Dean needed sleep. For the fourth night in a row, Dean stared unblinking at his ceiling when he should be unconscious. The thought flit across his mind that he might as well put up a few posters, to give his eyes something else to look at. But Michael’s consistent pounding knocked it out just as quickly as it popped in. He tugged his pillow out from behind his head and over his face, screaming his frustration into it.
Dean didn’t know how long he stayed like that. Not enough that he suffocated himself, but a good amount of time so that the drum inside his head was put off by a different tempo. A faster one, outside his own mind, that was interceded by frantic pleas in a worried voice. He shot up; flicking his lamp on so Dean could better see his door. Rushing over, Dean opened it up, stopping Castiel before he broke through the wood.
Castiel froze, fist raised and angel blade drawn at his side. Dean glanced at the weapon before trailing up to his face. His eyes were wide, eyebrows raised as high as they could go, and his lips were parted.
Dean hazarded a grin. “You okay there, Cas?”
“I…” he swallowed around his words, sheepishly dropping his fist. “I heard… I felt that you were… in distress.”
Blushing, Dean turned over to his bed where his pillow and blankets were messily strewn about. “Yeah,” he told him, “It’s – um… it’s nothing I haven’t dealt with.”
He felt Castiel move behind him, breath ghosting at the back of his neck. “Michael?”
Nodding, Dean cleared his throat. “Yeah,” he said, voice a low growl, “It’s… I’m used to… you didn’t…” He stopped, taking a deep breath, facing Castiel again. “Thanks for coming, though. S’nice, knowing you… care and all that – all that junk.”
Castiel smiled, laying his hand on Dean’s shoulder. “I’ll always be there if you need me, Dean.”
Licking his lips, Dean tried to collect any errant moisture to wet his quickly drying mouth. “I know…” He stepped away. “I should… probably try and get back to it.” Dean jerked a lazy thumb backwards, “Got a good feeling tonight could be the night!” The joke landed on shaky legs, neither of them laughing in the increasingly thick atmosphere. Failing to find anything else to say, Dean left Castiel in the doorway.
However, instead of leaving Dean as he expected, Castiel waited until he was on the other side of the door before closing it.
“Cas what are you –“
“You’re still having trouble sleeping?”
“I would think that’s obvious…”
Castiel moved closer, standing over Dean on the other side of his bed. “I’ve read in… certain studies, that people tend to sleep easier when there’s someone else in the room with them. Someone they trust.”
Dean huffed. “I doubt having you watching me like that all night is gonna help any…”
“I don’t have to stay here,” Castiel continued, fingers gently stroking Dean’s sheets. “I could busy myself nearby at your desk or… or I could lay with you.”
Dean’s heart stopped, jumping up into his throat before falling back down to beat at double its speed. “You – uh… are you offering?”
Castiel shrugged. “Only if you think it might help.”
The ball bounced back into Dean’s court. He frowned, staring down at how his hands have mangled his blanket. It was hard coming up with any reason why Castiel’s suggestion was a bad idea. Any list he started immediately fell apart as Michael’s barrage grew in strength. Dean kneaded at his temples, sighing. “Why not?” he said, “Not like I’ve got a whole lot of Hail Mary’s in my back pocket.”
Castiel rolled his eyes. He went to sit, only for Dean to shoo him off. “What?”
“You’re not getting into my bed like that.”
“What’s wrong with my outfit?”
“Besides it being everywhere,” Dean said, “It’s… I’m not gonna get any sleep knowing you’re dressed like…”
“Like an accountant? A flasher?” Castiel sighed, pulling from a catalogue of things Dean had compared him to in the past. “A creep.”
“Like you’re ready to leave.” The confession punched him in the gut, forcing Dean to crouch over himself. He strangled the blanket, unwilling to look up at Castiel even after hearing his quiet gasp and pitying hum. Dean readied himself for Castiel to turn away, then, and pretend like he never suggested this to begin with.
He heard fabric rustle in the background. “Dean?” Castiel asked, “What would you prefer I slept in?”
