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Tender

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“You need to put this on.” The nurse placed a hospital gown on the exam table. “You can go ahead and keep your underwear on.”

She was either too happy and bubbly to notice how nervous Dean was, or she’d decided that not addressing it would be best.

“The doctor will be with you in a few minutes.”

She sent him a big smile as she walked out of the room.

While silently cursing every step that had let him here, he took of his shirt. He didn’t wear a t-shirt under. It’s been a few weeks since he’d decided that pulling that over his head wasn’t worth it. Sam had caught him struggling with everyday stuff, and had suggested that he should see this doctor who used acupuncture in his praxis. Dean still wasn’t sure how Sam had managed to make him visit this hellhole.

He put the gown on and contemplated sitting on the chair. It would take work, and more so to get up, but it would only take a few minutes more of standing around before his back would start flaring up.

Thankfully the doctor entered before he had to think more about it.

“Mr. Winchester?”

The nervousness paralyzed Dean’s lungs. He swallowed and turned around, trying to figure out whether to speak or smile first. He didn’t manage to do either.

The doctor closed the door behind him and came over. “Dean Winchester?”

With his gaze, for some reason, glued to the doctor’s piercing blue eyes he finally managed clear his throat.

“Yes. I’m Dean.”

“I’m Dr. Novak.”

Dean reached out to shake the doctor’s hand but regretted as soon as he realized that the doctor wasn’t letting go.

“I guess you’re normally stronger than this.” The frown on the man’s forehead didn’t reveal if he was worried or just assessing the situation. “Please squeeze my fingers as much as you can.”

It didn’t hurt to move his hand or arm, below shoulder height, but he was weaker than he had been before the accident, and the last month it had gotten worse.

After Dean had tried the other hand too, with close to the same result, the doctor nodded to himself and noted something on the paperwork the nurse had left for him. “Okay. Let’s see if we can figure out what is going on in that back.”

He rubbed his hands with sanitizer and stood on the other side of the exam table.

“Take off your jeans and shoes and lie down on your front.”

Dean had hoped that his pants could stay on; that the nurse had just been too hung up on protocol, but that hope was gone.

It was a struggle to get everything off his feet, but he would rather support himself on the table than sit down and maybe not be able to get up by himself.

“Do you need me to help you?”

Dean shook his head without looking up. “No, I’m good. Thanks.”

If it had been Sam or even the nurse, he would have given some sharp response, making sure they knew that he definitely didn’t need help. Now he was surprised by the soft, patient voice that came out of him. Maybe it was because he needed to be on the good side with this man, he did have needles somewhere in here, but that didn’t explain why he felt awkward. He wasn’t entirely sure that it felt like this, but he might be blushing.

The pants and shoes dropped to the floor and the doctor reached over the table for his arm, not asking if Dean needed help getting up.

His upper back ached when he tugged his hands under his head. He wasn’t going to put his face into the hole in the table. Not now. Not before he had figured this man out and knew what was going to happen.

“Mr. Winchester.”

“Dean…”

He didn’t know where that came from, but it felt wrong to be addressed by his last name in this situation.

“Okay. Dean…” He took the wrist closest to him and Dean didn’t even fight him as he pulled Dean’s hand out from under head. “Lie your arms down your side and look down through the headrest.”

“What…? What are…?” Dean wasn’t sure how to ask without sounding pathetic and scared, but the insecurity had just made it so much clearer than any question could have.

“There’s no need to worry. I won’t do anything we haven’t agreed on first.”

Dean would never trust anyone he’d just met and especially not a doctor, but the subtle rumbles in the doctor’s hand, which carried the low notes of the doctor’s voice to Dean’s arm, somehow seemed soothing. Bit by bit Dean loosened up and let the doctor place both arms down his sides, and when Dean didn’t do it himself, the doctor sent him a smile before he lifted his head and turned it to face the floor. He should have done that earlier, his neck relaxed and the soreness in his upper back almost disappeared. If he concentrated very hard, he was sure he could breathe slow enough that his lower back pain would be tolerable. He needed a table like this at home.

“Can you lift your feet from the table when your legs are straight?”

“No.” Dean was not even going to try that.

The doctor put a hand under his knee and one on the back of his thigh. “One at a time then?”

“I can’t.”

“Please try to do so and stop when it gets uncomfortable.”

Dean took a deep breath and tried lifting his leg, he felt the muscle on the back of his thigh contract under the doctor’s hand but as soon as it pulled in something in his hip he let go with a fast exhale. The man seemed satisfied with the not-moving-movement and moved his hands to the other leg and asked him to do the same thing.

“Okay, I will touch your neck and back, only with my hands. Tell me if anything is uncomfortable or hurts.”

The doctor’s hands were warm when he placed one on each side of Dean’s neck. A thumb firmly moved over the hairline on the left side and all the small hairs stood up and sent a wave over his entire head.

Dean jumped as the doctor did the same on the right side. He tensed and his entire back flared up.

“Easy now.” The man lightened his touch.

“Well, that wasn’t comfortable.”

“I see that. You’re more knotted up than I thought. Try to breathe easy; I will be extremely careful.”

Dean took a deep a breath as his back would let him. “Okay.”

There was hardly any pressure from the hands when the moved slowly out Dean’s shoulders. Some spots were sore, some outright hurt, but most of the time Dean was just waiting for the pain to hit. It was difficult holding still. His palms were turned upwards and he had nothing to hold on to. Not that it would do much good, it would only hurt more if he grabbed tight onto something.

“Dean. Remember to talk to me. You’re tensing up and I can’t see if it’s from pain or because you are expecting it.”

“It’s not that bad. More on the right though.”

“Okay. I’ll examine the left side first. But you need to tell me how it feels.”

The hand on his right shoulder disappeared and on the left side the touch was now only from the doctor’s fingertips. He walked his fingers over Dean’s shoulder blade and slowly made his way to the muscles next to the spine.

“There.” The doctor’s touch was so subtle that Dean managed to lie still.

“Is that hurting you?”

“Not as bad as the neck but yeah.”

The hand moved out under the shoulder blade and it wasn’t comfortable by far, but it didn’t hurt. When the fingers had walked over his ribs and up under his arm they let go and came back on his right shoulder. Dean took a deep breath and reminded himself that the doctor’s touch was almost non-existing and that it was nothing compared to living with this over the last weeks.

Slowly, Dean learned that this was doable. He’d tell the doctor where it hurt and if he’d accidentally tensed or recoiled a bit, the doctor would wait for him to relax before continuing. The shoulder wasn’t too bad and the touches over his shoulder blade hadn’t hurt. He’d had to tell the man to ease up when moving under the shoulder blade though. The muscles over his ribs were sore, but not painful.

A deep breath filled Dean’s lungs when the hand was gone, but he couldn’t help holding it in when two fingers touched his neck on either side of his spine. They moved down slowly, step by step along the chain of bones, lightly touching on every muscle on the way.

Dean closed his eyes and tried not to expect it to hurt. Under any other circumstances the feeling of that touch would have been amazing, but right now it was getting unpleasant fast.

“Wait.”

The doctor stopped. “Does it hurt?”

“No… ehm.” Dean had never been afraid of pain, but if it could be prevented there was no need to go through with it. “Not yet, but it will.”

“Change of tactics then. I won’t press on your back, only touch your skin, but you need to tell me where it would have hurt when I get there.”

“Sure. But don’t…” He stopped himself. This was humiliating. He was not going to beg this man for anything.

“Don’t worry Dean; I just need to know where it’s worst. I won’t have to do anything else.”

“Okay, Doc.”

“Please don’t call me Doc. This first-name basis seems a little one-sided. You can call me Castiel if you want.”

“Okay then, Castiel.”

Dean had never heard that name before. At least it would be uncomplicated for the secretary to get him to the right doctor next time. Why was he thinking about next time? He’d promised Sam that he’d go; one time, and one time only. He still hated the thought of needles and he still hated doctors, but maybe not all of them.

The two featherlight fingers slowly continued the route down Dean’s back.

“Right side.” The pain was there constantly, but manageable when not touched and the light touch didn’t provoke any added pain.

Castiel continued towards the narrow of Dean’s back. It was there the real pain was. Everything else was just sore and tense. The accident had left him with pain coming and going from day one. The last months it had been more constant and the rest of his back had just adopted the pain.

“Left.”

The fingers had made it to the waistline of his boxers but Dean was more occupied with letting Castiel know where he should be extra careful. Two fingers on each side moved outward along the edge of the fabric and Dean closed his eyes in relief that his spine was left alone. The doctor pressed a little heavier into the muscles on Dean’s lower back and moved up only half an inch.

“Shit!”

Dean tensed so his knees bent and tore his lower back in half when they landed back on the table. A heavy hand was on his thigh and the other offered itself up to be crushed by Dean’s, instead of the edge of the table. Dean’s other hand grabbed the headrest and he turned his head to Castiel.

“I’m sorry, Dean.”

“Cas…! What the hell?!”

Dean did his best to control his breathing. The sooner he could lie still, the sooner he could get back to feeling almost no pain.

“I’m very sorry.” The doctor pulled over a small chair and put his other hand on top of their joined ones. “It wasn’t my intent to hurt you. Your lower back muscles are overworked like I’ve never seen before. No wonder your upper back are overcompensating.”

Dean was still holding the table with one hand and didn’t even think it was weird to hold Castiel’s hands. His breathing was almost back to normal and the man with the kind blue eyes seemed to be waiting for him to get ready to speak.

“Overcompensating? Wait… how bad is worse than you’ve seen?”

“Not bad enough that it can’t be helped.”

The smile accompanying  Castiel’s deep calm voice made Dean sure; this time he was blushing.

“The accident left you with pain in your lower back and even though you may never get rid of that completely, you need to take care if it. You need exercises to build up the right muscles around it. Now the biggest muscles have taken charge, first the ones in your lower back and then around your spine and in your neck and shoulders, and because it’s not their job, they’re overworked and knotted.”

It made sense, but still it was hard to believe that all that pain was only tensed up muscles.

“I can’t do any exercises.”

Castiel, smiled again and gave Dean’s hand a small squeeze. “I know. We need to get you loosened up first. A thorough back massage would be a good idea, eventually.”

Dean exhaled; reassured that the doctor didn’t think that it was the way to go now. Castiel let go of Dean and put his hands in his lap, pushing the chair a bit back so he could straighten his back and still see Dean’s face.

“I can imagine that you’ve been living on painkillers for quite some time. Am I right?”

“You sure are.” Dean had been taken so much that he, just to be safe, had cut back on the alcohol.

“In your case it might take a few times, but I can give you pain relief with acupuncture.”

Dean knew it could very well end up going this way, still he grabbed the edge of the table in front of him too. His heart suddenly beat faster and his eyes were wide open studying the man in front of him.

“Dean.” Castiel’s hand was back on top of Dean’s. “You came to me because I can do this; because nothing else has helped, right?”

“Yeah. Well, I was kinda forced to go.”

“You’re not the first one in here who doesn’t like needles.” A calm heavy thumb rubbed the back of Dean’s hand before the doctor got up and walked across the room. “They are tiny and most of them you probably won’t feel.”

“Most of them?!”

“I’m not making a pincushion out of you.” Castiel put a few small packages on a table next to Dean’s knees. “We won’t do that many the first time.”

Half of Dean wanted to shout at the man and leave the room, but the other half had succumbed completely to the trustworthy voice. Dean was following every of the doctor’s moves as he covered Dean’s legs with a thin blanket. Dean wasn’t scared. He tried to convince himself that he wasn’t, and at the same time he tried to figure out why the promise of more visits somehow pleased him.

Castiel rubbed his hands with sanitizer again and asked Dean to turn his face down and Dean silently and slowly complied.

“You can keep your arms bent like that if it’s more comfortable.”

“Thanks. I think so.” Dean shifted a bit so he was able to relax without his arms dropping off the table, while still making sure his hands were on the edges if he needed something to squeeze.

“I will tell you where first. I won’t surprise you with it.”

Dean nodded into the table but froze as he heard the first package being opened.

“The first go here.” A tip of a finger barely touched the middle of his lower back. “Are you okay, Dean?”

“I’m good.” Dean tightened his grip on the table. He wasn’t good; he had to remind himself to take every breath and small pearls of sweat were emerging on his forehead.

“Breathe.”

A small pinch startled him, but it never became more than that and the doctor’s hands were gone in a second. He was sure the next one was going to be worse, since it was closer to the place that had almost sent him flying of the table a few minutes ago, but he barely felt that one go in. The next two were nothing.

“That’s four on your lower back.” Castiel was working on another package. “High on your back too. That will be enough for the first time. It can make you tired, we would like to avoid muscle weakness too.”

“Ha!” Dean shook his head as much as the table would let him, which wasn’t much. “You really think I can get weaker?”

The almost silent chuckle from Castiel, made Dean breath a bit deeper. It was weird how much power that voice had over him, even with that small of a sound. That doctor was practicing a whole new level of bedside manner.

Like the other times, Castiel touched his skin just enough that Dean would feel it. “Here.”

Dean hummed in approval, breathing deeply to be sure to lie still.

“Ouch!” Dean lifted his head and heaved in air through his nose. “What was that? An icepick?!”

Castiel’s hands were on the outer parts of Dean’s shoulders. The only place where he could firmly steady Dean without hurting him.

“They are all the same size. It’s the ones that hurts you need the most.”

Dean calmed himself and layed back down. “I guess I was going to fall apart if I didn’t get that one then.”

