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Missing Our Same Old Us

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~*~ Missing Our Same Old Us ~*~

 

There are moments in your life

 

“You know that you annoy me to no end, don’t you, Winchester? I mean, seriously, I can’t stand you.”

“You sure about that, Novak? I think you rather like me. Why else would you always pick a case where you can be sure to meet me?”

“Because it’s my damn job.”

 

Important moments

 

“Honestly, this really wasn’t what I had in mind when I asked for a finder’s fee.”

“Shut up and kiss me.”

 

That define who you are

 

“I am, and will always be, your loving husband.”

“It is my honor to pronounce you one.”

 

And if these moments are taken from you

 

“CAS, watch out!!”

 

Everything changes

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

~*~ Chapter One ~*~

~ Now ~

The room was cold and dimly lit. The beeping of all the monitors and machines was simultaneously annoying and weirdly comforting. Because as long as they were beeping, Cas was still alive.

He didn’t look alive.

He looked cold and ashen. Fragile, almost.

Cas wasn’t fragile. He was the strongest person Dean had ever met, even if he didn’t look like it. Right now he certainly didn’t.

There were some cuts and bruises all over his face and arms and probably all over his body but those parts were covered by the clean and stark white sheets.

The sheets made him look even paler, which was weird. White sheets usually brought out Cas’ ever-present tan. Now he just looked...

Deathly pale.

Taking a shaky breath, Dean brushed a hand over his face, trying to rid himself of all his thoughts. A quick check to the clock on the wall told him it was almost five in the morning. No wonder his thoughts were jumping around, clinging to weird and unimportant details. He was dead tired, his brain fuzzy. He should probably be sleeping but he just couldn’t.

Not until Cas woke up. Or at least until a doctor came in and told him Cas had made it through the night and was therefore out of the woods.

The upholstery of his chair squeaked when he moved, adding an uncomfortable sound into the quiet of the hospital room and the melody of the beeping machines. It was one of the reasons Dean had moved very little all night. Seriously, couldn’t hospitals afford comfortable chairs for worried relatives? Did they not have enough problems besides fighting back pain, weird noises, and uncomfortable squishing cushions?

 

Groaning, Dean shook his head to get rid of his weariness. And those stupid thoughts. But really, it was either weird thoughts or terrible ones about Cas’ paleness.

Why was time moving so slowly?

About to reach for Cas’ hand, a noise behind Dean set his instincts on fire. Within a heartbeat, he was out of the chair - which squeaked in protest - and focused on the possible threat, one hand on his weapon.

“Whoa, Winchester, calm it.”

Blinking, Dean relaxed and raised both his hands, mostly to show that his gun was still holstered but also in a weirdly apologetic way. If that even made sense. It probably didn’t but it was also five in the morning, so sue him.

“My apologies, Assistant Director.”

“We’re in a hospital at ass o’clock. No need to be formal, Winchester.”

Puffing out a laugh, Dean turned the chair just enough so he could face his direct superior before he sat back down. 

“Well, sorry then, Henriksen.”

With a nod in acknowledgment, Henriksen moved further into the room, his gaze worried as it landed on Cas.

“How is he?”

“No idea,” Dean replied, rubbing his eyes. “Doctors say he might not make it through the night but should be fine if he does. So far he’s just been like this, no getting worse or anything. So- I really don’t know.”

“You know you don’t need to sit with him like this, right?”

Dean’ shoulders tensed at the remark but didn’t reply, so Henriksen went on.

“Don’t get me wrong, I admire your commitment to your team. But the man has a family. You could call them. Or, you know... let part of your team sit here. It’s not like you have a shortage of Novaks out there.”

“I’m fine, really,” Dean assured the man, mostly to have him stop talking. His head was hurting as it was, no need to add to that.

Henriksen gazed at him with a calculating look. 

“You’re not blaming yourself, are you?”

Swallowing, Dean choose his words carefully. 

“As you said, committed to my team. I’m their leader, so if anything goes wrong -”

“I talked to your team and from what I’m gathering, there wasn’t anything you could have done to prevent this.”

Yeah, because his team was unaware of the full story.

“Unless you want to add some details, Agent?”

There was a sharp nuance to the question that made Dean grit his teeth. In his head, he counted to three before he replied.

“I’m sure my team covered it pretty well but if you need my input as well...”

“I would appreciate that, yes,” Henriksen told him nonchalantly, taking a seat on the other squishy chair as if he was preparing for storytime.

Dean liked his direct superior. He was a hard-working man, had once been a Field Agent himself who now worked in the FBI’s Management, had common sense and a good hand at being fair and authoritative without playing favorites. Henriksen was well respected within the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, or BAU, which Dean’s agency was part of. In short, Dean was sure he could have gotten worse superiors. But sometimes, just sometimes, he really wished Henriksen wasn’t such a damn good agent himself.

With him, Dean never knew if he was still oblivious about Cas and Dean’s secret, if he already suspected something or if he maybe already knew - maybe even had known all along - but chose to ignore it or perhaps, simply didn’t care. With Henriksen, any of these options were a possibility. Which was why it was not a good idea to have a sleep-deprived and worried-out-of-his-mind Dean talk to him.

But he could not refuse a direct request like this. 

At least it would keep his mind off of the damn squeaking chairs and the paleness of Cas’ skin.

“Well, as you know our current case made it necessary to speak with Crowley. Instead of waiting for him to grace Earth with his presence again we decided to go to Hell -”

“Which is forbidden nowadays,” Henriksen interrupted him right away as if he had anticipated this explanation to come. “Hence why that portal is sealed.”

“Which is why we went to Purgatory to use the backdoor-”

“Damnit, Winchester, come on,” Henriksen exclaimed. 

He got up and moved toward the window. 

The first light was breaking, Dean realized.

“How many times do we have to go over this?” the Assistant Director asked, fixing Dean with his stare. “No trips through Purgatory to get to Hell.”

“I know,” Dean replied, voice subdued. 

He knew very well that Henriksen usually turned a blind eye on their loophole, mostly because they always came out winning. Just now and then, when the authorities got wind of it, Dean would get a slap on his wrist so Henriksen could save face. They would not do it again for a few months until the situation had calmed down and then the spiel would start anew if need be.

This time, however, something severe had happened.

More severe to Dean than he was allowed to let on.

“I’m sure,” Henriksen began and in his change of voice, Dean noticed the man was telling him something. “I’m sure there was also some business you needed to attend to in Purgatory itself?”

