfortable,” Dean whispered against his lips.

 

"Like a pillow?" Cas chuckled before he tentatively licked over his lip again.

 

Dean hummed contentedly. “A pillow that kisses.”

 

"And touches you." Cas moaned as he let his hands wander over Dean's back and down to his pants, trailing his fingers over his ass.

 

Dean groaned and arched into the touch, grinding his erection against Cas’s groin. “I really like this,” he breathed out.

 

"To be touched here?" Cas asked, breathing heavily as he slid his finger over Dean's ass again.

 

“Yeah,” he growled.

 

Cas smiled up at him and repeated the motion, his fingers getting braver, trailing under Dean's pants, dipping into the crack.

 

The heat from earlier intensified. Dean gasped and captured Cas’s lips in an almost frantic kiss.

 

Cas's grip on his ass tightened as he kissed back, his tongue slipping into Dean's mouth with a groan. He was breathing hard against, rocking his hips against Dean's again. "This feels... so good, Dean. I'm so hot between my legs."

 

“Me, too. But I like it,” he groaned as he started slowly rutting against Cas.

 

Cas arched his hips against Dean's with a groan, his lower lip trapped between his teeth. "Dean... should we, um, undress our pants, too?"

 

Dean nodded breathlessly. “You wanna?”

 

“Yes, it’s too warm and... straining and... I want to feel you,” Cas admitted in between heavy breaths.

 

Letting out a reluctant groan from separating, Dean carefully drew back, pulling his pants and underwear down while he tried to keep his breathing in check.

 

Cas only wore one layer of pants that he quickly discarded, his blue eyes were instantly drawn to Dean's erect dick. Cas licked over his lips before he swallowed and looked up at Dean, reaching out for him. "Come back to me."

 

Dean nodded as he crawled against Cas again, gasping as their bare legs came into contact for the first time. “Oh, my Bog,” he murmured in a shaky exhale.

 

Cas gave him a hesitant smile before he pulled him over his body and kissed his lips again. He spread his legs so Dean wouldn't have his whole weight on his body before Cas arched his erection against Dean's again. "This is the best feeling," Cas gasped out, his fingers wandering to Dean's backside again.

 

It really was. Dean had never felt anything quite like it. He trailed his hand down Cas’s chest, soaking in every curve and valley as his hand went lower and lower. “I’ve never felt like this before.”

 

He came close once. With Benny. Dean instantly drew back from Cas and took a shaky breath, trying to make sense of the different emotions he was feeling. Was allowed to feel.

 

"Dean?" Cas asked carefully, reaching out to him. “Are you okay?”

 

Dean nodded, then shook his head slightly. “I don’t know.”

 

Cas sat up with a worried expression and hugged him, carding his fingers through his hair. “It’s overwhelming... feeling this way. Maybe we just need to stop.”

 

“It’s not that,” Dean murmured as he took in a shaky breath and moved to sit up on his knees. “It’s just...” He sighed. He didn’t understand why this was so hard for him to talk about.

 

Cas tilted his head, his worried expression still prominent. “You don’t have to tell me, but is there anything I can do?”

 

Dean shook his head and smiled. “I want to tell you. This... this isn’t the first time I’ve done something like this with another man. His name was Benny.” He hadn’t spoken about Benny in years. Mostly because he was terrified if he did, he’d end up feeling sad and being taken to the sunchamber. So it was easier to just not talk about him.

 

Cas looked away for a moment before he quietly asked. "Was?"

 

The lump that suddenly developed in his throat was a little painful. Dean swallowed against it and looked away. “I didn’t know until today, but... we got caught and apparently he told the guards it was all him. So they only executed him.”

 

Cas was quiet for a moment before he murmured, "I'm sorry this happened to you."

 

“It’s not your fault, Cas. I’m sorry I ruined everything. It just made me remember Benny and I don’t know... I felt sad, I guess.” Dean shrugged helplessly and reached out to gently grab Cas’s hand.

 

"Did... you like him... like you like me?" Cas asked without looking at Dean.

 

Dean thought about that for a moment. He didn’t really know how to answer Cas. While there were a lot of similarities between what he felt when he was with Benny with Cas, there was... There was something different about what he felt when he was with Cas. “Yes and no?” he answered ineloquently.

 

Cas gave him a confused look for a quick moment before he looked away again. "I'm not sure what to do now."

 

“I’m sorry if I’ve upset you,” Dean said as he squeezed Cas’s hand.

 

Cas looked up and shook his head. "It's not you, it's the world I'm upset with. So many people die so senselessly." He squeezed Dean's hand. "And I'm sorry this caused you to lose someone you were... um, attracted to."

 

Dean smiled and cupped the side of his face. “I loved him. The way I love you. But, you’re different too. A good different.”

 

Cas's eyes widened a bit. "You... love me?"

 

“You’re one of the best friends I’ve ever had. Hell, you are the best friend I’ve ever had. Of course I do.” Dean smiled reassuringly.

 

Cas smiled at him before he asked shyly, "Do you want to lie down with me again? We could just hold each other?"

 

Dean nodded and moved to lay along his side, wrapping his arm over Cas’s abdomen as he rested his head on the guy’s chest. “Thank you for everything, Cas.”

 

"You don't need to thank me, Dean. You being here makes me very happy," Cas murmured tiredly into Dean's hair.

 

“Still... it needs to be said.”

 

Cas hummed something and kissed the side of Dean's head where his face was pressed against him. "I hope we can do this... sex thing again."

 

Dean nodded against him. “I’d like that.”

 

"Good," Cas slurred before his breathing started to even out.

 

The beat of Cas’s heart and breathing pattern easily lulled him into a drowsiness that eventually turned into the darkness around them taking control.

 

When Dean blearily blinked his eyes open again, it took him a minute to realize where he was. He was in Cas’s bed. Alone. He stretched as he sat up before grabbing his clothes, that had been folded neatly on the bedside table next to him.

 

Dean smiled and grabbed them, shrugging them on as he made his way out to the kitchen. Cas wasn’t there, so he decided to check the dome. When he reached the animal paddock, Cas was bracing his hand on the ground to grow the green stuff Cora liked to eat.

 

“Mornin’, sunshine.”

 

Cas looked up at him with a bright smile. "Hello, Dean." He grew a sunflower that he plucked and gave to Dean with a shy smile. "I didn't have any nightmares again. Thank you for staying with me."

 

Dean returned the smile and happily took the flower. “That’s great. I’m glad I could help.”

 

"I feel safe with you here," Cas murmured, shuffling his feet on the ground.

 

“I don’t do much,” he replied, a little bemused. As a Hunter back home, he felt like he was protecting his loved ones. He didn’t do anything here.

 

"You do more than you think." Cas chuckled as he reached for his hand, wandering back to the dome. "You showed me yesterday – probably without even realizing. When the alarm went off you stood in front of me at the door, like you wanted to protect me."

 

Dean ducked his head in embarrassment. “Sorry, it’s a habit.”

 

Cas touched his chin so he would look at him. Even his eyes radiated happiness and it was hard to look away from that. "I like that you did it. Seeing you act like that just makes me feel a lot safer here." Cas squeezed Dean's hand before he continued, "I'm not a fighter. I was always afraid the others would come back. I'm not afraid with you here."

 

Dean smiled and gently caressed Cas’s cheek with the pad of his thumb. “Good. And I’ll gladly fight anyone who tries to hurt you.”

 

He liked the way Cas looked when he blushed. "Um, would you like to have breakfast? We could eat here in the grass. It's called a picnic."

 

“That sounds awesome,” he said as he nodded.

 

When they headed back into the kitchen, Cas packed food and plates into a basket before he handed Dean the carafe with orange juice. "Can you carry that?"

 

Dean grabbed it and held his hand out in offer to carry more. “Anything else you want me to grab?”

 

Cas looked thoughtful for a moment before he rolled his eyes at himself. "Uh, yeah the glasses... where is my head today?"

 

“Here,” he murmured as he pressed a kiss to Cas’s cheek and moved to grab them a couple of glasses.

 

Cas gave him a dazed look, apparently frozen to his spot instead of walking back to the dome with him.

 

Dean furrowed his brow in concern. “Are you okay?”

 

"Um, huh?" Cas murmured before he shook his head and smiled. "Yes, yes, I'm okay. Let's go."

 

Dean chuckled and nodded, following Cas back out to the dome. He watched in appreciation as Cas set out a blanket before he placed the basket down. Dean put the carafe and glasses next to it and moved to sit next to Cas on the blanket. “So, this is a picnic?”

 

Cas nodded with a smile. "The book I showed you with the bear and his friends... they do picnics. I always wanted to have one too."  He opened the basket and cut the bread with sharky.

 

“What else do they do?” Dean asked as he started pulling out the fruits and marmalade from the basket.

 

"Besides having a picnic?" Cas asked as he leaned back on his palms for a moment, staring at the trees above them.

 

Dean nodded. “Yeah. Or is that all they do?”

 

Cas squinted his eyes at him. "You still want to read the book. I don't want to tell you everything and ruin it for you."

 

Dean couldn’t help but smile at him. “Okay. I’ll wait until you teach me to read it.”

 

"I'm looking forward to it. I envy you getting to read it for the first time. I'm excited to see which story you will like best. Mine is when the donkey loses his tail." Cas smiled softly as he spread butter and marmalade on a piece of bread, handing it to Dean when he was done.

 

“What’s a donkey?” he asked as he accepted the bread and took a huge bite of it, humming in contentment as the flavors hit his tongue.

 

Cas made another one for himself as he answered, "A donkey is... similar to Cora, but without the milk." He bit his bread and looked up again, his expression thoughtful. "You know what we should have in the dome?" He wondered out loud after he swallowed his food, "a hummingbird."

 

Dean swallowed his bread and quirked his brow. “What’s that?”

 

"It's a small bird, a flying animal. And it would have enough to eat because most of the plants I grow in here are perfect for this bird."

 

“Can I watch you make it?” Dean asked around a mouthful of what Cas told him was a banana. The thought of seeing Cas in action filled him with the same kind of tingling and excitement sharing kisses did.

 

Cas stared at him for a long moment before he swallowed and nodded. "Sure." He blushed again and looked at his own food.

 

Dean scooted closer and gently grasped Cas’s chin, tilting his head up to look at him again. “Don’t hide your face.”

 

Cas swallowed visibly again as he looked at Dean. "I... keep thinking about last night."

 

“Good thinking or bad thinking?”

 

"Um... good... I think. It's just very distracting," Cas admitted with a shy smile.

 

There was the warmth again. Dean kind of loved how Cas made him feel so warm and happy, so easily. He scooted even closer. “If it helps, I keep thinking about it, too.”

 

"You do?" Cas asked, sounding surprised and a little breathless.

 

Dean smiled and nodded. “It makes me feel warm.”

 

Cas nodded as he smiled shyly, rubbing his hand over his chest. "Me too, here. And..." He lowered his hand down to his pants. "Here."

 

“Me, too,” Dean repeated as he gently grabbed Cas’s hand and braced it against his own chest. “Can you feel the warmth?”

 

Cas smiled at him and nodded, his thumb rubbing gently over Dean’s chest. “When I woke up this morning it was hard to leave the bed. I listened to your heartbeat, your breathing. I tried to count the freckles on your face... I felt this warmth all over me.”

 

“You could have woken me up,” Dean said as he gently grasped Cas’s other hand and held it.

 

“I couldn't. You look so peaceful when you sleep. I didn’t want to disturb you.”

 

Dean chuckled and leaned in closer, pressing a kiss to his nose. “You can disturb me anytime you want.”

 

Cas gave him a confused look. “Why would I want to disturb you? I don't want you to be annoyed with me.”

 

Dean shook his head. “Any time I get to spend with you makes me happy.”

 

Cas surprised him then by leaning forward and kissing him. He tasted sweet, like the marmalade he had been eating before. Dean could feel him smiling against his lips. "I'm relieved to hear that."

 

“You taste amazing.” Dean licked between the seam of Cas’s lips, humming as he did so.

 

Cas made a surprised noise that sounded really cute before he parted his lips and succumbed to the kiss, gripping Dean's arms tightly to hold on to him.

 

Dean groaned into the kiss, unable to stop himself from gently pushing Cas onto his back, crawling over him to continue kissing him. Surrounded by the green stuff and all of the flowers of the dome.

 

Cas gasped into the kiss, his hands falling from Dean's back and into the grass. When Dean broke the kiss to breathe, he noticed that tons of different colorful flowers were growing out of the grass around him, surrounding them. Cas smiled up at him. "I love you."

 

It was breathtaking, the beauty of it all. Dean smiled and pressed a chaste kiss to his lips. “Me, too.”

 

Cas braced himself on his elbows for another kiss before he chuckled and looked at the flowers around them. "When we stand up we’ll have a shape of a human body on the ground."

 

Dean laughed in amazement. “Awesome. You should leave it like that.”

 

They carefully made it back to the blanket as they admired the shape they had left. "It will probably only stay for a few days, though. They will grow over it."

 

“Well, it’s a nice way to honor the memory of today.” Dean smiled and grabbed a strawberry covered in chocolate. He was honestly surprised there were any left after Gabe had gone to town on them. He held it out to Cas’s lips.

 

Cas leaned forward and slowly bit into the strawberry, his blue eyes never leaving his as he licked over Dean's finger to get all of the juice.

 

The warmth returned with a vengeance, coursing through his body in waves. Dean was fixated on Cas’s lips and tongue. He gently traced Cas’s lip with said finger. “Did you feel the warmth then, too?”

 

Cas nodded, breathing harder now. "Yes, my whole body is warm and... tingling. It feels really good, although my heart is beating so fast."

 

“I kind of want to kiss you everywhere, I want to know how that feels.”

 

"You can kiss me anywhere you want, Dean." Cas slid closer, carding his fingers through Dean's hair. "Do you want me to remove my shirt again?"

 

Dean nodded, enjoying the warmth washing over him again. “I can remove mine, too?”

 

"Yes, please. I like to touch your skin," Cas admitted with a shy smile.

 

Without hesitation, Dean pulled his shirt off and tossed it over the basket. He crawled closer to Cas, who had carefully folded his shirt and placed it on top of Dean’s. The tingling of anticipatory excitement was making the hair on his arms stand up as he closed the little distance between them. Dean gently leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss to Cas’s collarbone.

 

He could hear Cas's breathing hitch, his nipples growing hard under his touch. Cas lifted his arm, sliding his fingers gently over Dean's arm.

 

Dean grew bolder as he trailed lower, peppering Cas’s warm skin with kiss after kiss. When he reached his right nipple, he kissed the bud, tentatively swiping his tongue over it, like he had done to Cas’s lips.

 

Cas made a noise between a gasp and a laugh before he wrapped his arms around him and pulled him into the grass again. "That feels very intense when you do that."

 

“Should I stop?” Dean asked, hoping against hope the answer was a hard and fast no.

 

Cas didn't disappoint. "No, please no."

 

Dean chuckled as he licked his nipple again, this time gently taking the bud between his teeth before licking it again to soothe any pain the small bite may have caused.

 

Cas bucked his hips against him with a low moan. His breathing was quick and hard. "Dean, uh, that feels so good."

 

Still lavishing his attention to Cas’s nipples, his hands started roaming his friend’s torso. Dean groaned when what they were doing started affecting him too, his dick getting harder and harder by the minute. “Fuck,” he breathed out.

 

"Are you okay?" Cas gasped out, looking worried.

 

Dean nodded and looked up at his beautifully flushed face. “My body is reacting even though I’m the one touching you.”

 

"Is that... unusual?" Cas asked slowly, still looking a little bit confused, but also very dazed and breathless.

 

“I don’t know.” Dean sat back on his heels and grabbed Cas’s hand, pressing it against his dick. “See? I’m really hard.”

 

Cas looked up at him with parted lips before his fingers traced over the outlines of Dean's hard erection. "I'm hard, too. It’s happened very often since you got here. Not just when you touch me."

 

He nodded his understanding. While this happened to him back home on occasion, and usually when he was with Benny, it had never been quite as frequent as it seemed to be here with Cas. When Cas’s fingers made the lightest contact with his dick, Dean let out a shallow gasp. “It’s like the tingling gets even stronger.”

 

Cas rubbed his thumb over it and looked up. "Can I touch you there... without the clothes?"

 

Dean swallowed down his nervousness and nodded, gently pulling his pants down enough to free his erection.

 

Cas seemed to be nervous too. He licked over his lips, staring at him with parted lips before he hesitantly touched the head of Dean's cock, sliding his fingers over it.

 

There was no way to describe the way it felt. The simple contact sent a shiver down his spine, contradicting the intense heat that was flooding his whole body. Dean looked at Cas like he invented the world, because as far as new and amazing experiences, he had. “Cas,” he breathed out, almost like a prayer.

 

"Is it good?" Cas asked carefully.

 

Dean nodded mutely, his voice suddenly stuck in his throat.

 

Cas wrapped his fingers around his erection, gently stroking over it with a mesmerized smile. "It feels so good under my hand. Soft and hard at the same time."

 

He gasped at the intensified sensation. Dean gently grasped Cas’s shoulder for purchase as his erection was touched by another person for the first time in his life. The heat in his groin intensified and Dean wasn’t able to formulate words any longer. He simply nodded and couldn’t stop himself from crushing his lips against Cas’s with an almost frantic whimper.

 

Cas let him, answering the kiss by opening up and letting their tongues touch as Cas suddenly gasped and broke the kiss looking down at Dean's erection. "You're a little bit wet," he stated in surprise, tapping the slit on his cock.

 

Dean groaned outright and clutched Cas’s arms. “Please don’t stop.”

 

Cas nodded, breathing heavily as he continued running his fingers over Dean's erection, his fingers went to the base before he gently slid them deeper in Dean's pants, touching his balls.

 

“Fuck,” he hissed as a spike of pleasure and heat twisted his stomach into a knot. It wasn’t unpleasant, kind of the opposite really. “Can I touch you?” he begged. He needed the distraction.

 

Cas looked down at himself, an insecure expression flitting over his face before he nodded and pulled his pants down too. His dick was hard, long, and engorged.

 

Dean tentatively wrapped his fingers around the girth. Cas was right. The skin was smooth and soft, the weight of his erection making Dean feel even warmer. Making him feel what Cas was doing to him even more.

 

Cas gasped and his body went rigid as he stared at Dean with wide eyes, breathing heavy. "Oh... Dean."  His grip around Dean's erection suddenly tightened in his strokes.

 

And suddenly that spike of tingling tightened the coiling in his groin. “Oh, fuck,” he swore as he started to slowly match Cas’s strokes. Dean was lost in mystified blue eyes as a pleasure he’d never felt began to consume him. “Cas, I feel funny.”

 

"Do you w–want me to stop?" Cas gasped out, biting his lower lip to hold back his moans.

 

Dean shook his head. “No, don’t stop,” he pleaded through a drawn out moan when the pleasure suddenly spiked. He cried out as the most amazing and intense feeling completely consumed him, causing him to shudder as something that was a whiteish color started coming out of his dick.

 

For a moment Cas stopped stroking him with a surprised gasp, but Dean rocked himself into his fist, urging him to continue stroking him.

 

As the feeling started to subside, Dean picked up his pace on Cas’s erection, closing the distance between them to capture his lips in a gentle kiss.

 

Cas panted heavily against Dean's lips. "Dean... uh... Dean," he gasped out, his fingers a hard grip on his arms as the movement of his hips suddenly stilled and Cas gasped, pressing his mouth against Dean's shoulder. He could feel the same white fluid on his hand, it was hot and sticky on his skin. Cas was breathing heavily as he leaned back and stared at Dean with wide eyes. "Dean..."

 

Dean let out a surprised and breathy chuckle. “Wow.”

 

"That was..." Cas shook his head before he grinned at him. "Now I understand why Nurse Meg did this for fun." He smiled brightly, still breathing too fast. "I feel so light."

 

Dean couldn’t help but laugh again, nodding his agreement. “I’ve never felt so relaxed.”

 

Cas leaned forward to kiss him gently, his eyes sparkling with happiness as he pulled back. His gaze fell on the white fluid on Dean's stomach and Cas carefully stuck his finger into it. "Huh..."

 

“Do you know what it is?”

 

Cas nodded slowly. "It's seed. You can procreate with this."

 

Dean pursed his lips in surprise. “Makes sense.” He chuckled as he looked between them. “We made a mess.”

 

"Yes." Cas scrunched up his nose as he looked at his hand and fingers. "It's sticky. We should take a shower."

 

“Okay,” Dean said as he leaned forward to press a kiss to Cas’s scrunched up nose.

 

"And after that, I’ll show you how I create a new life." Cas grinned before he pulled Dean up with him.

 

Dean drew Cas in for a hug before he could drag him to the showers. “I’m so lucky to have met you.”

 

Cas blushed again before he mumbled, "I'm the lucky one. I was so alone... and now I have you. You're the best thing that’s ever happened to me in my life."

 

In all of Dean’s life, no one had ever said those words to him. He knew his friends and family loved him, but... considering he always felt as though he was never good enough. Good enough for his father, for the Council, for his community... Hearing words like that were almost a little overwhelming. Dean swallowed against the lump in his throat and grasped Cas’s hand with his clean one. “Come on. Let’s get clean.”

 

"Can I help you wash your body?" Cas asked with a soft smile when they reached the shower and he turned on the hot water.

 

“You wanna?” he asked with a quirked brow.

 

Cas nodded before he pulled Dean under the water with him and into a gentle kiss. "Yes," he breathed against Dean's lips as he grabbed the soap and gathered foam from it. He spread it everywhere on Dean's chest, hands wandering down over his stomach before he sank to his knees and carefully washed Dean's dick.

 

The sensation was strange, still good but a little uncomfortable. Maybe sex causes sensitivity? Either way, Dean just groaned softly as he enjoyed Cas’s ministrations. He carded his hand through Cas’s hair, staring down at him, not quite believing his luck. “You’re so good to me, Cas.”

 

Cas let go of Dean's dick and washed Dean's legs and feet with a soft smile. "I like touching you."

 

“Me, too,” Dean murmured fondly.

 

Cas kissed the inside of Dean's thigh, the tip of Dean's dick, and his stomach before he stood up again, kissing and licking over Dean's nipple. "And I like tasting you, kissing you," he hummed against Dean's chest.

 

Dean stifled a soft moan and tilted Cas’s head up, drawing him into a little more needy kiss. He realized in that moment he’d never get sick of being like this with Cas. “Can I wash you?”

 

Cas gave him a radiant smile and nodded, handing him the soap. "Of course."

 

Carefully Dean started foaming up the soap in his hand before he gently caressed Cas’s body with the foam. Making sure to pay special attention to the areas that made him make those irresistible noises.

 

Cas’s breathing hitched as his fingers slid over his sides, tracing the numbers of his tattoo right under his ribcage. He bit his lower lip, giving Dean a beautifully needy look.

 

Dean smiled and said, “Can I ask you something?”

 

Cas hummed, leaning forward to press his forehead against Dean's shoulder. "Of course."

 

As he carefully wrapped his arm around Cas to get his back, he asked, “How do you have tattoos if you can heal yourself?”

 

Cas leaned back and looked down at himself, his fingers softly rubbing over one of the numbers on his skin. "I was created with them. They aren't tattoos, but genetically engineered markings. Skin pigmentation if that is easier to understand... a bit like your freckles."

 

Dean furrowed his brow. “So what do they mean?”

 

Cas’s body tensed under his fingers and he looked away. "I... um, they are inventory numbers, describing healing rates of different areas of my body.”

 

“What does that mean?” he asked, not liking the sound of it.

 

Cas shook his head. "I don't know. I only know that from the bad images in my head when I sleep. The people in white scan those numbers before... It doesn’t matter. It’s not real." Cas stopped talking and looked up. "Are you finished? The water is getting cold."

 

The water wasn't getting cold.

 

Dean put the soap down and took Cas’s hand in his. “It’s okay if you don’t want to talk about it, but don’t shut me out.”

 

"I'm sorry." Cas gave him a sad look. "The truth is that my only knowledge about those numbers come from my nightmares and those aren't real. So I can't answer your question about what they mean. I'm sure they had a purpose, otherwise they wouldn't have created me with them. But I was never told what they mean."

 

Dean nodded and gave him a reassuring smile. “It’s okay. I was just curious.”

 

Cas cupped his face with a soft smile and leaned in for a gentle kiss. "I understand... I think. I also want to know everything about you. You can ask me anything you like. I'm just sorry I can't answer everything.”

 

“That’s okay, Cas. And same here. I’ll happily answer any questions you have.”

 

The water actually was starting to get cold, so he turned the tap off and grabbed the two towels, handing Cas his. They continued to share shy and content smiles as they proceeded to dry off and get redressed.

 

When he was finished and back in his clothes, Cas grabbed Dean’s hand and intertwined their fingers. "We need to go to the lab."

 

Dean smiled. “Lead the way.”

 

Cas squeezed his hand with a grin, never letting go of him until they reached the lab Gabe had been so fascinated with the day before. One wall had a big monitor, something he had seen before in the Council building, that lit up when Cas touched it. It showed many complicated numbers and letters and a picture of two strings going around and around each other as it rotated. Cas touched a few words and the images changed, showing a picture of an animal. "This is a hummingbird, Dean. This is the animal I want to create."

 

It was a small creature, pretty colors and a weird shaped nose. He smiled as he looked at Cas. “It’s beautiful.”

 

Cas gave him a quick look over the shoulder and smiled. "Yes, it is." He tapped some more words on the screen and a machine next them came to life with a low hum. Cas stepped back and opened the door of the machine before he grabbed a sharp looking knife from the desk and a transparent bowl.

 

He then cut into his finger with a hiss and put a piece of his skin and blood into the bowl before putting it into the machine. As soon as he had closed the door, he put the finger into his mouth, sucking on it. It was normal again when he pulled his finger out of his mouth and pressed a button on the machine with it.

 

Dean wasn’t really understanding what he was watching, but he was still amazed by the whole process. “What does your blood do?” he asked as he took a closer look at the machine.

 

"I can't create something out of nothing. It may look like it when I make plants grow, but their information is already part of the soil. The databank has saved every genetic code of every species, I just need to imprint it on one of my cells to create a starting point. That is what the machine is doing."

 

The light on the machine went from red to green and Cas pushed a button to open it again. It still looked the same to him when Cas pulled out the little bowl. "Let's go to the dome. I want to create the bird there because it will be hard to catch if it flies around here in the lab."

 

Dean nodded and followed Cas back to the dome, looking over his shoulder at the contents of the bowl. “So how does it work? Do you hold your hand over it like you do when you feed Cora?”

 

Cas smiled brightly at him. "Exactly. It's not much different from plants. I'm just growing cells." Cas put the bowl in the grass and held his hand above it, closing his eyes. His hand started to glow and Dean could see how the cells started to multiply at a racing speed. He could see bones forming in between flesh, muscles, blood, and finally skin started to cover everything. Colorful feathers started to grow until the animal looked exactly like in the picture. Just that it wasn't moving. Cas carefully picked it up and smiled before he turned around. "Open your hand."

 

Dean did as Cas told him, holding his hand open, giving him a bemused smile.

 

Cas placed the animal carefully inside Dean's hand. It felt like it weighed nothing, the feathers were soft against his palms. But the hummingbird had its eyes closed and wasn’t moving.

 

Cas stepped closer with a smile. “Don’t startle now.” He carefully put his finger on the bird’s head and it started to glow for a second. Like a spark.

 

Suddenly the bird opened its eyes and stood in his palms, flapping its wings excitedly.

 

Dean’s breath was caught in his throat as he literally held this now, brand new, living creature in his hand for a fraction of a second before it flitted off into the sky of the dome, flying from flower to flower. He looked at Cas and cupped his face. “Thank you.”

 

Cas gave him a confused head tilt. "For what?"

 

The tear that escaped was unstoppable. Dean shook his head in amazement as he held Cas’s beautifully intense gaze. “My only purpose my entire life was to kill things. Creatures. Bad things that meant harm, but still. The only part I played in something’s life was to cause its death. I’ve never gotten to be a part of something coming alive before.”

 

Cas gave him a pained look and rubbed the tear away. "Now that you live here you can help me keep those lives happy and content. How would you like that?"

 

Dean nodded against his hand. “I’d like that very much.”

 

Cas smiled and wrapped his arm around him, stepping next to him as he looked up at the bird flying around the dome. "He is beautiful. Do you have a name for him yet?"

 

It didn’t take him very long to come up with an answer for Cas. “Flit, because that’s what he does,” Dean said with a smile as he pressed a kiss to the crown of Cas’s head.

 

Cas nodded before he looked at Dean. "I like it."

Chapter Text

Chapter 7

 

It had been almost a week since Sam had seen Dean and he was missing him dearly, wondering if he was okay. He probably was, considering how happy he had been the last time he had seen him. But still. It was weird without him.

 

Not that he felt alone without him – Becky was doing her best to keep him company in the hours they didn’t need to work, but when she wasn’t at home, Sam just stayed in the Hunters’ house with Gadreel.

 

What bothered him though was that he hadn’t heard a word from Gabriel. He had seen him from time to time, down the street or at the ration dispersal, but he never got a chance to talk to him since their excursion.

 

It always left a painful sensation in his chest when he thought about their last conversation.

 

He wondered if he could just visit Dean alone on his next schedule – without Gabriel, provided no mutant was near the city. He wanted to give Dean the tape back. Sam was sure Dean missed it, and the sentimental part of him that wasn’t usually allowed to exist, wanted his brother to at least have something from their childhood home.

 

Sam tapped his pen thoughtfully against his father's notebook, looking up at Becky, who was correcting her children's work, the ones she was tutoring. Sam wondered when he should ask her to come with him.

 

Not that it would be easy. Even if she wanted to come, they would need a suit for her. The walk was exhausting for someone who wasn't used to it and it was dangerous. They could get attacked out there and she could die.

 

Not only that... Becky would never officially be allowed to go out. They would need to steal a suit for her and knock out the gate guards. There would be no coming back after that.

 

With Gadreel it was easier. He was a Hunter. No one would bat an eyelash if they both went out. He needed a plan. And he needed to talk to Gabriel, although everything in him felt dizzy and slightly sick thinking about him. He had never felt this way before with him. But the last conversation still weighed heavy on his heart.

 

“Are you thinking about your brother?” Becky asked from her small desk, looking up at him with a concerned yet kind expression.

 

Sam gave her a quick smile. "Yeah and... um Gabriel," he admitted with a soft sigh before he looked back at his notebook. He hadn't made a single entry in days, overwhelmed with all of the changes in his life.

 

Becky closed the folder on her desk and turned to face him. “Would you like to talk about it?”

 

Sam frowned before he slowly shook his head. He wanted to talk to someone about it, but he couldn't do it with Becky – at least not to the full extent. "He’s my best friend... And we had a fight recently. We haven’t talked in a week.”

 

She got up and sat next to him, taking his hand in hers. “I’m sorry you fought. Gabriel cares for you a great deal, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.”

 

Sam shrugged and squeezed her hand. "It's just... he said something that hurt me and I never believed he would think that way."

 

“What did he say?” Becky frowned, her expression almost protective.

 

Sam shook his head. "It's not important. I just don't know what... how to talk to him anymore, without thinking of that."

 

Becky appeared thoughtful for a moment before she gave him a sympathetic smile. “What is it about what he said that makes you feel bad?”

 

Sam cleared his throat and looked away. "It was something about my brother and me that he was judging... I don't want to talk about it, Becky."

 

“Okay,” she said as she leaned her head on his shoulder. “You don’t have to tell me. But don’t forget, sometimes our judgement of others is something that we don’t like about ourselves.”

 

Sam sighed and rifled his fingers through his hair. "I... It was something I had problems with, but I don't know... The past week changed that for me. And I just wish Gabriel–" He shook his head and stopped talking. He couldn't tell Becky too much.

 

“Well, if it’s something you had a problem with and changed your mind, couldn’t Gabriel do the same?”

 

"I'm not sure." Sam replied thoughtfully, "it sounded like he had strong feelings about the matter."

 

Becky gave him a pointed look. “Maybe you should talk to him about it? How it makes you feel?”

 

Sam shuffled his feet. "Not sure if I can."

 

“Yes, you can. You’re Sam Winchester. You can do anything.” Becky smiled at him as she squeezed his hand again.

 

Sam chuckled and gave her a soft smile. "Why do you believe in me so much?"

 

Becky shrugged noncommittally. “You’re my Milowda.”

 

Sam gave her a pained smile before he sighed deeply and looked away. He had no idea why he felt so disappointed in her answer. Of course she would see it that way. That was how it was supposed to work. You get someone assigned as your Milowda and it's expected to just work. Sam always wondered what was wrong with him that he needed to question everything, whereas other people just accepted how it was. Before he could say anything to Becky, there was a knock on the door.

 

He gave her a quick, confused look before he walked over and opened it. His breathing hitched when he saw Gabriel in front of him. “Um, hi,” he greeted him quietly.

Gabriel rubbed the back of his neck as he looked down. “Can we talk?”

 

"Yeah, sure." He waved him into his living quarters, making space for him. "Come in."

 

Gabriel nodded to Becky and said, “Hey, Becky.”

 

She smiled at him while giving Sam a pointed look. “Hi, Gabe. It’s good to see you.”

 

“Yeah, uh... You look, good... happy.” Gabriel seemed incredibly uncomfortable.

 

Becky nodded and slid next to Sam. She gently grasped his arm before leaning up on her tiptoes to press a kiss to Sam’s cheek. “I am.” When she drew back, she moved to grab her satchel from her desk. “And I need to go to check on a couple of my kids.” Becky pulled the satchel over her shoulder and smiled at both of them. “I’ll see you later?” That question was directed to Sam.

 

"Yeah, sure." Sam gave her a soft smile and waved to her, happy she was giving them space. Becky was a really good friend.

 

He sat down again, offering Gabriel the seat next to him as soon as Becky was gone. He had no idea what to say, his heart was beating uncomfortably fast.

 

Gabriel still appeared uncomfortable as he finally took the seat. “You two seem cozy.”

 

"Yeah, well." Sam shrugged. "She's my Milowda." He knew it sounded bitter, but he didn't care.

 

“Right,” Gabriel said with a nod. “Anyway, I know you’re pissed at me, but I got the okay from the Council for another excursion.”

 

Sam raised an eyebrow. "You did? When can we leave?"

 

“Whenever you want.” Gabriel sighed and turned to finally face him. “I hate that you haven’t talked to me this whole week. We need to sort this shit out. If you’re done being my friend, just fucking say so and–”

 

"No, I'm not," Sam quickly interrupted him. Just the thought of losing Gabe made him sick. "I'm not," he added quietly before he looked away. "I'm just... hurt... and I need time to get over it."

 

Gabe sighed and braced his elbows on his knees. “I meant it when I said I don’t give a fuck what your brother does.”

 

"But you still think it's wrong," Sam murmured.

 

“I never said it was wrong. I said it was stupid.”

 

"Why?" Sam yelled at him. "Give me one good reason why it's a bad thing that Dean just wants to be happy with someone."

 

Gabe looked taken aback. “What is your deal, Sam? You know why I think it’s stupid? Because people get killed for it. A lot more than you realize. You know if I hadn’t intervened, your precious Gadreel would have been executed? Because they saw you comforting him after his mother died. The sunchamber is bullshit. One out of every five people sent there is for the actual supposed therapy. Everyone else dies! And half the time it’s because they’ve been accused of being homosexual! Don’t get high and mighty with me about your brother’s happiness, when all I’ve ever cared about is making sure you and the people you love are safe!”

 

While rifling his hand through his hair, Gabe moved to stand and let out an annoyed sigh. “I’m tired of seeing people die for bullshit reasons, but that doesn’t mean I think it’s a good idea to prance around trying to challenge the laws of this place. Because that just puts you next in line for the fucking chamber.”

 

Sam stared at Gabe, letting his words sink in. He had no idea he and Gadreel were suspected of this kind of relationship at some point. It was a shock to hear and just confirmed to him how important it was to leave this place.

 

He didn't want to sacrifice his own happiness by staying in this place. He stepped closer to Gabe, swallowing hard. "The new place... there are no such rules there. Would you still think it's stupid to choose a man to be happy with?"

 

Gabe sighed and shrugged his shoulders. “Look, it’s not stupid. You talking about it here, where people could possibly overhear you, is stupid. If you want to run away with Gadreel, if that’s what will make you happy... That’s all I care about, Sam. You get me?”

 

Sam paled. How did Gabriel know that he wasn’t just talking about Dean? "What? That’s not what's happening here." He couldn’t tell Gabe the truth, he wasn’t ready. "I was talking about my brother. I don't want you to judge him because he likes Cas that way."

 

That was met with a quirked eyebrow as he folded his arms against his chest. “You asked me what if you were as stupid as your brother.”

 

"I just wanted to know if you would judge me too," Sam lied without batting an eyelash. Hiding who he was for his whole life had made him an expert liar.

 

“Right.” Gabe sighed and shook his head. “Well, I don’t give a fuck whether or not your brother is a homosexual, or you are. So are we good? Are you gonna talk to me again so we can get back to the business of trying to help our community?” he asked in a mildly frustrated and slightly sarcastic tone.

 

Hearing Gabe say those words meant the world to him and it lifted a weight from his chest that he had carried around for a week now. He felt incredibly relieved, knowing that one day he would be brave enough to tell Gabe the truth about his feelings. Sam gave him a soft smile and nodded. "Yes, we're good..." He stepped closer to his friend and added, "Can I hug you now? I really missed you this week."

 

Gabe’s shoulders instantly relaxed and he held his arms open in invitation. “Come here.”

 

Sam gave him a bright and happy smile before he wrapped his friend tightly into his arms, finally feeling settled again. He closed his eyes, letting himself enjoy this moment of rare closeness without the fear of getting reported for it.

 

Gabe’s face was pressed against Sam’s chest, his hair tickling his chin as the hug lasted longer than either of them had shared in the past. He finally drew back and gently punched his arm. “Alright, now that you aren’t pissed anymore, do you want to discuss when you want to do the next excursion? I already got approval from your boss for you to be the Hunter to accompany me.”

 

"Awesome." Sam grinned before he added, "Well, the sooner the better. I'm ready when you are."

 

“Right now?” he asked in surprise, a small smile on his face.

 

"Sign me up." Sam nodded before he went over to his jacket and checked if the tape was still in the pocket. It was. "I can't wait to see Dean again. I’ll just be a little more careful with the food this time.”

 

Gabe laughed as he held the door open for Sam. “I have no intention of it. If they have more of that chocolate stuff I’m going to eat it until it’s gone, or I’m sick. Whichever happens first.”

 

Sam shook his head as he followed Gabe outside, sliding into his jacket. "Why am I not surprised?"

 

“Because you know me?” he teased as he fell in step with Sam.

 

Sam shrugged before he whispered, "Not as much as I'd like to."

 

Gabe halted him by gently grabbing his elbow, quirking his brow expectantly at him. “What do you mean by that?”

 

Sam bit his lower lip and looked away. "Just that I wouldn't have suffered through this stupid week if I knew you better." He looked around, but no one was near them to overhear their conversation. "I just wish... sometimes that I could talk to you openly, without fear of being overheard or without holding myself back because that's what I was taught all of my life."

 

“I get it,” he said with an affirmative nod, “and I promise, once we get the fuck out of this place, you can talk as openly as you want.”

 

Sam smiled softly and nodded. "I'm looking forward to it, Gabe."

 

They reached the top of the hill where the Hunters’ house and gate room were and Sam hated how much he was shivering. One week in a warm house and he was already getting weaker. Maybe that was the reason why Hunters stayed in the cold. Maybe it wasn't just a stupid rule, but a necessity so Hunters would stay stronger outside.

 

"I just have to check in with my boss and rearrange my schedule." Sam pointed to the Hunters’ house. "You should come in. It's warmer waiting by the heater."

 

Gabe groaned and rolled his eyes. “I’d almost prefer freezing,” he complained.

 

“Because of Crowley?” Sam grinned.

 

“He’s such an annoying jackass!”

 

"That’s never stopped you from trying to out sass him," Sam said with a chuckle.

 

Gabe pursed his lips and narrowed his eyes at Sam. “That’s not the point.”

 

"Well, I really enjoy watching you torture my boss. He always looks like his veins are about to pop," Sam admitted as he opened the door to the Hunters’ house. "Are you sure you don't want to come in? Be my hero?"

 

“Fine,” Gabe said with a sigh as he followed Sam into the house.

 

Sam tried to hide his grin as he made his way to the gear and schedule counter, waving at Crowley, who looked up at him with a scowl. "Gigantor, you're not on the schedule for the next eight hours. Don't you have a loving Milowda to go home to?"

 

Sam hummed and leaned against the counter. "Change of plans. Council business. The doctor needs to go on another expedition.”

 

Crowley raised his eyebrow at Gabe. “I can save you the trip. Everything is dead or deadly outside.”

 

“You’re such a flirt, Crowley,” Gabe quipped as he leaned against the wall with a bored expression.

 

Crowley narrowed his eyes at Gabe before he growled, "Be careful, doctor. Some might think you're the one flirting here."