Castiel held on a few more seconds and then slowly loosened his hands and let one of them brush unhurriedly down Dean’s upper arm before he let go.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t think the next will be easier.”

Dean closed his eyes, hating everything about this. Everything but the hand moving between the table and Dean’s, squeezing it lightly. For a second that was the only thing he felt, but then the light touch of a finger was back.

“Breathe.”

It was quick, under second, but Dean was sure he broke something in Castiel’s hand. Slightly panting, he turned his head and looked at the doctor who had already sat down in eyes-height.

“That wasn’t fun.”

Castiel smiled. He seemed actually relieved. “I can imagine. But now you just have to relax for half an hour and then you can get out of here.”

It didn’t seem like Castiel was leaving just now and Dean could lie here alone just fine, but Dean’s hand still held on a little tighter.

“You’re my last patient today, so I can stay here if you want to sleep a while… you know, to make sure you don’t fall off the table.”

Dean was blushing for the third freaking time that day, but it didn’t matter, for Castiel did too.

“How often do I need to do this?”

“We will have to see. I would suggest two or three times a week at first.”

That was a lot. Not only the needles, he still didn’t care for those, but the drive and the time too.

Castiel moved a few inches closer and tilted his head so he and Dean could get better eye-contact. “I noticed your address on your chart. It’s on my commute. We don’t normally make house calls but in this case, I can make an exception.”

The look piercing blue eyes looked deep into Dean’s and he felt suddenly shy, but there was no doubt; that was an offer he wasn’t going to turn down.

“That would make anything so much easier. Thank you.” He squeezed the doctor’s hand and unknowingly, bit his lower lip.

“You seem tired. I will drive you home then; to make sure I can find it.”

Dean could feel his heart beating against the table. It didn’t seem like it was going to be too hard to find excuses for how he would see the doctor after the appointments wasn’t needed, but he needed to know how long he had.

“When do I change this needle stuff in for a massages? I guess that’s not your job.”

Castiel put his other hand on top of Dean’s. “I’m sure I can make another exception.” He leaned in to talk quieter. “I’ll might help with the exercise too.”

Chapter Text

“Dr. Novak? Pleased to meet you.” Sam reached out and shook the doctors hand as he welcomed him into the house.

“Castiel. And you must be Dean’s brother Sam.”

Sam took the Castiel’s bag while he hung his jacket on the hook on the wall. “Thank you for seeing him here. I’m not sure he could manage the drive today.”

Suddenly worried, Castiel looked questionable at Sam. It was only yesterday he’d driven Dean home after his first appointment. There had been no indication that his pain would get worse.

Sam picked up on the look and continued. “He felt great when he came home yesterday and decided to work a few hours in the garage. He’s been falling behind on work. Of course he didn't listen to me.”

Castiel remembered from Dean’s file that he was a car-mechanic and that he hadn’t been able to work as much this last month.

Sam lead Castiel into the living room. “After that he started cleaning the entire house. He never does that, and his back was clearly giving him trouble. I don’t know what had gotten into him. He didn’t answer when I called him for breakfast. Now, he’s never been a morning person, but he always answers with words, not with hisses and loud sighs.”

It was clear that Dean hadn’t followed his order and stayed calm, and Castiel had a strong feeling that the cleaning had something to do with his visit today.

“I’ll better go see to him then.” Castiel took the bag from Sam and looked around the impeccably clean room. “Where is he?”

Sam gestured towards the door on the other side of the room. “First door on the left.”

The door opened and Dean took a small step into the living room, less than casually placing his hand on the doorframe.

“Dr. Cas. Right on time.” Dean smiled but was breathing too fast for Castiel’s comfort.

Castiel walked towards Dean, studying shaking shoulders and his pale skin glistening from a thin layer of sweat. “Dean, you shouldn’t be standing. You’re in pain.”

“I’m good.” Dean’s eyes blinked slowly and he swallowed, what looked to be only air. “I’m a bit sore, but otherwise…” He left go of the doorframe and took a step forward. Castiel only noticed Dean’s desperate gasp for air before the man’s eyes rolled back.

“Dean!”

Castiel was with him before he collapsed, wrapping his arms around him, holding him chest against chest and slowly followed him down. Before Dean hit the floor, Sam stood behind him and had his hands under his arms.

Holding him halfway up, Dean’s head dropped back and landed on Sam’s shoulder. Trusting Sam to hold his brother up, Castiel took a second turn Dean’s face towards himself and study his expression. No pain and no reaction to being touched.

“He’s out completely, where is the nearest bed?”

Sam pulled one of Dean’s arms around his neck and Castiel did the same with the other.

“His room.” Sam gestured for the first door on the left and slow but steady they got the unconscious man through the door and down on the bed.

Sam stepped back as Castiel sat on the edge of the bed to check Dean’s pulse. Sam didn’t appear startled by what just happened, but some people reacts by not reacting. Castiel was very aware that he soon could have two patients.

“He’s alright and will wake up soon. It’s just the pain.” Castiel turned and looked at Sam, who seemed actually calm and collected. “Would you mind getting my bag in the living room?”

“Of course.” Sam smiled and left the room only to come back a few seconds later. He walked steady and wasn’t cold as Castiel touched his hand, when receiving the bag. Castiel, asked Sam to stay, in case he needed him, and turned all his attention back to Dean, who was still lying limp and peaceful on the bed.

Castiel wrapped the cuff for measuring blood pressure around Dean’s arm and turned on the little box with the screen. It wasn’t normal practice for him to make home visits, and he wasn't sure he would bring this if he did, but over the years he’d learned that having the sphygmomanometer close when consulting nervous patients. After his visit to the clinic yesterday, Castiel would definitely classify as such, if not scared.

When Castiel get the automatic device going and it tightened around the arm, Dean hummed and turned his head towards the cuff and the two people watching him. Castiel took his hand and placed his other hand flat on Dean’s chest to ground him a bit.

“It’s alright, Dean. Come back to us now.”

Sam seemed fidgety on the chair and when the sphygmomanometer silenced, Castiel moved down to make room and nodded at him to come over. Sam pulled his chair over next to Dean’s head and took a firm hold on his shoulder.

“Dean, c’mon man. Wake up.”

Dean lifted his face towards Sam’s voice and took a long deep breath. Sam straightened his back and tired again. “Open your eyes sleepy-head. It’s the middle of the day and we have company.”

The obviously strong connection between the brothers had Castiel smiling. Dean’s eyes fluttered open and he looked surprised at Sam and frowned. He tried to push himself up but hissed and tensed up completely.

“Hey, Dean.” Castiel took Dean’s hand again. “Relax. Take a deep breath.”

The confused stare Dean gave him quickly turned in to realization of the situation. He filled his lungs and as he slowly exhaled he relaxed into the bed.

As Castiel moved closer again, Sam leaned back giving him room. “Are you fully with us? Do you know what happened?”

Dean looked up at Sam and back, then nodded. “Yeah, I guess I hit the floor.”

Castiel smiled. “Well, almost. Will you let me check your blood pressure again?”

Dean nodded and looked down as if he only know discovered the device on his arm. While the machine worked, the only sound in the room was its buzzing and when it was done Castiel took it off completely.

“It’s still a bit low, which leads me to believe that you’re still in quite a bit of pain.”

Castiel, kept eye-contact with Dean and eventually the pale man figured out that an answer was needed.

“Well, yeah.” His voice shook a little.

Castiel knew that fear might have contributed to the episode, but he wasn’t sure Dean wanted to bring that up with Sam in the room.

With Dean being in so much pain, there wasn’t much he could do with the acupuncture kit he’d brought. He stood up and walked towards the door. “Sam, can you please stay with him, while I make a phone call?”

Sam nodded and smiled at the doctor. The frown on Dean’s forehead was back and Castiel could see that he was already wondering what was going on.

Before Castiel closed the door after him he saw Sam moving his chair down, closer to the middle of the bed, so Dean could see him without turning his head too much. He leaned back and put his hands in his pockets. “You’re and idiot. You know that, right?”

 ---

After Castiel had talked to the on-call doctor at the clinic, he’d sent Sam off to pick up what he'd asked to be prepared for him to bring back. Sam had seemed extremely confident that he would remember everything to check if something was missing, but Castiel insisted on writing a note anyway. Sam had sprinted out to the driveway and taken of in the car so fast it had Castiel regretting not telling him to drive safe.

“So, I hear you had a busy afternoon yesterday.” Castiel as down on the chair next to the bed. “I thought we agreed that you would take it easy.”

Dean shifted a bit and his face twitched as he let the air out of his lungs. “I felt good when I got home, I might have over done it a bit.”

Castiel looked Dean in the eyes, leaned forward and put his elbows on his knees, gathering his hands. “A bit? Dean, how long did you work?”

“Around one hour…”

Castiel was sure Dean could see in his eyes that he doubted that very much. Dean turned his eyes away and spoke quietly. “Three.”

“And then you proceeded to clean afterwards. You must have been feeling it then.”

Dean nodded in silence.

Letting his head drop to look on the floor between his feet, Castiel recedingly shook his head with a sigh. No wonder Dean was in pain. There was no way his back could take that much yet. He looked up at Dean, who was still looking away but seemed to be shifting more and breathing uneven from it.

“You’re hurting right now, aren’t you?”

The mattress looked firm enough to support him, but he still seemed like being on his back wasn’t the best right now.

“It’s not enjoyable, but I can manage.”

Castiel chuckled. “I’m sure you can, but it doesn’t mean that you have to. Tell me where it’s worse.”

Dean looked up for the first time in what seemed forever. Castiel couldn’t believe how he’d missed his eyes from not seeing them in only a couple of minutes.

“It’s like the bed is pushing hard on some places but…” Dean shifted his hip and hissed. “It’s like I can’t let my lower back down to the mattress. Every time I try to relax it hurts and I have to lift it again.”

Castiel took the bottle of coke, Sam had brought Dean before he left, and held it to Dean’s lips. Dean turned his head and let Castiel lift it a bit so he could drink.

“Good. How do you feel about trying out lying on your side?”

Dean took a deep breath and bit his bottom lip. Castiel took Dean’s hand and held it in both of his. “I’ll help. You will have more room to find a good position when you’re on your side.”

Castiel stood up and walked to the other side of the wide bed, climbed up on his knees and took a hold on the bed sheet. “C’mon.”

After a few deep breaths, Dean agreed and let Castiel drag him a bit to the side. Castiel made sure Dean knew what he was doing before starting to push him up on his side. Dean held his breath and tensed up, making it harder to move him.

“Breathe, Dean. Almost there.”

As soon as Dean’s right hand could reach the left edge of the mattress, Castiel paused and took hold on his hips pulling them back a little.

“Are you steady?”

Dean panted air into his lungs but managed to hold up a thumbs-up. With a smile on his face and a small shake of head, Castiel leg go slowly, making sure Dean wasn’t going to roll back. He walked to the left side of the bed and hunched down in front of Dean. His eyes were locked on some steady point on the opposite wall and his jaw was locked tight.

“Where is the pain? The same as before?”

Dean nodded in small quick movements. Castiel started to stand but Dean’s hand grabbed his wrist and he got back into the eye-line.

“Dean?”

“Don’t…” Dean didn’t manage to fill his lungs completely. “It’s worse.”

“I see that. I’m not touching your back like this.”

Castiel, took Dean’s hand from his wrist and placed it lightly on the mattress and watched it grab on tight to the edge. He grabbed a few pillows from a chair in the corner. Maybe Dean had tried to get comfortable with them during the night. He put all but one on the floor at the foot-end of the bed and took hold of Dean’s knee. A gasp, louder than the panting, left Dean’s mouth. He didn’t move, but Castiel wasn’t sure he could tense up further anyway.

“It’s alright. I’m just placing a pillow here. Let me hep.”

Dean nodded but didn’t relax anything. Slowly and surprised how easy it was, Castiel lifted Dean’s one leg and placed the pillow between his knees. As soon as the leg was placed back down Dean relaxed his thighs a little more. Castiel pushed another pillow under Dean’s head and received a grateful and almost relaxed smile.

“Here, take this too.” Castiel sat down on the chair and lifted Dean’s right arm so he could put a pillow under it. That way his arm wouldn't pull his shoulder forward and he wouldn’t use strength to hold his back straight.

“Better?”

“Better.” Dean blinked slowly and took a deep breath.

Almost as if he was afraid to move his arm, Dean just moved his hand a little on the pillow and quickly looked up at Castiel. If it was what Dean wanted to, Castiel wasn’t completely sure, but he slid his hand under Dean’s palm and wrapped his fingers carefully around it. Dean squeezed back with even less strength than their first handshake.

“Dean.” Castiel waited for Dean to look at him. “If you wanted me to stay longer than planned or make sure I’d come back, this isn’t the way. You could just have said something.”

Dean smiled and Castiel was now completely convinced that his pain was lessened considerably by the move to his side, and Castiel breathed a little easier.

“It wasn’t exactly planned.”

“I hope not. So, are you going to listen to me now?”

Suddenly, Dean’s smile vanished and he looked down as he swallowed and nodded. Something heavy dropped in Castiel’s stomach as he felt Dean’s hand loosening it’s grip, but Dean didn’t move.

“Cas…?”

Castiel let his other hand join the grip on Dean’s and slowly his thumbs grazed over the back of Dean’s palm.

“Yeah, Dean. What is it?”

