Actions

Work Header

Punctuated Equilibrium

Chapter Text

Banner Art by Sketchy Dean

 

 

Dean can't think of a better vacation. Hot sand beneath his toes, warm sun on his skin, the ocean before him tossed by the salty breeze, and a cloudless blue sky above. On his left, Cas stretched out on a towel, and on his right, an ice cold cooler of beer sat between him and Sam.

 

Sam might as well be back in the library for all he is paying attention to the ocean. He’s stretched out his sasquatch frame over two beach towels, one on top of the other, with an old, boring book open before him. He’s barely glanced up from his book since they’d arrived, only taking one brief break to swim with Jack in the ocean. Noticing the beer beside him is empty, Dean hands him another one. Sam doesn’t even glance up from his book as he closes his fingers around it and lifts it to his lips.

 

“C’mon.” Dean reaches over the cooler to flick his brother's hair. “Lucifer’s dead, Michael’s in the cage, and the kid’s powerful enough to make salt-n-burns a joke. We’re here to relax, not work.”

 

Sam glances towards Dean excitedly. “I am relaxing. I’ve been reading through the lore on lycanthropy and I’ve thought of some ways to make the cure more reliable. For it to work, it needs to be a recent transformation and we have to move quickly as the antibodies degrade rapidly. What if we held the plasma in a state of suspension?”

 

“A stasis spell,” Cas says eagerly.

 

Dean groans. “Not you, too. This is vacation. We’re relaxing. No more talk about hunting until the end of the week.”

 

Sam closes his book, rolling over and sitting up. “Still can’t believe we have the time for it.”

“We do.” Dean plucks two more chilly bottles from the chest. “Drink up,” he says as he presses one of the bottles into Cas’s waiting hand. “You deserve it.”

 

A wry smile twists Cas’s lips, his bright blue eyes staring straight through Dean. “ You’re the one who cast him out, Dean.”

 

“Yeah, well, couldn’t have done it without you.”

 

Cas leans in for a kiss, quick and soft, and although Dean has lost track of how many they’d shared since Michael’s expulsion, it always feels like the first time. A warm fire curls in his belly and zips through him from his toes to the tip of his head. If they weren't in the middle of a public beach, he'd grab Cas and give him a real kiss. Instead, he reluctantly breaks it, noting the promise in Cas’s eyes for more, later. Good thing they'd gotten Sam and Jack a separate room.

 

As Dean turns his attention to where Jack plays in the waves, a part of him still can’t believe they have this. A part of him warns it’s too good to be true, but when a crack as loud as a cannon tears Dean's attention towards the sky, shock still jolts through his body. Black bolts of nothingness vivisect the pale blue, branching ever outward, and eating through the universe.

 

Dean shoots out a hand to grab Sam’s attention, only to clench around air.

 

“Sammy!”

 

Sam is gone.

 

Jumping to his feet, Dean whirls around, trying to find someone, anyone, but they've all vanished.

 

“CAS!” he tries to scream, but no sound escapes his lips. Everyone, all the animals, even the breeze and sun have vanished, leaving a blank, hollow canvas not unlike the movie sets he'd seen on their case in Hollywood.

 

The black advances, eating through the ocean now, lapping at the hotels behind him. He can see the flatness in them now. They'd never been real.

 

No. This can’t be happening. I cast Michael out!

 

He’s never cast out an angel before. What if he did it wrong? How the fuck is he supposed to know what to do? He forces himself to breathe, stamping down his fear. What did Dad used to say? “You can panic when it's over.” He closes his eyes, sucks in a deep breath, forces himself to ignore his terror, and opens his eyes.

 

His hands stretch out before him, electricity cackling at his fingertips, energy flowing through and around him. Chained to a comet, Jimmy had said, although Dean never had fully understood it, not until Michael had unfurled inside of him.

 

He can barely focus through the force of angelic grace tearing through him. The maelstrom threatens to rip him away, throw him into safe oblivion, but he can’t let it, not when he can finally see . Sam, the Hyperbolic Pulse Generator in his hands, barely looks like himself with a thick beard on his face. Cas and Jack flank him, their bodies trembling as they prop Sam upright. All three of them are spattered in blood and painted with bruises.

 

“You think you can cage me?” Michael roars with Dean's voice, Dean’s throat, his tongue, his lips moving, despite the fact that Dean's not controlling it. Dean can barely stay focused, but he needs to do this. Sam did this for him.

 

A bolt of grace flies out of Dean, hitting the three of them so hard that Sam stumbles back, blood pouring from his nose. Castiel and Jack grip him tighter, not letting him fall, and something flows from them into Sam-- blue from Castiel, gold from Jack. grace; it’s angelic grace. Sam gives off a weak glow of orange that brightens as their grace flows into him, dimming their own colors. Dean doesn’t know much about grace, but he knows this--healing Sam is killing them.

 

The Hyperbolic Pulse Generator cycles, Michael's grip on Dean flickering before he renews his assault, his grace pushing back into Dean, invading and suffocating.

 

Fuck you, asshole. You aren't getting them.

 

Dean focuses on the sight of the three of them. He's let them down so many times, but not here, not now. He won't let them die for him. Not again.

 

Michael howls, his grace spiking terrible and electric, pulses of energy shooting out and ripping apart the room, but Dean focuses on--

 

Baby Sammy taking his first steps, a smile on his face as chubby arms reach out for Dean. Cas in a cowboy hat, looking adorably confused. Jack saving Sam from the shapeshifter’s bullet. Sam covered in glitter, holding out a rainbow slinky, as if he's read Dean's mind and bought him what he couldn't buy himself. Cas outside the brothel, an angelic dork, and Dean can't help but laugh, happier than he's felt in years. Jack and Sam safe, Lucifer dead on the ground. Cas kissing Dean--

 

Was that even real?

 

At the break in Dean’s concentration, Michael forces his way back inside, his grace like lava, scorching everything in its path.

 

“DEAN!” calls Sam. “Hold on!” His legs crumple, Jack collapsing down with him. Cas stands before them both, determination on his face. He's died before, during the confrontation with Lucifer. Dean can't let that happen again. He focuses on his memories, on his family, using everything in him to cast Michael out.

 

The four of them hunting the werewolves. Jack so eager to show off his skills and help them with cases, Sam patient and proud, and Cas fondly indulgent. A family. The family Dean's always wanted.

 

An energy within him rises and expands, pushing aside Michael’s jagged grace. Electrical pulses dig into Dean, trying to hold on, but all Dean can think of is Sam, Castiel, and Jack. Michael's grace rips out of him, and Dean collapses.

 

There's someone screaming his name and he tries to hold on, but the darkness rips him away.

Chapter Text

Quaint . That was the word spinning around in Castiel’s mind as Dean took the Impala through another hairpin turn up the mountain, deep in the Ozarks. Eureka Springs, Arkansas, looked like someone had built a town on a disc balanced on top of the mountain, but then the disc had melted. The town oozed down the sides of the mountain in thick streams running through dense patches of forest. The road through the town wound up mountain, the Impala twisting and dancing as charming little houses in pale tones of blue and yellow whizzed by.

 

Dean jabbed his finger against the glass to his left. “What’s that?”

 

Sam leaned over to look out Dean’s window at a giant Jesus statue peeking out from the lush, green trees on the side of the mountain. “That’s Christ of the Ozarks, I think.”

 

“Why do you know that?” Dean asked.

 

“You don't remember?” Sam asked.

 

At Dean's head shake, Sam explained, “We drove through here when I was… nine? When dad took you to clean out a haunted children's home near Berryville. You were gone three days and I read the hotel guide books forward and back.” Sam said it in an offhand tone, but Castiel felt the sting of loneliness that often rose in Sam when discussing his childhood. It disappeared almost instantaneously, presumably stamped back down by Sam, who rarely allowed himself to feel his intense emotions. Sam turned his attention to the guides he'd acquired for their current trip. Even on vacation he’d found a way to bury himself in work.

 

“We did?” Dean wrinkled his forehead but didn't voice any doubt. Sam nodded. They took another turn, this time off the main road and onto what appeared to be a business district. The rows of buildings reminded Castiel of Bavaria with their detailed trim and pretty, scrolled woodwork.

 

Dean fiddled with the radio, flipping through the stations one by one until they’d gone through the rotations at least three times. “Nothing but country, gospel, and static,” he grumbled to Sam.

 

Wordlessly, Sam handed him a cassette tape and Dean’s face glowed at the sight of the title. He popped the cassette in the deck and hit play. The first song, “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin blasted through the speakers. It had been on the mixtape Dean had given Castiel and he couldn’t help but smile as well. For awhile, Dean busied himself drumming on the wheel and singing along. After the tape switched over, the roads kept winding, and the buildings thinned out to mostly forest, Dean sighed. “Are we there yet?”

 

Sam replied, “About fifteen to twenty minutes to our next turn, Van Buren. Are you sure you don't want me to set up your phone as GPS? We can get one that clips on; it's not gonna mess up your dash.”

 

“What do I need GPS for when I have you?” Dean asked, a touch of irony coloring his tone.

 

Sam clicked his tongue and Castiel didn't need to see his face to know that he was rolling his eyes. For all of Sam’s outward displeasure, warm affection drifted off of him in waves, thick enough to envelope Castiel in the backseat.  

 

The next fifteen minutes passed in relative silence and Dean made the right onto Van Buren. Every thousand feet or so they passed signs for various tourist traps--caverns, horseback riding, something about dinosaurs, museums. Dean stole a glance over to the brochures in Sam’s lap. “Ghost tours, really? I thought this was supposed to be a vacation.”

 

“How often do we get a real vacation? I like to know what we're getting into.” Sam turned around to glance back at Castiel and flash him a smile. They'd been trying to convince Dean to let them take a vacation for some time, and neither could quite believe they'd pulled it off. Sam twisted more to next look at Jack, who was absorbed in the new handheld video game system Sam had picked up before they left Lebanon. “Anywhere you guys want to stop before we leave town completely?”

 

“I don't require anything else,” Castiel said.

 

“I'm fine,” Jack said, not lifting his eyes from his game.

 

Dean’s eyes flitted up to the rearview mirror and flickered towards Castiel’s in the reflection before returning to the road. Castiel reached out for Dean’s emotions to try to ascertain the reason for the glance, but he had his feelings buried deep.

Castiel turned his attention back to the surroundings. The sunlight filtering through the trees shone on the Impala’s sparkling clean hood; Dean had insisted on giving the car a good scrub and wax before they hit the road. Sam parroted the navigation directions on his phone for Dean, and soon they pulled into a gravel parking lot with a sign for Fair View Cottages. Off to the right was a tattered little pink house nestled into the trees, a faded placard next to the door indicating it to be the office. “How did you find this place, Sammy? It’s really off the beaten path.”

 

“That's exactly why I chose it,” Sam said, warm happiness flowing off of him. “You’re gonna love the cottage. It's right on the lake. Three bedrooms. I'll be right back with the key.” Opening the door, he unfolded himself from the Impala, stretching wide before he strode towards the door.

 

Jack's game beeped as his fingers flew over the buttons.

 

“The population density here is quite sparse,” Castiel said after giving a quick scan of the area with his grace.

 

Dean scoffed. “No kidding.” His eyes scanned the area through the windshield, no doubt taking in the cabins and cottages dotting the mountainside. He met Castiel’s eyes in the mirror again, but in a flash severed the connection.

 

There it was again, Dean's nervousness. Ever so slight, but enough for Castiel to sense it drifting off of him. Castiel had been feeling it on and off since they'd cast Michael out of Dean and into the pit. It wasn't like Dean to be so awkward. Did he still feel guilty for saying ‘yes’ to Michael? They'd all made mistakes and, with Lucifer dead and Michael now trapped in the cage, Castiel struggled to see this as one.

 

Dean rolled his window down and took a deep breath. Castiel matched him, curious to know what Dean observed.  The clean smell of greenery and hearty smell of loamy soil wafted into the car in a thick wave. Birds chirped at the waning sun amongst the sound of the wind rustling through the trees.

 

Sam slid back into the car with a pile of papers and more maps and guides. “I've got the code for the cabin and an address to pick up fishing licenses at a bait and tackle shop. You wanna head back to town now or get settled in first?”

 

“Let’s get settled in,” Dean said. “You know we don’t own fishing poles, right?”

 

“The cottage has two, and minnow traps. I'll be surprised if they don't rent them at the store, but if they don't, we can make a few more.”

 

“Okay,” Dean said. “Is there a driveway to this cottage or do we hoof it from here?”

 

Sam set a hand drawn map of the area on the top of his pile of papers. “You're gonna go out to the road, hook a right, and make the third left.”

 

Putting the car into gear, Dean backed out of their parking space to follow the directions Sam had provided. It took a decent drive on a bumpy dirt road, but soon they rolled to a stop in front of a green cottage with a white front porch complete with curling ivy and four rocking chairs with worn but plump cushions. Through the trees Castiel could barely make out other cottages and cabins, none of which had a direct line of sight to theirs, as well as the brilliant blue waters of the lake.

 

Dean turned off the engine and broke into a wide smile as he stared up at their home for the next week. Castiel examined the green painted, wooden siding and the fancy scrollwork decorating the roof, trying to see it how Dean did.

 

As Dean left the Impala, he pursed his lips and cocked his head to the side. “Not bad, Sam.” Both Winchesters radiated such warm happiness that Castiel stepped out of the car and examined the area in detail. He took in the humid, subtropical climate; annual precipitation of around 43 inches; high quantities of sandstone and limestone; elevation varying between 1,000 and 1,400 feet; the loamy, cherty, stony soil; and many species of trees including ash, dogwood, maple, rebuds, oak, and pine.

 

He wasn't sure which exactly of those attributes the brothers found most appealing and he couldn't help but feel jealous that this, this... wood could make Dean so warm and smile so wide, when his own attempts at eliciting such a reaction so frequently fell flat. Jealousy was such a petty, human emotion, almost as bad as embarrassment in terms of discomfort, but he despised the feel of it more. It clashed with his grace, all jagged and sharp, like a thorn stuck deep inside him. It wasn't meant for angels. Lucifer fell because of it. Yet again, he couldn’t help but wonder if this was really where he was supposed to be. Jack was half human and fit in better with Sam and Dean than Castiel did after nearly a decade . He was too angel to be human and too human to be angel.

 

“Relax, Cas,” Dean said, smiling as he walked around him to unlock the trunk. “It’s a vacation.” He passed Sam and Jack each a duffle before pulling his own out and slamming the trunk closed. “It’s supposed to be fun. Whatever you’re worried about, just let it go for a few days, okay?”

 

And just like that, Castiel was a moth to a flame, helpless to do anything but follow Dean into the cottage.

 

Sam smiled at Castiel as he fell into step beside him. “You ever been fishing?”

 

“I've designed fish, but I haven't caught them for consumption.”

 

“Designed them?”

 

“Creatures prefer to maintain stasis until forced by an outside influence to adapt and thus evolve,” Castiel explained as they climbed the porch steps. “You call it 'punctuated equilibrium’.”

