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Landing Out

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The aircraft was the largest Dean had ever seen that didn’t have an engine.

He sat in Bobby’s ancient lumpy truck, which looked like a cosplay of Tow Mater from the kid's movie, Cars; or so Charlie 'the organic volunteer' had said when she’d seen it. The other volunteers had similar reactions; Kevin had grinned contemptuously and Garth had looked at it like he thought the truck had cooties. Why he’d take that attitude, when his car had boiled over in the driveway as soon as they pulled up, currently escaped Dean.

The white wings, long and slender like those of an albatross in flight, extended past the point of being merely long and continued until they looked ludicrous. Wherever this bird had come from, one wing tip now rested, scant inches from a fence, in Bobby Singer’s #4 soybean field. The other wing tip angled up in the air, sagging a little, as if it had waved to a friend and then realized no one had noticed it.

Dean Winchester, who with the help of his volunteers from WWOOF, Garth and Charlie and Kevin, was trying to keep Bobby’s farm from falling to rack and ruin while Bobby underwent a hopefully brief and unfortunately painful treatment for an ailment he'd picked up in Vietnam, which required hospital. He began to wonder if this weird bird was actually a drone of some kind, and then reminded himself that, no, duh, there were no engines. 

This was a glider.

The bubble canopy unlatched and tipped back.

The man who levered himself out looked every inch the playboy pilot. His clothes, his perfect Ray-Ban aviator frames, the dark hair cut short and stylishly - but not too short - all spoke of money. A ring and a watch glittered as he raised a hand in greeting.

“Hullo there,” he called. He unfastened his parachute and put it down in the airplane. The pilot moved slowly, carefully and economically, as if he had all the time in the world, now that ‘job one’ of not dying in an airplane crash was complete.

“Can I help you?” Dean asked. It was too much, this rich asshole making a thousand dollar divot in Bobby’s field like it was no big thing. At least he hadn’t hit the fence or the irrigation equipment, and that was only by the most timely miracle. Perhaps when he told Bobby about it, the damage could be papered over by Dean saying, ‘Hey, Bobby, funny story…’

“My phone has no bars,” the man called apologetically. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to help me get to a phone, or direct me to the nearest payphone.” He closed the canopy with a tug on the handle, jumped down, stumbled, and started walking toward the truck slowly, as if he might be in shock.

They were in the ass end of north-west Oklahoma, and they were thus in a ten square mile black hole for cell phone coverage. Dean leaned over and shoved on the passenger side door. It creaked open and the man took off his sunglasses, put them in the pocket of his blue long-sleeved button down, which he was now starting to sweat through, and extended a hand.

“Cas Novak.”

“Dean Winchester. I’ll take you back to the house and you can call from there.”

“We’ll pay for any damage,” Cas said.

“We?” Dean said delicately. “You’re here by yourself unless your friend's invisible.” He re-started the truck with a rattle and roar, and threw it into gear with a clunk.

“I have a team,” Cas said defensively. “In case I land ‘out’.”

Dean looked at him curiously. Sunglasses off, and not towering above him, Cas was about as intimidating as a Mormon missionary.

“How far out?” Dean asked with open amusement.

“I’m four hundred kilometres from the club,” Cas said. He looked stunned and embarrassed. He looked up into the sky, and around as if in disbelief, and then wet his lips. “I’ve never seen the lift die like that. It was boomers all the way, and then, contrary to the forecasts, the lift turned into sink, lots of it.”

“So I guess you’re, like, into going long distances in that thing?”

“Among other things. I’m also a photo-journalist… anything to help pay for my obsession.”

“If you don’t mind me saying, that looks like an expensive bird.”

“A farmer would know from expensive equipment,” Cas said gravely. Dean did not hasten to say he was not really a farmer. He didn’t have the energy.

Cas added, “A hundred and forty thousand dollars for the glider, the safety gear, the trailer and the truck to haul it. Angelwings themselves was eighty thou, and that was second-hand.”

“That’s an expensive hobby, mister,” Dean said, puffing his lips out with a noise of startlement.

“Yeah,” Cas said. “Or vocation. Or whatever.” He seemed dazed, and crushed by the heat. Sweat was springing out all over him. Dean was past warm, and felt sweat pooling in multiple locations on his body.

“You weren’t hurt, or anything, were you?” Dean asked suddenly. “I mean, you’re moving okay but it must have been a surprise.”

“First time in since my first year soaring that I’ve landed out. I’m fine; landing speeds are very slow.”

“You didn’t need much, er, runway.”

“No,” Cas said. “I need less than half a k to get her down, but that fence sure came up fast.”

“Thanks ever so for not hitting it,” Dean said.

Cas shifted uncomfortably. They could see the farmhouse now, and the barn, although the chicken coop was hidden behind the house. “I am really sorry for inconveniencing you.”

“To be honest,” Dean said, and this time the bitterness was obvious, “I’ve kind of hit my limit for being inconvenienced, this week. I was kind of hoping any new inconvenience could wait until next week, when I’ll be in better shape for it.”

“Dean!” a young woman with very red hair called as he pulled up beside the house. She had a busted up straw hat and wore a camouflage tank-tee and white capris. You could see the sweat streaks in her sunblock. “Did you see that airplane come down? Is that the pilot?”

Dean looked at Cas. “You explain.”

Cas got down from the truck. “It’s a glider and I didn’t crash, I just didn’t land on an airfield.”

“You okay!?” she called.

“I’m fine, really. I just need a phone.” Charlie smiled sympathetically and went back to hoeing beans in the hot sun.

Dean, curious, and wanting some sweet tea, hung around and listened to Cas’s half of the conversation from the kitchen. After he poured it out, he went back into the entranceway where the phone stand was.

Cas said, “I’ll pay you for the call,” and dialled.

“Hi, it’s —“

Cas listened intently, and then laughed. “Because I didn’t make it. I’m about a hundred kilometres short —“

“What?” Cas said in disbelief after a moment.

“When?” he said faintly. He turned his blue eyes directly on Dean, and Dean felt his heart thump painfully; Cas’s expression was stricken.

“Was anyone hurt?” Cas asked, his voice deepening and roughening.

His whole body sagged as he heard the news. “Oh, thank God.”

Cas was listening intently. Then he sighed.

“Well, no, actually, I don’t want to hear the other bad news,” Cas said waspishly. He rolled his eyes at Dean, who was listening with sympathetic attention.

The volume and the pitch went up. Cas was stressed out. “But I signed - I signed everything Tuesday last and gave it all to Pam, the modifications to the ownership papers, the statutory declarations, the insurance….”

Cas looked like he was going to start hyperventilating. Dean handed over his thus far untouched sweet tea and Cas accepted it with a grateful expression, drinking half of it in a single gulp.

“I’ll email you when I have access to a computer,” Cas said. “Right now I just have to take all this in.”

“Yeah, Gabe, it really does suck. I gotta go.”

“What?” Cas sighed again. He covered the receiver and appealed to Dean with a plea in his eyes. “Gabe wants to know the phone number here.”

Reluctantly, Dean gave it. He had a suspicion that Angelwings was going to be a ‘found sculpture’ in Field #4 for a while yet. Cas hung up slowly.

Dean tried to be bracing. “I’m going to get myself some sweet tea. Why don’t you come siddown in the kitchen and tell me what happened, and then we can figure out how to get you on your way.”

“Normally,” Cas said after a few seconds, following Dean, “When you land out, either the club that you’re soaring from or the team that you’re working with has a trailer and a truck and volunteers to come get you.”

“Normally,” Dean said, his heart sinking.

“So, while I was aloft, instead of heading down the highway to come meet me when I landed at a field about fifty kilometres south of here, my cousin Gabe’s assistant backed the Angelwings’ trailer through the next door neighbor’s hangar and started an electrical fire. Not only is our trailer gone, the only other trailer at the field that Angelwings fits into — is too badly damaged to be used.”

He sighed.

“There’s also damage to the truck’s rear axle from the trailer getting smashed into it.”

“Holy crap,” Dean said blankly.

“Yeah,” Cas said. He looked devastated.

“I heard you say something about insurance.”

Cas was green under his tan.

“There’s only the liability, apparently. I’ve put my whole life into this, and now - if - if what Gabe says is true - I’m bankrupt.”

“Damn, buddy, you could have been a farmer all this time,” Dean said.

Cas looked at him. Very quietly he started to laugh. He was almost hysterical within a few seconds, but saw Dean’s expression, and stopped. “It isn’t funny.”

“No, but maybe in a couple of years it will be,” Dean said comfortably.

“Have you always been a farmer?” Cas asked. Anything rather than think about what he was facing, getting out of this expensive, tangled mess.

“Only in my nightmares,” Dean said. Cas’s brow crinkled and his confusion was both obvious and adorable. “I’m covering for a - for a family member.” Explaining Dean’s bizarre family structure was another potentially aggravating and confusing thing that he just didn’t feel like doing right now.

“That’s really kind of you - and the woman in the garden?”

“Charlie? A volunteer through an organization called WWOOF. Bobby’s transitioning the farm to organic - just one year left to go - so we have access to workers who volunteer for room and board to work on organic farms across the world. And there are two more, but Kevin and Garth went to get supplies in Garth’s car. I’m lucky that one of the volunteers has a car; normally they don’t and you have to drive to wherever the closest Dog stop is.”

Cas’s brow remained crinkled.

“Greyhound,” Dean said, and his brow cleared.

“Your only luck, recently,” Cas hazarded.

Dean was casual. “Oh, I don’t know. You killed a lot of soybeans today, but I’m just so frickin’ happy you didn’t hit the irrigation lines, I could do handsprings.” And you gave me something nice to look at, Dean thought. Because there was no denying it; he was smart and pulled together and well-spoken and hotter than the weather, which was unconscionable.

Cas continued to be hot despite his strangely stilted speech. “I just realized that I am completely dependent on the ‘kindness of strangers’ —“ and the air quotes for Tennessee Williams were adorable too, damn him “— for the next couple of days while I arrange funds, and transportation.”

“Any clothes in the glider?” Dean wondered.

“No… well, a down jacket and gloves and warmer boots for higher altitudes. I’m already melting - it’s lovely and cool up there.” Cas looked longingly out the window.

“Really? How high do you fly?”

“Six thousand metres… I have oxygen.”

“Can I have that in American?” Dean asked after a second.

“Twenty thousand feet. Sorry, I was a diplomatic service brat, so I didn’t grow up with the Imperial system.”

“Where’d you grow up?”

“Brazil, Iceland and Canada,” Cas said. “I lost all my Icelandic but I still speak pretty good Portuguese, and I know how to order poutine with a serviette.”

They looked at each other.

Cas put his face in his hands for a second. He heaved a great sigh and addressed Dean seriously. “Would you be so kind as to get me a piece of paper and a pencil? I’ll start making a list of what I have to do next.”

“I’ll do that and then I should get you a change of clothes and some sheets. I’m sorry, I can’t give you anything except a folding bed in a tiny room, unless you feel like sleeping on a hammock on the screened-in porch.”

“Show me where and I’ll make the bed,” Cas said, getting up. He sat back down again.

“I think you might be in shock,” Dean said, and without warning, put the back of his hand to Cas’s clammy forehead. Cas flinched. “Stay down,” Dean advised. He went to the living room and pulled the ancient afghan Bobby’s mother crocheted from the back of the sofa and wrapped Cas in it. He fetched him another sweet tea and the writing materials he’d requested, and then, feeling very hesitant to leave Cas, but also thinking of the various repairs and chores that were on his ever-growing list, he reluctantly told himself that Cas was a competent grown-ass pilot dude who didn’t need babysitting.

He returned, almost grateful for the break, to chasing down the leak in one of the arms of the irrigation system.

After a couple of hours, so hot that his eyeballs felt like they were about to implode and his brain felt numb and foggy, he trudged through the dusty yard into the house to rehydrate and enjoy some shade, and found Kevin and Garth and Cas talking in the kitchen. Kevin and Garth were shelling peas and cutting up beans for a side dish; Cas was standing at the stove in an apron that said, ‘Kiss the Cook’, waving a serving spoon around and supervising what looked like a big pot of spiral pasta. He could smell chicken frying; he’d pulled it out to thaw that morning intending who-knew-what with it. None of the kids (or so he thought of them, although not to their faces) was interested in cooking, so the prospect of someone else doing it brought a slow smile of tired satisfaction to Dean’s face.

“Where’s Charlie?” Dean asked.

“Resting before supper… she really doesn’t do well in this heat,” Kevin answered.

“I love it,” Garth said. He had no body fat, so he probably was like a damned lizard in the sun.

“Me, not so much,” Kevin said, extending one arm to show off his farmer tan. “But we’re not redheads.”

“What’s for supper, Cas?” Dean enquired. He admitted to himself it was a bit of a cheap thrill, getting to say this.

“Cold pasta salad with chicken and blanched garden vegetables,” Cas replied. “It’s way too hot for a hot meal. I feel like my brains are writhing in a fountain of glue.”

“Aren’t you hot in that glider thingie?” Garth asked.