Dean willed his blush away, using some of his strength keeping Michael at bay to look at Castiel. He had shucked his trench coat, and fingered the buttons underneath his loosened tie. Biting his tongue, Dean very carefully chose his next words. “Boxers are fine, and whatever undershirt you got on, too.”
Castiel stripped down to that, even tugging off his socks and balling them up. Then, without any preamble, he got into bed with him. He sat in Dean’s bed, leaning against the headboard, legs crossed over each other.
It was a strange sight for Dean. He hadn’t seen Castiel under dressed in reality. There were some things he got wrong. His muscles were more defined than he realized, and he wasn’t sure if the lamplight made his skin look tanner. The boxers he wore were loose and white, a thick outline in the center that emphasized how happy his trail ended. That was another thing; Castiel didn’t seem like the type to have body hair. But it was there, where his shirt rode up and all the way down to his toes. He had been staring at his feet for quite some time before Castiel cleared his throat, drawing his attention back up to him. One eyebrow was raised, and he smirked. “Shouldn’t you be sleeping?”
Like a chastised child, Dean quickly ducked his head down. Turning his back to Castiel, Dean lay down and drew the blanket up to his chin. “Can you turn off the –“
Dean felt Castiel’s eyes on him, the powerful gaze moving down from his taut shoulders to the curve of where he’s tucked his legs underneath him. Its heat scorched him, and made it more difficult than ever to fall asleep. Still, he kept silent. Dean didn’t trust himself to speak, unsure what words might escape.
Castiel seemed to not have this problem. Flick! “You’re uncomfortable.”
Frowning, Dean rolled over enough for Castiel to see his dimples. “Yeah, and…?”
“Is there anything I can do to help?” At that, Dean rolled back over, hiding his blush yet again from his friend. “Dean,” Castiel tried, “Please. You can tell me anything…”
Sighing, Dean adjusted himself once more. He now sat next to Castiel, arms side by side. His skin burned hotter than Baby’s hood in a Texan summer where it met Castiel’s.
He scrubbed a hand down his face. “It’s… it’s not like you can really do anything. I’m – uh… I’m not really used to having another guy in my bed.”
Castiel skewed his head to the right. “I don’t understand, to my knowledge you and Sam have shared beds many times in your life.”
Snorting, Dean shook his head. “That was different.”
“Well I was never a…” He stopped, biting his lip. Dean nearly let slip a dangerous fact that, with an archangel in his head, he wasn’t too keen with sharing just yet. But his guard had been lowered, as he was wont to do when around his angel. Michael punched the door, the simple lock shaking. Dean drew into himself, reinforcing his defenses. “You’re not Sammy,” he shrugged.
His curt response wasn’t lost on Castiel. “Even so,” he said, after a long pause, “I don’t think this will work if you aren’t receptive –“
“And maybe it won’t work even if I am?” Dean cut him off. He ran a hand through his hair, breathing a sharp whistle through his teeth. “Christ, Cas, why are you being so nice?”
“Because – because you are burdened and –“
“And what? It’s not like this is new to me. Dad’s secrets, the Mark, and now Michael? My whole life has left me nothing but tired and… and I don’t get it…” Out from the corner of his eye he saw Castiel’s forlorn expression, and it seizes his heart. Losing all fight, he continued in a quieter voice. “I know you’re trying to help. I’m… I’m not used to this. I’ve always had to… shoulder it all on my own, and – well, it’s hard for this old dog to learn a new trick.”
Castiel doesn’t respond, and his heart cracks. He covers his eyes with both hands, rubbing at them. “Look, I’ll understand if you want to just go – I get it. This wasn’t the easy plan you were expecting –“
He tore Dean’s hands away, holding them within his own. Castiel stared at him softer than he’s ever seen, sure that he was looking past Dean’s face and into his very mind to find Michael’s cage. Stumbling upon Dean’s inner self hunched over in front of the door as the archangel continued his attempts at freedom.