Dean took another deep breath and hunched his neck a little so his eyes stared into his own forearm. “What is Sam getting? What are you going to do?”

He didn’t try to hide the shaking of his voice this time and Castiel was now sure that the thing in his stomach was a stone, and that it somehow was growing.

“I know you don’t like all of this doctor-stuff but you need it. I’ll tell you everything as we go along, okay?”

“Okay.” Dean wrapped his fingers around Castiel’s again. “I’m not… it’s not…” He looked up at Castiel and somehow there was trust in his eyes, even though Castiel knew Dean was freaking out inside.

“What’s not? Dean?”

“It’s not everything. I mean, I don’t like doctors or hospitals or… But it’s… I really hate needles… and the things in them.”

Castiel smiled and thought over their meeting the previous day. “So that’s how you survived yesterday… because it was only acupuncture?”

It wasn’t hard to see that Dean’s smile was forced and it was gone fast.

“Dean?”

With a slow but shallow breath Dean looked down. “Will I survive today?”

Controlling his own breath and willing the stone in his stomach to stop rolling, Castiel leaned in and moved one of his hands to Dean’s forehead and brushed away a strand of hair. Carefully not to push him to move, he buried his fingers in the thick light brown hair. The way Dean’s breath got more strained and how he grabbed tighter to his hand, convinced Castiel that he’d already understood.

Chapter Text

Sam had brought back everything on the list and Castiel had looked through it all on the dresser with his back to Dean. After Dean had only stared angrily at Sam after his comment about him looking like a woman in labor, Sam had excused himself from the room.

When Castiel turned around with a kind smile, Dean tried his best to look like he was totally fine with not knowing what was in the box in his hands. Castiel took a box of gloves from his bag and Dean’s mouth dried out as he walked to sit on the chair. He placed it all on the nightstand and took Dean’s motionless hand in both of his.

“Hey. You’re getting pale again.”

Dean tore his eyes from the gloves and the box he couldn’t really see, but had a pretty clear idea what was containing. He looked at Castiel, but kept seeing the other stuff for his eyes. He tried to swallow to clear his throat, but he had nothing to swallow.

“Dean.” Castiel rubbed the back of Dean’s palm with both thumbs. “Let me explain, okay?”

Dean nodded and blinked a few times, forcing his mind to focus on the kind face before his eyes.

“I need to examine your back. I need to know whether it’s the injury or the rest of your compensating muscles that are hurting you. I can’t treat you if I don’t know what to treat, and you’re in too much pain to distinguish it from each other.”

The pain wasn’t bad after he’d moved to his side, but Castiel was right; to him everything remotely connected to his back hurt when he moved. And everything is remotely connected to the back. Dean wanted this to be over, and he would do anything to make that happen. Anything but letting anyone, even Castiel, touch his back.

“Cas. You can’t…”

“I know I can’t touch you yet, nothing good would come of it.” Castiel leaned in a bit and squeezed Dean’s hand a bit more and Dean retaliated the grip. “You need something for the pain. Sam picked up everything we need.”

Dean’s hand locked around Castiel’s fingers, maybe to make him understand the importance or to hold keep him from moving his hands.

“But I…” Dean knew that they were talking about an injection. Castiel had made that clear before Sam came back. Dean just thought he had more time. What he needed the time for, he didn’t know, but he was sure he needed it.

“It’s alright.” Castiel tried to move his hand, but Dean tightened his whole arm in the task of holding on to Castiel’s fingers. “Hey, I’m not taking it now.”

With his eyes tightly locked on Castiel, Dean slowly let one of his hands go. Castiel brushed away the hair on Dean’s forehead and slowly combed his fingers over Dean’s scalp. The warmth from the calm hand traveled over Dean’s neck and shoulders, but did very little to make him forget why Castiel was so kind.

“Listen, Dean.” Castiel was hardly speaking louder than a whisper. “Have you gotten through injections before? What did you do to cope?”

Dean shook his head as much as this back would let him, which wasn’t much. When he was little his dad held him to his chest while he was crying. The only time in his teens, his dad had held him down as he was screaming and kicking. The only time since then was after the car accident about six month ago and that day he’d been strapped to a stretcher, swearing loudly and fighting off everything.

The thought of how his track-record of this was embarrassing. He should be able to handle a little needle, but he just wasn’t. Dean looked down into the mattress. “I’ve never coped with any of this.”

Dean felt Castiel’s hand disappear from his hair and he instinctively looked up.

“You will today. You will be just fine.”

Slowly and with a calm smile, Castiel wrapped his fingers strongly around Dean’s hand and pulled his other hand out. Dean held on with everything he had, but trying to fight the movements and squeezing tighter hurt his entire back.

“Cas…” Dean shook his head as his hand was left alone on the pillow and Castiel opened the box. Dean still couldn’t see in it. Not that he wanted. His lungs dried out his mouth again.

“I’m not going to do anything right now. I’m just getting ready.”

Castiel found a little bottle and some cotton balls. Then he put on one glove. Dean could hear his own heartbeat and feel the blood pounding round his body, that’s why it made no sense that his hands were going numb.

Castiel turned towards him. “You need to breathe, Dean. You’ll end up nauseous if not.”

There was no doubt, that Dean was already moving down that path, breathing or no breathing. If Castiel would try to even go near his back with a needle, he would fight him off, throw up and run for the door. Maybe not in that order.

“Dean, take a deep breath.” Castiel took Dean’s hand with his un-gloved one, and looked compassionately into his eyes. “Hey, it’s one injection in your arm and then you’ll be able to breathe without your back hurting from it.”

Castiel reached to the table and wetted a cotton swab with the alcohol from the bottle.

“Wait…”

Castiel stilled and looked at Dean, waiting for him to continue. Dean filled his lungs just enough to add sound to his words.

“What is…” Dean bit his lower lip, trying to find the right words. “Ehm… How will it feel…? I mean, the drug?”

A deep exhale lowered Castiel’s shoulders as he put the swab down and placed his elbows on his knees and got his eyes on level with Dean’s. “It this what is bothering you?”

Dean nodded. “It’s a part of it. That and then the…” Dean looked at the table, he couldn’t see if the needle was still in the box or somewhere behind one of the many things, and it made his stomach curl.

“This is the real deal, so I’m confident that you will feel a considerable decrease in pain. Some people get a bit nauseous but you won’t feel like you’re drugged. You will probably feel tired… more than now.”

To Dean, feeling nauseous and tired sounded pretty damn close to feeling drugged, or hungover.

“If you are anxious about the painkillers, maybe we should get Sam in here. It might be good to have someone you…”

“No.” Dean looked firmly at Castiel.

Not moving or changing his calm presence Castiel kept eye-contact. “I was just suggesting it since we only met yesterday and maybe you will feel better if there was someone you trusted in here.”

“I trust you.”

Dean wasn’t even surprised that he just blurted that out. He’d known it since he first shook Castiel’s hand in the clinic the day before. He never knew why he feared needles, and drugs, and hospitals, and doctors, mostly needles though, but Dean knew that Castiel was the only doctor he had ever wanted to see again. That saying something; Dr. Novak was the worst kind of doctor. Acupuncturist. Specializing in needles. Castiel seemed surprised though. He slowly and controlled sat up against the backrest on the chair and took a deep breath. When his shoulders came back down his smile was just as easy and heartfelt as before, but wider.

“Well, I’m glad you do. It makes everything a lot easier.”

He picked a new piece of cotton and wetted it. “So, you’re sure about Sam?”

Completely frozen, Dean only hummed a negative and kept his eyes on Castiel’s hands. Dean pulled his shoulder higher as Castiel reached towards him with the empty hand. He gasped as the shoulder sent a burning jolt down his back.

“Easy now.” With his un-gloved hand, Castiel lifted Dean’s short sleeve up over his shoulder and made sure the fabric wouldn’t slide back down. “I’m only cleaning your skin. It’s cold.”

Dean’s upper arm jolted a little under the touch, but not enough that his back had any objections to it. Castiel lightly held on to Dean’s elbow, but only when Dean caught up and looked at him he carefully moved to sit on the edge of the bed. Castiel’s gloved hand reached for the table and Dean’s throat contracted on itself.

“Dean, close your eyes.”

Castiel’s hand were out of sight, but there was no way that anything was moving from that table to Dean without him seeing it. Dean shook his head.

“Listen. You don’t need to see it. I’ll tell you when.”

Dean nodded. His eyes were locked on Castiel’s wrist and the edge of the glove which were covering the fingers holding the thing he was sure he needed to see. He needed to know what was going on, what, when, where and definitely; how much.

Castiel’s fingers held on tighter to Dean’s elbow. “Okay, Dean. If you need to. But I need you to relax your arm first and keep it like that. Take some deep breaths.”

Dean tried to breathe deeply, he really tried, but it was difficult with a dry mouth and with half of his mind concentrating on the hand in front of him. Castiel’s thumb massaged his arm slowly up and down and with a few failures, Dean eventually hung the rhythm of his breathing on the calm pace.

“Good, Dean. Now keep going.”

The needle was huge, Dean thought so anyway. His breathing spiked as soon as he laid eyes on it. His entire body tensed up and he cried out from the pain.

“Okay, okay. It’s alright Dean, just calm down and relax your legs and back.”

Dean slowly followed through while he was making sure that the spear in Castiel’s hand wasn’t coming closer.

“Perfect. Now, you need to relax your arm, just as before. Breathe.”

Dean breathed deeply and his lungs didn’t feel overworked, but for the life of him, he couldn’t let go of the tension in his arm. Castiel must have realized that it was no use to hold the syringe in front of Dean any longer, so he moved it to the arm.

“Cas!” Dean ignored the pain and turned to look at his upper arm.

“Shh, Dean. It’s just like yesterday; no surprises. You need to relax your arm and then I’ll tell you when.”

“O-okay.”

Castiel shook Dean’s elbow a little. “Relax, Dean. It’s over quickly.”

“I can’t.” Dean was trying, but it felt like there was a leash on Castiel’s hand and every time Dean relaxed a little, that leash became longer and the needle came closer.

“Dean, look at me.”

With his eyes locked on the needle so damn close to his arm, Dean shook his head.

“Yes!”

Dean gasped and his eyes sprung to Castiel’s.

“You trust me, right?”

Dean nodded. He was looking at in Castiel’s eyes and not at his hand, and it wasn’t horrible. He trusted Castiel to warn him.

“Good.” A soft smile decorated Castiel’s face. “I know you’re more than nervous. I know you hate this, but you also know this is the only way. So let’s get it done.”

Dean bit his bottom lip and felt his numb hands shake.

“Now, do you need to see or not?”

Dean wanted to keep looking at Castiel, but he knew that as soon as he moved his hand he wouldn’t be able to. He blinked slowly and when he looked up again, it was with the syringe in sight. Dean’s stomach grew to double size; he was sure the needle was bigger than before.

Castiel started rubbing Dean’s arm with his thumb again. “C’mon, Dean. Try again, it will hurt if you can’t relax.”

If it was Dean’s messed up overworked brain playing ticks on him he wasn’t sure, but he could swear that Castiel sounded heartbroken that he might had to cause Dean pain. Dean drew in a big breath, almost filling his lungs, and let it out slowly.

“There you go.” The hand on Dean’s arm loosened its grip a little and Castiel brushed his thumb lighter. “One more.”

Dean stared at the needle over his skin and took a new deep breath. He held it longer, but when he let it out, he felt Castiel’s hand relax on his arm.

“Keep breathing, don’t tense up again, okay?”

Dean nodded, while trying to concentrate on the feeling of Castiel’s light, but very present, hand on his elbow, and still keep an eye on the spike moving closer.

“Okay, Dean. This is it.”

Dean didn’t react, and Castiel must have taken that as a sign that he wasn’t going to fight him, because the needle came to the skin. Dean’s lungs stopped as he saw the metal entering his arm. He didn’t care. He didn’t even notice. Castiel said something he didn’t hear. It was like listening under water. His eyes only saw the small length of metal that was left outside his body.  

Bit by bit, the sensation of feathers on his forearm broke through all the broken senses. When the feeling became more prominent, Dean realized that it was Castiel’s hand.

“You’re good. Dean, you’re alright, you hear me?”

Dean nodded slightly and the movement on his arm slowed down a bit, but was still very much there.

“Remember to breathe.”

Dean had forgot, but was it really a thing you had to go around and remember doing? Shouldn’t it be automatic? Dean hauled in a deep breath and let it out slowly. The second after, his muscle tensed up. He couldn’t help it. No matter how much he controlled the way he filled and emptied his lungs.

For a second, Dean almost panicked by seeing the needle grow longer, but then it let go of his skin and left. Castiel’s hand was in his.

“It’s over. You did it.”

Dean’s eyes met Castiel’s. He looked relieved, maybe even a bit proud of Dean, which only made Dean feel worse. He wasn’t a damn kid. Dean locked his jaw and looked away.

“Hey. You okay?”

“I’m fine.”

Castiel leaned in a bit closer to look Dean straight in the eyes. “Can we skip this phase, please?”

Dean frowned but fought the urge to look up. “What?”

“The I’m-not-normally-scared-so-I’ll-show-you-I’m-tough phase.” Castiel put a finger on Dean’s chin, and Dean let him push his face up to meet him. “I know you’re not like this with much, probably nothing else, but everyone has the right to be scared and freak out.”

Dean looked at his arm where Castiel were pressing a new cotton swab on the skin.

“Did it go right?”