“It’s minus twelve Celsius at twenty thousand feet,” Cas said, mixing up his imperial and metric measurements again. “The lack of wind inside the canopy means I’m warmed by the sun, but the air is cold and everything on the sailplane gets cold-soaked, and I have to use oxygen over ten thousand feet or I’d just pass out and probably not wake up until about a minute before I crashed.” He visibly shivered.

“Sounds challenging,” Dean said.

“Some aspects of soaring are more challenging than others,” Cas admitted.

“We’re trying to come up with ideas about how Cas can get going again,” Garth said.

“Someone who cooks shows up here out of a clear blue sky and you want to get rid of him,” Dean groused. He flicked a rubber band at him; Garth squawked and rapidly sent it back in his direction. Dean was too hot to dodge the return volley; the rubber band smacked off his arm and rolled under Garth’s chair. Garth thought about it but returned to his chore.

“Well, the first thing is selling the transponder and the personal ‘chute, and the drogue, and the ballistic ‘chute,” Cas said. “They all uninstall reasonably easily and hold their value well.”

“What about selling it complete?” Kevin asked.

Cas laughed once, cynically, into the boiling noodle pot. “It’s worth more in pieces,” he said. “The general aviation market is in terrible shape, and there’s not much call for high end sailplanes like this. I’ll advertise it, but without the trailer, no one will buy it since they’ll have no way to take it home. So the first thing I have to do is design, spec out and build a trailer; or raise the funds to buy another one, since if I can’t move it, I can’t sell it. And I’ll have to sell one of the other bits first to pay rent and buy materials wherever I build a trailer, if that’s what I have to do, which, with your permission, Dean, will be here.”

“Sure, Cas,” Dean said easily. “If you’re cooking, all you have to pay for is your share of the food. Rent won’t be required.”

“I can do other stuff, too,” Cas said.

“Word to the wise,” Garth said. “Don’t ask Dean for extra work.”

“Garth, put a large, wet, dirty woollen sock in it,” Dean said, and after a glass of ice water and taking a cool washcloth to himself for the worst of the sweat and rust and grime, he went back out to work, thankful to his tired bones that someone else was cooking dinner.

Dinner was fantastic. They ate around seven on the screened in porch, out of the last of the sun and with enough breeze to be almost pleasant. Charlie, amazed by the quantity and quality of the food, appeared, tucked in, and then after dropping an air kiss off on Cas’s head, retired wordlessly to her room. Kevin and Garth shrugged at each other behind her back as she left.

Dean, who had an idea of what Charlie was dealing with, said nothing and gave nothing away.

 

Just before dinner, Cas had very gently reminded Dean about clothes. “I’ve got nothing clean for tomorrow — you mentioned —“ and Dean cut him off.

“Shit, I said I would, didn’t I. Yeah, let me go grab something for you.” There hadn’t been any point asking Garth and Kevin for clothes help, they were tiny. He set Cas up with a couple of pairs of cotton socks, briefs, jeans and two tee-shirts, one depicting the Hulk smashing Loki, and the other showing Jimmy Page hitting a note on his guitar, eyes closed in ecstasy.

“God,” Cas said, looking at it. “I haven’t worn comic or band merch since I hit puberty.”

Dean just looked at him.

Cas hastily added, “Although I shouldn’t look gift undies in the mouth I supposed.”

Dean, who hadn’t been on a date in the best part of a year and was already daydreaming about dragging Cas off into a more intimate setting to get to know him better, tried to ignore how the words ‘mouth’ and ‘undies’ had ended up in the same sentence, and merely growled, “Got that right.” He handed Cas his bedding and showed him the room he’d be sleeping in and the small, thin cot that would be his bed until he got his shit together and went home, wherever that was.

Dean fled downstairs. There was no point hanging around in the same room with Cas and thinking about how much of a total absence of fun it was to feel this tired and get a boner anyway. Nothing like being on the wrong side of tired for anything but what if when there was some strange in town.

“Can I ask what’s wrong with Mr. Singer?” Kevin asked.

“Sure,” Dean said, in a voice which invited Kevin to forget the question, change the subject, drop a plate or leave the room.

Cas had followed him down the stairs rather closely, which felt weird. “Kevin,” he said with mild rebuke. “Do you want me to air things you told me in front of Dean?” He turned to Dean with a calm expression and said, “Nothing affecting health or safety.” Turning his gaze to Kevin again, he said, “I’d rat you out in a heartbeat.” 

Kevin looked cold and said, “Pilots are always sticklers for the rules.”

Cas seemed to get about one and half times bigger than his normal size. His posture, until now either calm or dejected, became steely, fists clenched, chin and chest up. Everyone else in the room visibly flinched or shifted to look at him directly. He took a deep breath and spoke.

“Pilots started with NO rules. Don’t you understand? Can you understand that? We started the enterprise of flight without having a goddamned clue what we were doing, and a lot of us died! What we are is the people of the better rules. We know from more than a century of doing this that rules keep us alive, but better rules keep more of us alive.”

“And you know what else?” His eyes sparkled and his voice faltered.  He picked up steam again. “Sometimes the rules are fucking useless. Sometimes it’s the pilot, and only the pilot, who wordlessly understands what needs to happen. Sometimes flying means going to a place where skill and luck mean more than rules or materials, and that’s what pilots have to live with - not just with the everyday, when following the rules works great, and checklists are awesome, and scheduled maintenance is bitchin’ and the inspector is your friend - but for when the day comes when you’re challenged to get into a farmer’s field without decapitating yourself or hurting any other people or destroying your aircraft or landing in a Superfund toxic site.”

Dean’s blood ran cold. There were power lines at the far end of #4. He could have been picking Cas’s corpse out of wreckage oh, so easily.

Kevin looked at Dean as if wanting to get him to make Cas shut up. Dean waited it out. Cas had nothing more to say.

Dean said. “Cas, don’t unload like that unless you landed out today.”

“But — I did land out today!” Cas protested after a second of puzzlement.

Dean wasn’t quite growling. “Well then, fuck you very much, you get a hall pass. Don’t do it again.” He shifted his gaze to Kevin. He tried to think of what Sam might say in a situation like this. “Kevin, try not to make sweeping statements about classes of people when we all know your brains and your manners work better than that.” He stared meaningfully at Kevin, who stopped making eye contact, muttered sorry, and dropped out of the conversation.

Garth said to Cas, “Are you telling me that you could have landed in a Superfund site?”

“The worst ones aren’t flat enough to land in, or have too much water,” Cas said without much expression.

“And you never landed out before,” Garth said.

“Not for years. I’m going to go make my bed up. Dean, we all decided supper’s at seven,” Cas said in a staccato voice. He nodded at everyone, including Kevin, who wasn’t looking at him, and left the room.

“He can go fuck himself if he wants to use my computer,” Kevin said, loud enough that Cas could likely hear him.

“Hush, you,” Dean said. “He’s had a hard day, and you two have managed to turn a trip into town into a holiday.”

“We helped with supper, got groceries and diesel and liquor and beer, cleaned out the chicken house and swapped out the propane tank for the barbecue,” Garth said.

“Yeah,” Kevin said. “What we didn’t do was fuck up and crash the car, unlike Cas,” and he made no attempt to dial back the snotty.

Dean left the room, since he’d had a temper since he was very young and had learned that walking away is a great option, although he had not learned that early enough to really make a difference in the direction of his life.

The spat, such as it was, was forgotten over dinner.

 

Afterwards Dean thought about how he should take a cool shower and maybe shave and all his ideas about productivity vanished because the young’uns all moved inside to watch TV and he was just finishing up clearing the table when Cas appeared like a dream in the doorway, holding two misty beers.

“I shouldn’t,” Dean said. “But I will, since I still haven’t figured out what I’m supposed to tell Bobby about you crashing.”

Cas eyed him and then decided not to say that he’d landed out, yet again. “If I’m covering the damage, then that’s what you should lead with,” Cas said. They tapped their bottles together and Cas said something that sounded like ’sow ji’.

“I guess,” Dean said.

“Are you going to call him?”

“It’s 7:45… the unit nurses make them turn the ringers off after eight, so, yeah.”

He took the beer with him to the phone in the hall.

“Do you mind if I… hang around…. in case he wants to ask me something? I know it’s a private conversation.”

“No! God, no. It’ll make things easier, no broken telephone.”

“That’s what I was thinking,” Cas said with satisfaction.

“Hey Bobby,” Dean said when Bobby picked up.

“Kinda have some good news and some bad news. We have a new cook.” Dean winked at Cas, and Cas rolled his eyes.

“Yeah, well the bad news is he had to land a - what is it, Cas, a sailplane? Yeah a plane with no engine, right in #4.”

A little pause. Dean shrugged to himself.

“I’m eyeballing about a thousand bucks, give or take, but I already stole enough stuff off his airplane to cover — “

“What? No, not literally, but he’s good for it, and he’s stuck here anyway - “

“He’s got no trailer. No trailer, no departure - I mean he can leave but the airplane’s staying cause he’s got no way - “

He looked at Cas. “It comes apart, right?”

Cas nodded.

“Yeah, the plane comes apart and goes on a custom trailer, and the only two custom trailers that fit for like five hundred miles in any direction just burned up,” and here Cas shrugged. It might be even further. He’d told Garth he’d have to check with each separate soaring club to see, and these days, with insurance being such a headache, most were in no hurry to be friendly to a pilot in need without a hefty fee for their troubles and a big fat waiver, too.

When he’d said he’d need to build a trailer, he hadn’t been kidding, but Cas supposed he’d have to get on the phone and the internet to check. Clubs could have listings of aircraft that were years old and inaccurate - he’d have to follow up every possibility with a phone call anyway, and clubs were run by volunteers so it could be weeks before anyone got back to him.

He preferred to have control. He shivered again.

He turned his attention back to Dean, who was saying, “No, it’s no problem, Cas cooked an awesome dinner and apart from taking Kevin down a peg he hasn’t gotten up anyone’s nose yet.”

“Charlie? A little better I guess. She came to the table, ate and left, but she smooched Cas first, so I guess that apron of yours worked.” Dean winked at Cas, who suddenly looked down at himself and blushed.

Dean got off the phone and grinned at Cas. “You didn’t even notice what it said!” he crowed. “Now hold still, I’m a born rule follower,” but Cas undid the apron like lightning and pulled it off.

“Too late,” Dean said, catching up to Cas. He threw his arms around him and planted one on his cheek as Cas squirmed and protested. Dean let go completely but didn’t step away, and was amused to see that Cas was not taking the opportunity to get away from him. In fact, he remained exactly where he was, inches away. Dean’s heart began to drum paradiddles and then steadied at a faster speed.

“You are not a rule follower,” Cas breathed.

“Mm,” Dean said, and this time the kiss landed a little closer to Cas’s lips. Cas turned his head and opened his mouth. Dean’s tongue plunged into Cas’s mouth and afterward he remembered his relief, it had been so long since he could be in a moment and feel someone else’s desire. His own desire had been very lonely; it was good to feel Cas panting and trembling and getting quite handsy after just a few minutes in his arms. And he felt so right, so right, it was wonderful.

Cas pulled away. His eyes were black in the now-dim light on the porch. “Can I come to your room — later?” he whispered.

Dean was startled, but he chuckled anyway. “How late? After ten o’clock, I dunno’f I’ll be able to stay conscious enough to hold hands, let alone do — whatever you had in mind.”

Cas tilted his head as if to study him. It was a little unnerving, truth be told.

“Nothing that will need a condom,” he said, and smiled.

“Oh,” Dean said quietly, smiling back, “I can get into lots of trouble without needing one of those.”

 

When the last of the volunteers was in bed Cas quietly entered Dean’s room and closed the door behind him. Dean turned on the bedside lamp.

Cas was wearing the Jimmy Page tee-shirt and briefs, and all the air leaked out of Dean’s lungs. He sat up, naked himself but for his boxers, and Cas came straight to the bed and sat down. Neither of them spoke. Dean put his arms out and they were kissing again, wildly this time, unafraid that someone might walk in on them.

Cas had brought a single portion of lube and pulled down Dean’s boxers, far enough to give him complete access to Dean. Cas’s hands wrapped around his dick and Dean moaned softly, wanting to return the favor. Cas’s mouth wandered around Dean’s chest and face and neck as his strokes ramped up in pressure and speed.

The stifled moans they exchanged when they kissed really got to Dean; then he looked down his body and watched in helpless delight as Cas’s long, strong fingers teased and controlled him. Dean came, gasping, and after a minute to let his breathing calm down, he found a hanky to clean them off with. He was just about to wriggle down the bed to blow Cas when Cas smiled apologetically and said, “I’m afraid that’s all I can manage tonight.”

He rose, rearranged his clothes, and to Dean’s astonishment, Cas left. Dean rubbed his eyes. Cas had a boner to rival his own as he left the room, so what the hell was up with that?

Dean prided himself on being a good lover, and he was hurt. Cas saying what he said seemed fake to Dean, as if he was putting all the fault on himself, but really, the implication was that Dean had said or done something - what? what had he done? - that had turned Cas off, or made him undesirable somehow.

Dean had never felt so bad so soon after a such a necessary orgasm.