“No,” he repeated, much softer, “Dean I… I won’t leave you. It would take a powerful being to force me away from your side. All I want to do is be near you and… and make you happy. Michael… there’s not much I can do, for all my angelic power. But this I… it’s the simplest thing I can offer.” He shook, as if whatever Dean chose to do next could break him.
The man beside him was amazing. Castiel would charge headfirst into danger with no care as to the possibility of death, a trait that gnawed at Dean’s own nerves. But here, this charged emotional moment seemed to be worse than facing down an army of demons with no back up for him. Dean smiled at the display of humanity. “I… I’m so used to taking care of things.”
“For once, Dean, let me take care of you.”
The weights that were tied to Dean’s shoulders dropped, and they sagged for what felt like the first time in years. “I’m so tired, Cas…”
“It’s all right,” Castiel comforted him, drawing Dean near, “Lay down, I’m here…” He was guided to Castiel’s chest, pillowing his head up against it. Instead of listening to the simple cadence of another heartbeat, Castiel’s body hummed like an engine. The sound puts him more at ease then ever, and easily overpowers Michael’s banging. Then, with one arm wrapped around his chest, Castiel runs his fingers through Dean’s hair. His petting, coupled with the melody he sung under breath, all helped drive him into a comforting blackness.
Dean chuckled. “Who knew cuddling would be the key to defeating Michael?”
“Well the answers we search for always did come from unexpected places…”
“Yeah, unexpected...” Dean shifted in place, staring up at Castiel’s jaw through his lashes. “Speaking of… when did we get so domestic?”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s just… I’m not one for all this touchy-feely crap. Not that I don’t like it it’s… never really found anyone who’d want to do this, especially with me.”
“You and I have known each other for… ten years, is it?”
“Give or take a couple of months.”
“That’s a long time,” Castiel said, “Even to someone like me who has been around for millennia… I’ve done more in that time than I ever did as a simple soldier. And while there are things to be proud of and to regret… what I most cherish are the bonds I’ve built here on Earth. Ours especially.”
“I… I feel the same,” Dean told him, “You… you’re not someone I thought I could ever have in my life. Not because you’re an angel… but because you’re so – so good. You’re my best friend, and you’re there for me even after all the mistakes I’ve made.”
“I’m no innocent either,” Castiel whispered into his hair, “You know all my sins, the pain I’ve caused.”
“But you’re you, and I’m me and…” Dean grinned into Castiel’s chest, “I’m lucky that we keep finding our way back to each other. That even though the world keeps crapping on us, at least it gave us this.”
Castiel agreed with him. Snuggling in closer, Dean wrapped his arms around his friend’s torso. He tried to cover his yawn with Castiel’s chest, but it didn’t work.
“You should go to sleep Dean.”
Dean whined. “But I’m enjoying this too much…”
“I’ll still be here when you wake up.” Dean stilled, turning his neck to stare at the wall across from him. Castiel sensed his unease. “Dean?”
“What if I’m not?”
“What if –“
“What if I go to sleep, and Michael breaks free. And I never wake up, and he’s here and you’re here and –“
“Dean.” Castiel pulled him tighter against him. “You can let your guard down tonight while I’m here… you always can for me.”
His earnest tone struck at Dean’s heart, and obliterated any energy he had to stay awake. In his last few moments of wakefulness, Dean forced out his last few words for the night. “Thanks Cas,” he slurred, “’Love you.”
Castiel paused, resuming his ministrations after a long beat. “I know, Dean,” he said, “I love you, too.”
“Good.” Then, he descended into unconsciousness.
Inside his mind, at Rocky’s Bar, Michael kept pounding away. Dean’s eyes drooped closed every so often, each time staying like that longer than he’d like. As if sensing it, Michael rattled his cage harder than he has before. When it seemed like the lock was going to give, Castiel stepped into view. He forced the pin down once more, and then moved to sit beside Dean. Drawing him into his arms, he let Dean’s head rest against his shoulder.
“Let your guard down… you always can for me.”
Dean did willingly, putting his trust in Castiel. With a smile, Dean rested, waiting for when he could wake up and be with his angel once more.
Michael’s yells didn’t bother him tonight.