“Of course, why wouldn’t it?”

“I…” Dean looked at Castiel’s confused face. “I tensed up. I tried not to, but…”

Castiel shook his head slowly. “No, you didn’t. It’s the drug, it feels like your muscle is tensed, but it’s only the pressure. It’s gone now isn’t it?”

Dean moved his shoulder and elbow slightly and felt only a small area of his arm that was kinda heavy.

“Yeah.”

“The painkiller has moved out in the blood, soon it will start to help.” Castiel held Dean’s hand in both of his. “Ten minutes and then you should be okay with me touching you.”

“I’ve been okay with that since you came in that door.” Dean smiled to Castiel and squeezed his hands.

Castiel shook his head lightly. “You mean since your brother and I carried you through that door?”

“Well, yeah…” Dean’s lungs drew in a deep breath all on their own, not followed by any pain, and then again. He felt exhaustion roll over him like an avalanche. He blinked slowly and tried to remember, what he was talking about.

Castiel’s hand was in his hair again. “How much did you sleep last night?”

“I didn’t.”

Castiel’s fingers rubbed his scalp slowly and in some magic rhythm that fitted both with Dean’s heartbeat and breathing.

“Ten minutes. Not more. I won’t have to repeat the last half hour.”

There was no way Dean was going to do that again either, so for now, ten minutes of painlessness would have to do. The way this drug was working, Castiel might even be able to examine his back without him noticing.

Chapter Text

Dean hadn’t slept but he’d enjoyed every second of the break. It hadn’t even felt weird with Castiel’s hand in his hair and the other holding Dean’s hand lightly. That was over now, as Castiel took his hands away and stood up. Dean hummed disapprovingly and blinked his eyes open.

“I’m sure the painkillers have been working for a while now, and we need to do this before it wear off.” He slowly took the pillow from Dean’s embrace and supported his shoulder while removing the one between his knees too. “Can you lie on your front?”

“Sure thing.”

Now, that Castiel had removed his support he might as well follow his grip down and roll to his stomach. The movement had his lower back flare up and he held his breath trying to prevent it from spreading down over his hip and ass.

“Easy, Dean.” Castiel’s other hand grabbed his hip and supported him the rest of the way.

His legs didn’t stiffen and his arms didn’t shake, and as soon as he was still the pain was gone and his breathing went back to normal quickly. It was even comfortable to lie like that, after Castiel had taken the pillows from under his head too.

“Can I stop moving now?”

The mattress dipped to the side as Castiel sat down. A heavy hand rested on Dean’s shoulder blade, warming him through the t-shirt. “Yes. You just lie still now.”

Castiel reached in front of Dean’s eyes, towards the table and Dean grabbed his wrist before he got there. He hissed as the movement sent a burst of electricity through his back. Castiel’s other hand rested lightly on Dean’s.

“Dean. I’m just taking the alcohol. It’s only for my hands, before I touch you.”

“Oh… okay.” Dean let go and rested his hand on the mattress in front of his face. “But no funny stuff.”

Dean could feel the silenced chuckle through the mattress. “No. Nothing funny. Just my hands.”

His t-shirt was pushed up and when Castiel reached for the bottle again, Dean’s only reaction was to breathe in slowly to try and prepare for the pain that would definitely come back as soon as he was touched.

His upper back and shoulders were good. No pain, except when Castiel decided to press harder to feel for tension, and then it was still only sore. Somehow it felt good, like a deep tissue massage. Dean blamed the painkillers and not sleeping.

“Dean?”

Dean hummed in response, not seeing the reason to open his eyes.

“You tell me if it hurts.”

“Oh, you know it.” Dean smiled as he breathed in deeply and let his face relax, like the rest of him, as he exhaled.

The middle of his back was bearable. Dean couldn’t lie totally calm and he moaned and tensed up a few times. Castiel reassured Dean that it was still only sore muscles, but Dean was more occupied about the prospect of Castiel moving his hands lower.

Slowly, and with no pressure Castiel’s hand laid flat on the left of his lower back. Dean jumped a little and gasped but relaxed as soon as he realized that nothing else was done.

“Cas?”

Dean tried to look back but his neck wouldn’t turn far enough for him to see Castiel’s face. Castiel pulled down Dean’s t-shirt and let it cover his hand.

“I’m done. There’s no need for me to examine your lower back again today.” His free hand brushed Dean’s upper arm lightly. “Everything we began to loosen up yesterday is locked up again. Worse. I wasn’t sure it could be more than yesterday, but you proved me wrong.”

Secretly, hating himself for every minute in the garage yesterday and for every move after that, Dean sighed and blinked slowly.

“So, what? More acupuncture?”


In the kitchen, Sam had cleaned the dishes by hand, even though they had a dishwasher. After that he’d found probably the only cleaning job Dean hadn’t done the day before, and started on washing the shelfs in the cupboards. He wasn’t nervous, he knew that Dean’s back was most likely just locked up and making it all a vicious circle so he would never get better. All because he was a stubborn ass that never listened to his brother, even though he clearly knew best. The only reason Sam didn’t leave the kitchen was because he was listening. For what he wasn’t quite sure, but to let a doctor in a room with Dean without some kind of backup didn’t feel right.

Then he knew exactly what he was listening for. The words Dean was shouting wasn’t possible to decipher though the door. Sam sprung up and tore the door open.

Dean was on his side pushed up on one arm and a clearly surprised Dr. Novak had retracted to the middle of the room. Sam dropped to his knees in front of Dean’s head and grabbed his shoulder.

“Dean. Lie down, you’re hurting yourself.”

“The hell, I will. I’m not going along with any more of this.” Dean’s eyes shifted from Sam to Castiel and back.

“Take a breather and explain, will ya?”

With a tightly locked jaw, Dean shook his head but let Sam slide a pillow under his head and slowly dropped to his side and relaxed his arms. He was still panting, maybe more from anger than pain.

“Okay. Now tell me what has you acting like this.”

Dean looked at the doctor. “Him and his needles. Now he want to stab me again.”

“Again?”

Sam looked at the nightstand and saw the little vial. He took it and read the label. Surprised he turned to Castiel and held it up for him to see. “Did you get this in him?”

Castiel nodded and Sam turned back to look at Dean. “You did that?”

The air was moving too fast through Dean’s nose for him to be anything less than pissed.

“Yeah. And if that wasn’t enough, now he want to do it again, but in my back!”

“Okay, okay.” Sam held on tight to Dean’s shoulder and placed a heavy hand on his head to steady him. He could hurt himself without knowing when he was on such strong painkillers. “Calm down for a second.”

“Sam, if you…!”

“Hey! I said one second.”

Dean stilled but his eyes followed Sam’s every move as he looked over the table again. The second vial was still in the box. Sam nodded to himself as he read the small text. Dean must have noticed because he was already shaking his head slowly when Sam put the box down and turned to him.

“Dean…”

“No!” Dean tensed up and Sam placed his hands back on him.

“Listen, Dean. It’s a nerve-block and, just from seeing you this last day, I agree it’s the best course of action.”

Dean shook his head and his eyes quickly sprung to Castiel and back. Sam looked back to Castiel who was clearly confused about just about everything the was going on. Sam smiled to himself, of course Dean hadn’t said anything. Sam had noticed how aware Castiel had been of him when Dean passed out, so when Sam handed Castiel his bag, he had let their hands touch so the doctor would feel that he wasn’t cold from being shocked or nervous.

“Dean, you didn’t tell him that I’m a doctor?”

If eyes could kill Sam would have been blown to dust that very second.

“Well, it’s nothing to brag about. Just my luck I have to live with one.”

“Hey, you don’t complain about sharing expenses.”

Sam nodded at Castiel to come closer, but he only took a few slow steps. He must have seen that Dean was beginning to shake. Dean must have realized that two against one was more than he could handle, not that he would win against anyone in his state.

“Stop! You’re not… just stop!”

Sam moved his hand from Dean’s head and grabbed the arm reaching out to push him away.

“Dean, Let’s get this back under control, okay?”

Dean looked straight into Sam’s eyes, he looked like he could explode any second. “You mean; get me under control.”

“No, I don’t.” Sam hunched his back a little to get better into Dean’s line of sight. “I mean; this. All of this. You need to have it under control, right?”

The hard lines on Dean’s face lessened as he nodded.

Sam filled his longs with air. “Good. Let’s do that.”

Dean’s shoulder let go of some of its tension and Sam gestured for Castiel to come closer. Castiel pulled the chair over next to Sam and sat down. Sam moved back a little so Dean could see him and took Dean’s hand in both of his.

“Let Dr. Novak explain what is going to happen.”

“Castiel.” Castiel smiled at Sam.

“Sorry. Castiel.” Sam nodded and then concentrated fully about his brother as Castiel spoke.

“Like I was saying before, I will place it directly at the nerves in your back. It’s not going your spine, but close.”

Dean’s fingers were squeezing harder on Sam’s hand for every word and his breathing was getting worryingly shallow. Somehow, Dean was looking at Castiel and not trying to distance himself from the conversation.

“It will help with the pain, so you can move and get the rest of your back in order, it might take away the pain completely for a time. Your injury won’t get worse from it if you take it easy.”

“How…?” Dean tried pulling in a bigger breath but ended up only gasping a few times. “How long…?”

Sam squeezed Dean’s hands. “How will long it work?”

Dean nodded and seemed to concentrate on his lungs again. Sam didn’t know the exact placement and extent of Dean’s problems, he hadn’t been that forthcoming about it, so he looked to Castiel to answer.

“Around 24 hours, maybe a bit longer of we’re lucky.”

Sam noticed Castiel’s hand landing on Dean’s knee. Sam might do that to comfort a patient, he was sure he had before, but not with a patient like Dean. But to Sam’s surprise, Dean didn’t retract from the gesture.

“Dean?” Sam waited for Dean to look up. “Is there anything you need to know before we do this?”

Dean shook his head. “I didn’t agree to this.” He looked at the other doctor. “Cas… I’m sorry about before, but I’m still not doing it.”

Did his proud, strong and angrily scared older brother just apologize to a doctor? Sam wasn’t sure what was going on but he liked the effect this doctor had on his brother. Sam lifted one of Dean’s hands with both of his, popping his elbows up on the bed and leaning his chin on the three hands, looking Dean in the eyes.

“I’m sorry Big Bro, but you don’t get a choice.”

Dean squinted, clearly building up anger again. “Yeah, you’re sorry.”

“Dean, you know I don’t want to do this.”

A huff sounded from Dean as he tried to pull his hand from Sam, but Sam didn’t let him. “Hey, you know I’m scared of stuff too. The only difference is that I’ve never had it forced on me. There has never been a doctor, who tried to convince me that it was for my own good.”

Dean stopped fighting to get his hand free.

“We can’t explain it. It’s just the way it is. But Dean…” Sam leaned in a bit to catch Dean’s eyes and Dean slowly looked up at him. “…you can’t get around it, and I am sorry.”

Castiel leaned in from the chair and took Dean’s free hand in his. “I’ll explain everything, but is there anything you need to know now?”

Dean swallowed and looked down at his hand shaking in Castiel’s. “No, but…” He took a few slower but not deeper breaths. “I won’t be able to see it. You know I need that.”

Castiel nodded and rubbed his forearm with his other hand. “It’s a good thing we have Sam to keep me in line then. Trust him to see for you.”

Sam half expected Dean to snap back with an angry comment, and half expected him to not ever look at Castiel again, but neither happened. Dean didn’t move. He looked into Castiel’s eyes and then in Sam’s, but he didn’t move.

“Okay, let me get ready.” Castiel let go of Dean’s hand and stood up. “And remember that I won’t surprise you with it. Nothing is happening before I say so.”

Dean nodded the room fell silent. Dean was shaking and breathing too shallow and fast, but he wasn’t moving. He didn’t even try to look when Castiel started to lie things out on plastic behind him.

“Hey. How are you holding up?”

It looked like he was going to speak but gave up from lack of air. He shook his head in a small movement and Sam noticed a small tremor of his chin before he got it under control.

Sam put one of his hands in Dean’s hair. “Is the pain getting worse again?”

To Sam’s relief, Dean shook his head. It looked like Castiel had gotten everything ready.

“Castiel?” Sam got contact with the busy man. “Do you need ice?”

Castiel looked at Dean and then nodded. “If you have it, that would be good, I think.”

Dean pulled Sam’s hand closer and held it with his other hand too. Sam held tight and nodded at the door.

“In the kitchen.”

Castiel disappeared out the door and Sam turned to Dean, who was two shades paler than a minute ago. “It will numb your skin a little. Dean, you need to try to breathe a bit deeper.” Dean nodded but no real change was made.


The ice had made Dean jump and his breathing sped up, but as soon as the three of them were just waiting, he turned back to just breathing shallow and slightly too fast and shaking all over.

“Pull your knees up as far as you can, Dean.” Castiel put his hand on the back of Dean’s knee and Sam helped too.

Slowly, Dean bend his legs and let Sam pull them up. Then he yelped and tensed his legs. “Stop!”

Sam froze. “Alright, alright. No more.”

Dean’s hand shook on Sam’s arm as he panted to get his body under control. The one of Castiel’s hands not holding the ice, landed lightly on Dean’s shoulder.

“We can do it like this. You’re good.”

“I…” Dean gasped for air. “I…” He tried to breathe in deeper again, but only ended up more winded.

Sam took Dean’s hand in his and put his other on Dean’s cheek and jaw. “Hey, Bro. Don’t freak out now.”