After a while, he shoved his dark thoughts about his sudden sexual incompetence under an equally dark psychological rock, and forced himself to sleep. He had another hot and miserable day ahead of him, and lack of sleep wouldn’t help.

 

Cas was making breakfast when Dean got downstairs in the morning. Dean’s glance was mildly accusing, Cas’s smiling and guileless. Dean didn’t know what to think, so he made toast as loudly and angrily as he could, and then realized he was being a dick. “Sleep okay?” he said, and shot a quick glance at Cas. Cas bit his bottom lip and tried not to smile. “Yeah,” he replied. “Very well indeed.”

Dean moved closer, and almost whispered in Cas’s ear. “You didn’t let me take care of you.”

Cas’s back stiffened and the reminiscent smile froze and vanished. “I’m an adult,” he said. “I don’t need ‘taking care of’ in that context. And I certainly don’t want to talk about it when I can hear Garth and Kevin coming down the stairs.” His voice was quiet; commanding, nevertheless.

Cas dished out pancakes. Dean’s nose twitched when he realized that Cas, of course, made better pancakes than he did.

Charlie had appeared first at the table, looking better than she had in days. She had spent her first day at the farm complaining about a woman named ‘Dot’. She was not doing much to mend her broken heart but get enough exercise in the kitchen garden and sleep, since she hadn’t done much more than say hi and seem briefly excited that there had been a plane crash (‘I landed out!’) on Mr. Singer’s property. That, and air kiss Cas’s head after supper, which had managed to be cute as pie at the same time Dean felt terrible for being jealous, a little.

Kevin and Garth tried to jam each other up in the doorway, but it was hopeless; they passed through side by side with relative ease, causing Charlie, the only one to be watching them, to snort with laughter.

Then she asked, “So which of you guys was being so chummy last night? I know one of you was Dean.”

“I’m asexual,” Kevin said into the stunned silence that followed this remarkably intrusive question. “Furthermore, I find people talking about sex to be disgusting.”

“I don’t think we should be discussing this at breakfast,” Garth said, his expressive eyes following the conversation around the table. He took a seat. He loaded up on pancakes, and calmly said into the tension that followed his statement, “For what it’s worth, I’m straight.”

“So, Cas,” Charlie said conversationally.

“Which of you was it who cried for one and a quarter hours last night?” Cas asked pre-emptively. “Glad to see you’re feeling well enough this morning to have enough energy to tease me, whoever you are.”

Dean said, “Enough. Assignments are on the fridge.” It was already warm enough to roast a fucking chicken on the porch, but Dean was damned if he was going to both listen to whatever nonsense Charlie was going to come up with and deal with the humiliation of his hookup with Cas becoming a matter of breakfast conversation.

To his surprise, the door creaked again right after he grabbed his plate and his fork and his coffee, and there was Cas following him, obviously expecting to eat with him.

Dean sat down with a thump.

Cas asked for permission to sit without saying anything. Dean rolled his eyes and splayed out a hand, and gave his attention to his food.

“I’m sorry if I’ve made the task of running this farm more difficult,” Cas said quietly.

“You can’t wet a river,” Dean said.

Cas’s eyebrows folded intriguingly.  He continued in the same mild tone. “I’m very much dependent on your goodwill for the next few days as I make arrangements to recover the aircraft. This makes it even more troubling to me that you’re angry with me and I don’t understand why.”

In a low voice, Dean said, “I would never have come on to you if I’d known you were going to get me off and then saunter out of the room.”

Cas tilted his head. “You don’t think you deserve to have good things happen to you.”

Dean gave a cynical snicker, “Oh, I do, I do, I just expect to have to pay for them. You handing out a freebie and then taking off was a new one on me, I have to admit.”

Cas looked sad. “So for you sex is a contest, and somehow you lost.”

“No! not like that.” He thought about it. “Maybe, I don’t know, but it freaked me out and I have to admit all I can think about right now is what you’re not telling me about what I did wrong.”

“Do you think I owe you somehow, that I should have an orgasm?” Cas said, thinking aloud. He sounded almost scandalized. “I took care of it myself, I’m very —“ and he tried to find the word. Dean looked at him in frustrated disbelief. “I’m very particular,” Cas finished.

Dean scowled. “You’re not doing great at making me feel better, because I sure don’t. It’s supposed to be an exchange.”

“So sex is a transaction, and you were cheated,” Cas said gravely.

Dean stopped being hungry. He looked at Cas dully. “I was hoping you’d spend at least part of the night, afterward. Serves me right for not saying anything, right? Not communicating my needs? How about you? Was there something about me that made you think, ‘Hey, there’s no point talking to him about what I need to get off, I’m too special and difficult and complicated and what was the word, particular’? Yeah, I feel like a dummy for asking, but here’s me, asking what went wrong.”

Cas fidgeted. “Nothing. It was beautiful.”

Dean said flatly, “Really. You wanted it to be that one-sided.”

Cas sighed. “No one ever complained before. I mean, they complained when I refused to do anything requiring a condom, but they stopped once they got off. They just thought I was weird, not that I’d cheated them somehow.”

“Were you abused?” Dean asked.

Cas’s face had a shuttered look; nothing he was thinking made it to the surface.

“It’s not a meaningful question in this context,” Cas said.

“I was sexually assaulted when I was sixteen,” Dean said casually. “I stuck with women for ten years after that because I couldn’t deal with my attraction to men after one victimized me.”

“What happened?” Cas said, almost in a whisper.

Dean skipped over a good chunk of his history. “Started dating a male partner and went to therapy for about a month and at least got on track to understanding my own feelings again.”

“Then what?”

“After four years, he broke up with me so he could date, and eventually marry, a woman.”

“Oh, Dean. That must have been a painful challenge.”

“Oh, Dean, my ass. Why won’t you let me take care of you?” Dean could feel the sweat start to pool above his buttcrack already, and it wasn’t 8:00 am yet.

Cas said. “I’ve had to learn to take care of myself.”

“Really?” Dean asked. He fired a guess off into the air. “So some man was an asshole to you and you carry this around with you as a result.”

“And I have no home and not much family, and no life partner, and I get along fine without any of those things,” Cas said calmly.

“Lemme get this straight, if you feel like sex, you give some guy a hand job and then jerk off by yourself afterward, because that’s totally normal too,” Dean said.

He’d managed to break Cas.

“Excuse me,” Cas said bleakly. He collected his plate and cutlery and went back into the house.

Five minutes later, as Dean was listlessly finishing his pancakes and bacon and wondering how it was he could fuck up the simplest interaction with virtually anyone, Cas came out with a carafe of coffee. Dean silently held up his cup and Cas poured. Without sitting down, he said, “I was thinking of grilled cheese sandwiches and blender gazpacho for lunch, and something cool for dinner, devilled eggs and julienned ham salad.”

“God. That sounds like whatever can I planned to open should stay on the shelf. Where’d you learn to cook?” Dean asked.

“I took over after my mom died,” Cas said. “She was murdered by her bodyguard when she refused his advances.”

He said it as if it was normal. Dean had been about to stand and return to the kitchen but he found his legs were uncooperative, and so he stayed put.

“That’s what the police beat out of him, anyway,” Cas said.

Dean tried to read Cas’s face. There was nothing to see. He relaxed into his seat a little. Cas was a mess right now, no matter how cool he seemed. He was barely holding it together, that much was obvious.

So Dean asked the question that had been bugging him. He didn’t believe someone like Cas would land out; he was too smart, too cagey, too disciplined. “Why did you end up in the field? What happened?”

In a calm, almost dreamy voice, “I went into a fugue state while I was aloft,” Cas said. “I was in a very dark place, even with all the sun, and by the time I came out of it I had just enough time to pick a spot and get Angelwings down.”

Cas sat, very abruptly. “I thought having sex, centring myself in my body, would help, but I couldn’t allow myself to respond to you, except with kissing. I’m really, really sorry. I want to make amends, but Dean, I’m terrified. I just lost my livelihood, not because of the trailers - because I shouldn’t be flying.”

“Bullshit,” Dean said easily. “You had a bad day.”

“Dean, I could have slammed that aircraft into your truck and killed you.”

Dean laughed. “Fucking plane’s made of tissue paper!”

“The Schweizer? No, Dean, it’s structural metal - it’s not a composite plane.”

“Seriously?”

“It’s designed to be a trainer; they expect it to crash, or at least to suffer hard landings in inexperienced hands. That’s why it’s hard to kill yourself in one of these planes unless you’re hit in a midair collision; if you lose a control surface you’re pretty much dead, unless God decides to get involved,” Cas finished with gallows humor.

“Or you have a parachute,” Dean said.

“Most sailplane pilots don’t have one,” Cas said. “I’m safety oriented.”

“I noticed,” Dean said, his voice dropping half an octave. It might have been an insult, but his voice made it anything but.

Cas did something quite flirtatious with his eyelashes, and bam, the two of them were looking at each other ‘like that’ again, and Dean said, the look on his face at odds with his words, “I got a long day ahead of me, so I better get going.”

Before he touched the door handle, Cas spoke, and he paused, back turned, to hear Cas say, “May I come to your room tonight?”

Dean stiffened. “Uh, yeah, sure Cas.” As if it wasn’t exactly what he wanted. What he needed, if he was being honest.

 

 

He spent most of the morning making the best stab at work he could while thinking about kissing Cas, and Cas doing anything, anything to him that he felt like doing. Around ten he jacked off on the shady side of the truck, he was so harassed by his own greedy thoughts.

He’d demand nothing. That’s what Cas wanted, no demands, and to feel that again, of being lavished with care and loved on, not just yanked through a doorway marked ‘Come Shot’, he’d do anything Cas wanted. Safety first, he thought, considering their options.

Maybe he’d let Dean fuck him between the thighs, face to face, kisses and nipple nips, maybe a hickey or a bite mark. Or no. No biting. Safety first. Hmm…

Maybe he’d kiss Dean all over and lazily stroke him afterward, maybe put a knuckle in his taint to move him along. Run a finger over his asshole. He squirmed, thinking about it.

Maybe they’d jerk themselves off, lying side by side, moaning into each other’s mouths as they kissed and came all over each other’s naked bodies. He liked that one. He came back to that one a lot, since it meant he could actually see Cas’s dick, in his fantasies at least.

Just before noon he came into the house and found Cas at the kitchen table in a pile of lists. He didn’t appear to be sweating, but as he rose to greet Dean, a smile on his face, Dean saw how the sweat had soaked through his Hulk shirt.

Dean thought he’d be imagining that pattern of sweat every time he saw that shirt again.

“Dean,” Cas said. “Would you kiss me?”

“What? I mean yeah, but —“

“Not for long,” Cas said.

“Okay,” Dean said, confused but eager. He moved toward Cas, who came into his arms with an eagerness that matched his own.

“I’m not imagining you,” Cas whispered against his mouth. “I didn’t die and have an Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge moment.”

“Good thing my brother made me watch that Twilight Zone episode or I’d have no clue what the fuck you were talking about,” Dean whispered comfortably into Cas’s ear.  They were both greasy with sweat and somehow Dean did not care in the slightest.

Cas nodded. “It was a short story, you know — “ he said.

Dean said, “— Ambrose Bierce, blah blah blah, yes, I know; I’ve met my brother, and you haven’t.”

Cas started kissing him again. “I’m here,” Dean said against his mouth. “I’m real. I sure smell real, phew.”

Cas backed away and looked at him with such a happy expression Dean felt like he’d been knocked into an alternate universe. “I like it,” Cas whispered.

They kissed again. Dean had been unnerved at first by Cas’s level of concentration. Now he was getting into the stillness, the intensity of it.

“Please don’t do that around me,” Kevin said, coming through the side door and stopping with a horrified expression on his face, which gave way to wheedling when the two broke apart. “Is anything to eat ready now? Garth says it’s too hot to eat but I’m starving.”

He had never had gazpacho, and after sniffing it and rolling his mouth around the first tentative spoonful he packed up sixteen ounces of it and a quart jug of iced sweet tea and advised that he was heading off to the place he believed was coolest, the storm cellar.

He had one parting shot for Dean. “OSHA rules, dude, it’s inhumanely hot.”

“Yeah,” Dean said. It still wasn’t hotter than Cas. “Take the rest of the day off. I can’t, but you can, and you should. Tell Charlie and Garth for me, would’ja?” and Kevin agreed and hustled off as fast as the heat would allow.

Dean took a long drink of water and a salt tablet and with a look of compressed and fiery longing, he also took his leave of Cas, to continue the work on the irrigation system.

He had a little more focus now. He was going to break for lunch in a little under an hour, and that kiss had been more motivation than distraction, so he got going.

“Anything you want, baby,” he said to the air. He tightened down the last bolt, and came back to find the house empty but for Cas.

“They all left,” Cas said as he came in.

“What?”

“They’ve gone to find someplace with air-conditioning, and the men quit, apparently Charlie is coming back though.”

“Seriously?” Dean said blankly. “The only one who worked consistently was Charlie, so I suppose that’s good. Did she leave her stuff here?”