 

“As opposed to gradual change, right? A forced rapid one?”

 

Castiel nodded. “It’s easier to stay in a familiar state than develop into a new one. We sometimes nudged species on their development to ensure that you humans would be able to use them to their fullest extent. If we hadn’t stepped in and provoked a reaction, it’s likely nothing would’ve changed at all.”

He stepped into the cottage. The little house held three bedrooms and two bathrooms, spread out around a small kitchen to the right of the front door and a small living room with a sofa and two easy chairs to the left. There was a fireplace (superfluous in the summer heat but cozy for cold winter nights) and the whole place was decorated in shades of green and grey. A large painting of a mountain stream hung over the mantle and a flat screen television was situated opposite the sofa. Through an open bedroom door, a king sized bed could be seen decked in a white quilt with a blue wedding ring pattern and matching plush pillows.

 

Tension released from Dean’s shoulders and he exhaled slowly, looking around the cottage and nodding appreciatively. He clapped his brother on the shoulder. “Nice work, Sammy.” Dean pointed toward the bedroom with the king sized bed. “Ooh, dibs.” He headed that way, boots clomping on the hardwood floor as he crossed the living room.

 

“Dude,” Sam huffed in annoyance, but he headed to the room across the hall and disappeared inside. Jack left for the third room, situated between the brothers.

 

As Castiel had no need to perform the typical human rituals, and his swimsuit fit in his coat pocket, he waited until they had satisfied their needs and gathered in the entryway again.

 

“Grab dinner in town and get the licenses?” Sam asked Dean.

 

Dean returned sans duffle bag, hands in the pockets of his jeans. “I’ve got a better idea. Let’s hit a grocery store and cook here. There’s a grill out back. I’ll make burgers.”

 

“Sounds good,” Sam said. “We can pick up groceries for the week. I'll text you my grocery list while we drive.”

 

They drove back into town and Dean swung by the bait and tackle store to drop off Sam. Jack shoved his handheld device into his pocket and scrambled out after Sam. “I want to look at the fishing tools,” he said by way of explanation, but Castiel couldn't help but notice how his emotions, normally open and expressive, were stuffed deep inside of him. The cloud of melancholy that had covered him when Dean was missing had barely abated since Dean’s return.

 

Castiel's phone chimed as he moved to the passenger seat beside Dean. He pulled it from his pocket to find Sam's list. A detailed summary of the vegetables, fruit, and whole grain starches Sam wanted. Sam preferred to have Castiel shop for him ever since he found out Castiel could tell the ripeness of produce by the smell of it. It was such a basic, mundane task, but Castiel loved being entrusted with it, knowing that he could bring perfect produce to Sam. It was one task he knew he would never fail.

 

Beside him, Dean sat nervous, tense, the playful joy he'd had in the cottage vanished as if it had never been.

 

They drove in silence until Dean parked the car at the small grocery store. He put the car in park and shut off the engine, and without the rumble of the Impala, the silence hung so heavy on them that Castiel couldn’t help but blurt, “I don’t blame you.”

 

Dean looked in Castiel's eyes for what felt like the first time in months; meeting this gaze with startled wide eyes.

 

“I don’t blame you,” Castiel said again, trying to be firm, so Dean could grasp the truth of his words, although they tumbled out of him, running away before he quite realized what he was saying. “I know I tried to stop you from saying ‘yes’, but you made the right choice. You saved Sam and Jack. You killed Lucifer. We dealt with Michael. It all--It worked out.”

 

For a moment, Dean just studied him, doubt so clear on his face Castiel didn’t bother to reach for his emotions. After a few seconds, the doubt lessened, replaced with something else that disappeared before Castiel could tease it out, Dean’s emotions buried deep once more. Castiel might as well have been talking to a brick wall.

 

“I guess it did.” Dean pulled the keys from the ignition and palmed them. “Now come on, let's go buy Sam's rabbit chow and some real food.”

Chapter Text

TFW 2.0 Stargazing

 

The humid, ninety-degree day turned into a perfect and balmy seventy-degree night without a cloud in the sky. The moon was but a sliver, providing barely any light around the cottage, the stars brilliant pinpricks in a black sky. The men lounged on blankets at the edge of the lake drinking whiskey, neat, and watching the stars above. Dean took a sip of his whiskey. “Gotta hand it to you, Sammy. You picked a nice spot.”

 

Sam acknowledged the compliment with a soft hum. “Thought we deserved it.” Castiel could tell the ‘we’ was really a 'you’.

 

For the first time in what seemed liked eons, both brothers relaxed slightly, the ever-present tension that hung over them finally dissipating enough for Castiel to feel their mutual affection snuggly blanket him. They'd both been through so much and they'd suffered more than any human soul should be allowed to suffer, yet they loved each other so deeply, and with such affection and forgiveness that Castiel couldn't help but hope that he too could prove himself worthy of being loved so completely. That he could truly earn Sam's forgiveness for breaking his wall and setting Lucifer free. That he could regain Dean's full trust, despite the many times he'd betrayed it.

 

The Empty had said, “I know who you love.” Dean's face had appeared in his mind’s eye then.

 

Castiel loved all the Winchesters. He’d offered his life for Sam and would happily do anything to protect him or Jack, but he didn't love Sam or Jack the way he loved Dean. The feel of Sam's soul had been awe worthy, and it was something to be loved, yes, but he loved Sam as a brother. Castiel had recognized the glory of Jack’s grace--so beautiful and pure--in that moment with Kelly, but never could he have predicted that the infant would grow into such an amazing young man. Jack had provoked a fierce protective instinct he hadn't known himself capable of, even more so than what he felt for the brothers, which had already startled him by the ferocity of it.

 

Dean though--the feel of Dean's soul had sparked something within him that made him fall. Something that made him take on an apocalypse almost entirely by himself, something that made him unleash the Darkness. Something that made death in the Empty no longer an option. He hadn't recognized it at the time, hadn't recognized it for years. Angels weren't meant to fall in love.

 

“So that's the summer triangle?” Jack asked, pointing his finger to the stars as he named them. “Deneb, Altair, and Vega. And the Dippers are…?”

 

“First find Polaris, the north star. See it?” Sam pointed.

 

“Yeah,” Jack said, taking another swig of whiskey to match Dean's pace.

 

Sam pushed up on his elbows to better point out the stars. “Polaris is the end handle of the Little Dipper and the edge of the bucket of the Big Dipper points to it. They face each other. Just follow down and-”

 

“Ah,” Jack said excitedly. “There.” His finger traced the shape.

 

“Yep.” Sam nudged Castiel. “You ever been out there?”

 

“Yes. I've seen everything in this universe.” Castiel squinted at the stars. “Supernovas, gas giants, nebulas, other galaxies, dark matter…”

 

“We must seem really boring.” Sam finished his whiskey and set his glass to the side.

 

Castiel glanced at Dean, at the lines of his face, the thick fingers curling on the glass, the breadth of his shoulders. “Not at all.”

 

Dean caught Castiel's eyes before quickly looking away. Sitting up straight, he unscrewed the bottle of whiskey and refilled his glass, followed by Jack's and Sam's. He recapped the bottle and returned his attention to the stars without a word.

 

“Do you think the stars are the same across the universes?” Sam asked.

 

“Probably,” Castiel answered glibly, the two bottles of Everclear he’d drunk earlier loosening his tongue. “None of the archangels had the ability to make more, although Lucifer and Michael tried on multiple occasions. Lucifer, as you can imagine, thought he could do better than his father, and tried making his own universes, but he never could. Dad had told him he couldn't, but Lucifer never took 'no’ for an answer. He always had to try.”

 

Fear and pain slammed into Castiel and his tongue froze in his mouth. He glanced over at Sam to find a neutral expression on his face, but terror deep. Castiel had fucked up. Again. They'd danced around the subject of the archangels ever since Dean’s return for a reason. It was the Winchester way, after all. Slap on a bandage and keep moving.

Sam looked down at his glass, his hair falling in his face, pain heavy. After a moment, he downed his glass and stood. “I'm exhausted. I didn't sleep enough last night. I'm going to bed.”

 

Dean gave his brother a concerned look but only said, “Night.” He took another long pull from his glass, his mood darkening to match his brother's. Casting his eyes at Jack by his side, he asked, “How're you doing, kid? You okay?” He filled his glass again. “With your grace so low still, we aren't giving you alcohol poisoning, are we?”

 

“I don't feel anything yet,” Jack said, his nose wrinkled in confusion. “Just slightly warm.”

 

“Oh. Great,” Dean said, irony coloring his tone. “You got Cas's liver. Well, cheers, kid.” Dean held his glass up to Jack briefly before taking another drink.

 

Jack watched Dean as he drank, copying the way he held the glass, how he pulled the liquid into his mouth, the small sigh he sometimes gave after a long sip. Jack had been copying Dean ever since Dean had returned to them. Not blatantly enough for Dean or Sam to notice yet, but enough for Castiel, who'd studied Dean religiously, to observe.

 

Dean had once said, “I ain't exactly a role model,” but that wasn’t true at all. Dean had taught Castiel how to be human and what it was to love. Sam admired Dean as well, although he never fully admitted it, never expressed the depth of his love. Dean was the star the three of them orbited, pulled in by the gravity of his personality and the brilliance of his love. Castiel and Sam would--and had--died for him. Jack would give Dean his own life if offered the chance--something Castiel and Sam learned all too well during the struggle to free Dean.

 

“What should I watch out for?” Jack asked.

 

“Dizziness. Trouble balancing or focusing your eyes.” Dean gestured at his face with his empty hand. “Your lips might feel tingly or numb. If you're nauseated, you drank too much.”

 

“Hmm…” Jack’s grace briefly pulsed out, the brightness of it sinking into Castiel’s like a warm electric current as he examined himself. Jack's grace was still weak, but already stronger than the week before. “I don't appear to have any of those sensations.”

 

“The alcohol can take a bit to enter your system,” Castiel warned him. “Your grace likely mutes some of the effect, but it will impact you. When I drank the Everclear bottles, I didn’t feel anything at first, but now I can feel the slight effects of it.”

Snorting, Dean shook his head with a sly grin cast Castiel’s way. “Can’t believe you’re still standing, man. Enough alcohol in one bottle to kill me and you’ve had a few.”

 

Jack considered his glass. “I'll stop after this one.” He matched Dean again, swallowing the liquid with ease, his eyes on Dean as he copied a little too closely how Dean set his glass on the grass beside him, his movements slower and more obvious than normal.

 

Dean shot Jack a suspicious look, eyes narrowed a little. “You're copying me.”

 

“Sorry,” Jack said, his eyes wide and his skin flushing pink. Embarrassment flowed off of him as his grace surged. It was a fascinating mix--soul and grace twined together, separate, yet each influencing the other. Michael had drained him repeatedly, keeping the level low, leaving Jack helpless and frequently sick. Reaching out with his own grace, Castiel gently probed Jack’s to be sure they hadn’t damaged his grace with all the alcohol. As he felt his way around, Jack’s grace dancing around his own in welcome, he examined Jack’s limbic system and the lobes of his brain.

 

“You're drunk.”

 

Jack touched his lips. “They don't feel any different.”

 

“Your reflexes are slowed, you find it harder to think, and your blood feels different, doesn't it?”

 

Jack closed his eyes as he used his grace to examine himself. After a moment’s hesitation, he nodded.

 

Castiel reached across Dean to take Jack's glass away, finishing the remainder himself.

 

“Great,” Dean muttered before taking a sip of his own drink.

 

“What happens now?” Jack asked, examining his hands as if he'd never seen them before.

 

“I can't cure intoxication,” Castiel said. “I’ll watch you and make sure you stay hydrated until it passes. If you can sleep, you should sleep.”

 

“I don't know that I can. Not yet.” Jack stretched himself out on the blanket. “Everything feels really nice. Warm and nice.” Happiness drifted off of him.

 

Dean looked down at Jack, a small smile lighting his eyes, the darkness lightening.

 

“Should we try to get him to bed?” Castiel asked Dean. “He's already losing control of his gross motor system.”

 

Dean polished off his drink and climbed to his feet. “Yeah. See, this is why you don't mimic me.” He reached out a hand to Jack and with Castiel’s help, they hauled him to his feet. “Let's go, kid. No puking on my shoes.”

 

“Don't worry,” Jack assured him, a dopey smile on his face. “I can clear out the contents of my stomach.”

 

“You might want to do that,” Castiel warned Jack as he steadied him on the stumbling journey to the cottage. “Vomiting is a particularly unpleasant human experience.”

 

“You've done it?”

 

“I was human for a time.”

 

“What was it like?”

 

“Redundant.” Castiel guided Jack up the steps to the cottage porch. “Messy.” Dean in the bunker. “Listen, buddy. Um... You can't stay.” “Painful.”

 

“That about sums it up,” Dean muttered. “It's not all bad, though. Being human has its perks.”

 

“PB and Js taste much better.” Castiel guided Jack into his room and they both helped him onto his bed. “All food does.”

 

“That's a good one,” Dean said. “Not to mention sex. Doesn't get much more human than that.” He chuckled a little. “But I guess 'messy’ can apply to that too.”

 

“Yes; angels don't have sexual desire,” Castiel noted absently as he helped Jack out of his shoes. “Some of us have sex with humans anyway, but it’s different for humans. For many of them, it's almost a need.”

 

“I think I have it too,” Jack said innocently.

 

“That's the booze, kid,” Dean said. “Makes you see double and feel single.”

 

Jack laughed long and hard at the joke, collapsing back onto the pillows.

 

“I'm getting him some water.” Castiel left for the kitchen, stopping by Sam's door to check on him. He pressed his hand against it, but felt nothing. Either Sam had fallen asleep or he'd buried his emotions.

 

Castiel poured two tall glasses of water and brought them back, pressing one into Dean's hand and the other into Jack's. “Drink, both of you. Sam will likely want to fish early in the morning.”

 

Dean scowled petulantly, pretending to be annoyed, but beneath the crusty facade he was grateful. “As long as there's coffee.” He tipped the glass back and drank it down in one go.

 

“I'll have breakfast ready for you,” Castiel promised. Sam had taught him how to make toast and bacon in the oven, which was simple enough for Castiel not to burn it, although Dean often said that bacon could never be too cold or too burned. “Would you like to sleep?” he asked Jack, who nodded.

 

Castiel put two fingers on Jack's forehead and gently pulled away his consciousness. Jack's grace rose up in instinctive resistance, but Castiel ignored it, letting it beat harmlessly against his own before it, too, slumbered.

 

Dean strode out of Jack’s room and headed for the kitchen, Castiel following. Dean didn’t say anything as he left the water glass in the sink, nor when he went out the door and laid down on the abandoned blanket by the lake. The water lapped gently at the bank, the cicadas chirping and buzzing loudly in the summer night.

 

Waves of anxiety, regret, and depression rolled off Dean in waves so thick, Castiel lost his breath for a moment. “Dean, you seem troubled.”