The look in Dean’s eyes told Sam that he understood and agreed, but the panic in them told him that his older brother, had nothing to say in the matter.

Sam sat down on his heals and took Dean’s face in both of his, tilting his own head to look directly in his eyes. “Dean, you trust me, right?”

Dean nodded and Sam’s heart slowed down a little and found it easy to smile at Dean’s pale face. “I knew that.”

For just a second, Sam looked up at Castiel, who was still holding the wrapped ice and Dean’s shoulder, and then he looked back at Dean. “And by some miracle I managed to send you to the only other doctor in the world you seem to trust too, so if there is anything you need; take your time and tell us. And then you need to let Castiel work.”

Sam’s eyes were locked on Dean, who was still trying to get his lungs to allow him to make words. On the edge of his view, Sam saw Castiel’s thumb rub Dean’s shoulder.

“Is it…” Dean swallowed.

“We have time. Slow down, Dean.” Sam moved one of his hands up in Dean’s hair, brushing the damp strands away from his forehead in the process.

Dean swallowed and breathed in what could almost be categorized as a real breath. “Is it safe…?” He looked down at his knees and with a desperate inhale of air he looked up again. “I mean… with my legs?”

Castiel’s hand tightened it’s grip slightly on Dean’s shoulder. “Dean. Sam and I won’t do anything that is not safe. It is only so you’re secure and won’t roll. Sam is with you, so I don’t see that happening.”

Sam smiled at Castiel and let his hand take the spot on Dean’s shoulder when Castiel let go. This time there was no way for Dean to hide that his bottom lip quivered, not from Sam anyway. Sam massaged Dean’s scalp slowly with his thumb until Castiel was seated directly behind Dean and took the ice off.

The vocalized gasp crossing Dean’s lips had Sam lean in close to his brother. Dean’s hand found Sam chest and by his shirt, he pulled him even closer.

“Breathe Dean. You’re good.”

Dean’s lungs were not cooperating and soon Dean was helplessly gasping in small high-pitched hiccups. Sam grabbed on to Dean’s hand on his shirt, holding it close to his chest.

“Look at me.”

The tight grip Dean hand on the fabric was shaking and to Sam’s dismay it was slowly getting weaker.

“Dean! Look at me, man!”

Two dark and frightened eyes met Sam’s and Sam made sure not to lose them.

“Good, Dean. Good. Now, listen.”

Somehow, Dean found space between gasping for air and shaking to nod at Sam.

“You’re safe. Perfectly safe. Okay?”

Dean nodded again.

“So, you can breathe. Everything is alright, so you can breathe just fine.”

It was a small nod, and Dean’s hand was still shaking, but after quite a few failed attempts Dean’s hand seemed stronger again, and his eyes looked more focused.

Castiel had put on gloves and then he’d been sitting on his heals on the mattress behind Dean, waiting for Dean to calm down. Sam leaned in and cradled Dean’s head in one arm and letting Dean’s hands pull his other arm close to his still rapidly working chest.

Sam looked up and Castiel. “Is he steady enough.”

“He is.” Castiel sent Sam a comforting smile that Sam hadn’t realized how much he’d needed.

Sam nodded for Castiel to get started and looked down at Dean’s shaking chest and shoulders.

Castiel moved a little closer. “Do you still want me to explain everything.”

It wasn’t clear if Castiel was able to see the small nod so he confirmed to Castiel that full disclosure was still the deal. Sam was sure it would always have to be for Dean.

“I’m cleaning first, Dean.”

Dean whimpered from the cold but quickly caught the sound. Sam leaned down and put his forehead to Dean’s shoulder, creating a small private cave around Dean’s head. “Just concentrate on breathing. We don’t care what noises you make.”

Dean took in a breath that eased Sam’s nerves enough that he could loosen the tension in his own back a little.

“Here we go. You will feel it pinching.”

Sam was almost sure he saw and heard Dean gag but it seemed as it was quickly taken over by the stronger urge for gasping in air. Sam’s fingers massaged Dean’s head and as soon as he noticed the first tear on the corner of Dean’s eye he hung on to Dean’s hands almost as strongly as Dean was holding on to his.

“It’s okay, Dean. I’ve got you.”

A tiny nod came as an answer and Sam relished in the confirmation that Dean wasn’t too far away.

“You’re doing good Dean. Just hang in there for this part too. It will hurt, but it’s over soon.”

As a doctor, Sam knew that most painkillers aren’t fun going in, and nerve blocks are definitely in the category of ‘mean’. It feels like pressing burning fluid into a too tight place. Sam tightened his hold on Dean and hunched the inch closer there was room for.

Dean’s hands shook more and soon both of his arms and shoulders were trembling. Sam rubbed the back of one of his hands with a thumb, trying to provide a little more confirmation that he was there, even though he was already wrapped around him.  “Dean. You’re not breathing. C’mon.”

Dean drew in a long but quick gasp and exhaled with a whimper. The next was with a clear sob.

“It’s almost done. You’re safe.”

The amount of fear that had Dean reacting like this had to be out of this world, but it wasn’t hard for Sam to realize that he could get to that point too. If he had a different kind of fear. It was absurd to think it; but if he knew that the only way he would get better was by having a clown administer the injection; he would most likely be acting just like Dean was right now.

“You’re handling it fine. Just remember to breathe.”

“Done… Dean. I’m packing everything away now.”

Sam lifted his head to confirm to Castiel that Dean was doing okay, but neither bother moved further than that, for the first five minutes. Sam felt Dean’s shoulders relax bit by bit and with this his breathing started to slow down and the air made it deeper into his lungs. Eventually, Dean let go of Sam’s hand and Sam took it as a sight to unwrap his arm from around Dean’s head.

As Sam sat back, Dean quickly wiped his wet face. Sam didn’t offer him paper or help. He knew Dean well enough to know that it was best if they both pretended that that had never happened.

Castiel stood next to Sam and almost nervously fiddled his fingers in front of his stomach. Dean didn’t look up, but clearly understood that he was the one who should start when he was ready.

“So…” He cleared his throat and controlled a long deep breath. “Am I golden?”

Sam heard Castiel’s huff before he could stop his own. The doctor sat down on the chair. “Sure, Dean. You’re golden. Everything is fine, you should start to feel it in a few minutes.”

Dean looked at Castiel and smiled. “Great, because right now it hurts like hell.”


After what Dean had just been through, after how he’d just reacted, Dean didn’t feel like talking everything over and God bless Sam for picking up on that. When the room had been a bit too awkwardly silent for a bit too long, Sam had asked Dean if he wanted him to stay to get all the doctor’s demands right. Dean knew it was an out for him and he’d smiled as he turned the offer down.

Castiel had been packing up everything and Dean suspected that he’d been done with it for a while before Sam left the room.

“Cas…” Dean shifted a little to pop his head up a bit further on the pillow. “Can you come sit?”

“Of course.” Castiel calmly sat down on the chair and folded his hands in his lap.

Damn, he’d really messed this up. The look on Castiel’s face were of one who was ready to go home and not go back to work anytime soon. Dean had completely forgotten that he was Castiel’s work.

“I’m sorry, Castiel.”

Castiel’s forehead frowned and he shook his head. “Dean, you don’t need to be sorry. You don’t choose this. And what’s with the Castiel all of a sudden?”

“Sorry, I just…”

Dean wasn’t really sure what the hell was going on. He knew flirting, and it was definitely what had been going on in the clinic yesterday. And for the first time in his life, Dean had looked forward to seeing a doctor again, at least until his back-pain got worse last night. How could anyone be interested in him after witnessing that? A gown man who had to be hold by his little brother. How cold they pick that up again? He wasn’t even sure why he had let it take up so much of his mind; he’d never even felt this way around a man before.

“Would you stop with the sorry?”

Castiel took Dean’s hand and sat on the edge of the bed. “I wanted to give you space to get back to normal, but you clearly can’t handle it.”

Dean put his other hand on top of their hold on each other and smiled at him. “I guess I can’t.”

Castiel looked over Dean’s body. “Are you comfortable?”

Dean nodded but shifted his shoulders a bit to get some more blood into the arm he was lying on.

“If you’re not hurting, you can lie on your back.”

Dean let Castiel help him, even though he didn’t really needed help. Castiel reached down to take the blanket from the metal frame on the foot-end of the bed and covered Dean’s legs and hips. Dean was sure it would get hot real soon with his sweatpants too, but he loved the gesture, and his back wasn’t hurting, so he could just take them off later.

“Do you feel any pain?”

“No, nothing.”

Dean was getting tired again and it was getting hard not to blink slower.

“You can move like normal, it’s not dangerous. But no working, and absolutely no cleaning.”

Dean chuckled and let his eyes close with a smile on his lips. “Trust, me I won’t.”

He felt Castiel’s hands slide under one of his and two light thumbs started drawing circles on the back of his hand.

“It would be best if you could find energy to go for a walk, at least walk a bit around the house, but sleep first. I’ll be back tomorrow.”

Dean forced his eyes open, but the smile he met stopped him from tensing up and clutching hard on to his fingers.

“Nothing like today. I didn’t get to do a real follow-up today, so well do that tomorrow.”

“I won’t have to do this again?”

Castiel lifted Dean’s hand and placed a small light kiss on the back of it. “I won’t ever have to do that to you again. You take care of yourself so I won’t have to, alright?”

Not remembering how to make his lungs and throat talk, Dean just nodded.

Castiel stood up and placed the hand on Dean’s steady moving chest. “Good. We will both feel better from it.”

Chapter Text

“I must admit; I’ve been wondering if that back would end up killing you, but not like this.” Sam stepped out of his shoes and joined Dean in the living room.

“What are you talking about?” Dean had hoped that Sam would stay at the hospital longer, but he was home early again.

“A few weeks back I was sure a back-spasm could have gotten you, by making you slip in the shower or crash your precious car, but I never thought that it would starve you.”

Dean decided that him and Castiel should probably drink the coffee in his room today, and he placed the two cups back on the tray. “Would you just get to the point?”

“You’re using all your money on this doctor.” Sam dropped into the couch and swung his legs up where the coffee and cups had just been. “He’s been here every day for two weeks.”

Sam had only been home for three or four of those days, how did he know? Dean shook his head and walked towards the door. He almost tripped over the backpack, carelessly dropped too far from the wall. Jack. He had been in his room every time and haven’t met Castiel, he was a shy kid, but he’d been home.

“Why are you complaining? You made me go in the first place and you’re not paying.”

“Just saying; home-visits aren’t cheap. I would know.”

Sam didn’t know that after the first week, Castiel had been there on his own time, after his shift. Dean shook his head at his bother and turned away again.

“Besides I’m the one left to help Jack with school every day.”

Dean didn’t turn to answer, but spoke up so Sam could hear. “You’ve always been the one helping Jack with school.”

He left the room before another witty comment was thrown his way.


“You should change that coffee in for tea, you’re all fidgety.”

Castiel placed a hand on Dean’s lower back and drew it lightly up his spine and circled his shoulder-blades. Dean relaxed under the touch and drew in a long and deep breath.

“You should know by now that it isn’t the coffee.”

Castiel chuckled and moved his hand out Dean’s arm and ended in a loose hold on his hand. “You seem to have improved a lot from yesterday. How do you feel about moving things along?”

Dean was sure Castiel was talking about his back. Ninety percent sure anyway. He had been feeling a lot better, enough that it had been hard to remember to take breaks while working.

“What do you suggest?”

“The acupuncture has done wonders for you, but to lose you up completely, I think it’s time to add a massage to the mix.”

Dean had hated every needle since the injections, two weeks ago, but with Castiel’s help, Dean had come to handle it without shaking or breaking the bones in Castiel’s hand. He’d figured that the acupuncture was the way to go to prevent more injections, and he’d been right.

A massage sounded pretty damn good, but his lower back would be painful as hell under pressure, and now Dean was fidgeting for another reason. Goosebumps were already spreading from his legs, over his back to the hairline on the back of his neck. One thing was a massage, another was a massage from Castiel.

“Ehm, sure. If you think so.”

Castiel hunched down in front of Dean and took a second to brush a little strand of hair from his forehead. Just like the day they met, Castiel’s smile had the ability to calm Dean, and by now it could make him relax completely. Everything had moved on effortlessly, while his back was getting slowly better, him and Castiel had been more and more… Dean wasn’t sure if affectionate was the right word, but it wasn’t completely wrong. It had happened without him thinking about it and for once; without him thinking about what would happen next.

“Don’t worry. I won’t touch your lower back. This is just to get to the last tension in your shoulders and upper part of your back.”

Dean took Castiel’s hand and kissed it lightly. After Castiel had kissed Dean’s hand two weeks ago, it hadn’t felt weird for Dean to even the score. And he’d had to more than once.

Castiel sat on the edge of the bed and put both hands on Dean’s upper arms. Dean turned his face down and rested his forehead on the towel he’d become quite skilled in rolling to the right size. With the small pillow under his chest he could breathe just fine over the mattress and was surprisingly comfortable.

The warmth from the soft hands, moving over his back, seemed to sink into Dean’s deep tissue and muscles. It wasn’t long before his head drifted to a place where goosebumps from excitement wasn’t a thing. Even the sore muscles felt good under the pressure and Dean only hummed as Castiel focused on those places.

“Dean?” The rumble from Castiel’s deep voice traveled out his hands and vibrated deep in Dean’s shoulders and chest.