Cas appeared disappointed in himself. “I am sorry to say that I know the answer to that, because I am unduly inquisitive. Yes. And in support of my earlier news, Kevin and Garth cleared out.”

There was a pause while Dean bounced helplessly in the pinball playing surface of his own mind, between, “Fuck me, I’m alone in the house with Cas!” to “Fuck me, all the hired hands ran off!”

Uncannily, Cas’s soft words broke through just as he was thinking it. “I’m sorry your helpers left.”

“I don’t think they were expecting it to be over 100 degrees every damned day,” Dean said wearily.

“Speaking of the weather — when was the last time there was a tornado around here?” Cas asked.

“Um, we get a little one every couple of years or so. The real tornado alley is south and east of here, cuts right across OK City.”

“So these overdeveloping cumulus clouds aren’t going to send my plane to Oz?” Cas asked hopefully.

Dean said, “No. Well, I hope not.” Then he went to the door and took a good look at the southern horizon. He was not imagining it. There was a hint of green in the sky, green like bottle glass. With more than a question in his voice, he said, “Should we be moving her? My gut says we should but I never saw a tornado even once when I came here in the summers when I was a kid. It’s just those… those clouds.”

Cas looked relieved. “Two people can do it, and if you have a truck to pull it and somebody to stabilize it, you can get it hangared a lot faster.”

Dean nodded. “It’ll have to go in the equipment barn, nothing else is big enough. And we’ll have to take it apart.”

Cas smiled. “Wait until you see how the wings come off. You’re going to love this. If it’s in three pieces we’ll be able to get it in, and if there’s room you can hang the wings if you know what you’re doing.”

“Wait ’til you see the wings come off. That’s not normally a sentence to cause thrills,” Dean said.

“You’ve noticed we’re alone.” Cas was expressionless, while maintaining eye contact.

It was very dominant, and yet coming from Cas he didn’t feel bossed around. It was weird. Dean felt nailed to the floor. He fought to control his breath and lost. “I’m kinda not noticing anything else at the moment,” Dean said.

“I have a suggestion about what order we do things in.”

“I’m listening,” Dean said.

“Let’s haul ass and get her under cover. Then let’s go to the storm cellar and make out while the storm does whatever it has a mind to.”

Dean began to grin at the words ‘storm cellar’. “You’re definitely a supper, then dessert, kinda guy.”

“Lining up tasks in the correct order for efficiency and safety is the pilot’s way,” Cas said, and now there was definitely some sass along with the starch. Dean loved it.

“Okay. I’ll drive us out there after I find tow rope. How much is good?”

“Twenty feet should be plenty.”

The wind was starting to stammer upward in speed. The last of the blue sky fled to the northeast and the sky darkened. It took fifteen minutes to get the sailplane into the barn, and they almost took out a fencepost when the wind gusted, but it all went okay in the end. There was another fifteen minutes of fussy work and then the wings were off and stowed. The wind by that point was gusting very hard, and spits of rain alternated with the wind. Then there were little bits of ice in the rain, jagged pieces, not smooth, round hail, so they locked the barn and returned to the back of the house at a dead run, hooting like idiots at each other because they both knew they’d cut it way too damned close.

Cas felt his skin tingle and jumped on Dean, grinding them both into the mud that the dusty yard had instantly become thanks to the rain. A lightning strike hit the tree on the far side of the house and the two of them, blinded and deafened temporarily, lay panting in each other’s arms. Then Cas leapt back to his feet, pulled Dean up and they covered the thirty yards or so to the storm shelter door as fast as they could.

They slammed the heavy wooden doors behind them and barred them. Dean, more used to the room, found the lanterns.

The wind noise went up and up until they had to be right next to each other to hear one another speak. Dean knew it might be the end of Bobby’s world happening out there and he didn’t care; Cas’s eyes looked black in the lamplight and he looked like he wanted to eat Dean.

“Take off your clothes,” Cas said. Dean complied happily.

“Lie down.”

“Lemme find a blanket, at least,” Dean said, and spread one out. He made an abortive attempt to get the mud off. “Face up or face down?” he asked, blinking innocently.

“Face up,” Cas said. He moved the second lamp closer. Fully clothed, Cas was on him, kissing him, and Dean was glad he was already lying down; the sensation of Cas’s weight on him, grinding him into the dirt floor through the blanket, made him feel a little faint. They were filthy. Even in this close little room they could smell ozone.

Cas reached out and switched off first one, and then the other lamp. The noise was as intense as the blackness.

Dean felt disoriented. “What?”

Cas sat up and put all his weight onto Dean’s thighs. Dean groaned, thinking about thrusting up into him, and then heard Cas pull off his teeshirt.

Chest to chest, their hammering hearts drowned out by the wind, they kissed and caressed each other while Dean’s dick dripped like a leaky faucet. He thought maybe he’d come if Cas kept grinding up against him like that. Cas rolled off him long enough to get his jeans down to his knees, and rolled back, as if preparing to fuck Dean, and he gasped when Cas’s hot cock fell next to his on his stomach.

“Hold us together,” Cas said, and braced himself as he thrust next to Dean’s cock, Dean fumbling at first to hold the two of them together. He transferred as much spit as he could onto his hands and after a few false starts had a slickness and rhythm that seemed to suit both of them. Dean imagined Cas’s muscular belly and breathed his scent, all his responses tripping over themselves in the darkness. Dean muttered, “Yeah, like that,” feeling that crawly feeling low down, letting him know he was close. Cas’s gasps got louder and louder. “Oh, ohn, ohn, gah,” he moaned, and Cas came in his hands, his movement ceasing as he panted. He pulled away from Dean’s hands, the hands that had brought him release. “Dean,” he cried over the wind noise, and Dean said, still stroking himself hard, groaned, “Say it again,” and Cas said, “Dean!” again, louder, and Dean came all over his chest and hands and it just went on and on, spasm after spasm until he felt brainless and drained.

The noise had dropped. Cas got his jeans done up and turned on the lamp.

“You don’t want to be seen naked,” Dean said.

Cas got out a baggie with a wet washcloth in it and Dean gratefully made use of it for cleanup.

“No,” he answered after a minute. “Was it a nice orgasm? It seemed nice.”

“You gave it to me, of course it was nice,” Dean said.

“Really?” Cas’s eyes crinkled in amusement. “I wasn’t even touching you.”

“You coming made it a lot easier for me,” Dean explained. “Hotter, too.”

“I think you’d better dress,” Cas said, cocking his head.

Dean could suddenly hear Charlie screaming through the door. “You lost the chicken coop!”

“I can hear Garth and Kevin,” Cas said.

“You got ears like a bat, too! Showoff.” Dean said, but he moved a lot faster into his clothes. “Relax,” he added, “They can’t get in until we unbar it.”

There was a tremendous banging, “All right, f’Chrissakes, I hear you.” Dean shoved the wooden bar aside and threw the door open.

Charlie figured it out first as the three of them crowded around and looked down the stairs.  “It smells like laundry day at the frat in here, guys. Honestly — shagging in a tornado?”

Garth said, “Sure hope you weren’t having fun down here while your plane blew away.”

Kevin giggled. “That would be funny.”

Dean could hear the eyeroll Cas was making. “Is the barn still standing?”

“Yeah, but the chickens are gone. I think it’s the only thing you lost,” Garth said.

Dean growled. “Well, then the plane’s still here, ‘cause we put it in the barn. And I’ll thank you, Kevin, not to be so cavalier about someone else’s livelihood.”

“Dean,” Charlie said, winning the all-talking-at-once award, “We saw the whole thing happen! The chickens might have come down one field over, we should go rescue them!”

Dean bolted up the stairs and looked around. The foundation of the chicken house was visible. The chicken house was gone, with not a board or splinter or feather to otherwise indicate it had been ripped from the ground.

“So,” Dean said irritably, “Are you three back, or forth, or upside down or what?”

“I’ll stay another week. Help you clean up,” Garth said.

Kevin said, “My mother says I can’t come home yet and Garth’s being an asshole and won’t give me a ride.”

“I don’t care if I live or die, my girlfriend dumped me. Might as well be here,” Charlie said.

“I really don’t have much choice in the matter,” Cas said in a reasonable voice which somehow made Dean want to laugh.

Dean flicked his eyes around. “I totally don’t. Great team building exercise guys! Let’s go eat something out of the fridge since the power will probably be out for at least a day. Then, and only then, are we going to look for chickens. Something tells me chicken hunting is not something you want to do on an empty stomach.”

 

Dean asked Garth to bring him a sandwich since he felt too filthy to go into the house, and then he and Cas stood in the last bit of the rain to get the last of the mud off, and then they piled in the truck, giggly with post-crisis goofiness, and went to Hunt the Chickens.

 

The mood was triumphant when they returned, with four of the five chickens (Metal, the Black Chicken of Death, was apparently off to Oz.) They had light from the kerosene lamps, and food thanks to the barbecue, and water, and it was a testament to the construction of the chicken house that it survived being picked up and put in the back of the truck even after it had gotten its ticket to Oz punched. Dean found the bourbon and they toasted the fallen chicken, Metal. The speculated on how far Metal flew, which wasn’t very nice, especially when they all started laughing like idiots over Cas’s placid description of Metal’s likely fate.

Cas, like the genius he was, had made dinner choices that would keep for a couple of days in an icebox and by nightfall the power, phone and internet were all back on.

“Man, I was not expecting that,” Dean said, when the porch light lit up and revealed Cas. The temperature was humane for once and the ‘kids’ had gone for a walk to blow off some more steam and to maybe find Metal.

“May I….” Cas paused.

“You were saying, Cas?” Dean asked, lips twitching.

“If it isn’t too much of a presumption,” Cas said.

A breath of time passed.

“You’ve got my attention, Cas,” Dean said, his voice deepening.

“May I sleep in your bed tonight?”

“Technically, it’s Bobby’s,” Dean said, lips twitching. “But sure, I’d be honored.”

Cas bridled. “Honored?”

“You think I’m kidding?”

Cas took a step forward to peer at him more closely.

“No-o,” he managed. “But honored sounds funny, like you don’t…” he trailed off.

“Be decisive, Cas,” Dean said.

“It’s my honor,” Cas said.

“Oh, now you’re just being flirty,” Dean said, and Cas lightened up at this.

“Still no condoms?” Dean asked.

Cas stopped breathing.

“I just want to know where I am, Cas, it’s not a comment on your preferences,” Dean said gently. Cas sighed.

“You must think —“

Dean said, in the same voice, “Cas, no. I don’t know what’s happened to you and you’ll tell me if you want to in your own time. I can’t make it happen faster. I’m cool with that. You’re Cas, you’re the only Cas I know, and you’re the only Cas who’s teasing me with thoughts of extremely hot non-penetrative sex.”

Cas shifted at non-penetrative.

“Did I say something wrong?” Dean asked.

“No,” but he hung his head and sighed, and Dean, giving up on words, put his arms around him.

“C’mon,” Dean said into his neck. “Let’s do a quick walk around the yard and pick shit up.”

 

They worked for about an hour, but the sun had come out again and after working through the break in the heat they lost their urge to get any more done. They dealt with the worst of it, although there were dozens of pieces of plastic cover from hay bales and other mostly agricultural debris visible farther from the house.

The ‘kids’ had come back, thrilled beyond words that their walk had produced a Metal sighting (the poor bird was ‘naked’ now, according to Garth) and now they were plotting in the living room as to how to lure her back before the elements or predators got at her. They drank about a gallon of sweet tea between the three of them, while coming up with strategies to capture a chicken, while Dean and Cas, working companionably side by side, assembled dinner and occasionally stifled laughter.

Dean had spent ten summers at Bobby’s farm, starting when he was seven, and he knew a goodly amount about chickens. The volunteers had no experience with any kind of livestock and at one point Dean was trying so hard not to laugh at their ludicrous notions Cas pounded him on the back, pretending to think he was choking.

“Don’t touch me, you’re making it worse,” and turning to look in Cas’s eyes, which were lit with restrained amusement and genuine affection, he burst out laughing. He was happy and it was hilarious that he was happy because before Cas had shown up he’d been anything but.

He stiffened, and Cas frowned.

“I’m a little giddy from surviving a tornado. I think we all are. And guess what, I have to tell Bobby about it tonight.”

“Maybe something will happen shortly after that call to take your mind off it.”

“Finding out if you snore? I can hardly wait.” Dean snickered, thinking about it.

“Possibly,” Cas said in a very drawling voice, “It’s something that won’t immediately involve sleep.”

“Ah, when you say, ‘not immediately’, I don’t know what to wish for, Cas. Maybe I’ll be so upset after talking to Bobby and possibly setting back his treatment with all this upsetting news I have to give him that I’ll just need you to hold me as I cry myself to sleep.”

Cas made a little gasp. “Don’t joke about crying yourself to sleep, Dean.”

“Stepped in it again, did I?” Dean ran his tongue around his lower teeth.

“For a year after my mother died, every night. Even when I’d otherwise had a great day. But Dean, joking aside, I would hold you.”

There was something about the way he said it that slowed Dean’s brain to a crawl. As if the word ‘forever’ was silently embedded in ‘hold you’ and before Dean could joke, Cas, catching himself, corrected it to, “If you had a reason to be crying tonight, I meant.”