 

"Just with danger," Sam interjected before he glared at Crowley. "We got a four hour expedition and we need another sealed container."

 

"Whatever the hell for?" Crowley asked with an incredulous look.

 

Gabe sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration. “For samples, what the hell else would it be for?”

 

Crowley narrowed his eyes again before he pushed a sheet of paper over the counter. "I need you to sign this so if you let out a pathogen in your lab, we know who to exile."

 

“Yeah, yeah,” Gabe murmured as he grabbed a pen and carelessly signed the paper.

 

Sam nodded and gave Crowley an over-the-top smile, who scowled at him in return. "Thank you. See you in four hours."

 

"If you're lucky," Crowley murmured, "and luck doesn't run in your family."

 

It hurt and Sam had to bite his lip hard, trying not to let the comment get to him. He just quickly left the building without looking back at his boss, hearing Gabriel's footsteps right behind him.

 

“You know, it’s funny how wrong he is considering your brother basically struck gold,” Gabe murmured to Sam as he clapped a hand on his shoulder in comfort.

 

Sam turned around to Gabe, giving him a grateful smile. It was was nice to be reminded. “As will we in the near future.”

 

“Can’t wait,” he said with a wink.

 

Gabe got better at slipping into the suit after they arrived at the gate, but Sam still helped him and checked all of the connections. He wouldn't have felt safe going out without knowing Gabriel's suit was in perfect condition.

 

Dean always told him he was bordering on paranoid for checking things three times, but it didn't stop him from checking Gabe’s suit a fourth time.

 

“Okay, you’re set,” Sam murmured, trying not to sound worried as he patted Gabe on the shoulder and sealed the door behind them, waiting for the seals to close and the light to turn green so they could open the outer door.

 

Gabe chuckled. “You seriously need to calm down.”

 

“I’m trying,” Sam admitted with a frustrated tone in his voice. They had been lucky the last time, that no mutant had been in sight on their track over to the Dome. They wouldn’t be lucky every time.

 

“I have faith that you’ll protect me,” he said as he clapped his hand on Sam’s shoulder again.

 

“Thanks,” Sam replied dryly, not feeling better in the slightest as he readied his rifle. The light turned green and he slowly pushed open the door.

 

It was heavy, the storm pushing against them immediately and the sight was less than three meters. “Damn,” he murmured and switched his helmet to track heat signatures. He only saw the blue shapes of the rocks so far. “Okay, let’s go, Gabe.”

 

Nice and easy as he reached behind himself and took Gabriel’s hand to help him through the maze of walls in front of the gate until they reached the open wasteland. He could spot multiple heat signatures, but they were still too far away to cause trouble. It was hard to say if they were humanoid mutants or animals.

 

“Shit! My heat signature function isn’t working,” Gabe grumbled as he felt his friend’s hand release his own.

 

"Then stay close and take my hand. Not going to lose you out here," Sam said as he reached back for Gabe’s hand again.

 

Gabe murmured something unintelligible as he reluctantly took Sam’s hand in his own. “I hate flying blind.”

 

“It’s okay. I’ve got you,” Sam tried to reassure him. He could hear the slight tremble in Gabe’s voice. It was pitch dark outside and he couldn’t see anything. Every instinct in him probably went into overdrive. Sam knew how frightening a situation like that felt. He squeezed Gabe’s hand and pulled him closer. “I won’t let anything happen to you. The path is clear, you just have to step carefully.”

 

“I can’t believe you do this all the time.”

 

“Someone has to. Or the mutants would constantly attack our gate.” Sam had no idea why he whispered, but his chest felt constricted and his whole body was tense. He tried to take controlled breaths, keeping an eye on the movement east of them. The heat signatures didn’t come closer, but Sam could see now from the way they were moving that they were animal mutants.

 

He hoped they wouldn’t smell them and the wind kept blowing in their favor. Most of those carnivores had an incredible sense of smell.

 

There was a tenseness in the air and he could feel the way Gabe tightened his grip on Sam’s hand. “How far are we now?”

 

"Another twenty minutes if we keep the pace. We just need to be careful when we climb the ruins." Sam hoped that they were lucky again. Some predators loved to hide in those.

 

“Okay,” Gabe breathed out in a shaky exhale.

 

"You're breathing too fast, Gabe," Sam murmured when he noticed his friend's breathing rate spike as they carefully climbed over the rubble uphill. Predators weren't the only danger here. The ruins were slippery and full of sharp edges that could tear the suit.

 

That was met with a mirthless laugh. “You try to stay calm when you can’t see anything.”

 

Sam gently pulled Gabe closer and wrapped his arm around him. "Trust me. I’ll just see for both of us."

 

“You don’t have a choice.”

 

Sam squeezed Gabriel's hand and carefully pulled him up on top of the hill, glancing around. He could faintly make out the structures of the Dome down the valley, but he could also make out a small predator, hiding in the ruins. If they went down hill again, it would notice them and attack.

 

"Fuck," Sam breathed out and readied his rifle. He wasn't close enough for a clean shot. "Gabe, you need to stay here for a moment and wait for me. Can you do that?" He hated the thought of leaving Gabe, even just for a moment, but it was too dangerous if he followed him down hill. "I'll be back as soon as I’ve killed this creature."

 

Gabe nodded mutely and ducked down to try his best to hide. “You stay safe, you hear me?”

 

"Of course. And don't move, Gabe! No matter what you hear. Stay right where you are." Sam hated to let go of Gabe’s hand, it went against every instinct in him to leave him. But he could move quicker without him and he needed every advantage in a confrontation with a predator.

 

“Just come back to me,” he called out.

 

Being a Hunter, he grew up with a few ground rules. The first rule was to never make a promise to come back. So he didn't say anything to Gabe as he carefully climbed down the ravine, aiming his rifle at the lurking predator. He tried to breathe slowly, every muscle in his body hurt from being tense, his eyes never leaving the target.

 

He could see the tail of the predator twitching, getting ready to jump. Sam knew it wouldn't jump though until he was close enough and his rifle had better range. He aimed, controlling his breathing, when the predator suddenly threw its head back and let out an ear shattering shriek. A call for the rest of its pack. Fuck, fuck. Sam aimed and shot the predator right between the eyes, ending its call for help in an instant. But it was too late, Sam knew the fucker must have been heard over several klicks. They had to hurry.

 

He quickly made it up the hill again, seeing his friend's heat signature where he had left him. "Gabe? Are you... oh, fuck!"

 

As he reached the peak, grabbing Gabe’s hand, he saw two more predators running in their direction. They were fast. "Fuck, we need to hurry."

 

Gabe nodded and jumped up, tightening his grip on Sam’s hand. “How many?”

 

"Two! And they’re fast. We need to run down." He pulled Gabe close, trying to support him as he ran down the hill with him. The Dome wasn't far away now and he hoped they would reach it, with Dean or Cas opening the outer door for them, in time. If not...

 

Sam glanced around in frustration, noticing a building they could climb up, close to the Dome’s door. Somewhere they could wait on the roof of until the predators gave up. "I'm not sure they’ll open the door for us in time, but there’s a building with a ladder. We should go up to the roof."

 

“You’re in charge,” Gabe said, looking around a little frantically.

 

"Don't look back!" Sam pulled him quickly in the direction of the building. "I’ll show you the ladder and don't stop, just climb up there as fast as you can. I'll be right behind you."

 

There was another loud shriek behind them. They were closing in on them. Sam grabbed Gabe's wrist and pushed his hand against the metal of the ladder. "Climb! Go."

 

Gabe climbed up the ladder without hesitation, disappearing onto the roof of the building.

 

Sam followed him without looking back. He could hear them. He could hear their feet on the ground, could hear their shrieks. He quickly went over the small balustrade and knelt down next to Gabe, trying to calm his breathing before he readied his rifle and looked over the rim.

 

"Are you alright, Gabe?" he pressed out, watching the predators running in circles around the building, trying to jump up with frustrated shrieks.

 

He looked over to the door, trying to make out if Dean or Cas had noticed them. He didn't see any movement.

 

Suddenly he was pulled into a hug and Gabe murmured, “If we don’t make it out of this, I want you to know you’re the best friend I’ve ever had.”

 

For a moment Sam hugged him back before he cupped his helmet and looked at him. "We'll make it out. Trust me, okay?"

 

“I always trust you, but... If you have a window to get to safety without me, I want you to take it. Okay?”

 

"Are you kidding me? I'm not leaving here without you," Sam growled before he readied his rifle. "I'm gonna try to shoot those two before they call for more company and then we can’t make it to the door."

 

He turned around and aimed at one of the predators, concentrating on his breathing and the animal's quick movement, trying to predict it.

 

When he saw his window, he pulled the trigger and the first one crashed down to the ground, spooking the other one. Sam squinted his eyes trying to follow its quick movement through the debris field. "Damn," he cursed. If the predator hid behind the debris, he couldn't shoot it.

 

“Did you miss?”

 

"No, one is down. The other is hiding in the debris field," Sam murmured before he looked over to the door. He could make out a blinking red light and suddenly there was movement. A shadow in the inner chamber of the door. "Gabe, I think they saw us. Cas and Dean. It looks like someone is opening the door."

 

Sam quickly looked back at the predator. "Shit and they don't know we brought friends."

 

Gabe got up and dusted off his suit. “Okay, I’ll distract our friend and you warn them, try to make it to them,” he said as he headed back to the ladder.

 

Sam grabbed his shoulder. "Oh, no. You stay up here until it's safe to come down. I'll go and warn them. I’ll come back for you as soon as the other one is dead."

 

“You know you might not reach them before that fucker. No point in three or four casualties, when we could just have one, Sam!”

 

"Gabriel stop!" Sam yelled at him. "I promised you that nothing will happen to you. So stay down. I have a rifle and I can see him. I'll get him."

 

Gabe narrowed his eyes at him. “Don’t you fucking die on me.”

 

"I won't. We have plans, remember?" Sam winked at him before he readied his weapon and walked to the ladder. He could see the predator hiding behind some rocks.

 

He carefully climbed down the ladder, keeping his eyes on the animal as he walked backwards to the door, aiming his weapon in the direction of the predator. When he made it to the thick glass window, he quickly looked inside, seeing Dean on the other side. The outer door was unlocked. He made a gesture to Dean to stay put, noticing his brother's worried look before he aimed his rifle in the direction of the predator and started to close in on it, rounding the rocks.

 

He noticed the animal twitching its tail nervously, settling lower behind the stone. Not to hide, but getting ready to pounce. Sam took his shot as soon as it was in range. He didn't hit it perfectly, so it just jumped out and shrieked, trying to attack him. He shot again, twice before it finally fell down to the ground in front of him.

 

Damn, that had been close. His heart was beating so fast it felt like it was jumping out of his chest. He ran back to the building and climbed up the ladder. "Gabe, come on. We can go." He reached his hand out for his friend.

 

Gabe shook his head. “Keep your hands on the ladder, I’ll follow.”

 

"Can you see enough?" Sam asked, worried that Gabe wouldn’t make it down safely.

 

“Even if I couldn’t, how would you propose me climbing down a ladder while holding your hand?” he sassed as he felt for the rails and turned around to climb down behind him.

 

Sam rolled his eyes, but grinned as he climbed down, waiting for Gabe to come down before he grabbed his hand again. "I expect a real hug as soon as we’re out of these suits. I hope you know that."

 

Gabe chuckled. “Alright, you big baby.”

 

Sam looked around before he opened the outer door. They were clear now, Sam exhaled deeply as the security door shut behind them and the room was filled with breathable air. He waited for the lamp to go green before he opened his suit and removed his helmet. "That wasn't a nice walk over," he murmured, folding his suit on the bench in the room. Dean waved at them from the other side of the bulkhead with a happy smile. Sam waved back with a grin before he turned to Gabe, helping him with his helmet.

 

The moment his helmet was off, Gabe yanked Sam forward into a hug and said, “Never scare me like that again.”

 

Sam pressed Gabe close to his body and closed his eyes for a moment, his heart still beating like crazy. When he leaned back, he cupped Gabe's face and shook his head. "I could say the same. Never suggest something stupid like that again, where you want to sacrifice yourself. I would never let anything happen to you. Never, you hear me?”

 

Gabe shook his head, letting out a relieved chuckle. “If I had to choose between me and you, don’t even try to play that card. Alright?”

 

Sam pressed his forehead against Gabe's, "I won't let you choose then. We’re a package deal."

 

“Sounds good to me,” he murmured fondly as he cupped the side of Sam’s face, hazel eyes filled with relief and something Sam couldn’t quite place.

 

The moment was interrupted when the inner door opened.

 

“Sammy!” Dean cried out in a relieved laugh.

 

Sam turned around with a laugh before he hugged his brother, pulling him close. "It's so good to see you again, Dean."

 

Dean drew back and playfully smacked his cheek. “I forgot how badass you can be.”

 

Sam rubbed the back of his neck and chuckled. "I would have gladly passed on that experience outside. It was a close call."

 

“Yeah, as sexy as it is to watch you kick ass, I’d rather not have a repeat of that,” Gabe said as he clapped Sam’s shoulder before Dean laughed and pulled Gabe in for a hug.

 

Sam’s face grew warm when Gabe said that, although he was pretty sure Gabe was just joking around. He stepped around Dean to give Cas a hug, who had quietly stood behind them. "Hey, Cas. How are you?"

 

"I'm very good. I'm glad that you're not injured." Cas leaned back from him with a worried glance. "I wish you both would just stay here instead of making this dangerous journey. I don't want anything to happen to you."

 

Gabe smiled. “Hey, don’t need to convince me, it’s this one who’s too much of a do-gooder,” he teased as he winked at Sam.

 

Sam rolled his eyes. "I asked Gadreel and he will come here too if we aren’t able to convince the Council. He said he is looking forward to seeing you, Dean." Sam smiled before he remembered the tape and fished it out of his jacket pocket. "And I brought you this." He handed it over to Dean.

 

Dean’s eyes lit up and he yanked Sam in for another hug. “Thanks, Sammy.”

 

Sam chuckled and patted Dean's shoulder. "I knew you would want it back."

 

Cas stepped next to them, giving Dean a curious look. "What is it?"

 

Dean wrapped his free arm around Cas’s waist and showed him the tape. “This is something they used to play music on. You know, when you ask me to make it with my mouth? This is the real stuff.”

 

"Oh, I see." Cas tilted his head. "It's a magnetic coating that is used to encode an audio signal. You need a recorder to play it."

 

“Yeah,” Gabe snorted, “I’ll just pick one up on our way back to Zion.”

 

"There might be one here... somewhere," Cas murmured thoughtfully. "I think I have seen one before."

 

Dean’s eyes lit up even more, he cupped Cas’s face. “Do you remember where?”

 

Sam could see how Cas suddenly tensed and looked away from Dean. "Um, the basement," he whispered, sounding afraid.

 

“Are you okay, Cas?” Sam asked, grabbing the guy’s shoulder.

 

Cas looked up for a moment, his face pale. "I, uh, I’ll go to the kitchen and prepare food. I'm sure you're both hungry." And without looking back he suddenly turned and quickly left them standing in the hallway.

 

Dean sighed and said, “He’s terrified of the basement, but he doesn’t talk about it. I’m gonna check on him, if you guys want to give us a minute. You can go shower if you want? There’s spare towels and sweats in the lockers.”

 

“You mean the shower with the water, right?” Sam breathed out. Dean had showed him the last time, but it still was such an unbelievable concept.

 

Gabe let out an excited laugh. “Oh, fuck yeah. Where is it?”

 

Dean pointed down the hall. “Last door on the left.” He made pointed eye contact with Sam and smirked. “Have fun.”

 

“Thanks,” Sam replied slowly, wondering what that look was about before he showed Gabe the way to the showers. When they entered the room, he suddenly got it. He would see Gabriel naked and Gabriel would see him naked. Oh...

 

Gabe clapped his hands excitedly as he started pulling off his shirt. “I can’t believe this place is real.”

 

"Yeah," Sam breathed out shakily as he pulled off his own shirt, trying to relax. It wasn't a big deal. Gabe was a doctor. He had seen people naked before. Sam had seen people naked before too... but not Gabe.

 

He tried to calm down his way too quick beating heart, trying to tell himself that it shouldn't matter. Since that didn't work at all, instead he tried to focus on something else. He folded the rest of his clothes on the bench and walked up to the handle Dean had moved the last time to start the warm water. He mimicked the motion with his hand as the water suddenly started, a burst of cold water hitting his head. He squealed and pulled back, holding his hand under the stream, feeling it get warmer. "Oh, shit, Gabe... this is..."

 

It felt overwhelming to see so much water. He just pushed his face under it and opened his mouth, enjoying the way the water ran down his throat.

 

He could hear Gabe starting the shower next to his, followed by a soft groan. “Fuck me.”

 

Sam couldn't stop himself from looking over and the breath got stuck in his throat as he gasped. For such a long time he had tried to keep his feelings locked away, had tried to deny that they existed. But now? With a possible future ahead of him where he wouldn't need to hide anymore, it was hard to keep the floodgates shut.

 

Because all he wanted in that moment was to close the gap between them and touch Gabriel's skin, the same way the water was caressing him.

 

Gabe turned around, back arched slightly as he combed his hands through his hair, groaning in appreciation. “Sammy, I never want to leave this place.”

 

"Then stay," Sam whispered, feeling mesmerized by what he was seeing. He just couldn't look away. "I could tell them you didn't make it." It was selfish and he knew that. He needed Gabriel for the scientific proof. But just the thought of having to go back out there with him, the fear he had felt of possibly losing him. He would rather have him safe.

 

“Not a chance.” Gabe chuckled and shook his head. “Package deal, remember?”

 

"I would come back," Sam replied, hating that his voice was shaking.

 

Gabe turned to fully face Sam, bracing his arm against the wall in a lean. “You’re not supposed to promise that.”

 

"I know." Sam looked away, hoping Gabe hadn't seen how he had stared at him. He knew he was being inappropriate. "But what happened before... I'm just afraid I’ll lose you. The journey is dangerous. It’s not your responsibility, you don’t need to risk your life because of my promise to help other people."

 

“Bullshit. You can’t possibly take the results of the samples to the Council to try and make life better. You don’t need to shoulder the responsibility. We both need each other,” he said as he gave him a pointed look.

 

"I know," he admitted without looking at him. "I just wanted to be selfish for a moment."

 

Gabe laughed. “No dice. If I don’t get to be selfless and sacrifice myself, neither do you.”

 

Sam couldn't help but splash water in Gabe's general direction, hoping he was hitting him.

 

Suddenly he was flipped around, Gabe got into his personal space and held him by the wrist as he filled his mouth with the shower water and spat it at his chest.

 

"Gabe! Seriously?" Sam chuckled as he scrunched up his nose, before he turned his hands to grab Gabe's wrist and pinned them over his head as he pushed Gabe against the shower wall. He leaned closer, chuckling. "That was not very nice."

 

Gabe looked up at him, expression defiant and amused. “Neither was splashing me.”

 

"I had to," Sam replied with a smirk.

 

“I’m sure you did,” he said with a sarcastic nod to match his sarcastic tone.

 

Although he was standing under running water, his mouth suddenly felt dry and he licked over his lips, getting lost in Gabe's amber colored eyes. He felt stunned, his mind was empty. He couldn't even come up with a sassy comeback.

 

His mind was filled with only one thing. Gabe was so close, so damn close.

 

Gabe chuckled and turned his head to the side slightly, his laughter stopping suddenly when he asked, “What’s that?” He nodded to a partition protruding from the wall with a rectangular shaped white thing.

 

Sam cleared his throat and let go of Gabe, feeling embarrassed and no longer able to look at him. He tried to remember if Dean had told him about that object, but he had forgotten. "Um, I don't know."

 

Gabe reached out and grabbed it. He carefully turned it over in his hand. “It’s kind of slimy.”

 

Sam scrunched up his nose before he leaned closer. "But it smells... kind of good."

 

“Think it’s food?” Gabe asked as he sniffed it.

 

Sam gave him a doubtful look. "Why would it be in the shower then? I wouldn't try to eat it. Dean said there are even plants here that are poisonous."

 

Gabe nodded and put it back on the makeshift shelf. He fully submerged himself under the stream of the shower and groaned again. “If Kolob is even close to this place...”

 

Sam couldn't help but reach out and tuck a loose strand of hair behind Gabe's ear. "Yeah, this is pretty much perfection."

 

Gabe gave him a half smile and shook his hair under the stream, causing the dampened locks to get even messier. “And you want to bring everyone. We could’ve had this place to ourselves, but no...”

 

"I don't want to bring everyone, Gabe." Sam chuckled as he carded his fingers through Gabe's hair again. Just because Gabe let him. "But the people back home deserve to have real food."

 

“You want to bring your Milowda. And Gadreel,” he argued.

 

"Yeah." Sam looked down. "I doubt that she will come... and Gadreel... he’s my friend. I'm worried if he stays there... He’s too sensitive."

 

Gabe nodded as he looked away. “That’s not the only reason you worry.”

 

Sam frowned at Gabe. “What do you mean?”

 

“You don’t have to play dumb here, Sam.”

 

Sam rolled his eyes. “I’m not. I seriously don’t know what you’re talking about.”

 

Gabe turned the water of his shower off then slicked his hair back with his right hand. “You know, you say you want to know me better, and I want you to know that goes both ways.”

 

"Okay?" Sam replied slowly, confused with the sudden change of topic. "I'm glad... because I mean it. It's nice to just be with you, talking freely," Sam added with a soft smile.

 

Gabe returned the smile. “I missed you this week.”

 

Sam’s smile grew wider. "I missed you, too. A lot. I'm glad you came here with me and want to stay."

 

“And now Gadreel’s agreed to come, so you’re going to actually stay here too, right?”

 

Sam frowned again. "Why?" And then it finally dawned on him what Gabe was hinting at. "Oh, um..." He looked away for a moment, feeling heat rising in his cheeks. "Um, it's not Gadreel."

 

Suddenly he was locked in an amber gaze as Gabe grasped Sam’s chin to turn his head to look at him. “It’s me?”

 

For a moment his heart stopped before he remembered that Gabe couldn't know what that meant. Dean was the only one who knew. He cleared his throat and nodded, his answer sounded breathless, "Yes. I didn't want to be here without you."

 

Gabe looked taken aback for a moment before he nodded and let go of Sam, taking a few steps back to grab a couple of towels. “You seriously would’ve stayed if I didn’t want to live here?” he asked in a way that held no judgement.

 

Sam wrapped himself in a towel too, stealing a few more stealthy glances at Gabe's naked chest. "Yes, we're a package deal, remember?"

 

His breath hitched when Gabe was suddenly in his personal space, giving him a determined look. “Promise me if, for whatever reason, I can’t come here, you won’t do something stupid like stay in Zion.”

 

Sam gave him a pained look. "You know I can't promise you that."

 

Gabe rolled his eyes. “Just lie, Bogdamnit. Lie to make me feel better.”

 

"Okay." Sam cupped Gabe's cheek and rubbed his thumb over it. "I promise I’ll come back here." Something he knew would never happen. He would rather die than leave Gabriel behind. But his friend didn't need to know that.

 

“See?” he breathed out, lips tilted in a half smirk. “Was that so hard?”

 

Sam gave him a pointed look. "I just wish I could you tie you up here so you don't have to go back. I have never been so afraid out there than with you."

 

Gabe shrugged and pulled out a stack of sweat pants, bracing them on the bench as he looked them over, probably trying to gauge their sizes. “Now you know how I feel every time you go out there.”

 

Sam raised a surprised eyebrow as he walked over to the bench, starting to dress himself. The clothes were a little short on him, but since the Dome was pretty warm, he didn't mind. "You do?"

 

“Every fucking shift. Why do you think I’m always near the house when you get back? I’m waiting to see if you make it back.” Gabe shrugged on a thin white t-shirt and shook his damp hair out.

 

Sam took one of the towels and gently dried the water droplets from Gabriel's forehead and neck. "I always thought you just loved to argue with Crowley. I had no idea."

 

Gabe chuckled. “Oh, it’s mostly to argue with Crowley, but maybe sixteen percent is to make sure you get back.”

 

"You know they wouldn't let me in if my suit tore. No matter what," Sam added sadly, suddenly reminded that this happened to Bobby not too long ago.

 

“Then you get your ass back here. Maybe Cas can heal you, too.”

 

"No maybe, Gabe. Cas healed Dean." Sam gave Gabe a quick smile. "He saved Dean's life. He was contaminated and now he is not. You tested him yourself."

 

Gabe shook his head in amazement. “I wish I could get a sample of his blood.”

 

"Yeah, he's still against it, right?" Sam asked before he hung the towel back over a metal handle to dry.

 

“Probably, I don’t know if I should ask him, or ask Dean instead. Mostly ‘cause I don’t really want your brother getting all punchy, trying to defend his boyfriend.”

 

Sam grinned at Gabe. "Yeah, he is really protective about Cas. I get it though..."

 

Gabe quirked his brow at Sam and shrugged as he walked towards the door. “Come on. Let’s see if we’re allowed back in the kitchen yet.”

 

"After you ate all the chocolate? We're probably banned." Sam laughed before he got serious for a moment. "Maybe Cas will allow you to take samples of the animals. They’re healthy. Wouldn't that be something the Council couldn't dismiss?"

 

“It might be worth a shot. Their existence alone should be enough proof of the lack of contamination here,” Gabe said in a hum that sounded like he was more talking to himself.

 

"Okay, then we should ask him. And try not to scare him again," Sam added as an afterthought when they left the bathroom together to walk to the kitchen.

 

Gabe rolled his eyes. “I’m not scary, people just can’t handle my bluntness.”

 

"Yeah, well Cas is obviously special... and we have no idea about his past. I mean... we know he’s a mutant. But why is he so different from the rest of them? I never met a mutant outside that wanted to talk. I didn't even know they could talk." He had so many questions. But deep in his heart he knew that Cas was a good guy and he could see how happy he made his brother.

 

Gabe sighed and looked down. “What if there are more like Cas and they’re just trying to survive, like we are?”

 

Sam shook his head. "On all my tours outside, I never met anyone like Cas. When he saved us... he was more afraid of us than anything, but he still did everything in his power to save us, despite his fear."

 

“I don’t know. Either way, we’re lucky you and Dean ran into him.”

 

"Yeah." Sam gave Gabe a big smile. "Just being able to talk to you like this... Being safe for the first time... Being myself without fear. That's worth fighting for."

 

“And the food. Don’t forget the food,” he added with a playful wink as he opened the door to the kitchen for him.

 

Sam froze in place as his gaze fell on Dean and Cas. Dean had Cas pushed against the table, his fingers buried in Cas's hair as he was kissing him, while holding each other tight. They hadn't even noticed them coming in.

 

Sam's face started to get warm before he averted his gaze to look at Gabriel, wishing in that moment he could kiss him in that way.

 

He’d never seen that expression on Gabe’s face before. Sam couldn’t decipher it, but it wasn’t disgust or anything negative. His mouth was agape and focus completely on what Dean and Cas were doing.

 

Sam carefully reached over to touch Gabe, making him look at him before he quietly gestured to the door with a questioning look.

 

Gabe nodded and they slipped back out of the room, quietly closing the door behind them when they reached the hallway. Gabe let out a shaky exhale as he shook his head in amazement. “Shit.”

 

"Yeah," Sam breathed out. "They really seem to like each other." Sam couldn't look at Gabe, he knew his face was probably as red as lava.

 

“That’s putting it mildly,” Gabe breathed out in a disbelieving scoff. “I’ve never seen two men kiss before.”

 

"Me neither," Sam murmured, thinking about how much he wanted to kiss Gabe like that, too. He glanced up at his friend with a raised eyebrow. "But you're not... put off by it, right?"

 

Gabe chuckled and rubbed the back of his neck. “More just surprised.” He gave Sam a pointed look. “And I promise that doesn’t mean I think it’s wrong or bad.”

 

Sam gave him a quick smile before he looked over to the door, feeling insecure. "Should we go back and make them aware of our presence?"

 

“Maybe give them another minute or two,” he said, redness creeping up his neck as he looked away.

 

Sam couldn't help but smile. "I’ve never seen you embarrassed before."

 

“Shut up, Sasquatch,” Gabe clipped, but there was no bite to it.

 

"If we give them two more minutes, they might do more than just kiss though," Sam couldn't help but add with a smirk, wanting to see if Gabe's face could get even more red.

 

Gabe didn’t disappoint as he threw his hands up in slight distress. “Sam!”

 

Not that Sam was more comfortable with such a topic, but seeing Gabe like that, all flustered, was probably the best thing he had ever seen. He couldn't help smiling before he went to the door again and knocked, winking at his friend.

 

After about thirty seconds, Dean pulled the door open, looking flushed and flustered. He smiled at them. “Enjoy the shower?”

 

He was instantly reminded of seeing Gabe naked for the first time and it probably made his face look exactly like Dean's in that moment. "Um, yeah... nice." He tried to distract himself by looking at Cas. "Are you feeling better, Cas?"

 

Cas looked completely calm as he nodded. "Yes, much better. Thank you."

 

Dean smiled at Cas, playfully bumping his hip into Cas’s with a wink. That’s when he took note of Gabe’s lack of commentary. “Gabe, you okay?”

 

Gabe visibly swallowed and nodded. “Yeah.”

 

"Yeah, you were pretty busy the first time we came into the room," Sam explained with a smirk.

 

Cas gave Sam a surprised look before he smiled. "I always forget the world around me when I'm with Dean."

 

Dean slipped his hand into Cas’s and pressed a kiss to his cheek. “Me, too.”

 

Sam felt incredibly happy for Dean in that moment. The way his brother was practically radiating happiness made his chest feel warm. His face hurt from smiling so much, he wasn't used to that. "So um, Cas, do you think it would be possible for Gabe to take a blood sample from your animals to take back with us? They might be the best proof we have that the air is okay in here."

 

Cas bit his lower lip thoughtfully for a moment before he nodded and looked at Gabriel. "I'll accompany and help you."

 

Gabe nodded dumbly and followed Cas out of the kitchen.

 

Dean barked out a laugh as soon as the door was closed. He looked at Sam with a mischievous grin. “Now we know how to get Gabe to shut up.”

 

Sam grinned back at his brother. "I have never seen him embarrassed before."

 

“It’s kinda hilarious.” Dean chuckled again and nodded for Sam to follow him. “You can help me with the food while they’re getting the samples from all of the animals. Although, I doubt they’ll be able to get a sample from Flit. That fucker is fast.”

 

"Flit?" Sam asked as he followed Dean.

 

“Yeah. A hummingbird. Cas made him almost a week ago now.” Dean headed to the stove and pulled a glass lid off of the large pot. Suddenly the most amazing aroma filled his nostrils.

 

"Shit, that smells good. I just need to be careful with the food. I felt very sick when I went back the last time," Sam murmured as he leaned over the pot. It smelled mouthwatering. When he leaned back, he gave his brother a long look. "So things with him are good?"

 

Dean grinned contentedly, as though he were recalling a memory. “I can’t even begin to tell you how happy he makes me.”

 

Sam gave him a soft smile, his face was getting warm again, but he was curious. So he just asked, "So... um... are you just kissing him? Or are you doing more?"

 

As he grabbed a small jar of something and shook it over the pot, Dean smirked at Sam as he said, “We’ve had sex.”

 

Sam’s eyebrows shot up to his hairline. "What?" he squeaked before he could stop himself.

 

“Yeah, sex. It was... Fuck, Sam. It was amazing.” Dean shook his head in amazement.

 

Sam frowned at Dean, trying to understand what his brother was talking about. "But how can you have sex with him? He doesn't have... I mean... he's a man. How does that even work?"

 

Dean furrowed his brow in bemusement before shrugging as he stirred what was in the pot. “I mean, I don’t really know how to have sex, or how it works with two men, but... We both make each other spill our seed, which is used in sex to procreate.”

 

"Yeah," Sam breathed out awkwardly, not knowing what to say. "Yeah, you're right. I guess that counts... and it was good? Felt good?"

 

“So good, Sammy. I never knew anything could feel like that.” Dean returned the lid to the pot and poured some water into a smaller pot that he placed on the stove, before dropping a couple of spoonfuls of small white things into it. He gave Sam a pointed look and asked, “So, when are you going to tell Gabe?”

 

"Hm? Tell him what?" Sam hadn't really listened, his thoughts were still occupied by thoughts of doing what Dean had described with Gabe.

 

“Tell him you’re in love with him.”

 

Sam stared at Dean with wide eyes. "How? I've never told you it's him." His eyes widened in shock. "Oh, no. Do you think he knows, too? Am I that obvious?"

 

Dean chuckled and gently grasped him by the elbow. “You’re fine. He’s more clueless than you are. I just know you, okay? I see the way you look at him.”

 

Sam rubbed the back of his neck and looked down. "I don't know... I'm not brave enough to tell him yet. I don't want to lose his friendship."

 

“I get it. And seeing as it gets people killed back home...” Dean gave him a pointed look. “If you do tell him, please do it here, where you won’t possibly be overheard.”

 

"Of course." Sam rolled his eyes before he sighed. "I never allowed myself to even think about the possibility. It's so weird that this could be something that could happen... well, if he likes me that way too. I'm not so sure about that."

 

Dean shrugged. “I don’t know, but I’m sure if you tell him he won’t stop being your friend, even if he doesn’t feel the same.”

 

Suddenly he murmured an excited, “Oh,” and grabbed a jug from a box and a glass. He poured a liquid into it from the jug and handed it to Sam. “Don’t drink too much too fast, but you’ve gotta try this.”

 

"What is it?" Sam carefully smelled the liquid. It smelled sweet, but not like the juice they had the last time.

 

“It’s alcohol, Sam.”

 

Sam knew alcohol from Gabe. He used it to disinfect wounds. But he had no idea it was something you could drink. "Are you sure I can drink this?" he asked, feeling dubious.

 

Dean nodded and took the glass, taking a sip and handing it back to him. “This is a special drinking alcohol. Cas calls it wine.”

 

Sam took a careful sip from it. It tasted sweet, but bitter at the same time. "Hmm, it's not bad," Sam hummed in surprise.

 

“Yeah, it’s a little weird, but it relaxes you. So don’t drink too much, ‘cause you guys still need to make your trip back.”

 

"Ugh, don't remind me." Sam shook his head. "The trip was horrible. Can you look at Gabriel's helmet to see what was damaged? His heat vision isn't working. You were always better with those things."

 

Dean nodded and smiled. “Yeah, I can definitely see if I can fix it.” He looked at Sam and smirked. “So, how was the shower?”

 

Sam rolled his eyes, but he returned the smirk. "Yeah, good... Eye opening."

 

“I bet. So I gotta ask, he everything you hoped he would be?” Dean’s eyes were almost twinkling with his amusement. The bastard.

 

Sam slapped his brother's shoulder, trying not to smile. "Yeah, better even. And stop looking so smug." He looked away, trying to hide his grin. "Thank you for setting it up."

 

Dean chuckled and winked at him. “Hey, it’s kind of nice seeing you be so... smitten.”

 

"Yeah, I get that, Dean. It makes me very happy to see how happy you are here. I have never seen you like this before." He took another sip from his wine. "I never realized what a luxury it is to just be yourself."

 

“Damn right.” He sidled up next to Sam and grabbed the glass from him, taking a large sip. “So... want me to makeout with Cas in front of Gabe to see what he does?”

 

Sam chuckled and gave his brother a pointed look. "He gets flustered. We walked in on you kissing earlier, remember?"

 

“That’s why I offered. Maybe he’ll get so flustered he’ll want to give it a try?” Dean suggested with a suggestive eyebrow waggle.

 

Sam was almost sure that Dean was kidding. He felt stupid that there was so much hope in his voice when he asked, "You think that could work?"

 

Dean pursed his lips and shrugged. “Couldn’t hurt to try, right?”

 

Sam grinned. "Even if it doesn't work, it would be nice to see him flustered like that again."

 

“Then it’s on.”

 

“What’s on?” Gabe asked as he and Cas walked back into the kitchen.

 

Dean just winked at Sam and returned his attention back to the food.

 

"The food," Sam quickly answered before he added, "and this drink here. It's alcohol, alcohol to drink."

 

Cas poured another glass of wine and offered it to Gabriel. "Be careful with it though. Don't drink too fast."

 

Gabe looked over it a little warily before he took a small gulp. He choked a little and shook his head in amazement. “Holy shit.”

 

"Dean and I made more about a week ago. It's always time consuming to produce it, but it pays off," Cas explained as he slid next to Dean, wrapping his arm around his waist.

 

Without missing a beat, Dean turned to cup Cas’s face and smiled down at him. “And it’s fun as hell to make,” he murmured before drawing Cas in for a relatively tame, yet still rather passionate kiss.

 

It was hard to take his eyes of them. Just watching them made him feel weird in his chest and he looked over at Gabe to see his reaction.

 

Gabe seemed a little mesmerized by the action before he appeared to get ahold of his staring, turning away from them and taking a long swig from the alcohol. He coughed unceremoniously and patted his chest as he shook his head.

 

Sam walked over to him, somehow feeling a little braver than usual as he took another sip from his wine. He rubbed his palm over Gabe's back and gave him a soft smile. "Are you okay?"

 

“Fine,” he croaked out in a whisper, clearing his throat and giving Sam a dopey grin. “How are you?”

 

Sam raised an amused eyebrow at Gabe. "Um, good. You look happy. Did you get all your samples?"

 

That appeared to calm him down instantly. Gabe nodded and leaned against the counter, taking another sip of the wine. “Yeah. We just weren’t able to get a sample from the birds. They were all too fast. But hopefully the cow and rabbit DNA should be enough.”

 

Cas suddenly let out a moan and when Sam looked up, he noticed how Dean had deepened the kiss, his hands holding Cas under his shirt.

 

Sam quickly looked away, his eyes meeting Gabe's. "Uh-huh."

 

Gabe cleared his throat and rubbed the back of his neck. “So, uh... What did you and Dean talk about?”

 

"Um..." Sam grinned and couldn't help but feel flustered too now. "Sex," he whispered. "He told me how good it feels."

 

Gabe’s eyebrows shot up. “What? How the hell does Dean know how to have sex?”

 

Sam shrugged and leaned closer, pretending he was doing it so Dean and Cas wouldn't hear what they were talking about. "Apparently they experimented and figured it out. Dean said he spilled his seed, so..." He had no idea why he was suddenly so brave to just say those words.

 

“Shit. I wonder which of them... Nevermind. Damn,” he breathed out in amazement.

 

"What?" Sam frowned. "Which of them what?"

 

Gabe shook his head and took another sip of the alcohol. “Doesn’t matter.”

 

"Gabe." Sam gave his friend a pointed look. "You know the most about stuff like this. If there’s something you know maybe you should... tell Dean?"

 

“I don’t need to if they’ve already figured out how to have sex,” he argued.

 

"So... Dean was right. That is how you have sex with another man..." Sam hummed thoughtfully.

 

Gabe quirked his brow at him. “What? Spilling his seed? No, Sam. You can spill your seed by yourself.”

 

"Oh." Sam leaned back with a frown. "But that is what they did. Just together. How is that not sex?"

 

“Well, I mean... It technically is. But there’s different levels of sex. There’s hand stimulation, oral copulation, and penetration.” Gabe weirdly seemed to have no issue with discussing sex, but that was likely because he was a doctor.

 

"Pe–penetration?" Sam stuttered, giving him a confused look. "But that only works with a woman, because they’re different."

 

Gabe snorted and shook his head. “No, Sammy. There’s, uh... there’s a reason homosexual men are referred to as sodomites.”

 

Sam still didn't get it and it made him feel stupid. He wished he hadn't asked. He looked away from his friend, blushing. "Well, Dean has no clue about all that stuff. It's not like someone ever taught us about those things."

 

There was a beat of silence before Gabe gently grasped Sam’s chin and tilted his head back to look at him. “Do you want to know?”

 

Sam swallowed dryly, unable to look away from Gabe's beautiful eyes. "Yes," he whispered.

 

Gabe smiled and nodded. “Okay. I’ll explain it to you later, sound good?”

 

Sam nodded, giving Gabe a shy smile. Now he couldn't wait to be alone with Gabe. Just that being alone in Zion wasn't so easy. Not for the first time he wished they could just stay here.

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

The rest of their evening had gone off without a hitch. After dinner and getting some more samples for Gabe, Dean and Cas saw them off. Sam waving like a total goof. He said a prayer to Bog for their safe return home, and he and Cas spent the rest of the evening cleaning and doing some chores.

 

Dean had been spending almost every night with Cas since that first night, and he hadn’t had a single nightmare, so when Cas was the one to want to go to bed first, Dean kissed him goodnight. He hadn’t been even a little tired, still enjoying the energy of the sheer happiness he felt from the entire day.

 

And the prospect of his brother and a few others joining them soon. For good. Dean loved spending all of his time with Cas and the animals, but he was definitely looking forward to having more people to talk to.

 

After checking on Cora, Dean was wandering down the hallway, debating whether or not he should just go to Cas’s room and try to sleep. And that’s when he noticed the door to the stairwell.

