The bunker was quiet that morning. The halls were silent with only the soft whir of machinery echoing down the cold hallway. It was early according to the clock by the bedside table, and for the oldest Winchester the day was not only starting, but technically the previous day had not ended for him. Dean had been up most of the night before going through his belongings, searching for the one item he needed. There were papers strewn out across the floor of his bedroom. Birth certificates, ID badges, fake documents with the brothers faces on them. What Dean had been searching for in his chest of memories was now sitting in his pocket. The cool metal felt strange in his jeans, pressing against his thigh as he sat against his bed frame. The radio was on beside his type writer, the soft melody of Elvis played through the speakers, soothing the harsh thumping of his heart.
Dean Winchester, greatest Hunter in the world, was nervous... A soft knock on the bedroom door made him look up, meeting his little brothers eyes as Sam stepped through the cracked door.
Sam took one look at the scattered chaos in the room and smirked, that knowing look in his eyes. Dean's little brother knew exactly what he was up to.
"Did you find it?" he asked, smiling when Dean patted his pocket.
Dean wouldn't even look at him, too far gone staring into space as he tried to gather his courage. Truth be told, he had asked their mom first before he even told Sam about his plans, needing Mary's permission to ease the stupid guilt. Mary had given him one look that told him he was an idiot for even asking for her permission, but he couldn't help it, he needed to know it was okay.
"Sammy?" Dean's voice had taken on a slight desperate tone, making Sam look at him funny. Dean looked scared, that uneasy look in his eyes as he finally met his brother's gaze. Sam didn't understand why Dean would be afraid, his big brother wasn't afraid of anything.
"Do you think I'm askin' too much?" Dean whispered, looking up with hesitation in his eyes. It took a moment for Sam to catch on. It suddenly hit him what Dean was asking him. Dean was only scared of one thing...loosing the ones he loved.
His brother was afraid things would go horribly wrong and they would loose their angel.
"Not at all," Sam said softly, giving his brother one last smile before retreating into the hallway. Dean watched him leave with a sigh, rubbing a hand over his face to try and get a grip over himself. This was insane in his book. After everything he'd been through, all the bullshit he'd been dragged through in his exceedingly long life, this honest too God scared him. Hearing the muffled thud of the bunkers door shut, Dean knew Sam had left for his daily run. Another quick glance at his clock told him it was nearing 7 am. Best not waste too much time overthinking like he normally did.
Standing up slowly, Dean felt his back ache from sitting on the hard floor for so long, he cursed his years of broken bones. He wasn't hardly into his 40's and he felt like an old man. Stretching his back with a sound pop of his spine, Dean felt good enough. Truthfully, his knees ached, his back ached, his freakin' head ached and his heart was still pounding away in his chest.
Hopefully, this wouldn't end badly.
Thinking of ways to break the ice, so to speak, Dean decided on a simple breakfast with coffee. He moved his Elvis disk out to the library so he could finish the album. The music was turned down low so as not to bother the other residents of the bunker. He settled on bacon and eggs with fresh oatmeal. The coffee maker was brewing the precious life giving drug water behind him, pretty soon the kitchen was filled with the wonderful aroma of bacon. It wasn't long before the soft patter of bare feet against tile made it's way into the kitchen.
Castiel stood in the doorway dressed in a pair of loose jeans, a faded band t-shirt with oil stains on it, bare foot and obviously comfortable. Dean couldn't help but stare. Trying to convince his angel to change clothes when they were off duty had been tough, but eventually Cas agreed after Sam and Mary joined in on the mild argument. What Dean had not planned on was for half his wardrobe to go missing. Though, he would never admit it out loud, he enjoyed seeing Cas wear his old clothes. The blue eyed angel could definitely rock a pair of faded jeans. Cas' smaller frame made most of Dean's clothes hang off him in places, like his shoulders for instance, but it just added to that adorable innocence Cas had.
"Mornin' sunshine, coffee?" Dean nodded to the coffee maker, watching Cas stumble over to the coffee cups near the table. It was funny to watch Cas experience coffee for the first time. It honestly looked like you'd just given the angel a sour lime when his lips twisted up, that cute nose of his scrunched up in mild disgust. It was only after Sam introduced Cas to creamer and sugar that the angel started drinking the brew more often.
"Good morning Dean." Cas' voice was rough, no doubt the angel had done what he called sleep, but it was more like meditating rest.