 

“Hmm? Nah, Cas, I’m fine.” Dean’s face remained neutral as his emotions burned into Castiel like lava across a grassy field. Squeezing his eyes shut, Castiel took a moment just to breathe through it.

 

It was such a common refrain with both brothers, but Castiel still didn't understand it. “I'm fine,” they said when they were in excruciating pain. “I'm fine,” they said when they were shot and digging out bullets. “I’m fine,” they said while their depression and hopelessness plunged so deep, it wounded Castiel to touch the edge of it. One of them could lose a limb and he'd probably claim to be fine while bleeding out on the floor.

 

“No, you’re not,” Castiel said, gently.

 

Dean huffed. “What do you want me to say, man? You know I don't remember shit about what really happened. You said yourself you can't restore my memories--just wait for the connections to regrow. I can't tell what's real and what's just part of the fake ass dream where--” Dean ran shaking hands through his hair, his breath caught in his throat, and his agony burning.

 

After a moment, Dean managed to stuff the worst of his pain deep inside him.

 

When he spoke, his voice was hollow. “You know, I finally get it.”

 

He said nothing more, so Castiel prodded, “Get what?”

 

“Why Sam was so fucking angry about Gadreel.” He barked out a bitter laugh. “I thought-- I thought-- We'll keep Sam alive and then we'll fix things. As long as we're alive, we can fix it. But it's--” Dean shook his head, his jaw clenched tight and his regret tearing through Castiel’s grace with razors. “I don't even remember most of what Michael did and still-- It's worse. It's worse than death. Possession, man, it's fucked up.”

 

For most of Castiel’s existence, a body had been a tool. Something to use. After he lost his grace, he’d started to see his body as more than a container; it had been rebuilt for him, after all. Still, he hadn't understood the depth of what he'd done to Jimmy until Lucifer had done the same to him. There was nothing he could say, for he had once been guilty of the same sin that haunted Dean. He wanted to say, “It wasn't you, it was Michael,” but he knew too well that didn't matter. After a beat, he said the only thing he knew to say: “Sam understands. We understand. Dean, you killed Lucifer. You couldn't have done that without Michael.”

 

Dean closed his eyes. “Maybe,” he said, his voice tight.

 

“It's true,” Castiel insisted. He placed a comforting hand on Dean's shoulder.

 

Dean looked at it, agony striking through him like lightning, jagged and biting, and Castiel quickly pulled his hand away.

 

Abruptly, Dean stood and gathered up the blanket, whiskey bottle, and glasses. “Man, I'm beat. Gonna hit the hay. Night, Cas.” And with that he made his way back to the cottage.

 

Castiel watched him leave. He stayed in the grass, watching the stars, and wishing he knew what to do.

Chapter Text

After breakfast the next morning, Sam and Dean headed to the dock to prepare the boat while Jack and Castiel packed their lunch in the kitchen. Through the wide, glass windows above the kitchen sink, Castiel watched as Dean hopped in and flipped the engine on only for the motor to immediately grind to a halt. He turned it off with a 'son of a bitch’ so emphatic Castiel could make out the words even with the distance. Sam waded into the lake, reached into the water, and lifted out a length of rope as thick as his thumb.

 

As the brothers cut the rope off of the motor, Castiel went into the bathroom to change into his swimsuit, leaving his clothes neatly tucked in a bathroom drawer. He returned to the kitchen to find Jack watching the brothers with keen interest. When he reached the window, he saw why: Sam and Dean had stripped off their shirts and wore only trunks; their bare backs gleamed with sweat, muscles rippling as they sawed at the rope.

 

Castiel knew enough about human physiology to know that sometimes humans, even half angel humans, enjoyed looking at other humans in a state of undress for no particular reason. He understood that current gaze wasn't necessarily indication of interest, and Jack had only been on earth for about two years, but there was something persistent in Jack's fascination, a depth that gave Castiel pause. Curious, he said, “They are attractive men, aren't they?”

 

Jack startled. His eyes darted to Castiel's and then back to Sam and Dean. “Yeah.” After a bit, he evenly said, “There are a lot of naked people on the internet, and I like looking at them, but I really like looking at Sam.”

 

“Sam?” Castiel asked, unable to mask his surprise. Jack copied Dean religiously.

 

Jack nodded. “Don't you think he has a nice body? I really like his shoulders. And his hair. And his hips.”

 

Castiel could see why. Sam was well-sculpted, and could have served as a model for numerous artists throughout the centuries. “Have you told him of your… ah, interest?”

 

With a shake of his head, Jack said, “No.” Sadness drifted off him as he watched Sam dive into the water. “I--He still treats me like I'm a child, even though I'm not. Not anymore.” He glanced at Castiel with wide, earnest eyes. “You know that, right?”

 

“I know,” Castiel said in sympathy, “but that's how humans are. They find it difficult to conceive of things outside of their comfort zone. His instincts are to treat you as a child because it's impossible for a human to progress as quickly as you did. We angels don't have infancy or childhood at all--I suppose that's outside of human understanding.”

 

The color left Jack's face as panic shot up in him. “Don't tell me I'll have to wait eighteen years before he'll let me hunt without a chaperone.”

 

Castiel laughed. “No. I don't think it will be that long.”

 

Jack turned his attention back to the brothers. “They still won't let me drive unless it's an emergency, even though I passed the state test. Mary said I'm perfectly fine and gave me my own license. In the other world, I led an army. Here, I can’t drive to the store by myself. Sam keeps talking about college, but I don't want to go. It's not like they can teach me hunting.”

 

Castiel couldn't help but smile. “He wants to give you the life he never had. Have you told him how you felt?”

 

“With Michael…” Jack picked up a cup had already been washed and scrubbed at it with a sponge. “You know how he’d hurt Sam to punish me, because he didn't want me to use up my grace healing myself?”

 

Sam screams in pain; Jack begs Michael to leave Sam alone, promising to be good; Dean's face, cold with fury- -

 

Blinking, Castiel shook his head and pushed away the memories.

 

Jack scrubbed hard at the clean dish. “Sam always had such guilt. I could feel it, even through the pain. He was-- He hated that he couldn't protect me. But I don't want to be protected. I don't need it.” A fierce gleam of gold shown in Jack’s eyes, determination swelling fast. “I want to protect them. I can, too. I can keep them safe on hunts, better than they can protect me. I don't need to be saved, but I can save him.”

 

Clasping Jack's shoulder, Castiel gave it a comforting squeeze. How many times had he been there himself? How often had he been willing to sacrifice himself to keep Sam and Dean safe? “You already do.”

 

Jack opened his mouth to argue and Castiel quickly cut in.

 

“Listen, you'll prove yourself to them in time. With Sam, it's important to remember that he…” Not wanting to betray Sam's privacy, Castiel picked his words carefully, “He's had a lot of very bad experiences with past relationships. He's seen a lot of death and a lot of pain. He'll need to feel safe with you first. He needs that much more than your protection. Don't try to be his hero--try to be a source of safety and comfort. Believe me, when you've broken their trust, it's really hard to regain it. Not because of them. They are both so forgiving… Maybe more than they should be, but you’ll never forgive yourself.”

 

“I'd never hurt him,” Jack swore.

 

“Not on purpose.” Castiel sighed. “I… hurt Sam. Very badly. I didn't mean to hurt him as much as I did, but I did. Dean, too.”

 

Astonishment bubbled up as Jack looked at Castiel. “ You hurt them? Why?”

 

“I--I was trying to protect them. I thought that Dean wanted a life away from hunting. I thought that by keeping them away from their enemies, they'd be safe. I chose for them. I didn't listen to Dean. I did something to Sam that I thought would keep him out of danger. It didn't work.”

 

At the time, breaking Sam's wall had seemed the obvious choice. If Castiel could somehow stop Jack from making similar mistakes, it would spare them all a world of pain. “I thought I could easily repair the damage, but I’d foolishly underestimated how badly he'd been damaged. I nearly killed him, and saving him almost killed me. Humans are fragile, even strong men like Sam and Dean. It's easy to inflict damage, to hurt them in ways you didn't intend, because they seem much more invincible than they are. Sam is bigger than you and older, but you could kill him without a second thought. He knows that and it worries him, although I doubt you’ve felt it, since he tends to bury his fears.”

 

Jack shook his head slowly, sadly. “I did, in the very beginning, but not anymore. I thought he trusted me now.” Worrying his lip, doubt and panic rising, he asked, “Is it because of Lucifer? Does he think I'm like Lucifer?”

 

“No.” Castiel squeezed Jack's shoulder tighter, his heart twisting at the thought Jack could think so poorly of himself. “You're nothing like him and Sam knows that. Sam trusts you, but….” Castiel glanced out the window at Sam and Dean and all he could think of was all the ways he'd failed them: opening the door to the panic room, lying to them, breaking Sam's wall, refusing to give up the Leviathans, beating Dean in the crypt, releasing Lucifer from the cage, stealing the Colt, recklessly going after Lucifer and leaving them alone with Jack... “We angels have not been kind to the Winchesters, especially Sam.” There was much he could say about Lucifer, but it was Sam's story to tell, not his. To change the subject to a much lighter one, he clapped Jack on the back and said, “At least you're in luck--Sam's preference is flexible.”

 

“Preference?” Jack asked, puzzled.

 

“Humans are a bit strange in that some of them are quite particular about romantic partners and only engage with those of a certain gender. Some humans wouldn't be interested in a relationship with you because they feel no romantic or sexual attraction to men or male bodies.”

 

“Why not?”

 

Shrugging, Castiel said, “I don't really understand it myself. From what I gather, it's mostly cultural. In some cultures, certain relationships are forbidden or regarded with disgust. Sometimes people even claim God forbids it, although I can assure you, he doesn't forbid anything consensual. Anyway, Sam doesn't discriminate when it comes to bodies. Personality matters the most to him.”

 

“How do you know?” Jack asked with growing interest. “Have you felt it?”

 

“No, he told me. Sam is fairly private. His arousal isn't anything like Dean's. I'm not sure if he hides it or just doesn't feel it as often as Dean.”

 

Chuckling, Jack set the cup on the drying rack. “Dean definitely likes looking at women. I swear I sometimes feel it when he looks at food too. Do you know if he's attracted to men as well?”

 

“I believe only women,” Castiel said regretfully, “but it can be hard to tell. Some humans are prejudiced against same sex romantic and sexual attraction, so sometimes people will bury their attraction. Since Dean is easily aroused in general, it can be a bit difficult to figure out where his attractions lie.” And even if Dean were into men, that doesn't mean he's interested in my body. Especially after possession. Not wanting to think on that long, he distracted himself by asking Jack, “If you prefer Sam, why do you copy Dean?”

 

“Oh,” Jack said as he ducked his head, his hair falling in his face and covering the pink of his cheeks. “I can feel how much Sam loves Dean. I thought that if I could be like Dean, Sam might love me too.”

 

It was all so familiar, Castiel had fight down his instinct to laugh. “Sam does love Dean a lot, but he loves him like a brother. If you have a sexual attraction to Sam, you don't want to be loved like a brother, but differently.” Castiel's heart twisted as he remembered Dean saying, “You're our brother, Cas. I want you to know that.”  A selfish part of him wanted Dean completely in every way--wanting, needing more--even though that was impossible.

 

“Anyway,” Castiel added, to distract himself. “Consent is extremely important to Sam, more than most. He’ll need to be certain you are able to consent before he’ll even think about considering a relationship with you.”

 

Cocking his head, confusing crossing his face, Jack asked, “Aren’t I?”

 

So much of Jack reminded him of himself that Castiel couldn’t help but grin. “If you have to ask, then probably not. Sex--romance--are complicated. Even good people, loving people who care deeply about each other can hurt each other. Your heart can be broken. He may fall out of love with you. He might not ever return your affections.” As he glanced out at Dean through the window, his heart squeezed painfully tight and he forced himself to look away, not wanting to think about how Dean don't love him the way he wanted. “Don't try to force anything. Let it develop naturally. You want him to love you for who you are, right? Not for your powers or your utility. Not because you remind him of his brother. You can't ever compete with the love the brothers have for each other. You don't need to. Sam's heart is big enough to love you both. And Jack-- I need you to try something. It will be hard, but it's important.”

 

Jack searched Castiel's face. “I'll try,” he promised.

 

“Don't destroy yourself trying to be what you think he needs. Or trying to give him what you think he wants. You need to take care of yourself. No one else can.” Hypocritical of him, he knew, especially considering after everything, he still wouldn't take his own advice. If Jack felt for Sam what he felt for Dean…. No words could ever change that, but he had to try. “Sam is…. After everything… it won't be easy for Sam to be in a relationship like the kind you want. Assume he won't--can't--love you the same way. If he does, wonderful, but if he doesn't, it won't destroy you. You'll be able to move on and love someone who can love you the way you need in return.”

 

Castiel didn't need to read Jack's emotions to feel the worry. “And you think he won't?”

 

“I don't know. You're new to this world, Jack. You're still learning about your emotions. You may not feel the same way about Sam in another few years.”

 

Jack considered this, his brow creased as he thought. After a moment, he said calmly. “I don't think so, but you could be right.”

 

He probably wasn't. To know the Winchesters was to love them. Crowley had tried to hate them, but even he, a twisted demon, couldn't help but fall in love. Angels weren't meant to fall in love and yet, he here was, helpless to do anything but follow Dean, giving everything he had without any hope of return. It was worth it though. Dean was worth it.

 

“In the meantime, I-”

 

“Hey,” Dean yelled as he waved his arms above his head, his booming voice carrying up the hill. “We're ready to go!”

 

Gathering up their lunch, Castiel and Jack joined them at the dock. Sam climbed out of the water and shook his head off like a dog. He stopped when he saw Castiel, his eyebrows shooting up with surprise. “That's an... interesting swimsuit. A speedo, huh?”

 

Castiel looked down at the one he'd picked out from the store. He’d selected it for the color--the same blue as his tie. He glanced up to see Jack looking equally puzzled by Sam's obvious shock. Looking at the swimming suits the others wore, he realized they had considerably more fabric.

 

He locked eyes with Dean last. Dean had been staring at him with mouth dropped open. The minute Castiel but looked at him, he dropped his eyes, looking at the knife in his hand. “Know what, guys, I'm not feeling too good. I think the heat is getting to me.” He motioned to the cottage behind Castiel. “I'm gonna sit this one out.”

 

“Are you sure?” Castiel asked.

 

Dean paused next to Castiel, refusing to look directly at him, emotions buried deep. “Yeah. You have a good time. Don't worry about me.”

 

“I have my phone on me,” Sam called out as he watched Dean walk up the hill, worry pouring off him and mixing with Jack's. “We'll be back after lunch!”