 

Dean opened the door and stared at the stairs going down. Cas was terrified of the basement, but he never once said Dean wasn’t allowed to go down there. He cast a glance back to make sure Cas wasn’t suddenly behind him or something. With the coast being clear, he took a deep breath and started heading down the stairs.

 

When he reached the main floor, it was dark in a creepy way. His Hunter instincts kicked in as he carefully reached out for a wall and felt for one of the light switches that littered the upper level. After several minutes of blind searching, he found a switch and flipped it up.

 

The lights stuttered as they came on and Dean blinked to let his eyes adjust. It was another hallway, like on the upper level, but there was an eerie quietness that was mildly unsettling. Dean steeled himself to start the search. The first few doors he opened were random rooms, filled with a lot of destroyed furniture.

 

The fifth door he opened was a room filled with random electronic equipment and Dean smiled. This was the main reason he came down here, to see if he could find the device Cas had mentioned would play the mixtape. He wanted to surprise Cas with being able to hear real music.

 

Dean flipped on the switch in the room and random devices started turning on as well. The switch appeared to also power some of the equipment. He didn’t hesitate to start his search.

 

He didn’t really know what he was looking for, but Dean figured if he just looked through the equipment for devices that would hold the tape, he’d be relatively close to finding what he wanted. Not to mention, considering how often he was the go-to Hunter to fix non-functional equipment, Dean was pretty much in Kolob with all of the different technology at his disposal in this room.

 

But he would have to remember to come down here again just to play with the stuff. For now, he had a mission. Dean basically proceeded to open and tinker with any and everything he could. He didn’t know what half of the stuff was. Zion didn’t have technology or electronics like any of the stuff in this room. And a lot of it didn’t appear to work any longer. From large boxy black things with lots of dials and knobs, to smaller, more compact silver and flat items that opened up and had buttons with letters on them.

 

Dean was mesmerized by all of it that when he bumped into what looked like a fogged glass window over one of the cabinets, he jumped when it fired to life. Suddenly a clear picture came into focus on what he realized was actually a screen. There was a series of letters and numbers on the screen in an order.

 

Cas hadn’t had the chance to start his reading lessons yet, but Dean still remembered the alphabet. And while he had no idea what all of the letters together meant, each line of the letters started with C.A.S. Cas’s name. Dean furrowed his brow and reached out to touch the letters and suddenly the screen started moving. His eyes widened as a man started speaking and the screen showed one of the rooms Dean had passed with Cas strapped down to a metal table.

 

He was frozen as he watched what unfolded on the screen.

 

Cas wasn't wearing any clothes and he looked frightened as the other two men in long white coats and masks, that hid most of their faces, approached him.

 

One of the men was speaking in a monotone, almost bored sounding voice, "Test subject C.A.S. 42, responsive, coherent, reflexes normal. This is the sixty eighth test in cell regeneration introducing external aggressors. First test series will be acid and heat. We’re monitoring the time and speed of deterioration and recovery.”

 

Cas whimpered as the speaker came closer, carrying a box in his hand. “Please, please don’t.”

 

The man didn’t stop. He opened the box and pulled out a bottle with a clear fluid before he looked to his colleague. “Are you monitoring?”

 

The other man nodded. He held a device over one of Cas’s numbers and the device in his hand made a ping noise. The man held a silver knife in his other hand and leaned over Cas before he started to cut into his chest.

 

Cas was biting his lip, tears running down his face. “Please. Please, stop.”

 

The man with the bottle poured the fluid over the wound and Cas’s skin, and almost immediately Cas started to cry out and scream. Cas’s skin was bubbling before it turned red and bloody. After a few seconds, it started to grow back, healing again.

 

“Fascinating. Make an entry for time.”

 

The other man nodded and typed away on the device he was holding. A moment later, the talking man held a silver tool over Cas’s skin. He flicked a switch on it and a blue flame appeared in the front.

 

“Please stop.” Cas begged through tears, but the man spilled a different fluid over Cas’s skin before he lit it on fire. The fire quickly ran over Cas’s skin, burning in its wake, and it just didn’t stop. Cas screamed, and he didn’t stop screaming even when they put out the fire and assessed the damage. The talking man cut into the burned flesh that was already starting to heal. “He is recovering too fast. We will need tools to keep him from healing himself when we remove the organs. If the skin and flesh recovers in seconds, it’ll be nearly impossible to operate,” The man complained.

 

The quiet one suggested, “We could cut off bigger areas. Like we did with his legs and arms. I’ll get the bone saw.”

 

Cas screamed again, struggling against the bonds.

 

The other man nodded. “Yes, I would say we should cut along this line.” The man pulled out a pen and drew over Cas’s ribcage. “That way we should have enough time to remove the liver and kidney.”

 

The other guy came back with a big saw. “Just tell me when you’re ready and I’ll start cutting.”

 

Cas started screaming again, crying and begging for them to stop.

 

Dean couldn’t stop himself from slamming his fist into the screen, causing it to crack and short out. He cried out, but whether due to the pain in his hand or what he just witnessed, he couldn’t be sure.

 

The way his hands were shaking, Dean was surprised he steadied his fist enough to break that Bogforsaken screen. His knuckles were split and bloody, he probably got some glass in them, but he couldn’t give a damn.

 

Those weren’t nightmares Cas was seeing, they were fucking memories. Horrific memories in which he was tortured over and over just because he could regenerate. He didn’t even realize he’d started crying, the anger he was feeling drowning out all of the other emotions.

 

Dean angrily wiped away the tears and immediately left the room. He needed to see Cas. He needed to see him safe. In tact. He practically flew up the stairs, scrambling forward in a blind haste as he made his way to Cas’s room.

 

When he pulled the door open, he fell to his knees as a sob escaped, bracing his face in his palms. Cas was okay, he was asleep. Dean tried to calm down his shaking, but the way the sobs escaped, it was a little difficult.

 

Cas suddenly looked up from the bed, blinking tiredly. "Dean? Come to bed?" he slurred.

 

Dean swallowed his grief and wiped his face with his shirt, trying to calm down his breathing. He got up and crawled into the bed, pulling Cas flush against him, peppering his face with kisses.

 

Cas chuckled, his eyes closed, as if he was still half asleep. "That tickles, Dean."

 

“I love you, Cas,” he breathed out, his voice cracking and broken.

 

Cas blinked one eye open, the blue barely visible in the dark room. "Dean, are you okay?"

 

Dean’s lip trembled as he pressed his face in the crook of Cas’s neck. “I promise, I will never let anyone hurt you ever again.”

 

Cas made a soothing hush sound as he pulled him closer and tight into his arms. "I know, Dean. But it's only in my head... and now that you sleep here, I don't even dream of it any more."

 

The sound that escaped his chest was a cross between a sob and an almost hysterical laugh. Dean pulled Cas tighter and just held on to him. “I love you.”

 

"I love you, too," Cas murmured, there was still a hint of concern in his voice. "You sound very tired. It was a long day."

 

“I am tired. I am. I just want to feel you in my arms.”

 

He could feel Cas smile against his throat before his lips trailed over the skin. "We can do that almost all day tomorrow. Just stay in bed, if you want. We just need to feed the animals."

 

Dean nodded, finally feeling like he had control over his emotions again. When he pressed a desperate and clinging kiss to Cas’s lips, he realized he hadn’t quite gotten complete control. “Yes. I’d like that.”

 

"Good," Cas murmured sleepily, cuddling closer to Dean before he slipped his warm hands under Dean's shirt. "I can read you a book in bed if you want... or we could touch each other again. You always make me feel so good, Dean." The last sentence was barely audible.

 

“Will… will you start teaching me to read?” Dean hated how insecure his voice was.

 

"Yes." Cas chuckled and kissed his collarbone. "And then you can read me a story."

 

Dean smiled, unable to stop the way his lips quivered and a few more tears escaped. “I’d like that,” he repeated. There was no response and he finally brought himself to look up. Cas had fallen asleep again. He was beautiful, and peaceful, and not screaming in pain. Dean braced his face against Cas’s chest and pulled him a little tighter. “I’ll never let anyone hurt you ever again,” he whispered to the darkness.

Chapter Text

Chapter 8

 

The trek back was luckily without incident, but Sam felt very weird. For some reason he couldn't stop laughing from time to time and the world around them was spinning slightly. It was so weird.

 

But he felt good. Like really good, and strong, and brave. He wasn't even afraid when they stood in the chamber, waiting for the scanner to clear them and the light to change to green.

 

He stumbled slightly as one of the guards opened the door with a frown. "What the... Why are you wobbling, Winchester?"

 

Before he could answer, Gabe barked an annoyed, “We almost died, you morons. He’s allowed to be a little shaken up over it.”

 

Sam started to giggle as he looked at Gabriel. "My h hero."

 

Gabe clapped his hand over Sam’s mouth and nodded to the guards. “Yeah, I think he’s suffering from, uh... cerebral exhaustion. I’m going to take him to my office, get him checked out.” He kept his hand over Sam’s mouth as he started walking them back to the chamber exit.

 

"If he lost it, we need to report him," the guard yelled after them.

 

Shit. That wasn't good, was it? Why was it so hard to think? His lips tingled from where Gabe's palm was pressed against his mouth and being close to Gabe was all he could think about.

 

“Yeah, yeah!” Gabe barked back, “I know our laws!”

 

When they were safely outside, Gabe continued to keep his hand over Sam’s mouth, but instead of guiding him back to where his medical examination office was, he took Sam in the direction of his domicile. It was well past lights out for Zion, so it was relatively quiet. Gabe kept casting surreptitious glances around, giving Sam the occasional smirk or wink as they made their way through the streets.

 

Sam's heart was beating fast and he felt his whole body reacting to the excitement he was feeling. When they reached Gabe's living quarters without being spotted, Gabe quickly closed the door behind them.

 

Sam giggled as soon as Gabe slid his hand form his lips. "That was adventurous." He couldn’t stop himself from grabbing Gabe’s wrist and putting his palm back on his lips, already missing the contact.

 

Gabe barked out a laugh and shook his head. “You almost got us in trouble!” he chastised before he started chuckling even more, pulling Sam into his main room by keeping his hand over Sam’s mouth and gently pulling him by a soft grip in his hair.

 

Sam gasped against Gabe's palm as he followed him, liking the way Gabe had his fingers in his hair. It was nice and warm in Gabe's room. He felt too hot in his jacket.

 

“Sit down,” he commanded gently as he pulled away from Sam, pointing to the soft cushion chair thing he had. “I’ve got a little bit of drinking water left over, I’m going to grab it.”

 

Sam clumsily got rid of his jacket before he sat down and closed his eyes for a moment. The world was still spinning, so he opened his eyes again. It was only slightly better. "I feel weird. Do you feel weird?"

 

Gabe reappeared next to him, handing him the bottle of water, a soft smile on his face. “You are textbook inebriated. Which means, next time, we can’t drink the alcohol. And yes, I feel weird, too. I’m just better at pretending to be normal.”

 

Sam scrunched up his nose and leaned forward. "I am normal. I think... mostly." He looked at the bottle and tried to unscrew it. Which would be easier if the bottle would hold still. "Thank you."

 

Gabe gently took the bottle from him and chuckled. “You’re kind of adorable, you know that?” He handed him back the bottle, successfully opened.

 

"You're adorable," Sam retaliated before he took a sip of the cool water. It felt good.

 

“And you’re definitely drunk,” he said with an affirmed nod.

 

"I don't feel bad though," Sam purred and leaned closer to Gabe with a smirk.

 

Gabe laughed. “Is that right?”

 

"Yeah," Sam breathed out, softly tucking a loose strand of Gabe's hair behind his ear. "How are you?"

 

“Pretty damn relaxed, actually,” he said with a contented hum as he leaned back against the cushion, his body pressing into Sam’s side.

 

"Me, too." Sam grinned, turning his head to look at Gabe before he wrapped his arms around him and pulled him close. "I'm so glad nothing happened on our journey back. I don't know what I'd do if I lost you."

 

Gabe patted his knee and sighed. “You’d be strong, you’d get through it, and you and your Milowda would go live a happily ever after in the Dome.”

 

Sam realized in that moment that he hadn't been truthful with his friend. But he felt a lot braver now.

 

So he shook his head and closed his eyes. "No, not happy... I... there is something you don't know, that I haven't told you."

 

“That right?” he asked in a hum.

 

"Yeah," Sam murmured, his body slid closer to Gabe without him being able to stop it. Gravity. He shrugged before he blurted out, "I'm like my brother, Gabe."

 

Gabe barked out a laugh. “You’re way smarter than Dean, Sam. How you failed your aptitude tests I’ll never understand, short of doing it on purpose.”

 

"Huh?" Sam looked at Gabe before he rolled his eyes. "No... that wasn't what I meant and I did flunk them on purpose."

 

That was met with an eyebrow raise as he looked Sam over. “Huh. I was joking, but that actually makes sense. So what did you mean?”

 

Sam swallowed dryly, looking at Gabe suddenly made him feel weird. "Um... I, um, I like men... like Dean does."

 

Gabe chuckled and nodded. “I know, Sam. I’m not stupid.”

 

"Oh..." Sam's eyes widened when the fear came back from before. That Gabe somehow knew about his feelings. "Oh, okay. And..." He didn't finish the sentence, he had no idea what he wanted to say. His mind was strangely blank.

 

“You basically said as much when you and I had our dumb fight. Don’t worry, you aren’t obvious or anything.”

 

Sam gave him a quick concerned look before he exhaled a breath he hadn't been aware of holding. "Good. That's good." He scratched the back of his neck. “Sorry I didn't tell you."

 

Gabe shrugged noncommittally. “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”

 

"We said we wanted to get to know each other,” Sam murmured.

 

“Anything you want to know about me?”

 

Sam leaned back against the cushions and looked at him. “You never told me about Kali.”

 

Gabe’s posture instantly stiffened and the light hearted smile was gone. “What, uh... what do you want to know?”

 

“Did you love her?” Sam asked quietly. The only thing he knew was that Kali had refused to join with her Milowda and that she was executed for going against the laws because she was in love with Gabe. He had no idea if Gabe loved her back, but every year on Kali’s star transit, his friend closed himself in his home and talked to no one.

 

Gabe leaned forward, his elbows braced on his knees as he rubbed his chin. After a beat of tense silence, he nodded. “I did. Very much.”

 

Sam closed his eyes for a moment. He had always suspected it, but hearing it from Gabe's lips was something different. "I'm sorry about what happened. I wish you would have gotten chosen for each other, so you both could have had a happy life."

 

And he meant it. Although he loved Gabriel and wanted himself to be the reason for Gabe's happiness, it wasn't the top priority. Gabe's happiness was. And hearing that he loved her, made it even more unrealistic to hope that he could feel the same for Sam.

 

“I...” he started and sighed, keeping his gaze on the floor. “I miss the hell out of her. She was funny. Bog, was she funny. Could out sarcasm anyone. She’d get pissed when Metatron forced people into the sunchamber. That lunatic of a woman had been sent to the chamber eight times. Eight, Sam. Because anytime Metatron unfairly tried to sentence someone, she’d cuss him out and he’d send her instead. What we had, Sam, however short? Was happy. And even though it took years. Years and years, I have a happy life again, somehow.” Gabe turned to look at him, eyes shimmering with unshed tears. “You’re a big part of that.”

 

Sam's heart was breaking and he swallowed a few times to keep his emotions in check before he pulled Gabe in his arms. He could feel how much Gabe was still hurting over the loss, he could still hear the love for Kali. At the same time, he was happy to play a part of Gabe finding happiness again. Even if it wasn't in the capacity he wished for.

 

He carded his fingers through Gabe's hair and closed his eyes. "I'm glad you're happy again. And I will do anything to keep making your life happy."

 

Gabe turned into the hug and wrapped his arms around Sam’s waist. “Just stay in my life. That’s all I need.”

 

Sam needed more. But he couldn't tell him. He probably never would now. He tightened his grip around his friend. "Okay," he breathed out, not being able to say more. For some reason he felt close to tears and he had no idea why he was so emotional.

 

“Good,” Gabe murmured before he pressed a kiss to his cheek. He then drew back and gently smacked his cheek. “And thank you.”

 

Sam held his hand over his cheek, still feeling Gabe's lips against it as he looked down at the cushions. "For what?"

 

“For being you,” Gabe said with a smile.

 

Sam blushed and leaned back against the soft cushions, letting out a deep breath before he murmured, "I can't wait to finally live over there."

 

Gabe chuckled and leaned back with him, his shoulder bumping into Sam’s. “Same here. And it’s nice seeing your brother getting to be himself.”

 

Sam smirked and gave Gabe a raised eyebrow. "Is nice really the word you were aiming for? I have never seen you so flustered before, Gabe."

 

“Hey! It’s not something you see every day!” he defended with a laugh.

 

"That's true... and a shame if you ask me." Sam turned his head to really look at Gabe. "Which reminds me that you wanted to teach me about... you know, what you can do with another man." Did he know that he was walking a dangerous path now? Of course he did. But hearing Gabe talk about those things left a very warm and nice feeling between his legs, and he wanted to feel that again.

 

Gabe nodded and looked at him. “So, what do you want to know, exactly?”

 

"Gabe, I seriously know nothing. I thought the only thing I can do with another man was to kiss him." He felt embarrassed to say it out loud, but no one had ever told them about this. He knew what sex was between a man and a woman. But he couldn't translate that knowledge to two men.

 

“Alright,” he started as he moved to sit up more, “have you ever had an erection?”

 

Sam blushed again before he nodded. He remembered a few times. They all had been related to Gabe and before that, he often had them in his youth. "Yeah, when I was around fifteen, sixteen I think, it happened very often."

 

Gabe nodded. “That’s normal. It’s your body dealing with hormones. When you get older, it happens less frequently, because you start only getting an erection when you’re aroused. How much did they go over sex in general with you guys?”

 

Sam tried to remember the school lecture. It was so many years ago. "It's against the law to have sex before you have a Milowda. And when you have one and you're allowed the great honor of having a child, then you share your bed with the woman in the nude. You touch each other until you have an erection and then you put it into the vagina of your Milowda and move it in and out until your seed comes out," Sam repeated in an almost bored tone. "That's it."

 

Gabe’s eyebrows shot up and he scoffed in disbelief. “Unbelievable. Okay, so ignoring the bullshit about waiting for a Milowda, that is technically right. Inserting your penis in a vagina is penetration and one of the ways to bring you to an orgasm. That’s when you ejaculate, which is your seed coming out. But there are other ways to do that. I’m assuming you’ve never masturbated?”

 

Sam just gave him a confused look, not knowing what that word meant. He wondered if he had stuck to school instead of staying with his family if he would have learned all of this.

 

Gabe smiled reassuringly and nodded. “It’s okay. So, it’s making yourself ejaculate. You take your hard erection in your hand,” he said as he grabbed Sam’s arm, wrapping his hand around his wrist and pumping it up and down, “and you stroke it until your seed comes out.” He let go of Sam’s hand. “And that’s one of the ways Dean and Cas are likely having sex.”

 

"Dean said it feels amazing... but I don't know... Isn't that forbidden? They always told us not to touch ourselves," Sam said, feeling insecure while at the same time wishing Gabe would touch him again.

 

“It’s forbidden the same way homosexuality is forbidden. Because the Council doesn’t believe that spilling your seed for purposes outside of procreation is necessary. Thus, it’s illegal. But seeing as you want to know about homosexual sex, I’m guessing doing something forbidden isn’t really a concern for you,” he said with a teasing smile.

 

Sam gave him a smirk. "Not really no. But I don't want to risk anything until we're both over at our new home."

 

Gabe nodded. “And that’s smart. So, another form of sexual activity is oral copulation, in which you take the erection into your mouth. Mimicking the movement I showed you, but with your mouth. And sucking, like how you have to suck poison out of a wound when someone gets stung by a venomous insect.”

 

Sam stared at his friend with an open mouth. Just imagining doing something like that with Gabe made him almost uncomfortably warm. "How do you know all of this?" he breathed out in awe.

 

“I’m a physician. We’re instructed on all of the different methods that count as sex, on the off chance someone is accused of homosexuality and demands a trial to contest their punishment. In order to test them and determine if they are, in fact, a sodomite.”

 

“You can test that?” Sam asked with a raised eyebrow. “Like a disease?”

 

Gabe shrugged. “Yes and no. The only thing you can test is if someone has been penetrated, through an exam of the anus. But only if the person has recently had anal sex.”

 

Sam thought he didn't hear that right. He swallowed, looking at Gabe with big eyes. "Anal sex? Like in... my butt?" That couldn't be true. Because why would anyone even want to do that?

 

“Yeah, exactly, or your partner receives your penis in their butt. That’s how you have penetrative sex as a homosexual.”

 

Sam scrunched up his nose. That wasn't something he could imagine. "That just sounds painful. I’m pretty sure that isn’t what Dean and Cas are doing."

 

Gabe barked out a laugh. “Yeah, if you didn’t know, I doubt he does. Likely they’re just using their hands, or their mouths. And yes, it can be painful, but there’s a gland in the anus that makes penetration pleasurable, hence the appeal to a homosexual.”

 

"So our bodies are made for it to be pleasurable?" Why would Bog make their bodies this way if it was something that could feel good?

 

Gabe nodded. “Yeah, don’t get me started on Bog, but yes. So, if you decide you wanted to try it with Gads, you come tell me, and I’ll explain to both of you how to do it with minimal pain. Okay?”

 

Sam sighed and shook his head again. "Seriously, Gabe? Why do you always think me and Gadreel are like that? We're just friends. I don't want to have sex with him and I doubt that he wants that either."

 

Gabe chuckled and shrugged. “You guys seem close. Sorry I assumed.”

 

"We are close. But not like that," Sam replied thoughtfully, "another reason why I want to take him with me. You're not the first person to make this assumption and if I cross Metatron again, he might use it against him or myself. I don’t want him to get in trouble just because he’s nice."

 

“Yeah, he doesn’t deserve it. No one does,” he breathed out, his voice a little wistful as he looked down at the ground.

 

"Speaking of dangerous... I should probably head back as long as the lights are out." He didn't want to leave Gabe. He just wanted to wrap his arms around him and kiss him. But since that wasn't an option, he needed to go. Above all to prevent himself from doing something stupid.

 

Gabe gave him a pointed look. “I’d really rather you wait it out a little longer. If you get caught walking home inebriated... I don’t even want to imagine what could happen.”

 

"How long do you think I will still feel this way?" Sam asked, leaning closer to Gabe.

 

“Hard to say. How are you feeling?” Gabe playfully tugged Sam’s hair.

 

He was so close. Gabe was touching him and his lips were just a few inches away. "Stupid," Sam murmured, leaning closer as he lost himself in Gabe's eyes.

 

Gabe chucked his chin and laughed. “Why are you feeling stupid?”

 

Sam sighed and touched Gabe's cheek. "Because I feel like I'm going to do something stupid."

 

“Like what?” Gabe tilted his head, a bemused smile on his face.

 

His heart beat was so fast and loud he wondered why Gabe wasn't hearing it. So close. He just needed to lean in and... He wanted to feel his lips so badly. "Like... kissing someone I shouldn't kiss," Sam breathed out quietly.

 

“Crowley?” he teased, winking at him.

 

Sam rolled his eyes and pushed Gabe away and down into the cushions. "Thanks for that image." Sam scrunched up his nose, but he was grateful Gabe had made a joke in that moment. Otherwise he would have kissed him.

 

Gabe grabbed Sam by twisting his hands into the sleeves of his shirt and ended up pulling Sam on top of him. He was laughing and he waggled his eyebrows. “Now I know why you got jealous any time I flirted with him. You lo-o-o-ove Crowley!”

 

Being on top of Gabriel and so close again, set his stupidity right back on track. He cupped Gabe's face and stared at him through parted lips. "I wasn't jealous of you."

 

The laughter that had bubbled out of Gabe abruptly fizzled out as he furrowed his brow, looking up at Sam with a questioning expression. “You weren’t?” he whispered, tongue darting out to wet his lips.

 

Sam's gaze fell down to Gabe's lips and his breathing hitched before he breathed out, "No. I was jealous of him."

 

Shit. Did I really just say that?

 

Gabe quirked his brow and nodded slowly. “That right?”

 

Sam had a hard time figuring out what Gabe was thinking in that moment. He hadn't pushed him off of him so far, but maybe he was still processing what Sam had just admitted to. He licked over his own too dry lips, nodding slowly. "Yeah."

 

Slowly, ever so slowly, Gabe’s right hand carefully tucked Sam’s hair behind his ear. His lips quirked up in a half-smile as he breathed out an awed sounding, “Sam.”

 

He couldn't hold back anymore. Sam caressed Gabe's face with his thumb before he slowly leaned down, only hesitating for a second before he tenderly captured Gabe's lips in a soft kiss.

 

Gabe gently pushed him back. “Sammy, we shouldn’t.”

 

Sam's chest constricted and he felt like he couldn't breathe anymore. Of course Gabe didn't want him like that. What the hell was he thinking, kissing him? He leaned back, looking away before he quickly slid off of him. "I'm sorry."

 

Gabe sat up and gently grasped his arm. “Don’t be sorry. It’s just... it’s dangerous here.”

 

Sam carefully looked at Gabe. "Does that mean?" He hated feeling hopeful again. "You would want this if we weren't here?"

 

“I...” He took a deep breath and braced his elbows against his knees. “I don’t know.”

 

Shit.

 

Sam looked away again, taking a deep breath. "Okay... um... I think I should go now, um... Just forget this happened, okay? Please?"

 

Gabe slowly nodded and gave him a half hearted smile. “Okay.”

 

Sam bit down hard on his lower lip to keep his emotions in check. He just turned around and carefully slipped out of Gabe's living quarters without saying goodbye. He couldn't.

 

He knew if he stayed and said something, it would be over. And he couldn't afford to get arrested for crying on his way back to Becky.

 

As he stepped out into the cold night air, he was suddenly halted by a gentle grasp on his elbow. Gabe gave Sam a pointed look and yanked him back inside his domicile. Before he could ask, or try to make sense of what Gabe wanted, he pressed Sam against his now closed door and leaned up, gently cupping Sam’s cheek. “Don’t ask questions, don’t say anything,” he breathed out before he pulled Sam in for a kiss.

 

And it wasn’t the sort of kiss shared between friends, or family members. Suddenly the din of the insecurities and fears, the utter heartbreak he had felt was silenced, his mind now blissfully blank as a rush of helplessness overtook. Despite their drastic height difference, he completely bent to the will of his shorter friend. Their surroundings blurred into the darkness of their world as Gabe kissed him.

 

Soft, it was oh, so soft at first, but as Gabe grew bolder, so did the intensity of the kiss. Suddenly the still and darkened surroundings started spinning around at a dizzying and breathtaking speed. With an insistence that was as powerful as the moment itself, Sam succumbed, lips trembling as he parted them, inviting Gabriel in. Despite the dizziness, the way his head was swimming, Sam kissed back, with everything he had.

 

After what felt like an eternity, but was likely just a few minutes, Gabe drew back and gave him a soft and sincere smile. “Goodnight, Sam. Be safe.”

 

Sam parted his lips, so many questions on the tip of his tongue, but Gabe had told him not to say anything. So he just nodded, accepting that it wasn't the right moment.

 

But for the first time, he had hope that there would be a time in the future. He gave Gabe a shy smile and nodded again, murmuring, "Good night, Gabe. Sleep well."

 

He left Gabe's home with a soft smile on his face, hoping that Gabe had enough proof now to persuade the Council to accept food from the Dome. He couldn't wait to leave this place for good.

 

When he came back home, Becky was already asleep. She blinked at him tiredly as he entered the bedroom. "Where have you been?" she asked with a frown.

 

"Mission, I’ll tell you about it tomorrow. Sleep, Becky." He felt bad about lying to her, but hopefully at some point, he could at least tell her about the other place.

 

He fell asleep with a smile, replaying the memory of the kiss in a loop. He hoped they could do it again soon. Or maybe even more.

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

Dean woke up again to an empty bed. He knew Cas was likely tending to the animals, or maybe getting breakfast, but after the images of what he’d witnessed the night before, he was instantly on edge. He grabbed his shirt and pulled it on before making his way to the kitchen. There was instant relief when he saw Cas in the kitchen, humming slightly off-key one of the songs Dean had sang to him.

 

He smiled and stood in the doorway, just watching as Cas pulled out the bread and the marmalade from the fridge. “Mornin’, Sunshine.”

 

Cas turned around with a bright smile that lit up the entire room. Making his newfound nickname all the more accurate. "Good morning, Dean. I hope you slept well. I wanted to surprise you with breakfast in bed, but I guess I was too slow."

 

Dean chuckled and shrugged. “Nah, I just missed you,” he said as he came into the kitchen, coming up behind Cas to pull him into an embrace, pressing a kiss to the nape of his neck.

 

"Ah, ouch." Cas hissed as he pulled back his hand from the bread he was cutting. Dean could see blood welling up from his finger. "Stupid me," Cas murmured.

 

And suddenly all he could see was Cas strapped to that table, those awful men slicing into him, pouring burning liquid that decimated his skin, basically torturing him. It was too much, too real, all too visceral. Dean could feel it, the way the bile rose up. He barely made it to the sink in time before he was vomiting up the contents of the previous night’s dinner in a violent purging.

 

"Dean? Oh, no. Dean?" He could feel Cas right next to him, rubbing soothing circles over his back. "Are you sick?" A cool hand was held against his forehead.

 

Dean shook his head and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, trying to keep his emotions in check. “I’m okay, Cas.”

 

"You don't look okay," Cas stated in a worried tone of voice before he wrapped his arm around him to brace him. "Come, I'll bring you back to bed and then I’ll bring you a glass of water."

 

“No, it’s okay.” Dean gave him a half-hearted smile. “I want to stay with you.”

 

Cas gave him a soft smile before he helped him to a chair. "Then sit down here, okay?"

 

Dean nodded and looked at his hand, which had already healed. He looked at Cas and couldn’t hold it back anymore. “I went to the basement.”

 

Cas suddenly paled as he sank to his knees in front of Dean. His voice was trembling. "Are you hurt? It’s dangerous down there."

 

His lip trembled as he shook his head. Dean cupped Cas’s face and caressed his cheek with the pad of his thumb. “I’m okay. I was trying to find that machine you said could play the tape.”

 

"Oh." Cas frowned and looked away. "I'm sorry... It's my fault. I told you it was most likely down there." He inhaled deeply before he looked up at Dean. "I'm glad you didn't get hurt, but please don't go there anymore. It's a dangerous place."

 

Dean was torn. He didn’t know if he should tell Cas what he saw or not. But considering how upset he looked, Dean decided in that moment, it just wasn’t the right time. He sighed and nodded. “Okay.”

 

Cas gave him a soft smile and cupped his cheek before he stood up to get Dean a glass of water. "Here, drink this slowly. Hopefully you will feel better."

 

He took the glass with a grateful smile before he reached out to grab and hold Cas’s hand. “You’re so good to me.”

 

Cas kissed the inside of his palm with a smile. "I love you, Dean."

 

He knelt beside him again, rubbing his face against Dean's palm before he looked up. "What do you say about spending the day in bed? If you don't feel sick anymore, I can pack our breakfast and we can go back under my blanket."

 

Dean smiled and nodded. “Sounds perfect.”

 

Cas went back to the kitchen sink and cleaned it before he finished cutting the bread with sharky. Dean had to look away. After a few more minutes of listening to Cas shuffling around and resuming his humming, he returned to Dean, reaching his hand out. "Now we can do a picnic in bed."

 

It was crazy how such a simple act made his stomach and heart flip around in his body. Cas made him so incredibly happy, he could physically feel it. The next time Gabe and Sam visited, he would have to remind himself to ask the doctor if that was normal. Dean grabbed Cas’s hand and drew him in for a tender kiss. “Want me to carry anything?”

 

Cas shook his head with a smile. "No, I got everything. You just need to carry yourself."

 

Dean chuckled and they made their way back to the bedroom, Dean held the door open for him. He smiled at Cas and took a little bow.

 

Cas chuckled and quickly climbed back into the bed again, putting the basket with food on his nightstand table. He then held open his blanket for Dean. "Come quickly. I'm getting cold."

 

He jumped into the bed, crawling over Cas, intending to tickle him again by peppering everywhere he could reach with kisses. Dean needed this. He needed the normalcy of being affectionate with the mutant he loved.

 

Cas chuckled and half heartedly tried to push Dean away before he finally cupped Dean's cheeks and pulled him into a deep kiss, murmuring, "You make every day so perfect."

 

Dean smiled and nodded his agreement. “I can’t believe how happy I am here.”

 

"Good." Cas smiled up at him, his fingers sliding under Dean's shirt, trailing over his sides. "Are you hungry, or do you still feel sick?"

 

“No, I feel better now,” he murmured as he sucked Cas’s bottom lip between his teeth.

 

Cas chuckled against his lips. "Please don't eat me."

 

“But you taste so good,” he growled as he nipped at his lip and started trailing gentle bites down his neck.

 

Cas gasped and rocked his body against Dean's, he could feel that he was already hard. "Dean," he breathed out, sounding needy.

 

This was definitely something he needed. A good distraction from the scary and awful thoughts. Replacing Cas’s screams with his pretty moans. Dean grabbed the hem of Cas’s shirt and started pushing it up. “You’re so beautiful.”

 

Cas braced himself on his elbows and smiled up at Dean, pawing at Dean's shirt when he shyly asked, "You really think so?"

 

Dean nodded and smiled as he yanked his shirt off and tossed it to the floor. “You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. And that includes seeing real animals and trees and everything in here for the first time.”

 

Cas laughed happily and leaned forward to kiss along Dean's chest, licking over his right nipple. "I love how you taste and feel against my lips, Dean. I could do this all day.”

 

“We can definitely try to,” he murmured as he groaned at Cas’s ministrations. Dean drew Cas in for a gentle kiss and let out a shaky exhale against his lips. He sat back on his heels and carefully pulled the tie on Cas’s pants. “I want to have sex again, is that okay?”

 

"Yes," Cas breathed out. "Very much so."

 

Dean smiled as he pulled Cas’s pants down, being methodical and careful as he lifted Cas’s leg to pull them completely off. He gasped a little at just how beautiful Cas looked, sprawled out and naked, looking up at Dean with an almost timid expression. He still had Cas’s leg lifted and he pressed a kiss to the inside of his thigh.

 

Cas’s lips parted and he moaned quietly. "Can you undress, too? I love to see you and feel your skin against mine."

 

He nodded, unceremoniously yanking his own pants off before crawling over Cas, rocking his hard dick against Cas’s groin as he licked the seam of perfectly parted lips.

 

Cas gasped, his tongue meeting his as they tangled together in a dance. It felt so good, he could feel his cock growing even harder. When Cas leaned back, looking flushed and out of breath, he said, "There is something I want to try... Um, can I kiss you down there?"

 

Dean’s eyebrows shot up and the thought excited him in a way he’d never felt before. “Okay,” he breathed out, moving to lay on his back.

 

Cas gave him an excited smile before he slid down the bed and kissed Dean's stomach, letting his lips wander down to his throbbing dick. He looked up at Dean before he started kissing the head of his cock, his tongue carefully licking over the slit.

 

Dean groaned and pressed his head against the pillow. “Oh, fuck, Cas.”

 

Cas looked up at him with a frown. "Doesn't it feel good?"

 

“It feels amazing,” Dean practically whimpered from the loss of contact. His hips bucked up in silent urging for him to keep going.

 

"Oh, okay." He smiled then before he leaned down again and kissed down Dean's shaft and even licked over his balls for a moment.

 

“Fuck,” he groaned as he looked down at Cas, feeling completely mesmerized by him.

 

Cas chuckled and kissed his way up Dean's dick again, murmuring, "So when you say, 'fuck,' it means something good. Now I understand. The people here only used it when something bad happened."

 

Dean let out a shaky laugh, mostly because his brain was short circuiting from the pleasure. “It’s versatile like that.”

 

Cas hummed as he licked over the head of Dean's cock again. He then wrapped his lips around it, mouthing at it, his tongue playing with the slit.

 

“Oh, Bog!” Dean cried out. He’d never felt anything close to this level of pleasure before, the heat pooling in his groin twisting and spreading throughout his entire body.

 

Cas looked up at him, obviously surprised by his reaction before he looked almost amused and continued what he was doing.

 

When Cas started stroking him along with what he was doing with his mouth, Dean couldn’t help the way his hips bucked up. Cas drew back and Dean whimpered out a soft, “Sorry.”

 

Cas's lips parted as he shook his head. "It's okay. I was just surprised. Do you want me to continue?"

 

“Please,” he begged as he carded his hand lovingly through Cas’s hair.

 

Cas leaned into his hand with closed eyes for a moment before he leaned over and resumed kissing and licking over Dean's erection, wrapping his lips around the head again. But then he did something new. He started to suck the head deeper into his mouth.

 

“Oh, fuck,” he groaned out, the pleasure starting to overwhelm him. Dean started murmuring Cas’s name over and over as he twisted his hands into the sheet for purchase.

 

Cas licked a stripe over Dean's dick and looked up at him, breathing heavily. "Can you put your hand in my hair again? That felt very nice."

 

Dean smiled and gently carded his hand through Cas’s hair, gently tugging in an effort to get him to keep kissing him down there.

 

Cas groaned against Dean's dick as he pulled at Cas’s hair. The reverberation nearly brought Dean to spill his seed. Cas wrapped his lips tightly around him, sucking and licking it before his hand started to tenderly stroke over the base of Dean’s cock and balls.

 

It was all too much, Dean cried out as that amazing feeling hit him again and he could feel his seed come out. “Cas!”

 

Cas choked and coughed a little, but he didn't stop licking and kissing him through the intense feeling. When the pleasure slowly subsided, he looked up at Dean with a smile, his seed all over Cas's lips and chin, dripping and running down his neck.

 

Dean chuckled and shook his head, sitting up to kiss him. He drew back and cringed slightly. “That’s not a good taste.”

 

"It's bitter," Cas affirmed with a nod as rubbed the back of his hand over his lips, "but it's yours. And I like making you feel good."

 

He smiled and pushed Cas onto his back, waggling his eyebrows at him. “Your turn.”

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

Sam hadn't seen Gabe in five days, but that was what he had expected. He knew the doctor would be very busy with all of the samples he had collected, but still... he hoped Gabe would come to him before he would present his findings to the Council.

 

That wasn't the only reason he was looking forward to seeing Gabe again. The kiss had never left his mind since that day and it warmed him through the long hours of waiting for his mission, or any time he was out there.

 

He had just returned from outside with Gadreel and they were sitting by the heater, playing cards. His mind wasn't on the game though. It was recalling the taste and texture of Gabe's lips, the way his body tingled from the contact.

He just threw a card on the pile without looking and Gadreel cleared his throat before Sam noticed it didn't match the card below. "Oh, sorry. I thought it was blue." He took back the card and put down a green one.

 

Gadreel chuckled and arched his brow in amusement. “You’ve been a little distracted, Samuel.”

 

Sam gave him a quick smile before he shrugged. "Yeah, you're right. I've got a lot of things on my mind." Gadreel put down a plus four card and Sam groaned out, "Seriously?" He pulled four more cards from the other pile and put down another green card.

 

“I’m not complaining, I’ve never beat you in this game. It’s a nice change,” he said with a smirk.

 

Sam gave him a bitch face before he stared at his card. He only had shit in his hand. He put down another green card and readied his UNO face. "You haven't won yet."

 

Gadreel shook his head with a soft laugh. “So, what’s got you so distracted?” he asked as he played a reverse card and another wild card that was a draw four.

 

Sam gaped at him. "Are you serious right now?" He had no card to retaliate, just numbers. With a sigh he drew another four cards and again put down a green one. "Um, just thinking about my future." He gave Gadreel a quick wink and a smile so he would know that he was talking about the Dome. Gadreel didn't need to know the rest. Yet.

 

“I see,” he said with an understanding smile before he played a draw two card. “Uno.”

 

"Are you cheating, Gadreel?" Sam squinted his eyes at him. "No one has that kind of luck."

 

He growled and pulled two more cards with... numbers. He looked over at Gadreel, taking in the soft smile. "Mmh, wonder which color you have left..." He put down another green card because he had so much green in his hand it was unlikely Gadreel had a single green card left.

 

Gadreel arched his brow in challenge, but had to concede and ended up pulling three cards from the deck before he could play one. It was a wild card. “Blue.”

 

Sam only had two blue cards. Damn. He threw down his reverse card and a blue one. It really looked like Gadreel was winning this game. "Did we bet for something?" he asked with a sigh.

 

“Yeah, loser takes the next night shift.” Gadreel smiled a little smugly when he played a skip card and a two. “Uno. Again.”

 

"Oh, man." Sam sighed. He played a green two card because it had helped him before, sticking to green.

 

Gadreel sighed and ended up drawing four more cards before he could play a green one. “I think you have all of the green cards.”

 

In that moment the door opened and Gabriel entered. Sam startled when their eyes met and Gabe waved him over, causing Sam to accidentally toss all of his cards on the ground. "Oops. Um, sorry." He quickly gathered them up in his hand again. "I, um, need to speak with Gabe."