Dean only hummed as a response. He heard a soft exhale that never became a real chuckle. “Is it pure willpower that you’re this relaxed or is your back that much better?”

The stream of words was clear as day, but Dean wasn’t sure he’d gotten the meaning of them.

To Dean’s disappointment, the hands on his back stilled.

“Dean?” There was almost laughter in Castiel’s voice.

A deep breath later and Dean surfaced enough to answer. “Yeah.”

“Does it hurt in any way? I can feel you’re better but you need to tell me if you’re struggling to relax.”

That couldn’t be further from the truth. Dean had really had no say in how limb and heavy his body had gotten and still was.

“I’m good, Cas. Some places are more… Well, sensitive, but there is no pain.”

“Good.”

As soon as Castiel started up again, Dean’s eyes closed and his shoulders sunk again. As Castiel used more force and quicker found the almost sore places, Dean hummed louder, but somehow his lungs filled more and slower for every breath.


Dean was warm, almost hot. His back more than the rest of him. A hand was in his and a thumb were brushing over the back of it. Slowly, the light made it through a sliver and made his eyes blink slowly. Castiel was on the chair right in front of him, smiling softly. He leaned forward so Dean could see him without turning his head too much.

“Hi. Guess you needed a nap.”

Dean shifted his shoulders and started to push himself up to the side. “How long was I out.”

Castiel slowly but firmly pushed Dean down again. “Only ten minutes. I covered your back with a few towels to keep you warm for the pins.”

With a long exhale Dean sunk into the mattress. He should have seen it coming. He knew when Castiel had said add a massage to the mix, that they were still going to do this. He’d just forgotten for a moment. Dean appreciated that Castiel had started calling it pins, but it didn’t change what they were. It just made it a bit easier to talk about.

“Hey.” Castiel dropped to his knees in front of Dean’s face and brushed a hand lightly through his hair. “You’ve done this so many times now. It gets easier every time.”

Dean knew he was right. He was handling it better, and it helped a lot that for every day they hurt less too. He forced a little smile and nodded.

“Let’s get it over with then.”

Castiel sat on the edge of the bed again and quickly rubbed his hands with sanitizer. Dean realized that he’d already prepared everything and within a few seconds Castiel’s hand found Dean’s. It was routine for them to do that now. Dean would look down in the mattress and hold Castiel’s hand and Castiel would touch him with a finger where the needle would go and then ask of he was ready.

A finger touched Dean’s neck. “Ready?” Dean squeezed Castiel’s hand lightly, and the soft touch was replaced with a small pinch.

“Good?”

Dean squeezed the hand again. Castiel knew that Dean was concentrating hard on his breathing and that speaking was out of the question.

The finger touched not far from the other place. “Ready?” Dean took a deep breath and gave the sign.

“You’re holding up great today.”

Castiel sounded relieved and kinda proud. Dean used to hate that tone of voice. It was embarrassing as hell to have a man his own age be proud of him for barely managing what others did with no problem. However, over the last days, Dean had come to love it. Castiel wasn’t looking down on him for this. Dean had come to understand that Castiel knew how serious this was to him and he’d made Dean understand that it was okay to make a big deal out of it.

The next was on his lower back and Dean tensed up by the first touch from the tip of Castiel’s finger.

“It’s alright. Take your time and breathe.”

Castiel held his finger still as long as it took for Dean to calm himself and give the sign. The pain wasn’t bad. Better than yesterday and the two following needles he hardly felt.

“That’s all the pins for today.”

Castiel folded the lid over the small bag with his equipment and needles, so Dean didn’t see them, and sat all the way down on the floor in front of Dean. He took Dean’s hand with both of his and leaned his chin on his own forearm, looking into Dean’s eyes just inches from his face.

“Do you think you can handle an hour today?”

He hadn’t done an hour before, but Castiel had never asked him before. Normally, they did between half an hour and forty-five minutes. It didn’t hurt or felt tight like some of the first days. If he were to get problems it was all in his head. He could end up overthinking everything. Just four days ago, he had to pull the plug after twenty-five minutes not to start hyperventilating. He knew that Castiel would end it with no question if he needed it.

“I think so. I can try.”

Castiel cupped Dean’s chin and cheek and let his thumb caress Dean’s cheekbone. “If you need to stop, you tell me before it gets too much.”

Dean nodded under Castiel’s touch and slowly lifted his own hand to place it heavily on the crease between Castiel’s shoulder and neck. Castiel smiled and just barely managed to turn his head far enough down to kiss the back of Dean’s wrist.

“Get some rest. I’ll be right here as always.”

Dean closed his eyes and let Castiel move his hand back to the mattress and embrace it in both of his.


“Maybe it would move things along quicker if they just went to his place.”

Jack dropped his books on the table and sat down across from Sam.

“What?”

“I’m sure it would be easier if we’re not around.”

Sam closed the journal he was reading and looked at Jack. “What are you talking about? What would be easier?”

“C’mon. I know you’re working a lot, but you have to have noticed.”

Sam was still confused and just looked at Jack till he decided to explain further.

“When have you ever known Dean to spend money on anything than the essentials and a good time? And do you really think he would voluntarily see a doctor every day for two weeks if there wasn’t something else in it for him?”

Sam had wondered about all of that, but he’d just figured that Dean had gotten really damn scared from the first visit and did everything to not having to do that again.

“You don’t think…?”

Jack nodded silently with a huge smile on his face.

“Jack, no. Dean has only had girlfriends.”

“So?” Jack pushed his books aside and leaned in over the table. “You know it’s possible to like both, right?”

“I know.” Sam stood up behind his chair and took a firm hold on the backrest. “Don’t you think that you’re imagining thinks? You know you’re often overthinking things.”

Jack leaned back and crossed his arms. Not angry or hurt as Sam might have expected a little, but with a smug, confident smile. “How long have they been in there today?”

Sam looked at his watch. “Two and a half hours.”

“I rest my case.” Jack stood up and gathered his books. “You seem to be a bit distracted, I’ll read in my room and call if I need help, if that’s okay.”

Sam nodded and watched the young man leave the room.

He dropped down in the chair again and stared down in the table. Could he really not have seen Dean developing something with this Castiel? Was he that blind? He rubbed his hands over his face and looked at his clock again and then towards the hallway. Dean had always been keen to share stories about his latest night out, and the short relationships he’d had, Sam had known about from day one, sometimes even before that.

Sam still wasn’t sure about this. In fact he was pretty sure, Jack was loosing his mind. But just incase he wasn’t, there was things Sam needed to figure out. Why hadn’t Dean said anything? Was he afraid that Sam wouldn’t approve? Every logic thought convinced him that Dean wouldn’t think that, but this was a topic they’d never talked about and Sam’s stomach had this horrible nagging feeling. A feeling he needed to get rid of. Then there was the other, more appealing reason; what if this was different? What if Dean knew that this wasn’t just a fling and didn’t want to rush it? Sam couldn’t interfere with that.


Forty-five minutes later, Jack was on his way into the living room with a plate of dinner, when Dean and Castiel walked in. Dean only manage to see him smile at Sam and then change direction and leave. Jack had been more outgoing since he moved in with them, but he was still kinda shy, so it wasn’t weird that he’d change his mind and eat in the kitchen or his room.

They walked to the hall and Castiel put on his jacket. “Same time tomorrow?”

“Sounds good.” Dean could feel his brother’s eyes glued to his back. He shook Castiel’s hand and closed the door after him. He took a second to prepare to repeat the conversation from earlier, before turning around.

Sam was in the couch, just looking at him.

“What?”

Sounds good?”

Dean shook his head and walked into the room again. “That’s an appropriate response to a question, isn’t it?”

Sam nodded, but the little line, pinched between his eyebrows, didn’t go unnoticed but Dean. “What has you all worried? I’m not going to ask you for money.”

“I know, you told me.”

“Then what?”

Dean couldn’t figure out, why Sam was so worked up about the visits. He was getting better. Wasn’t that what he wanted in the first place? He couldn’t be jealous that another doctor was able to help him. Sam had always been the only one who could do anything when Dean needed help in that way. Which didn’t happen that often. But that had to be beneath Sam to feel that way, he had to be thrilled about this.

“I need to ask you something.” Sam gestured for the chair opposite the coffee table.

Confused and a bit apprehensive Dean slowly got to the chair and sat down. Sam had his elbows on his knees and was looking down at his fiddling hands or maybe the floor.

“Sam. Just ask.”

“Well, it’s more like I need to tell you something.”

Dean suddenly realized that this might not even be about him and Castiel, it could be about Sam’s life, totally unrelated, but what could have him this nervous? They had always been able to talk about the things they needed to. Dean couldn’t remember a time where one of them had judged the other.

“So tell me. What’s going on?”

“Don’t take this the wrong way, please.”

Sam looked up and Dean caught his eyes, what the hell was Sam doubting himself for?

“Okay, just spill.”

“I don’t want to meddle and as soon as I’ve told you this, I’ll back off.”

Meddle? This was definitely about Dean. And suddenly Dean was sure it was about Castiel too. But Sam couldn’t know anything… how could he know? Dean had kept it all on the low and he didn’t even know for sure what this was.

“Tread careful now, little brother…”

Sam looked down and nodded. “Oh believe me, I’m trying.” He took a deep breath and looked at Dean again. “I’m not sure there is anything or if it’s just Jack making it up in his head but…”

“Jack?!” Dean should have seen that coming. He loved that boy like his own, but that little creeper had made flying under the radar into an artform.

Sam nodded and, as he realized that Dean had nothing else to add, he continued. “I just need to make sure that you know that I don’t care who you like, man or woman.”

Dean sat frozen looking at Sam’s petrified face. They knew. They knew why Castiel was here that often. Why he was here for so long when he strictly speaking didn’t had too. The worst was that they didn’t know what this wasn’t. This wasn’t a daily hook-up; it wasn’t just a fling. Dean normally wouldn’t have a problem with them, or at least Sam, thinking that he was hooking up when he wasn’t, but this was different.

Sam broke the long awkward silence.

“That was it. I’m backing off now.”

He stood up, but Dean reached over and pulled him back down by his elbow. Sam’s fearful eyes watched Dean slowly sit back down and take a deep breath before looking firmly up at him. Dean calmed his hands and drew in another deep breath. He needed to set this straight, no matter how little he wanted to discuss this. This wasn’t something you discuss with your brother. Lucky nights and heated short-lived relationships: sure. But feelings he couldn’t even figure out himself; that was just too weird.

“You have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Sam nodded slightly. “I know I don’t. I just needed you to know… to make sure you’re not keeping anything a secret because of how I’ll react.”

Dean stood up, waked across the floor and turned, watching Sam’s eyes following him back. “I’m not. This has nothing to do with you.”

Seeing his brother’s shoulders drop with relief, Dean realized that he’d just admitted that there was a this.

He looked down and put his angrily shaking hands in his pockets. “I’m not sure what this is, and I’ll prefer to figure it out on my own. Thank you very much!”

Dean didn’t hear Sam move before he saw his feet step into his line of sight. The hand on his shoulder was an unwelcome surprise, but somehow it made him calmer and he felt grounded again.

“Dean. I’m sorry I asked, I won’t interfere again. You figure this out on your own, or better; figure it out with Castiel.”

Dean looked up at Sam, who wasn’t scared or nervous anymore. Calm, collected and oh so reasonable Sam. Dean couldn’t help but smile. “I know you don’t care who I’m with, Sammy. But it’s not like I’m with him, not yet anyway.”

Sam stepped back and nodded. Dean saw the indication on Sam’s face before he started building a smile. “Should I or you tell Jack to back off?”

Dean looked down with a smile and resignedly shook his head. “You better. I’m not sure I can handle another chick-flick moment today. And definitely not with a jokester like him.”

Chapter Text

Dean had felt awkward about Castiel coming to the house the day after talking to Sam. Sam must have noticed at breakfast, because half an hour before the visit, Sam came home from work and pulled Jack out of the house to go see a movie. Dean wasn’t sure what was playing, but it couldn’t be anything good this early.

There was somehow still something different about welcoming Castiel in this time. Everything seemed normal enough. They greeted like always with a handshake and went to Dean’s bedroom. But still, today, Dean was thinking about every move, from both of them. His stomach was slightly clenching in on itself and Dean wasn’t sure if he was nervous or embarrassed.

“So, how have you been since yesterday?”

Dean poured the tea into two mugs and handed Castiel one. “Great. Better than ever.”

“Good. Since the massage went so well yesterday, I was thinking we’d try something new.”

Dean knew by now that a statement like that from Castiel could mean something either very good or very bad. It always scared Dean a little when they changed what he was getting somewhat used to. What he had prepared himself for. But thinking about how he would have reacted to any of this with any other doctor, this was nothing.

Dean put the mug down as he saw it shaking in his hands. “Ehm. What do you have in mind?”

Castiel sat his tea aside too and sat on the edge of the chair so he could reach one of Dean’s hands. He held it in both of his and waited for Dean to look at him.

“Dean, you have to know by now that we’re not doing anything if you don’t want it. The injections was rough on you, I know.”

A thin line of water was building on the edge of Castiel’s lower eyelids. “It might have been the hardest I’ve ever had to do at work.” Castiel blinked the water away before it became tears. “But this isn’t work anymore.”

Dean looked down at their hands and let his second one join them. Slowly he brushed his thumb over the back of Castiel’s hand, just as he’d done with Dean’s so many times now. “I know, Cas. I just can’t help it. No matter how much I reason with myself, I think I’m always going to react like this.”