 

As soon as Sam started the boat, question after question poured out of Jack. For many of them, Jack seemed more interested in Sam than the actual answer. As Castiel watched Jack soak in Sam’s attention, he couldn’t help but wonder if that’s how he looked with Dean from an outsider’s perspective. Maybe he was just an overeager puppy full of affection and need. Maybe Dean saw him as a child the same way Sam and Dean saw Jack in terms of his human years, not his angelic grace, which gave him understanding and awareness beyond human lifespans.

 

Lost in thought, Castiel mostly watched as Sam guided Jack through the process of fishing. Sam seemed to understand that Castiel wasn’t in a mood for conversation as he didn’t try to make it, although Castiel felt his concern and appraisal. After they’d caught plenty of fish, Jack went for a swim and Sam's mood darkened as he watched him, crushing waves of pain, terror, and grief rolling off of him so thickly that Castiel gently probed, “Sam?”

 

Sam swallowed, his eyes on Jack. When he spoke, his voice was steady. “I couldn't tell.” he winced, looking down at his hands where one of his thumbs had been digging into his palm. He separated his hands and said, “After Gadreel. It took months. And even then--” He grimaced, words failing him. Castiel waited for him to recover himself. “There's a salad I remember eating in a Mexican diner. It had mango and jicama in it. I remember the restaurant, but not the case. Not unusual. All those motels, all those diners. It all blends together after a while.”

 

Sam watched Jack spinning somersaults in the water. Castiel watched Sam, gently breathing through the feel of Sam's agony.

 

After a moment, Sam said, “Two months after he … left, I was in a Mexican restaurant, looking at the menu, and I thought of that salad. I didn’t know. Did I eat that salad? Did he? Was it a real salad? A real restaurant? A real case?” Shaking his head, he blinked rapidly, his eyes still dry. “I couldn’t tell.”

 

“What can I do?” Castiel had to ask, even though he already knew the answer.

 

Sam’s forehead wrinkled, his mouth twisting. “I wish I knew. I just… put it in the rearview. Moved on. What else could I do, you know? Dean's different. Michael's different.”

 

Castiel hadn’t been asking about what he could for Dean, but of course Sam couldn’t see that. For him, Dean’s pain mattered more than his own. He struggled to try to heal in Dean something he’d never been able to heal in himself. Both Winchesters cared more about trying to save each than trying to save themselves. For Sam, saving Dean was a way to save himself. And yet, they couldn't save Dean. Not the way any of them wanted. They did what they could to put Dean's pieces back together, but in the end, only Dean could save himself. Not wanting to dwell on his feelings of hopelessness, Castiel asked, “How are you , Sam?”

 

Like the sun peeking from behind a cloud, warmth radiated off of Sam, even through all the pain. He smiled. “Better.”

 

He meant it. The Winchesters had been ripped to pieces and patchworked together again over and over, yet they had the brightest souls Castiel had ever touched.

 

A real smile brightened Sam's face. “Dean's back”, he said in a hushed, reverent tone, almost as if reminding himself of the reality, and Castiel basked in the warm brilliance of Sam’s love for Dean.

 

“And Lucifer is dead.” Castiel had said it to provoke more happiness, but it had the opposite effect. The glow disappeared, buried by pain again. Sam’s brow furrowed.

“You know,” said Sam, his eyes turning glassy and his misery biting into Castiel. “I thought it’d be different. I thought… When he, uh, died--it--”

 

There was so much there. Sam struggled with it, drowning in the depth of it. Not knowing what else to do, Castiel sat helplessly, waiting for Sam to collect himself.

 

“I knew it wouldn’t just disappear. I thought it couldn’t feel any worse, but--” Sam shook his head. Closing his eyes, he sucked in a breath, and pulled his pain back inside, burying it deep the way he always did. When his eyes opened, they shone clear. He smiled at Castiel, although it didn't reach his eyes, lacking any real warmth. “Anyway. I want to hear more about how you designed fish.”

Castiel indulged him.

Chapter Text

Dean perched at the end of the deck in a lawn chair. He had a styrofoam take-out cup in one hand and a relaxed expression on his face. Wherever he’d gone and whatever he’d done seemed to have served him well, for as they pulled the boat against the dock, Castiel couldn’t feel any trace of depression coming from him.

 

“How’d you do?” Dean asked, coming up to stand behind Castiel while he bent down to tie off the boat.

 

“Got six bass.” Sam lifted out the ancient green cooler, popping open the lid so Dean could see the haul. “Cas and Jack each caught one.”

 

“Cool,” said Dean, although he didn’t seem very interested in the fish. He had an unusual prickle of emotion Castiel couldn’t quite place. “Did you use fishing line or your hair?”

 

“Very funny.” Sam rolled his eyes.

 

“Just kidding.” Dean ruffled Sam's hair. “Y’know I love you and your stupid mane.”

 

Sam squinted at him, suspicion rising thick and fast. “Are you drunk?”

 

“What? I gotta be drunk to be nice to my pain-in-the-ass little brother?” He punched Sam's bicep and Sam shoved him back, grinning, but still wary.

 

Stepping across the deck, Jack pressed two fingers to Dean's forehead and before he could jerk his head away, Jack scanned him with grace. “He's got alcohol in his system.”

 

“Drunk, then,” said Sam.

 

“Wow,” said Dean, rolling back on his heels. “I say one nice thing to Sam and you all think I'm drunk off my ass? I had a few beers. That’s all.”

 

“It’s true,” Jack says. “It’s a small amount of alcohol.”

 

Sheepishness drifting off of him, Sam admitted, “We didn't expect to see you this happy after you left this morning.”

 

“Yeah, I can be a dramatic asshole sometimes, but we are on vacation. Took Baby for spin up some back roads and cleared my head. Also bought some traps for the fish guts.” He pointed to what looked like two two wire buckets nestled in each other.

 

“Perfect,” Sam said, warm fondness seeping out of him at the sight of the device. “Jack, you wanna help me clean the fish?”

 

“Sure!” Jack brightened, happiness bubbling up and overflowing him in a cloud so thick, it seemed as though Sam and Dean surely could feel a taste of it. Grabbing the remains of their lunch, he followed Sam up the hill towards the house.

 

Castiel stepped back into the boat to gather the remaining fishing gear.

 

“Hey, Cas,” Dean said, his voice a bit lower than normal, “nice package.”

 

Absently, Castiel said, “Yes, Sam did quite well in selecting the gear.”

 

Dean laughed, low and hearty.

 

Out of the corner of his eye, Castiel caught the swing of his arm, but even though he saw it coming, the smack against his ass rocked him forward. The swimsuit left enough exposed skin that Dean's fingertips hit against his bare thigh, the touch electric, spreading a warm jolt through his body that sent his grace singing. He'd seen the brothers hit each other in play, but he'd never experienced it himself.    

 

“Not what I meant, big guy,” Dean was saying and Castiel straightened, already missing the retreating hand. He now understood why the babysitter had enjoyed it.

 

Although his heart felt like it was about to pound out of his chest, he managed a smile and said, “You are certainly in a good mood. We're going to play cards. Would you like to join us?”

 

“Sure. Want some help carrying that crap?”

 

“Yes, thank you.” Castiel handed over the poles and took the tackle boxes and extra bait. As they headed towards the house, he couldn’t help but ask, “Where exactly did you go while we were fishing?”

 

In a bored tone, Dean said, “Headed up into the hills. Got hungry. Went to the Roadkill Cafe. Came back here.” He moved in front of Castiel, standing on the top of the steps, his eyes wide, and an unusual look on his face. “You're not gonna get dressed are you?”

 

“Why wouldn’t I?” Castiel climbed the steps, distractedly.

 

Dean dumped his gear on the bench on the porch and Castiel stopped, too, shocked still by the warm arousal drifting off of Dean as his eyes roamed over Castiel’s body. For the first time, Castiel became fully aware of the unusually small fabric of his suit, and the naked, warm appraisal of his bare skin sent shivers through him and heat rushing to his face. To distract himself, he set down the gear, but when he turned back, Dean still wore that same hungry expression.

 

“I like what I see,” said Dean.

 

Through most of Castiel’s interactions with humans, their motivations were murky, and often contradictory with their emotions. Dean especially had a habit of saying one thing and emoting another. This, though, he knew . Even without Dean’s arousal pulsing thick and heady from him, the heat in his eyes spoke volumes. ‘Bedroom eyes’ Dean had called them once. Castiel had seen them directed to many women, but never his way.

 

“Are you… ok? You’ve really only had a few beers?” Castiel reached out to examine Dean, but Dean batted his hand away.

“What?” Dean scoffed, annoyance flashing. “I gotta be drunk to admire your body? You can’t see you’re a hot piece of ass?”

 

Admire your body. Dean may as well have socked Castiel in the chest; all the air had vanished from his lungs. He managed to take a breath and sputter, “You've never…”

 

“Said anything? Yeah, I'm a dumbass.” Dean scratched the back of his neck, looking at Castiel with a sheepish but playful grin that quickly turned rueful. “You know what Michael did? He locked me in a world where we were together. I wanted that world so badly I believed it.”

Castiel’s heart jumped to his throat and he didn’t dare breathe. How many times had he imagined such a world himself?

“A part of me knew. A part of me always knew, but I didn't listen to it because I had everything there. I didn't even try to fight it. When I got free and saw what he--what I'd done to you… I hated myself.” Self-loathing and regret poured off of Dean, nearly smothering Castiel in their darkness.

 

“No, Dean, it wasn't your fault.”

 

Dean waved a dismissive hand. “I'm a fuck up. I know that. You warned me about Michael. Sam tried to tell me about Gadreel and I didn't listen to--”

 

“Dean!” Castiel grabbed Dean's wrist and warmth and arousal skittered through both of them with such ferocity that Castiel nearly forgot what he'd meant to say. As Dean stared at him, mouth open and eyes wide, Castiel managed to say, “Everything you did, you did out of love. Sam and I--we understand what that's like. We know what that's like. We've all made mistakes.”

 

Dean laughed mirthlessly. “Yeah, but it should've been obvious, right? I mean, you said it yourself, angels don't have sexual attraction. I should've known it was fucking fake, but--”

 

“Dean,” Castiel couldn't help but squeeze Dean's wrist and Dean froze, want heavy and cloying as he stared at Castiel. “I do have sexual attraction. I would happily engage in sexual intercourse with you.”

 

Dean's shock slammed into Castiel hard enough to nearly knock him off his feet. “But you've-- you said angels don't.”

 

“I didn't. Once.” He didn't know how to explain it, especially in terms that a human could understand, but he had to try. “Or at least, I didn't know how to recognize it. But then I became human and that feeling it--it never really left. I don't feel it the way that you do. For you it's more like… almost a need , right? I can feel it right now.”

 

“Yeah?” Dean smirked, stepping closer.

 

All rational thought fled Castiel’s mind with Dean standing so close to him, his body radiating arousal so thick it flowed through his own, heading straight to his cock. He breathed in the smell of Dean, his heart hammering in his chest, unable to think.

 

Dean gave a little smirk, as if he could see how helpless Castiel was to resist him and loved it. “What does it feel like?”

 

“Warm. Rich. Inviting.”

 

“And this?” Dean bent forward. “What does this feel like?” he murmured, before pressing his lips against Castiel's.

 

And oh . Castiel had dreamed of it. Dreamed of being kissed by Dean a thousand times. Never had he imagined it could be like this--so rough and hungry. Dean nipping and licking at him as his broad hands roamed over Castiel’s body, squeezing and desperate, yet sure and capable. Dean’s want and need poured into Castiel, leaving him breathless and drowning. He'd been alive almost since the dawn of creation, he'd commanded armies, he'd stopped the apocalypse (more than once), but in all those years, in all those experiences, he'd never learned how to kiss--not like this. Eons of knowledge and they were useless in teaching him how to do what he really wanted. Clumsy, eagerly, he kissed back, trying to convey the breadth and depth of his desire with his lips, and surely coming up short.

 

Dean broke the kiss long enough to say, “Wanna fuck?”

 

“Yes,” Castiel said, giving himself a little jolt of grace to be sure he was awake. If Dean's experience in Michael's dream was anything like this, no wonder Dean had sunk into it.

 

“Let’s go.” Dean jerked his head towards the house and, grabbing Castiel's wrist, he pulled him into the house, leading him straight to the bedroom.

 

“Dean, are you sure--”

 

“Yes, I’m sure.” Dean shut the door behind them and pushed Castiel against a wall. “I want this. I want you.” As if to prove the passion behind the words, he captured Castiel’s mouth in another searing kiss, his body pressed tight against Castiel's, bleeding arousal and warmth so thick Castiel swam in it. Dean broke the kiss as one of his hands found Castiel’s cock, strong fingers stroking it through the thin fabric of his swimsuit, sending Castiel’s grace soaring. “I want you to fuck me. Right now.”

 

Somehow, Castiel managed to pull himself together enough to say, “Dean, you’re intoxicated and--”

 

“I’m not drunk.” Dean grabbed Castiel’s hand and pressed it to his own forehead. “See for yourself.”


Castiel started examining Dean with his grace. For Dean, the level of alcohol in his bloodstream was a basic Sunday morning. Before Castiel could finish his exam, Dean grabbed the waistband of Castiel’s swimsuit and pushed it down, freeing his cock to the cool air, and Castiel’s train of thought didn’t just derail, but fell off a cliff into a fiery heap.

 

Dean let out a low whistle. “I wasn’t expecting that.

 

Puzzled, Castiel glanced down at his cock. He’d seen billions of human genitalia and his own seemed rather ordinary. “What’s wrong?”

 

“Wrong?” Dean’s fingertips danced over Castiel’s cock, each little touch leaving fire in its wake. “Nothing’s wrong. You’re hung. I thought you guys were junkless.”

 

“Why would we be junkless? We inhibit human vessels and humans have genitalia and--”

 

Dean captured his mouth in another greedy kiss and, for a moment, Castiel was lost in it, in the feel of Dean. After all these year, finally. How long had he wanted this? He knew the exact moment he fell from heaven, but this was different--bold, but slow burning and something to be buried because angels weren’t supposed to love humans. If he hadn’t already fallen, he’d be cast out for this love alone, but it all was worth it. Let the gates of heaven shut behind him if they must--he’d found a new one with Dean.

 

“You gonna fuck me or what?” said Dean as he spit in his hand and fisted Castiel’s cock, sending his toes curling and his hips thrusting.

 

Trying to regain his bearings, Castiel asked, “Have you done this before?”

 

“Nope. At least, not with a guy. I’ve had a few girls finger me, but I doubt it’s that different. It's just sex, right? Lots of people have it. How hard can it be?” Dean snickered. “Ha, hard .”

“From what I gather, this can be painful if done incorrectly.” Castiel reluctantly pulled Dean’s hands away from him and glanced around the room. “Do you have lubrication?”

 

“Nope,” said Dean as his hands found Castiel’s bare ass and squeezed it hard, sending a thrill through his body.

 

Reluctantly, Castiel disentangled himself from Dean. “I’ll get some from the kitchen.” He forced his erection down and tucked his cock back in his swimsuit, wishing he’d picked one with a little more fabric. Thankfully, Sam and Jack hadn’t yet entered the house, but were out on the back porch, Sam demonstrating how to clean the fish, while Jack watched Sam instead of what Sam was trying to show him.