Henriksen’s gaze was focused directly at Dean, one brow raised. Dean wasn’t stupid. Even in his sleep-deprived and worried state, he knew what Henriksen told him - nay, ordered him to do.

“Of course, Assistant Director. There was... something we needed to take care of down there.”

“Good. I’m looking forward to reading about that in your report after you got a good amount of sleep.”

Translation: You better come up with a damn good cover story for this, Winchester, or you’ll regret ever setting foot into my agency.

“Now, what happened while in Purgatory?”

“As you can imagine, we were attacked by some of the souls down there but as usual, we made quick work of that. Made it to the backdoor-”

“You mean to your destination.”

“Right. Right, to our destination. We made it to our destination within a few short hours.”

Dean broke off at this part, the scene replaying before his inner eyes. Morphing with visions of blackness and stark white sheets.

“Winchester.”

Dean looked up, Henriksen suddenly so much closer, looking worried.

“God dammit, Winchester. You’re about to collapse. Go to bed. Now. That’s an order.”

“Thought you wanted to hear the story,” he replied, his voice sounding funny. Slurred and almost drowsy.

“Yeah, but right now, I’m not sure if I’m getting the story or your hallucinations. When’s the last time you’ve slept?”

“Can’t really remember.”

“Alright, that’s it.”

Weirdly enough, the Assistant Director left the room after that statement, leaving Dean to wonder if maybe he had just dreamed the past few minutes. Was he already asleep? Maybe he would wake up soon and all of this was a bad dream.

Maybe he would wake up to tanned skin against warm sheets instead of deathly pale skin and stark, clinical white.

“Winchester, get up.”

The rough hand against his shoulder shook him awake and it was a testimony to his exhaustion that his hand was too slow to reach his weapon before someone grabbed it. 

“Not that again, we’ve been over this,” Henriksen told him, pulling Dean’s hand away from his Glock. “Get up, you’re going to bed now.”

“Wha-”

“Come on,” Henriksen ordered, pulling Dean to his feet.

Shaking his head, Dean maintained a semblance of alertness. Looking around, he saw a nurse push a second bed against the opposite wall of the small room they were in.

“I ordered them to bring in a second bed. You’re dead on your feet and I’m not gonna carry you across the hall to another room.”

“They are allowing this?”

“Well, we’re FBI, we do get some liberties. Besides, there seems to have been a mix-up at the front desk. For some reason, they think you’re Novak’s husband?”

A bucket of ice could not have shocked him awake more effectively. He could see it in Henriksen’s eyes now. The same gaze as before when he silently ordered him to think of a cover story for the whole Purgatory-to-Hell situation.

Henriksen knew.

He had probably known all along.

And now he was ordering Dean to lie.

Because if he knew this officially, all Hell would break loose. 

Figuratively. Not literally. Which was an important distinction in their line of work. 

“Huh, funny,” he croaked out. “Must be something my team said so the doctors wouldn’t mind me sitting with him.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” Henriksen replied, his eyes telling another tale to his words.

Without further commentary, he led Dean over to the second bed. Dean had no idea if the man said anything else at all because the moment his head hit the pillow he was dead to the world.

 

~*~

 

Quiet voices were the first sound Dean became aware of, directly followed by the ever-present melody of beeping machines. With a start, Dean was awake again, sitting up straight as he rubbed a hand over his face.

The light shining through the window told him that he hadn’t slept for long, the clock on the wall confirming it. It was just after nine in the morning.

The voices died abruptly and as Dean looked up, he saw everybody in the room looking at him.

Everybody but Cas, who seemed unchanged.

“Good morning, Sleeping Beauty.”

Forcing his gaze away from his still unconscious husband, Dean looked at the other occupants of the room. Charlie was grinning at him but her smile did a shitty job at hiding her worried gaze. She was sitting at the end of his bed and Dean couldn’t believe it had not startled him awake the moment his bed had moved. 

Hell, how out of it had he been?

Especially since his own chair was now occupied as well and just a few hours ago, he would have sworn that the squeaking of the upholstery alone could have raised the dead. Maybe Jack was such a lightweight that the chair had not protested when he sat down. Right now, the kid was smiling at him as well, only compared to Charlie it was a real smile. Then again, the kid had a severe misconception for when a situation was severe. That, or it was his ever-present optimism in the world and his belief that all his mentors were indestructible.

Sometimes, that optimism and naivety were pretty annoying. Right now, Dean wished he had a piece of it for himself.

His mood, however, was best reflected by Gabriel, who leaned against the wall next to the window, arms crossed over his chest, looking moody and somber - so completely against his nature that Dean was sure the verdict about Cas’ fate had already been given while Dean had been asleep.

He swallowed the lump in his throat so he could press out his words. 

“How is he?”

“Better,” Jack told him.

Since it was hardly convincing, coming from Jack, Dean looked to Charlie. When she nodded, relief flooded his system. 

“The doctors were here about an hour ago. Cas made it through the night and they take that as a good sign. His condition has also slightly improved. Apparently, he’s out of the woods and they hope he’ll wake up soon.”

“Thank God,” Dean whispered.

He let his head sink into his hands for a moment. Realizing quickly that he needed to keep it together, he rubbed his hands over his face, ridding himself of the last trace of his sleep, before looking at Jack. 

“Hey, kiddo. Care to fetch me a coffee, maybe?”

“Sure. Would you like some breakfast as well? I’m sure they have some good candy bars here.”

“Coffee’s fine, thanks, Jack.”

The moment Jack had left the room, Dean was out of his bed and by his husband’s side. Taking his hand, he took in the familiar face. It was still pale but Dean convinced himself that there was a tinge of color to be seen. Softly brushing his fingertips over Cas’ cheek, the familiar peach fuzz tingling them, he had to fight with his tears.

“Ophis wondered why you were that frantic about Cas being injured, even staying by his side all night,” Gabe told him, his voice thick and somewhat mechanic. 

It was clear he was trying to stay professional when his worry for his brother was eating him up inside. 

“Funny enough, it was Ketch who defused the situation. Covering for you without even realizing - I wish I could rub his nose in it.”

“What did he say?” Dean asked more out of reflex than real interest. 

He should definitely be more worried about their cover being blown by him being a distressed husband - but he simply wasn’t.