Castiel nodded and smiled at Dean. The pause allowed for Dean to breathe and his shoulders relaxed a little.

“It’s alright, we can deal with that. As soon as you know what is going to happen you’ll be able to relax.”

Of course, Castiel was right. He knew how to handle him now; he knew how he got and how to make everything alright.

“Come sit.” Castiel stood up and pulled Dean with him to sit on the edge of the bed. Castiel had sat on the bed many times, but never when Dean was sitting too. Somehow it felt more intimate. The hold on each other’s hands was more meaningful when they were next to each other. Castiel had been walking a thin line these last weeks, but for the first time he wasn’t a doctor, he was just there to help. Dean shook his head and tried to concentrate on what Castiel was going to say.

“Dean?”

Castiel curved his back a bit to get into Dean’s line of sight. Dean’s eyes followed him back up.

“Yeah.”

“There is a point in your hand. If I place a pin there it will help with the pain.”

Dean frowned. His hand? Dean didn’t doubt Castiel for a moment, he just wasn’t sure it would be a good thing that he could see the needle in him. He’d never been able to before. Castiel freed one hand and placed it lightly on Dean’s neck. As a reflex Dean breathed deep and leaned into the touch of a thumb gracing over his jawline.

“I won’t use any other pins today. I just want to massage your upper back a bit deeper than yesterday, and tomorrow we can begin exercises to strengthen the muscles in your lower back.”

It sounded like he was going to have the best and easiest session so far, if only it wasn’t for the hand thing. Dean nodded in small movements and moved back a little to get ready, but Castiel held tighter on his hands and took his shoulder.

“Wait.”

Dean looked at him. Weren’t they done discussing this? It had sounded like there would be nothing more.

“Dean, you’re still nervous.”

His hands wasn’t shaking, his breathing wasn’t fast; he’d learned to control that when he wasn’t too freaked out. But somehow Castiel knew.

“I’m… it’s the…” Dean looked down. Why the hell was it so difficult? He’d literally seen him sobbing from fear; Shaking, begging and cradled by his brother. So why couldn’t Dean just say it as it was? He looked up at Castiel, who was silently waiting for Dean to get his act together.

The calm blue eyes and the soft hint of a smile was soothing to Dean, but his stomach was still clenching. Ever since he’d put some of this into words, his stomach had been acting weird. He’d been uneasy, nervous, but now he was definitely embarrassed. One thing is that a doctor should deal with him being like this, but Castiel wasn’t that anymore. If Dean had ever shown himself like this on a date or even in a relationship, he would never see that person again. It was more and more clear to Dean that Jack had been right. Damn that kid for meddling and making everything weird.

“Dean?” It must have been to long a break in conversation for Castiel to wait. “Tell me what’s going on. Is it the pins?”

Dean nodded and remembered that is was actually the needles he was nervous about, it was just everything else that had taken his voice.

“We’ll go slow.” Castiel took the waist-rim on Dean’s shirt and Dean let him pull it over his head. “Lie down and I’ll show you.”

Dean got to lying on his front like every day, but as soon as Castiel sat down next to him he instinctively pulled his hand in under his chest. Castiel pushed the chair back and got down on his knees. He brushed his fingers trough Dean’s hair and ended up placing his heavy hand on Dean’s shoulder blade.

“Give me your hand and I’ll show you. If you don’t want it, we’re not going to."

Dean bit his lower lip and slowly offered his hand to Castiel. Castiel held it palm down and lightly placed the tip of his index finger on the back of it; almost in the middle of the triangle between his thumb, index finger and wrist.

“Here. The skin it thick and there’s no bones. It won’t hurt. And it’s not a problem to move your hand. We’ll do both hands and nothing more, only two pins.”

It would be okay. Dean gathered that, for the hand, it would be the best place. But when it was on the back of his hand he couldn’t have it down his side without tensing. He knew nothing worked if he tensed up. And if he turned his head, there would just be another one.

“How do you feel about it?”

Dean looked from his hand to Castiel and back. “I know I needed to see the injection, but this is going to just sit there.” Dean suppressed a gag, thinking about his view for the next hour or how long Castiel had planned for today.

Castiel lifted Dean’s hand to his lips and squeezed it tight when he lowered it again. “Okay, that make sense. We’ll can work around that.”

He got up and came back with one of the small pillows from the pile Dean still had in the room, just in case.

“Turn this way.”

Dena turned his head and saw Castiel already on his knees on the broad side of the bed. He took Dean’s hand and pulled the arm further down, almost stretched all the way out to the side. Then he placed the pillow in the space between Dean’s face and hand.

“Are you comfortable?”

It was actually good to have one arm a bit out and not curled up next to him. There was room enough for the pillow that it didn’t touch his hand or was right in his face. “Yeah, it’s good.”

“Do you feel a bit better about it now?”

Dean nodded and turned his head back, just far enough that he could see Castiel’s caring face over the pillow. “Much better. Let’s just do this.”

As Castiel climbed of the bed he brushed his hand slowly down Dean’s arm and suddenly Dean wondered if he’d left a window open. However, the goosebumps were soon gone when Castiel walked to the other side again and Dean hear him put on gloves.

He took Dean’s hand in his and Dean gasped from the cold alcohol rubbed on his skin.

“Ready?”

Dean took a deep breath and nodded. He felt a small tap on the spot and Castiel slowly placed his hand on the mattress behind Dean’s head.

“Was that it? Is it there?”

“It is.” Dean could hear the amusement in Castiel’s voice as the walked to the other side of the bed and took that hand too. “Ready for the next one?”

“Yeah.”

Dean didn’t feel that one either and was equally amazed. He knew that there was some in his back he’d hardly felt, but this was in his hands. He had been ready for pain or at least some kind of tension like some in his lower back had felt like.

“How are you feeling?” There was no doubt that Castiel knew that he wasn’t in any pain, he was only asking to his mental state.

“I’m all good. I just have to remember that they are there and not move.”

Castiel chuckled and discarded of the gloves. “Don’t panic if you do, you can’t hurt yourself.”

It hadn’t been clear that Dean had been holding tension in his arms, until he felt them relax that moment.

The mattress dipped when Castiel sat down behind Dean. So far Dean had only thought about the needles, and hadn’t realized that he for the first time, would be able to see Castiel at all. He hadn’t been able to see much the other times, but at least he could see his knees and hand some indication of where he was turning and if he was reaching up his back or not. Dean closed his eyes and made himself remember that Castiel was always telling him everything, had never surprised him with anything and had never lied.

“I’ll try to loosen up a bit more today, but you tell me when it gets too much.”

“As always.” Dean smiled but wasn’t sure Castiel could even see it.

“Since I will try to push a bit deeper and maybe work longer, it is possible that your skin will get red and sore, unless I use a bit of oil. Are you okay with that?”

This was getting good quickly. First the needles didn’t hurt, in fact he had already forgotten they were there a few times. And now the massage would feel even better than yesterday. He’d been a bit red last night and this morning and drying himself after showering hadn’t been that comfortable.

“Sure.”

“Okay. I warmed it earlier, it shouldn’t be cold.”

It wasn’t. In fact it was rather war still. Enough that Dean felt it heat his entire back from only the small line drawn down the upper half of his spine. Castiel’s hands worked slowly and careful over his back, warming every inch of his skin, before doing it all again a bit firmer. Dean breathed in loudly as a knuckle pressed on a sore spot, but quickly went back to relaxing under the warm firm hands.

“Dean?” Castiel was only just peaking louder than a whisper.

Dean hummed as the hands stopped for a moment. “Cas…”

“Tell me if it’s not comfortable.”

Slowly, Dean opened his eyes to a sliver and was kinda surprised that the light was still on. “But it is.”

Dean was sure he could feel Castiel’s smile radiating through his arms and vibrating lightly on his back. It was almost too much. He felt light he could melt into the mattress any second now, but Castiel’s hands moving so slow and firm over his warm skin, had Dean’s stomach clenching again.

“Cas?”

“Yes Dean, are you okay?”

“I’m good. I just… I need to… can we not do this silent? Can we talk?”

Castiel moved his hands to Dean’s shoulders and Dean felt his lungs fill more with no pressure on them.

“Of course. What do you want to talk about?”

“I don’t know. Anything.”

There was a long pause. Dean let Castiel think. Dean had no idea where to begin, family, job, interests; it would all feel forced.

The pressure on Dean’s lungs were back, but he couldn’t care less. His melting back felt heavenly. “Why don’t we talk about why you suddenly don’t like silence?”

Dean’s eyes sprung open. What was he getting at? Was he that easy to read? The conversation wouldn’t be a distraction if they talked about him needing a distraction.

Castiel paused but didn’t move his hands from the middle of Dean’s back. “Maybe this is getting confusing. Not the massage, but us. I’m confused.”

Dean tried to turn his head back to see Castiel, but a human neck can only go so far.

“Hang on.”

Castiel’s hands left and a soft towel rubbed the oil away. He placed a few clean towels over the bare back and Deal felt the heat come back.

“I’m taking this out.” Castiel took Dean’s hand and a second later Dean felt his fingers in his hair. “You’re safe to turn.”

Dean wasn’t sure he really wanted to. He wasn’t sure he was ready to this talk. He’d never had this talk before. But he couldn’t just lay still; it wouldn’t make anything better.

Castiel was sitting on his knees with his forearms resting on the edge of the mattress.

“Cas…” Dean felt trapped. Lying on his front, an arm stretched out behind him and a third of his face hidden in the pillow. “I don’t know how… what…”

“Me neither.” Cas sat down on his heals, bit his lower lip and breathed controlled in trough his nose before speaking again. “But I want to find out.”

It was scary as hell, but Dean wanted that too. He placed his hand flat on the mattress and started to push himself up. Castiel quickly took his shoulder and held it down to the mattress, smiling as he looked at a confused Dean.

“Dean. The pin.”

“Oh, yeah.” Dean relaxed and Castiel stood up and reached over to collect the little needle.

“Okay, you’re good.”

Dean pushed himself up to sit and swung his feet to the floor. As Castiel settled on the chair in front of him he took one of his hands and held it tight. “Cas. I want to find out too.”

Castiel looked down sighed. Dean felt suddenly protective of the guy. His hand was shaking lightly in Dean’s and his breathing was too slow to not have been controlled carefully. Castiel was nervous. Dean had been the one scared, he’d been the one to freak out about everything medical and also have his stomach acting up all day, from the non-medical thing.

Dean pulled Castiel’s arm carefully and slowly and sighed relieved when Castiel followed the gesture and moved to sit next to him.

He took both of Castiel’s hands and rested their hold on Castiel’s thigh. “Cas, look at me please.”

Castiel swallowed and slowly lifted his head to look Dean in the eyes.

“What is it? You were the one to start all of this, remember?”

Castiel shook his head with a small smile. “I was just comforting you. You were the one blushing every other minute.”

Dean straightened his back and tried to look offended by the accusation but he couldn’t hold it long, and relaxed into a smile. He placed his hand on Castiel’s chin and found his eyes again. Dean figured that he had to come clean first.

“I’ve never done… felt this before. Not with anyone. And it scares the crap out of me.”

The hands under Dean’s moved slowly and eventually Castiel held Dean’s hand between his. He was still looking down and the lighthearted tone of his voice was definitely forced. “More than the injections?”

Trying not to gag from the memory of that day, Dean smiled and lifted Castiel’s head to face him. “No nothing scares me more than that… but you’re nervous, why is that?”

Castiel blinked slowly and took a deep breath before nodding, what seemed to be mostly to himself. “It’s confusing. I’ve never been in this position before, with a patient.”

Without thinking, Dean cradled Castiel’s jaw and cheeks with both hands and lightly held his face towards himself. “I thought you said this wasn’t work.”

A small smile decorated Castiel’s face. “You’re right. It’s not.”

Castiel turned and pulled a leg up to lie bent on the mattress. Dean did the same and sitting front to front, all four hands gathered between them, resting on their lower legs.

Slowly, rubbing his thumb over the side of one of Castiel’s wrists, Dean kept looking at their hands. It was beautiful, never had he seen four hands, twenty fingers, fit so effortlessly into each other’s hold.

“Dean.”

“Yeah…”

“Dean. Look at me.”

Dean lifted his eyes and looked into Castiel’s, that somehow seemed lighter and even more blue. Castiel smiled and slowly leaned closer to Dean. Dean had no idea how this came to happen, how he should react or if he even knew what he was doing. But it didn’t matter because here he was, leaning in without thought or doubt that this was exactly how it was supposed to be.

An inch from each other, Castiel paused and moved his lip in to bite it but never really got a hold. Dean gave him a little slow nod and Castiel’s face lifted letting their lips touch.

If their hands had been beautiful, Dean could, even with his eyes closed, only describe this as glorious. Castiel’s light tilt to the left had them closing together at the first second. Dean’s lower lip moved naturally between Castiel’s and was graced by his tongue. After a short-lived breath Dean carefully sucked in Castiel’s and held him with his teeth as they both drew in a fast and audible breath.

When they broke, Dean placed a hand on the back of Castiel’s head and pulled him in to rest on his shoulder. Castiel relaxed into the hold and Dean let his fingers play in his hair as they both caught their breaths.