“That’s a kind offer, and I really hope I don’t have to take you up on it,” Dean said tactfully. “And I’m really sorry about your mother. Everything about your loss must have been very hard.”

“My father’s behaviour became so erratic that he was recalled. He would have been recalled to recover but immediately after… so I was on my own.”

Dean’s blood ran cold. “How old were you?”

“I was sixteen.” Emotionless, or wishing to appear so. He quirked a pained smile in response to Dean’s expression of dismay. “I thought I was being all adult and sophisticated, and I got taken advantage of by a very, very slick predator.”

“Raped, you mean,” Dean said.

“Whoa,” Garth said, walking in just at that moment. “How fast can I back up?” He sounded out the beeps of a truck backing up and vanished back into the living room.

“Let’s go look at the sailplane and make sure we still have all the bits and pieces to put her back together,” Dean said.

“If it means privacy, by all means,” Cas said. “I feel so removed from flying at the moment I haven’t even inspected Angelwings.” Dean called out to the kids that the two of them were headed to the barn and the screen door closed quietly behind Dean, as he loathed slamming doors.

He spoke quietly to Cas, feeling his way through the words by pretending he was his brother for a second. Ah, Sam, I have to wonder what you’d think of this dude. I swear you’d like him. I wish you could meet him under better circumstances than this.

“You either had a bad moment, or you’re done with flying, and you’re either done with flying temporarily because you don’t have a trailer, or you’re done with flying permanently because the thrill is gone. Either way you still have to inspect her, right?”

“Angelwings isn’t female,” Cas said, with that tiny thread of irritation that Dean alternately loved and reared up at. “They’re gender-neutral.”

“I’m not very politically correct,” Dean said.

“No,” Cas said mildly. “But what you are, is kind.”

Dean’s eyes shifted away from his, and then he brought them to bear again. “You think so?”

“I think it, I feel it,” Cas said. “And I’ve learned not to trust overt kindness. I was glad that your soft heart came in such a gruff exterior, or I wouldn’t have been as attracted.”

“I was gruff?” Dean asked, startled.

“You were glaring at me. You don’t remember? I find that rather remarkable. You drove up to me with this … I don’t know, hate stare on your face, and then after that you were distracted, but kind. So I know that you could be kind enough to remember that Angelwings is them and they and that you’d change just the same for a friend who changed their gender or presentation.”

“That’s not the same kind of kind,” Dean protested, eyes narrowing.

“It’s exactly the same kind of kind,” Cas replied, and the reserved smile stole to the surface again and then ebbed away, as Dean found himself smiling back. “It’s part of hospitality and, despite everything, you really care about hospitality.”

“Because of Bobby, I sure’s hell do… Shit, this door’s a little bent.” He heaved and the barn door shifted.

“You don’t live here, correct?”

Dean’s laugh was more like a cough. “Here? No! God, no.” He oriented himself in the space between the fuselage of the aircraft and the front work bench in the barn and then pointed. “There. Hundreds of miles that-a-way, in Lawrence.”

Cas dragged his eyes away from Dean, whose presence was providing a bubble in which he didn’t feel required to deal with his current problems, and tried, half-heartedly, to complete the inspection. He had memorized the checklist years ago and added a few items of his own. There was nothing wrong. All the connecting hardware was where they’d left it.

Cas looked at Angelwings. Apart from some green staining from the soybeans, they survived with all equipment intact - thus far. He sagged, and Dean was next to him, an arm over his shoulder.

“I picked the right activity to totally kill the mood, didn’t I?” Dean said. It was a comradely arm. Calm, and kind.

“The mood is doing fine. It’s the only lift and thrust I’ve got going for me at the moment… everything else is weight and drag.” Cas grimaced briefly.

Dean moved in. “I wondered, since you were okay rubbing one out on my stomach on a dirt floor during a tornado, which is easily the hottest thing that’s ever happened to me, if you’d be amenable to uh — “ Dean ran out of slick talk.

“Kissing?” Cas finished for him. At Dean’s expression, he grinned, the gummy grin he’d only seen once and which made his heart dance in his chest like fuckin’ Baryshnikov.

“Works for me,” Dean said, and closed the gap between them, smiling.

There was pre-Cas and after-Cas. After-Cas was a place where Dean stopped worrying about getting laid.

He literally put the idea out of his mind. He was hot and he was ready, but his mental state was floating above lust, distant and almost sorrowful that his body was getting ordered around by an organ smaller and not smarter than his brain.

 

He was early teens Dean, so happy to be *actually*kissing*a*guy* that he just wanted to stay here and never deal with facts of gay life like housing prejudice and getting fucked over visiting friends in hospital and AIDS stigma and coping with feelings about multiple partners since he was a man with big appetites and how he was always just being bisexual wrong, somehow, plus the horror of coming out to parental figures.

Merely navigating the world being him and there being nobody who ever saw him where he was, sexually and spiritually and owning a business and owning guns for target shooting for a hobby but being pretty fucking left wing on just about any subject you could name and a really shitty person about a lot of stuff — but really trying hard. And coping with a lot of that by getting as much (mostly) feelings-free sex as possible, so all the moving parts in his watch-like life didn’t spring loose and collide with a clash of gears to explode all over him in a shower of debris, because when Sammy was twenty-one, he’d said, “I don’t know how I’d feel if you brought a male partner home.”  And instead of telling his brother to fuck off, he stopped talking to him about his male partners, and he especially took care not to fall in love with any of them.

 

He was late teens Dean, and his intentions about his partner didn’t count because he didn’t really have any. He was seventeen and this time he knew how to kiss a guy and he was doing an awesome job when his friend made a strangled noise, jumped back from him, looking at him in horror for a second and then ran away. Literally, ran away, like a cartoon character, away from Dean, while all the beautiful feelings disappeared into self-hatred and anger. Somehow he’d forced himself on Vince and Vince had run away and everything was destroyed. Except it wasn’t; Vince pretended nothing had happened, and that was even worse.

 

Cas was here and Dean wasn’t a teenager. Cas was right here, in his arms, and he was a beautiful reality, not a hurtful memory.

Cas’s breath sounds were part of this unbelievable ride, this sensory takeover. Dean wasn’t forcing himself on Cas, he knew it, he could feel it. Every bit of pressure, every tender lip imprint and squeeze, flowed back and forth between them, a gliding, spit-laced dance across what felt like the inside of Dean’s skull, not merely his eager mouth. Every time Cas moved his tongue (and he was angelic, smooth and probing so deep Dean was amazed they weren’t clanking teeth half the time), Dean responded with moves of his own (counter-slides and nips, suction and the quiet, occasional moan) and the combined effect, after a few minutes, was hypnotic for both of them. Dean could feel Cas relax in his arms. Cas stood still, leaning into him as if he wanted to be wrapped around him but wasn’t quite comfortable grabbing Dean like a heathen.

After a long time, maybe ten minutes, Cas pulled away.

“Are you …” Dean said, and then he took a breath, “Gonna look at me with your big blue eyes and ask me if you can come to my room tonight?”

“I thought I already …” Cas thought about it, “intimated it.”

Dean breathed out the faintest sigh of amusement, and said, “Can you intimate it a little more intimately?”

“May I sleep in your bed tonight?”

“Sure, even if all you really wanna do is sleep,” Dean said simply.

“Oh,” Cas said, and they started kissing again. Something shifted. Cas became very dominant and Dean heard himself sigh again. He slid a hand to cup and massage Cas’s dick, expecting to get pushed away, but Cas ground into his hand and grabbed his ass and the kissing got awkward and fierce. After a minute Dean moved his massaging hand back to Cas’s little promontory of a hip.

“Shit,” Dean said. “I don’t think I’ve ever wanted anyone this much.”

“It’s a very strange feeling to want anybody at all,” Cas said, gasping a little. “I didn’t actually think it would ever happen again. Sex has been pretty maintenance-based for me.”

“Why me?” Dean asked, appalled but amused by how surprised Cas seemed to be, saying that.

“You kissed me, but you let me make up my own mind about following up on it. You took the pressure off so I didn’t have to pretend not to be attracted to you. You smell better than anyone I ever met, even when you’re filthy.”

Very business-like. Also, very cute. “Well, look in the mirror the next time you want to know why I wanted to kiss you. And once you started cooking I was pretty much done,” Dean said. He buried his lips in Cas’s neck and blew a little raspberry. “I don’t like it.”

“What?” Cas said, with a little shiver.

Dean very lightly licked the same soft place his lips had been. “How I went from not knowing you exist, to wanting to look at you 24/7. I’m not really a very possessive person.”

“How would you prove that?”

“By leaving?” Dean said painfully. “Hell, I’m probably leaving in the next couple of days. The tests are clean and they may be letting Bobby out for good on the weekend.”

There was a long silence.

Cas said, “As you know, I’m stuck here.”

“I do know. I’m just warning you so when my brother appears out of nowhere in — excuse me! — my car!” and here Dean frowned mightily into Cas’s neck, before getting all gooey again and giving it another lick, “He’ll be in a hurry to leave and I’ll have to throw my shit together and go.”

Cas went completely still and stopped breathing. Then he said, “Where are you going?”

“Home. I have a business in Lawrence - a garage. Are you okay? — you’re talking like a robot again.” Dean pulled back to consider Cas’s face.

Cas’s face visibly hardened. Dean felt himself stumble a bit, inside, at the change. In a cold, clear voice, Cas said, “I think I’m reading a bit much into our ‘little thing’, here. I’ve been concentrating on work and I burned out and now I’m looking for something to distract myself with.”

Dean made a little cough-chuckle instead of an answer and went back to messing with Cas’s neck. No biting was a hell of a barrier. No matter. He was Dean Winchester, and if that’s what he had to do (or not do) to continue to get this man to play with his dick and kiss him, that’s what he’d do. It was no hardship, at least not at the moment. It was like being allowed to reprise high school, this time with a willing ‘victim’ — and now air quotes were part of his scenery again, and when Cas did it Dean would marvel at how another man could be so hot, so clueless and so precise, all at the same time. Kissing him was agony; a self-extinguishing kind of agony usually, but now he felt so keyed up, as if he’d break through his own skin if he didn’t come.

In a couple of days he’d be gone. At least he’d broken it to Cas. He’d seriously considered it, just pressing his business card into Cas’s hand on the way out the door, but when he turned it around, he knew he’d hate to be on the receiving end of such dicklike behavior. He wasn’t really thinking about his departure too much right now; Dean was so horny he felt wildly needy and impatient.

“Much as I hate to be crude, I gotta come,” Dean blurted.

“Don’t let me stop you,” Cas said. He’d been startled, but not for long. He took out his cock, and looked right at Dean as he pulled his borrowed t-shirt up and over his head. He kissed him on an angle, so he could stroke himself and kiss Dean at the same time. Dean got his own cock out. A couple of times they nudged their cocks together and both of them moaned and Cas laughed and swore breathlessly.

They leaned into each other, looking down at their swollen cocks, one hand bracing, the other hand jerking, their heavy breathing muffled. Dean pulled back a bit after a few minutes. “I’m real close. Real, real close - ah!” and he came all over Cas’s torso, dripping down into his pubes, moaning in rhythm with his spasms. Then he said, in an urgent, coaxing tone, “God, Cas. Come for me, babe, all over me,” and Cas did, with a wild, almost hiccuping cry, as if Dean’s words had the force of a command.

Dean pulled a clean house-rag from his overalls pocket and handed it to Cas, who was panting and leaning slightly against a workbench. They cleaned themselves, Dean smiling to himself and Cas with a serious expression.

“So you could be gone tomorrow?” he asked.

“Maybe. Probably the day after that.”

“And I’ll never see you again,” Cas said flatly.

“I don’t have that many friends,” Dean said, equally flatly. “I’m not going to ditch you.”

“I’m your friend?” Cas said, as if he couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

“Well, what are you when we’re not having sex?” Dean said, surprised.

“I thought I was your guest.”

“Who cooks family style meals, mm-hm, a guest.”

“Guests cook.”

“Helps clean up tornado debris and rescue chickens.”

“It’s my duty to help in an emergency if I can,” Cas said primly.

“Kisses in a very friendly way. Jerks me off in a very friendly way. Rubs his cock against me in a very, very friendly way.” Dean plucked the rag out of his partner’s hand and said, “Kiss me again, I really like how friendly you are.”

Cas leaned away from the embrace to look at Dean’s face close up. Dean pursed his lips like a cartoon character wanting to plant a big wet one.

Unfazed by the defiantly unsexy pose, Cas said, “I don’t understand that either. Nobody has ever really kissed me before; it’s always very lifeless and perfunctory.”

Dean dropped the pose. “You kiss the exact opposite of whatever the hell that is.”

“Dean, I think you enjoy looking ignorant… then you can surprise others with how smart you are,” Cas said.

Dean said, “Do you really want to know how dumb I am?”

Cas said, “Sure.”

“I’m afraid of losing you by setting boundaries.”

“I don’t understand.” He turned his back to Dean and Dean ached at how beautiful his frame was. Cas pulled the t-shirt back on, and Dean sighed.