 

“Do you concede?” Gadreel asked with a smirk.

 

Sam squinted his eyes at him. "How about a quick break and I will be back to win this thing?"

 

Gadreel sighed in acquiescence. “Fine, but only because I’m winning.”

 

"It must be nice to have dreams," Sam teased before he put his cards down and winked at Gadreel.

 

He stood up from his warm place by the heater to quickly jog over to Gabe, giving him a shy smile. "Hey, Gabe." His heart was beating incredibly fast and his stomach felt like it was crawling with bugs.

 

Gabe smiled and nodded for him to follow. When they were outside of the house, he ducked into a shack and whispered, “I know I said I’d present everything to the Council, but I don’t know if what we have is enough to sway them to let us bring in plants that could grow food.”

 

Sam raised his eyebrows in surprise. "What else do you need?"

 

“If you’re serious about this, then we’re gonna need a sample from Cas. They can potentially argue the animal DNA was pulled from fossils, but if we had his DNA... They would not be able to argue. I casually proposed the idea to Inias, who’s the current Council physician, and he’s the one that pointed out animal DNA periodically gets found on excursions.”

 

Shit. Sam gave Gabe a pained look. "You know that Cas isn't willing to give you a sample... and how would you even justify another mission? Won't they get suspicious?"

 

Gabe smirked and held up a piece of paper. “Already got approval. I lied, told them I found a possible virus that could be carried on the suits of the Hunters, so I need more samples to make a vaccine just in case it breaches the re-entry chamber.”

 

Sam smiled at Gabe in awe. "That was very... clever." Shit, he really wanted to kiss him right now. "Now we just need to convince Cas."

 

“Yeah, that’s gonna be the hard part. How on board are you with you holding him down and me just forcefully taking the sample?” Gabe’s tone was teasing, but the implication was he wasn’t entirely joking.

 

Sam shook his head. "You know we can't do that. Cas is providing the food for us. If we betray his trust, we might end up with nothing." Sam sighed and added, "And Dean would kill us. There has to be another way."

 

Gabe sighed and nodded. “I guess we can try unleashing your dopey and sweet face on him and hope it works?”

 

Sam smirked at him, trying not to blush. "I think that only works on you. But maybe we can try to get Dean on our side. If my brother knows how important it is, he might support us. And Cas might do it if Dean asked him."

 

“Okay, we’ll try the Dean card again. Maybe you should talk to him, he’ll probably be less inclined if it’s coming from me.”

 

Sam sighed deeply before he shook his head. "But you’re better at explaining why this is necessary."

 

Gabe rubbed the back of his neck and sighed. “But he’s gonna think... Doesn’t matter. We can figure out the logistics of that later. So, whenever you want to head out, we have the approval.”

 

"I can go now." Sam suggested. He still felt tired from his last run, but just the idea of spending alone time with Gabriel made him feel excited. Awake and energized even. He wanted to have a future with Gabe and he just wasn't patient enough to wait.

 

“You sure?” he asked as he grasped Sam’s chin and looked him over. “You look tired.”

 

"I wouldn't risk your life on that journey if I didn't know I could do it," Sam replied softly, enjoying feeling Gabe's fingers on him.

 

Gabe smiled as his hand shifted to cup Sam’s cheek. “If you’re sure.”

 

Sam's eyes fluttered shut and his breathing hitched. "Yeah," he breathed out. "I'm sure. And I'm going to check your equipment five times this time. So don't complain."

 

“You’re such a mother hen,” he murmured fondly as he gently caressed Sam’s cheek with the pad of his thumb.

 

Sam let out a soft sigh. "Gabe. Stop touching me, or I’ll kiss you," he warned in a whisper.

 

Gabe chuckled and quirked his brow before he braced his hand fully against Sam’s face.

 

Well, he had warned him. He hesitated for only a moment, trying to hear if there were footsteps nearby. It was quiet, so he leaned over and captured Gabe's lips in a soft kiss. It felt even better than in his memory. "Shit. I missed you, Gabe," he whispered against his lips.

 

“Same. Been trying to get all this sorted out for you,” he murmured as he carded his hand through Sam’s hair. He took a cursory look around before leaning up to give him another chaste kiss. “Okay, we should stop. How about I meet you at the house? I just need to grab some of my equipment.”

 

"Alright." Sam nodded a bit breathlessly. "I need to finish up a bet in the house anyway... And... do you think we can have a few minutes over there... um, just for us?"

 

Gabe smirked and waggled his eyebrows. “I’m pretty sure we’ll need a shower when we get there.”

 

Sam thought his heart might have stopped in that moment when he imagined kissing Gabe under the water, touching his naked skin. "Mmh, yeah, that... mmh, yes." He nodded, ending his eloquent answer.

 

Gabe barked out a laugh. “Damn, you’re cute.”

 

Sam rubbed the back of his neck, blushing. The walk over to the Dome would probably feel like the longest one ever.

Chapter Text

Chapter 9

 

It had been a few days since Dean had that encounter with Cas’s past, but it was getting easier and easier to not have little freak outs here and there. And Cas was so caring and doting about it, all while never asking for too many details. It was such a drastic difference to the interrogations Dean suffered any time he dealt with a death while on a hunt. The Council was what he missed the least. In fact, he didn’t miss them at all.

 

He missed his friends, he missed Sam, but nothing else about that Bogforsaken place. Dean was happy here and knew he would be for the foreseeable future. Cas was the primary reason for that. While Dean had never experienced the sort of love that his Mom and Dad shared, he was pretty sure if it felt even a little bit like what he felt for Cas, then they were truly and irrevocably happy.

 

Dean liked the idea. That he had found a real and unyielding love, his Milowda, all on his own. He found himself easily distracted and mesmerized by Cas. Everything about him. The way his eyes lit up any time Dean entered a room. The adorable way he’d worry his bottom lip between his teeth if he was nervous, or feeling shy about something. His laugh was Dean’s favorite part though. He laughed with all of his soul, well… if mutants had souls.

 

It was the most beautiful sound he had ever heard, so Dean found himself trying to make Cas laugh whenever he got the chance. Even through their reading lessons.

 

As promised, Cas had been spending a few hours every day teaching Dean how to read. And even though it was a little frustrating sometimes, he found that Cas’s patience and encouraging smiles were more than enough for him to give it his best shot.

 

They were sitting under a large orange tree in the dome, Dean’s head resting against Cas’s shoulder as he was sharing the reading with him. Cas would read one page, then Dean would read the next page.

 

Cas even changed his voice a little when he read what the characters were saying. Dean really liked that. "'Handsome bell-rope, isn't it?' said Owl." Cas read to him, ending his own page.

 

Dean smiled at him and held his finger over the letters on his page. “Pooh no–noded?” he asked, unsure if he pronounced the word correctly.

 

"Nodded." Cas kissed his cheek, his fingers trailing over the two d’s, gently covering Dean's finger. "See if there are two of the same letter, you pronounce it faster and a little bit harder."

 

“Okay,” he said with a smile as he continued, “‘it re–ree-minds me of…’ suh–so…” Dean let out a frustrated huff. That word was long. He wasn’t good with long words yet.

 

Cas slid his finger over the the next letter. "Remember this one? This is the sound I make when you kiss me. Mmmm."

 

Dean chuckled and nodded. “Suh–sum?”

 

"Yes." Cas smiled encouragingly. “Some. So can you guess the rest of the word when you see the letters?”

 

He stared at the word for a moment. Words that started with “th” made a soft sound. Dean smiled brightly and proudly said, “Thing?”

 

Cas returned the smile and kissed him. "Yes, exactly. You're doing great, Dean."

 

It was weird how proud he felt from Cas’s praise. Dean smiled and started over, “‘It reminds me of something,’ he said, ‘but I ca–can’t think what. Wah–w-hair did… you get… it?’” He looked to Cas for confirmation he said everything right.

 

"Perfect, Dean. You're getting so much quicker with the small words."

 

Dean smiled brightly and felt the heat in his cheeks rise. “Would you read Owl’s words? I like how you do his voice.”

 

Cas raised his eyebrow with a grin, pulling Dean tighter in his arms. He lowered his voice as he read the lines, causing Dean's hairs on his arms to rise. "I just came across it in the Forest. It was hanging over a bush, and I thought at first somebody lived there, so I rang it, and nothing happened, and then I rang it again very loudly, and it came off in my hand, and as nobody seemed to want it, I took it home, and..."

 

Cas looked at him with a smirk, his finger had followed the words so Dean could see where he had stopped.

 

“‘Owl,’ Pooh said so–sol… sulee…” Dean sighed and scrubbed his hand over his face. “I’m so dumb.”

 

"You're not dumb," Cas replied calmly, carding his fingers through his hair. "It's just a matter of practice. Everyone starts like this. You're doing great considering you haven't read anything in decades... also, this is an exceptionally difficult word." Cas covered Dean’s hand softly and slid them over the letters. “So-lem-li. The ‘n’ isn’t audible here.”

 

Dean groaned. “Why do they do that? Put letters that aren’t spoken in words? It’s unfair,” he complained.

 

Cas chuckled and shook his head. "They probably did it just to annoy you, Dean."

 

He rolled his eyes and nudged his shoulder against Cas’s. “Funny.”

 

Cas kissed his cheek again with a smile on his face, his eyes sparkling with happiness. "You will get there, Dean. I believe in you."

 

“You really do, don’t you?” he asked, a little amazed by the idea of it. Dean didn’t really think he could love anyone as much as he loved Sammy, but he realized in that moment, he definitely loved Cas that much.

 

"Of course I do." Cas held the book so Dean could see how many pages they were already into it. "When we started you couldn't read at all. And look how far you are now. You're making great progress, Dean."

 

Dean ducked his head and smiled. “Well, it’s ‘cause of you I’m able to read anything.”

 

"But it wouldn't be possible if you didn’t want to learn." Cas hummed, leaning against Dean's shoulder.

 

“I love you,” he whispered as he pressed a kiss to the crown of Cas’s head.

 

"I love you, too," Cas murmured and Dean could feel him smiling against his throat. "So do you think Eeyore will get his tail back?"

 

Dean smiled and nodded. “I think so, but let’s find out.” He found his place on the page again and repeated, “‘Owl,’ Pooh said sol-em-lee, ‘you made a muh–miss-take?’” He looked to Cas for confirmation and at his smile and nod, Dean continued, “Some… boh-die?”

 

Cas nodded and laughed. "Yes... and did you notice you changed your voice for Pooh when you read it? Like I said. Progr–"

 

The alarm suddenly went off, interrupting them. Cas let the book sink down slowly, giving Dean a worried look. "Do you think it's your brother?"

 

Dean shrugged, moving to stand before helping Cas up. “He was only here a week ago.” His eyes lit up and he smiled. “Maybe he’s back for good!”

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

Sam inhaled deeply after the light went to green and he removed his helmet, putting it down on the bench inside the chamber. The walk over was, again, luckily without any incident, but he hoped those journeys would come to an end soon, so they could stay forever. He didn't want to push their luck with those frequent walks outside.

 

When he turned to Gabe, he had just removed his helmet, looking as relieved as Sam felt, to finally being without the suit again and safe. He smiled at his friend as he undressed the rest of his suit carefully. "We made it."

 

“Hopefully the next time we come here, we can stay for good,” Gabe murmured as stepped out of his suit and started folding it.

 

"Yeah, I hate doing these trips with you. The more often we do it, the more often I think we're tempting fate."

 

Gabe nodded his agreement as he closed the distance between them, gently cupping his face. “But just think, soon we’ll be free from the Council.”

 

Sam gave him a wide smiled before he just succumbed to his urges and leaned over to pull Gabriel into a deep kiss. He was interrupted by Dean knocking against the glass window with a huge grin on his face.

 

"Oh, um, yeah. Okay. So I guess Dean knows." Sam rubbed the back of his neck and chuckled before he took Gabe's hand in his and walked over to the door.

 

“Well, at least I have your brother’s approval?” He winked at Sam and squeezed his hand.

 

Sam nodded with a smile as he opened the door, hugging his brother with one arm because he couldn't let go of Gabe's hand. "Hey, Dean."

 

Dean chuckled and half lifted Sam. “What are you doing here? Are you back for good?” he asked as he drew back.

 

Sam exchanged a quick look with Gabe. "Um, no. Not yet. But hopefully our next visit will be permanent."

 

Dean’s smile brightened at that, his eyes darting down to their joined hands. “Well, what brings you this time? Do you need more samples?”

 

Gabe nodded. “Yeah, I just want to make sure there’s no way the Council can refute the evidence. But, uh… I could use a shower.” He squeezed Sam’s hand again.

 

Sam could see the amused glint in Dean's eyes and even Cas seemed to look like he was having a hard time trying not to grin as he gestured to the shower. "Of course. Take your time. We'll be in the kitchen."

 

Sam gave his brother a quick smile before he, more or less, pulled Gabe to the shower room with him. He couldn’t wait to be alone with him.

 

Gabe chuckled and shook his head as they reached the shower room. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were excited or something…”

 

As soon as the door was closed behind them, Sam pulled Gabe into another deep kiss, burying his fingers in Gabe's hair. "But I know you know better," Sam murmured, before he pulled off his own shirt, throwing it over the bench.

 

“I definitely do,” he breathed out, eyes raking over Sam’s bare chest in appreciation.

 

Sam pulled him over to the bench, sliding his hands down Gabe's sides before he reached the hem of his shirt. "This is okay, right?" Sam asked timidly, suddenly feeling insecure. The reaction from a few days ago somehow still lingered in his mind.

 

Gabe smiled and nodded. “More than okay,” he said as he pulled his shirt off for Sam. “You’re so gorgeous. It’s damn hard to be professional any time I have to examine you.”

 

Sam knew he was probably turning red all over again, but for the first time he didn't mind it. "You have no idea how often I’ve fantasized about your touches when you examined me.” Sam quickly undressed the rest of his clothes, noticing that his cock was half hard already. He gave Gabe a shy smile before he started the water of the shower.

 

“I never imagined,” Gabe breathed out in amazement as he pulled his own pants down, his dick hard and erect when he turned back to face him.

 

Sam swallowed dryly and licked over his lips before he reached out to Gabe to pull him closer and under the water with him. He cupped Gabe's cheek, rubbing his thumb over the skin of his face, trailing his features with his fingertips.

 

It felt so freeing to finally be allowed to do something so intimate. "You always told me my heart beat was too fast when you examined me. Now you know why."

 

Gabe chuckled. “Silly me, thinking you had tachycardia.” He braced his hand along the back of Sam’s neck and gently pulled him down. “C’mere.”

 

Sam knew he would never get enough of feeling Gabe's lips against his own, tasting him when they parted their lips and explored each other with their tongues.

 

The water intensified the sensation of running his fingers over Gabe's arms and chest, swallowing the gasp Gabe released when his fingertips ran over his nipples. He felt his erection growing harder and, on instinct, he pulled Gabe closer to his body, so their skin could touch all over.

 

He remembered all of the things Gabe had taught him about sex between men and he wondered what Gabe would want to do with him. His heartbeat skipped from the excitement that accompanied those thoughts.

 

Gabe drew back, an amazed smile on his face as he cupped Sam’s cheek. “How far do you want to go? I know you’re a virgin.”

 

Sam turned his head and kissed the inside of Gabe's palm. "I want to do everything with you, Gabe. I've longed to touch you for such a long time now."

 

“Good,” he growled as he expertly wrapped his hand around Sam’s erection, using the water of the shower to slick his way as he started to slowly pump, like he had on Sam’s wrist a week ago.

 

"Ooh, uh, shit!" Sam gasped out, gripping Gabe's shoulder as he was overwhelmed by the sudden assault of pleasure. He had never felt something like this in his entire life. He didn’t even think pleasure like this was possible. He stared at Gabe with wide eyes, breathing heavily before his hand slid further down his body and he hesitantly wrapped his hand around Gabe's erection too. He mimicked the movement, but it was hard to concentrate with the pleasure he was feeling.

 

Gabe let out a shaky exhale as he braced his forehead against Sam’s shoulder. “Sam,” he moaned as he started pumping a little faster.

 

Sam buried the fingers of his free hand in Gabe's hair, holding him tight. "Gabe... Gabe." He gasped as he felt his whole groin area grow hot and tight, the pleasure was getting to be almost too much. He had no idea what to do, or really what was even happening.

 

“It’s okay, Sam. What you’re feeling is you getting close to your first orgasm,” he breathed out as he captured his lips in a gentle kiss, never once breaking his pace.

 

Sam lost himself in the closeness and pleasure, reassured by Gabe's words that everything was okay. Even more so by the way Gabe was taking care of him in that moment. He gasped Gabe's name against his lips as he was blindsided by pleasure, pressing his eyes closed as his vision whited out and he felt his whole body tighten. A deep moan fell from his parted lips and he looked down, seeing himself covering Gabe’s hand with hot, white seed. It was indescribable. Amazing.

 

Gabe chuckled and pressed another kiss to his lips. “Fuckin’ beautiful.”

 

Sam laughed, feeling weightless, sated and relaxed as he concentrated on giving the same pleasure to Gabe. He gently pushed him against the wall, licking into his mouth as he stroked him like Gabe had done with him.

 

“Oh, fuck… Sam,” he whimpered when they broke the kiss, his head lolling back against the wall. “Grip a little tighter,” he instructed through a breathy moan.

 

Sam couldn't get enough of seeing Gabe like this. He gripped him tighter, like he had wanted, and stroked him a little faster, enjoying how amazing Gabe felt in his hand. "Shit, I just want to stay here and never stop doing this, Gabe."

 

Gabe let out a breathy chuckle that turned into a moan. “Sounds good to me.” He groaned again and nodded at Sam, his eyes pleading. “I’m close,” he warned.

 

"What do you need me to do?" Sam asked breathlessly.

 

“Kiss me,” he begged through an ardent groan.

 

Sam didn't need to be told twice. He lunged forward, licking into his mouth, exploring his friend's taste, deeply and thoroughly.

 

Gabe raked his hand through Sam’s hair, pulling him impossibly closer as his breathing hitched. He drew back with a shaky nod and his grip tightened before suddenly that same white stuff started coming out of Gabe’s dick. “Oh, fuck, Sam!”

 

Sam stroked him through it like Gabe had done for him earlier, never taking his eyes of his beautiful face. He couldn't stop himself as he murmured, "I... love you."

 

Gabe’s eyes widened and he looked at Sam like he’d never seen anything quite like him before. “Same, Sammy. Same,” he whispered.

 

Sam gave him a soft smile as his happiness bubbled over and he leaned in for another frantic kiss. He chuckled against Gabe's lips. "This is the best thing I have ever felt... I had no idea."

 

“And that’s not even the best stuff.” Gabe chuckled a little breathlessly before he shivered. “Shit, the water got cold.”

 

Sam quickly shut off the shower and grabbed a fluffy towel, wrapping Gabe up in it. "I can't wait to feel it all with you." He rubbed the back of his neck shyly. "I mean, if you want to."

 

Gabe nodded emphatically. “I most definitely want to.” He leaned in and whispered in his ear, “I can’t wait to taste you.”

 

Sam gasped and looked down at Gabe with a quick smile, grabbing a towel for himself as he started to dry himself. "Shit, Gabe... Going back to Zion for the last time will be awful."

 

“I know,” he said with a sigh as he dried himself off, “but just remember, it’ll be temporary.”

 

Sam carded his fingers through Gabe's wet hair. "I know... Every waking second over the past few days, I thought about your lips. Now I have even more to fantasize about as long as we're there."

 

Gabe chuckled. “Well, if you have any tours while we’re there, you might need to come get a medical exam.”

 

“I have a few more actually. I lost a bet against Gadreel.” Sam smirked at Gabe, being touched while Gabe was examining him was one of his favorite fantasies.

 

“Your bad luck makes for my good fortune,” he said as he shrugged on his pants. “You better stay safe, though.”

 

"I have a lot of motivation to look after myself now, don't worry."

 

Gabe nodded and after he pulled on his shirt, he tugged Sam closer by the collar of his shirt. “Bet your ass you do,” he murmured before pulling him down for a soft yet deep kiss.

 

Sam hummed into the kiss before he pressed his forehead against Gabe's. "This is perfection... Just doing this without holding myself back anymore. Just a little more time and we can have this for as long as you want me."

 

He carefully tucked Sam’s damp hair behind his ear, his smile almost wistful as he nodded his forehead against Sam’s. “It’s definitely going to be difficult to fight the urge to pinch your ass just because I can when we go back.” Gabe winked and reached around to pinch Sam’s right cheek, clearly to emphasize his point.

 

Sam gasped and he felt heat rising in his face again. Why did Gabe have so much power over him? He shook his head and rolled his eyes, but the effect was diminished by his smile. "Okay, so let's talk with Dean and we’ll get this show on the road... so we can finally start to live."

 

“Unless they have chocolate, because we should definitely eat the chocolate first.”

 

Sam gave him a playfully thoughtful look. "You may have a point there."

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

Dean was washing off some fruit in the sink in the kitchen while Cas was preparing a meal for Sam and Gabe. He chuckled to himself as he thought about how drastically their relationship had changed. Dean couldn’t have been happier for his brother. He deserved happiness and when he came back to live with him for good at the Dome, he’d have the freedom to embrace that happiness.

 

He turned to look at Cas, who was hovering over the stove, reheating the leftover soup from the night before. “I’m looking forward to showing Sam how to cook,” he said as he placed the last pear in the bowl and brought it over to the table.

 

"It will be nice to have more help around here." Cas looked over at Dean with a smile. "It means we can spend more time just..." He looked away with a blush before he added, "Cuddling."

 

Dean chuckled and embraced Cas from behind, pressing a kiss to his cheek. “Sounds good to me.”

 

Cas turned around with a soft smile before he wrinkled his forehead. Dean knew by now that meant he was thinking about something that worried him. "What do you think they still need?"

 

“Not sure. Maybe more of the soil? Or more samples from the animals? Gabe knows how our Council thinks, so he’s probably trying to provide everything he can as proof this place is safe and not toxic.” Dean gently grasped Cas’s chin, the pad of his thumb caressing Cas’s bottom lip. “I really hope we can help everyone in Zion.”

 

Cas gave him a soft smile. "I would be happy to help. It's nice to know that I can use my gift to help people."

 

Before Dean could respond, Sammy and Gabe came into the kitchen. The look on his brother’s face had Dean biting his lip to stifle his laughter. “Good shower?”

 

Gabe quirked his brow at Dean, an air of superiority combined with a sly smirk. “That’s one way of putting it.”

 

Seeing Sam's smile and how his face flushed red, Dean could very well imagine that the shower had been good. Right before he cringed and realized he didn't want to imagine that at all.

 

Sam fiddled with his fingers and cleared his throat. "Look, Dean. There’s something we need to talk about with you. Can you walk with us for a moment?"

 

Dean nodded and pressed a kiss to Cas’s lips. “I’ll be right back, okay?”

 

Cas gave him a worried look, but he didn't say anything. He just nodded and went back to concentrating on the food.

 

When they were outside of the kitchen Sam waved him to follow them down the hallway and into the dome. When he closed the door behind them, he sighed deeply and exchanged a quick look with Gabe. "You probably won't like this, but hear us out first, okay? We have a problem with the samples of the animals. They won’t be enough for the Council."

 

Dean furrowed his brow. “How? I mean… it’s animal blood. That alone is proof that this place isn’t toxic or anything.”

 

“Dean, animal DNA can be found in fossils, they could easily dismiss it,” Gabe explained.

 

“Then use my blood.”

 

Gabe sighed. “There’s no way to irrefutably prove that it’s yours. Our equipment in Zion cannot differentiate blood samples within the same family. That’s why it’s efficient in preventing possible inbreeding in assigning mates, but not much else.”

 

Dean narrowed his eyes at Gabe, realizing what it was they were getting at. “No. Not happening. I promised him.”

 

Sam touched Dean's shoulder. "Dean, I know you did. But isn't there any way you can talk to him, so he changes his mind? You know how important this is. We can't just leave our friends back home hanging."

 

“No. I told you, I promised I would never let any harm come to him. And that means emotional harm.” Dean shook his head and folded his arms across his chest. “I’m sorry, but I won’t do it.”

 

Gabe rolled his eyes and looked at Sam. “I told you he wouldn’t budge.”

 

Sam gave Gabe a frustrated look before he asked thoughtfully, "What if... Can you use something without him getting involved? Like hair from a brush?"

 

“No, I need blood.” Gabe turned to Dean and said, “I don’t see what the big deal is. It won’t hurt and I only need the tiniest bit of blood.”

 

Dean scoffed and shook his head. “Oh, you don’t see what the big deal is? Let me show you what the big deal is.” He nodded for them to follow, storming forward towards the stairwell that led to the basement.

 

While he’d promised Cas he wouldn’t come back to the basement, he didn’t want to risk either Sammy or Gabe just outright asking Cas again, upsetting him even further. So he was going to show them. Show them what happened to Cas and maybe they’d finally understand. Finally get why they needed to stop asking.

 

He understood what they were trying to do, and the potential of helping the Forty-Fivers, but there was no guarantee the Council would listen. After everything he’d learned, he’d realized his faith in them had faded entirely. Dean wasn’t about to cause someone he loved pain if he could avoid it. The assholes on the Council be damned.

 

Without any fanfare, he held the door open for them that led downstairs, waving for them to start going down.

 

"What is this place?" Sam asked when they reached the bottom of the stairs.

 

"This Sam... is a state of the art lab. What in Bog's name have they done out here?" Gabe mused out loud.

 

Dean waved for them to follow him to that room. He didn’t want to go in there again, but maybe if he hit them with the reality of what used to be done to Cas, they’d give up asking him. When he opened the door, he turned on the light and sighed.

 

He had broken one of the weird glass screens that showed what happened, but there were two more in that room. Dean swallowed against the lump in his throat and pointed to the one on the left side of the room. “See for yourself.” He then turned away. Dean didn’t want to see any more of what happened to Cas.

 

He heard Gabe turning on the screen and touching the display, but he didn't hear anything. Just silence for a few minutes. Either way, he still didn't dare turn around.

 

Until Gabe finally mumbled, "They did this to him?"

 

Dean nodded. “Every night.”

 

"How is he still... you know? How is he dealing with this?" Gabe asked slowly. Dean had never heard the man's voice so in shock before.

 

The sigh that escaped was a little shaky. Dean chanced a look and was happy to see no movie was playing. Gabe had changed the screen to one with a bunch of words. “He thinks what happened to him was just bad dreams.”

 

Gabe bit his lower lip and shook his head thoughtfully. "Let me guess, he has night terrors and is prone to being afraid of things?"

 

“How did you know?” Dean asked.

 

Sam touched Gabe’s arm with a confused expression. “What happened to Cas exactly?”

 

Gabe shook his head. "I'll explain later, Sam." He raked his fingers through his hair with a deep sigh. "Dean, this kind of behavior isn't uncommon for people with PTSD. He needs to know the truth. He will always be tortured by what happened to him until he faces it and works through it."

 

Dean shook his head. “You don’t understand, he shuts down any time I try to bring it up.”

 

Gabe nodded, walking up to Dean to touch his shoulder. "Dean, I know this is hard, but I also know you just want what's best for him. This won't magically go away or heal over time. He can only get better and free himself from that trauma if he knows and accepts the truth."

 

“I…” he started and sighed as he looked down, “I don’t want to make him sad.”

 

"But you want him to get panic attacks and night terrors for the rest of his life?" Gabe asked with a raised eyebrow and Sam hit Gabe's shoulder with a hiss and an angry head shake.

 

Dean clenched his fists, trying to hone in his anger. “Of course I don’t, but I also don’t want to make it worse,” he spat.

 

"It will get worse... but just for a short period of time and if you're helping him, he will get through this. You just need to be honest with him." Gabe took in a deep breath, his voice calmer now. "And if you want, I can help you."

 

“No offense, Gabe, but you scare him. That seems like a bad idea.”

 

"Well," he said with a shrug, "I had no idea what his background was, so... I'm just saying, if you need advice on how to deal with it. I'm here."

 

Dean sighed and nodded. “I’ll think about it.” He looked back at the doorway and shrugged. “He’s probably wondering where we are.”

 

"You go up and look for him... I’m just gonna look around a little longer, if that's okay? Bring Sam up to speed," Gabe said with a raised eyebrow, giving Sam, whose expression was worried, a reassuring smile.

 

It didn’t seem like a good idea, leaving them down here, but if Gabe was going to explain what happened to Cas, he didn’t want them anywhere within earshot. He still wasn’t sure if he wanted to talk to Cas about what happened to him, so the last thing he wanted was Cas overhearing them talk about it. “Fine. But don’t stay down here too long. Okay?”

 

Gabe nodded. "Don't worry. If he asks, we've been in the dome getting more plant samples."

 

“Okay. And, uh… don’t touch anything.” Dean sighed and quietly left the room, heading back upstairs. He really needed to hug Cas in that moment.

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

"So what was all that about?" Sam asked, frowning as Gabe quickly opened some frosted glass doors of some shelves on the wall. "And what are you doing?"

 

Without turning to look at Sam, he answered, “Cas was experimented on every night. And by experimented I mean he was basically tortured to see how fast he could regenerate his own cells.”

 

"What?" Sam asked, walking closer to Gabe to see what he was looking for. "You mean because he’s a mutant?"

 

“He’s not a mutant like our friends out there. He was genetically engineered,” he said distractedly as he started opening different cupboards.

 

"So he was made that way. That he can make plants and heal people?" Sam asked in awe. He had no idea that people once had the ability to do something like that. To create a living being that basically performed miracles.

 

Gabe nodded as he started pulling items out of a drawer and placing them on the counter. “Yes. From the little I read, it looks like he was engineered in an effort to restore life in the aftermath of a nuclear attack.”

 

Sam stared at Gabe for a moment before he stuttered, "B... But if he’s so important... why did they torture him?"

 

At that Gabe finally scoffed and looked up at Sam. “Because humans have this innate evil in them sometimes, Sam. The shit they did to him… It wasn’t necessary. And they never explained to him what was going to happen to him. Hence why he probably just thinks his memories are bad dreams. Fucking sick.”

 

"Apropos sick..." Sam scrunched up his nose as he pointed to one container on the cold shelf that was labeled with letters and numbers and looked like it contained something skin colored. "C.A.S. 42... what is this?"

 

Gabe turned to look and his eyes widened. He pulled the door to the shelf open and took out the container. He shook his head. “Those sick fucks.”

 

"What is it?" Sam asked, although seeing his expression, he almost didn't want to know the answer.

 

Gabe gave him a shrug and held the container out for him to see. “It’s what we need.”

 

Sam squinted his eyes at the container before he startled back as he recognized the contents. "Is that a... finger?"

 

“Yes. The first one they cut off of him from the notations.” Gabe shook his head in disgust and carefully pocketed the container. “Should we head back?”

 

"So we’re just gonna take this and..." Sam asked with a frown before he added, "And not tell them?"

 

Gabe reached out and took Sam’s hand. “I know it’s dishonest, but if you want a way to convince the Council that we can bring plantlife into Zion and feed our people real food, this might be our only shot.”

 

He knew Gabe was right. But he still had a bad feeling about it. He took in a deep breath before he nodded. "You're right. We should hide it quickly in our sample container and go back."

 

“Hey,” he said as he drew Sam closer, gently cupping his face, “this way we’re not upsetting Dean by asking. And if it’s noticed it’s missing, I took it. You knew nothing about it. Okay?”

 

Sam shook his head. "We share the responsibility. It's what you do with someone you love."

 

Gabe chuckled and leaned up to kiss his lips. “Come on. Let’s go eat all of their food before we leave.”

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

That night, as they were getting into bed, Dean was conflicted. He’d spent the rest of the afternoon thinking about what Gabe had said. How Cas could only start healing if he dealt with what happened to him.

 

Gabe was a doctor, he clearly knew better, and Dean wanted Cas to get better. Because the reality was, Dean wasn’t a mutant that could live forever. At some point, he wouldn’t be here anymore to help Cas.

 

As he pulled the blanket over both of them, Dean turned onto his side, propping his head up on his hand as he faced Cas. “Cas? Can I talk to you about something that might upset you?”

 

Cas looked worried for a moment, biting his lower lip as he looked up at Dean. "Alright..." he replied, but it sounded more like a question.

 

Dean held his hand and looked down. “I saw something when I went to the basement.”

 

Dean could feel the way Cas's body started to tremble slightly. "The men in white from my bad... nightmares are down there."

 

He started rubbing a soothing circle on his back. “No, Cas. They’re all dead.”

 

Cas took in a deep, shuddered breath and gave him a quick smile. "They aren't real anyway. It's just in my head."

 

Dean shook his head, unable to stop the tear that slipped out. “No, Cas. They weren’t just in your head.”

 

Cas shook his head, his lips thin as he pressed them together, blue eyes shining with unshed tears. "No," he pressed out. "They told me it wasn't real. None of that happened."

 

He cupped Cas’s cheek. “They lied. I… I saw a movie when I was down there. They were pouring a liquid that melted your skin and you were begging them to stop.”

 

Cas slid back and off of the bed with wide eyes, shaking his head. The first tear spilled over. "No, it's not... that's not real."

 

“Then how did I know what happened?” Dean followed, sliding next to Cas and wrapping his arm around him.

 

Cas squirmed and gently pushed him away, walking back against the wall as he shook his head. "I talk in my sleep. You must have heard."

 

Dean kept his distance, he didn’t want to upset Cas more. “I’m not lying to you, Cas.”

 

"Why are you doing this, Dean?" he whispered before he looked up at Dean. "Just... stop please. I don't want to talk about this anymore."

 

“I’m sorry, but Gabe said you have something that causes you pain and nightmares because you haven’t addressed your trauma.”

 

Cas's lip trembled before he shook his head again. "I... I’ll go to the dome and grow a few more flowers. I'll be right back," he whispered before he pushed himself from the wall and quickly fled through the door and into the hallway.

 

Dean darted after him. “Cas, wait! Please!”

 

Cas ignored him and quickly vanished through the door of the dome. When Dean followed him, he saw him kneeling in the grass, surrounded by sunflowers.

 

“I want you to feel better, Cas. Not worse,” he said carefully as he slowly walked through the flowers, trying to not step on them.

 

Cas touched one of the sunflowers with a somber expression before he murmured, "Nurse Meg gave them to me. Every time my nightmares were extremely bad. She promised me they would vanish, but the only one who vanished was her."

 

Dean knelt down beside him. “I’m sorry, Cas. About everything.”

 

"Why are you sorry? It's not your fault," Cas whispered, holding his hand over the grass to grow more flowers. They weren't sunflowers though, they were long and had big white blossoms.

 

“I made you scared. That’s my fault.”

 

Cas closed his eyes for a moment before he suddenly wrapped his arms around Dean and pulled him close, pressing his face against his throat. His voice was barely above a whisper as he said, "You didn't make me scared. They did. It's all their fault... and you're right." He pulled him tighter. "I know it's... real." Cas trembled in Dean's arms as he started to quietly sob against his shoulder.

 

Dean held him close, kissing the crown of his head and murmuring, “I love you and I’m right here.”

 

He had no idea how long he was holding Cas, hearing him cry was breaking his heart. But something inside of him knew that Gabriel had been right. Cas needed to let this out.

 

They were so used to repressing bad shit back in Zion, afraid of being caught crying because they missed someone they had lost. Deep in his heart he always knew that it was wrong. Crying like this, it was almost like Cas was washing away the sadness instead of making it worse.

 

He could feel it in the way his body started to relax, how his sobs grew more quiet over time, until he just stopped and carefully looked up at Dean. His eyes were red and puffy, but his eyes were full of wonder. "Thank you, Dean," he whispered.

 

“I love you, Cas,” he murmured.

 

Cas gave him a soft smile, touching his cheek. "I love you. You're the best thing that ever happened to me in my life."

 

Dean let of a soft laugh, slightly hiccuped from how breathless he was from his gratitude. “Even though I make you run out here and grow all the flowers?”

 

"You said you did it because you love me and want me to get better." Cas looked down for a moment. "I haven't felt better in hundreds of years, Dean."

 

“I’m sorry if I made you feel worse today,” Dean breathed out as he kissed the tip of Cas’s nose.

 

Cas scrunched up his nose as if he had tickled him before he shook his head. "No, Dean... What I meant to say was... that I feel better now. Lighter somehow. I trust you. If you say I have to face this to get better... then I will. For the first time I don't feel as afraid anymore, because I have you now."

 

Dean nodded and moved to stand, holding his hand out for Cas to take. “I promised to protect you.”

 

Cas took his hand, letting himself get pulled up from the ground. He gave Dean a soft smile. "I know."

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

Two days later Gabe had ordered him down to his medical examination office for an evaluation after his multiple perimeter check runs.

 

Sam felt giddy over the thought of seeing him again, not only because he hoped for a few stolen moments together, but also because he was curious if Gabe had made any progress with the Council. He couldn't wait to finally leave this place.

 

He still felt bad that he hadn't made any progress with Becky. He knew she liked him in a way he just couldn't reciprocate. Just that he had no idea how to tell her. Or if he should at all. It felt dishonest, like he was lying to her, but he swore to himself to talk to her if the plan to leave was imminent.

 

When he reached Gabe’s office, he knocked on the door and waited, trying to look bored for the guards that were patrolling the streets behind him.

 

For a while no one answered, so he knocked again. Usually when Gabe had other patients, he would still excuse himself and let the one at the door know that he had to wait.

 

When, after a few more minutes, there was still no answer, Sam turned and looked around. There was no guard in sight, so he just opened the door and slipped inside.

 

It was eerily quiet, the lights were all out. When Sam slid his hand over the wall, he found the switch and turned it on.

 

For a moment he couldn't breathe. Gabe's office looked like a sandstorm had demolished it. Sam carefully went inside, there was paper on the floor and glass shards everywhere. "Gabe?" he whispered as he slowly opened the door of his examination room.

 

There was no answer and he was breathing even harder before he stepped inside. The examination room looked like the front room, everything was a mess and there was no sign of Gabe.

 

Sam noticed the container they had brought from the Dome. The one labeled “C.A.S.42”. It was empty.

 

His mind was racing when he looked around, suddenly frozen to the spot as he noticed some blood on the floor. He knelt down, noticing a big boot print in the puddle.

 

"Shit," Sam cursed as he tried to breathe again. They had Gabe. They had probably taken him to the sunchamber.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10

 

The first thing Sam did was quickly leave Gabe's office and make his way up the hill to the Hunters’ house. He was lucky Gadreel was there and he waved him to follow him outside as soon as he spotted him at his usual place next to the heater.

 

As soon as Gadreel was outside, he pulled him into the shed and closed the door behind him. Sam was breathing heavily as he whispered, "I need your help. They have Gabe."

 

“Who?” he asked.

 

"I don't know... the authorities?" Sam shrugged. "I mean, who else would it be? He was working on the samples in order to present them to the Council. Maybe something went wrong and they... Oh, shit. What if they brought him to the sunchamber for treason because of his sample from Cas?"

 

Gadreel’s eyes widened in surprise. “He got the sample?”

 

Sam still felt guilty about how they had acquired it. "Yes... but without Cas's consent. We found a sample of him in the lab and... Look, I'm not proud of it, but Gabe said we needed it." Sam raked his fingers through his hair. "If he’s in the sunchamber... Shit, Gadreel. I have to do something. I need to get him out of there and then we’ll just leave this place."

 

“How can I help?”

 

Sam looked down. He couldn't ask such a thing of Gadreel. It was too dangerous. He shook his head. "I need you to be ready for when we leave this place. Can you get us three suits? I’ll... go and try to free Gabriel. But be careful. If this goes sideways…"

 

Gadreel nodded and pulled him in for a quick hug. “Actually, I was hoping to steal a couple more than that. I think there’s a couple more people who need to be free from here.”

 

Sam nodded and cupped his face, giving him a serious look. "Only people you would trust with your life. And be careful, Gadreel."

 

“You, too, Samuel,” he nodded against his palms. “Good luck.”

 

Sam nodded and gave his friend a quick, reassuring smile before he carefully left the shed and quickly walked back into the city. The sunchamber was a large building complex behind the Council building and no one in his right mind would go there willingly.

 

It was heavily guarded and Sam had no idea yet how he was going to break into it.

 

He knew he wasn't thinking straight in that moment. His mind was consumed with worry for Gabriel when he rounded the sunchamber building, realizing it only had one front entrance. Two guards were posted at the door.

 

Sam had no idea how many guards were inside and the front guards were armed with shockers. It was risky trying to knock them out, but he was desperate. They were already giving him suspicious looks as he walked up to them. Before he could say anything though, the doors opened and Garth was quite literally thrown out.

 

He stopped and inhaled deeply, trying to calm down as he announced, "Garth, I'm here to pick you up." Garth could give him the inside knowledge he needed to get in. He silently thanked Bog for such an opportunity.

 

Garth winced a little and instantly stiffened his posture, trying to make his expression neutral, but he still looked pained. “Hello, Sam,” he said meekly.