Gabe shrugged. “Just said that it’s normal for you. That you did the same when Charlie had to be rushed to the hospital. That in a few months, you might just fret over him like that as well, should he prove himself worthy of being part of your inner circle.”

That got a huffed chuckle out of Dean. 

“I mean... he’s not all that wrong,” he admitted softly.

Dean was always worried when one of his team was injured. Not as crazed out of his mind as right now but still pretty close.

A small smile tugged at Gabe’s lips but it was gone as soon as his gaze fell back to Cas. Gabe was still in his uniform, minus the armor, Purgatory’s dirt still splattered all over the black material. At least he had gotten rid of the blood and gore Dean remembered his hands and face had been covered in. With a quick glance over his shoulder, he saw that Charlie was pretty much the same and thinking back now, Jack had been as well.

So they had been here all night, just like Dean.

“Are the others still here?” he asked, wondering about the rest of his team.

It was Charlie who answered this time, shaking her head. 

“No, they left right after the doctors said Cas was out of the woods. Dumah and Ana are going to call the family. I’m sure they will be back soon.”

Truth be told, Dean had already been wondering where Anael was. She was one of the cousins Cas was closer to. It hadn’t always been like this but working together over the past few years, they’d grown close. So close, in fact, that Dean and Cas had wondered often lately if they should let her in on their secret. But something had always kept them from it. With Dumah, they were not even close to considering it. She had married into the Novak dynasty but was just as strict about rules and certain world views as most of the rest of the Novak clan. They would not risk letting her in on their secret, even if they trusted her blindly when it came to their work at the SDA.

Charlie continued. “I’m pretty sure Ophis just stayed because everybody else did.” 

Dean slightly nodded at that. Noah Ophis was so new to their unit, had joined the team just last month, he certainly didn’t have a reason yet to spend the whole night at the hospital other than out of courtesy and respect. 

“And Ketch... well, he’s Ketch.”

Dean snorted quietly to himself. That was certainly one way to put it.

After a moment of silence, Dean finally sighed, sinking back into his chair. His was still holding onto Cas, sure he would hear someone entering early enough to pull his hand away.

He noticed Charlie moving but didn’t really pay her any attention until she was softly touching his shoulder. Looking up, he saw her sitting on Cas’ bed now, checking him all over.

“Dean, why are you blaming yourself for this?”

“I’m not-”

“Oh, come off it, boss,” Gabe interrupted, rolling his eyes. “We know you well enough. Of course, you’re worried out of your mind. But the guilt... it’s oozing out of you.”

Instead of dignifying this observation with a reply, Dean looked back at Cas, caressing his hand absentmindedly.

“Dean, you couldn’t have done anything, you know that, right? It’s not your fault his struggle with that vampire ended in the river or that he was so disoriented when he made it back to shore that he didn’t see-”

“Stop,” Dean whispered. “Charlie, please. Just... stop.”

Closing his eyes, he took a shaky breath, forcing the pictures out of his head. He had yelled for Cas, had screamed for him to watch out - but it had been too late. The confused gaze on his husband’s face the moment he saw Dean, right before he was hit in the back of his head, was still burned into Dean’s mind and would probably haunt him in his nightmares.

“We had a fight that morning,” he finally whispered, trying not to remember it all. It was just too painful.

Gabe moved but it was Charlie who answered. “Dean, come on. Do you really think Cas would let himself be distracted because of a little fight?”

“It wasn’t little.”

It really wasn’t. And it was all Dean’s fault. 

He didn’t get a chance to ponder much longer, as Gabe cleared his throat in warning, giving Dean just enough time to pull his hand away from Cas. The next second, he heard Jack entering the room.

The coffee was awful - as expected - but he still nodded at Jack, glad the kid had a reason to be happy. And parts of Dean were happy that Jack was back - at least it kept Charlie and Gabe from patronizing him about not beating himself up for Cas’ situation.

 

Chapter Text

~*~ Chapter Two ~*~

~ Now ~

The rest of the morning and most of the early afternoon was spent in a kind of worried stupor. At some point, their other team members came back but it was only when Sam showed up that Dean would move from Cas’ side, his brother the only person able to silently talk some sense into him. Just in time as well, as soon after, some of Cas’ other relatives showed up, forcing Dean to keep face and stop being a worried husband.

It was almost a relief when the doctor asked all of them to leave the room so she could check on Cas without hindrance and to give him some peace and quiet. Starting late in the afternoon, Cas had shown the first signs of waking up. Of course, Dean had spent enough time in the hospital with various team members waking from comatose states that he knew that patients didn’t just wake up, as they liked to do in the movies. It was a slow waking, with many times being conscious for just seconds and then going back to sleep. 

But at least it meant that Cas would be back soon.

They had been in the waiting area for about an hour when Dean saw the doctor enter Cas’ room once more. Shortly after, she came back out and made her way over to the waiting room. Dean looked at her expectantly.

“Agent Novak is mostly conscious now but seems a bit disoriented. This is perfectly normal in his condition but I would still like one close relative to come in and keep him calm while I run some tests.”

While she looked around the room, Dean looked over to Gabe. As much as he wanted to run to Cas, kiss him and tell him everything would be alright, he knew the wisest choice - the only choice - right now was Cas’ big brother and no one else. Gabe gave him a slight nod, most likely not detectable for anyone else but those who knew to look for it, and pushed away from the wall. Through the glass front of the waiting area, Dean could see Gabe follow the doctor to Cas’ room but the woman was held up by a nurse. There was a short conversation until she motioned Gabe to go on and she followed the nurse to the desk, apparently to fill out some forms. Gabe entered Cas’ room but closed the door, not giving Dean any chance to get a glimpse at his husband.

Pacing like a caged animal was probably not a good idea, so Dean forced himself to sit down. Impatiently waiting for when it would be his turn to see Cas.

 

~*~*~*~

 

The beeping of the machines was white noise in his ears ever since Cas had gained a scratch of consciousness. He was in a hospital, that much he was sure of. He just had no idea how he’d gotten here or what had happened last. His head was throbbing, so it might have been a blow to the head but he wasn’t sure. The doctor hadn’t been much of a help either, telling him he’d been on a mission - well, thanks. He’d figured that out all on his own. But then again, she wouldn’t know of his mission anyway, seeing how he was hunting supernatural beings the world didn’t know existed.

Pursuing. He was pursuing these creatures. Hunting was what the amateurs did, real agents pursued them.