“I’m afraid that if I say something like, ‘I want to ask you to come visit me for a couple of weeks but I have to ask you to do something first’, you might get anxious.”

“You want to fuck me,” Cas said, nodding.

“Uh, I thought that wasn’t a matter for discussion,” Dean said, heart hammering.

“It isn’t.”

“Okay, we’re on the same page,” Dean said, relieved that he hadn’t misread Cas. “I’m talking about a visit where you have your own guest room. I’ll be working, which will kind of suck for you, but I recall something about you being homeless — “

Cas interjected, “I’m going to my aunt’s in Denver to have a home base to straighten out the hangar fire mess from.”

Dean was deliberately casual. “How long do you think it’s going to take.”

“Not long at all if I can pay all my creditors,” Cas said. He sounded very tired and sad. “And I have a way of doing that, it’s just not a road I want to take.” He sighed and said, making an obvious effort to sound more cheerful, “I’d far rather think about round two tonight, if I didn’t tire you out too much.”

The strain in Cas’s voice made Dean suspect that this was Cas trying to be amenable, making the most of the last little while, whether he was really feeling it or not. “Round two or sawing logs, I’ll be ready,” he said, and Cas’s smile became more genuine. He’d been thinking of asking Cas to look after his airplane mess before he came to visit but it seemed he hadn’t had to.

 

Sam turned up with Bobby twenty-four hours later, and after the round of introductions and sweet tea and awkward, rushed conversation, during which Cas stared at Dean as if trying to burn exactly how he looked into his memory, Sam did exactly as Dean had predicted and said, “Let’s go, chop chop Dean! I got a hot girlfriend waiting for me in Lawrence.”

Dean was packed already. Cas had watched him pack. The whole thing had been agony, and Cas hadn’t said a thing. Dean almost wished he had, so maybe they could fight, but that was not Cas’s way, apparently. Dean gave him his contact info, and Cas said, “Not that this means anything unless I get myself out of debt, I guess.”

Dean said, holding on to his temper, which was not easy in the crushing heat, “That’s not what it means. It means you know how to get hold of me, twenty-four-seven. Even if you don’t want to call me, we both know you can, and you might.”

“But I don’t have to.”

“If you call me, maybe I’ll know which two weeks you’re coming,” Dean said.

“Why do you want me to come visit you?”

Dean sat down on the bed to a jangle of springs and said, “What part of ‘I’m really fucking lonely’ don’t you get? You’re my friend and I’m inviting you for a visit, and you don’t have to visit… I’d just really, really like it.”

Cas said nothing. After a moment he left the room, and Dean realized that whatever reassurance Cas had been looking for, he hadn’t gotten it.

 

It would have been a lot nicer to drive Baby back to Lawrence if a) Cas had been in the front seat, not his annoying bitch-faced brother, who would not shut up about the tornado, and his girlfriend, and how things were going at grad school and b) it hadn’t been hotter than Satan’s nuts, since Baby didn’t have air conditioning.

The five and half hours crawled by; Dean dropped his brother off and watched with amused disapproval as Jess, the smoking hot girlfriend, literally launched herself into the air at Sam, almost appearing to dry hump him by way of a greeting.

“Must be nice,” he said aloud, and waved at his brother.

He went home and kicked his way through the debris field the postman had left for him in the front hall to get to the fridge for a beer. He turned the air conditioning on, since the house was like a freaking oven.

He considered calling Cas, and then realized that he probably shouldn’t, and then said fuck it and called, since he needed to hear his voice.

Cas sounded startled when he picked up the phone. Of course, he was probably in the kitchen, and so closest to the phone.

“Dean?”

“Yeah. Thought I’d phone you and let you know I got home okay.”

“I — I really appreciate the call. Things are progressing here. Bobby’s really happy about the irrigation rig.”

“Glad to hear it, considering I sweated my body weight off about three times over when I was working on it,” Dean said, with more than a little attitude. “Are you making dinner?”

“Yeah. I’d probably be more inspired if I knew I was going to be sitting across from you while I ate it.”

Dean chuckled. “Me too, Cas. Hope you’ll think about that visit.”

“I’ll — I’ll think about it. I’ll let you know what my contact info is when I get to Denver, Dean.”

“You do that. Well, guess I’ll catch you later, Cas. Bye.”

“Bye, Dean.”

 

It wasn’t much, but it would have to do for now.

 

Bobby said it was okay to leave Angelwings in the barn. Garth drove Cas to the nearest Greyhound depot, where he waited, enervated by the heat and the loss of Dean’s company, arriving in Denver late in the evening.

His aunt Naomi took one look at him and decided not to make her usual chatty and somewhat one-sided conversation, which was a blessing. He wiped the worst of his travel sweat himself off with a wet washcloth since he was literally too tired to shower and collapsed until almost noon the next day.

Naomi had never judged him for ceasing to speak to his father. She was the only family member, in fact, that he’d told about the sexual assaults after his mother died, while his father had mentally wandered off to a place where he was no longer much use as a protector.

When he asked her to put him in touch with his father, she hadn’t seemed surprised.

“That won’t be hard to arrange,” she said. “Do you want to see him?”

Cas thought about it. He was going to be asking for a lot of money; he supposed a personal visit would be appropriate.

“Not really, but I have something important to ask him.”

“Tomorrow?”

Cas’s eyebrows rose. “He’s here?”

“In hospital. Actually —” and her voice trailed off.

“What?” Cas said, suddenly apprehensive.

“He’s in hospice care, here in town. He won’t make it to Thanksgiving,” Naomi said bluntly.

Cas put his face in his hands. He hadn’t spoken to his father in fifteen years and to visit him while he was dying to ask for money seemed like the shittiest thing he could possibly do - but if he didn’t, Dean would disappear out of his life, and he’d do worse to prevent that.

Recovering, he looked directly at Naomi and said, “As soon as visiting hours begin tomorrow — “ he said.

“They’re open now,” Naomi said.

Cas felt tears well up. “How bad is it?” he whispered.

“You might walk right by him if you saw him.”

His well-fleshed, sophisticated father, beaten down by cancer, dying, skinny and parchment like. It was a horrifying prospect.

Naomi patted his hand as she drove Cas to the hospice. “You want to talk to him privately?”

“If he’ll see me.”

Naomi looked at him with such tender compassion that Cas suddenly realized that his father was desperate to talk to him.

“Of course,” she said softly. She took him down the hall and said, after knocking on the door, “Zach, it’s Castiel.”

Heart banging with fear, Cas watched the silver head lift, and his father’s pale, slender face broke into an immense smile.

“Oh, Cas, it’s so, so good to see you!” he exclaimed. “Come on in! Naomi tells me you’ve been having your troubles.”

Cas felt his eyes fill with tears. “Not like you.”

His father shrugged. “I don’t have much longer, and I’m not sad to go. But you — you have problems I think I can help fix.”

Cas sat next to his father and took his hand. He was on oxygen, and seemed to have a pain relief drip in his arm, but his hand was warm, and he squeezed back weakly with a smile.

“I’ll be waiting, Cas,” Naomi said.

“Thanks, sis,” his father said. The siblings exchanged a loving glance and Naomi left. Cas sighed at how stupid he’d been to ghost his own father.

“Naomi talked to Gabe,” his father said, his voice becoming clearer and more incisive. “So don’t say a damned thing, I know you’re broke. Fortunately I already collapsed down what was left of your mother’s estate, and it’s ready for you. Let me know where you want it transferred.”

“Now would be nice,” Cas heard himself say. Hastily, he added, “But tomorrow is fine, or whenever you’re up for it.”

“I can’t just do it over the phone,” his father said apologetically. “So what are your plans now?”

“To stay here, at Aunt Naomi’s, and be with you.”

“Nonsense,” his father said, but that brusque tone didn’t work without a lot more air behind it, and his father could barely whisper. “Watching a dying man die is boring, almost more boring that being that man, and I’d find it tiresome to keep up appearances this late in the day.”

“What would you have me do?” Cas said.

His dad gave a wry smile. “You’re asking me? What would make you happy? If I could sponsor that, that’s what I want, not just throwing money at you; Castiel, I knew you never cared about it as more than a tool.”

After a long pause, during which his father made encouraging noises and gestures indicating that Cas should say something, Cas said, “I’ve been asked by a friend to come visit for a couple of weeks.”

“And this would make you happy?”

“Profoundly so,” Cas said, and meant it.

“Tell you what,” his father whispered. “You go visiting, and come see me when you come back. I’m sure I can hang on for two weeks, now that I’ve seen you and you’ve promised to come back.”

“I haven’t promised,” Cas said, smiling at how his father always managed to twist his words, and how, for once, he didn’t mind. “But I do now. I’ll come back when the visit’s over.”

 

Dean considered his living room and wondered what Cas would make of it. He’d brought men home since Sam moved out but never given a shit what they might think about his decorating skills.

It was a comfortable room, clean and lived-in. He started making a list to help him make the place Cas-worthy.

He worked a full day and came home and cleaned out the fridge; it needed it.

After a while he stood in the doorway of Sam’s old room, the room that Cas would have if Dean got his way and talked him into moving in ‘until things were more settled’, which was Dean-code for ‘I’ma surround you like an octopus and never let you go’.

He made a list of the finishing touches he wanted to make, starting with ditching that stained duvet cover.

 

The garage was doing fine. Aaron had taken over the paperwork and phone calls to the auto parts jobbers and the work had proceeded with the remaining mechanics without any issues, as far as he could tell.

It was actually a little annoying that they’d done so well without him. It was weird that the first time he’d really gone on vacation it was to work somewhere else; but it was now clear that if he wanted to start focusing on restoration of classic cars, everything was stable enough to allow that to happen.

He couldn’t sleep so he went to the Hy-Vee and stocked the fridge he’d just emptied. Mocking himself that he’d probably never need them, not if Cas was so gun-shy about penetrative sex, he picked up condoms and lube. And massage oil. It was something that could be non-sexual. He imagined massaging Cas and went home and jerked off.

He slept late and woke to his phone ringing and answered without checking who it was.

“Dean?” Cas’s voice made Dean sit bolt upright.

“Yeah Cas,” Dean said, trying to sound casual, not like his heart was pounding.

“May I come visit?

Dean felt like his throat had gone bone dry. “Sure, Cas. When were you thinking?”

“Well, today. I’m at the airport in Denver.”

“Shit! Fantastic!” Dean said. “When am I picking you up?”

“Oh, that won’t be necessary, just give me the address and I’ll take a cab.”

They made the arrangements, and said goodbye, and then Dean said aloud, “Now it’s time to make like a white tornado,” and he madly ran around the place doing the last of the last of the chores to make the place spotless, and to ensure there were loads of clean towels, since they’d probably need them. Coaxing Cas into taking a shower with him was definitely on the list of non-penetrative sexy times he’d been fantasizing about.

 

He called Aaron to let him know that his appearances at the garage would be spotty for a while since he had a friend visiting from out of town.

 

Cas was later than expected. Dean planned to let him decompress from his flight and then feed him, so it was a bit of a surprise when Cas came through the door, put his suitcase down, and kissed Dean like they’d been parted for years instead of days; then he shoved him back on the sofa, and shortly after that dragged him off to his bedroom, not that Dean was going to whine about that. Time got a little blurry, but Dean no longer needed to imagine what Cas sounded like in Dean’s bed, coming his little brains out.

 

Dean didn’t mind.

 

He noticed that Cas was a little off, sometimes, staring off into space with a sad expression, but he perked up soon enough when Dean laid a hand on him.

 

He found out what it was like to massage Cas. At first Cas had resisted, not wanting to be seen completely naked, and then he just gritted his teeth and complied, which made Dean feel awful until the first time Cas moaned in delight.

Dean was thorough.

Cas jerked them both off afterward and moaned again when Dean licked him clean.

 

The sex, even with Cas’s prohibition on penetration, was wonderful. Dean found himself caring a lot more about how easy Cas was to share a kitchen with; how he didn’t hog the bathroom; how he volunteered for work around the house and wanted to learn all of Dean’s routines; how fucking amazing he looked, curled up with a soaring magazine on the chaise longue on the back deck, or curled into Dean’s side on the sofa catching up on Game of Thrones; how delicious his cooking was. How Dean tried and tried to get tired of kissing Cas, and never managed it.

 

Cas usually slept in his own bed. The first time he slept in Dean’s bed he had a nightmare, and wouldn’t talk about it except to shush Dean when he tried to help. He fell back asleep easily enough, but then Dean was awake, and thinking about how when Cas left he was going to be tossing Dean’s heart into his suitcase and trundling away with it.

 

He didn’t dare say anything to him. It was early days yet; no sense scaring him with a declaration of — what? Was it love? and how would Dean even know?

 

It felt like love. It felt big and comfy and right, and hot as fuck.

 

Cas balked at being introduced to Dean’s friends. “We should wait,” he said. Dean shrivelled a bit inside, figuring it was a sign that Cas wasn’t interested in anything long-term. “Okay,” he said.

 

Dean was startled when Cas joined him in his bed one night after lights out and said, “You never tell me what you want from me.”