 

Although he’d never had sex with a man before, Castiel had observed enough humans having anal sex to know the importance of good lubrication and hunted through the cabinets until he found an oil that seemed a decent texture--coconut oil. With the warmth of the cabin, it was a simple matter to pour out the oil into a disposable dish and bring it back to the bedroom, as well as two towels he snatched from the bathroom along the way.

 

In the bedroom, Dean had stripped naked and stretched out on the bed, arm behind his head, and a smile on his face as he stroked himself. The sight stopped Castiel dead in his tracks, the door shutting softly behind him. He’d rebuilt Dean’s body himself--he knew every freckle and hair--but never had he seen it like this. When he’d had his wings, he’d stumbled across Dean masturbating or having sex more times than he could remember, but Dean’s eyes had almost always been closed. They’d certainly never met his own with such fire, such promise and warmth.

 

“Get over here,” said Dean with a jerk of his head.

 

Sucking in a breath to calm his quivering grace, Castiel crossed the room to Dean’s side. Wordlessly, Dean moved to the edge of the bed to help spread out the towels. He laid back down on his back, his legs spread and his hand slowly stroking his cock. “When I saw you in that speedo, I had to go rub one out.”

 

“You did?” Castiel stripped out of his swimsuit and crawled onto the bed. “You didn’t seem aroused at the dock.”

 

“Yeah, well…” Dean’s mood plummeted and Castiel mentally kicked himself. “After playing around with fake you while Michael kicked the real you around, I’m amazed you even want to be around me.”

“Of course I want to be around you, Dean.” If only humans could read emotions. Dean would never doubt Castiel’s desires. “Why would your desire for a fantasy with me be something that I wouldn’t want?”

Dean sat up, worry and concern rolling off of him in thick waves. “Because you guys were getting your ass kicked while I was having fun.” When Castiel just blinked at him in confusion, Dean ground out, “He was torturing you while I was sipping margaritas. I could’ve kicked him out months ago, but I didn’t. That really doesn’t bother you?”

 

Still confused as to why Dean thought it would, Castiel said, “No. Dean, he could’ve been torturing you. I’m really glad he kept you happy.  You were happy, weren’t you?”

“Yeah.” Dean’s eyes brightened and affection surged so bright and warm, Castiel’s grace quivered at it. “I had you.” Grabbing Castiel’s shoulders, Dean yanked him in for a kiss full of tongue and teeth and love so warm and rich Castiel just wanted to soak in it for hours.

 

He wants me. He actually wants me. The feel of Dean’s naked arousal left Castiel reeling more than the Everclear had. Dizzy on love, gliding on the feel of desire so raw and eager, Castiel could barely keep up with Dean’s frantic pace. His tongue pushed into Castiel’s mouth, his hands flying all over Castiel’s body, stroking his cock, firmly kneading his ass, pinching his nipples, just constantly roaming as if Dean couldn’t quite decide what part of him he liked the most.

Somehow, Castiel managed to pull back long enough to ask, “What do you want me to do?”

Throwing himself back against the bed, Dean spread his legs wider, his hard cock on display as he licked his plump lips and looked up at Castiel. “I want you to fuck me. Right now.”

Castiel’s cock jumped eagerly, his grace pulsing, and all thoughts of taking his time to savor Dean vanished from his head. Slipping onto the bed, his breath caught in his throat at the sight of Dean so wanting . Dipping his fingers in the oil, he pressed the tip of one against Dean’s hole and sent a cleaning spell inside.

 

“Jesus!” Dean jumped, rising up on his elbows. “Did you stick a peppermint up my ass?”

“Sorry, I should’ve warned you about the spell. I cleaned your rectum and anal canal of fecal matter. Sometimes when people engage--”

 

“Woah--Woah--TMI. I get it. Just--warn a guy.” Dean settled back against the bed.

They’d barely begun and already he’d fucked things up. Castiel took a deep breath, focused on Dean’s arousal, and pressed his finger against Dean’s puckered rim, gently rubbing the tender flesh.

“Go on,” Dean said, his desire so thick Castiel could practically taste it. “Get in me.”

Emboldened, Castiel pushed his fingertip through the tight ring of muscle and received a hum and wave of pleasure in return. He pumped his finger, feeling the rim clench hard around him, watching as Dean closed his eyes, his freckled cheeks turning pink with pleasure, his cock leaking against his stomach, and want hammering out of him in heavy waves that left Castiel heady. Carefully, slowly, he added another finger, drawing a low groan from Dean. He scissored as best he could against the tight muscle. Was this even what he should be doing? Eons of knowledge and yet he’d never learned what he most needed. He’d seen so much, but he hadn’t really paid attention to it. Not like he should’ve. And now, when he needed to know how to do this--to make Dean feel a taste of what he felt--he had no idea what to do.

 

“Dude,” Dean huffed, impatience rising up. “I’m not some chick. I can take it. Stop being a pussy.”

From how tightly Dean’s rim gripped him, that didn’t seem to be true, but Dean knew more about these things than Castiel did. Pulling out of Dean, Castiel hurriedly dipped his fingers in the lube and coated up his cock. He lined up, pressing the tip of his cock against Dean’s hole and, watching Dean’s face, he pushed in.

 

Pain flared, bright and angry, and Dean winced. Castiel froze.

“Holy fuck,” breathed Dean, his head falling back as his fingers curled in the sheets. “Okay. I feel bad for every chick I talked into this. A cock is very different than a finger. Oh, shit.”  

 

Quickly, Castiel cast a healing spell and pulled out, Dean’s hole clenching around the open space.

“Woah!” Dean shot up on his elbows again. “Don’t do that! Jesus Christ!”

“I’m sorry.” Castiel froze. He should’ve taken some time to study how to do this properly. Why hadn’t he done that first? This was Dean. He’d had dozens of partners. Of course he’d want someone with more experience. “Do you want to try something else?”

“Nah, I’m not wimping out like a bitch. I can take it. Let’s go!” Dean lay back down, spreading his legs more and giving Castiel a wink. “Stick it in again. Just--Pull out slowly . I thought I was gonna shit the bed.”

“You can’t. The spell I cast--”

“Okay! Got it. Just keep going. You can get your little healing mojo on if hurts too much.”

Trying not to let his nerves get the better of him, Castiel lined up again, and pressed inside Dean, sending in a little healing spell along with his cock as he sank back into the warmth of Dean.

Dean groaned, his eyes closing and his mouth dropping. “Yeah. Like that.”

Carefully, slowly, Castiel pressed himself inside, trying to go slow and not just thrust into that glorious heat. Dean’s desire rose with every inch he pressed inside and, once he’d buried himself fully, the want want want pouring off of Dean left him so damn lightheaded, he had to use his grace to restrain himself from pounding in right then and there.

 

“Oh my God, this is really happening,” mumbled Dean, more to himself than Castiel.

Leaning forward, Castiel placed his hands on Dean’s shoulders, all of his concentration focused on remaining still and not just tearing into Dean the way he wanted. Somehow, he had to last long enough to give Dean pleasure, too. He tried to ignore his demanding grace and managed to keep his voice relatively steady as he said, “If you’re ready, I’m going to increase the pace until you tell me when it’s fast enough.”

“Go for it.” Eager want wafted off of Dean and Castiel couldn’t have stopped if he wanted to. He started to thrust, slowly at first, then increasing the pace, while Dean shifted his hips until he found a position that made him groan as he gasped and babbled about how he much he’d wanted this but didn’t know it could be so damn good. Castiel jerked his hips faster and faster, until Dean’s words melted to sounds, his pleasure so intense, Castiel’s grace vibrated with it. He shot out his wings, letting his grace flow out of him as their pleasure built together, his own chasing Dean’s until it rose and rose and then they both fell over the edge together.

 

Dean shot thick and white between their bodies as Castiel lost himself inside. His hips and wings jerked artlessly while Dean’s hole milked him dry. He thrust until, utterly drained and unable to hold himself up any longer, he tumbled forward on top of Dean.

 

For a suspended moment, they both just laid there, panting, their hearts pounding. Castiel was vaguely aware he should move, but his entire body felt melted, as though his muscles had turned to liquid. They lay stuck together, breathing hard, while his cock softened inside of Dean and plopped out, leaving tacky wetness between their legs.

“Wow,” said Dean finally. “That was….”

Realising he was practically crushing Dean beneath him, Castiel shifted to the side. Pressing his hand on Dean’s shoulder, he cleaned them both of sweat and come. “Are you hurt anywhere?”

“I ache a bit in my shoulders and ass, but I wanna feel it.” Dean laughed, then smacked Castiel’s ass hard. “Damn. Where’d you learn to fuck like that? I don’t think they teach that in heaven.”

He couldn’t have imagined a better compliment. “I just did what I thought you wanted.”

 

Someone knocked on the door. "Hey, Dean,” Jack said. “Sam said that you’d want to grill the fish for dinner."

 

Castiel looked at Dean with raised eyebrows, waiting for him to decide.

 

"Yeah," Dean called. "Let me get dressed. I don't want Sam fucking up the freshest fish we've had in years." To Castiel in a softer voice, he said, “He’ll try to make it healthy,” as if the very idea offended him, although no real annoyance flowed off of him.

 

Castiel couldn’t help but grin. He left the bed and picked up Dean’s clothes to toss them to him. Something small and red tumbled to the floor and he bent down, only for his grace to go ice cold in shock once he recognized the object--a hex bag.

 

Dean blinked at Castiel from the bed. "What? How'd that get there?"

 

Little clues fell into place--Dean’s sudden mood change after he left in the morning, his unusual glibness, his willingness to have sex. Dean was under a spell and that meant Castiel had raped him. Castiel’s stomach dropped to the floor as the air left his lungs. If his wings had worked, he’d have taken flight, but he couldn’t. "I should've known. Get dressed; Sam will know what to do." Unable to look at Dean, he hurriedly dressed.

 

"What do you mean, you should've known?" Dean asked as he pulled on his own clothes.

 

God, he’d been so fucking stupid. Castiel focused on getting on his shoes, unable to look at Dean as he explained, "You've been giving off unusual emotions since your return from wherever you went. Or rather, they aren't normally so pointed."

 

Dean scoffed. "I feel fine. I'm a little skeezed out that a witch touched me, but I'm me."

 

"What do you remember?"

 

Dean finished dressing and stomped his feet into his boots. From the corner of his eye, Castiel could see him standing with one hand on his hip, counting off his list on the other hand. “Let’s see. You came outside in that incredible Speedo. I freaked out for some reason I can’t remember… oh wait, it’s because you’re hot and I’m a chicken. Then I went for a drive and to get lunch. Then I came back here at the same time as you.”

 

Finally meeting Dean’s face Castiel asked, "You spent six hours driving and getting lunch? You really went that far for lunch?”

 

Dean blinked at him. “I wasn’t gone for six hours.”

 

“Yes, you were. The witch must have wiped your memory."

 

Dean’s face fell. “Oh crap.”

Chapter Text

In the dining room, Sam spread out the contents of the hex bag and quizzed Dean about what he remembered (nothing). Castiel paced, wondering why he had been so stupid to think that Dean wanted him .

After examining all the items in detail, Sam ran a hand through his hair and said, "She's probably local, maybe even within walking distance. Homegrown. Likely new to the craft."

“New? Why do you say that?” Dean asked.

"Not a very well-crafted hex bag. She used way too much pokeweed." Sam cast Castiel a worried glance before resolution hardened his features. "Jack and I will go investigate. You stay here and monitor Dean in case we missed something else besides the hex bag."

"Monitor me?” Dean scoffed. “Sammy, I'm fine. I don't feel anything. This witch sucks at witching.”

"We can't be certain it was just the hex. Why did she let you go? To lure the rest of us there?" Sam flicked on his lighter and burnt the hex bag. "It's safer if we catch her off guard. I promise we won't do anything without calling for back-up."

"He's right," Castiel said without looking at Dean. "I'd like to monitor you a bit more. Memory spells can have consequences as there’s no way to complete remove the memories--only make them very hard to find."

When the bag turned to ash, Sam looked closely at Dean. "How do you feel now?"

Dean shrugged and winced. "Fine but my shoulders are--oh. Nevermind." His eyes went wide and he looked everywhere but the men at the table with him.

Castiel burned with so much shame, his wings beat uselessly, trying to escape from the agony.

"What's wrong with your shoulders?" Sam asked as he moved toward Dean.

Embarrassment pouring off of him, Dean leaned away from his brother and threw up his hands in defense. "Nothing. I was a little over enthusiastic with some exercise. Better go find that witch, huh?"

Sam narrowed his eyes. “You don’t feel any different?”

Dean didn’t meet Sam’s eyes as he insisted, “The hex is gone. I can tell it’s gone.”

As soon as the door closed behind Sam and Jack, Castiel said, "Dean, I'm so sorry. I should've recognized something was wrong."

The shame grew until the room seemed to be in a heavy fog. Dean held up a hand and didn’t meet Castiel’s eyes as he said, "You did exactly what I asked you to do. We should drink.” He strode to the pantry and removed a bottle of scotch. Pulling out two generous glasses, he slid one across the table towards Castiel without looking at him.

Castiel downed it in a gulp. If he didn’t have to monitor Dean for reactions to the curse, he would’ve finished off the other bottles of Everclear. Instead, he sat uselessly at the table. “ You didn’t ask me for that. The spell did.”

Embarrassment hung so heavy in the room, Castiel couldn’t feel any other emotions.

After a bit, Dean spoke, his voice low, rough, “It wasn’t just the spell.”

Castiel risked a glance up to see Dean staring at his own glass, already refilled with a heavier pour. Dean said, “It’s what I wanted.”

As if anything in their lives were that easy. Castiel scoffed. “After all these years, I’m supposed to believe that? You said it yourself--what Michael showed you was just a dream. You’re obviously still under a spell. Maybe a--”

“No.” Dean finally raised his head. He swallowed hard. “I was under a spell, but you weren’t. So why did you have sex with me?”

“I’m sorry, I--I--I thought you wanted it.”

“That’s why you did it?” The embarrassment receded slightly, pain raising quickly.

Letting himself be burned on the edges of the pain, Castiel assured Dean, “I wouldn’t have done it otherwise. I wouldn’t have ever touched you if you hadn’t asked me for it. What I did--it was wrong. Once Sam and Jack return, I’ll leave.”

Pain spiked so sharp Dean might as well have been slapped. His face fell and he stood. “I don’t want you to fucking leave. I want--” He turned, running a hand through the back of his hair. “It doesn’t fucking matter. I’m going to go get the grill ready.” He stalked out through the backdoor, grabbing the bottle to take with him.

Chapter Text

It wasn't as though Castiel wanted Dean to be under the effect of another spell, it was just that he expected it so much that when Sam and Jack returned with news that Dean had nothing more to fear from the witch, Castiel thought they'd surely been mistaken. He grilled them both.