Chapter Text

The exercises the next day had Dean worn out good. There weren’t many, and none of them were particularly hard, but it had taken forever. Neither of them could stop laughing. No matter what Castiel tried to get Dean to do, Dean had a snappy, often smutty comeback. Other times they, less than accidently, shared eye-contact when Castiel touched Dean.

When they finally were done Dean was exhausted and sore. He sat on the bed with a long low sight and Castiel sat next to him.

“You promised to tell me if it hurt.”

Dean smiled at the reprimanding voice. “It didn’t. I’m just a little sore that’s all. And tired.”

“Do you want to call it a day and don’t do the pins? You did good today. You tell me if you think you need it.”

Dean looked at Castiel with the most innocent face he could muster up. “I did good?”

Castiel chuckled and nodded. “Yeah. So what do you say?”

Yesterday, Dean had enjoyed an evening with less pain that usual. Castiel had told him that the points in his hands could help only a little but for a longer time. Dean was definitely longing for that again, but the needles was still not sitting okay with him and he really didn’t want to lie down again, like a patient.

“Can we just relax for a bit? Maybe later?”

Castiel smiled and moved backwards up against the headboard. He held his arm out for Dean to lean against his shoulder. Dean shook his head at the, way too comfortable, man, but climbed up close to him, nonetheless.

A big sigh left Dean’s lungs as he relaxed his back against the pillow. Castiel’s arm wrapped tight around his shoulder and supported him the best he could.

“You’re over worked. You need to say stop before this next time.”

“I will, but you can’t deny that we had fun.”

Dean felt Castiel’s lungs release a small fast exhale. “No I can’t.” He cradled the back of Dean’s head and looked at him. Dean lifted his eyes to see into Castiel’s concerned ones. “But you need to be able to have fun more than once.”

Dean nodded and tried to relax his back, but it wasn’t quite possible in the crooked curve he was sitting in. “Cas. Maybe we should do the needles now anyway.”

Dean wasn’t sure it was even him who said that. If Sam had heard him he would have forced him to take a breathalyzer, just to make sure he wasn’t on his way towards alcohol poisoning.

Castiel rubbed Dean’s shoulder and nodded. “Sure. Do you want to lie down?”

“Well…” Dean had thought it was the way it was always done. But of course, when it was only his hands. He still couldn’t see though. “I… if I can’t see.”

“Just hang on for a minute.”

Castiel moved his arm from behind Dean and got to his knees so he could reach his bag. He pulled it with him as he sat back down. Confused, Dean was leaning back in, but Castiel shook his head and gestured for him to move in front of him. Silently, Dean moved to sit between Castiel’s legs and followed as Castiel pulled him back to lean on his chest.

“Do you need a pillow?”

Dean shook his head. His back was already better from being straight but relaxed. The t-shirts between them was not enough to keep the warmth from soothing Dean’s muscles.

“No, I’m good but…” Dean looked at the bag, Castiel was already pulling stuff out of.

“Find a place where your arms can stay relaxed. It’s just like yesterday. Only one in each hand.”

Dean did as told but was more and more sure that this was a bad idea. Still he didn’t question Castiel, not yet. He wouldn’t do anything unless he got the okay from Dean. Castiel put on a glove, found the alcohol and placed the little, very familiar box next to his thigh.

“Okay, Dean.” With his un-gloved hand, Castiel pushed Dean just an inch to the side and lightly turned his head to the other. “Can you relax like this?”

Dean let his head fall back a little and rested his temple on Castiel’s jaw. One of his hands were very much in sight though.

“Yeah…”

“Good. Now, Dean. Close your eyes and just breathe.”

“Cas… I’m not gonna…”

“Yes you are.” Castiel stopped Dean from talking. “You can keep them closed. You know it’s alright and that nothing is happening you need to be in control over. Not even for a second.”

Dean took a deep breath and closed his eyes.

“Okay?”

Dean nodded and turned his head further into Castiel’s neck. He wasn’t scared of the pinch, because there wouldn't be one. He wasn’t scared that Castiel might do something else; he wouldn't. He only feared that he, in a moment of weakness, would look and see the needle sticking out of his hand. That sight would pull him into panic fast. The last two weeks, he'd learned to work through imagining it. It wasn't fun but doable. But actually seeing the needle sticking out of him...

Castiel lifted his hand and held it in front of Dean’s chest so he could reach with both hands. Dean felt the alcohol and clenched his jaw and pressed his eye-lids light.

“Ready?”

Dean nodded and the same second that little tap was there and then gone. Castiel placed Dean’s hand back on his own thigh and took the other. The same thing happened before he placed the hand back on Dean stomach.

“Dean relax.”

Dean relaxed his shoulders, his arms and his back, but his face was still firmly pushed into Castiel’s neck.

“Hey…” Castiel was only whispering and it matched the fingers massaging the back of Dean’s head perfectly. “C’mon. You’re in control.”

Dean loosened his neck and rested his head heavily on Castiel’s collarbone, his temple once again against Castiel’s jaw.

“What if I sleep? What if wake up and don’t remember?”

“Honey. I won’t sleep. I’ll remind you before you are fully awake.”

Dean relaxed completely, but his head was still going a hundred miles an hour. He felt safe here. He trusted every word Castiel was saying, but he didn’t trust himself. He would lose control eventually.

“But what if…”

“Listen.” Castiel moved his face down and kissed Dean’s forehead. “It won’t happen, but it seems like you need to hear that I’m here no matter what, and I’ll be here to stop you from panicking if you see something. Do you believe that I can do that?”

Dean praised his luck that Castiel couldn’t see his lip quivering as he nodded.

“Good. Concentrate on your breathing for a while, and remember that you can say stop anytime.”

If anyone else would come in the room, Dean would feel like a big baby like this, but not when it was only Castiel. Only half a minute later Dean’s breathing controlled itself and he felt himself getting heavier on Castiel’s chest and shoulder. As his arm got heavier, his hand slowly slid down the outer side of Castiel’s thigh. Before Dean could get his head back in the game and react, Castiel took his lower arm and held it steady.

Without noticing, Dean slowly moved his arm back so Castiel’s hand came to lie under his. Half asleep he drew light and slow circles on the back of Castiel’s hand with the tip of his thumb. He hadn’t forgot the needle was there, he just trusted Castiel when he said that he couldn’t hurt himself.


After almost forty-five minutes, Castiel’s own back was starting to ache and, even on the soft mattress, his ass was starting to go numb. He was contemplating waking Dean when his head shifted to the side with a deep sigh.

“Dean?”

Dean hummed and straightened his back a little. His hand almost slipped from Castiel’s, but Castiel held it steady. He used the other hand to push Dean’s chin up so he was face to face with him. Dean followed the move easily and Castiel smiled with relief.

“You awake?”

Dean’s eyes fluttered open and as he seemed to focus on Castiel his eyes quickly got wider and he tensed up with a big inhale.

“Shh. You’re good.” Castiel moved his thumb under Dean’s hand, gracing it against his palm. “Remember?”

With another, more relaxed, breath, Dean calmed down and sunk down heavily on Castiel’s chest. His eyes were still firmly locked on Castiel’s face, but he build a small smile.

“Yeah. Are they still there?”

Castiel nodded and as Dean didn’t react, he found himself relax enough that he could move his legs a little so his back shifted to a more comfortable position. He cupped Dean’s cheek and held his head steady. “I’ll get them. Hang on.”

As Dean closed his eyes, Castiel couldn’t resist kissing his forehead before taking the needle out and reaching over to get the other too. He wrapped everything up with one hand and pushed it away.

Even with the frown between Dean’s eyebrows, he still looked more relaxed and content that Castiel could ever have hoped for. Castiel’s index finger draw a line from Dean’s temple, over his jaw and down to his chin and loosened the hold he had on him.

“You’re safe to look.”

Dean turned his head forward and opened his eyes. His eyes landed on Castiel’s hand on his chest and he took it in his and kissed it.

“Thanks.”

“All in a day’s work.”

Castiel felt Dean’s silent chuckle resonate against his chest before Dean sat up and turned towards him. Castiel uncurled his back and sight deeply as the feeling of normalcy came back.

“I didn’t hurt your back now, did I?”

The tone on Dean’s voice was jokingly light, but there was a hint of concern in his eyes. Castiel smiled and leaned over to kiss Dean’s mouth slowly.

“No, I just lost feeling in my ass.”

They shared a laugh and each had a huge smile as Dean’s hand graced Castiel’s face and he looked him deep in the eyes. He kissed him hastily and moved over.

“Good I was worried there for a second.” He sat against the headboard, close against Castiel’s side and hung an arm around his neck.

For the first time, Castiel felt the strength he already knew Dean possessed. The arm around him held him close in a secure embrace. The hand over both of his, felt unbelievably powerful but still somehow light and careful. Castiel closed his eyes as he leaned his head on Dean’s shoulder and blinked them slowly open again as he felt Dean’s jaw leaning on his scalp.

“Are your ass better?”

Castiel huffed with a smile and nodded. “It sure is.”

Both of them had their feet firmly planted on the mattress and their knees bend in front of them. It allowed for Castiel’s back to be more comfortable against the pillows and he felt better from it, because he knew that Dean was seated sensibly too.

“Dean?”

“Cas…”

“What are you going to tell your brother?”

Castiel felt Dean’s head turn just a little as if he was looking more directly at him.

“Nothing. He has no business in this.”

Cas smiled and took Dean’s hand in his and rubbed his thumbs over the back of it. “You might have to say something. It’s half past ten. I’ve been here over six hours.”

Dean’s head quickly turned to the clock on the wall and Castiel felt his breathing speed up, but there was no way Castiel could fight the smile building on his face.

“Well, he kinda already know anyway, so…”

Castiel looked up at Dean and was surprised to see him look embarrassed. Castiel hadn’t known anything for sure until today, he still wasn’t sure he did. So far it had been his impression that Dean hadn’t either.

“I’m not complaining, but w-what did you tell him…? When?”

“He kinda ambushed me last night. Have you met Jack?”

The kid living in the house hadn’t been in a room with him long enough to get more than his name from him. Castiel didn’t know how he was a part of this family. He couldn’t be more than nineteen. A cousin, maybe a, much younger, brother or Sam’s son. He’d considered that he might have been Dean’s. There hadn’t really been a right moment to ask. Not that it made a difference to Castiel anyway.

“Very briefly.”

“Yeah, he doesn’t do well with strangers. He usually fly under the radar when someone is over, but he sees everything and is almost always right in his conclusions. It’s annoying really.”

The big breaths rocking Castiel slowly, testified that Dean in fact was a bit annoyed by the situation, but something in his voice revealed that he could never really get mad at that kid. It only made Dean that much hotter and Castiel had to will himself back to the conversation.

“So, he told Sam?”

“He did. And my little brother, once again overthought everything. He sat me down and had to make sure that the reason I hadn’t said anything, wasn’t because I thought he wouldn’t approve.”

This had had to be out of the ordinary in this house. He suddenly had a feeling that Dean wasn’t one to keep things like this a secret. But the word approve kept floating around in his head.

“Dean.” Castiel turned to sit face to face with Dean, and folded his legs in front of himself. “Why wouldn’t he approve?”

Dean looked down and gathered his hands in his lap. “That’s it. I never doubted that he would.”

Castiel straightened is back and studied Dean as reality sat in. He hunched down to try and catch Dean’s line of sight but Dean’s eyes were locked on his hands.

“He’d never had to before, has he?”

Castiel could hear Dean swallow and his heart skipped a beat as he saw his shoulders move from a too long and deep breath. Before it was over, Castiel took one of Dean’s hands and lifted his face by his chin. Dean’s eyes were still looking down.

“You know that’s not important right? Not to me.”

Dean bit his lower lip and slowly lifted his eyes. Castiel was quick to hunch down and catch eye-contact. He smiled encouragingly and relished in the smile Dean sent back.

“You know, Dean…” Castiel gathered both of Dean’s hands and looked down at the grip equally balanced between the two. “…this is new to me too. This is different. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s not like before, it’s…” Castiel gave up, he had no idea how to put it into words.

Dean lifted their hands and kissed both of Castiel’s. “…it’s more.”

Castiel looked up into two, more than green, eyes smiling at him. He nodded, and savored the long quiet moment. They were both on deep water here. None of them had any idea what they were doing but somehow it made it safer that both of them were clueless. Somehow, it had Castiel believing that they would only be stronger from it.

Dean kissed Castiel's lips slowly. It was a light kiss, but still more powerful than ever. Without talking Dean leaned back and Castiel turned around and leaned against his side again. He laced his fingers with Dean’s and rested their hold against Dean’s thighs. Four bent legs acting as a wall between the rest of the room and their own small world.

“Maybe we should do this at my place from now on?”

“That might be good. I’d like not to spend six hours locked in this small room again tomorrow.”

The serenity of feeling Dean’s strength and his slow breathing, wasn’t even disturbed by the thought of how he would get out of this room without anyone seeing him. It had been over seven hours now.

He felt Dean’s upper buddy jump from a small almost inaudible laugh. “Besides, I’m sure the laughing and tumbling around on the floor will only prompt more assumptions.”

A soundless chuckle escaped Castiel’s lips before he nodded slowly and placed his free hand lightly on Dean’s chest and turned his head to look at him.

“We don’t need that kind of pressure.”

Dean smiled and kissed Castiel light and soft, before they both relaxed completely and Castiel’s head once again landed heavily on Dean’s steady shoulder. With no thought to it Castiel’s fingertips brushed light drawings on Dean’s chest.

“Let’s do this in our own pace.”