The doctor had just left him, telling him something about a relative she wanted to bring in - good luck with that, not like any of them cared enough for him - and he used the quietness to close his eyes, trying to remember.

There were vampires... or so he thought. Maybe?

He was sure he had been in Purgatory but hadn’t his mission involved werewolves?

He also remembered breaking the surface of a river - but there had been no river anywhere close to the werewolves he’d been pursuing, so most likely, he had just imagined that.

It was all so confusing.  

He was about to drift back to sleep when the door opened again. A man in the typical black uniform of the FBI entered the room, brown hair messy, still some dirt on his neck, as if he had just hastily tried to clean up but had missed a spot.

When the man looked up, Cas could only stare at him.

“Gabriel?”

“Hey, Baby bro. Good to see you awake. You gave us quite a scare there.”

“Us?”

“Yeah, the team’s outside. Dean’s not so patiently awaiting his moment.”

Team?

Dean?

What was his brother babbling about?

When Cas didn’t react, Gabriel’s chuckle died as he took a few steps towards his bed.

“How do you feel?”

“What are you doing here?”

For some weird reason, Gabriel looked taken aback by his question.

“Uhm... well. Well, most of the fam is outside as well as the team, so Dean and I thought it was best-”

“Who’s Dean?”

“Sorry, what?”

Gabriel was positively gaping at him now. But he was also blabbering nonsense the whole time. Maybe Cas was really still asleep and was just in some weird and fucked-up dream.

“Are... are you alright, baby bro?”

“Stop calling me that. Why do you call me that? And what are you doing here? I haven’t seen you in years and now you show up in the hospital? Wearing FBI clothes no less? What’s going on?”

His brother was looking at him for a long moment, before he suddenly turned around, opened the door, and called for the doctor in what even Cas could decipher as a panicked voice.

 

~*~*~*~

 

“Doctor!”

Gabriel’s yell shot through Dean’s system like a bullet of fire. He was out of his seat in a heartbeat and across the hall before even realizing that he might blow his cover. He didn’t care, he couldn’t even think at this moment, his panic blocked out anything else.

Thankfully, he wasn’t alone in his panic, as he could feel the others all around him while he saw the doctor rush to Cas’ room. He saw Gabe telling her something, not loud enough for Dean to hear before she slipped inside. Before he could follow her, Gabe was in his face, hands on Dean’s chest. His voice was low but insistent.

“Stop. He’s okay but you can’t go in there right now.” And louder, for all of them to hear. “He’s alright, the doctor just needs to check something.”

“What’s going on?” Charlie asked, the question echoed by some of the others.

Gabe was still holding Dean at a slight distance from the door but it wasn’t enough to keep him completely out of view.

Relief flooded Dean when he saw Cas awake and alert, the Doctor making him follow her finger with his eyes.

“Cas?”

Only when those blue eyes were fixed on him, did Dean realize he had called for him. Gabe was still talking and Dean could feel the push against his chest.

But the only thing that got through to him in this instance were those blue eyes.

And their coldness.

“What the fuck is he doing here?”

“Dean, leave.”

Gabe’s warning was background noise to the ringing in Dean’s ears.

“You! You were there, weren’t you?” Cas’ voice was full of malice, accusing and cold. A tone of voice Dean had once been very familiar with. “What did you do this time, Winchester? Did you hinder my mission again? I swear, if you’re the reason I’m here, I’ll kill you. For real this time.”

Dean was baffled. He was so thrown, he couldn’t even answer. All this was so familiar to him, in a very disturbing and dreadful way. But... it had been years...

“Cas?” he whispered, not even knowing why.

What was going on?

“Agent Novak,” the doctor spoke up, pushing Cas back into his bed. “Calm down. This is not good for your health. Now, can you tell me what year it is?”

“What?” Cas looked confused, fixing the doctor as if he was trying to solve a puzzle. “It’s 2009, of course. What kind of question is that?”

Dean was losing it. He was losing the solid ground under his feed, suddenly very glad Gabe was still holding him.

Meanwhile, the doctor simply shook her head, staying professional.

“It’s actually 2019, Agent.”

What?

“It looks like that blow to your head caused a severe cause of amnesia. I’ll have to run some tests to see-”

“Was this your fault, Winchester?” Cas burst out, his face turning red. “I’ve told you so many times to leave those missions to the professionals but no, you just had to-”

Agent Novak! Calm down.”

“I swear, I’m gonna get you arrested for this! As I should have months ago!”

Pushing him back into his bed, the doctor kept Cas down as she turned her head to the open door. 

“Get that man out of his sight! Now!

A firm hand grabbed the back of Dean’s neck, pulling and pushing, and before he really knew what was happening, Dean was moving, stumbling away from the door and the shouts he could still hear in the background.

Fresh air hit him and while the hand on his back released him, Dean kept walking until he was standing in the warm downpour.

Just standing there.

Standing.

Standing as his ears rang and thoughts raced.

Nothing made sense.

Helplessly he looked up. Sam’s worried gaze was on him, as was Charlie’s. They looked at him like he was a hurt animal, unsure how he would react next or what he would do when they would move.

To be fair, he had no idea either.

The rain was drenching him but it had no meaning. It was the middle of summer, the rain was only warm, a welcome change. The heat had been killing them lately.

His thoughts were focusing on trivial things again. They had to, or else he would think about what had just happened and... and he simply couldn’t.

He could not form the words, not even in his head. He just could not think the thought. It was all a bad dream, and any moment now, he would wake up.

Warm sheets and tanned skin next to him.

Instead, he was standing in front of a hospital, in the middle of a downpour.

Nine years ago, when something between them had changed, it had been raining like this as well...

 

~*~

 

~ Then ~

The room was cozy and warm, everything one would think a living room in a suburban area like this would be. There were crochet blankets on the coffee table, pillows with flower prints on the couch and pictures of the happy family on the mantle of the fireplace. Dean was inspecting them while he helped himself to another cookie. God, he loved the homemade ones.

He heard Gerda’s voice at the door as she opened it to the new guest, grinning to himself when he recognized the deep rumble of the second voice.

“Good evening, Agent Novak with the FBI. I’m here because-”

“Oh dear Lord, you’re completely soaked, my dear. Come on in.” 

Dean couldn’t see him yet but he could imagine Novak’s frown. Gerda was a nice old lady and her chipper art would most likely irritate the stuck-up agent to no end. This ought to be fun.