Dean swallowed, hard. His voice was tentative. “Well, you kind of established some rules, and I don’t want to rock the boat.” Also? I’m not convinced having this discussion in bed is a good idea, Cas.

“So you do want me to do something I’m not doing. I knew it,” Cas said.

Dean swallowed again. “I don’t want to do anything that will make you think about … about your assault.”

Cas regarded him with that clear, blue, information-free stare, which was just a glisten in the dark.

“That’s thoughtful of you. But I need to get over it.”

“Not if means swapping one hurt for another,” Dean muttered.

“What?”

“I don’t want to hurt you,” Dean said.

“I’ll be the judge of that. What do you want?”

Dean actually squirmed, trying to answer. “If I say something or do something you don’t like, I may not get a chance to say sorry if it’s hurtful enough to you… you’ll just leave, and I — I don’t want to scare you off.”

Cas said, “I don’t think you could scare me off.”

Dean grinned and gave Cas a little peck on the cheek. “As good as that is to hear, I’m not sure it’s true. Maybe we… maybe we can come at it from a different angle.”

“Like what?”

“Maybe we can do stuff that your —“

“Rapist,” Cas said flatly.

“Huh. Okay. What didn’t he do to you? maybe that won’t be a trigger.”

“Like what?”

“Did he ever ask you to fuck him in the ass?”

“God, no,” Cas said. He almost sounded amused.

“You wanna fuck me in the ass?” Dean said, trying not to sound like he was begging, which he sort of was.

There was a long pause. Cas looked at the ceiling. “It’s hard to imagine,” he said slowly, “That it’s something you’d enjoy.”

“Okay, so not that, then,” Dean said.

“Not so fast,” Cas said. “I’m considering it.”

He was silent so long that Dean almost turned on the bedside lamp and picked up a book just to distract himself.

Finally, Cas said, “Well, describe what perfect ass-fucking would be like for you.”

Dean fidgeted. “Seriously? I mean, okay, but I’m not sure that’s what you want.”

“A checklist, Dean. I want a checklist. Something to help me manage the anxiety.”

“Oh,” Dean said inadequately. He took a breath.

“Well, it kinda depends on a lot of things, like what time of day it is and how much time we have and whether we’re doing something afterward, but I guess it all starts in the bathroom.”

“For an enema?”

“Not a big fan. I mean, I will, but I’m not a fan. No, for you, to really clip and file your fingernails, and also to check our supplies.”

“Clip nails short,” Cas said, as if he was trying to impress the checklist on his memory. “What kind of supplies?”

“Well, you’ll be playing in my ass, so… gloves or no gloves?”

“Oh. Yes. Gloves please.”

“So before you clip your nails, check for gloves. I got a box of ‘em in with the sex toys.”

“You have sex toys?” Cas asked. “You never said anything!”

“You never asked. For all I knew looking at sex toys would be, uh, bothersome for you so I just… didn’t.”

“You’re that concerned about hurting me.”

“Well, yeah, Cas. I think you’ve been hurt enough.”

“Hm. And after I check for gloves?”

“Well, condoms and enough lube to get and keep that party going.”

“Okay, check,” Cas said.

“And while you’re doing all that, I give myself a wash amidships and get my asshole all sparkly clean.”

“Blindingly so,” Cas said.

They both cracked up, which was good, because the tension was fucking killing Dean.

“Then you figure out what toys you want to use on me and rinse ‘em off - I always put ‘em away clean, but whatever.”

“I’m going to have to see these toys.”

“In a minute. Next, you rim me for about ten minutes until I’m all sloppy and loose and ready for a finger.”

“I’ve never rimmed anyone.”

“You can skip that part.”

“No, it’s on the checklist,” Cas said, as if this made it a law, or something.

“You asked for perfect,” Dean said.

“I did,” Cas said. “I think the next thing on the checklist is me gloving up and applying lube and then putting a finger in your ass.”

“Up to three, to stretch me out,” Dean said.

“Or toys,” Cas said.

Dean sucked in his breath. Cas could make his stomach do acrobatics, getting on board like that.

“Around the time you get the third finger in I’m going to be begging for it,” Dean said.

“What’ll that sound like?” Cas asked.

“You’re teasing me.”

“Okay, you’ll beg for it. I guess the rest is pretty self-explanatory; get on condom, fuck your ass until I come, or not.”

“I guess it doesn’t really sound all that good to you,” Dean said, sagging.

“Well,” Cas said, “I might want to pull out and come all over you,” at which point Dean’s dick, which had been wildly issuing little damp proximity alerts to Cas’s extreme hotness during their whole conversation, became fully erect.

“Okay,” Dean said weakly. “Well, anyway, that would be a perfect ass-fucking for me. I might or might not jerk it while you’re fucking me, depends how I feel.”

There was a silence. Cas was very gently stroking Dean’s belly, and when his hand caressed the top of his aching dick, he arched his back, closed his eyes and gave himself over to Cas’s amazing hands. As he was getting close, Cas said, “I want you to imagine me pounding your ass,” and the bastard laughed when Dean came within seconds of hearing those words.

 

Two weeks went by very fast, and very slow. Cas hadn’t told Dean about his father. He packed, while Dean watched, trying not to beg him to stay. “It’s been two weeks. You invited me to stay for two weeks.”

“I was hoping you could stay a while longer,” Dean said. Like the rest of your life.

“I can’t. I’ve got — family business — in Denver and I can’t leave it any longer. I promise I’ll be back.” He took Dean’s chin in his hand and kissed him, close-mouthed. “I promise.”

“When do you want me to drive you to the airport?” Dean asked, returning with a sigh to practicalities.

“You won’t be driving me anywhere,” Cas said. He snapped the case shut, and went to the bathroom, where he started to clip his nails.

“You should clean up,” Cas said casually to Dean, looking at him in the mirror.

Dean’s heart nearly tripped out of his chest.

“You’re — you’re seriously — Cas, buddy, don’t tease me like this.”

“I don’t tease,” Cas said stolidly. Dean, hands shaking, cleaned himself up.

“Get anything you want out of the toy collection,” Cas said, when he was finished. “You never told me whether you wanted to be face up, face down, or on your side.”

Dean’s pupils were so wide, when he looked up at Cas, that his eye color was no longer visible.

“Any way you want me, Cas,” he answered, almost panting.

“On your knees, then.”

Dean obliged, asap.

He felt both of Cas’s warm, strong hands on his ass, pulling a little, then a breath, and then Cas’s hot, agile tongue flicked across his hole and he gave a high-pitched needy moan. “Ah, ah, Jesus, Cas, fuck I’m so hard already.”  His tongue pulsed warm and wet across Dean’s hole and for a while he couldn’t talk, he was so excited.

Cas went through his checklist. When his spit was so thick it was sliding down Dean’s dick and dripping onto the towel, he gloved up and slowly, lovingly, smoothed his index right finger into Dean’s eager ass.

“Should I try to find your prostate?” Cas murmured, and made a little burst of laughter as Dean jumped and swore. And begged. Dean was doing a lot of begging, and Cas seemed to like that.

Two fingers.

Dean’s ass shook. He jammed his head in his pillow and wailed.

Three fingers.

Dean was now begging, a continuous whining thready stream of nonsense and appeals, cursing and pleading for mercy.

“I’m gonna fuck you with this dildo, first; I need to make sure you’re stretched enough.” Cas picked up an eight inch dildo, not too thick, lubed it and placed it next to the crack of Dean’s ass. With inexorable steady slowness, he pushed it into Dean’s ass, and watched with a feral grin as Dean pushed back, hard.

“I think that’s enough,” Cas said. His dick was now doing the driving. He put on the condom, lubed himself up, and pulled the dildo out.

“Ready?”

God, Cas, fuck me!”

If Cas had been alternately amused, impressed and a little bit taken aback by how noisy Dean was with a finger in his ass, he soon learned that a hard cock turned Dean’s volume up to eleven.

“You want this,” Cas growled into Dean’s neck.

“So bad, so bad,” Dean moaned.

Both of them stopped talking. Coherently, anyway.

 

It was a feature of their relationship, except when it wasn’t.

 

Cas pulled out and sat back with his head whirling. He hadn’t broken into pieces at the same time he’d broken his self-imposed sexual rule. For twenty minutes, Dean had moaned and thrashed under him, obviously enraptured, and his own orgasm had left him panting and wrung with sweat.

“Dean,” he said with concern, noting that Dean seemed to be wiping his eyes.

“‘m’okay,” he muttered. “I guess you have to go.”

“Yes,” Cas said uneasily. “But I have to talk to you about something first.”

“Why now,” Dean groaned. He stretched his legs out, his foot touching Cas’s thigh on the way by.

“Because I just realized something.”

“Having your cock up my ass makes you philosophical,” Dean opined lazily. After that masterful dicking, Dean was amazed there was a functional corner of his brain to make repartee with.

“Well, having my dick in your ass makes us more than friends, right?”

Dean knew that if he didn’t say something fast, the moment would melt away like the lube from his ass. “More than friends? I’d like that,” he said.

“Are you my significant other?” Cas asked. He sounded hilarious when he tried to be casual, except there was nothing hilarious here, just acres and acres of minefields and barbed wire to marine-crawl across.

Dean took a breath. “You can call me your boyfriend.”

“You know, I don’t even like that word when straight people use it,” Cas confided after a moment.

Dean rolled over.

“I was supposed to clean you up!”

“I’m framing these sheets anyway,” Dean said dreamily, and then, with a little more air, “I’m not really a fan of significant other, either, it’s kind of mushy.”

“Can I call you my partner?” Cas asked shyly.

“Works for me,” Dean said, relieved. “Tells people we’re close without talking about who dicks who.”

“So if you’re my partner, I’m supposed to share things with you,” Cas said.

Dean felt the glow start to rub off. “Uh, yeah. Why do I get a terrible feeling about you telling me this right after you bone me the first time and right before you’re going to the airport?”

“Because it’s terrible news,” Cas said simply. “My dad’s dying.”

“Jesus, Cas,” Dean said.

“I knew you’d be mad,” Cas said.

“Mad?” Dean said. He sat up, winced, and scooched over to where Cas was sitting. He kissed Cas’s shoulder and said, “And you didn’t want to tell me because you didn’t want to ruin our little sex vacay. Way to make me look like a self-centred dick, Cas.”

Cas looked hard done by. “No,” Cas said, and his voice was acerbic. “I didn’t want to seem like I’m nothing but gloom and doom.” He took a breath. “Dean, I really don’t feel like doom and gloom when I’m around you. I told him I’d be back in two weeks, so I have to go. And I promised Naomi I’d be back to help at the end, and, you know, with his apartment.”

Dean’s voice was gentle. “What’s his timeline?”

“His doctor gave him six months two years ago, but it’s coming soon. Naomi says she thinks he’s got a week maybe; she nursed her husband and her mother; I trust her judgement.”

“Cas, I gotta ask. Are you — are you coming back?”

Cas said, “I imagine so. I’m hoping now that I’m a little more — normal — it would be easier.”

“In the first place, you couldn’t be normal no matter how hard you tried, and in the second place it doesn’t matter. Cas, all that matters to me is that you come back.”

“You enjoyed it though, right?” Cas said.

“Screaming your name non-stop for what seemed like an hour, yeah, hated every minute of it, Cas,” Dean said.

“Don’t tease.”

Dean snorted. “You’re the one that nearly fucked me into a coma and then said, ‘gotta run!’ so you’re the tease, buster.”

 

Dean got dressed and said, “You’re sure you don’t want me to meet your dad,” to Cas as the Lyft driver honked again.

“Not like this,” Cas said, “I know him well enough to know that this is not how he wants to look to my — partner.”

“Okay,” Dean said. “Lemme know if that changes.” Heedless of the neighbours, Dean kissed him goodbye on the stoop, and said, “I know you’ll be busy, but you can call me anytime.”

“Goodbye Dean.”

 

As is sometimes the case, Zach rallied and had a good week.  He was still dying, but he was awake a fair amount, and lucid, and he and Cas caught up.

He smelled blood about Dean, and probed, and Cas, unsure of what to say about him, fended his father off, saying that he wanted to keep his private life private, and then Cas, keyed up and fresh out of blood sugar, snapped at him and stomped off.

When he came back twenty minutes later, his solemn apology all ready to go, his father was on his cell phone, laughing.

He expected his father to scowl, but instead he laughed harder as Cas peeked in the doorway. Zach started to cough and weakly held up the phone. “It’s Dean,” he managed. Cas came up and practically grabbed the phone out of his dad’s hand.

“Hey Cas,” came that easy, sexy voice, in the last room he ever expected to hear it.

“What on earth are you doing talking to my father?” Cas asked, nonplussed.

“Making him laugh, last I checked. So I phoned him and said that I could either do it to his face or to his whatever in the wherever —“

“His niche in the columbarium,” Cas said. He’d already told Dean about how his aunt had talked his dad into getting cremated, which had been a very funny and very sad conversation to overhear, but at least they were talking about the funeral arrangements like ‘honest adults’ as Naomi put it.