 

Sam waved for him to follow, walking slowly on purpose so Garth could keep up. When they were out of ear shot from the guards, he whispered, "Are you alright?"

 

Garth carefully looked around several times before his attempt at neutrality crumbled. “Oh, Sam. That place was terrible. I don’t know how it’s supposed to help, it only made me feel worse, not better!”

 

"Yeah, I know," Sam murmured before he pulled Garth down a narrow path between houses. "Did you see Gabe in there?"

 

Garth shook his head. “No, but, uh… I heard him. I don’t really know what he was saying other than, ‘fuck off you pigs!’ Whatever a pig is.”

 

Sam tried to calm down his racing heart. At least Gabe was still alive. He prayed it would stay that way. "You need to tell me everything you know, Garth. How many guards are in there? What’s the layout like?"

 

“It’s, uh… I don’t remember much. It’s bright and I think there’s four guards or more at any time.” Garth trembled. “I’m sorry, Sam.”

 

Sam touched his shoulder and shook his head. "It's okay, Garth... I have a plan. And I will get you out of this place. Somewhere safe. Go to the Hunters’ house and find Gadreel. Tell him I sent you."

 

Garth looked up at him, brow furrowed in confusion. “What? I just… Sam, everything’s kinda blurrin’ together, I don’t know how long I’ve been gone. I need you to be a little more upfront with me.”

 

Shit, if Garth was injured, maybe he couldn't make the trip to the Dome. "Follow me."

 

They needed to get off of the street, so Sam took Garth to his new home, because it was the closest place where they could speak uninterrupted. He knew Becky was at work, so she wouldn't overhear anything, but he also knew that he needed to find her soon, to ask her to come with him.  

 

As soon as he safely closed the door behind them, he pulled Garth with him and sat him down. "Are you injured, Garth?"

 

“I…” He looked down at himself before slowly looking back up at Sam. “I think so?” He pulled up his shirt and there was a bright red indentation in the shape of a circle over his left side.

 

"What the hell did they do to you?" Sam asked as he knelt in front of him and carefully touched the skin. It wasn't like any injury he had seen before.

 

Garth shrugged. “I don’t remember much. Just a voice, a dark and scary voice, then this white hot pain.”

 

"Do you think you're strong enough for a longer walk in a suit?" Sam asked with a worried expression.

 

“What? Going outside?”

 

"Yes, there’s something I need to tell you, Garth and it's going to be a lot to take in, but you have to trust me, okay?" Sam grabbed the guy's hand and squeezed it. "Dean and I, we found a new place to live. And he isn't dead. Gabe and I tried to find a way to convince the Council that the place isn't contaminated and... shit, you won't believe me, but this place has food... real food, Garth."

 

“Are… are you serious?” Garth’s eyes lit up. “Away from the sunchamber?”

 

"Yes and I want you to go to Gadreel and wait there for me. As soon as I free Gabe, we will run. We’ll go to that new place and we'll never come back." Sam looked down and inhaled deeply. "Is there anything, anything at all that you remember about this place? Something that could help me free Gabriel?"

 

Garth nodded meekly. “There’s a voice, he doesn’t like when you’re sarcastic. I was being kind once and he presumed I was being sarcastic. And he got upset.”

 

“Do you have any idea who it could be?"

 

“No. Just don’t make it angry.”

 

Sam nodded and took in a deep breath. "Alright. Try to rest for a few more minutes. But then you should look for Gadreel and stay close to him. If I get Gabe out of this place, we’ll need to be quick. There’s no going back after this."

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

Dean didn’t know how long it would be before Sam and Gabe came back for good. Either way, he wanted to make sure he had a room ready for them. He wasn’t stupid, he knew what happened between them was a game changer.

 

So he grabbed one of the slightly bigger rooms at the end of the hall, across the way from his and Cas’s room and several doors down. He decided to put fresh cut sunflowers in a long vertical glass tube he’d found in the lab, to offset the gray walls. He had hand washed some extra sheets and was trying to get the room as lived in as he could.

 

It wasn’t as though this place still wasn’t Kolob on Earth in comparison  Because it was. Dean pulled out a few books Cas had shown him from the makeshift library that Cas had made out of a locker, and placed them on the shelf. One of his favorites, one about a cat in a hat.

 

"It looks very welcoming," Cas suddenly said from where he was leaning against the door frame with a smile.

 

Dean chuckled and nodded for Cas to come closer. “Help me put the stupid fitted sheet on the bed?”

 

Cas grinned at him as he took the corner of the sheet in his hand. "I've learned it helps if you lift the mattress and pull the sheet around before you lower it down again. If you just put it around the edges, it keeps recoiling."

 

He grabbed the corner of the mattress and pulled the sheet over. “It does help.”

 

Cas had his lower lip trapped between his teeth as he looked up with a smile. "Sometimes I just lie on top of it when the mattress is being pulled up by the sheets and wait until it settles."

 

“Like this?” Dean asked as he moved to lay on the mattress, a big grin on his face.

 

"Yes." Cas looked down with a playfully thoughtful look. "Do you need some extra weight?"

 

Dean nodded. “I think I do.”

 

Cas slid over Dean with a soft smile, licking over his lips before he leaned over and drew him into a soft kiss.

 

He chuckled happily into the kiss, raking his hand through Cas’s hair. “Hi,” he greeted in an exaggerated tone.

 

“You already greeted me today,” Cas stated with a confused head tilt.

 

Dean laughed and shook his head. “You’re so cute.”

 

Cas still looked confused, but a tiny smile was flitting over his lips. Dean couldn't stop himself and drew him into a deep kiss. A kiss that quickly escalated, resulting in clothes being hastily removed and thrown off of the bed before they rocked their erections against each other. “Dean,” Cas moaned against Dean’s lips. “I love being with you this way.”

 

“Me, too,” he groaned into the kiss, bucking his hips against Cas’s, enjoying every moment they got to spend together like this. Dean finally understood the big deal about sex and was more than happy to continue exploring this aspect of himself with someone as wonderful as Cas.

 

Cas's teeth were against Dean's earlobe, softly biting him before he begged, "Please touch me, Dean. Need... to feel you."

 

Dean groaned and nodded as he trailed his hand down Cas’s torso, getting lower and lower until he reached his lower abdomen, teasing the tips of his fingers along his wicked sharp hip bones. “Like this?” he teased. Dean knew what Cas wanted, but he’d been trying to goad Cas into saying the words more and more, because he loved how red Cas turned at the idea of saying those words out loud.

 

"Please," Cas begged, "you know where."

 

“Say it, Cas,” he growled into his ear as he started circling his fingers around Cas’s groin, but never quite touching.

 

Cas's cheeks flushed red and he looked incredibly embarrassed, his lips parted like a fucking invitation before he whispered, "Please touch my... dick. Please."

 

Dean chuckled and murmured, “Good boy,” as he drew him in for a passionate kiss while he wrapped his hand around Cas’s erection.

 

Cas gasped into his mouth as he moved his hips to fuck into Dean's hand. His own hands trailing down Dean's side to tease Dean's cock with his fingertips.

 

“Yes,” he hissed as he started pumping Cas a little faster, now peppering his neck with soft bites as he sucked the skin into his mouth and left a mark.

 

Cas wrapped his fingers around Dean's erection and started to stroke him with a tight and deliciously strong grip, but at an almost maddeningly slow pace. "Dean, please. I'm close, slow down. I want to... at the same time," Cas groaned, arching his body against Dean's.

 

Dean nodded as he slowed his pace, frantically clinging to Cas with his free hand as he bucked into his hand. He looked at Cas in awe. “You’re beautiful,” he breathed out.

 

Cas's face flushed again and he gave Dean a shy smile, between heavy breathing and gasps of pleasure. It was hard to look away. "I feel so close to you... when we...uh, do this."

 

“It’s great,” he growled as he started pumping a little faster, matching Cas stroke for stroke.

 

"Oh, Dean, yes..." Cas gasped as he stroked him faster too. "So close, Dean," he whispered before he licked over Dean's lips and into his mouth. His tongue caressing Dean's playfully gave him a nice, tingly feeling in his stomach. Cas was really good at kissing.

 

Dean groaned happily and he lost himself to the kiss, feeling that now familiar coiling of heat in his groin. He was so close, ever so close. He started pumping Cas even faster because he wasn’t going to last much longer.

 

He could feel Cas tensing up under him, pressing his cock deep and hard into his fist as he gasped out Dean's name and painted his fist with his hot seed.

 

It was all it took, feeling Cas succumb to his pleasure, to tip Dean over the edge. He kissed Cas again as he felt his own seed come out of his throbbing dick.

 

Cas smiled happily at him before he lifted his hand and licked Dean's come from his fingers with a sinful look.

 

Dean chuckled and growled appreciatively as he drew him in for another kiss. “I love when you do that.”

 

"I've noticed." Cas gave him another happy smile before he asked, "Why is that?"

 

“No idea, but… it does something to me, when you do things like that. I can’t describe it, but I like it.” Dean returned the smile and let out a sigh of contentment.

 

Cas looked up and at the side of the bed and frowned. "Oh, the sheet came undone again."

 

Dean barked out a laugh and shrugged. “We should probably find them new sheets anyway.”

 

Cas noticed the wet stains on the sheet and gave Dean an embarrassed look. "You're right. I'm sorry I made you more work. I'll help you change them."

 

“Hey,” he murmured fondly as he cupped his face, “never apologize for having sex with me.”

 

"You're very irresistible."

 

Dean chuckled and pressed another kiss to his lips. “Come on. Let’s finish up here and maybe you and I can have sex under our tree again.”

 

“Maybe?” Cas asked with big, pleading eyes.

 

“Okay, we can most definitely have sex under our tree again.”

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

Sam leaned against the corner of the sunchamber building and waited. To his luck there was one thing Garth had mentioned before he left him. The guards changed at a regular interval. Sam just needed to wait for it to happen, hoping they would act exactly like the guards at the gateroom, who often talked about their shift when they met.

 

Sam hoped he could use the time window to sneak inside the building. He hoped Gadreel and Garth were safe in the meantime, and that Gadreel would be careful in acquiring the suits for them. He was a lot more worried about Gabe though. It was hard to hold himself back and not just blindly storm into the building.

 

Waiting for the guards to change felt like it took forever and when they finally appeared, every muscle in his body hurt from the tension. He listened to them talking and finally they walked into the building.

 

Sam quickly and quietly rounded the building and snuck a look through the front door. He could see a guard vanishing through a door, leaving the hallway deserted. This was his chance.

 

He looked around, making sure no one was around before he quietly slipped into the building and crossed the hallway that led to a big double door.

 

Sam leaned against the door, trying to hear something while looking back at the door the guards had vanished behind. He needed to hurry. Whatever was behind that door couldn't be worse than facing four armed men.

 

He pushed his shoulder against the door and quickly slipped inside, finding himself in a corridor with lots of doors. He could hear soft groans behind a few of those doors. The doors all had round glass windows in the upper half. Sam carefully snuck up to the first one and looked through it.

 

The bright light inside caused Sam to squint against it, but as his vision focused he saw what appeared to be a white tiled room. There was nothing in the room except for a pot.

 

He drew back and walked to the next room, risking a look. There was a man inside the room, cowering in a corner, his arms around his knees, forehead pressed against them. He looked thin, his skin ashen.

 

Shit. For a moment he thought about opening the door to release the man, but he needed to find Gabe first. He had to be somewhere.

 

He quietly, but quickly, went to the next door and peeked inside. There was a woman. She was just lying on the ground, staring up at the ceiling. She looked like she was dead, but then she suddenly started to scream. Sam startled backwards and collided with something solid behind him.

 

Something… no, someone with a deep voice and a malignant chuckle. Every muscle in Sam's body tensed as he slowly turned around.

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

Every day, Dean and Cas had set aside time to talk. They would grab a blanket, several snacks, a couple of books, and occasionally Rabbit DeNiro and Luke SkyHopper would be cuddled up with them. It started as a bonding ritual, to get to know each other better, but since the night he and Cas talked about what happened to him, they had now designated this time frame for trying to get Cas more aware and accepting of what happened to him in the past.

 

After finishing their chores for the day and getting the room ready for his brother and Gabe, and having sex again, that’s where they found themselves. Underneath their tree, Dean up against the trunk while Cas was sprawled against his chest. Dean had his arm wrapped around Cas’s chest, pressing kiss after kiss to the crown of his head while he listened to Cas discuss one of his memories.

 

"The more I think about it, Dean... the more I fear that Nurse Meg vanished because she wanted to save me. She always fought with the Professor about me... and I saw how sad she was every time I talked about my nightmares. Do you think she knew? That they were real?"

 

Dean shrugged. “I can’t say, but…” He didn’t want to suggest it, but if confronting his nightmares was supposed to help, maybe confronting the place they came from would help too? “But maybe there’s details about what happened to her in the bad place?”

 

Cas was quiet for a while before he whispered, "I don't think I'm ready to go down there."

 

“It’s okay, you don’t have to be. But… when you are?” Dean held Cas’s hand against his chest and murmured, “I’m here for you when you’re ready.”

 

"Thank you, Dean." Cas tilted his head up against his chest and kissed his throat. "I know you will."

 

Cas's hands trailed down to his shirt and lifted it, his finger trailing over the tattoo under his ribcage. "You asked me once what they mean... and I think I know now."

 

“Yeah?” Dean asked, craning his neck to look at him a little more fully.

 

Cas’s fingers trailed over the first few numbers. "Those are numbers in a catalog system. They stand for the organs in my body. The other numbers are about the cell regeneration speed. They scanned the number and the computer told them how many organs they needed. I asked once why they were doing it to me and I remember getting an answer. They told me it was because of the war. Soldiers were getting injured and they needed those parts to survive."

 

Dean’s eyebrows shot up and he shook his head in dismay. “They took what they needed from you for other soldiers?”

 

"Yes," Cas replied quietly. "Do you think... Something good came out of this at least? That lives were saved because of me?"

 

Dean gave him a reassuring smile and nodded. “You definitely saved my life.”

 

“So you think I suffered through all of this… for nothing?” Cas asked quietly.

 

“That’s not what I said, Cas. I don’t know if lives were saved, but at the very least you saved mine.”

 

Cas pressed himself closer to Dean's body, wrapping his arms around him. "And it should be enough... but I still feel..." Cas shook his head slightly. "I just want to understand why they did this to me. Was it the real reason I was created? Was that my purpose in life, to be a walking, talking, spare parts storage?"

 

Dean shrugged, unable to answer that question for him. “Whatever your purpose was then, or why you were created, I’m glad you’re here now. Because I never would have known what life could be like if I hadn’t met you.”

 

Cas looked up at him with a smile before he stroked tenderly over his cheek. "It's the same for me, Dean. I was on my own for hundreds of years and before that... it wasn't a nice life either. I didn't even know what being happy felt like before you came here."

 

Dean couldn’t help but smile and he grasped Cas by the wrist to press a gentle kiss into the palm of his hand. “I know you don’t believe in Bog, but I can’t help but think that the dark journeys we both had to take in our lives are what brought us to each other. I like to think he had a hand in that.”

 

Cas tilted his head with a frown. "You think your god brought us together?"

 

“You don’t know he didn’t,” he returned, giving him a sweet smile.

 

Cas gave him a quick smile and shook his head. "You're right. I don't know. But I think it's frightening to think another being has power over my life. I like to think I have free will."

 

“We do, Cas. We do.”

 

Cas braced himself on his hands to kiss Dean's nose. "I'm glad to hear that."

 

Dean chuckled and pressed a kiss to his lips. “How about we eat some chocolate and cuddle in bed?”

 

Cas chuckled and nodded. "We need to make new chocolate soon. The way Gabriel has depleted our storage..."

 

“Yeah, he’s so small, I don’t understand how he can fit so much food in his stomach!” Dean nudged Cas to sit up and moved to stand, holding his hand out for Cas to take.

 

Cas took his hand and let himself get pulled up. He smiled up at him before he raised his eyebrow. "We should take the rabbits back before they eat something they shouldn't."

 

Dean nodded and bent down to pick up Luke while Cas grabbed Rabbit. “Back to your pen with you,” he cooed at the rabbit, nudging his nose against the soft crown of her head.

 

"You are so good with them." Cas smiled before he looked down. "I would like to have more animals at some point... maybe a sheep."

 

“Hell yeah. Can we also make all of the animals from the Winnie the Pooh books?”

 

"The bear and the tiger could be a problem. They aren't like Winnie and Tigger in real life." Cas gave Dean a quick smile. "And we also should stick to animals that don't eat other animals."

 

Dean’s eyebrows shot up as he held Luke a little closer to his chest. “I don’t want  any of them eaten.”

 

“That is why I stick to creating herbivores only,” Cas replied with a smile as he stroked through Rabbit's fur. "One day, when the earth can sustain life again, I will create all of them though."

 

“And I’ll help take care of ‘em,” Dean said as he put Luke into her pen.

 

Cas put Rabbit down next to Luke and watched them hop away in silence with a wistful expression. "They won't need us anymore then. The world will be theirs."

 

Dean gently grasped his hand and smiled at him. “Then I’ll take care of you.”

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

Sam was shoved roughly into one of the bright empty rooms. His head was swimming as he gave the man behind him a confused look. “Council Lucifer,  I don't understand…”

 

The man laughed darkly. “How convenient that you came here, Sam Winchester. I was looking for you.”

 

Sam blinked against the harsh light, holding up his hand to shield his eyes. "Why are you doing this? Where’s Gabriel?"

 

“I can assure you, he’s alive… for now.” Lucifer chuckled again before he cracked his neck and gave Sam a pointed look.

 

Sam squinted his eyes at him, looking behind Lucifer at the closed door. He hadn't seen him locking it. "What do you want?"

 

“I want the location and any details you would be happy to provide on the mutant,” he said matter-of-factly.

 

"What mutant?" Sam asked slowly. Shit, they probably really did have Gabriel in here, because they thought he was a traitor in league with a mutant outside. He needed to get them out of here.

 

Lucifer arched his brow incredulously and folded his arms against his chest. “How about you stop insulting my intelligence and just tell me the mutant’s location? You know, like a good little Hunter. You should be grateful I’m not making an example of you and the good doctor for putting all of us in danger.”

 

"We didn't put anyone in danger," Sam replied angrily, wondering if he could just knock Luifer down. The only problem was, even if they fled Zion, there was no guarantee that they wouldn't come after them. He had to know how much Lucifer knew about the Dome. "We collected samples. I killed every dangerous mutant I saw." It wasn't technically a lie.

 

That was met with a bark of laughter before suddenly Lucifer was in his face, gripping his chin as he yanked Sam’s face down. “I’m going to ask you one more time, nicely: give me the location of the mutant, otherwise you won’t like it when I stop being nice.”

 

Sam glared at him, his chin hurt with how tight Lucifer's grip was. How the hell was the guy so strong? He was just a Council member. "I want to talk to the Council," he hissed.

 

“I am the Council!” he spat as he yanked Sam to his knees. “This is your last chance to give me what I want.”

 

"Or what? You’ll kill me?" Sam growled. "That doesn't give you an answer now, does it?"

 

Lucifer let him go and started chuckling, which then became an uproarious laugh before settling at a maniacal guffaw. He wiped the mirth from his eyes and barked something in a language Sam didn’t understand.

 

Less than a few minutes later, Gabriel was dragged into the room, he was covered in cuts and bruises, his lips sewn shut. Lucifer chuckled again. “Give me what I want, or I’ll kill him.”

 

Sam gasped out in horror as Gabe looked up at him, pure fear in his eyes. All instincts told him to run over to him, but there was a guard and Lucifer in his way.

 

Sam shook his head and glared at Lucifer. "How do I know you won't just kill us both after I give you any information?"

 

“You don’t, but if you give me what I want, I won’t make his death slow and painful,” he said before kicking Gabriel in the stomach.

 

Gabe coughed and groaned, but it was muffled from the bloody stitching on his lips. He made eye contact with Sam and shook his head. His eyes were pleading. Willing Sam to understand. Don’t tell him anything.

 

He gave him a quick nod before he snapped at Lucifer, "If you lay a hand on him, you’ll get nothing from me. I would rather die."

 

Lucifer pursed his lips and opened his hands in invitation. “Then give me the mutant’s location. You have my word, I’ll let you both go.”

 

Sam squinted his eyes at him before he exchanged a serious look with Gabe, murmuring, “I’m sorry.”

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

Dean was humming the song his Dad told him was his Mom’s favorite. One of his last fond memories of his Mom was her leaning over Dean in his cot, he had had a fever and she had her cold hand braced on his forehead, singing the song. He was picking some of Cas’s favorite flowers. Daisies, sunflowers, and tulips.

 

After he got a good fistful, he made his way to the kitchen, trying to find something to put them in. He wanted to surprise Cas. Dean found an elongated tube that was from the lab mixed in with the kitchen dishware. It was perfect.

 

He filled the tube with water and stuck the flowers in it. Dean smiled at his own ingenuity. He was pretty sure Cas was going to love it. Dean picked it up and made his way to Cas’s room.

 

Just as he was passing the Dome entrance, something caught his eye. Hunter instincts were apparently something that never disappeared, no matter how luxurious and relaxing a life you live. He took a step closer to the window, narrowing his eyes as he tried to focus on the weird shadows that seemed to be moving closer to the Dome.

 

When they were about three klicks away, Dean gasped, but the sound was drowned out by the crashing of glass against the floor.

 

Hunters.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11

 

“I’m not telling you anything,” Sam stated firmly, knowing that both of their lives were over now. He would never betray his brother's safety and he knew Gabe wouldn't want that either. He gave him one final look, a soft smile, mouthing, 'I love you,' hoping Gabe would understand.

 

Gabe nodded faintly, whether his understanding or his reciprocity, Sam couldn’t be sure.

 

Lucifer scoffed and shook his head. “Well, at least when we announce your deaths, we can claim the crime of homosexuality,” he said with a disgusted scoff. He raised his hand over Gabe, a faint light coming out of it that caused Gabe to start screaming, his lips almost tearing from the strain against the stitches when a guard clapped his hand on Lucifer’s shoulder.

 

“What?” Lucifer barked in annoyance.

 

The guard lowered his head and said, “They found the mutant’s location. Squadron seven found him.”

 

Lucifer barked out a laugh and smirked at Sam. He turned back to the guard and said, “Kill them.” Without so much a backwards glance, Lucifer swept out of the room and the guard raised his rifle, aiming at Sam first.

 

Sam didn't think, he just darted forward while dodging to the side as the the guard shot and the painful bite of a bullet pierced his shoulder. He used the time the guy was reloading to knock him out and take his rifle, quickly shooting another guard who rushed into the chamber.

 

He was breathing heavily as he helped Gabe off of the ground, bracing his weight against him. "Are you okay? Can you walk? Just nod."

 

Gabe nodded and leaned against Sam’s torso.

 

Sam reloaded his rifle before he carefully made his way to the door, bracing Gabe's weight. There were no other guards inside the hallway, so he gently pushed Gabe against the doorframe. "Wait here. I’ll open the doors to the other chambers."

 

Gabe nodded, wiping the blood from his brow with his tied hands before it could drip into his eye.

 

Sam quickly ran down the hallway and started unlocking the doors, opening them wide for the people to get out. When he opened the last door and looked back, a few of them had come out, looking confused. He ran back to Gabriel and put his arm around him, helping him walk towards the exit as he reached the others. "You have to run, people! Leave before the guards come back!"

 

It seemed to work to cut through the confusion. They looked frightened though. One man whispered, "But they know our names, they know where we live. They’ll come and get us again. The monster will come to get us."

 

"Then fight!" Sam replied forcefully. "Don't just let this happen to you. They hurt you and no one has the right to do that. Fight back!"

 

Gabe smacked Sam’s arm and tapped his mouth, indicating he needed a knife or something to cut open the stitches.

 

"I know, Gabe." Sam pulled him tighter. "I’ll get you out of here and we’ll find a knife." He looked up to the other people to address them again, "But first we need to get through the guards in front of the building. Help me fight them so we all can be free. Please."

 

The man in front of him nodded, looking determined. "You’re right. They said they would treat us here, but instead this monster attacked us. They lied to us. People need to know the truth."

 

The other victims of the sunchamber nodded, one woman grabbed a taser from the dead guard on the floor before she growled, "Let's get out of here."

 

Sam readied his rifle and braced Gabe's weight against him when the man in front of him slowly opened the door. He could see the guards at the front entrance, not looking in their direction.

 

He nodded for the others to get closer, trying to be as quiet as possible as they walked up to the main entrance. He leaned Gabe carefully against the wall before he gestured for the woman to attack the guard on the right.

 

They both charged through the door at the same time, Sam knocking the left guard unconscious while the woman tasered the other one. They dragged both of the unconscious bodies into the building and out of sight before Sam got back to Gabe and hoisted him up.

 

"What should we do now?" the man asked as Sam carefully looked out of the door to see if the street was clear.

 

"Get to safety. Find your friends. Spread the word. It's time things change around here."

 

The man nodded, but Sam didn't wait to see what they were doing. He used the opportunity to quickly dart out into the street and find the first narrow alley to disappear with Gabe. They effortlessly got lost in the maze of the city, finding the quickest way up to his old hut.    

 

As soon as he closed the door, he pulled Gabe tightly into his arms for a quick hug. “Sorry, I’ll… look for a knife now, but shit, Gabe…” Sam let go of him without looking at him, rubbing his hand over his eyes to wipe away the tears that he wasn’t able to hold back any longer as he went through a chest with stuff that he had left in the hut, because it belonged to the house and not to him. He found a knife and turned back to Gabe, cutting the ropes that bound his lips.

 

Gabe gently took the knife from his hands and carefully cut through the stitches over his mouth. He exhaled shakily and dropped the knife, yanking Sam close and kissing him. He drew back with a hiss and chuckled as he braced his forehead against Sam’s. “I told you if something happened to me that you needed to escape to the Dome.”

 

Sam cupped Gabe's cheek. "Yeah and that's exactly what we're doing now. We have to go over and help them. Lucifer is hell bent on finding Cas for some reason. I already told Gadreel to steal suits. Are you feeling strong enough for the journey?"

 

“Yeah,” he said with a sigh as he drew back. “We’ve gotta warn them. Help them.”

 

"So what happened? Did the Council treat you as a traitor when you told them your findings?" Sam asked, wincing when his gaze fell back on Gabe's many injuries.

 

Gabe let out a mirthless chuckle and shook his head. “I never even got the chance to present them. I was suddenly hauled in to the sunchamber, the guards grabbed the finger and me, and shit, Sam. I don’t know what the fuck is happening, but if that lunatic is after Cas, it can’t be good.”

 

Sam frowned. That didn't make any sense. "How did they know about the finger and Cas if you didn't tell him?"

 

“No idea. Suddenly I’m being tortured in between interrogations on Cas’s whereabouts. I started singing that song your brother likes and sings sometimes, as off key as I could, over and over. That’s when he got fed up and had my lips sewn shut.” Gabe shook his head and took a deep breath. “They were gonna kill me when one of the guards pointed out a Hunter would’ve had to accompany me. So he kept me as leverage.”

 

Sam's heart was practically on the verge of stopping for a moment when he heard how close Gabe had been to death. It didn't matter how those assholes had gotten the information. They needed to flee. "Okay... we need to leave."

 

The moment he went to the door it was suddenly opened. On reflex, Sam lifted his rifle to aim at the intruder before he realized who it was. "Becky? What are you doing here?"

 

“I –I…” she stammered as she took a step back, eyes wide with fear. “You hadn’t come home… I–I was wo–worried.”

 

He let the gun sink to his side and pulled her quickly into the hut, closing the door behind her. "Becky, we don't have much time. One of the Council members... Lucifer, wants us dead for something we found outside. I'm sorry to spring it on you like this... but I want you to come with us. We found a new place to live, with food and without any sunchambers, and without a Council."

 

Becky furrowed her brow at him, shaking her head in bemusement. “Sam, did you hit your head?” She stepped forward again, holding her hand out towards his forehead.

 

Sam stepped back from her and shook his head. "You have to trust me on this. We have to flee. We don't much time."

 

“What about my kids?”

 

"We can't take everyone with us. We only have a few suits and the journey is dangerous. Maybe we can try another day..." Sam scrubbed his hand over his face in frustration. "I don't know yet."

 

Becky shook her head and looked down. “I’m sorry, Sam, I can’t leave them.”

 

"Why?" Sam gave her a pleading look.

 

After a beat of silence, her gaze hyper focused on Sam before she darted a look at Gabriel, who had his hands braced against Sam’s back. Becky swallowed dryly, locking Sam’s gaze as she whispered, “Do you love me?”

 

Sam swallowed, exchanging a quick look with Gabe before he turned to Becky again. "Um, of course, you’re a very good friend, Becky."

 

She shook her head, giving him a hopeful smile. “Do you love me like your father loved your mother?”

 

Sam swallowed dryly and looked down before he slowly shook his head. He didn't want to lie to her. He couldn't. He owed her the truth.

 

Her smile turned sad as she drew closer, gently grasping his chin to bring his focus back, front and center. Becky’s hand slid to cup his cheek. “It’s okay, Sam. It’s okay that you don’t…” Becky sighed and drew back, shaking her hand out before tucking it behind her back. “You should go. Before the guards sound the alarms.”

 

He nodded quietly, his eyes burning slightly. "I'm sorry, Becky... I will miss you. Thank you for everything."

 

Becky nodded and forced a small smile. “Go. Hurry.”

 

Sam nodded before he shot Gabe another worried look. "You good to go?"

 

“Yeah.” Gabe nodded and took a step back.

 

Becky grabbed Sam’s hand and gently pulled him to her. She leaned up on her tip toes and cupped his cheek. There was a soft smile that went from hopeful to saddened. Resigned. She pressed a chaste kiss to his lips and finally let him go. “Goodbye, Sam.”

 

He carded his fingers through her hair and gave her one last, long look, swallowing thickly as he nodded. "Goodbye, Becky. Be careful, please."

 

“You, too.”

 

Sam hadn't expected it to be so hard to leave people behind he loved. He wished he had more time to convince her, especially because he was worried that the Council would do something to her since she was his Milowda.

 

He gave her one last look before he nodded and quickly escaped with Gabe, running in the direction of the Hunters’ house. He took back alleys and hid behind rocks to avoid the guards. Thankfully he knew their schedule and rounds like the back of his hand.

 

Instead of going to the hut, he went to the shed. If Gadreel already acquired the suits, he would probably be waiting in there.

 

As he slowly opened the door he was nearly punched in the face by Garth, who stopped his fist in the last second as he recognized him. “Sam, you made it!”

 

Sam put his finger in front of his mouth to signal him to be quiet as he closed the door behind him. Looking at Gadreel, Garth, and Charlie who was way too intelligent to be a Hunter, but had joined their ranks recently by choice – Sam let out a sigh of relief. They hadn’t been caught.

 

Gadreel touched his shoulder. “I was worried… I got suits for everyone. We shouldn’t linger too long.”

 

Sam nodded grimly. “Couldn’t agree more.”

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

Dean didn’t even hesitate to dart to the locker room where Cas put his things from his rescue. If five or more hunters were sent in a group, then that was anything but good. As he rifled through the lockers searching for his gun, something inside him… his doubts, piped up with the thought that maybe Sam had brought more people with him, like he said he would.

 

Considering his experiences in the past, Dean wasn’t about to take the risk. And he promised he’d protect Cas. Dean almost cried in relief when he found his rifle, still loaded and ready to go. He grabbed his baby and his extra mags before making his way back to the entrance of the Dome.

 

Cas was knelt down, picking up the pieces of broken glass. Dean approached him and gently grasped his shoulder. “I can clean that. I want you to go hide, maybe with Cora and the rest of them?”

 

Cas looked frightened then. "You think they... they want to harm us?"

 

“I don’t know, but I don’t want to take any chances,” Dean said as he cupped Cas’s cheek with his free hand. He gave him a reassuring smile. “It might just be Sam and Gabe with some extra people, but in case it isn’t, I want you to take cover, okay?”

 

Cas chewed his lower lip, an indecisive and worried expression on his face. “I… are you sure? What if something happens to you? What if… I can’t lose you, Dean.”

 

“I’ll be okay, I promise,” he reassured as he leaned in and pressed a chaste kiss to his lips.

 

“Are you sure you don’t want me to come?” Cas asked timidly.

 

Dean shook his head. “I want you to keep the animals safe. They need you.”

 

It wasn't the whole truth. Dean just wanted Cas to be safe. If the Hunters out there saw Cas without an environmental suit, they might just shoot him without asking questions. Dean felt better having him out of sight as long as he didn't know what was happening.

 

Cas sighed and nodded. "Alright... Be careful, please."

 

Dean drew him in for another quick kiss. “I’ll always come back to you.”

 

Cas looked away for a moment before he turned around. "I’ll hold you to that."

 

His voice was trembling, but he knew he couldn't do anything to make Cas feel better in that moment. So he just watched him run down the hallway, vanishing into the dome.

 

He tightened the strap of the rifle and proceeded to clean up the rest of the glass, picking up the flowers as well. Dean left them in the sink after placing the glass in the receptacle of items to be repurposed. With a bracing sigh, Dean took his place at the primary entryway door.

 

The group of Hunters were less than a klick away now. Dean wouldn’t be able to tell if it was Sam and Gabe without letting them into the decompression chamber. And if it turned out to not be them, well… He’d deal with it as it came. Dean just hoped it wouldn’t get violent. Cas had shown him there’s so much more to him than the violence of his life.

 

Not to mention, he didn’t want Cas to see that side of him. There were six silhouettes the closer they got to the Dome. Dean narrowed his eyes, trying his best to discern any features, try to get a jump on them if it was the crew Dean thought it was.

 

They were known as the Reapers. A group of Hunters that were sent out when there were reported masses of mutants. Monster mercenaries as Gabe liked to call them. The group was run by Billie, a ruthless Hunter who had the highest mutant kill tally of all of the active Hunters. Tessa, April, and Jessica were the three best Hunters of all of the specialty squadrons. They had taken on two new kids a few months back, Claire and Jack, young Hunters that excelled at the vocational school.

 

Dean had run into Claire a few times, she didn’t seem to like him very much and he wasn’t sure why. As they reached the external door, Dean sighed and pressed the button that opened it. When the door closed again behind the six figures, Dean knew from the lack of suit removal that they were exactly who he thought they were.

 

Squadron seven. The Reapers.

 

He was outgunned, more than outgunned. Dean’s best bet would be to shut them out. To reinforce the door and reopen the primary chamber door. Let the mutants eventually get them if they refused to fail in their mission. Or…

 

Or he could try and get them on their side. Dean knew it was dangerous, but with how much this Dome was changing him, his brother, all of them, for the better… Dean decided to take a risk. Like the heroes in the tales Cas would sometimes read to him, just because. Not even as part of their reading lessons.

 

Dean flipped the gun to rest along his back as he took a deep breath and a step back. He pulled the lever that opened the chamber door, holding his hands up, knowing Billie would easily recognize him, even if the others didn’t. “Heya, Billie,” he greeted, giving a pointed look to the woman in the lead.

 

They didn't remove their helmets even though the chamber looked exactly like the one at home. Hell, it even had the green light to signal that the air was breathable. Billie stared at him in shock. "Dean? Dean Winchester? We thought you were dead!"

 

Dean shook his head and smiled. “No, I’m very much alive,” he said with a chuckle, hands still raised.

 

"How? What is this place?" Billie asked, gesturing to the rest of her people to lower their guns.

 

“It’s my home,” he answered, shaking his head in confusion, “why were you dispatched to this location?”

 

"Council member Lucifer. He said we should look for a mutant. Gabriel and your brother are charged with treason for bringing a piece of a mutant into Zion." Billie shook her head. "Did Sam know you were alive? Did he lie to us?"

 

Dean furrowed his brow for a moment when he realized Gabe must have found a sample from the basement. Shit! And treason? Dean wanted nothing more than to steal one of their suits and charge back in there to get his brother and Gabe. But… maybe…

 

He turned to Billie and grabbed her hand, completely ignoring her questions. “There’s food here, Billie. Real food.”

 

Billie pulled her hand away, giving him a shocked look. "What are you talking about, Dean? Are you and your brother working together? Do you know about this mutant?"

 

Dean shook his head and pulled a piece of bread he kept wrapped in a napkin in his pocket. He held it in his open palm and unwrapped it. Pulling a small piece off, Dean put it in his mouth. “This is food.”

 

Billie stared at him before she raised her rifle again. "That’s impossible. This is a trap by the mutant Lucifer told us about."

 

“Look at me, Bill. Come on, you know me.” Dean raised his hands again. “I would never lie to you. I mean, shit, the fact that I’m alive and well! You know this place isn’t bad.”

 

"Then answer my question, Dean," Billie implored and Dean knew that she wanted to believe him. "Is there a mutant here like Lucifer said?"

 

When she lowered her guard, Dean reached forward, pushing her gun away. “Why does that matter?”

 

The others in her group automatically aimed their guns at him. Billie scoffed. "What the hell is that question? Have you already forgotten who you were? We're Hunters. We kill mutants."

 

“No, we kill threats to our way of life,” Dean countered, starting to regret trying to engage them first. Most Hunters were like him, loyal to a fault.

 

"Every mutant is a threat," Billie replied coldly.

 

Dean held her strong gaze. “Even mutants that can create life? Can save mine?”

 

"There’s no such thing, Dean. They're all dangerous." Billie countered, sounding frustrated.

 

“Billie,” he started as he gently guided her forward, reaching back behind himself when he reached the main dome door and pushed it open, showing her the garden. “There is such a thing.”

 

As soon as he opened the door to the dome, Billie's rifle slid to the ground. He could see her staring at the trees with parted lips and wide eyes, the reaction of her entire group pretty much mirrored their leader’s.

 

"Am I... dead... or dreaming?" Billie finally murmured.

 

Dean shook his head and clasped his hands over the release for her helmet. He popped them open and drew back, giving her the choice to take it off or not. “No. This is real.” He reached up to pull a couple of cherries off of the nearest tree. He popped one in his mouth before holding his hand out to all of them in offer. “Real food. Real everything.”

 

"Dean." She shook her head slightly. "How do I know that the air isn't infested with pathogens?"

“Because I’m breathing. Because I’m fine. And Gabe tested the atmosphere when he and Sammy came here to get samples. Samples they were trying to use to convince the Council to let them bring soil with the plants we need for food. Food for all of Zion, Billie!”

 

Billie slowly shook her head. "I don't understand. Why would the Council send us if..." And then she suddenly pulled off her helmet despite Claire’s protests as she tried to stop Billie with a frightened look on her face.

 

Billie closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths before she nodded. “I should be dead by now. You were right… The air is good.”

 

Dean grasped her hand and pulled her glove off. He dropped a cherry into her open palm. “This is a cherry.”

 

Billie still looked somewhat suspicious before she took the cherry and put it in her mouth. Her face was priceless as she started to chew. The way her eyes widened and gasped in surprise Dean would have laughed if the tension wasn't still high.

 

Then she looked confused for a moment and winced before she pulled the pit out of her mouth, looking at it with a frown. "This is too hard to eat, but the rest was... I don't even have words. How is this possible?"

 

“The mutant you’ve come to kill. He made all of this.” Dean offered her another cherry.

 

Billie gave him a suspicious look. "So he is here? Lucifer was right."

 

Dean sighed and shook his head, in that moment Flit flew by their heads, momentarily stopping at a flower before whizzing away again. “Billie, please…”

 

Billie startled and jumped back, lifting her rifle at the bird. "The hell is that?"

 

“That’s Flit. He’s a hummingbird and totally harmless!” Dean attempted to block her line of sight.

 

Billie shook her head and stepped backwards. "We're on a mission, Dean. We can't just go back empty handed. Hand over the mutant."

 

Dean shook his head. “I won’t. Look at this place! Do you really want the Council getting their hands on someone who can create all of this?”

 

It was the first time Jack spoke up, "We’re here to protect Zion. And this doesn't look like a threat. Maybe the Council was misinformed."

 

Billie rounded on him with a glare. "We're not in a position to doubt. We're soldiers. We obey and we follow the rules." She sighed and looked at Dean. "We were commanded by Lucifer personally to find the mutant and bring him in."

 

“See? That!” Dean said as he pointed to Billie, “why would he want you bringing in the mutant if what Gabe and Sam brought in was treasonous? Something isn’t right, and you know it!”

 

"And he told us that they brought in something contaminated, but there was no case of an infection," Claire suddenly added. "Usually those viruses spread super fast. I saw it once happen outside to a fellow Hunter."

 

Jack nodded. "You're right. This is all very strange. And since when do we get orders from just him? Shouldn't they be sanctioned by the whole Council?"

 

Billie scrubbed her hand over her face before she sighed. "I want to see him."

 

“You gotta promise you won’t touch him or try to hurt him,” Dean said, knowing the rest of the Reapers would do as Billie said. He just needed to get her on his side.

 

"If he is what you claim he is... peaceful and not an abomination, then I promise you, we won't take him."

 

Dean nodded and sighed. “Wait here,” he said as he didn’t wait for them to respond. He made his way to the animal paddock and punched in the door code. Cas had been smart and locked himself inside.