 

Why had she hexed Dean? Dean had wandered onto her property by accident due to a fallen fence. She'd recognized him and thought he'd come to kill her, but hadn't been certain--hence the hex to suss out his true intentions.

 

Why had she removed his memory? She was scared of hunters and she'd heard horror stories of the Winchesters. Dean had charmed her and, while she didn't want to kill him, she didn't think it would be safe to let him remember her.

 

Why hadn't she removed the hex? She'd meant to, but Dean had overpowered her and escaped.

 

How was Sam certain she wasn't a threat? They'd caught her in the middle of fleeing her home, certain that hunters were coming to kill her since he'd left still hexed.

 

“She was terrified, Cas,” Sam said, and Castiel could feel the earnestness wafting off of him. For once he wished Sam was a little less forgiving, less trusting, and more cynical.

 

As they made dinner, Dean stayed outside at the grill. Castiel didn’t dare go near him, but cut up vegetables for the salad, his head swimming. He’d been so foolish. He should’ve finished his examination of Dean’s faculties. He should’ve been suspicious of Dean’s sudden enthusiasm for sex after so long without any indication of desire. After warning Jack how easy it was to hurt one of the brothers, Castiel had already gone and done it again.

 

“Okay, what happened?”

 

Castiel nearly dropped his knife. He’d been so lost in his thoughts, he hadn’t heard Sam walk up behind him.

Sam jerked his head towards where they could see Dean grilling through the bay windows, Jack by his side, asking questions Dean answered distractedly. “You’ve both been acting off ever since we found the hex bag. Did the curse make Dean do something to you?”

 

“No! No.” Castiel put down the knife, his mouth dry. Unable to look at Sam’s eyes, he confessed. “It was me. I… I did something I shouldn’t have.”

 

“What?” Confusion radiated off of Sam.

 

The last thing he wanted to do was think about it, but Castiel couldn’t ignore the truth of what he’d done. As much as he wanted to respect Dean’s privacy, he needed to tell Sam. After all, Sam would be able to help Dean in way Castiel never could. And Dean would need help with this.

 

Shaking his head, trying to ignore his heart threatening to leap out of his throat, Castiel managed to croak out, “I didn’t realize he was under a spell. Sam--” He didn’t want to say it, but he had to. It was what he’d done, after all. “I--I raped him.”

He expected anger, disappointment, and hatred. He deserved them all. When Sam’s emotions remained elusive, Castiel raised his eyes to see Sam searching his face with solemn concern, but without judgement.

After a moment, Sam asked in a low, slightly cracked voice, “That’s how he describes it?”

Blinking, Castiel asked, “Why does it matter how he describes it? That’s what it was. He was under a spell. He couldn’t consent. His body was out of his control.” Just like with Michael. I’m no different than him. We both took control of him and got what we wanted.

 

“Look,” said Sam, “it doesn’t matter what you think about it; it matters how he thinks about it.”

“I don’t understand. He didn’t have the option to make a choice.”

Pain welled up in Sam, but it vanished almost as soon as Castiel felt the rot of it against his grace. Flicking his head, Sam buried his hurt and met Castiel’s eyes with dry, steady ones. “The last thing you should do is take away his agency, especially in a case like this. Give it to him. If he thinks he consented, then he consented. That’s it. Your opinion of it--how you think he should feel about, how you think he should react to it--none of that matters. Did you ask him how he feels about it?”

 

His mouth dry, Castiel said, “He said… He said that it wasn’t just the spell. He said that he wanted it. But...”

“Cas,” Sam put a warm hand on Castiel’s shoulder, concern and love flowing into him. “Believe him. He decides, not you. Go talk to him about it.”

That he could still feel Sam’s love for him after what he’d just admitted made his heart swell so much, it seemed to burst from his chest. No matter what mistakes he made, Sam still loved him, would always love him. Maybe that was possible for Dean too. “Alright.”

Sam gave Castiel’s cheek a warm pat before he left to go set the table. Jack, stepping back in the cottage, glanced around the room and gazed at Sam with such admiration and affection, Castiel couldn’t help but smile at it. As he watched, Jack crossed the room to join Sam in setting the table. Sam moved about the kitchen and dining room, giving Jack attention, but nothing that suggested he felt even a hint of the love pouring off of Jack.

 

If the witch had hexed Jack, to Sam, Jack's declarations of affections would seem unnatural and surprising. Was the same true for Dean? Had it been there all along? As they ate dinner, Castiel reviewed his memories with Dean. Yes, he'd frequently felt Dean's arousal in his presence, but Dean was easily aroused. Sam frequently joked about how quickly Dean fell for their waitresses. For all Castiel knew, Dean could've been thinking of the girls on his favorite websites as he looked at Castiel.

 

Castiel didn't need to read Dean's emotions to notice his dark mood through dinner. In addition to being obviously intoxicated, he avoided talking. Sam prompted a few words, but after observing Dean's mood, quickly stopped. He shot a concerned glance at Castiel.

 

After dinner, Dean busied himself scrubbing the grill while the others cleared the table. As the three of them washed dishes, Sam glanced pointedly at Castiel, directing him with a nod of his head to go talk to Dean, and then turned to Jack. “Why don't we find something to watch on Netflix?”

 

“Sure!” Jack said.

 

Plucking up his courage as he looked out the window at Dean still scrubbing the grill, Castiel said, “Why don't you start the movie and I'll join you in a bit.”

 

Sam nodded. “Good luck,” he said under his breath, giving Castiel's arm a little squeeze.

 

Squaring his shoulders, Castiel walked back out onto the porch. “Hello, Dean,” he said softly.

 

“Hey, Cas.” Dean didn't look up from scrubbing the grill.

 

Feeling yet again like a fish out of water, Castiel tried conversation. “I suppose there wasn't another spell on you. Would you say that is accurate? Do you feel the same as before?”

 

Dean nodded once. The grill was sparkling but he kept working the brush over it.

 

Maybe Castiel should've asked Sam for more advice? He was tempted to do so, although humans tended to be very private about their sexuality. The last thing he wanted was to make Dean more uncomfortable. He looked straight at Dean and said, “Well, I really enjoyed having sex with you and I hope you enjoyed it too.”

 

Dean finally tossed the brush down and crossed his arms over his chest as he stared at Castiel. “What the fuck, man? You said you had sexual desire, but then you also told me that you wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t said wanted it. You only had sex with me because you thought I wanted you to?”

 

Confused, Castiel said, “Yes. I never would’ve done anything if you hadn’t asked for it.”

 

“Well there you go!” Pain welled up fast in Dean. “I manipulated you, Cas. It shouldn't have happened. We're friends, for God’s sake. Friends don't do that.”

 

“Friends don't have sex?” He knew that wasn’t true.

 

Dean shrugged. “Not in my experience. Not if they want to stay friends. Sex makes it messy, complicated.” He turned back to the grill but didn't uncross his arms. “We should just go back to the way things were.”

 

Dean's emotions were in turmoil. Desire, hatred, longing, regret all tangled up in each other making it impossible for Castiel to suss out what Dean really wanted. Yet again, he found himself spinning, too angel to understand humans, but too human to live without loving them. “Sam told me about ‘friends with benefits’. He said it's where two friends have sex, yet maintain their friendship. If you'd prefer to go back to the way things were, then I'll do that, but if you enjoyed it, then I don’t see why we couldn’t have benefits. Do you think it wouldn't work between us?”

 

“Damnit, Cas, no, it wouldn't work.” Dean whirled around, his jaw set and his eyes narrowed. His emotions churned so rapidly, Castiel couldn’t pick one out. “Because I'd want more.” A moment of silence and then Dean looked down at the concrete slab below his feet. When he spoke he was calmer, despair and regret rolling off of him in heavy waves. “It wouldn't work because I'd want more. And I can't ask that of you, Cas, it's too much.”

 

“More sex?” Castiel brightened. “Dean, I don't need to sleep and my body can easily be restored to full health if I’m not injured. I can give you all the sex you want.”

 

“That's not what I meant,” Dean said, and walked into the woods headed for the lake.

 

With the amount of sadness pouring out of Dean, Castiel probably should have left him alone. He would've left him alone before, but all he could think of was the Empty saying, “I know who you love,” and how long Dean had been stolen by Michael. How hard they’d had to work to bring him back. He couldn’t lose Dean. Not again. He moved, propelled by the knowledge that time was short and there might never be a next time. He followed Dean, catching up to his determined stride. “What did you mean?”

 

Dean remained silent for several heartbeats. He closed his eyes again, visibly drawing the courage to plow forward. “Michael--he showed me a lot of things. He made me realize I love you. Not as a brother. Not as a friend. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

 

Dean was so nervous, the tension was almost too much, yet his words were exactly what Castiel had wanted to hear, but had never dreamed that he'd be granted. The combination left him unmoored. “Yes. I--I feel the same.”

 

The fear evaporated out of Dean at Castiel’s words and he opened his eyes again, confusion flooding him. “You do?”

 

“Yes,” he said, and it was easier now, obvious. “I didn't realize what it was because I'd never felt it before. Because angels can't love like humans can. After I became human, I learned how to love. I understand now what it means to be in love. How what I feel for you is different than I feel about Sam or Jack or anyone else. That's why I want to be friends with benefits.”

 

That had the opposite effect Castiel had hoped for. The hopefulness vanished, replaced by despair. Dean sighed. “Don't worry about it, Cas. We had a good time, but now it's over. I'm going to bed.” He headed toward the house again, walking at a slow pace with his head down.

 

“I don't understand,” Castiel said as he walked beside him. “Do you no longer want to have sex with me?”

 

Dean stopped with a sigh and faced Castiel again, eyes glossy. “Look, friends with benefits is an arrangement between two people to have sex for the sake of the sex. What I want with you is deeper than that. I want to have sex with you because it's you, not because of how mind-blowing the sex is.” He paused again before barreling on, the depression reaching a crescendo. “I want your heart, Cas. Not just your body. I don’t want you to have sex with just because I want it, but because it’s what you want to do.”

 

“Dean,” Castiel implored as he caught Dean's wrist, “I do. You have all of me. You've had all of me since I pulled you from hell and felt the burn of your soul. When we had sex, it wasn't just our bodies connecting, but my grace and your soul. Feel it.” He pressed Dean's hand to his chest and pulsed out his grace, letting it flow into Dean, letting Dean's emotions flow back into him with it. “That's what I want. That's why I left the Empty. For you. To be with you. To follow you. I marked your body, but you marked my grace.”

 

His breath catching in his throat, Dean swallowed hard, his eyes glistening. “So we… we want the same thing?”

 

"I believe so," Castiel said. "I'll show you." He stepped closer to kiss Dean, feeding him a taste of his desire and longing with a touch of his grace.

 

Dean sucked in a sharp breath through his nose, arousal spiking. He pulled away, their lips parting with a smack. "Holy shit," he breathed, eyes still closed. "That's what you feel?" His voice sounded wrecked, ragged.

 

"A portion."

 

"A portion?" Dean repeated, his eyes opening wide. "You mean there's more ?" Amusement flickered through him and he grinned so wide Castiel couldn’t help but mirror him. "Cas, we gotta do something about this.” He slipped his hands under Castiel's coat and grabbed his hips, yanking them closer until the hard lines of their cocks pressed together. Leaning in, he kissed Castiel and, after what had happened, Castiel expected it to be softer, less driven by the neediness caused by the spell. If anything, it was even more demanding, more desperate, arousal striking hard and hot. Dean wanted him .

Castiel kissed him back eagerly, relishing in the proof. For a moment, he lost himself, floating in the feel of it all as Dean’s sure hands clutched at him, holding him so tightly he’d have bruises on his arms tomorrow if he’d been human. He managed to pull back to whisper, "Do you want to go inside and have sex?"

Dean nodded, excitement flooding through him. He grabbed Castiel’s ass, squeezing it hard as he grinned. "Yeah, I do. Grab more oil from the kitchen and meet me in my room." With that, he released Castiel and strode strode inside the cottage, walking right past Sam and Jack without a word.

 

Sam wandered into the kitchen as Castiel prepared more coconut oil.

“What are you doing?”

“I'm going to use the oil as lube for anal intercourse.”

“Oh,” Sam said as he blinked, his eyebrows raised. “Is that...uh… sanitary?”

“I used a disposable dish so you don’t have to worry about any cross contamination with your food.”

“No, I mean…” Embarrassment rose so fast, it seemed to fill the entire room. “Nevermind. Have fun.” Shaking his head, Sam headed back to join Jack on the couch.

Castiel headed to Dean’s bedroom, closing the door behind him. He set the bowl on the bedside table and barely had time to blink before Dean grabbed his shirt, roughly spinning him and pushing him against the door, kissing him hard.

 

Sinking into the feel of Dean’s hungry wants, Castiel tried to replicate Dean’s kisses as best he could, the touch of their tongues, the soft press of desperate lips, the rough scratch of stubble, but most of all, the feeling of hunger, desire, and uttermost love.

 

His hands moved, seeking warm skin only to be blocked by too many clothes. Without breaking the kiss, he shoved back Dean’s plaid. Catching on to what Castiel wanted, Dean helped out. They tore through their clothes, Castiel forgetting about Dean’s boots, only remembering them when he knelt to push Dean’s jeans down his freckled hips and found his progress impeded. As he knelt in place, Dean’s thick cock stood on proud display a few inches from Castiel’s lips, nestled by a splash of dark curls, and looking absolutely irresistible, a thin bead of precum gathering on the tip.

 

Castiel had seen men do this to each other more times than he could remember and it seemed simple enough, even though Dean was quite a bit larger than the average man. He opened his mouth and licked up Dean’s cock, feeling the warm flesh tremble against his tongue. This was better than kissing. He loved the musky smell, the sharp taste of salty skin, the pulse of blood against his tongue. Gently, he sucked the swollen head into his mouth, watching Dean’s face as he attempted gently flicking his tongue over the frenulum. He had to adjust himself in his pants, pulling his quickly filling cock up under his belt to avoid getting caught on the zipper. He hadn't expected to be so turned on by sucking Dean's cock.

 

Dean's head fell back and his eyes closed, a low moan sounding from his throat. “Cas,” he said, his voice a breathy prayer, both hands finding Castiel's hair.

 

Encouraged, he sucked more of Dean’s thick cock down his throat, his fingers carding through the curls of hair on Dean’s powerful thighs. The muscles clenched beneath his fingertips as Dean pistoned his hips, thrusting his cock into Castiel’s mouth. Castiel took him easily, opening his throat and shutting down his lungs to take Dean as deep as he desired. Castiel didn’t need to breathe anyway. As Dean fucked his mouth, Castiel explored Dean’s body, watching his face and noting his peaks of arousal as Castiel squeezed his ass, fondled his balls, and pressed into that sweet spot just behind them that made Dean’s eyes fly open and down to meet Castiel’s gaze. He gasped and bit back a shout, his fingers tightening in Castiel's hair as his thrusts stuttered.