Their footsteps were drawing closer when Novak was speaking up again. “Mrs. White, I’m here because-”

“Oh, I know, don’t you worry. Your partner already told me. We had a nice chat.”

“My- my partner?” Novak asked the moment they entered the living room. 

When he looked up, Dean threw him a shit-eating grin, even waving at him with another cookie in hand. Novak’s reaction was to be expected. He rolled his eyes but suppressed a groan, and even the fuming was kept to a minimum. Dean was sure it wouldn’t stay this way for long.

“Agent, make yourself comfortable, I’ll fetch you a towel.”

“That won’t be necessary,” Novak told her but she had already left the room.

Chuckling, Dean put the last cookie in his mouth, which made it a bit harder to speak. 

“Don’t even try,” he began but decided to swallow first after all. Once he could talk again, he started over. “Don’t try, Gerda is an angel and she’ll make damn sure you’re well-fed and dried up before you leave.”

Looking back to where Gerda had left, quite obviously to check if she might still be able to hear them, Novak moved towards Dean, his growl speaking more of annoyance than actual anger. 

“Honestly, Winchester, how often do I have to tell you to stay out of FBI business?”

“Hey, I was here first. I mean, I’ve been here so long, I didn’t even get wet out there.” He had no idea why he had said the last part - maybe because the soaked white shirt clinging to Novak’s chest was a teeny tiny bit distracting - but he winked at the man anyway.

“You’re insufferable, you know that?”

“Meh, yeah. You’ve told me before, once or twice.”

“Is this all a joke to you?”

Rolling his eyes, Dean was about to reply, when Gerda came back into the room. 

“I found you some dry clothes as well. Would you like to get changed?”

Novak looked so confused by that offer that Dean actually took pity on him. 

“Ahh, Gerda, that’s very sweet of you. But I think we should leave you to it now. I’ve taken up enough of your time.”

“I just got here,” Novak threw in, scrunching his face. 

Sometimes, Dean wondered how far the man could furrow his eyebrows and still be able to see something.

“Yeah, well,” he replied, taking the towel Gerda was still offering and tossed it at Novak. “I’ve been here for a while and I think I got all the information we need. Gerda, it was lovely. Thank you so much. And thank you for those amazing cookies.”

“Oh, but of course, my dear. You come back anytime you like.”

And just like that, they found themselves back on the porch, staring into the rain. As soon as the door closed, Novak turned on him. The towel was hanging over his shoulder, doing little to actually dry him up.

“What the hell, Winchester? I had questions for her.”

“So why didn’t you stay?” 

“Because she thought you were FBI as well and if I had exposed you she wouldn’t have trusted me either.”

“Ahh, so the same old problem. Seriously, Novak. You always threaten to expose me but then you never do. How come?”

Dean knew exactly why the FBI agent wasn’t exposing him. Because it would be a hell of a lot to explain to people how and why Dean was so good at imitating the real FBI and what he really did. Not even Novak wanted innocent people to know that monsters were real and that Dean was a Hunter, here to kill them.

What Dean really didn’t get was why the agent hadn’t ratted him out to the authorities of the FBI yet. 

Their staring match only lasted a moment longer - Dean usually didn’t notice how long it actually took, too distracted by the agent’s blue eyes - before Novak scoffed.

“So what did you learn from Mrs. White?”

“Are we working together now?”

“We’re sharing intel. Big difference. And only necessary because of your little scam.”

“Well, it’s a ghost-”

“Wow, really,” Novak mocked. “I wouldn’t have thought that. Anything else?”

“I know who it might be and where he’s buried. If you play nice, I’ll take you there.”

“Come on then, I’ll follow you in my car,” Novak stated, already turning to leave the porch.

“What- Now?”

Stopping just shy of the rain, the agent turned back to him, looking as if he was annoyed beyond sufferable. 

“Yes, Winchester, or are you afraid you’ll melt?”

“What? No. No, I was planning on going anyway,” Dean assured him truthfully. “I was just surprised you would.”

“If we don’t do this now, another person could die. Besides, I know you by now and you would just go off by yourself, rain or not, order or not. So, the only way to do this is if I come with you directly. Isn’t that right?”

“Awww, Novak, I’m touched,” Dean mocked, even touching his chest and batting his eyes. “See, you know me so well by now, we could actually be partners.”

Glaring at him, Novak tossed the towel on a nearby deckchair and finally left the porch for his car without acknowledging Dean any further. 

A twenty-minute drive brought them both to the local graveyard. It was still pouring down heavily - which was good, on the one hand, because it meant they would be completely alone and it was semi-dark, even though it was only early evening. It also made the ground softer and therefore easier to dig.

It still took the rest of the night to dig up the grave. Somewhere in the middle of it, the rain had calmed down, making it at least possible to burn the bones with enough gas poured over them.

“Well, goodbye then, Ted. You were a terrible poltergeist but at least your bones make a nice and warm bonfire.” 

Warming his hands over the open grave, Dean looked at Novak, who was staring at him.

“What?”

Novak looked like he was internally battling about what to comment on first.

The fact that Theodore White hadn’t been a real poltergeist, just a regular ghost. Or the fact that Dean was talking to his burning bones. Or probably the fact that he was using the fire to warm his cold hands, most likely looking like a psychopath.

When he finally did talk, his head slowly shaking in disbelief, Dean was pretty sure he summed all that up.

“You know that you annoy me to no end, don’t you, Winchester? I mean, seriously, I can’t stand you.”

“You sure about that, Novak?” Dean replied with a cheeky grin, rubbing his hands together. “I think you rather like me. Why else would you always pick a case where you can be sure to meet me?”

“Because it’s my damn job,” Novak replied, growling at him.

Dean’s smile didn’t waver.

“Mine as well.”

“You’re a Hunter, Winchester, I’m an agent with the FBI. Big difference.”

“Well, I have a badge, sooo…”

“For one, it’s fake. And two, it doesn’t bring you the same paycheck it does me.”

“Ouch, that was a low blow, Novak.”

The fire was dying down now, so Dean picked up the shovel and began to push the soil back into the ground. After a minute, Novak took the second one and joined him. It didn’t take them long and by the time the clouds pushed back in front of the moon, threatening to open up again, the two men were on their way back to the cars. 

“You know,” Novak spoke up, surprising Dean. “I've been wondering lately about the why, actually. Why aren't you joining the FBI for real?”

Dean scoffed but since it was a rare event that Novak started a conversation that wasn't outright malicious, he still made sure to answer.