Angels could not sleep, not like humans, as Castiel explained on more than one occasion. Dean was just happy to see Cas relax more often, trying to be more human as the angel would say.
Setting the bacon on a plate to drain, Dean grabbed the bowl of eggs from the fridge. He made his own first before starting Castiel's, knowing the angel would only eat them if they were poached. Perfect way too ruin a good egg in his opinion.
"I enjoy this man," Cas said from behind him. Dean turned around in confusion, not getting what Cas was talking about.
"The music. I like it." Cas clarified after a second of silence, his body swaying gently back and forth as he leaned against the table. It was nice watching Cas enjoy something so human, something as simple as music making the angel smile. Dean made a short mental note to make another mix-tape for Cas to listen to on his own. Of all the things Cas had discovered in the bunker, the one thing he claimed for himself was an old casset player, claiming the music sounded better to him when played in the ancient device. Dean had felt so very proud that day! He began making mix-tapes for Cas to listen to in his room.
"Elvis, everybody digs Elvis. One of the greatest singers of all time." Dean listened to the music, mumbling along to the words as Cas watched him cook.
"Dig? What purpose would excavation serve?" Cue the head tilt. Dean smirked and shook his head at the confused look on his friends face. He would never get tired of explaining things to the clueless angel.
"It means people like him. Just a figure of speech buddy," Dean said while setting the eggs on two plates.
"A form of slang, you mean?" Cas still had that curious expression on his face but accepted the answer. Dean knew that human slang still confused the angel on a regular basis. It was funny to see that squinty eyed look wash over Cas' face when he didn't understand something. Another thing Dean knew he would never tire of.
"Made your favorite, Cas. Poached eggs, burnt bacon and oatmeal with blueberries in it. Between you and Sammy's eating habits I don't know which of you is more of a health nut," Dean mumbled, handing Cas a plate of food. A surprised look came over the angel's face as he took his food.
"Thank you? But why the occasion?" Cas looked from his plate up to Dean's face, watching a concentrated look come over the hunter. Something was wrong with Dean, that much was obvious to him. Cas watched Dean turn away from him to grab his coffee cup, taking a long sip from it before addressing Cas again.
"Look, Cas...can we talk?"
The plate nearly feel from Cas' hands...
Cas felt his heart clench as old memories resurfaced in his mind, the pain he felt the last time he'd heard Dean say those words to him.
This couldn't be happening again could it?
Dean wouldn't do that to him again, right?
"Cas? Cas, you okay?" Dean's voice brought him out of his thoughts, a concerned look in the hunters eyes as he gently placed his hand on Castiel's shoulder. Cas tried to school his emotions quickly, not wanting to worry his friend.
Shaking his head, Cas just mumbled a quick 'I'm fine' before retreating out into the library with his food and coffee. Dean stood there for a few moments trying to figure out what just happened. Cas honestly looked liked he expected Dean to hit him or something. That look in the angel's eye was one Dean was familiar with.
It was fear.
Why the hell would Cas be afraid?
Dean knew he wasn't supposed to see that though, as quickly as it had surfaced it dissipated just as fast, a mask coming over in it's place. Wondering why his angel would look at him like that, Dean tried not to let the unease get to him.
He had more important things to worry about.
Out in the library, Castiel was trying not to break down and ask the very question beating in his brain.
What had he done wrong?
Dean must be upset with him, or perhaps Sam or Mary was upset with him? He must have done something wrong...again. Had he angered them? Did they want him to leave again? Last time Dean told him he could not stay was because of Sam, better yet it was Gadreel, fear for his brother's life had caused Dean to make a rash decision. Dean had told Castiel he was sorry for that, that he had been played by the angel inside his brother but Cas had forgiven Dean already. It was now long behind them.
Or, so he believed.
Dean had said that same exact phrase before, almost in the same tone, and it scared Castiel more than he would have imagined. The bunker was his home, the only true home he'd had besides Heaven and he was not exactly welcome there. What if Dean asked him to leave the bunker? His home. His family. Dean wouldn't do that would he? The hunter had looked Castiel in the eye and told him he was family more than once.
He was family, Dean said he was family, he would not take that away from him.
That small voice in the back of his head made Cas nervous. Years of failures and disappointments had taken a heavy toll on his conscious. Failing the Winchesters, failing Dean, had been the worst. The fall of heaven, his brothers and sisters loosing their wings, it had hurt Castiel to know he was to blame, but none of those things compared to the pain he went through every time Dean looked at him in disappointment.