 

As Castiel’s mouth worked, Dean’s arousal blanketed Castiel in a heady cloud that sent his grace pulsing, his wings trembling in their confinement. His cock was uncomfortably thick, trapped still in his too-tight clothes, but his own comfort was the least of his concerns with Dean’s arousal rising higher and higher, and he needed it like he’d needed water when he was human. He pressed his thumb in hard to that sweet spot, rubbing in a slow, hard circle, his throat working over Dean’s cock, letting Dean fuck him just the way he wanted.

 

As Dean’s pleasure reached fever pitch, Castiel’s grace rose with it, caught on the ecstatic feel of it. He lost control of his wings, which burst wide, just in time to feel Dean’s orgasm flow through him and in him, like an electric wave that surged through Dean into Castiel, sending his feathers trembling and grace pulsing so hard he came with Dean. Dean’s cock throbbed in his throat as his own twitched in his pants, both spilling come in wave after wave, and he was helpless and undone, his wings thrashing as release swept through both of them. He no longer knew which emotions were Dean’s and which were his; his entire universe was warm bliss.

 

He bobbed his head until Dean hissed and shuddered and, oh so carefully, he released Dean’s twitching, spent cock from his mouth and pulled back to lick his dry lips, his eyes still locked on Dean’s. “I really enjoyed that.”

 

Dean let out a breathless chuckle, running his hands through Castiel's hair. “Yeah, me too.” He braced himself against the door and toed off his boots before stepping out of his jeans which were still puddled around his feet. He removed his socks and reached down with both hands to help Castiel stand, his eyes assessing him with a surge of warm affection. “Let's get you out of the rest of those clothes.” Dean loosened Castiel's tie and pulled it off over his head, stealing a brief kiss before he knelt to help Castiel out of his own pants. As Castiel helped him pull off his pants, Dean glanced up at him in awe. “Did you come just because I did?”

 

“Yes,” Castiel said, unabashedly. “I really enjoyed it. The feel of you, the taste of you… I had no idea giving oral sex could be like that.”

 

“Fuck that's hot,” Dean whispered as he pulled off Castiel's shoes and socks one at a time, then tugged down his pants and boxers together. He licked at the head of Castiel's soft cock which twitched under the sensation before he sucked it into his mouth, taking him to the root before pulling off again. “So… you said that you could give me as much sex as you want. Does that mean you don’t have a refractory period?”

“I’m not sure. I seem to recover more quickly than humans, although orgasms do drain my grace a bit...”

 

“So we gotta test it out,” Dean wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. “What would you like next?”

 

“However you want.”

 

Dean hummed happily and sucked Castiel's cock into his mouth again, a thrill of pleasure going through him, which was enough to send all the blood in Castiel’s body rushing to his cock. Dean loved sucking him. Dean loved sucking him. Even though he had spent himself so thoroughly just a moment before, his grace hummed happily at the feel of Dean’s enjoyment and, before long, his cock swelled to fill Dean’s throat. Forgetting himself for a moment, he thrust and Dean coughed and gagged.

“Sorry,” Castiel breathed, pulling out.

“It’s fine,” gasped Dean, his eyes huge and his freckled cheeks pink. “I gotta learn sometime.” With a wink up at Castiel, he licked up and down the shaft and then dropped lower to suck and nuzzle at Castiel’s delicate balls, the flesh there so sensitive, Castiel couldn’t help but moan, spreading his legs wider.

Pleasure washed over him in waves as Dean’s talented tongue worked over him, sliding up and down his cock. For someone who’d never done it before, Dean had cock sucking down to an art. He seemed to know exactly when to press soft kisses along the shaft, when to dive down to suck and lick the balls, and when to swipe his tongue along the frenulum. Castiel had never been held in such a state--hard and wanting, spitting precome, and just when his balls started tightening, already about to release another load, Dean would give him a cheeky grin and gently massage behind his balls, until his need lessened to a more manageable level. And then it would start all over again, Dean building him up again and again.

 

His wings ruffled with the need to soar; never had he been held in such a high state, even when singing in heaven. No wonder humans killed for this. Moaning, Castiel let his wings flutter lazily, contentedly, drifting in the feeling of being held in a state of extended pleasure. He ached, but in a good way.

 

Eventually, Dean decided to give mercy. He sucked down Castiel’s cock, his strong hands kneading Castiel’s ass as he bobbed his head, his eyes locked on Castiel’s, arousal rushing out like a raging waterfall.

 

The feel of Dean's libido rising higher and higher was oil on fire. Castiel’s wings beat hard, his grace bursting out, and he came down Dean's throat. Eyes flying open, Dean gave a little cough, but soon recovered, swallowing everything down, not pulling off until Castiel had emptied himself complete.

 

Castiel grabbed Dean by the wrists, yanking him up for a feverish kiss, tasting himself on Dean's lips. He broke it to say, “There's something we can try next that I think you would enjoy. Most men seem to like it, although it's not very common.”

 

Brow furrowed, anxiety starting to bubble up in him, Dean asked, “How many men have you been with?”

 

“Only you,” Castiel said, “but I've been watching humans since before they became humans. The bonobos actually have more frequent and more varietied sex than your species, although you are more creative when it comes to… accessories. I've observed you as well.”

 

“Well that’s not awkward at all.” Dean laughed.

 

“You sometimes longed for me during sex and I came when I heard your prayer if I could.” He tilted his head as he looked at Dean, putting together pieces of a puzzle that had never made sense before now. “Have you actually been thinking of me during sex? I thought you were wanting… a feeling of heaven, since that’s where I rebuilt your body after I pulled you from hell.”

 

“It wasn’t on purpose, at first,” Dean said, embarrassment rising. “Wait, you felt my… desire?”

 

Castiel smiled. “It’s happened more than a few times.”

 

“Oh, well, excuse me while I go jump off a cliff.”

 

Castiel shrugged. “You've nothing to be embarrassed about. The women weren't faking their pleasure. They often do.”

 

“No, they weren’t.” Dean grinned and winked, pride rising fast. His voice dropped low enough for Castiel to feel the rumble as he asked, “What else have you seen?”

 

“Nearly everything, I imagine. The most popular acts vary depending on culture and time period, but the most common ones I’ve observed between men were handjobs, frottage, intercrural, oral, and anal sex. I’d be happy to try out all of them with you.”

 

Dean raised an eyebrow. “Man, I will do anything you want right now.”

 

Pulling him towards the bed, Castiel grabbed a pillow and set it in the middle of the bed. He motioned for him to lie on it. “Get in a comfortable position, face down, with the pillow under your hips.”

 

Dean regarded the pillow for a moment then complied, spreading his legs out as he relaxed against the bed, trust drifting off of him in heady waves.

 

Castiel moved between Dean's legs, gently pushing them apart until he could fit fully between them. He took Dean's asscheeks in hand and spread them, exposing Dean's hole, lax balls, and soft cock. The puckered flesh still looked a bit puffy from their earlier activities.

 

Dean sucked in a breath with a hiss. “Cas?”

 

Holding Dean's cheeks apart, Castiel got into a comfortable position on his stomach and dragged his tongue over the delicate wrinkled flesh, back and forth, back and forth.

 

Dean held himself tense until about the third lick, then he relaxed into the mattress with a sigh.

 

As he had never been interested in observing sexual activity in detail as an angel, Castiel didn't quite know how rimming worked other than it involved his tongue. He tried out various techniques, alternating between stabbing his tongue into the delicate flesh and giving licks of varying speed and firmness. He kept close track of Dean's arousal, noting which movements elicited the most pleasure.

 

At first, Dean's muscles were clenched so tight Castiel was certain he'd have to once again use his grace to heal Dean should Dean be interested in more anal penetration, but as he licked and probed, he felt the tight ring of muscle soften at his ministrations. He moved his thumbs to either side of the whorled flesh and gently pressed while he licked until Dean opened for him and he could press his tongue inside Dean's warm heat.

 

Dean groaned at the gentle intrusion. “Mmm, that actually feels good.”

 

Castiel pulled back to suck his index finger into his mouth as he stroked up and down Dean's crack with his thumb, pausing to rub at the sensitive spot behind Dean's balls. Once his finger was good and wet, he rubbed Dean's rim in a slow circle until he felt the muscle relax enough to slip inside. He buried his finger to the knuckle in the tight heat of Dean's body. “How does that feel?”

 

Dean sucked in a breath. “Intimate.”

 

“I used a bit if grace to make certain I didn't hurt you when we had sex earlier, but I'd like to try this without grace. Would you like me to continue?”

 

“Y-yes.”

 

“Alright.” Keeping his finger buried in Dean, Castiel fetched the bowl of lube with his other hand. “From what I overheard, there's no such thing as too much lube.” He took the bowl and drizzled a fair amount of the contents down his finger as he gently pumped the digit until the glide was slick. His fingers worked the tight rim of flesh, pressing in gentle circles until he could feel the muscle soften enough to grant him more access. Carefully, he pushed in a second finger, pouring more lube as he did so. Dean's hole clamped tight around him, too tight, and he waited, his fingers held in a hot vice grip as he set the lube down and used his free hand to stroke Dean's lower back. Coconut oil spread across Dean’s skin with his fingers, leaving the skin glistening.

 

Castiel waited until he felt the muscles relax again and he could push in deeper. This time, he buried both fingers in to the hilt and pulled them back out again, watching with interest how Dean's body opened for him with each push and pull as he picked a steady pace.

 

His head buried, sweat gathering on the nape of his neck, Dean didn't make a sound other than his labored breathing. Castiel would've thought that he’d fucked it up, except Dean's arousal blared so bright, the warmth of it sank into his grace.

 

Had he added enough oil? He didn't know; just that the sounds of his fingers plunging into Dean were obscene. He twisted his fingers around, searching for the prostate, and when he found it, Dean’s ass tightened alarmingly as a low moan escaped his lips. Better to wait until Dean was ready before trying that again.

 

As his fingers pumped, he massaged Dean's tight balls with his other hand, cupping them in his fingers and gently rubbing them in their sac. There was so much he wanted to do to and with Dean, but forced himself to go slow. After all, he wouldn't be able to judge which part Dean liked best or what caused him discomfort if he tried too many new things at once.

 

Humans often talked to each other during the act, but Castiel hadn't paid attention to what they said and had no idea what should be mentioned, if anything. Not that he could think much in words with his cock full and his grace throbbing from the feel of Dean's building pleasure.

 

As Dean's body relaxed, his hips started pushing up to meet him, moving and shifting until Castiel's fingers found the prostate again. This time, Dean stayed loose enough for the glide to stay slick as Castiel pumped his fingers. Fascinated by the sounds he was drawing from Dean’s throat, Castiel tried various ways of touching it until he found the perfect thrust and slide of his fingers that made Dean groan and gasp and squirm, his cock smearing against the sheets.

 

Castiel closed his hand over Dean's cock, stroking him languidly as he worked his ass, until Dean was moaning loudly into the pillow and fisting the sheets. Now that he'd found the perfect place, he kept it up, hands falling into a similar rhythm so that he pulled with each push and pushed with each pull. Dean soon crested the edge again, arousal deep and bright, coalescing to that burning point.

 

“Do you want to orgasm now?”

 

“Please, please,” Dean moaned.

 

Castiel kept up the pace, giving Dean's cock a little twist and squeeze at the end of each stroke, his slick hands sliding easily on him and in him. His grace thrummed in sympathy as Dean's arousal rose and rose, seemingly filling the air itself in a thick haze. He let it flow through him and around him as he guided Dean up and over. Dean's emotions shifted just as his hole clenched tight around Castiel's fingers and his cock pumped in Castiel's hand, and Castiel felt Dean's release so intimately it might have well been his own, sweet and warm and relaxing.

 

Slowing his fingers to a gentle stop, he carefully removed them from Dean, cleaned them, and planted soft kisses up Dean's back, tasting salty sweat as he crawled up him. He kissed his way until he reached Dean's lips and slid into place beside him, his fingers stroking the short hairs on the back of Dean's head as he kissed him softly, his lips working how Dean had taught him.

 

Dean’s breath came ragged as he melted into Castiel, his eyes drifting closed and humming contentedly. “That was awesome. You are awesome.” He kissed Castiel again, all sweetness and love. “This is awesome.”

 

Castiel ran his fingers through Dean's hair and down his back. “It is,” he agreed. He pressed his hard cock against Dean's body, enjoying the feel of it resting against the warmth of Dean's skin.

 

Dean's hand traced Castiel's shoulder, arm, waist, and then down to lightly stroke his cock between them. “Wanna get off again?”

 

Castiel couldn’t help but moan at the feel of Dean's strong, calloused fingers curling around his cock. “I'd like to try anal intercourse again if you are interested.”

 

“Oh I'm interested. Maybe don't call it 'intercourse’ though.”

 

“What should I call it?”

 

A wide grin flashed so bright Castiel smiled at its beauty. “Just call it sex, Cas.”

 

“I'd like to try anal sex then,” Castiel said, rubbing his thumb over the scruff on Dean's jaw. “I'd like to feel your body hot and tight around my cock.”

 

Dean closed his eyes, a look of bliss sweeping over his features. “I'm absolutely down for that.”

 

Using his grace to easily flip Dean like a rag doll, Castiel said, “I want to see your face as I penetrate you.” He straddled Dean, his cock pressing into Dean's stomach as he bent down to kiss him again. “I'd like to orgasm inside you and feel your muscles clench around me as you orgasm.”

 

“Yeah well...” Dean took Castiel's cock tight in his fist, lips turned up in a challenging smirk. “You’re gonna have to work to get me going again. I am human. Think you can get me off a third time?”

“Of course.”

 

“‘Of course,’” Dean echoed before he threw back his head in laughter. Castiel didn’t understand what was so funny about his certainty, but Dean seemed to like it, so he shut him up by kissing him. Dean’s hands grabbed his shoulders, squeezing tightly as Dean kissed him back, languid and soft, but full of desire

 

Vessels seemed so insignificant and confining. Castiel could barely stand it. He wanted to touch everything and every part of Dean at once. Wanted to twin his grace with Dean’s soul they way they had when Castiel had pulled him from hell. Instead, he settled for slowly moving down Dean's body, starting with Dean's mouth, which he peppered with kisses before shifting downward, his tongue tasting Dean's pulse as he sampled the skin on his neck. Dean gave a soft moan of approval and Castiel tried using his teeth, lightly at first and then biting harder, sinking into the thick skin at the juncture of Dean's neck and shoulder.

 

Dean gasped and moaned, tilting his head to give Castiel better access.

 

Inflamed by Dean's reaction, Castiel sucked and bit at the delicate flesh, noting that a little pain seemed to heighten Dean's pleasure. He could've stayed there for hours, but his cock was heavy on Dean's stomach and so he slipped down farther, his hands roaming over Dean's broad shoulders and down his thick biceps, feeling the powerful muscles clench under his hands. He shifted further down, nipping at Dean's collarbone as his hands brushed over Dean's nipples, hard pebbled flesh brushing against his hands.