“I've broken too many rules in my life and have a record from when I was younger.”

“Yeah, I saw that. And I actually always wondered what it was about. I know you didn’t grow up homeless even though you moved a lot and I know that you lived with your father. So… why? Why would a sixteen-year-old steal some bread and peanut butter?”

“You’ve checked my record?” Dean asked, stopping short to stare at the agent.

The man seemed to notice that his companion wasn’t moving anymore and stopped himself, turning back around. 

“Of course I did, Winchester. I’m an agent with the FBI. Did you honestly think I wouldn’t check who you are once we started running into each other more often?”

Dean was baffled about this… or maybe more about the fact that he had never thought of such a logical thing. Of course, Novak would check his record.

“So, what was it? Why did you steal it? Usually, when teenagers get arrested, it’s because of a stupid challenge or for stealing booze... not breakfast.”

“None of your business,” Dean commented with a clipped voice and moved past the man. 

They might be civil with each other today but that certainly wasn’t reason enough for Dean to completely open up. To defuse the moment, he brought them back to their original topic. 

“You’ve seen my record, so there’s your answer. The FBI would never let me in.”

“Don't be so sure about that.”

Against his will, Dean looked at Novak again. He gave him credit for not imploring the whole bread-and-peanut-butter-thing any further and he was certainly surprised by how sure the agent sounded right now. 

As they reached the agent’s car, Novak explained. “The higher-ups in the FBI finally listened to what Henriksen has been telling them for years now. They want to make us a real department, real teams and units of schooled FBI agents to pursue monsters. But to get it done quickly, Henriksen will need more than just the best of the FBI.”

When Novak gave him a meaningful look, Dean put two and two together. “Hunters?”

“Hunters,” Novak confirmed. “He's thinking about getting some of them on board, have them join the FBI. Of course, they would have to be trained as proper FBI agents, most likely in a classified special program. One that will allow Henriksen to give them their badge in no time.”

“Who has he asked so far?”

“No one, Winchester. It’s not approved yet.” 

Putting the shovel into the trunk of his car, Novak dusted off his hands and pulled something out of his trenchcoat. When he handed it to him, Dean recognized it to be a business card. 

“But maybe hearing from you will help him speed things up a bit.”

Dean could not believe this. The card was simple, nothing more than the logo of the FBI and a phone number. It had a certain taste of being inducted into a private society - which was probably not the worst description of this new department.

“Are you seriously offering me a job with the FBI?”

“Of course not,” Novak replied, rolling his eyes and closing the trunk. “I’m not in a position to offer you such a thing. All I’m doing is offering you an opportunity.”

Still staring at the man, Dean suddenly had to grin. 

“You are offering me a job. You wouldn’t give me this card if you didn’t think I had a chance. And you wouldn’t think I had a chance if you didn’t think I’m a good Hunter.”

“I can take it away if you won’t stop. And I never said you weren’t a good Hunter. I just said you weren’t FBI and should leave most cases to the officials. Big difference.”

Dean chuckled slightly but he didn’t want to test Novak’s patience. So instead, he put the card in his pocket and cleared his throat. 

“Thanks, man. This actually means a lot to me.”

It seemed Novak wasn’t used to so much sincerity, as he simply shrugged his shoulders and already moved to the car’s door. 

“Well, this way you’ll at least learn the proper rules, minimizing the chances of you messing up my missions again. And once you’re an agent on my team, I’ll at least be able to keep an eye on you.”

With that, he got in the car, closed the door, and left the graveyard’s parking lot without a proper goodbye, leaving Dean to wonder what had just happened.

Only when the first raindrops announced the next downpour did Dean move again, sprinting to his Chevy Impala to drive to his next mission. The business card was safely tucked away in his pocket. 

 

Chapter Text

~*~ Chapter Three ~*~

~ Now ~

Dean was staring at his badge. Only two months after Cas had given him the card, he’d started his training, alongside some Hunters he’d known from previous missions. Jo Harvelle was one of them, as were Gordon Walker and Asa Fox and so many more. He’d met Charlie Bradbury again and couldn’t have been happier. He met Gabriel for the first time and was surprised - just like everybody else - when he turned out to be a Novak. And not just any Novak but the brother of their training instructor, Castiel Novak. 

Training under Cas... well, it had been interesting, to sum it up.

The crash course had run for two months, classified and top-secret just as Cas had predicted, and by the end of it, they had all received their badges. 

Today, the SDA was made up of multiple units just like Dean’s team, a mix of former Hunters turned FBI and ‘real’ FBI agents as they still liked to call themselves, if only for jokes. Jo had become unit chief of her own team and was in a friendly battle with Dean about who was the better leader. 

All the units were very successful - but none as effective as Dean’s. No unit was as admired and respected and, yeah, even feared. And Dean was their leader, looked up to by most of the young recruits and feared by others.

But none of this was helping him at the moment. Nothing would just fix the situation. So all Dean could do right now was wait.

It had been a few hours since Cas had woken up. The situation had calmed down and Cas had fallen back asleep. Most of the others had left, only Gabe and Sam were left to wait with Dean, and he was glad about it. At least he didn’t need to pretend anymore. At least he could suffer in peace.

“Agent Winchester?”

Dean got up as he noticed Cas’ doctor in the door to the waiting area. She smiled at him, and even though it didn’t reach her eyes, he took it as a good sign.

“He’s awake again and agreed to see you. Come with me?”

Nodding, Dean followed her the short distance to Cas’ room. Just before they reached it, she stopped and touched his arm to stop him as well.

“Agent, just a moment. Look, I...” Looking around, the doctor took a step closer and lowered her voice. “I’ve been doing this job long enough to know that you’re more to my patient than just a friend. I know you didn’t fake being his husband to have the night shift let you sit with him. It’s none of my business, so don’t worry, I won’t expose you. But this situation brings some... well, let’s call them complications with it.”

“What kind of complications?” Dean asked, already worrying that maybe something was wrong with Cas’ insurance and Dean wouldn’t be able to handle it without admitting to the world that they were married.

“Well, in a case like Agent Novak’s, we encourage patients and relatives to go back to their normal lives as soon as possible. Familiar surroundings, typical situations, the daily routine, all that could help to trigger his memories. But with this special situation-”

“You mean with my husband being thrown back to hating me?”

“I take it the two of you fit the description ‘enemies to lovers?’”