 

As he stepped inside, he couldn’t see Cas anywhere. Just Cora laying on the grass and chewing away at her cud. Dean drew closer and called out for him, “Cas, it’s me!”

 

And then Cas suddenly appeared behind him, hugging him tightly as he whispered, “I was so afraid. Is it Sam?”

 

Dean turned around in Cas’s embrace and kissed the crown of his head. “No. It’s other Hunters like me.”

 

Cas leaned back to look at him, tilting his head. "Do they also want to stay?"

 

Dean shrugged and shook his head slightly. “I don’t know. I’ll happily invite them, but, Cas… they were sent here for you. One of the Council members demanded you be brought to him and I’m not gonna let them take you, but they want to meet you, make sure you aren’t a threat. Are you willing to do that?”

 

Cas pressed closer, his eyes downcast. His voice trembled and Dean could feel that Cas was trying to be brave. "I’ll meet them, but I'm not going anywhere."

 

“And I won’t let them try to take you. I wouldn’t be willing to have you meet them if I didn’t trust Billie. Okay?” Dean asked, gently tilting Cas’s chin up to look at him. “I love you and I won’t let anyone hurt you ever again.”

 

He still looked afraid, but he gave Dean a quick smile and leaned forward for a gentle kiss. "I know you'll protect me. I just hope it won't come to that."

 

Dean chuckled and kissed him again. “It won’t.” He held his hand out for Cas to take. “Come on. Let’s go meet them.”

 

Cas squeezed his hand and took in a deep breath before he followed Dean outside and into the dome. He gasped and startled when all six Hunters suddenly turned around and aimed their weapons at him.

Chapter Text

Chapter 12

 

His heart was racing the whole time when they walked the path up the hill to the gate house. Gadreel had stored the suits in the shed nearby and they all knew they had to be quick.

 

They also knew that they had to knock out the guards. Which would be difficult. The problem was that they didn't have any weapons. In order to get a weapon, you had to go to the Hunters’ house and get one released before you went out on a mission.

 

None of them had been assigned to a mission though. Going the whole way over to the Dome would be dangerous without any means of defense. Sam just hoped they would be lucky.

 

Not that they had a choice.

 

But they had a plan. Well, Gabriel had a plan and Sam thought it was pretty ingenious.

 

They were hiding behind the shed, waiting for Gadreel to come back from the guards, telling them that he had witnessed two men kissing.

 

It didn't take long before they could hear them approaching. Sam smirked at Gabe before he pulled him into his arms and pretended to kiss him. He could have kissed him for real and he wanted to, but not as long as his boyfriend suffered from those injuries to his lips.

 

As the guards rounded the corner, as predicted, they were shocked for a moment to see them like that. Gadreel used the moment to knock down one of the guards. Charlie and Garth struggled with the other guard when they attacked from behind, but a well aimed kick to his head from Sam knocked him out cold.

 

"Okay, we have to hurry," Sam murmured before everyone grabbed their suits and ran over to the gate room, entering it.

 

Sam only felt slightly better when he closed the door behind him and quickly started to dress in a suit before he helped Gabe with his.

 

"Only thirty minutes and facing a dangerous path without weapons separates us from true freedom now," he murmured as he gave Gabe a quick smile. "Be careful outside." Sam looked up at the others. "All of you."

 

Gabe held his hand through their suits and gave him a pointed look. “And no more playing the damn hero, you get me?”

 

"Yeah, no promises." Sam winked at him before he checked Gabe’s suit one last time. "Everyone ready?"

 

There was a round of muted nods from everyone. Just as he was about to reach for the main door that led to the outside, the subdoor from the house opened and they all held their breaths as a small amount of light breached the entrance.

 

Gadreel reared up, ready to pummel whoever was coming in, but before he could, the person held their hands up and said (in a weirdly familiar accent), “Oi! Take it easy!”

 

It was Crowley.

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Dean cried out as he stood in front of Cas, arms wide as he shook his head at them. He looked at Billie. “Tell them to stand down, you’re scaring him,” he demanded calmly.

 

Billie obviously had problems with that order, but after a long and tense moment she finally nodded for the others to lower their rifles. Hers still twitched undecidedly before she lowered it.

 

"First time I heard of a mutant being scared of something," she stated.

 

Cas carefully stepped next to Dean and whispered, "I'm not like the others outside. I wasn't created for violence."

 

Billie scoffed and shook her head. "So what? You were created for making food?"

 

Cas rubbed the back of his neck and looked down before he shook his head. "No. I'm not sure what the reasons were, but I think it's so I can bring life back to the planet once the radiation is gone."

 

Dean turned to face Cas. “Show ‘em what you can do, Cas,” he whispered.

 

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Cas asked timidly.

 

Giving him a reassuring smile, Dean nodded and gently grasped Cas’s wrist as he guided him to the ground. He held his other hand up in a stop at the other Hunters. Dean craned his neck to pointedly look at Billie. “Watch this.” He turned his attention back to Cas and smiled. “Can you grow me another sunflower, please?”

 

Cas smiled up at Dean. It was funny how Cas seemed to forget about being afraid when his whole attention was on Dean. He nodded and held his hand over the ground. It started to glow and in a few seconds, a sunflower started to grow from the ground.

 

It didn't matter how often Dean witnessed it, the tranquil expression on Cas's face as he lovingly gazed at the flower he was creating out of seemingly nothing but the soil, it was all so beautiful.

 

When Dean turned to look at the other Hunters, they all had matching expressions of awe. Jack and Claire, clearly greenies, their jaws were slack and mouths agape at the miracle they had just witnessed. Billie, being the consummate professional she was, simply had an eyebrow quirked, but Dean had known her for years and could tell she was just as awed by the feat.

 

“How?” Was all she managed to ask, voice barely above a whisper.

 

Cas tilted his head. "It's what I am. I create living things. I can heal people. I can help humans survive."

 

Dean gave her a pointed look. “See? He’s the farthest thing from a threat. Whatever Lucifer wants with him is anything but good. You can’t take him back with you.”

 

Cas slowly stood up and gave Billie a soft smile. "That was the reason Sam and Gabriel visited us. He tested the environment because he said he needed proof of it being non toxic. Sam returned to you because he wanted the other people to have real food too. He could have just stayed here... Why didn't he come with you?"

 

Billie looked stricken and sighed. “He’s been charged with treason for bringing those samples in.”

 

Dean swallowed dryly, knowing exactly what that meant. He could only hope that Sam’s inherent nature to buck the system would mean he could escape, but Dean wasn’t as stupid as people thought he was. He knew what that meant. He turned to them and sighed. “Cas can help our people, but the Council doesn’t want that apparently. You’re welcome to stay here with us.”

 

Billie shook her head before she turned to her group. "I won't speak for the rest of you, but I will go back. Our people need me. I'll cover for everyone who wants to stay."

 

Claire pulled off her helmet and shook her hair out. “I’m staying. There’s nothin’ for me back there.”

 

"Then I will stay, too," Jack quickly said, giving Claire a side glance. She just rolled her eyes at him, but there was a hint of a smile.

 

Billie nodded, she looked grateful. “Good, you kids deserve a chance at growing up.” She turned to Dean again. “I’ll leave those two in your care. Don’t make me regret this.”

 

Dean quirked his brow at her. “You’re going back without the apocalypse twins. Shouldn’t you be thanking me?”

 

“Hey!” Claire protested and punched Dean's arm. Cas looked frightened and hid behind Dean again.

 

He flicked her nose and took a protective stance in front of Cas. “You need to stop scaring him, or we won’t let you guys taste chocolate.”

 

"No idea what that is," Claire mumbled as she looked over Dean's shoulder. "And hey, you don't need to be afraid. We don't bite. Much."

 

“That’s not reassuring,” Cas murmured and Billie couldn’t stop herself from laughing.

 

“I did not anticipate him being like this. Lucifer described him as a dangerous mutant who could kill us all.”

 

Suddenly Cas tensed behind Dean. “Did you say Lucifer?”

 

Dean nodded. “He’s one of the Council of Six.”

 

Cas stepped around him to look at him in shock. "Dean, I know him... He is one of the first mutants."

 

“What?” Dean and Billie cried out at the same time.

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

“Crowley?” Sam asked, shocked to the bone that the guy had caught them. “You’re not going to stop us, so just let us go.”

 

“Of bloody course I’m not,” he said with a scoff as he tossed a duffel bag on the ground in front of them. “They’re old, but they’re better protection than the nothing you were apparently trying to go out there with.”

 

"You're giving us weapons?" Sam asked with widened eyes. "Why? What?"

 

“Eloquent as always.” Crowley chuckled and shook his head. “No idea why you lot think it’s safer out there than on the run from the guards, but if you and the good doctor have a BOLO for the pair of you directly from the head of the Council, well, then… Something’s going on and it gives me the warm and fuzzies helping undermine Lucy’s plans for you.”

 

Sam needed a moment to let that sink in. He exchanged a surprised look with Gabe before he said, "You could come with us if you hurry. We found a new home outside... with food."

 

That was met with a smirk and head shake. “As touched as I am by the offer, this is my home. I sent the guards who were sent here on a wild goose chase, but they’ll be back. You better get going.”

 

Sam took in a shuddered breath before he pulled Crowley in for a hug, that didn't just surprise Crowley, but also himself. "Thank you, Crowley. Just... thank you."

 

Crowley patted him on the back and said, “Tell Dean I said hello.” He winked at the flabbergasted expression on all of their faces and crept out of the room as quickly as he’d entered.

 

When Sam turned to Gabe with a questioning expression, Gabe shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t look at me. No idea how he knows all that shit.”

 

"It's a little creepy," Sam murmured as he opened the bag and handed Gadreel one of the rifles.

 

Gadreel let out a low whistle as he turned the weapon over in his hands. “He wasn’t kidding. These are ancient.”

 

"It's better than nothing." He grabbed his own weapon and went over to the door, giving one glance back to the door that led to Zion. "I feel like I have to say something big now, but... Just be careful outside everyone. I can't wait to show you guys everything... Especially the chocolate."

 

“Had me at chocolate,” Gabe quipped as he hit the button that opened the chamber door.

 

Sam smirked and shook his head. "Do you mind not eating it all for yourself, maybe try to share it with the people who haven't had the pleasure of tasting chocolate yet?"

 

Gabe grabbed Sam’s elbow and held on. “Only if you find a way to comfort me.”

 

"Pretty sure I'll find a way." Sam smirked before they carefully started their track to the Dome.

 

The sandstorm was horrible, as always, and he reached back to hold Gabriel's hand. "Stay close to me, okay?"

 

“There goes my hopes of taking a leisurely stroll,” he sassed as his grip tightened on Sam’s hand.

 

"When has it ever been a leisurely stroll?" Sam chuckled and turned on the button to track heat signatures.

 

For a moment he stilled in shock. It was as if those fuckers knew about their journey. "Do you see this, Gadreel?"

 

His friend walked up next to him, nodding before he murmured, "We should take a detour around the debris field. It will take longer, but I’d prefer to avoid a confrontation."

 

"Agreed." He squeezed Gabe's hand again before they started their path. It would be a long walk. Hopefully safer than what would have laid ahead in Zion.

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

“What?” Dean had asked at the same time as Billie, the other Hunters all had the same expression on their faces. Horror. “What do you mean Lucifer’s a mutant?”

 

Cas nodded, his eyes wide and his voice trembling slightly as he explained, "Yes. He was an aberration like me when they created the first enhanced soldiers for the war. He was... is very dangerous. He feeds on people's energy until they die."

 

Dean’s eyes widened and he shook his head in dismay. “Are… are we completely certain this is the same guy? I mean, the name Lucifer isn’t his real name, it’s an assigned name when a person takes the position with the Council.” Even saying the words, the hairs standing up on the back of his neck told him otherwise. It made sense, why so many people “died” in the sunchamber. Fuck.

 

Cas shook his head. "I don't know... but the name is an odd coincidence. He would probably look different from the past, though. I know there was a plan to terminate him, because he could change his appearance into the person he killed. That was shortly before the uprising. I think he might have even orchestrated it, freeing the other mutants who then killed all of the scientists in here."

 

“Shit.” Dean turned to Billie and said, “If that’s true, you need to be careful. Maybe make up a story about losing Claire and Jack to the mutant. Flag this area as dangerous so no other Hunters will venture out this far?”

 

“But this mutant isn’t dangerous,” Jack supplied unhelpfully.

 

Dean and Billie shared eye rolls and Dean shook his head. “It’s a damn good thing you’re stayin’, kid.”

 

Claire slapped the back of Jack's head and shook her head. "Damn, if that’s true, you need to do something, boss. A mutant in our midst killing us and not just that, but also ruling over us?"

 

Billie nodded and sighed. “Yeah, fuck.” She turned to Cas and asked, “Can we kill him like other mutants?”

 

Cas looked thoughtful for a moment before he shook his head. "He is very resilient. Don't let him touch you... cutting off his head would probably work." He shuddered and winced as if he had just imagined it.

 

Dean braced his hand on Billie’s shoulder. “You sure you guys don’t want to just stay here?”

 

Billie gave Dean a soft smile before she shook her head. "We have a responsibility to our people."

 

Dean returned the smile and nodded. “And if anyone can save them, it’s you.”

 

"Always the charmer, Dean." She smiled before she startled when the alarm went off. "What's that?"

 

"There is movement on the perimeter. Maybe it's your brother?" Cas supplied, sounding hopeful.

 

Dean knew better than to have that level of hopefulness. He turned to Billie and said, “Get your weapons ready, just in case.”

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

They made it to the front door without any trouble and Sam could see that the red lights inside the Dome were blinking, alerting Dean that they were here.

 

It would only be a few minutes now before Dean opened the door for them and they were finally safe.

 

Sam looked through the small round window of the main entrance door, trying to see something. There was movement. Sam squinted his eyes and waved to signal Dean that it was him.

 

As the door started to open, he realized Dean and Cas weren’t alone anymore. He readied his gun as six figures all armed came into focus. The Reapers. Dean stepped in front of them with his hands up. “Whoa, hey! It’s Sammy!”

 

“Dean, they were sent here for Cas. Lucifer has gone crazy,” Sam tried to warn him as he gestured to Gabe’s injuries. “Look what he did to Gabe.”

 

Dean’s eyebrows shot up at the awful lacerations marring Gabe’s lips. He shook his head in dismay as he urged everyone to back up and let them all in. “That’s… that’s horrifying.” He returned his attention to Sam, gently taking his gun from him as he said, “Shit, Cas, it’s sounding more and more likely that Lucifer is the mutant you were talking about.”

 

"Lucifer is what?" Sam interrupted before Cas could say anything.

 

“Cas said a mutant named Lucifer was one of the first of their kind created by the guys who made him. Did he… did he seem like he could be a mutant?” Dean asked Sam, but would have taken an answer from anyone at that point.

 

Instead of Sam answering, it was Gabe who nodded. "I saw him... He touched someone in the sunchamber who died... just by his touch."

 

"Shit, so he’s been murdering people all this time?" Sam asked, feeling shocked that a mutant had lived among them for so long, killing their people, and they never knew. As Hunters, it was their job to protect their people. And Lucifer had murdered them right under their noses.

 

Which meant this mutant probably killed Benny. And Jessica, the first girl he’d ever had a crush on. And their Mom. Sam could see Dean’s hands started shaking as his rage slowly overwhelmed him.

 

“We gotta kill him, Dean."

 

Dean nodded and turned to Billie. “I want you guys to go back and tell him the mutant here was too dangerous and unable to be killed. Don’t let him know we’re on to him, okay?”

 

Billie shook her head. "If he’s a threat to Zion, we will kill him when we see him, Dean."

 

At that Dean shook his head. “Only the twelve of us know he’s a mutant. If you attempt to kill a powerful mutant backed up by the entire Council and all their guards, you know you’ll all be killed without a second thought and the rest of Zion will stay under his fucked up rule. Do as I said, trust me.”

 

"He will probably come here personally. Are you prepared for that?" Billie asked in a worried tone.

 

Dean smirked. “I’m counting on it. In fact, if he assigns hunters to accompany him, make sure it’s your squadron.”

 

She nodded before she looked back to the rest of her team. "Alright, we’ll try to find proof at home about what he is. And you have two awesomely trained Reapers to help you back here. I wish you luck. But on the off chance you don't get to end that bastard here, we will when he comes back. His days are numbered."

 

“Good. You be safe,” he said as he clasped her forearm and gently shook it. A sign of respect among lead Hunters.

 

“You too, Dean.” She gave him a quick smile and nod. “But you always were a fine Hunter. I’m not worried.”

 

The rest of the Reapers said their goodbyes and Sam, Gabe, Gadreel, Garth, and Charlie cleared the inner door for the others to suit up to wait in the hallway. Sam could see the disbelieving looks on his companion’s faces, but the tour had to wait. “I’ll show you around after we’ve talked about securing this place. If Lucifer is on his way here, we need a plan.”

 

The others nodded and Sam waved at Billie through the window one more time before they left the inner chamber, returning to a home that hopefully would undergo some changes in the near future. Sam prayed for them. He knew how dangerous the following days were going to be.

 

He turned to Cas the moment the outer door started closing. “If Lucifer was created here, he probably knows this place. Are there any weaknesses or places he could come in through that isn’t the front door?”

 

Cas slowly shook his head. “Not that I know of. If we don’t open the outer door for him, he can’t get in.”

 

Sam exchanged a worried look with Dean before he said, “But he could attempt to destroy the door and then we would all die.”

 

“That won’t happen, we won’t let it. The perimeter alarms will go off before he can even try and I intend on being ready.” Dean opened the door to the main Dome for all of them. He gently grasped Cas’s wrist and said, “Before we do the official introductions, can you heal Gabe?”

 

Cas nodded and, to Sam's massive relief, carefully touched Gabe's face and healed him instantly. His friends who hadn't met Cas or seen his abilities gasped in unison as their jaws dropped in shock. He gave them a quick, reassuring smile before he hugged Cas. "Thank you, Cas."

 

Cas nodded with a shy smile.

 

Dean chuckled and held Cas’s hand, bringing him forward. “Gadreel, Garth, Charlie, this is Cas. He’s the mutant who created this,” Dean said as he showed them into the dome with all of the trees and flowers.

 

The looks on their faces were pure gold and Sam leaned against the wall to enjoy the way his friends were discovering the wonders of the Dome. All of the different colors, fruity sweet smells and... oh, yes. The bird that flew around them in curiosity.

 

It felt nice to share this, to see how they smiled and looked at this world in wonder. He exchanged a wide smile with Dean, who looked like he knew what Sam was feeling in that moment.

 

"And we can really stay here?" Charlie asked a little timidly as she approached Cas.

 

He gave her a soft smile and nodded. "Of course. You're very welcome to stay."

 

Dean leaned up and picked some of the small red fruits off of one of the trees, he couldn’t remember the name, and moved to stand between them, holding his hand out in an offer. “And as a welcome: here, try a cherry.”

 

“Be careful about the pit in it,” Sam added, remembering his own first time when Dean gave him a... cherry.

 

Cas picked up a basket from under one of the trees with different... fruits and Sam knew he had a lot to learn about their names in the next few days, offering them to the others. The gasps and surprised moans were amusing to watch, but his smile didn’t last when he thought about the upcoming confrontation.

 

He had no idea what they should do. They obviously needed to face Lucifer outside. They couldn’t allow him to damage the Dome. He noticed that two of the young Reapers – Claire and Jack – had obviously decided to stay behind. So they had seven Hunters to defend the Dome. But they probably didn’t have enough weapons.

 

They needed a plan. He looked to Dean and waved him over. “We need a plan, Dean. We can’t just wait for him to come here and knock on the door.”

 

Dean sighed and nodded as he pulled Sam away from the group, close to the animal pen. “I think we need to take Gabe down to the basement. See if there’s any information on Lucifer and the original mutants, see what we can learn and then figure out a tactical plan.”

 

Sam nodded and looked over at Cas who was timidly chatting with their friends. "We should also build a defensive perimeter around the Dome, like the walls of Zion. There’s enough debris close by to build a wall and defendable positions, so the door isn't too easy to attack. And we should organize a rotation of teams to man the perimeter. There’s seven Hunters. It's not too bad."

 

“That’s actually a good idea. I bet there’s somewhere we can refill the oxygen tanks.” Dean sighed and shook his head. “That fucker was probably responsible for Mom’s death, Sam.”

 

Sam pressed his eyes closed for a moment. "And Benny's and Jessica's... I can't wait to end that asshole."

 

Dean nodded. “Yeah.” He took a deep breath and straightened his stance. “I’m gonna ask Cas to take the rest of them on a grand tour and help them find rooms. We got yours and Gabe’s ready, we didn’t realize we were gonna end up with more of you or we woulda gotten more rooms ready. If you grab Gabe, I’ll meet you guys in the basement. Okay?”

 

Sam rubbed the back of his neck with a grin. "Yeah, sorry I couldn't warn you preemptively. We were kind of on the run for our lives."

 

“Hey, I’m just fucking glad you escaped.” Dean yanked him in for a hug. “I love you, Sammy.”

 

"Love you too, Dean. I'm glad we're finally here to stay. I really missed you," he murmured against his brother's shoulder. As he drew back, he gave him a quick smile and a pat on his shoulder before he walked over to Gabe, grabbing his hand. "Come on, we have some planning to do. "

 

Dean nodded and headed over to Cas. Their body language was fascinating to watch. Cas still seemed a little nervous until Dean gently braced his hand on Cas’s lower back and started whispering something in his ear. And his brother, despite all of the shit that was about to come down, instantly looked happy and relaxed in Cas’s presence. It was beautiful to see.

 

Sam was startled from his reverie when a voice he’d know anywhere whispered, “Stare any harder and you’ll burn a hole in them.”

 

He rolled his eyes at Gabe. "It's just nice to see Dean like this... happy, you know? Like he finally found the place he belongs."

 

“I think it’s sweet,” he said with a smile, tucking Sam’s hair behind his ear.

 

Sam smirked down at Gabe and winked at him. "Not as sweet as you are."

 

Gabe rolled his eyes and gently tugged Sam away from the group before pressing him against the wall and pulled him in for a slightly needy kiss. When he drew back he shook his head and braced his forehead against Sam’s. “I was fucking terrified I’d never see you again.”

 

Sam cupped Gabe's cheek and rubbed his thumb over the skin as he nodded tersely. "Me, too. I was so terrified when I knew they dragged you to the sunchamber. Shit, I thought they were going to kill you… and you’re my… everything. I can’t live without you.”

 

“You can, but I’d rather we not lose each other,” he said with a teasing smile.

 

"We won't." Sam smiled back before pressing a quick kiss to Gabe's forehead. "And to make sure it stays that way and we can enjoy the room Dean prepared for us, we need to check up on a few things. Dean said we should meet him in the basement. And while we're down there we should look for a machine that can refill the oxygen tanks."

 

Gabe nodded. “That sounds like a good idea.”

 

“Dean also said you should look to see if you can find anything about Lucifer. Maybe a weakness," Sam added as they made their way down to the lab. “After all, he was probably created here so there might still be documentation about it.”

 

“That’s a really good idea,” Gabe said, sounding impressed. He arched his brow in disbelief. “Dean thought of that?”

 

Sam rolled his eyes. "He was always good with strategies. He’s a damn good Hunter."

 

Gabe chuckled. “I give him shit, but he’s actually pretty smart considering.”

 

"Yeah, he got that from me." Sam chuckled as he looked around the creepy lab for a machine that could refill their tanks.

 

“Hey,” Gabe said as he gently gripped Sam’s wrist and turned him around. He started walking him back towards a counter. “I know we’ve got a lot of shit to deal with, a lot of plans to make, but considering we almost lost each other…” Instead of finishing, Gabe pressed him against the counter and pulled him in for a fervent kiss, raking his fingers through Sam’s hair as he delved deeper, more urgently than he’d ever kissed before.

 

Sam moaned into the kiss, for a moment forgetting everything around him, just enjoying the feeling of Gabe pressed against him. He had pushed the emotions down to get through the situation when they were still in Zion, but now... everything bubbled up and he realized how close he had been to losing Gabe. And that realization made him desperate for his touch, to feel him close and to feel his hands running over his body.

 

His fingers slid down to Gabe's shirt and under it, needing to feel his body warm and alive under his fingertips. "Gabe," he murmured against soft but determined lips.

 

Gabe nodded against his lips, growling out a soft, “I don’t want to lose someone I love. Not again.” He snaked his hand under Sam’s shirt, raking his fingernails down his spine as he sucked Sam’s lip between his teeth.

 

Sam gasped before he licked into Gabe's mouth, deepening the kiss and pulling him closer. "You won't... Gabe, I love you so much," he murmured not knowing how to react to the desperation he was feeling. He wanted to be closer – in whatever way possible.

 

With a frustrated growl, Gabe drew back, his breath coming out in heavy pants as he gently grasped Sam’s chin. “We gotta stop, or your brother’s gonna walk in on something he’s not gonna want to see.”

 

Sam knew Gabe was right, but it was so hard to stop as he pressed his lips against Gabe's thumb, trying to calm his breathing. He couldn't stop looking at him, the sassy amber colored depths that he had missed so much in the last few days. He licked over Gabe's thumb, nipping at it with a quiet gasp. "Easier said than done," he murmured, his hands still sliding over Gabe's skin under his shirt.

 

Gabe groaned as he twisted one of his hands in Sam’s shirt. “You’re really testing me, Winchester.”

 

"I'm sorry." He didn't sound even a little sorry and he knew it. "It's very difficult to keep my hands off you." He knew that in that moment he wouldn’t even care if Dean walked right in. He just wanted to feel Gabe.

 

That was met with another groan as Gabe grabbed the button of his pants. “I warned you.” He expertly ripped his pants open before gently turning Sam around. As Gabe carefully pulled his pants down, he murmured, “Been wanting to do this since the night with the wine.”

 

Sam was breathing erratically, in the same arrhythmic pace his heart seemed to be beating as he closed his eyes and let Gabe take the reins. The night with the wine – it was his favorite memory to comfort him through the long nights they hadn’t been able to see each other. “What did you want to do?” he breathed out shakily.

 

“This,” Gabe growled as he parted Sam’s ass cheeks. When he felt Gabe’s breath against his hole, he gasped. Gabe chuckled and said, “If you want me to stop, at any point, just tell me.”

 

Sam bit his lip and shook his head, although he wasn't sure if Gabe could see it. He was nervous, but also excited to take this step. He trusted Gabe, he knew a lot more about sex than Sam did. He gasped again when his whole body tingled from the way Gabe was touching him, holding him in place; how his heated breath felt against his skin, causing a pleasurable shiver. “Please.”

 

Then he felt something he’d never felt before. Something soft and wet against his hole. As Gabe kneaded his ass cheeks, the soft touch started getting firmer and firmer before suddenly the wet sensation started gently probing his hole.

 

Sam gasped out again, his fingers gripping the table in front of him as he tried to hold on to something. His dick was hard and throbbing as he gently rocked it against the desk without thinking. "G Gabe," he pleaded through a broken moan. He didn't know what he was pleading for. More of Gabe, more pleasure, something. Nothing made sense anymore as pleasure threatened to overwhelm him.

 

All that was met with was a murmured chuckle and it caused an insanely pleasurable reverberation. It was unlike anything he’d ever felt before and the heat in his groin slowly started to spread throughout his body. And suddenly the sensation was gone and he almost whimpered from the loss. Gabe growled, “Grab your dick, Sam. Stroke it for me.” Before he could react, the amazing wet sensation was back with a new vigor, circling his hole and somehow plunging even deeper inside.

 

Sam felt dizzy from how fast and shallow he was breathing as he wrapped his fingers around his dick and started stroking. It didn't feel as good as having Gabe's hand on him, but the combined pleasure from stroking himself and Gabe touching his hole was quickly becoming too much to handle.

 

He moaned deeply as the pleasure was about to push him over the edge and whimpered, "Gabe, I..."

 

The sensation in his hole disappeared again and Gabe said, “I know, baby. I got you.” And suddenly something firmer and larger started touching his hole. “Fuck, you’re beautiful.”

 

Sam rocked his ass back against the sensation, desperately needing more of it. “Gabe… uh… feels so good.”

 

Gabe chuckled and he felt him press a gentle bite to his right cheek. “Okay, I’m gonna try something new and it’s going to be a little uncomfortable, but I want you to trust me, it’s gonna feel even better.”

 

Sam nodded quickly. He was sure he would agree to anything Gabe wanted to do to him. "I trust you."

 

“I know you do.” Gabe started rubbing his lower back with one of his hands when the firm sensation breached him. It wasn’t as wet and there was a burning, but Gabe asked him to trust him. And he had been right, it was uncomfortable as he felt it go in deeper and deeper, his erection flagging from the discomfort. Just when Sam was about to ask Gabe to stop, whatever was in his ass, he was suspecting more and more it was Gabe’s finger, bent and suddenly white hot pleasure coursed through his entire body, almost making Sam see stars.

 

"Oh, damn uhh..." Sam gasped out, bending forward over the table, gripping the edge of it again. He needed to feel that again. Now! "Please, yes, Gabe."

 

Gabe chuckled again. “That’s the gland I was telling you about.” And suddenly it happened again, and again, and again. Gabe was rubbing it relentlessly.

 

Sam had no idea a feeling like that even existed. He was going mad with need, want, pleasure, rocking his ass towards Gabe like an offering for him to take. He felt his balls tighten, the tip of his dick was wet as his hands went down again to touch himself. He was rock hard again and just those few touches were enough to tip him over the edge with a cried out broken plea and Gabe's name on his lips before he collapsed against the table in front of him, his body still shaking in pleasure.

 

He winced slightly when Gabe removed his finger and he gasped softly when he felt his lips on his hole. “You did good, baby,” he murmured as Sam felt him stand up and gently turn him around.

 

As soon as Sam had Gabe within reach, he drew him closer, leaning his forehead against Gabe's, still breathing way too fast. "That was... incredible. Thank you."

 

He looked down between them, his hand sliding down, cupping Gabe's erection over his pants before he opened the button and slipped his hand inside.

 

Gabe’s breath hitched as he drew him in for a kiss. “Sam.” The way he said his name, it was like he was praying.

 

Sam pulled down Gabe's pants to free his cock and stroked him the way Gabe had instructed him the last time with firm, hard strokes. "I love you so much," he whispered before he kissed him again.

 

Gabe’s gasp turned into an outright moan as he bucked up into his hand. “Oh, fuck. That’s it, baby.”

 

He felt the hair rising on his arm and neck when Gabe called him baby. He shuddered, pulling him closer with one hand before he licked into Gabe's mouth again. He stroked him harder, nipping at his lips as he thought how much he wanted Gabe to be his official Milowda. Gabe would probably call him stupidly romantic if he knew.

 

“Use…” He moaned again and locked eyes with Sam as he breathed out another instruction, “Use your other hand to touch my balls, gently.”

 

Sam nodded breathlessly as he dragged his other hand from Gabe's hip to his balls, gently sliding his finger between Gabe's legs, cupping them in his palms. It felt really nice, especially when he caressed them with his fingertips, eliciting the most alluring noises from Gabe’s lips.

 

“Fuck,” he groaned as he bucked into Sam’s hand a little more frantically.

 

Sam dragged his lips over Gabe's throat and up to his earlobe, biting softly as he stroked him quicker and harder, thinking that soon he would be able to share a bed with Gabe throughout the whole night.

 

Gabe gripped his upper arms as he groaned out Sam’s name and his hips shuddered as he spilled his seed.

 

It was mostly all over Sam's hand and he smiled as he stroked him through those waves of pleasure, enjoying that he could give this to Gabe.

 

Before either of them could react, they were startled by Dean crying out a distressed sounding, “Oh, Bog, why?”

 

They whipped around in unison, seeing Dean covering his eyes with his hands.

 

Sam quickly pulled up his pants, wiping his hand on the inside of his shirt. Which he regretted instantly as the wetness started to stick to his skin. "Sorry, Dean... We just... haven't seen each other in a while and I was worried... and... um, sorry."

 

Gabe chuckled and carefully tucked himself in his pants. “I’m not sorry.”

 

Dean carefully pulled his hand from his eyes and scowled at Gabe. “Thought you were gonna look for info on Lucifer,” he accused.

 

Gabe pointed at Sam with a smirk. “It’s his fault.”

 

Sam gave him a pointed look before he shrugged and nodded. "Yeah, you're right. I distracted him. We're going to look now though."

 

Dean pursed his lips in unamusement and said, “Alright, did you guys find anything before you started having sex?”

 

"The basement?" Sam supplied with a smirk.

 

Gabe barked out a laugh and cupped his face. “I love you.”

 

It was the first time Gabe had said those words to him and for a moment Sam forgot how to breathe. He just stared at him and then he started to smile widely, leaning forward to draw Gabe into a soft kiss. When he leaned back again, the smile turned into a smirk. "Yeah, I know."

 

Dean interrupted their moment with a groan. “Ugh. Is this how you guys feel around me and Cas?”

 

Sam turned around and nodded enthusiastically. “Oh, yes! So now you have to put up with this because it isn’t going to stop.”

 

Gabe waggled his eyebrows at Dean before drawing Sam in for another kiss.

 

Dean groaned again. “Stop acting like first nighters and help me find info on Lucifer!”

 

Sam rolled his eyes but complied, quickly kissing Gabe's cheek before he searched for a machine to refill the tanks. He hoped if he found one it would work the same as the one in Zion. Before he checked one of the adjourned rooms, he turned to watch Gabe for a moment. He was at the screen again, looking concentrated as he read over things, explaining something to Dean that Sam couldn't hear.

 

It was hard to take his eyes off of the man he loved. But he knew he had to concentrate on the job now, to make this place safe. So they could both have a home where they could enjoy the excitement of the shift in their relationship. Openly. Freely.

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

While Sam was busy replenishing all of the tanks with Jack, Dean had guided everyone else to the dinner table and chairs in the open space of the kitchen. Gabe had found quite a bit of information on Lucifer and the original mutants. When Cas had said he was a, “mistake,” Dean hadn’t realized he was being literal. The original mutants had all been created with specific super strengths to be utilized by humans to win wars, at least from the little bit Gabe said before getting distracted with more and more information.

 

And apparently, some fuck up in his coding, or whatever Gabe called it, caused him to be able to regenerate living cells. They kept him separate from all of the other mutants for fear he’d be permanently hurt or worse. And Lucifer had been the most dangerous of all of the original mutants, having the strengths all eight of the other mutants had.

 

Well, having them after Lucifer basically sucked their lifeforces out of them. He apparently absorbed their powers and if he ever found out about Cas, he would have done the same and basically become immortal. Which would be insanely dangerous. But he wasn’t and that was the key thing. He could be killed by fire and because of the hyper whatever Gabe called it from his powers, if he came into contact with fire, he would be almost instantly killed by it.

 

But absorbing the life forces of a creature also meant he absorbed their number of years. The original mutants all had several hundred years of life and when those years were finally up, Gabe said it was probably why he started doing it to humans. It would give him a good fifty or sixty years with each one.

 

Cas was busy in the kitchen, cooking dinner for everyone. Dean had tried to be pushy and help, but Cas insisted he continue to work on their plans. So, with a murmured, “I love you,” and a chaste kiss, Dean was at the table, trying to plot out each step of their plan.

 

“I think first and foremost, after Sammy and Jack are done with the tanks, we all take turns building the wall like he suggested,” Dean said as he dropped himself down on the chair at the head of the table.

 

Claire nodded as she finished drawing up a rotation schedule of perimeter checks, dividing them into groups. "We should divide into two teams, one team that builds the walls and the other for look out."

 

“I’ll take first shift building,” Dean offered. He figured it was only right. The most strenuous activity he’d done today, besides facing off with the Reapers, was have sex with Cas. He was the most well-rested.

 

"I could help you," Cas suggested, looking over his shoulder from stirring the pot.

 

"We don't have enough suits," Claire replied when she looked up from her checklist.

 

"I don't require a suit," Cas explained quietly.

 

At their gobsmacked expressions, Dean nodded. “You saw him heal Gabe earlier. It’s kind of his thing.” He flashed a soft smile in Cas’s direction.

 

Claire shook her head. "Still. You are our first objective to protect from Lucifer. It's you he wants. So, you're staying put."

 

Cas stared at her for a moment before he nodded and continued to cook.

 

Dean chuckled and smacked his hand on the table to get Gabe to look up from all of the papers he’d found. “Gabe, have you found any info on what all he can do yet? Like what powers or whatever he stole from the other mutants?”

 

Gabe frowned before he sighed deeply. "Well, there’s still a dark figure of mutants he might have killed after the – what Cas called the Uprising, happened. They have three documented kills before the scientist had decided to get rid of Lucifer and he started the riot, getting the others to turn against the scientists and kill them all. They had super strength, the other had immunity against biological weapons and diseases, and the third one... could see in the dark."

 

He couldn’t hold back the sigh as he leaned back against his chair. That was a lot of powers. And it was only half of them, maybe even less than that. “And we know he can kill you with a touch. Shit. Okay, let’s plot out how we’re going to kill him and then whichever of you feels the most rested should come with me and be my watchguard.”

 

"Me and Jack are going to guard you. We are both excellent snipers,” Claire suggested with a smirk.

 

Gadreel who had been quiet for a long while nodded and added, “I’m going to help you build up the defenses.”

 

At that Charlie also piped up with a grin, “And I have an idea about an extra defensive strategy. Gabe told us you have alcohol here. And you know that alcohol is highly flammable, right? We could drench fabrics in alcohol and drape them in a defensive line. When Lucifer comes, we set it on fire.”

 

Dean nodded. “That sounds like a good idea. Any other ideas? Suggestions?”

 

“What about weapons?” Claire asked. “Do we only have what we brought, or does this place have a cache?”

 

“Not that I’ve found yet. Cas says this was a place for science. Right, Cas? No chance there’s weapons here?” he asked as he tilted his head back to look at him.

 

Cas frowned and looked thoughtful. "There might be weapons down in the basement. They tested weapons on..." He shook his head and continued to cook.

 

Dean took a deep breath and nodded, trying to keep the rage and seething out of his next command, “Alright, Charlie, Gabe? That’s your job while we’re outside. See what you can find in the basement.”

 

Gadreel gave Dean a worried look before he nodded, but asked, "Are you okay, Dean?"

 

“I’m fine, Gadreel,” he breathed out calmly. That’s when it hit him. He’s not in Zion. He didn’t have to repress or push back his emotions. Dean swallowed dryly and shook his head. “I’m angry, but I don’t want to talk about it because it’s not my place to.”

 

He could see Cas looking at him, giving him a grateful nod. Gadreel, gentle and receptive as long as Dean had known the guy, seemed to get that this was a sensitive topic that he didn't want to discuss. "We’ll go and look for them right away." He took Charlie's hand before they quickly left the kitchen, much to Charlie's dismay.

 

Claire chuckled and stood up too, waving her list. "I’ll go help them."

 

Apparently they wanted to give Cas and Dean some time alone.

 

Dean chuckled and moved to stand, closing the distance between them, wrapping his arms around him from behind. “I know this can’t be easy for you, so thank you for being so understanding.”

 

Cas tilted his head. "What do you mean?"

 

“Everything at once. That you’re in danger, that suddenly there’s so many people here and we’re all looking for things like weapons and planning to kill someone. You’re peaceful and kind. This isn’t your thing.”

 

Cas looked away from Dean before he nodded slowly and whispered, "I understand the need to protect someone you love."

 

Dean flipped Cas around to face him and cupped his cheek. “And I will. If it’s the last thing I do, I’ll protect you, Cas. Do you believe me?”

 

Cas nodded and leaned into Dean's hand. "I just wish it was all over... I'm afraid... I'm afraid that you could get hurt."

 

“If I do, I’ve got you to make me better,” he said with a soft chuckle.

 

Cas gave him a pained look before he sighed. "Yes, always." He was quiet for a moment before he gave him a soft smile. "So I think I will need to set up more rooms. Your friends are very nice to me... even though I'm a mutant."

 

Dean gently swiped the pad of his thumb along his cheek. “Because they see what I see.”

 

Cas closed his eyes for a moment under Dean's touch. "And what is that?"

 

He chuckled and smiled as he leaned in closer. “Sunshine.”

 

Cas blushed, his cheeks a beautiful red hue as he smiled shyly at Dean. "You... you're too kind. I don't even know what to say."

 

He turned around to the food and Dean could see that Cas looked still happy and content with Dean's words. He was smiling as he stirred the soup, sneaking a shy glance up to Dean.

 

“I love you, Cas.” Dean leaned in and pressed a chaste kiss to his lips.

 

He didn't expect Cas to eagerly kiss him back, nor did he expect him to push Dean against the kitchen counter, deepening the kiss with a needy desperation.

 

Dean groaned into it, losing himself to the intensity before he forced himself to draw back. “I’ve gotta go start on that wall. Tonight, when we’re done, just you and me. Okay?”

 

Cas nodded, slightly out of breath. "Yes, um, sorry. I didn't want to distract you... I was... I'm worried."