Trying to think back, Cas could not figure out what he'd done. He must have done something. He was an angel again, so he was useful. He tried to act more like a human around his family like they asked. His presence in the bunker was minimal at best, so he wasn't in the way.
Had the Winchesters simply grown tired of him?
Did they not want him anymore?
He knew the Winchester family had slowed down their involvement in the hunting world. Mary claimed she was retired from hunting for good. Dean and Sam still went on the occasional hunt if they were experiencing 'cabin fever' as they said. Castiel still did not understand how a log structure could cause illness.
Regardless, he always accompanied the brothers when they hunted. That counted for something did it not?
Sam and Mary's absence from this impromptu breakfast had him worried. Did they wish for this? Had the task been left to Dean? The sudden 'I made your favorite' and the calm music and the unusual kindness Dean was showing was causing warning bells go off inside him. If he was asked to leave again, Castiel did not know if he would survive this time around...
Footsteps echoed through the room breaking Cas out of his thoughts. Dean came over to the table Cas had chosen with his own plate, a cup of coffee and a small envelope under his arm. It made Cas tense as the man took a seat across from him. The fear inside him spiked when he realized this was the same table he'd been at before when Dean told him too leave. Dean set the envelope down between them, gazing at it for a second to try and give him some confidence. He quickly took notice of the untouched food on Cas' plate and the stiffness in his friends shoulders.
That stupid uneasy feeling was slowly coming back.
"Cas?" The whispered word seemed to break the angel out of his trance. Cas tried to give Dean a small smile, but Dean knew it was fake. He could tell when his angel was upset and he clearly was, but why?
"Just waiting for you," Cas mumbled, picking up his fork. Castiel waited for Dean to start eating before taking a small bite of his own food. Normally, he enjoyed Dean cooking for him, but now it was all he could do to get it down. His extra crispy bacon tasted bland instead of salty like normal. Even his eggs were tasteless.
Dean waited a few minutes, watching the angel eat slowly across from him, before mustering up his courage to do what he wanted. The small weight in his pocket was still pressed against his thigh.
He could do this.
It's just Cas, or so he kept trying to tell himself.
"Listen, Cas, I know we've been through some pretty muddy shit the last few years. But I'm glad you stuck around man. Me and Sammy, we could always count on you for backin' us up." Dean watched his friend stop eating, now just picking at his plate, silently letting Dean talk. The slight hunch in his shoulders were the only sign Dean could see that Cas was bothered by something.
"Cas, man, I'm really not great at this crap, but...ah God-" Dean sighed in exasperation, annoyed with himself that he sucked at chick-flick moments. His next words died in his throat when he watched Castiel's blue eyes become misty. A lump suddenly caught in his throat as he tried to ask his angel what was wrong, because in all the years he'd known him, Dean had only seen Cas cry once. Unpleasant memories of Ramiel stabbing Cas with the lance of Michael played through his mind causing Dean to feel sick.
He never wanted to go through that again.
"Dean? Your not going too--" Cas' words were cut off by a small noise in his throat, his eyes shifting down to the table top instead of looking up at Dean.
"What? Tell me what's wrong here, Cas?" Dean was truly at loss. What was supposed to be a life changing speech had somehow turned into this. Whatever this was? Castiel had never looked so vulnerable, he actually looked broken.
What the Hell was happening?
Cas finally looked up to meet the hunters eyes and Dean felt his heart break as one lone tear escaped the angel, just a small drop cascading from the corner of his eye. It was enough to bring him down to his knees and beg his best friend to stop. When Cas spoke again, he was so quiet it was hard for Dean to even hear him.
"Your not asking me to leave again, are you?" Cas whispered, another small drop escaping to trail down his nose. Dean stared at his best friend silently, replaying the question in his mind to see if he'd heard wrong, misinterpreted, had some leftover ghoul lodged in his ear because there is no way Cas actually just asked him that.
Dean couldn't wrap his brain around the conversation anymore. Cas thought he was asking him to leave? The bunker, his home? Their home?
Shaking his head, Dean knew that even though he didn't exactly understand where this came from, Cas was upset and he needed to fix it. Trying to find his voice after that sucker punch, Dean held up his hands in a placating manner before speaking.