Dean huffed a humorless laugh at that. “Pretty much, yeah. It was deep hatred at first sight. At least on his part.”

“How long until it turned to friendship?”

“Well, we first met in September 2008. It was about a year until we could at least be civil with each other and then maybe another year or so until he got used to me, even going so far as to offer me a job with the FBI. I honestly don’t know anymore when we became friends. It just happened somewhere along the way.”

“Given that Agent Novak thinks it’s 2009 and given his reaction, I take it he’s thrown back into the time before you even became civil with each other.”

Swallowing hard, Dean nodded.

“Agent, I know this is hard but we have to decide now how much we will tell him.”

“You mean if we even tell him we’re married, right?”

“As his doctor, I would usually say he needs to know the full truth, so his brain can work harder to find its way back to those memories. As a rational thinking person, though... See, it’s not only the fact that he hates you right now. With this mindset, telling him you’re partners and best friends now is already a big step - telling him you’re actually in love and married... it could very well overexert him. And adding the fact that you’re living a secret relationship…”

“You think he could blow our cover?”

“It would be very likely. I mean, I don’t know him as well as you do, of course. But if he freaks and decides to ask the wrong person for verification-”

“Or just outright decides to rat me out for harassing him...” Dean closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, not wanting to think of such a possibility.

When he looked back at the doctor, her eyes held an ounce of pity but not so much that it was annoying Dean.

“Would he go so far?”

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “Cas... he... he was very deep in the closet when we first met. Severe internalized homophobia.” 

“Oh,” the doctor replied, obviously touched by this admission. “Yeah, that really doesn’t make it any easier.”

No, it really didn’t.

It really, really didn’t.

“I’m sure you have a cover story for living at the same place?”

“Uhm, yeah,” Dean replied, pulling his mind away from the dark thoughts about this situation. “Yeah, two bachelors, not wanting to pay so much for living places they hardly live in when our jobs take us all around America all the time. So obviously, it was the easiest to just share a loft, splitting the costs.”

“Very obvious, indeed,” the doctor said with a smile before her demeanor turned serious again. “I can’t tell you what to do, of course. But for your own good and for my patient’s sanity, I would advise you to stick to this story. At least for the beginning. Once you have reached a certain level of friendship and trust again, you may decide how to slowly open up to that topic. Does that sound doable at all?”

He didn’t have to think about it for long. If it really was the best for Cas, he could do just about anything.

“Yeah. Yeah, I can pull that off.”

 

~*~

 

It was with trepidation that Dean finally entered his husband’s hospital room. Cas had his eyes closed but opened them right away, alert and awake. For a moment, they were neutral - clear and dark blue. Then they focused on Dean and Cas’ frown was back. His gaze wasn’t outright hostile, more wary than anything, really. With a side note of distrust but Dean could deal with that.

“Hey,” he greeted softly, closing the door behind him. Unsure of Cas’ reaction, he stayed right there, by the door, just looking at his husband.

“Gabriel tells me we’re friends and partners now, and Henriksen confirmed it.”

“Ehm... yeah,” Dean replied. He was so not prepared for this whole situation. “Yeah, I guess I grew on you after all,” he tried to joke but his chuckled died before it had really begun, seeing Cas’ face darkening.

Clearing his throat, Dean decided to stop joking. It was his go-to defense-mechanism for situations he could hardly handle. But this was certainly not the moment for it. He moved to the chair closer to the end of Cas’ bed and sat down, thinking about what to say next for a moment. Maybe it would be good to get on the same page first and foremost.

“What’s the last thing you actually remember? I mean, you think it’s 2009, right? So what’s the last thing that’s present in your mind?”

Cas’ frown deepened again but Dean could tell it was because he was thinking about the question.

He did not need long to answer. “Purgatory, actually. I am- I mean, I was hunting a pack of werewolves and it seemed that one of them was able to go back and forth between Purgatory. So I went there to investigate.”

Dean nodded. “I remember that case. I mean, I wasn’t there but you’ve told me about it.”

“Did I get him?”

“Yeah, turned out he had a twin who had already died and some weird witch magic helped them switch bodies or something. You finished that case pretty quickly, killing off the whole pack.”

“Good,” Cas replied, nodding as if he was processing the new information before going on. “It’s confusing, actually. That last memory is still fresh in my mind. I’m in Purgatory, only to suddenly break the surface of a river, wading to shore. I remember seeing you there and then... a pain against my head and nothingness.”

“The blow to your head was pretty nasty. No wonder you lost a big part of your memories.”

“So much has changed since then. I mean, Gabriel has already told me parts of it but there are still so many things I don’t understand.”

Dean knew the look on Cas’ face and the slight hitch in his voice. He was scared but also angry. Angry at the situation most likely but probably about himself as well. For letting this happen to him, or maybe for being too weak to have control over his head. What Dean would give to help him get past these thoughts. He hated that he couldn’t help him. Hated that he couldn’t just take his hand and tell him all would be good.

But there was one thing he could do for him.

“Well, I’m here now and if you’re not too tired, ask me anything you want.”

Cas looked at him skeptically. 

Reading his face for a moment, Dean had to huff a laugh.

“You’re wondering if I fucked up a mission and got you in some insane alternative timeline or some shit, right?”

There was a gleam in Cas’ eyes, for just the shortest of moments, before his face morphed into one of surprise. He looked away and didn’t reply but Dean knew he had hit the mark. Cas might not know it but Dean knew the man better than himself.

“Fine then, Winchester,” Cas said, gaze back on Dean, scrutinizing. “How on earth did we end up as friends?”

“Wow, okay.” Dean couldn’t help his chuckle, as he gazed down at his hands, smiling. 

This was so... so Cas. It was endearing. Cas hardly tried to be subtle. If he wanted to know something, he would go for it, no side steps. It’s what made him such a damn good agent. 

Sorting his thoughts, Dean looked back up to answer. “I guess it was a gradual process. What’s the last encounter with me you remember?”

Cas answered in a heartbeat. “The mission with that siren.”

“Ah, yeah.” Rubbing the back of his neck, Dean forced down the embarrassment and a touch of despair. He needed to stay focused. “Of course it would be the hunt I sucked at.”

“You flirted with a suspect, let him seduce and almost kill you while you were under his charm and very naked in his bed. You were so out of it that you actually attacked me when I came to save you. I think ‘sucked’ doesn’t quite cut it.”