“I like my way of putting it better,” and Cas could hear the shrug over the phone. “Anyway, I asked him for his blessing for our partnership.”

Cas sat down abruptly, since his knees were deciding that bending was just what they were going to do right now, sorry for the lack of notice.

“Cas, you there?”

“Yes, Dean. That sounds a lot like a very casual, not-actually-asking-me kind of proposal.” He heard his dad snicker softly in the background.

“I can’t ask you to marry me, I’ve only known you a month,” Dean said, pretending to be scandalized. “But I can sure’s fuck say I think we’d look amazing in matching blue tuxes.”

“Dean, you’re teasing.”

“I’m dead serious. That color just makes your eyes pop.”

“I do not want my eyes to ‘pop’, no matter what color I’m wearing; that sounds, well, revolting.” Dean snickered. “Why are you doing this?”

That voice again. My rock. My man. “Because your dad should be able to imagine that you’ll be happy. It will comfort him a lot to know that you’ll be happy, or happy-adjacent. You don’t have to give him all the gory details, just … that you have friends, and you’ll be okay.”

Cas said, “You want me to talk to him about us.” He looked at his dad. His normally dull eyes were shining, while Cas considered Dean’s words.

“If he wants to hear, otherwise no. This is his time - time to get things off his chest, time to let things go.”

“Are you really serious about all that —“

“What, Cas.”

“That tuxedo stuff.”

“I’d marry you nude, with sea turtles bringing the rings.”

“I’d be afraid of getting sunburn on my dick,” Cas said without thinking, and his father cackled. It was the last time he’d hear his father laugh.

“Some boyfriend you’ve got there,” Zach said, wheezing.

“He’s not my boyfriend, he’s my partner,” Cas said earnestly, putting his hand over the receiver.

“Sure,” Zach said. “Whatever. He wants my blessing— do you?”

“I’ll let you get back to your father,” Dean said. “I’m really glad I talked to him.”

“Dean, I suspect you’re incorrigible.”

“Holy crap, I think you’re right. Take care, Cas.”

 

Cas put the phone back on his father’s nightstand and regarded him with caution.

“What on earth did Dean say to you?”

“We just shot the shit for a while,” his father said unhelpfully. “I think that’s enough excitement for now.” His dad closed his eyes. Cas left after his father appeared to fall asleep.

He went home and tried to complain to Naomi over supper, but all she could talk about was how concerned Dean had seemed for Cas and his family when he called.

“He’s really worried about you and he didn’t pry about your father, and he asked me how I was holding up,” Naomi said.

“How long did you talk to him?” Cas asked, embarrassed that Dean seemed to be making his family troubles his own, and also secretly thrilled that Naomi found him worth talking to.

“Forty-five minutes at least. Is it true you crash landed onto his uncle’s farm?”

“I landed out,” Cas replied, with some irritation. “It was a controlled descent, the aircraft was not damaged, and I didn’t even kill that many soybeans.”

“He really likes you,” Naomi said, brushing past that. “I wish somebody would pay that much attention to me.”

“I really like him too,” Cas admitted. “I tried to keep him out of it, Dad dying and me being broke — he’s got troubles of his own.”

“Well, here’s to friends who make our troubles their own,” Naomi said. “What’s he look like?”

“I may have a picture of him,” Cas said. About sixty of them.

Naomi studied a candid photo of Dean, who was teasing the waitress at The Roadhouse; you could see the green of his eyes and just catch the splash of freckles across his cheeks from the last of the daylight coming into the front booth.

Naomi shook her head and tsked in that no-nonsense way of hers. “I always thought you were a handsome man, Castiel, but I’d be keeping this one locked up on a chain.”

Cas laughed aloud. “You have no idea how hard it is to get Dean to do anything he doesn’t want to.” To himself he added, And how fast he’ll do it if he does.

 

Zach died two days later. Naomi was sitting with him when he passed at sun-up; Cas was at her place, exhausted, and he just sat in the living room, feeling numb at the news after hanging up from Naomi’s call; too numb to cry.

He called Dean.

Dean said, “Take all the time you need to do what you need to do, and let me know if you want me to come to the memorial service.”

“I don’t want to inconvenience you.”

“Your dad just died and you’re worried about inconveniencing me,” Dean said in his lowest voice.

“You’ve done so much for me already,” Cas said.

“Oh, believe you me, I intend to do more,” Dean said.

“You really did cheer my dad up,” Cas said. “There’s just something about you.”

“Glad to hear it.  Call or text if I can help.”

 

With kindness, and bouts of insomnia, and the occasional crying jag between them, Naomi and Cas moved through the checklist Zach’s death placed in front of them. He’d been an organized and disciplined individual - that much he’d passed on to Castiel - and he’d taken care of everything he could in advance, including instructions for a memorial service.

To Cas’s astonishment, the money his father had transferred to him was not the end of his inheritance. Naomi got the condo in Taos, which was fine by Cas, but Cas got everything else. If he wanted to get back into soaring, he could now do so in lavish style.

He resolved to put it out of his mind, but Naomi reminded him that he was now a man of substance. She’d wormed it out of Cas that Dean was daydreaming about matching tuxedos, and said, “Well, now you’re a real catch; Dean’d be crazy not to want you.”

“Money isn’t everything,” Cas said.

“It sure isn’t. It’s what you do with it if you’ve got it, that’s what counts,” Naomi said. “What will you do with yours?”

Cas was uneasy. “I didn’t earn it. I’ll have to think about it.”

 

He had a long conversation with Dean after his aunt turned in and maybe it did progress into phone sex after ten minutes, but he needed Dean’s warm, encouraging voice in his ear telling him that it wasn’t really phone sex — it was self care and he’d sleep better —  but pretty soon after that he had his head under a pillow as he jerked off, trying to keep the noise down, and he now knew Dean well enough that he could tell from the shifts in Dean’s breathing when Dean was feeling it too. Whatever ‘it’ was - a bond that had blossomed from non-existence into something so deep and profound that he didn’t wish to label it.

Listening to Dean’s breathing return to normal was such a gift.

“Damn you,” Dean said after a while. “How do you do that to me?”

Cas talked about the memorial service. It was in ten days, so that some of the VIPs from Zach’s life in the diplomatic corps could attend.

“If you and your family are okay with it — ” Dean said. He wasn’t exactly asking and he wasn’t exactly inviting himself.

“I don’t mind, I’d be — it would be such a relief. Naomi wants to meet you. Dean — Dean, I don’t want you to take it the wrong way, but I’m going to ask you not to kiss me when you get there.”

“Ashamed of me, are ya?” Dean asked. There was gravel in there. Oh God.

“No!” Cas said. “I just don’t think I’ll be able to stop, I miss you so much.”

“Ya softie,” Dean murmured. “I miss you too,” he added. In a brusque voice he said, “So what you’re telling me is, if us kissing is gonna get x-rated, you really don’t want to do it in the front foyer of the funeral home.”

“Naomi thanks you, and I knew you’d understand,” Cas said gratefully, as Dean let out a chuckle. He promised to text Dean the details and, finally, slept.

They got through the work.

About two days before the service, Gabe showed up. Naomi was his mother but you’d never know it to look at them; right now Gabe looked like he’d been drinking and doping for two weeks straight, and with Naomi’s new hairstyle and color she looked ten years younger than her own son. He looked at Castiel as if he had a guilty conscience and asked to speak to his mom privately and then Cas just about tore out of his skin ten minutes later when Naomi, his sweet, stalwart, soft-spoken and guilelessly Christian auntie started yelling with such force he could hear her from the garage.

He got to the room Naomi used as her office and stopped dead in the doorway.

Naomi was pinker than St. Nick and her blue eyes, always her best feature, seemed to be lit with cerulean flame from within.

“Tell him what you told me,” Naomi said, in a tone that expected nothing but compliance.

“So, Cas,” Gabe said uneasily.

Cas looked at his cousin and frowned. The Gabe he knew was a jokester and a card; this man looked like he’d had his sense of humour yanked out through his left ear.

“What,” Cas said.

“That hangar fire.”

“What about it?” Cas said uneasily. “You told me not to come.”

“About that.”

“Gabe, spit it out, we have other things to attend to,” Cas said. Naomi made an almost manly grunt, continuing evidence, Cas judged, of her being almost ready to kill her son.

“It was an insurance scam,” Gabe said.

“Really,” Cas said after a long pause. “You were trying to … how did that work?”

“One of the guys in that row of hangars was going through a divorce and decided this would be a way to circumvent some cash flow issues he was having. We were supposed to split the proceeds.”

There was another long pause. Gabe drew a breath as if to start making excuses for himself and his mother shut him down with one ice cold glare.

“How’d that work out for you,” Cas said in iron tones.

Gabe sighed and looked at the floor. “Well, I stayed out of jail, but I’m looking at a hefty fine, plus I managed to ruin your career — and Mom’s gonna kill me.”

Cas walked to where Gabe was sitting in the overstuffed chair across from Naomi’s desk. Under her astonished eye, he bent, gave Gabe the kiss of peace on the cheek, and said, “I forgive you.”

“What?” Naomi cried. Gabe couldn’t speak. He’d flinched when Cas had bent down.

“My dad’s dead. My career is over. But I have you two, and I have Dean, and I’m not going to let some stupid feud take root in my life now, it’s just not happening. If there’s stuff we must fix, we’ll do what we can to fix it, but I would rather not be angry when right now, I only need to be sad. How ‘bout you two?”

There was a long pause. Naomi was silent, stinging from a lesson about forgiveness delivered with such calm in her own house; Gabe was quiet for a moment and said, “You really are a righteous man.”

Without thinking, Cas said, “You haven’t met Dean.”

Gabe and Naomi eyed each other briefly and then Naomi said, “I’m going to make the downstairs guest room up for Gabe.”

“So — you’re not kicking me out and cutting me out of your will?” Gabe said. His temporarily repressed sense of humour came through in the phrasing.

“Gabe,” Naomi said, standing. “Please don’t try me.”

Cas sat down in the chair Gabe had given up and shivered.

He might never have met Dean.

If his cousin hadn’t been a venal asshole, he’d never have met Dean.

He told Dean about it on the phone that night.

“So what you’re telling me,” Dean said, “Is that you came to me under your own steam, but Gabe’s the reason you ended up in my bed?”

“Actually, yes,” Cas said. “And it was Bobby’s bed.”

Dean rumbled, “We should prob’ly get Gabe something nice.”

“I think me not kicking him out of my life is the nicest thing he’s going to get from me; I simply couldn’t do that to Naomi, she’s gone through too much.”

“You really are something else,” Dean said. “I’ll be there tomorrow… my bag’s packed.”

 

There was a text from Sam. “What the hell did u do 2 get Dean on an airplane????”

Cas, who took things literally, answered, “He’s coming to my father’s memorial service.”

“I KNOW that. Dean is shit scared of flying.”

 

And then after what seemed the most unconscionable wait, after he phoned from the airport, Dean was there, arms around Cas, and they stood for ten seconds, twenty seconds arms around each other while the world, the ugly broken world, gave them just a little breathing space.

“If I kiss you I’m pooched,” Dean whispered into his neck. “And I wanna kiss you so frickin’ bad.”

Cas nuzzled into his neck and enjoyed Dean’s firm and fine-smelling embrace. He pulled away, and tried to become formal.

“Naomi, may I present —“

“Dean Winchester, yes, welcome to the family!” Naomi said, sweeping Dean into an embrace that was as welcome as it was unexpected.

Dean’s eyes bugged out a little, comically, at Cas, over Naomi’s shoulder. Gabe snorted.

“And this must be Gabe,” Dean said, putting out a hand.

“So this is the man who made Cas abandon his chastity,” Gabe said, shaking it.

Cas and Dean both froze. Dean let go of Gabe’s hand and said to Cas like a child acknowledging the rules, “No hitting, I know.” Gabe blanched and there was a twitch, just the barest twitch of amusement on Naomi’s face.

They got through the service.

They got through the reception afterward. Cas particularly enjoyed Dean mentioning to his father’s friends that he’d recently spoken to Zach on the phone. Friends, he thought, are people who show up.

Then they got back to Naomi’s and instead of asking Dean to sleep on the sofa, she stuck his bag in Cas’s room.

“Welcome to the family, try to keep the noise down?” Dean said. Cas was still a little sniffly from the service, but he managed a small watery smile.

He sat on the bed, and another tear leaked out when Dean sat on the floor in front of him to untie his dress shoes and take them off. Cas loosened his tie.  “Oh, I like it when you do that,” Dean said. He pulled Cas’s second shoe off and stood to take off his loafers. He helped Cas out of his suit jacket and hung it up, and then the two of them lay down and Dean said, “Just rest. I’m here.”

“Dean, please don’t leave me.”

“I’m here.”

“No. I meant stay with me forever.”

“We haven’t known each other long,” Dean said gently. “We need to get to know each other a little better.”

“Fine,” Cas said grumpily. “Can I do it while I’m living with you?”

Dean kissed him.

“Sure, Cas.”

“Dean?”

“What, Cas.”

“I love you.”

“Me too Cas. Me too.”

 

 

 

 

-fin-