 

“I get it. I do. But I will come back and I would really like to just lie in bed in your arms.”

 

"Can I kiss you then, too?" Cas asked with his typical, adorable head tilt.

 

Dean nodded. “You better.”

 

"Good," Cas replied with a shy smile. "Because I miss your lips already."

 

Dean chuckled and drew him in for another brief kiss. As he drew back, he flashed him a contented smile. “Just wanted one more for the road.”

 

“Be careful outside, Dean.”

 

“Careful’s my middle name,” he quoted one of his favorite things to say.

 

Cas frowned and scrunched up his nose. "Your name is Dean Careful Winchester?"

 

Dean shrugged and said, “Could be. Never found out if Mom and Dad gave us middle names.”

 

"I see. So you just made that up so I wouldn't worry." Cas scratched his chin before he shook his head. "It didn't work."

 

“I’ll be careful, Cas,” he assured with a firm nod, soft smile tilting his lips up.

 

Before Dean left the room, Cas walked up to him and hugged him from behind. "Good." Soft and gentle lips were pressed to his neck before Cas let him go and returned to the stove without looking back.

 

Dean cast a look over his shoulder at Cas’s form as he reached for the door handle. He was lighter, Dean could tell. There was still a slight tenseness in his shoulders, but overall he was looser. He was humming softly the song Dean’s Mom used to sing to him before she was taken… killed by that monster Lucifer.

 

He had never loved anyone the way he loved Cas. Dean sighed happily and slipped out of the door. Time to protect the people he loved. Something Dean had a much firmer and confident grasp on.

Chapter Text

Chapter 13

 

Sam scrunched up his nose as he sniffed at the torn fabric he helped Charlie drench in wine. "It's really a pity about the fresh wine you and Dean have made," he complained as he gave Cas an apologetic look.

 

"We can make new wine," Cas replied with a soft smile. "But you are all irreplaceable."

 

“I think it’s really awesome of you, using your powers to create all this life. It’s gotta suck a little to see your hard work go to waste,” Charlie added.

 

Cas held his hand over the ground and suddenly flowers started to grow around them. Cas plucked a small one with a long stem and white pedals before he stuck it behind Charlie's ear. "It's not going to waste if we all protect this Dome."

 

Charlie giggled and yanked Cas forward into a quick hug, causing him to let out a soft gasp of surprise. “You’re so awesome. Thank you for being awesome.”

 

Cas blushed and rubbed the back of his neck and Sam couldn't stop his grin. "Did Dean help you with your work here, or do you just feed him?" Sam teased before he started drenching the next batch of fabric strips that Charlie had given him.

 

Cas's eyes sparkled as he started to talk about Dean, "He helps me with everything I do, but the best part is that he is always there for me and talks with me... and I just feel safe with him."

 

Charlie regarded him curiously, expression bemused yet hopeful. “You sound like you love him like a Milowda.”

 

"Milowda," Cas repeated slowly. "That is what you call your partner in a relationship where you come from."

 

At Sam's nod and encouraging smile Cas nodded again. "Yes, that is how I love Dean."

 

Instead of being disgusted or shocked, or any of other negative emotion, Charlie squealed and clapped her hands. “I love that you love him!”

 

He knew that Cas probably didn't know how special that was. Sam had no idea if Dean had told Cas about how loving someone of the same gender was forbidden in Zion. He turned to Charlie with a smile. "Here, we can finally be who we want to be. It's probably a good time to tell you that Gabe and I are a couple. I love him."

 

It felt like a massive weight had fallen from his chest. To tell one of his friends the truth. Just like that.

 

Charlie squealed again and pulled Sam in for a hug. “Double love!”

 

Sam hugged her back and chuckled. "I hope the others will take the news as well as you have."

 

“If not, fuck ‘em!” Charlie chuckled and dipped some more rags into the wine.

 

Cas tilted his head, looking worried. "You think some of your friends will have a problem with you loving Gabriel?"

 

Sam shrugged and took in a deep breath. "We come from a society where loving someone of the same gender is forbidden. Living in a world where survival is everything, there has to be sacrifices. And happiness was the first thing we all sacrificed."

 

Cas touched Sam's arm. "But you're here now. You can be happy. And if one of your friends doesn’t want you to be happy, they are not your friend."

 

Sam nodded, giving Cas a soft smile. The whole conversation left him thoughtful and with a stale taste in his mouth.

 

Would they send people back to Zion if they didn’t approve of his relationship with Gabe? And if yes, to what degree would that disapproval have to go? Especially since they didn't know how much Zion would change in the next few days. What if they sent someone home for being disapproving of them and this person returned to Zion just to meet their death? That was the last thing Sam wanted.

 

"That was the last of the fabric," Cas murmured as he handed a batch of it to Charlie to cut it into strips.

 

Charlie nodded. “Then it’s time for me to go switch out with Jack.”

 

Sam nodded and gathered all of the strips into the basket Cas had given them. "I'll go out with you, help spread them out. "

 

“Sounds good to me.”

 

Sam helped Charlie up and gave Cas a nod. "See you later, buddy."

 

Cas gave them both a bright smile before he replied, "Be careful outside."

 

They left the dome and walked down the hallway towards the front door as Sam leaned closer to Charlie and whispered, "He's so nice. I still feel bad that I thought all mutants were monsters who needed to be killed. Even after he saved us and brought us here, I didn't trust him."

 

“Well, I can’t say I blame you, Sam. It’s what we’ve been taught,” she said with a shrug.

 

"It's like a miracle. This place... his abilities. I think a part of me thought it was too good to be true."

 

Charlie laughed and nodded her agreement. “I keep pinching myself, trying to wake up. I ate an orange earlier, Sam. No idea what that is, but it was so amazing.”

 

"To think that all those things... those trees, and flowers, and all of this food just grew outside... Do you think there will be a day in the future where humans can live outside again? And if yes, would they destroy everything again?"

 

“I think it’s nice to have dreams, Sam,” she said in a slightly dejected tone.

 

Sam squeezed her shoulder. "Yeah," he said wistfully, "until then, this Dome is our world, our home."

 

Charlie exhaled in relief. “I can’t believe it.” She shook her head and smirked at him. “You and Gabriel, huh?”

 

Sam smiled, looking away as he tried to hide his happy blush. "Yes, it's still pretty new, but I’ve loved him since... forever. It's nice that I can finally say it to him." He turned to her again. "Do you have anyone special, if you don't mind me asking?"

 

Charlie shook her head. “No, I was never assigned a Milowda and the only person that could have made me feel like that… she was taken to the sunchamber when we were teenagers.”

 

Sam winced and looked down. "I'm sorry to hear that.We lost too many loved ones to... Lucifer."

 

“Don’t be sorry. Let’s just kill him. Stop it from happening to anyone else.”

 

"Agreed." Sam held open the inner door for her before they started to suit up. They were all determined, they all had different reasons to fight, and Sam couldn't feel more hopeful when he stepped outside of the Dome with Charlie at his side.

 

The sight that greeted him made him smile. Claire and Jack were in their positions on the roof of the small building in front of the Dome. The same building he and Gabe had once used to hide out from mutant animals. The others were busy erecting walls from the debris and fields of ruins around them. They were making good progress. It would be so much easier to defend when Lucifer eventually arrived. They could do this. He believed in his new family. And he wasn't even afraid to tell everyone later about Gabe and himself because, on some level, he just knew by looking at the others that they were good people who all wanted a new start and finally start living.

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

Dean was in the kitchen, eating some left over pasta after having taken a shower. He was still a little twitchy. They’d built a decent wall from as much of the debris as they could get without flagging any other mutants. People were taking turns resting and taking naps. Gabe came into the kitchen just as he was finishing the food.

 

He nodded to the doctor and proceeded to clean the bowl in the sink. It was bizarre how little people talked during high stress situations. Possible death situations. Why was it that silence was preferred to talking? Why wouldn’t you use that time to tell the people in your life what you think about them, how they make you feel?

 

And instead of actually talking to Gabe about his thoughts, he continued to bask in the silence. Unsure how to bridge the silence, Dean sighed and asked, “Hungry?”

 

"Not really," Gabe replied quietly before he chuckled mirthlessly. "Which is weird. I'm always hungry."

 

Dean snorted and nodded in agreement. “Cas is always dumbfounded by how much you can eat.”

 

"The last time I was here I ate so much I felt sick for two days. Our bodies aren't used to digesting all of the different kinds of food." He blinked up at Dean. "Did you have trouble with your stomach when you came here?" It was weird hearing him talk like a doctor. Dean wondered if Gabe was doing it because he was nervous.

 

“Yeah, but Cas knew just what to do to make me feel better.” Dean smiled as he thought back to that first night Sam and Gabe visited. When Dean started to hope for himself. For all of them.

 

Gabe smiled softly. "You take good care of each other, hm? Did you talk to him about what happened to him?"

 

Dean nodded as he started drying the plate. “He’s getting better about talking about it, but we still have to stop and take breaks.”

 

Gabe's smile got wider as he replied, "I'm glad you're doing it. I know it won't be easy, but you will help him in the long run."

 

“Yeah, well… Easier for you to say. You don’t have to watch him cry.”

 

Gabe stood up from the table and walked up to him, touching his shoulder. "Whenever you need help, you can come to me. I helped a few hunters in Zion with bad cases of PTSD and prevented a trip to the sunchamber."

 

Dean was surprised to hear that. Not that Gabe had helped other people, since that was his job, but that other hunters had nightmares like Cas had. On the other hand, the more he thought about it, the more it made sense that no one talked about those things. No one talked about their real feelings in Zion.

 

As he put the plate back in the cupboard Cas had shown him, Dean closed the door slowly and exhaled. “Thanks, by the way.”

 

Gabe frowned at him. "For what?"

 

“For helping keep my brother safe.” Dean clapped a hand on Gabe’s shoulder and gave him a pointed nod.

 

Gabe laughed and shook his head. "Do you know what he did? He broke into the sunchamber to get me out! Even though I told him he should come here if there was trouble. It's easier to keep cockroaches from multiplying than to keep Sam out of trouble."

 

Dean chuckled, the sound only slightly surprised. Sam was stubborn as Hell, especially when it came to people he loved. “Yeah, he’s always makin’ the heart choice instead of the smart choice.”

 

"Yeah." Gabe smiled to himself. "It's actually what I really like about him." He cleared his throat before he looked up at Dean again. "That reminds me of something. I heard that no one at school taught you Hunters about sex. Not that I'm surprised, especially about the lack of knowledge about homosexual sex. So should you have any questions, now you have a doctor here to ask."

 

Dean snorted and shook his head. “You know that’s weird, right? Considering the position I found you and my little brother earlier…”

 

Gabe smirked at him as he leaned against the counter. "At least you know that I know what I'm doing."

 

“Yeah, but what you know is being used on Sammy. As much as I want to learn, I’m not gonna be able to not imagine you doing it to him.”

 

Gabe grimaced. "Yuck. You imagine me and your brother having sex. That's sick, Dean." He grinned before he shook his head. "Look, you can't change that Sam and I are in the same boat as you and Cas are. Everything you do with him, I do with Sam. I'm sorry, but it is what it is. So if you want to learn some new moves at some point, you know where I am."

 

Dean sighed and braced his hands against the counter as he leaned against it. “Alright. Gimme something new.”

 

"What have you done so far?" Gabe asked, his voice immediately shifting to doctor mode. It somehow made everything easier.

 

Rubbing the back of his neck, Dean’s gaze went to the floor. “Um, we’ve, uh… touched each other’s dicks with our hands and mouths.”

 

Gabe gave him an encouraging nod. "That's a very good start. You already know two out of three ways to have sex with your partner. When you pleasure him with your mouth, do you just kiss his erection or do you take it into your mouth?"

 

Dean had been wrong, the professional tone wasn’t keeping his embarrassment at bay. “In my mouth. In bo both our mouths.”

 

Gabe seemed to be surprised at that as he nodded. "It's good to know that even if no one teaches you to do those things the body still wants what it wants and doesn’t let us forget." He shook his head with a soft smile before he added, "It sounds like you’ve already figured out most of the stuff on your own. There’s a third way to have sex, though that might not have crossed your mind. It's called anal sex. It's means, for example, that Cas would  receive your penis in his butt, or the other way around, however you like."

 

That sounded like the opposite of pleasurable. “I don’t see why anyone would do that.”

 

Gabe chuckled and nodded. "That's why I'm telling you this. There is a gland called the prostate you can stimulate with your finger, or through anal sex, that gives the stimulated partner a lot of pleasure. But even though the feeling is incredible, you need to take your time with your partner, opening him up slowly and carefully with a lot of fluid or even better... doesn't Cas make oil from plants? That would work perfectly. I won't lie, it can be uncomfortable at first, especially when you’ve never done it before, but damn it's worth it. You can really connect with your partner that way."

 

“Have, uh… have you and Sammy done that?”

 

Gabe shook his head. "Not yet. I would have never risked something like that back in Zion."

 

“If, uh…” Dean toyed with a loose thread on the hem of his shirt. “If me and Cas, we choose to do that… which one of us…”

 

Gabe raised an eyebrow at him before he replied slowly, "Well, that depends. You should talk to him about it, ask what he wants or is willing to do. Who usually takes charge when you are sexual?"

 

“Me? I guess.” Dean felt they were pretty evenly matched, but if he was honest, if he thought about their relationship over all, Dean was the one who took charge more often than not.

 

Gabe nodded thoughtfully. "Then you seem to be more confident and secure about it. If you want to try anal sex, you should be the one that tops. You seem to like taking care of Cas anyway, right? And he trusts you. I can see that. You can alway switch places at another time and see how that goes. Experiment, have fun."

 

Dean nodded and swallowed dryly. The idea was scary but intriguing all at the same time. “I’ll, uh… I’ll talk to Cas about it.”

 

Gabe clapped his hand on Dean's shoulder. "You do that... and just keep in mind that you need time and patience for it."

 

“When we kill Lucifer, we’ll have all the time in the world.”

 

Gabe took in a deep, shuddered breath. He seemed nervous again. "Yeah... Can't wait for this to be over. The waiting is killing me."

 

Dean exhaled slowly as he nodded his agreement. “Yeah. I’m with you there.”

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

The sandstorm was getting worse outside and Sam wiped his helmet with his forearm to get rid of the dust after he put another big stone on the pile of the part of the wall he was building.

 

“Do you want to take a break?” Gadreel asked softly.

 

Sam turned to him and shook his head. “I’ll take a long break when this is over.” After a moment of silence, watching his friend help them build up the defenses he added, “How are you holding up?”

 

“Good. Worried, but good. This place… your descriptions didn’t do it justice, Samuel.”

 

Sam grinned and nodded. "I know. This place is like... beyond imagination. Not just because of the water and food, but because, for the first time in my life, I feel really happy. And I'm going to do everything to protect that."

 

Gadreel smiled and nodded his understanding. “You deserve such happiness.”

 

"You too, Gadreel. You are one of my best friends and I can't tell you how grateful I am for all your help. You're always there for me... and..." He stopped and took a deep breath. "And there’s something I always wanted to tell you."

 

Gadreel shook his head, a bemused smile on his face as he added a large and twisted piece of metal to their makeshift wall. “What’s that?”

 

"Um..." Sam's heartbeat was probably as loud as the sandstorm. "Gabe and I... we love each other."

 

The smile that curled his friend’s lips with the soft laugh was music to Sam’s ears. “That makes me happy.”

 

Sam quirked his brow in relief and surprise. "So you're... okay with it?"

 

“Of course, Samuel. You’re my friend. I only wish for your happiness.”

 

Sam exhaled a deep breath he hadn't been aware of holding. His chest felt lighter now and he couldn't stop smiling. He knew the smile would probably hurt his cheeks at some point, but he was just too damn happy to care. "I'm... thank you, Gadreel. That means a lot to me."

 

He placed another rock on the wall before he asked, "What about you? Did you have anyone you like?"

 

Gadreel hummed noncommittally. “I do, but this person is happy with their Milowda. Or, I suppose we don’t have to refer to our partners as that any longer, do we?”

 

Sam nodded slowly. "There are no rules like that here. You can be with the person you love and that loves you back... The person you like, was there any chance between the two of you? I mean, if this person could have chosen a partner freely?"

 

Gadreel chuckled and shook his head. “The person I like is happy with their partner.”

 

Sam sighed and nodded. "I'm sorry."

 

“Don’t be sorry. As long as he’s happy, that’s all that matters,” Gadreel said sweetly as he grabbed a large, mostly intact piece of rebar.

 

Sam stopped in the middle of his movement. “He?”

 

“Yes, Samuel. He.” Gadreel chuckled as he took the boulder from Sam’s hands and braced it onto the pile.

 

"Huh." Sam leaned back and gave his friend a thoughtful look. "I wonder how many people secretly love a person of their own gender over in Zion."

 

Gadreel shrugged. “Probably more than you think, but less than the majority. If only out of sheer ignorance.”

 

Sam was quietly stacking more rocks as he thought about that. Most people would probably never even think about what it could be like to love someone of their own gender. Just because they grew up in a world where it wasn't only forbidden, but they were told it was wrong or a sickness.

 

He knew now that it just wasn't true. More like the opposite. It was in their nature to love, like it was in their nature to laugh or to cry, to feel pleasure or to be afraid.

 

It was unnatural to hide it.

 

He slammed another rock on the wall and stepped back from it to look it over before he nodded. "All people deserve the freedom to be who they are. We're lucky here, but I think we have a responsibility to share this luck."

 

“Oh, I agree, Samuel. And if we are successful in defeating Lucifer, I’d very much like to go back to Zion and attempt a conversation with the Council.”

 

Sam turned to him and grabbed his arm. "That could still be dangerous."

 

Gadreel nodded. “It could, but you’re right, Samuel. Look at the wealth this place provides. Shouldn’t we all be so lucky?”

 

Sam squeezed his arm. "I'm right there with you. I'm just saying that you won't need to go alone. We'll do it together."

 

Gadreel gently tapped his cheek and shook his head. “No need for you to risk your happiness and life here, Samuel. I’m sure one of the, uh… what does Dean call them? Apocalypse twins? I bet they’d be happy to accompany me.”

 

"Oh, we’ll take them with us, alright! But there is no way I'm letting you go alone." He gave his friend a pointed look before he added, "And you know how stubborn I can be."

 

“I do. But you forget, you are not the only challenging Winchester I’ve had to deal with.”

 

"You think Dean won't allow me to go back there again?" Sam chuckled.

 

Gadreel fixed him with an unamused expression. “I’m sure I’d be able to convince him to take a walk out here without a suit easier than letting you leave again.”

 

Wasn’t that the truth? "I think convincing Gabe is going to be much tougher," he murmured more to himself.

 

“Oh, I’m not even going to attempt to convince that man. He may be small, but he is fierce and terrifying.”

 

"That is a very accurate description." Sam chuckled and looked around, waving up at Claire on the roof, indicating that they were done.

 

She gave him a thumbs up and returned back to her duty watching the horizon.

 

"We're done," Sam murmured grimly. "Now he just has to come." He turned to his friend again, tapping his gloved finger against his chest. "And we're not done with this discussion."  

 

Gadreel chuckled and nodded. “I look forward to it.”

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

Dean had been surprised just how quickly they had been able to put that barrier wall around the solitary entrance of the Dome. Now they were taking turns keeping watch at the chamber door, the perimeter alarms were set to go off the moment anyone attempted to cross that wall. Sam and Charlie left to refill the tanks and Dean happily joined Cas in feeding the animals.

 

Cas was kneeling on the ground, making all of the green stuff and things Cora liked to eat while he was cuddling Rabbit DeNiro. He chuckled and couldn’t help but smile as he stared at the mutant he loved. And he did. He’d never felt a feeling like this before and if his Mom and Dad felt even a tiny fraction of what he felt for Cas, then Dean knew, without a doubt, their bond was strong and happy.

 

"You look very happy, Dean," Cas stated with a soft smile as he grew lettuce from the ground. The rabbits started to scuttle around him, already knowing they were about to get their fresh food now. Even Rabbit DeNiro gave up his place on Dean's lap in favor of the food.

 

Dean chuckled and nodded. “I am. I keep wondering if this really is Kolob.”

 

Cas slid over on his knees until he was almost in Dean's lap, drawing him into a soft kiss before he murmured, "This is very real, Dean."

 

He chuckled and gently cupped his cheek. “I know. I don’t know what I did to deserve you, but I’m fucking glad I did.”

 

Cas chuckled against Dean's lips before he pushed him into the grass and kissed him deeply.

 

They were interrupted by someone clearing their throat. Cas sat up in Dean's lap and looked up. Gabe was standing there with a file in his hand, a grin over his whole face. "I found something that could interest you, Cas."

 

Cas tilted his head, but he still made no move to get up.

 

Dean chuckled and said, “I promise I’ll protect you.”

 

Gabe rolled his eyes. "Are you still afraid of me?"

 

Cas squinted his eyes at Gabe for a moment before he slowly shook his head and stood up, walking slowly towards him.

 

The doctor gave him a soft smile. "I'm sorry we had a rough start. I really like you, Cas. There is no need to be afraid."

 

Cas nodded again before he asked, "What is this?"

 

Gabe handed him the file. "It's about a nurse called Meg Masters who worked here. She seemed to have liked you, because according to this file, she got into a lot of trouble to get things for you."

 

Cas turned around to Dean with wide eyes as he mouthed, "Meg."

 

Dean smiled and nodded. It was the one thing Cas wanted answers to. He was going to have to remember to make extra shares of the chocolate for Gabe. “You wanted to know what happened to her.”

 

Cas nodded, but he looked unsure. "I'm also afraid of the answer."

 

“You could always look at it later?” Gabe offered as he tapped the folder.

 

Cas shook his head before he nodded at Gabe. "Thank you. Um, where did you find this?"

 

“While Sammy and I were trying to find the weapons, I stumbled onto a boring looking office with files on all of the employees who worked here, and one of the drawers was marked with your identifier.”

 

"Oh, the basement," Cas murmured before he took in a deep breath and opened the file.

 

He could see how Cas smiled softly after he opened it, his finger trailing over something in it before he said, "This is her. Nurse Meg."

 

Dean looked down and was surprised to see just how damn accurate Cas’s drawing of her was. He’d even captured the mischievous glint in her eyes. Dean smiled and gently rubbed Cas’s back. “She was very pretty.”

 

"I told her she was like a rose. Pretty, but very thorny. She liked that." Cas smiled softly as he read over the letters. He gasped at one point. "Her position was terminated because of insubordination. There is an extra report about that," Cas murmured before he thumbed through the pages and found what he was looking for. "Here," he breathed out as he quietly read the words.

 

Dean looked at the paper, but there was a lot of big and complicated words. He furrowed his brow. “What’s it say, Cas?”

 

Cas cleared his throat before he started reading out loud, "Nurse Masters repeatedly violated the rules and disturbed the peace of the working environment. She damaged laboratory property and endangered the security of the facility. Investigations into her life suggested that she was working for a human rights group that intended to “liberate” laboratory and military property. Their target was to steal a dangerous and invaluable military and science experiment that was under quarantine and that she was assigned to maintain. Her position was terminated before she could execute her plan to steal the property, designation C.A.S. 42.” Cas stopped reading and slowly looked up at Dean. “She wanted to free me.”

 

Dean didn’t know what to say to that. “Shit, Cas.”

 

Cas rubbed the back of his hand over his eyes and Dean could see that they were watery. "At least she was gone before the uprising started. I always took comfort in that."

 

He turned to Gabe with a soft smile. "Thank you for giving this to me."

 

Gabe nodded and gave him a smile. “There’s a confiscated sealed letter in there addressed to you.”

 

Cas looked up in surprise before he looked for the letter in the file. As he opened it, his hands were shaking while he slowly started to read,

 

“Clarence,

 

I’m calling you that on the off chance this letter is intercepted. Anyway, I’m really sorry this is coming down like this. I’m not abandoning you, or leaving you. Hell, if I could, I’d break you out of that place right now. Actually, that was the plan. I work for an organization that liberates laboratory animals and we were working on infiltrating this bullshit facility and getting you out of there. You don’t belong there. I give you shit a lot of the time, but you’re so much more amazing than what they’re using you for.

 

And that’s what they’re doing, Cas. Using you. I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you in person, but the paranoid fucks have the place bugged. Otherwise I would have been up front with you from the get go. We’re still working on finding a way to get you out. I managed to steal a tape of the experiments they do on you and they try to justify their torture by saying you aren’t human, but damnit, Cas. You’re the most human person I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.

 

We’re gonna get you out. We’re gonna do what we can to free you. Just be patient and I promise you’ll get the life you deserve if it’s the last thing I do. Thank you for all of the laughs, the questions, and I wish I could have kept that drawing you did of me, but they confiscated it during a random security check.

 

You’re strong, stronger than you think and never let anyone try to tell you otherwise. You get me? You stay yourself and don’t let them try to change you. And I look forward to taking you for a beer when we get you out.

 

Take care of yourself, Cas. I’ll see you soon, okay?

 

Love,

Meg.”

 

Cas folded the letter and quietly put it back into the envelope. A tear ran down his cheek as he slowly knelt down on the grass.

 

After a moment he looked up at Dean. "A few days after she vanished, the first bombs started to fall. She never had a chance to come back for me."

 

Dean pressed his lips together to stop the trembling as he knelt down beside Cas. “I’m so sorry, Cas.”

 

Gabe touched Cas's shoulder as he knelt beside them. "She was a brave woman in a tough time. I'm sorry."

 

Cas shook his head slowly, a soft smile on his lips. "She called me human. And she always treated me like one... I hope she found peace in her last days."  

 

“I’m sure she did. And she can rest easy knowing that you’re just as amazing as she said,” Dean said as he took Cas’s hand in his.

 

Cas intertwined their fingers before he leaned his head against Dean's shoulder. "I think you would have liked her."

 

Dean nodded as he rested his head on Cas’s. “I know I would’ve. She was trying to get you out of this awful place.”

 

Cas turned his head to Gabe. "Thank you again for this. That was very nice of you."

 

Gabe smiled and patted him on the shoulder. “Thought you’d like to know. Alright, I’m going to see if I can eat whatever you guys have left in the cold storage box.”

 

Dean rolled his eyes and shook his head. “It’s seriously crazy how much you can eat.”

 

That was met with a shit-eating grin and an eyebrow waggle. “Ain’t it?”

 

"I will make more chocolate for you," Cas said with a smile on his face as he pulled Dean up from the grass.

 

“Yes!” Gabe pumped his fist in the air in triumph. “I’m gonna go brag to Sam.” The doctor disappeared through the dome at a dizzying speed.

 

Dean chuckled. “I can’t believe my brother’s in love with that guy.”

 

Cas tilted his head. “Why? He is very nice and appreciates the food we make. Isn’t that a good thing?”

 

“I’ve gotta get you to realize when I’m joking,” he said with a chuckle as he leaned in to press a kiss to his cheek.

 

"Oh." It was Cas's only reply for a while when they got lost in kiss after kiss after kiss.

 

A blissful moment, quiet with just the noises of the animals around them. They both startled when the red alert suddenly went off.

 

Dean looked at Cas, cupping his cheek. “Gotta go protect what’s mine.”

 

Cas leaned into his hand. Dean could feel his body trembling slightly. "Be careful, Dean."

 

“Careful’s my middle name,” he said with a wink.

 

“It still isn’t,” Cas replied dryly.

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

Sam had never suited up so fast in his life when the alarm went off. He grabbed his rifle and pushed through the outer door, not waiting for Dean as he ran up to the others to help them.

 

Claire was on the rooftop aiming for a figure standing in the sandstorm. Jack, Charlie, and Gadreel were flanking both sides of the walls, weapons ready in their hands. When the figure stepped out of sandstorm, Sam immediately recognized him.

 

Lucifer.

 

Sam aimed his rifle at him and took a head shot, striking his helmet. He could hear the glass shatter which was immediately followed by manic laughter. They all watched in dismay as Lucifer just pulled off his helmet and tossed it to the side. There was blood running down his face, but it didn’t seem to bother him.

 

A normal human would have been dead by now. It was just the last confirmation they needed that Lucifer was, indeed, a mutant. And the fucker had a gun.

 

Sam jumped behind one of the defensive walls they had built when Lucifer started to shoot at him.

 

Damn it. If one of them got shot and their suit got damaged, they could die in seconds out here.

 

Lucifer stopped shooting. His voice sounded weird and scratchy over the loud noise of the sandstorm. “If you would just hand over the mutant you got in there, I promise you can keep that ugly old building.”

 

“You can go to Hell!” Sam yelled over the wall.

 

“Ahh, been there, done that.” Lucifer cackled as he shot in the direction of Claire, barely missing her.

 

“Stop!”

 

Sam turned around in shock as Cas was suddenly standing outside, in the open, staring at Lucifer with a determined look.

 

“My, my, my. Look who it is,” Lucifer sneered, “how nice of you to come out and give yourself up willingly.”

 

“I’m doing no such thing. I’m here to stop you. You won’t hurt anyone anymore,” Cas yelled at Lucifer and Sam was surprised to hear that. He didn’t even know that Cas could raise his voice. He usually was the epicenter of calmness.

 

Lucifer chuckled and shook his head. “That’s where you’re wrong. After I destroy you, all of your little human pets are next.”

 

"I'm not letting that happen," Cas growled before he held his hand over the ground and gnarly vines started to grow in front of Lucifer, caging him in.

 

The snarl that escaped Lucifer was entirely non-human as suddenly a bright light broke through the gaps and the vines started to wither away, the vibrant greens contorting to a blackened brown color as they started dying. Lucifer cracked his neck and quirked his brow. “Nice trick. How about this one?”

 

He braced his hand on the ground and it started rumbling and cracking, making the earth tremble as a small circle of broken ground formed around Cas, essentially isolating him.

 

Cas fell to his knees with the shaking earth and gave Sam a frightened look. Sam gestured to the others and they all started to shoot Lucifer, who stood there seemingly unimpressed and nonplussed. The bullets punctured his flesh, causing him to bleed, but he still drew closer and closer, seemingly unaffected. It wouldn't be long before he would reach the line of fabric they had drenched in alcohol. Now they only needed fire.

 

Lucifer chuckled again. “Or maybe I should make you watch them die first? What do you think? So your last memories are of your pets, being ripped to shreds.”

 

Cas squinted his eyes and put both of his palms on the ground. More vines started to grow at such a fast pace that they over grew Lucifer completely.

 

This time the vines went up in ash as Lucifer emerged from the smoking decay of dying plants. “You know, I wouldn’t have had to kill as many humans if I had your lifeforce. If you think about it, their deaths are your fault,” he antagonized Cas as he continued to step closer, now yanking the guns from all of the hunters with one flick of his wrist. The guns suddenly shattered and metal scraps rained down on them.

 

Fuck. Sam reached behind him to touch Gadreel's chest. "Do you have the lighter?"

 

Gadreel scrambled through his pockets and pulled it out with shaking hands, handing it to Sam. “Maybe you should light them.”

 

Sam nodded and grabbed the lighter tight in his hand as he waited for Lucifer to reach the threshold. He exchanged a quick look with Cas, who seemed to know what he was asking.

 

Cas planted his palms on the ground again. The vines shot up from the ground and wrapped around Lucifer’s legs, pulling him to the line of fabric. As soon as he reached it, Sam ran over and ignited the alcohol.

 

The fire quickly started to spread, flames licking high in the sky as the fire reacted with the toxic air around it. In just a few seconds the whole line was burning and the vines kept dragging Lucifer closer to the fire.

 

Lucifer growled and turned the vines to ash again, which he somehow controlled and converted into a wave that instantly doused the line of fire. He chuckled at their terrified expressions and stepped closer.

 

“Hey!”

 

They all turned to the chamber door, where Dean was standing, holding an enormous gun he’d never seen before. It had a huge pointed tip that was wrapped in the pieces of alcohol soaked fabric. Charlie was standing next to him and, without missing a beat, she lit the tip.

 

Dean grinned and said, “Yippee kay yay, motherfucker!”

 

Suddenly the gun fired and Sam couldn’t help but look at Lucifer’s face as the fiery projectile came at him at an unfathomable speed. There was no time to react apparently when the projectile hit him square in the chest, flinging him back almost half a klick before the screams were heard and the flames multiplied.

 

Cas was the first one that reacted as he slowly turned around to Dean. "Is he dead?"

 

“If that background information is correct, I’m guessing so,” Charlie answered for him. Dean was just nodding and smiling.

 

Cas didn't look convinced. "We should check... And if there is something left of him, we should burn it, just to make sure."

 

Dean nodded and turned to Charlie. “Grab us a few more guns and a couple of torches. We should all go together.”

 

Cas coughed loudly and rubbed his chest. Sam walked up to him and gave him a worried look. "You should go inside, Cas. We can do this."

 

Cas shook his head, his voice sounded husky and he looked tired. "I need to see it with my own eyes."

 

Dean approached and cupped his face. “Can you help Charlie? The more weapons the better.”

 

Cas leaned into Dean's hand for a moment before he relented and nodded, following Charlie inside of the Dome.

 

Sam gave his brother a long look. "Shit... I really hope that creeper is dead."

 

“You and me both. And what the fuck was Cas doing out here?” Dean demanded.

 

“You’re asking me?” Sam gave him a surprised look. “I thought he was with you.”

 

“No. He was supposed to be with Cora and the other animals.” Dean sighed and shook his head. “That fucker better be dead.”

 

"He was pretty badass." Sam grinned before he got serious again. "I don't know what we would have done without him. That guy had a lot more powers than we thought. Did you see what Cas did with those vine-tree things?"

 

Dean nodded. “I just hope he doesn’t feel guilty about letting those plants die. One of the sunflowers was tucked away behind one of the bushes and didn’t get enough water, so it died. He apologized to it for five minutes.”

 

“I’m sure you’ll find a way to comfort him.” Sam smirked at him.

 

“Shut up,” he chastised as he knocked his shoulder into Sam’s.

 

Sam chuckled even more until the moment Claire, Jack, and Gadreel joined them, having collected all the weapons that Lucifer had taken from them, trying to see if they could salvage them.

 

"So what's the plan, Dean-o?" Claire asked with a smirk.  

 

“Get loaded up with all the weapons Charlie and Cas can carry and make sure that fuck is dead. Burn the remains just to be safe. Then we’re taking a celebratory shower and drinking all of the leftover alcohol.”

 

“That sounds like the perfect plan.” Sam chuckled as they walked to the front door, waiting for Charlie to come out again.

 

It didn’t take long before she and Cas were carrying two big boxes with weapons outside. Cas gave Dean a soft nod. “I hope you understand why I need to see him. I think I will sleep better knowing the threat is really over.”

 

Dean nodded and smiled at him. “I do. And when we’re done with him, it’s you and me. Okay? No more bad men, Cas. They’re all gone.”

 

Cas gave Dean a wide smile before he nodded. "Yes, Dean. Just you and me."

 

“Come on. Let’s go make sure we’re safe.”

 

They didn’t need to go far, probably half a click before they found Lucifer’s remains.

 

He seemed to have exploded, a few heavily burned pieces of the mutant scattered the surrounding area. Sam grimaced and looked at Dean. "Looks dead to me."

 

Cas poured alcohol over the remains, giving them a shy smile. “Just to be sure.”

 

Dean pulled out his own lighter and lit it, dropping it onto the pile. He winked at Cas and said, “Sounds good to me.”

 

They watched the flames turn Lucifer’s remains into a pile of ash that was carried away on the winds of the sandstorm. Sam could hear the relieved exhale that came from Cas. “I’m glad this is over. Let’s go home.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 14

 

The air in the Dome was giddy and excited. They had all finished the communal shower, Dean and Sam chuckling conspiratorially at the awed and grateful declarations for the shower. They won. They defeated the evil overlord and all of his loved ones were safe. Dean had never been so grateful. And even though Cas said Bog didn’t exist, he couldn’t help but feel the presence of Bog in that moment.

 

They all found themselves in shared conversations and laughter in the dome, laying on the grass, having a large group picnic with all of the animals. They decided to drink all of the wine Cas had left and everyone was what Cas had called inebriated.

 

Jack was in the middle of a conversation with Cora and Claire was on the ground laughing her ass off over it. Sam was hanging all over Gabe and Gabe just looked up at him with the fondest expression. Gadreel and Charlie were trying to race the rabbits, but the animals were more interested in nibbling on the green stuff. Garth was sitting on the fence, giggling and talking to a sock he had pulled over his hand.

 

Dean leaned in and rested his head on Cas’s shoulder, letting out a soft chuckle. “They’re all silly.”

 

"They all had a bit too much wine." Cas chuckled and kissed the top of Dean's head. "It's very funny to watch."

 

“They’ve earned it, though. Everyone did a damn good job today. And I’m still annoyed you didn’t keep your promise and stay safe in here.”

 

Cas looked down for a moment. "I'm sorry. I just...  I wanted to protect you. And I just couldn't let him hurt anyone... For the first time, I didn't feel afraid anymore. Protecting you made me stronger."

 

Dean smiled and pressed a gentle kiss to his lips. “I get it and honestly, without you we never would’ve won. And now we’re safe.”

 

Cas kissed him back and they traded a few more lazy kisses before someone threw a bunch of hay in their faces.

 

Claire smirked at them. "You two are gross."

 

“We’re providing you food and shelter. We’re basically your parents now. So be nice.” Dean smirked right back at her.

 

“I’m always nice. Right, Jack?” Claire turned to her friend, who was now making funny faces at Cora. Cora was still unimpressed with everything.

 

Claire rolled her eyes. “He thinks so, too.”

 

Dean gave her an exaggerated nod. “Oh, sure. Look, I think Garth needs help. He seems to be losing a fight to his sock friend.”

 

Claire chuckled and walked over to Garth, trying to steal the sock from him… without much luck. Garth was more agile than his drunk state suggested.

 

Dean chuckled and turned his attention back to Cas. “Hey, you,” he murmured as he leaned in for another kiss.

 

Cas eagerly met him halfway with his lips, smiling against his mouth before he murmured, "I want to be alone with you."

 

“You do, huh?” Dean teased with a half smirk, waggling his eyebrows.

 

"Yes." Cas traced Dean's eyebrows playfully with his fingers. "Do you think they will notice if we just vanish?"

 

Dean shook his head and chuckled. “I think they’d only notice if we took the rest of the chocolate with us.”

 

“Then we won’t,” Cas suggested with a grin.

 

“Then why haven’t we left yet?”

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

Sam looked up from his cozy position in Gabe’s lap with a grin as he noticed Dean and Cas quietly leave the dome, holding each other's hands.

 

Gabe chuckled and looked down at Sam. “Guess they’re done celebrating.”

 

"I'm not so sure they are," Sam replied with a smirk before he scrunched up his nose and shook his head. "No, not an image that I needed."

 

Gabe smirked back, trailing the fingers of his left hand up and down Sam’s sternum. “Yeah, your poor brother unfortunately was picturing us like that earlier,” he said with a soft laugh.

 

Sam grimaced before he gave his love a confused look. “Why would he do that?”

 

“I took your advice from last time into consideration. About telling him the different things he might need to know about homosexual sex.”

 

"Oh?" Sam raised an eyebrow, wondering how that conversation must have went. "I bet that wasn't an easy conversation for him, but thank you for doing it."

 

Gabe shrugged noncommittally. “Well, I’ve never said no to you over anything else, didn’t see the need to start.”

 

Sam chuckled and pulled him down into a soft kiss. He still couldn't fathom that he could just do this now. Everyone had taken the news of them being together so openly. He was happy they started their new life with this bunch. They were all good people, deserving of the best. "Well, you know, if you explained everything to my brother, it's only fair that you show me those things too."

 

Gabe chuckled and quirked his brow. “Oh, is that right?”

 

“Yeah, I don’t want my brother to know more than I do,” Sam replied with a grin.

 

“You two are so weirdly competitive sometimes,” he murmured with a chuckle. “Well, I can’t really show you out here, can I?”

 

“Why are we even still here?” Sam smirked and grabbed his hand, pulling him up with him as they walked in the direction of the door.

 

“You too?” Claire yelled after them with a chuckle.

 

Gabe chuckled and yelled back, “Doctor’s business. You guys understand.”

 

Claire made a face. "If that's what you call doctor's business, you will never see me in your office."

 

“Good,” he barked out with a laugh as he grabbed Sam by the hand and took the lead in dragging them to the room Cas and Dean had prepared for them.

 

The room was really nice and Sam couldn't wait to spend his first night as an official couple together in the soft looking bed. Sam closed the door behind him and immediately pulled Gabe close for a deep kiss, starting to unbutton his shirt. “I can’t wait to be close to you again,” he murmured against Gabe’s lips.

 

Gabe nodded as he started walking Sam back towards the bed. Both of them undressing each other as they went. “I can’t wait to show you more.”

 

Sam's heart was beating way too fast again and he felt slightly dizzy, but not in a bad way. "What do you want to show me?"

 

“Everything. But first, I vote for beating your brother to having penetrative sex.”

 

For a moment Sam forgot how to breathe. He was nervous about the prospect, but he also hadn't gotten the idea out of his head since their time in the shower. He liked how Gabe had made him feel so he nodded, giving him an excited smile. "Okay."