 

Dean sucked in a breath and arched his back a little, pleasure already waking in him despite his spent cock.

 

Interesting . Castiel paused, brushing his thumbs back and forth over the nubs as he kissed his way down to lick at one, his thumb matching his tongue in movement. Dean let out a soft hum of pleasure, his chest rising and falling with his heavy breath.

 

Watching Dean's emotions closely, Castiel tried various ways of playing with the sensitive flesh, testing different licks and flicks of his tongue as well as using his teeth to scrape and lightly bite the now-swollen nubs. Once he'd figured out the exact movements of his mouth Dean liked best, he lifted his mouth, blew cool air across the pebbled flesh, and shifted over to try out the actions on the other nipple, his fingers working to replicate his mouth as best he could.

 

He switched back and forth between the nipples, alternating which one he took into his mouth as his fingers left Dean's chest to run down his sides and scratch through the thick hair between his thighs, careful to avoid Dean's filling cock as Dean parted his legs more and more with each pass of his hands. He didn't need to look down to know that Dean was ready for him again; that perfect mix of desire and need.

 

Castiel's own cock hung swollen and thick between his legs, his balls drawn up tight and ready to release his load deep inside Dean and, as much as he enjoyed keeping Dean in this state of need and ecstasy, he couldn’t wait with Dean spread out before him so invitingly. He grabbed the bowl of lube off the bedside table and poured it over his fingers and cock, covering both in the oil. Pressing two fingers together, he rubbed against Dean's rim in circles, until he was invited in again. He pumped his fingers in and out, the slide easy. “Are you ready?”

 

Dean took deep breaths and nodded. “Yeah.”

 

Castiel withdrew his fingers and slicked himself up again. His cock was quite a bit bigger than his fingers and his practical side warned that he might need to spend more time on preparation, but fuck it. He wanted Dean. He wanted him now. He pressed the blunt head of his cock against Dean's hole and pushed in, feeling the tight rim stretch open for him.

 

“Oh, God,” Dean gasped, blowing out short breaths.

 

Feeling Dean tighten almost painfully around him, Castiel paused, using his grace to keep his lower body rigid, not even breathing as he waited for Dean to adjust to the stretch of his cock. He ran his fingers through the hair on Dean's thighs, admiring the clench of Dean's muscles in his abdomen, chest, his arms, his legs.

 

“Go,” breathed Dean. “Go.”

 

“Are you sure?” asked Castiel. Discomfort wafted from Dean. If there was pain, Dean had it buried.

“Yeah, go.” Dean shifted his hips, sinking Castiel’s cock inside his body.

 

Castiel couldn’t hold back. He buried himself completely as he savoured the feel of Dean holding him in such an intimate way. Once he was fully settled inside, he shifted on his knees until he was perfectly positioned and placed his hands on Dean's shoulders, pushing him into the bed as he held him in place. “Ready?”

 

“Fuck yeah.” Dean wrapped his legs around Castiel’s hips

 

Castiel held Dean firmly in place as he pulled back almost all the way out, until he could feel Dean's rim catching on the head of his cock. He snapped his hips in, sinking himself fully again. Last time had been a frenzied rut, but this time he needed to savor Dean.

 

Dean sucked in a breath only to have Castiel knock it out of him again. “Fuck, Cas. More.”

 

His hips snapping hard, his concentration on Dean's emotions to make certain he didn't accidentally hurt him, Castiel drove into Dean again and again, pulling nearly all the way out before thrusting in again, burying himself to the root with each pounding stroke.

 

Dean took hold of Castiel's forearms and held on for dear life, his breath stuttering with every thrust, his hard cock bobbing between them.

 

Castiel had never known pleasure like this. Not even as an angel in heaven. He’d thought the first experience with Dean was heaven, but this--He was in Dean, feeling the warmth of his body as Dean's arousal flowed through him, hot against his grace. His wings shot out, his feathers rippling as his grace surged within him and out of him. He wanted, needed, to come, but not without Dean, so he ignored the desperate need of his cock, focused solely on driving Dean higher and higher.

 

The lights flickered and Dean stared in awe at the ceiling above them, his eyes tracking movement. Vaguely, Castiel realized the shadow of his wings must be visible as his grace poured through them. He couldn’t pull them in now, not when they surged with energy.


“Oooh, Cas,” Dean prayed, mouth wide open and eyes glassy.

 

As much as he wanted to blow his load, he forced himself to stay steady, using his grace to keep himself from slamming into Dean with abandon. “Are you good? Do you need more lubricant?” His wings fluttered behind him, his limbs trembling, his grace shivering from his self-restraint.

 

Dean nodded, eyes rolling back in his head briefly. “I'm good. You're good. It's good. Don't stop.”

 

“I might get a little over-enthusiastic,” he warned.

 

“I trust you, Cas. You're not going to hurt me. Fuck me.” He grabbed Castiel's arms with rough hands and thrust back against him as best he could.

 

Encouraged, Castiel pistoned his hips again, soon catching back up to his previous pace and surpassing it, his wings beating with each slam of his cock.

 

Dean's eyes flitted between Castiel's face and the ceiling. grace and electricity and cackled, filling the room with energy.

“Cas,” Dean gasped, his eyes squeezing shut, bright red spreading down his neck and splashing across his chest. “Cas, I'm so close. Fuck!”

 

Castiel didn’t need to be told. He could feel Dean surging again, getting close to the edge, and increased his pace, trying to angle his hips to make certain he hit Dean just right. His own lust was a second thought to Dean's. His cock throbbed, his grace wild and sharp, demanding release, but he ignored the wants of his body, focused solely on Dean's body, Dean's pleasure, Dean's need, Dean.

 

Ever since he'd pulled Dean from hell and felt the incandescent blaze of his soul, everything in his life had been led by that refrain: Dean, Dean, Dean . Dean was the reason he'd fallen, the reason he'd unleashed the Leviathans, the reason he'd died, and the reason he now lived.

 

“Touch me,” Dean moaned.

 

Castiel lifted his hands off Dean's shoulders, dismayed to see bruises blossoming on the pale, freckled skin. He steadied himself with one hand planted next to Dean's shoulder and snaked the other down between them to clutch Dean's thick cock in a tight grip. He let his hips do the work, driving Dean into his hand with each hard thrust, his world, his focus Dean's face.

 

Pleasure slammed into him in heavy waves. Dean cried, “Cas!”

 

He tried to control himself, but Dean's ecstasy as he neared orgasm was too thick, too rich. It ignited his grace, already untamed and electric. Castiel jerked his hips helplessly, his hand pulling without finesse, his limbs barely responding as his wings beat hard. The lights in the room all burst as he followed Dean over the edge, tumbling falling, pleasure bursting in him with the force of a supernova. Dean pulsed in his hand and around his cock, muscles contracting, his pleasure shifting from the sharp peak of the edge of orgasm to the soft warm glow of release. Tension drained from both of them, leaving only a rich warmth full of satisfaction.

 

Castiel carefully pulled out his cock and collapsed on the bed beside Dean, his muscles trembling, and his grace resonating wildly as if he'd just fought a battle instead of had sex.

 

“Dean!” Sam called out from the hallway as he hurried to their door. “Dean, all of the lights are out!”

 

Dean’s chest heaved. “Yeah I know. It's okay. It was just, uh. It was Cas.”

 

“I'm sorry, Sam,” Castiel calmly called out. “We aren’t under attack. I released too much grace by accident. Do you need help fixing the lights?”

 

After a pause, Sam said, “No. I'll, uh, find the breaker box.” His footsteps padded away.

 

“That probably won't--” Dean broke off. “Ah whatever.”

 

As his eyes adjusted to the dark of the room, Castiel turned on his side to face Dean and pressed his fingers to Dean's shoulder and cleaned them both of sweat, lube, and come. “We should do that again--without the surge. I'll learn how to control it.”

 

Dean caressed the side of Castiel's face with one hand. “Oh, we'll do it again, surge or no surge. Just not tonight, I'm exhausted. You broke me.” Dean wiggled his body until he was under the covers and held his arms out to either side, beckoning Castiel to his arms.

 

Castiel joined him easily, their legs slotting together, their bodies fitting perfectly against each other. “Would you like me to stay all night?” he asked, content with whatever Dean chose.

 

Dean kissed his forehead. “Would you?”

 

“Of course.”

 

Dean settled himself deep into the mattress, his arms wrapped around Castiel. Within minutes he was fast asleep.

Chapter Text

Dean awoke with the pale sunlight peeking through the sheer curtains and hitting him right in the face. He squeezed his eyes tight and stirred against the warm body behind him, bare arms tightening around his naked waist. His eyes flew open and for a moment he was confused by the strength that embraced him, the masculinity of the arms around him, and then he remembered the night before. Remembered Cas, remembered how he loved Dean back and showed him in new and wonderful ways. It hadn't been a dream; it had been real, what they shared something tangible and magnificent. He stroked Cas's arm with one hand, knowing he wasn't asleep. “Morning,” he said, voice raspy and groggy.

 

“Good morning,” Cas said as he gave a soft press of lips to the back of Dean’s neck. “Would you like me to make you coffee and bacon?”

 

Dean groaned happily and rolled over to face his lover. “Those may be most beautiful words you've ever said to me.”

 

Cas gave Dean an indulgent kiss before he left the bed, reaching for his clothes. Dean watched him dress, already missing the amazing body disappearing behind rather bland clothes. Castiel disappeared through the door and Dean fell back asleep, waking to the smell of cooking bacon and fresh coffee wafted into the room. He rolled out of bed and pulled on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. When he emerged, he found Cas sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee. In front of the chair beside him sat a plate of bacon and buttered toast, as well as a fresh, steaming mug of coffee. From where Dean stood, Castiel looked naked, and he arched his eyebrows at how blase Castiel was about nudity, but as he walked farther into the kitchen, he the little blue Speedo came into view.

 

Dean couldn't help but take a moment to admire Castiel's body. Under all those nerd clothes were broad shoulders, thick biceps, and powerful thighs he wanted to bury himself in. They had time for that later, but in the meantime, Dean couldn't stop himself from running his fingers along Castiel’s bare, wide shoulders on his way to the empty chair. “Thanks, Cas, this looks amazing.” He took a long drink of coffee, bold and perfect. “Planning to do some swimming?”

 

“Sam and Jack are already at the dock,” Cas said. “I figured you'd want to join them after breakfast.”

 

“Sounds fun,” Dean said, chomping into a slice of perfectly cooked bacon. Sam had taught Cas well. Dean ate his breakfast, stealing glances at Cas every other bite or drink of coffee, just to assure himself he wasn't still dreaming, still stuck in a world of Michael’s creation . “This is real,” he told himself. “You've escaped.”

 

When Dean finished with breakfast, Castiel said, “I'll get lunch ready.” He grabbed a carton of beers and a pack of lunch meat from the fridge, setting both on the table. He stepped back, cocked his head as he examined the food, then fetched mustard and mayo from the fridge along with a head of romain that hadn't yet been washed or cut. Looking at what he'd selected, he nodded to himself, satisfied.

 

Biting back his laughter, Dean couldn't help but grin at the sight and Castiel looked at him and smiled. “I thought we could have a picnic.”

 

In Michael's world, everything had been almost cookie cutter perfect. There were monsters and hunts, but that Castiel would've made an amazing lunch. This Cas was different, real, and far from perfect. In the dream world, Sam had better taste in music, Jack didn't ask to use the bathroom a half hour after they got on the road, and that Castiel had never fumbled with basic things the way the real one did. In a way, that made this one more perfect.

 

“Let's go,” said Dean, grabbing the beer and chuckling to himself at the mental image of Sam's face when he saw their 'lunch’.

 

As Dean and Castiel spread out their towels on the dock, Sam and Jack spotted them from the other end of the lake and swam back over. Jack had only learned to swim a week before, but he beat Sam back, climbing out of the water, onto the dock with even breath as if he hadn't swum half a football field.

 

“Come join us,” he said, before he jumped in again.

 

“Watch this.” Dean shot Cas a smirk and a wink and ran down to the end of the dock to do a cannonball into the lake, about four feet away from Sam, who he drenched in water, receiving an angry shout in return.

 

Cas jumped in shortly behind him, disappearing beneath the water. When he didn't come back up for a full minute, Sam yelled out to Dean, “Does he even know how to swim?”

 

A few seconds later, Castiel emerged spitting water. “Swimming is harder than it looks.”

 

Dean laughed so hard, he could barely keep treading water. When he recovered, he looked out across the lake and spotted an outcropping of rocks. He nodded in that direction. “Sammy, remember when we were kids we used to jump off rocks like that and Dad would call us dumbasses? Wanna relive some old times?”

 

“Race you!” Sam took off swimming for the rocks with a good ten foot head start.

 

“Son of a bitch, you cheating giant!” Dean yelled and took off after Sam.

 

Sam won, although barely, and Dean had the pride of knowing he would've kicked Sam's ass had the race been fair. As they climbed up the rock face, Sam casually said, “So, you and Cas, huh?”

 

“How'd you guess?”

 

Sam pulled a bitch face. “He told me what you were using the coconut oil for.”

 

Dean shrugged. “Sometimes you gotta improvise, Sammy.”

 

Making a noise of revulsion, Sam shook his head, then said evenly, “Don't forget he's my best friend, too. So don't fuck it up, 'cuz you're stuck with him no matter what.”

 

As they reached the top of the rock face, Dean said, “If I fuck it up, I hope you'll kick my ass.”

 

“Oh, I will,” Sam promised before he made a running jump off the cliff.

 

Jumping after him, Dean hit the water hard enough to hurt, air punched out of his lungs as he plunged deep into the darkness. As his lungs burned, he swam to the surface, legs kicking hard. When he reached the top, he breathlessly laughed at the sight of Sam sputtering water and shaking hair out of his face like a wet dog. “Dude, that was awesome.”

 

“I think I actually hit bottom. Again?” Sam didn't wait for an answer, but started swimming for the outcropping. They jumped a few more times, laughing heartily like they hadn’t in a very long time. Dean started a race back to the cottage, beating Sam this time. He dragged himself out of the water to find that not only had Cas and Jack brought down more beer, but Jack had thoughtfully turned the lunch meat into hearty sandwiches, with potato chips on Dean's plate, and a side salad for Sam.

 

Dean twisted open the bottle of beer that Cas handed him and took a long pull from the bottle. “Thanks,” he said and sat down on a towel to enjoy not one but two heaping turkey sandwiches with cheese, tomato, extra onions, lettuce, mayo, and mustard.

 

On one side sat Castiel, looking out at the water with a warm smile on his face. On his other side, Sam complimented Jack on their lunches and Jack beamed at him, his smile so wide, Dean couldn’t help but grin himself. This was what Michael had given him, but it was real now. He couldn’t ask for a better heaven than this. It wasn't perfect. Nothing could ever be perfect, but it was more than enough.