"Okay, I'm not sure where this is comin' from, but Cas-buddy-this is your home. With us. With me. Your family, remember?" Dean went the extra mile and reached out to grasp one of Castiel's hands, feeling the tight fist relax under his palm. Cas nodded his head, looking back down at the table. Dean tried to meet Cas' eyes, giving his friend a confused look. He still didn't understand what had gone so wrong.
"Why would you think I'd ever ask you to leave, Cas?"
The angel continued to allow Dean to grasp his hand, taking comfort from the calloused fingers flexing around his own. Feeling the stress leave him after Dean confirmed he was in fact not asking Cas to leave, Castiel figured he did owe the hunter an explanation.
"When you last spoke that phrase, it was when I became human." Cas explained softly, waiting for Dean to understand.
'Cas, can we talk?'
The words came back to Dean as if someone had slapped him. Of-fucking-course, the one conversation that was supposed to be the best between them, he starts out the same way the worst conversation between them ever went. God, he really was an idiot.
Sighing, Dean gently pulled his hand away to reach into his pocket, mumbling gently, "It's nothin' like that, angel...in fact it's the exact opposite."
Cas have Dean a confused look, watching the hunter finger something in his palm. Dean slid the envelope on the table towards him. Cas took the small slip and opened it, finding a folded piece of paper inside with some kind of seal on it.
"Cas, we've known each other a long time. Everything we've been through, everything we've put each other through, you always come back. Always. A-and I...I can't help but think that one day...one day I might lose you just like I've lost everyone else." Dean was beginning to get emotional, and he hated it. This was Cas. He could tell Cas anything, just like Sammy.
So why was this so damn hard?
Cas watched his friend try to not stumble over his words, looking down at the paper in his hands instead to give Dean a little comfort. Castiel knew that Dean hated being open and honest. It was far too chick-flicky for him. The paper in his hands was one he had seen before, humans called them birth certificates, he'd seen the brothers before as well as Mary's. This one was a little different though.
This one had his own name.
"I told you before, your our family. We are your family. Not those winged dick-bags. Sammy figured it was a nice touch to make you feel more human," Dean said, gesturing to the birth certificate. Cas felt his heart swell at the simple gesture. Even though he knew it was fake, illegal in the eyes of the law, Cas couldn't help but feel he should cherish it.
Dean smirked at the soft smile gracing the angel's face, loving that he could put it there.
Now came the hard part.
The one that had him jumping out of his skin all damn night.
The last song of the album began to play, and Dean fought the urge too roll his eyes at what song it was.
Wise men say
Only fools rush in
But I can't help falling in love
Now or never Winchester.
Taking a calming breath, Dean thought over the words he'd practiced in his head for days. This was the part he was afraid of. Suck it up Winchester!
"I know you say you'll never leave man, and you have no idea how grateful I am for that...but I guess I need somethin' more," Dean said softly, watching Cas set his new birth certificate on the table.
"Somethin' to tell me you'll stay." Dean watched Cas give him that adorable head tilt. Sliding his hand across the table, he opened his palm to show the faded ring in his hand.
Shall I stay
Would it be a sin
If I can't help falling in love
"I need you too stay, Cas..." he whispered, watching the realization cross over Cas' face.
The angel slowly took the ring from him and admired it. The flecks of gold had long since faded away, the metal had lost most of it's shine but the engraving on the inside of the band was still perfect. Cas felt his breath catch as he read over the beautiful script inside the band.
To John, love Mary...
Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be
Dean couldn't stop staring as his angel stared lovingly at the ring he'd given him. Cas looked mesmerized by it. It was the only thing besides the journal that John Winchester had left to them. Dean never imagined he would ever get the chance to give it to someone, and he always imagined he would be the one wearing it. He, himself, had always worn his mothers ring. It was all that was left after the fire, and John had given it to Dean as a teenager.
He'd never taken it off.
Take my hand
Take my whole life too
For I can't help Falling in love
Cas fingered the lovely ring in his hand, sliding it onto his finger with ease. It was a perfect fit. Too think that one day he would be wearing the wedding band of John Winchester would have been comical years ago. Now though, it meant the world to him.
"I'm not gettin' down on my knee, probably wouldn't be able to get back up," Dean joked softly. Cas gave him an unamused look but couldn't stop the bright smile. The music playing around them seemed perfect in that moment. Looking back down to the ring on his hand, he gave Dean a heartwarming smile.
Now he understood the saying.
For I can't help
Falling in love
"Yes, I can dig Elvis."