 

“Lay down on the bed,” he commanded gently.

 

Sam immediately moved to lay down, his eyes trained on Gabe's every movement. It was still unreal to see him like that, naked and all of his attention on him. Something Sam had never dared to hope he would see.

 

Seeing his confidence made Sam less nervous about what they were about to do. He knew Gabe knew what he was doing and he trusted him.

 

He grabbed a bottle from the bedside table as he crawled onto the bed. “Swiped this from the kitchen. Cas cooks with it, I’m sure if we can eat it, it’s okay to use somewhere else on the body,” he clarified.

 

"Is this the... I forgot the name. What he used in the water when he cooked pasta?" Sam asked in surprise. He wondered if Gabe had stole it from the kitchen because he had planned to have sex with him tonight. The thought made his heart stumble.

 

Gabe nodded and smirked down at him. “Good memory. If you think you’re ready to try this, then put a pillow under your lower back.”

 

Sam rolled his eyes, but grinned at Gabe with excitement as he put a pillow under himself. “What’s the pillow for?” he asked curiously.

 

“To keep you comfortable,” he murmured as he crawled up the length of Sam, drawing him in for a soft kiss.

 

Sam returned the kiss eagerly before he leaned back with a frown. “Why would I be uncomfortable?”

 

“Because we’re having celebratory sex. Real sex,” Gabe said pointedly as he trailed his hand down Sam’s chest. He shook his head in amazement. “Not sure why you fell for me, but I’m damn lucky you did.”

 

Sam chuckled and closed his eyes for a moment to enjoy the way Gabe was touching him. "First of all, if real sex is anything like what you did to me in the shower and the basement, I'm sure I will love it and second..." He leaned forward to pull Gabe into a quick but deep kiss before he cupped his cheek to look at him. "And second, I fell for you because you're... even in a world like this, you made me happy, you made me laugh... you were the reason I stood up every moment and why I try to do my best."

 

Gabe chuckled, his lips curled up in a half tilt. One of the few genuine smiles, the kind he had when he thought no one could see. But Sam always could. “I still think it’s one too many concussions from getting clocked in the head, but…” He looked Sam in the eye and shrugged. “I appreciate the sentiment.”

 

Sam rubbed his thumb over his eyebrow. "I love you, Gabe. I'm very happy that we can finally be like this."

 

“Me too, Sam,” he breathed against Sam’s neck. “On all counts.”

 

Sam hummed and arched against him. "Good, then can we finally start the sex because I'm starting to get nervous."

 

“Don’t be nervous,” he murmured as he started trailing kisses down Sam’s chest. “What would you have to be nervous about?”

 

"I don't know..." Sam moaned as he leaned back on his elbows. "Just that I don't want to do anything wrong. I’ve never done this before."

 

Gabe grazed his teeth over Sam’s hip and said, “Just enjoy yourself and tell me if it’s too much or if it hurts. Okay?”

 

"O–okay... but... what about you? What do you want me to do?" Sam asked, trying to get ahold of his breathing.

 

“Spread your legs and relax. Trust me.”

 

His heart stumbled at just Gabe's words and over the fact that he was spreading his legs for him, which made his cock rock hard and his balls tense tightly.

 

Gabe grabbed the bottle again and poured some of the liquid on his fingers. He pressed them together as he sat on his knees between Sam’s legs. “Just breathe, I’ve got you.”

 

Sam nodded and tried to relax, spreading his legs wider for Gabe as he watched him. The moment one of Gabe's fingers touched his sensitive skin he startled and couldn't stop himself from groaning out loud. "Sorry, I forgot how intense it feels when you touch me there," he breathed out apologetically.

 

“Don’t apologize. Now that you’re allowed to make noise, I want to hear you,” he murmured as he started circling Sam’s hole with the tip of his now slick finger.

 

It felt incredible, his whole body was tingling and Sam hard a hard time trying to hold still. "Bog, that feels good."

 

Gabe slipped the digit inside and started gently using the width of his finger to stretch him. “I love making you feel good.”

 

Sam cursed under his breath from how good Gabe's finger felt. It was weird that it still felt like he was doing something forbidden and yet it added to his excitement. His gaze wandered over Gabe's body and his erection, wondering how it would feel inside of him. He groaned over the thought and looked up at Gabe, feeling his face grow warm. "Are you... going to spill your seed into me?"

 

Gabe groaned outright and his finger slipped all the way inside. “Would you like me to?”

 

Sam rocked against Gabe's finger with a sudden need to feel him deeper before he breathed out, "Yeah. I... want that."

 

He leaned down and pressed a gentle kiss to the inside of Sam’s thigh. As Gabe began circling his finger, he gently bit into the flesh of Sam’s thigh and started sucking. He pulled off and grinned at Sam. His expression was almost feral. “You’re fucking breathtaking.”

 

Sam looked at the mark Gabe had sucked into his skin with a breathless gasp. "Shit, Gabe... I can't wait to feel you inside of me."

 

“Fuck,” Gabe breathed out. “Do you think you can handle another finger?”

 

Sam nodded quickly. His voice was higher than usual when he answered, "Yes, please."

 

Carefully Gabe started working a second finger inside of Sam. He added a little more of the oil and finally was able to sink in up to the knuckle. He gently started stretching Sam until both fingers were fully inside of him. He could actually feel the way Gabe was gently stretching him inside, spreading his fingers. And then Gabe smirked and his fingers shifted, hitting that magic spot.

 

Sam gasped out loud, staring at Gabe with wide eyes. He had hoped Gabe would touch him that way again. He liked how it had made him feel the last time, how all of his thoughts and worries had vanished from his mind and all that was left was pleasure and the love he felt for the man presently between his legs.

 

He knew he would never get enough of it. "Please kiss me," he begged without thinking.

 

Gabe smiled and repositioned himself to lay along Sam’s side, still slowly stretching him with his fingers as he drew him in for a gentle kiss. “I love kissing you,” he murmured before diving in for a deeper kiss.

 

Sam moaned into the kiss, enjoying the way their lips tangled and it made him dizzy with want and need for his lover to be closer. "Can you please take me now?" he begged against his parted lips.

 

Gabe chuckled and shook his head. “Let me stretch you a little more. I want this to be more pleasure than pain for you, baby.” He gently started working a third finger into Sam.

 

The additional third finger burned slightly, but it wasn't uncomfortable or painful. More like the opposite, it felt like the burn was adding to his pleasure. He felt filled and complete, and he couldn't wait to feel Gabe's erection pushing into him, like his fingers.

 

He rocked his ass against him, helping Gabe get them even deeper. "You can't imagine how good this feels," he moaned, closing his eyes as he licked over his too dry lips.

 

“I can,” he purred as he started slowly thrusting his fingers in and out.

 

For a moment Sam's heart stung a little as he looked up at Gabe, breathing hard. "Have you ever done this before?"

 

Gabe chuckled and nodded. “To myself, Mr. Jealous.”

 

Sam replied with a soft smile and a relieved, "Oh... good... mmhh. Sorry." He leaned over for another kiss. "I can't help it. I still can't believe you want me like this. I never dared to hope."

 

“I can’t believe one of the sexiest Forty-Fivers thinks that way about me.”

 

“You're joking, right?" Sam laughed and pulled him into another kiss, moaning from how Gabe was stretching him further. How Gabe couldn't see how beautiful and perfect he was, was beyond Sam’s understanding.

 

Gabe hummed against his lips. “Don’t worry, I’m content thinking you need glasses,” he murmured as he started tapping at his spot with each thrust of his fingers.

 

Sam was moaning uncontrollably now. “Oh, Bog, fuck! Please, Gabe.” He never knew he could feel so much need for something.

 

“Okay, baby. Wanna get my dick ready for you?” he asked as he gently removed his fingers and grabbed the bottle of oil.

 

"Yes, please." Sam panted, licking over his lips as he took the bottle of oil and poured some into his palm. He wrapped his hand carefully around Gabe's hard erection, enjoying the way his lover gasped as he spread the oil, massaging it into the thick flesh.  

 

Sam wondered if his heart would stop at some point, because the rate it was beating couldn't have been healthy. "Like this?"

 

Gabe groaned as he nodded. “Yeah, baby. I love the feel of your hands on my skin.”

 

"I could do this all day," Sam breathed out before he added, "but now I really need to feel you inside me."

 

Gabe drew him in for another kiss before he pulled away to situate himself between Sam’s legs. He sat back on his knees, carefully parting Sam’s cheeks as he teased his hole with his now slick cock. “I’m gonna go very slow and if it’s too much, or it hurts too much, you tell me, okay? I don’t want to hurt you.”

 

Sam nodded breathlessly, closing his eyes from the way Gabe was teasing him. It burned a lot more than just the fingers when Gabe slowly pushed past the rim, but Sam just grabbed his hands and pulled him closer, into a kiss. He spread his legs wider for Gabe, trying to  relax so he could go deeper.

 

It still hurt, but it also felt incredible; being so close to him, feeling connected in the most primal way. "I love you so much," Sam breathed out.

 

“I love you too,” he groaned as he braced his forehead against Sam’s. “You okay? On a scale of one to ten, how much pain are you in?” Even during a sex act Gabe’s doctor mode apparently couldn’t be shut off.

 

"Um," he moaned, his eyes fluttering closed for a moment as he bit his lower lip in pleasure. "I don't know... Five? But it's not bad. Feels more good than it hurts."

 

Gabe nodded and slowly kept pushing in until finally they were flush against each other. He let out a shaky exhale and smiled down at Sam. “Okay, I’m gonna give you a little time to get used to this. When you feel ready, tell me and I’ll start moving. Like what I did with my fingers.”

 

Sam nodded and tried to relax, to get used to the feeling of Gabe being inside of him. He felt stretched and so filled. He closed his eyes, trying to calm down his breathing, so he wouldn't feel as dizzy anymore.

 

He drew Gabe into another deep kiss, the movement of their lips causing the softest rocking, pushing Gabe deeper inside. Sam moaned into the kiss, his imagination flooding with how he was lying under his lover, who was about to push his erection in and out of him until he would fill him with his seed.

 

His teeth grazed Gabe's lips as he groaned, "I'm ready."

 

Gabe nodded against his lips and slowly started moving his hips, pulling more than halfway out before he pushed back in with a growly moan. “Fuck, Sam. You’re so fucking tight.”

 

Sam wrapped his arms around him, moaning as he tried to pull him closer. The feeling was so incredible, he had no idea how long he could keep himself from coming. "What do you need me to do?" he asked, his voice trembling from lust.

 

“Just enjoy yourself, baby,” he groaned out as he started moving a little faster.

 

"Ohhh..." Sam bit down so hard on his lower lip, he was surprised he didn’t break the skin. He looked up at Gabe, taking in the way he looked back in almost awe, with lust filled eyes and kiss red lips. "Fuck, so good. I... don't know how long..."

 

He was already so close, his erection was throbbing, leaking all over his stomach.

 

Gabe smiled and nodded. “Let go, let yourself feel everything. I’m not far behind you,” he breathed out as he started thrusting a little faster while taking Sam’s cock in his hand and gently pumping it in harmonic rhythm.

 

"Oh, Gabe," Sam gasped and threw his head against the pillow as the combined pleasure from Gabe's cock inside of him and his hand on his throbbing dick overwhelmed him. His seed coming out in pulses between their bodies as the locked his eyes with Gabe, whispering his name in a broken moan.

 

“I’m gonna...” Gabe gasped out as he crushed his lips to Sam’s with the stilling of his hips, slammed in to the hilt.

 

Sam gasped into Gabe's mouth, feeling the burn in his ass soothed by hot wetness as Gabe settled his erection deep inside of him. Fuck. Gabe was filling him up and the thought almost made him come again.

 

Sex was the best thing in the world and Sam just knew he never wanted to leave this bed again. "Fuck, I love you," he breathed out against Gabe's lips, feeling spent and relaxed like never before in his life as he let himself fall back against the mattress.

 

Gabe chuckled and pressed a kiss to his cheek. “I love you.”

 

Sam smiled brightly at him before he chuckled. "Can we stay in this bed and just have sex for the rest of our lives?"

 

“As amazing as that sounds, there are other places we could have sex. Like the kitchen. Where there’s food,” he murmured in a laugh as he nipped at Sam’s collarbone.

 

Sam felt his cheeks grow hot over that comment. "I’d rather not have people walk in on us."

 

Gabe waggled his eyebrows. “I’d lock the door.”

 

“What if people want to eat?” Sam asked, chuckling at the funny face Gabe was making. He could always make him laugh.

 

“Too fucking bad,” he murmured before diving in for another kiss.

 

Sam chuckled against his lips before he gasped when Gabe slipped out of him. He could feel his seed running out of his hole, trying to get his hand there in time so they wouldn't ruin the bed sheets. "Sex is pretty messy."

 

“Yeah, and you’re gonna be a little sore tomorrow, but… it’s pretty great other than that.”

 

"Do you want me to do this with you, too?" Sam asked as he tried to clean himself with a towel that was on their night table.

 

Gabe smiled as he took the towel from Sam and took over cleaning him. “If that’s something you’d like to try, we definitely can.”

 

Sam nodded with a smile. "Do you think we can do this in the shower even... I mean, the water felt so nice and..." Sam's cheeks went red again. He had thought about having sex with Gabe a lot in the last few days.

 

“Maybe not penetrative sex, but other stuff, absolutely,” he murmured as he finished up wiping Sam’s hole. Gabe gave him a serious look, he called it his doctor look. “How are you feeling, any pain or discomfort?”

 

Sam couldn't help but tease Gabe for it as he leaned forward and gave him a playfully innocent look. "Just a little burn, Doctor. Do you need to inspect that?"

 

Gabe rolled his eyes and kissed the tip of his nose. “You’re lucky I love you.”

 

“I know,” Sam replied with a grin.

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

Dean gently walked Cas to their bed. He’d started thinking of it as their bed lately. He chuckled as he murmured, “I’m so happy.”

 

"I'm glad no one got hurt and Sam can finally stay here. He and your friends," Cas replied with a soft smile, pulling him down onto the bed.

 

Dean nodded and returned the smile. “I wish you could’ve met my parents. They would have loved meeting you.”

 

Cas slowly started to undress Dean with a soft smile. "You really think that?"

 

“Oh, yeah. Mom would have loved to see you create these miracles. That’s what she’d call all of what you can make. A miracle. And my Dad would ask you question after question about the world before the explosion. And he’d find everything you said just fascinating. Even if you thought it was boring.” Dean smiled as he pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it to the floor.

 

Cas quickly lifted his own shirt and pulled it over his head, causing his hair to be in disarray even more. "I think I would have loved them very much," he replied softly before he wrapped his arms around Dean and pulled him close.

 

Dean pressed a kiss to his nose. “I think I love you very much.”

 

Cas chuckled and carded his fingers through Dean's hair, his other opened the string of Dean's pants. "I love seeing you happy like this."

 

“You make me happy, angel.”

 

Cas's cheeks turned red as he slowly dragged down Dean's pants. "Not an angel. Just Cas."

 

“My angel, then,” he said with a shrug as he lifted his hips for Cas to easily take them all the way off.

 

Cas seemed to accept that as he lowered himself and started kissing Dean's cock, licking over it until it was rock hard.

 

“Fuck, Cas. You’re so good at that,” he groaned as he carded his hand through Cas’s hair.

 

"I love doing this." Cas looked up at him with a smile. "I love the noises you make and watching how much pleasure it gives you." Cas wrapped his lips around him and started to gently suck on his erection.

 

Dean let out a soft groan as he slightly bucked up. “Same here and, uh… Gabriel told me uh, oh… he told me how we can have actual sex.”

 

Cas looked up in surprise. "I thought that is what we were doing?"

 

“It is,” he assured, “but there’s… there’s a way to have sex like when Milowdas are chosen to procreate.”

 

Cas sat back on his knees with a head tilt. "How?"

 

Dean smiled as he leaned over to pull out the small jar of oil he’d grabbed from the kitchen that he had hidden in the drawer after what Gabe told him. “One of us receives the other’s penis in his, uh… his ass.”

 

Cas frowned at him. “Doesn’t that… hurt?”

 

“That’s what this is for,” he said as he showed him the jar. “And we have to go slow.”

 

Cas grabbed the oil with a confused look. "So we use the oil for it's lubricating properties?" He looked thoughtful again. “How do we start?"

 

Dean leaned in for a chaste kiss and murmured, “Let me make you feel good.” He gently pushed Cas onto his back and draped himself over him. Their legs staggered in a one two parting, their bodies flush and groins dangerously close to touching. Dean kissed him again, soaking in the warmth and closeness of their first night of freedom. True freedom.

 

"I don't think my heart has ever beaten so fast," Cas whispered against Dean's lips.

 

“Are you okay?” Dean breathed out before he licked along the seam of his lips, grinding his erection against Cas’s hip.

 

"Yes," Cas groaned out and his breathing hitched as he looked into Dean's eyes. "Just... very excited to try this."

 

Dean nodded and licked along Cas’s bottom lip. “You wanna go first or do you want me to?”

 

"I... I'm not sure. You seem to know more about this, but if you want to you can explain the process to me and I’ll prepare you for me."

 

“I… I definitely want to do that. Maybe I’ll do it to you first? Tell you by showing you?” Dean nudged his nose against Cas’s cheek as he ground his erection against him again.

 

"Yes, okay." Cas moaned into his ear, rocking his hips against Dean's.

 

Dean smiled as he licked a trail down Cas’s jawline, along his pulse point, dipping into the hollow of his throat, before circling his right nipple. He chuckled at the gasp that escaped Cas when he gently bit the bud, perking it right up.

 

"Dean," Cas breathed out, carding his fingers through his hair as he spread his legs for him.

 

“I love the way you say my name,” he exhaled against Cas’s skin after he’d left a wet stripe down his stomach.

 

He also loved how receptive Cas was to every touch, how sensitive. How his muscles flexed when he arched his body towards him and the way his moans always left him with a tingly feeling between his legs. "Dean," he moaned out again, "you're so good to me."

 

After tonguing Cas’s bellybutton he stopped just above his erection, looking up at him. “Well, I love you.”

 

Cas's lips were parted as he looked down at him, breathing heavily. "Then please... show me." He rocked his hips up again and Dean had never heard him so needy and impatient before.

 

It was kind of intoxicating. Dean poured a little bit of the oil on his right hand, tapping a slick index finger along Cas’s crack as he sucked the head of his dick into his mouth.

 

Cas sat up on the bed with a gasp, looking at him with wide eyes, breathing heavily as he braced his palms against the sheets. "Oh... that feels intense."

 

Dean pulled off for a moment, licking over his lips. “Good intense?” he asked as he gently started circling the ring of muscle with his finger tip.

 

Cas let out a deep moan, closing his eyes as he nodded quickly. "Yes, very good, Dean."

 

He couldn’t help but smile as he sucked Cas into his mouth again, this time gently pushing the tip of his finger inside.

 

Cas leaned back on the back again, obviously trying to relax. But although he was clearly aroused, he still seemed to be tense.

 

Dean withdrew his finger a little. “Am I hurting you?”

 

Cas looked up at him, slowly shaking his head. "No, I just expect it to hurt. I’ll try to relax."

 

He pressed a kiss to his inner thigh. “I’ll be gentle,” he murmured as he gently started wiggling the tip in a little more, licking his sack before sucking a ball into his mouth.

 

"Oh, Dean," Cas groaned out, pressing his head into the pillow, his hips bucking up slightly.

 

The sounds Cas kept making were going straight to his groin, making his dick throb in time. Dean groaned against the base of Cas’s cock as he slipped the finger in a little deeper. And a little deeper. Until he was all the way in. Dean remembered the tip Gabriel had given him, about reaching for Cas’s bellybutton. He did and found something that made Cas gasp. “You okay?”

 

"Yes!" Cas looked as surprised as he felt from the intense reaction. "Please do that again. That feels incredible."

 

Dean smiled and started tickling it, like he would tickle Cas’s sides.

 

The way Cas started thrashing on the bed with loud moans and gasps, his fingers tightly gripping the bed sheets and his head thrown back in pleasure, almost made Dean spill his seed without ever touching himself. "Dean, oh, uh..."

 

Dean slowly drew back, which was a damn hard thing to do, pulling out his finger. He sank back on his knees and held his hand against his own erect cock to measure the width. “I think I need to practice by getting another finger in you. You ready?”

 

Cas nodded quickly. His voice sounded irresistibly needy again. "Yes, please. Please touch me again like that."

 

“You like it? It feels good?” he asked, breath catching in his throat as he carefully slipped in two fingers, gently moving them before searching for that special spot again. Dean found it from the way Cas bucked into it with a needy whimper.

 

"Yes, Dean. I like it... Feels so good." He moaned again. "Hard to describe. It hurts a little but... not in a bad way."

 

Dean slowly started rotating his fingers, pouring a little more oil onto Cas’s hole while he gently started to pull the fingers out before pressing back in. Imagining that it was his own dick. Dean groaned and stroked over his cock for a moment while he kept gently thrusting his fingers into Cas.

 

Cas pressed his palms against the head of the bed, writhing in obvious pleasure, gently rocking his hips to get Dean’s fingers even deeper. He looked at Dean with hooded eyes as he whispered, "I think I changed my mind. I really want to feel you now."

 

“Are you sure?” Dean breathed out, sliding his fingers out of Cas and grabbing the oil again. He swiped a little more on Cas’s hole before he stroked his cock with the stuff. He couldn’t hold back his own moan.

 

Cas nodded. "But I want to do this to you the next time. You have to feel this. This is amazing." He blushed slightly before he added, "And I feel like I'm very close from what you did. I don't think I can manage to prepare you without..."

 

“Without?” he asked as he pressed the head of his dick against Cas’s hole, gently mixing the little bit of seed that had already started to pool at the tip in with all of the oil. Teasing the ring of muscle with gentle nudges.

 

"Without getting my seed all over you before I'm in you," Cas finished his sentence with a deep groan, spreading his legs further apart as he gently pressed his ass against the head of Dean’s cock.

 

Dean moaned as he gently pushed forward, slowly, ever so slowly, until finally the head sank in. “It was damn hard to keep mine from spilling.”

 

Cas bit down on his lower lip, breathing hard. "Stop for a moment... I need to–to..." He could see Cas taking in deep breaths, in and out, trying to relax. “Your erection is very big.”

 

“Want me to take it out?” Dean asked, gently massaging Cas’s balls with his left hand.

 

"No." Cas shook his head with a groan. "I want to feel you. I just need a moment to get used to it."

 

Dean let out a shaky exhale as he nodded. “Tell me when you want me to move.” He slipped his hand up to slowly start pumping Cas’s cock, hand still slick from the oil.

 

Cas hummed and bucked into his fist, involuntarily pushing Dean deeper inside of him. “Uh, Dean, I think I’m good… Oh, Dean, you feel so good.”

 

The tightness, the heat, he’d never felt anything like it. Dean slowly sank in a little deeper every few moments. He leaned down to kiss Cas and murmured, “You feel amazing.”

 

Cas eagerly kissed him back, wrapping his legs around him to pull him closer. He groaned as he leaned back, looking up at Dean with glazed over eyes. "You're in me..."

 

“I am,” he breathed out in amazement, smiling down at him. Very slowly, very carefully, he started moving, pulling back and pushing in in short thrusts.

 

Cas reached up and buried his fingers into his hair, gasping beautifully every time he thrusted into him. He looked like he was in awe before he blinked and pulled Dean into another deep kiss. Cas wrapped his other arm around him and pulled him closer, even though it should have been impossible and Dean could feel all of him flushed against his own body.

 

Every muscle, every movement and how Cas's body just seemed to melt against him, making him feel like they were one.

 

Dean could feel it, the tremble in his spine, the throbbing in his groin. He was going to spill very soon. “Cas, Cas… feels so good,” he groaned out.

 

Cas moaned and moved his hips faster under him. "Please, Dean, can you push in a little harder? I'm so close."

 

That ripped an outright moan from him as he started thrusting faster and deeper, a little harder too. The feeling was… indescribable. He had never felt such pleasure. And the way Cas was moaning beneath him, Dean knew he couldn’t wait to feel whatever it was Cas was feeling. “Cas, Cas, I love you,” he murmured against the side of Cas’s neck.

 

"Love you, De-a-a-a-an!" Cas cried out and Dean could feel him clenching around his erection as Cas was spilling his seed in between their writhing bodies.

 

And that was all it took, Dean’s hips slammed in a shuddery stop as he spilled his seed inside of Cas. Their foreheads braced, heated breath caressing each other’s lips as they both tried to catch their breath. Dean let out a soft laugh. “We did it. We had real sex.”

 

Cas smiled brightly at him, his voice husky as he said, "Yes, I had no idea this could feel so..." He shook his head and chuckled. "I don't have a word to describe it."

 

Dean looked down between them and at everything he felt, he looked back up to Cas and said, “Wet? It’s pretty wet.”

 

Cas looked up at him with a grin. "That too. You got all your seed inside of me." He bit his lip after he said it out loud, his cheeks flushed red. "I like that," he added in a whisper.

 

Dean did too. Very much. He growled and nipped at Cas’s throat. “Me, too.”

 

"I can't wait to do this with you." Cas hummed as he leaned into Dean's lips.

 

“Yeah, gotta admit, I’m excited to know what made you moan like that,” he murmured into his ear.

 

“You touched something inside of me and it felt so good, Dean. Like eating chocolate and spilling your seed at the same time."

 

Dean’s eyes widened and damn, he was a little sad he was on top first. “Wow. I can’t wait to feel it.”

 

Cas gave him a shy smile. "We have all night... We could wait a little bit and maybe do it again? And then I can show you?"

 

“I like the way you think,” Dean whispered before closing in for another kiss.

 

Cas returned it needily before he leaned back with a head tilt. "I have a feeling we’ll have to produce a lot more chocolate in the next few days."

 

Dean laughed and nodded. “For Gabe alone. Poor Cora. Should we make her a friend? So she doesn’t have to be alone?”

 

Cas's expression brightened with that suggestion. "Yes, what should we name her?"

 

He thought about it for a moment, chewing on his lower lip. As usual he wracked his brain for any famous artists from the twentieth century his Dad told him about and that’s when it hit him. Dean chuckled and suggested, “Moodonna?”

 

“That sounds very elegant,” Cas replied with an approving nod.

 

Dean grinned and pressed a kiss to his lips. “I love you.”

 

Cas looked up at with a soft smile. "And I love you. Thank you, Dean."

 

“For what?” he asked with a chuckle as he slowly and carefully pulled out of Cas.

 

Cas groaned for a moment before he smiled again. "For making my life worth living."

 

Dean grabbed a towel out of the drawer, they kept them there for when they had sex to make cleaning up easier, and gently started cleaning him. “Living. Huh. I don’t think I was truly doing that until I met you.”

 

"Does that mean we saved each other?" Cas chuckled and Dean realized that he was likely accidentally tickling Cas.

 

He couldn’t help but chuckle with him. His favorite sound in the world was a toss up between Cas’s laughter and Cas’s moans. Dean smiled as he finished up and slid up along his side, gently draping his arm and leg over Cas. “I like that.”

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

“Dean? Can you help me, hold the door open?” Cas called out from somewhere down the hallway. When Dean left the kitchen to find what Cas needed him for, he froze. Cas was standing in the doorway that led down to the basement, carrying something bulky (and likely heavy) in his arms. He was having trouble with getting through the heavy door with no hands free.

 

Without hesitation Dean pulled the door open all the way to let Cas through. He looked at him in amazement. “You were… you went into the basement?”

 

Cas gave him a shy smile and a soft nod. "Yes, you told me you wanted to play the tape from your father. And I remembered where I had seen something to do it with."

 

Instantly his eyes were drawn to the large rectangular shaped piece of metal and plastic in his arms. He looked back to Cas, unable to hide the smile on his face. “Do you think it’ll work?”

 

“There is only one way to find out.” Cas looked thoughtful for a moment. “We could bring it to the kitchen, it needs to be plugged in to work.”

 

Dean nodded, feeling a nervous anticipation course through him. He smiled at Cas, unable to keep the awe out of his voice. “And you went down there to find this for me?”

 

Cas nodded slowly. "I would be lying if I said that it wasn't an unpleasant experience, but... I wanted to make you happy." Cas gave him another soft smile before he added, "I think it helped me though. Going down there."

 

“I’m so proud of you,” he said with a smile as he opened the door to the kitchen.

 

Cas put the heavy tape player on the kitchen table and searched for the cable that he plugged into a socket in the wall. "It made me accept that it really happened," he said quietly before he turned around to Dean. "But it also showed me that it's in the past and I have nothing to be afraid of anymore."

 

Dean drew him into an embrace, cupping his cheek. “Not anymore,” he assured.

 

Cas nuzzled his face against his neck, something he did very often and seemed to enjoy immensely, before he drew back. “Do you want to call the others? Or do you want to try it first?”

 

He chuckled. “As much as I’d like to keep it to myself, it’s only fair we share it, right?” Dean shrugged. “Besides, I’ll need to go and grab the tape.”

 

"Oh, I thought you had it in your pocket again." Cas nodded and smiled, probably remembering how close it had come to getting washed because Dean carried it around in his clothes so often.

 

“Well, I learned my lesson,” he said with a wink.

 

"I'll go to the dome and fetch the others. Gabe and Sam are down in the basement."

 

Dean furrowed his brow in bemusement as he let out a soft laugh. “Okay? The hell are they doing down there?”

 

Cas shrugged with a hesitant look. "I didn't stay to ask. I just wanted to leave. I told you it still felt uncomfortable being down there."

 

“Okay, I’ll go get them. I swear though, if I walk in on them having sex again, I vote we push them outside without radiation suits.” Dean smirked, to hopefully help Cas realize he was joking, but he still took things literally sometimes.

 

Cas stared at him with wide eyes. So much for Cas catching on. And then Cas suddenly blinked and tilted his head slowly, squinting his eyes at him. "You're just joking, right?"

 

Dean couldn’t hide the smile if he tried, he was surprised it didn’t split his face. He nodded. “Yes. You’re getting better at that.”

 

Cas looked pleased with the compliment before he smirked back. "You could punish them by withholding chocolate."

 

“Yeah, right. I’m pretty sure Gabe would try to mutiny if we did that,” he teased as he carded his hand through Cas’s hair before tugging him a little closer.

 

Cas closed his eyes and hummed. "I like feeling your fingers in my hair."

 

“That’s not the only place,” he growled into Cas’s ear before pressing a kiss to his pulse point.

 

Cas's breathing hitched and he arched against him. Dean loved how receptive Cas was with him, how he always seem to melt against him. "Dean," he whispered, "I thought you wanted to test your tape?"

 

Dean nodded and gently slipped his hand under Cas’s shirt. “I do.”

 

"Are you sure?" Cas gasped, closing his eyes before he braced his forehead against his shoulder, starting to kiss along Dean's throat, murmuring, "Because... I could be wrong... but it feels like you have other plans."

 

“Not my fault I can’t control myself around you,” he murmured as he raked his fingernails along Cas’s hip.

 

Cas made a funny noise between a groan and a ticklish chuckle before he gently pushed him away,  "Not in the kitchen. You know what happened last time when we couldn't control ourselves in here."

 

Dean chuckled as the memory came to the forefront of his mind. The Hunters were doing a run to Zion and Gabe and Garth were supposedly busy with converting one of the rooms in the basement into a makeshift medical clinic. So, when Cas waved the bottle of oil teasingly at Dean, they’d ended up having sex on the table.

 

Which proceeded to collapse under their combined weight. As literally the entire hunting party was walking into the kitchen. It was pretty damn embarrassing.  He reluctantly drew back from Cas, leaving a kiss on his cheek as he moved. “Okay, go get everyone. I’ll grab my brother and Gabe.”

 

Cas teasingly slid his hand over Dean's ass as he nodded with a smile. "I will and maybe after that... you could help me move the furniture around in our room."

 

He couldn’t help but grin at that. It had been a joke, a poor excuse Dean came up with to excuse them from the rest of their friends and family. Since then Cas had started referring to sex by calling it moving furniture. Dean waggled his eyebrows. “Well, you definitely deserve a reward for getting this.”

 

Cas was smiling brightly at him, eyes crinkling and making the blue shine even more prominently before he quickly darted out of the kitchen, yelling over his shoulder, "Can't wait."

 

Dean smiled as he made his way to the basement. It had been a helluva couple of months since they’d taken out Lucifer. Gadreel and the twins ventured back to Zion with the aid of the Reapers, bringing one small plant, the bud of a cherry tree, in an attempt to notify the Council.

 

It had been a huge risk, but Sammy and Charlie had been able to make a device work that would allow Gadreel to notify them remotely if shit went down and a rescue mission was in order. And that’s what the Dome gave all of them. Hope. Hope for a better world and life, and the courage to fight for it.

 

But to their surprise, the Council agreed. It was strange, but after Lucifer’s death, the members of the Council changed. Gabe made a joke about mind control, but sometimes Dean had to wonder. Because they opened Zion’s doors to real food after the first round of tests.

 

Gadreel said it was because they knew their power over the people was waning and the only way to appease them would be to give them something. Whatever the reason, life was getting better for everyone. So every three days, teams of Hunters would carry plants and eggs to Zion. The mutants outside were still a worry, but now, when a Hunter’s suit got damaged from an attack, if their partner was able, they were to bring the Hunter to the Dome. That way Cas could heal that Hunter.

 

He made his way down the stairs and hallway of the basement. Dean figured they would be in Gabe’s makeshift medical clinic. He knocked on the door and waited. He really didn’t want to walk in on them ever again.

 

To his surprise Sam opened the door rather quickly. "Hey, Dean, you gotta see what we’ve found!"

 

His brother didn't give him an opportunity to say anything as he pulled him to a side room that suddenly had an open door leading down a half lit hallway. Dean could have sworn there hadn't been a door there before.

 

"It was hidden behind the bookshelf. There’s a hallway down there with a lot more rooms. And it helped us come up with an idea," Sam explained excitedly.

 

As he pulled Dean down through the creepy hallway. He could see Gabe at the end of it. “It leads in the direction of Zion. We could build a supply tunnel from here, build a safe route to Zion.”

 

Dean’s eyes widened and his eyebrows shot up. “Seriously? And it’s safe?” He reached out and touched the wall, bracing his hands to test its stability.

 

"Well, we would need to build another security door in here, but I think we found enough material to do this. We can use wood to stabilize the rest of the tunnel we would still need to dig to get to Zion. It's a risky project and it will be a lot of work, but I think we can do it." Sam looked like he had put a lot of thought into it.

 

“This is amazing, Sammy. If there’s a safe way to get there, we could bring the kids to come meet all of the animals,” Dean murmured in amazement as he looked around, just imagining what it would look like.

 

"Yes." Gabe turned around with a grin. "And we can supply them with vegetables and fruits more often. It will make the transfer process a lot easier. Maybe Cas can help build this tunnel. He can make trees grow from out of nowhere, right? It could help keep the earth we need to dig through stable."

 

Dean nodded. “Yeah, it might be hard on him coming down here, but for something like this… I bet he’d try for us.”

 

Sam gave him an understanding smile before he raised his eyebrow. "But he was down here. A few minutes ago. Didn't get the chance to ask what for though."

 

And Dean could have smacked himself for forgetting why he’d come down here in the first place. “Cas found the machine to play Dad’s tape,” he said, unable to hold back his excitement.

 

Sam's eyes widened in disbelief. “Seriously? Did you try it?”

 

“Not yet. I wanted to share it with everyone.” Dean grabbed his brother’s wrist and the collar of Gabe’s shirt as he started pulling them back through the tunnel.

 

Sam chuckled. "You can let us go, Dean. No way we're not gonna be there for such a moment."

 

Dean chuckled and tightened his grip on both of them as he started walking even faster. “Knowing you two, you’ll get distracted and start having sex in the first available corner.”

 

“Unlike you and Cas,” Gabe shot back with a smirk.

 

Dean rolled his eyes and reluctantly let them go to open the door to the hallway. “Whatever.”

 

Dean and Cas's room was on the way back to the kitchen and he quickly stepped inside, pulling the tape from the top drawer next to their bed before he waved them over to the kitchen.

 

Cas was looking the machine over, everyone else sitting and standing, clearly confused as to why they were in the kitchen in that moment (when food wasn’t involved). Dean chuckled and approached Cas, tapping him on the shoulder to get his attention.

 

He looked up at Dean with a smile. "You just need to put it in here." Cas opened a hatch on the machine before he explained further, "Close the hatch and press this button."

 

The button had a little triangle on it. Dean held Cas’s gaze and smiled. “Even if this doesn’t work, I love you and I can’t thank you enough for this chance.” He meant more than just the tape, but Cas likely wouldn’t catch it.

 

Before Cas could say anything, Charlie asked, "So what is this, Dean?"

 

Dean turned to face them all. He smiled and said, “You’ll see.” He plugged the tape in the compartment and pressed it closed. Taking a deep breath, Dean returned his attention to Cas and smiled as he pushed the button down.

 

At first nothing happened. Dean pushed down the disappointment he felt, but then the machine started making noises and clicks. A weird static sound came out and then it happened.

 

Music. Real music. The words hadn’t started, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t completely entranced. He’d never heard anything like it.

 

There was an awed silence, everyone gathered around the table looking at each other in surprise. Cas grabbed Dean's hand in his and squeezed it, smiling at him.

 

He could feel Sam's hand on his shoulder and saw that his brother's eyes were wet, as though he was holding back tears.

 

Dean was about to say something when suddenly words he’d heard his Dad sing so many times filled the speakers. “Once I rose above the noise and confusion, just to get a glimpse beyond the illusion. I was soaring ever higher, but I flew too high…”

 

He grabbed Sam’s hand with his free hand and breathed out an awed, “Sammy.”

 

Sam nodded, a tear falling from his eyes, but he was smiling. "I know," he whispered.

 

The first time the chorus played, Dean wasn’t able to hold it back, the tears threatening to break through made good on the threat. Carry on my wayward son, there'll be peace when you are done. Lay your weary head to rest. Don't you cry no more…”

 

He could feel Cas wrapping his arms around him, pulling him close and resting his chin on his shoulder. "They are still with you," he whispered into his shirt.

 

Dean turned and pulled Cas into a hug. “Thank you for this, Cas. Thank you so much.”

 

It was then that Sam wrapped his huge arms around both of them too and soon after, Gabe and all of the others joined in.

 

As this intensely important moment was accentuated by beautiful chords of instruments Dean had only ever heard about from his father, he couldn’t help but let out a relieved laugh. His life had never been hopeful or important. Dean Winchester was a dumb kid pulled from school to be turned into a Hunter. The most dangerous of all of the jobs.

 

Expendable people were always made hunters. Because they would make the least impact on their society with their deaths. But that’s where the Council had been wrong. Every Hunter they lost was mourned, even though they weren’t allowed to. And that was sadly the best he could hope for. To live long enough to be mourned when he died at the hands of the evil shit waiting out there.

 

And now here he was, in the arms of all of the people he loved, listening to music. A wondrous and untouchable thing, for those who even knew what it was, had no real comprehension.

 

Carry on, you will always remember. Carry on, nothing equals the splendor. Now your life's no longer empty, surely heaven waits for you…”

 

Dean looked down at Cas and smiled, unable to fathom how he could love anyone so much. For giving him so many gifts, but best of all, the gift of his heart. Huh. Maybe this place wasn’t Kolob. Maybe it was the place in the song. Heaven.

 

He liked the sound of that.

 

…. :::: :::: ….

 

It’s been almost a year since I wondered what humanity was even fighting for. Why we tried to survive, clinging to this Bogforsaken world, that simply didn’t want us anymore.

 

And now I know.

 

There was still hope in us. A tiny spark that kept us going. That tried to push us forward through those hard times, reminding us that somehow, in the end, there was something we could find worth living for.

 

And I found it. I found happiness. I started to live my life instead of merely surviving day by day.

 

Days. Nights. They still don’t exist out there, but in here, at home, we make them matter again. We’ve started to build something. We’ve started to create things, to learn, to love, to feel again. All things that seemed to have been lost, but had just been hidden.

 

We aren’t 4545 people anymore. We’re just people, making the best out of the things that we have left as we try to shape our society into something we want to live in. The past year wasn’t easy. Not everyone dealt well with changes, breaking up with old structures and rules.

 

But people adapted and even though not everyone learned from past mistakes, our new way of living shaped something beautiful and worth fighting for. We are building new tunnels now, safe supply lines from the Dome to Zion. We’re building better housing, better ways of living.

 

Water, food, shelter are necessities for survival, but they have now turned into something more than that. They’ve turned into happiness that we can share with others.

 

Becky teaches different things in school now. Because now there are animals and plants. Precious life that we need to take care of, because we know how it is to live without them. And it’s something we write down to remember. Because never again will we forget how it feels to live, how it feels to be happy.

 

To say it in the words of a song on my brother's music tape. “You may say I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one.” And I hope that someday our children will walk the earth again, being just as happy as I am now. And that they will laugh, love, and most of all, be free.

 

The End.