“Yeah, I know,” Dean admitted instantly, hoping to calm Cas down. One of the machines was beeping louder now - most likely his heart rate - and Dean had no desire to explain to a nurse why that was the case. “And I apologized for it, trust me. Multiple times. I mean, you still bring it up now and then, of course, but you’ve long forgiven me for it.”

“I find that very hard to believe. Not as hard as to believe we’re actually friends but still.”

Dean tried to ignore the sting to his heart at hearing those words. 

“Look, Cas.” He flinched when he realized the nickname had slipped out but still continued. “Two missions later, I saved your life because you completely misjudged the situation. In the last ten years, we’ve saved each other more times than I can remember. Neither of us would be here without the other. I know you only remember our first few - admittedly bad - encounters. But a lot has changed since then.”

“Obviously.” Cas’ voice had grown cold and hostile again. But he asked his next question anyway. “I see you joined the FBI for real?”

Dean nodded. “Around 2010, Henriksen’s idea of a special force to fight the Supernatural became reality and the FBI recruited some Hunters.”

“Who recruited you?”

Looking at Cas with a lopsided, apologetic grin, Dean didn’t need to wait for long before Cas swore under his breath and, shaking his head, demanded, “And you thanked me by stealing my promotion? How come you’re Unit Chief and not me?”

It was weird, really. Things that had become so normal for the two of them over time were now something Dean had to break gently to his husband. How on earth would they ever get to the point of Dean explaining to Cas how they fell in love? How would he explain to him that they were married, when he could hardly find the words to make Cas believe Dean hadn’t actually stolen the position from him?

“When Henriksen ordered you to his office to tell you you would be Unit Chief for one of the teams, you asked me to come with you,” Dean finally began, speaking calmly. He had a hard time watching the emotions run over Cas’ face, so his eyes flicked back and forth between Cas’ eyes and his own hands. “Before Henriksen could get a word out, you interrupted him. I don’t remember all that you said but one part stuck out. You told him that you can be a leader if you have to - you just don’t like it. That you can order men around - you just don’t like it. That being good at something doesn't automatically mean being meant for it. And that, given all this, you would rather follow a man you trust than lead an army yourself.”

The silence that followed was maddening. Even though it had been many years since that moment, it was still burned into Dean’s mind. He hadn’t understood it back then but in later years, Cas’ words had made so much more sense. Cas was Dean’s second in command for a damn good reason because he was one hell of an agent. But he hated making decisions. He hated being responsible or accountable. He’d done it for years, knowing he’d hate it even more to get incompetent orders. But with Dean? He would challenge him now and then but most of the times, he would follow him wherever Dean would lead them.

When Cas cleared his throat, Dean looked back up. The man was looking over to the darkened window, obviously deep in thought.

“It’s still hard to believe I would say that about you but... that certainly sounds like me. Like something I’ve never told anyone but always wished for. The fact that you know about this...”

He cleared his throat again and this time, Dean reached for the cup of water. Instead of just handing it to Cas, though, he got up and helped him take a sip, with one hand on his upper back, holding him up. Out of instinct, his thumb rubbed soothingly up and down. With a shrug of his shoulders and a dark glare, Cas instantly stopped him, taking the cup himself to finish the rest.

Raising his hands in defense, Dean swallowed hard and took a step back. “Sorry. Sorry, I didn’t mean to.” He turned around and took a few deep breaths, forcing the vice around his heart to loosen again. This wasn’t his Cas. He just needed to remember that.

By the time he heard the cup being placed back on the side table, he’d caught himself again. Sitting back down, he gave Cas a tight-lipped smile. “So, any more questions?”

“Yes. Please tell me my brother was only messing with me when he said we’re actually living together?”

Chuckling, Dean leaned back and told Cas the story of how they had decided to move in together - or at least, some downplayed version of it.

 

~*~

 

~ Then ~

“Fuck!”

Dean looked up from the papers in front of him and over to Cas, who was sitting on his old couch. It was rare that he heard his boyfriend swear, so the man had his attention right away.

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s from my landlord,” Cas replied, holding up one of the letters from the stack he was in the process of opening. “He’s raising the rent again. And he added a note, telling me some people complained about me.”

“About you? You’re hardly here, what do they have to complain about?”

“Nothing for real, I’m sure. My best bet is the neighbors from down the hall just made up some shit to drag me through the mud.”

“You mean that couple that has homophobes written all over their attitude?”

“Yep,” Cas replied, still reading the letter.

His face darkened so much, Dean couldn’t take it anymore. “Show me that,” he ordered, already reaching for the paper.

Cas gave it to him and Dean’s eyes bulged when he saw what Cas would have to pay very soon.

“This is horrendous. Adding this to your shitty neighbors... I’d advise you to move.”

“Very funny,” Cas replied, already opening the next letter. They’d just returned from a mission that had taken them away from home for a week and before that, Cas had spent a few days at Dean’s, so some stuff had been neglected. “I like this apartment. So unless you’re offering to take the next step in our relationship and actually move together, I think I’ll pass on all the stress of moving.”

“And if I were offering just that?”

After a moment of silence, Cas looked up, letter in his hand forgotten. “You serious?”

“Well... I never thought about bringing it up. I thought you might think it too risky, with our secret and all. But... yeah, I would love to live with you.”

Putting the letter on the table, Cas turned his full attention to Dean. “I’ve been thinking the same thing. A lot as of late, actually. I mean, it’s not like we’re home often and we could save a lot of money if we shared rent. So, the rational side alone would make a great deal of sense.”

“The rational side? Really?” Dean asked, trying hard not to be hurt by that.

Right away, Cas rolled his eyes. He got up and moved over to Dean, taking the paper out of his hand and sat down in his lap, one leg on either side of him and his arms loosely slung over Dean’s shoulders.

“Yes, Dean, the rational side. How else would we explain this to people who don’t know about us? What other reason would two grown men have to move in together, if not for sharing rent?”

“Oh, I get it,” Dean replied, slightly embarrassed that he hadn’t thought about that himself. “And aside from the rational part?”

“Do you really have to ask?” Cas admonished in that dark and rough voice that always did things to Dean, already leaning in for a kiss.

Pulling Cas closer, Dean kissed him back with great pleasure but ended it shortly after it had started. When Cas grumbled, he pressed a soft kiss to his nose.

“I guess I would just love to hear you say it.”

“Well then,” Cas replied, eyes clear and earnest, “Yes, Dean Winchester, I would love to move in with you. I would love to wake up by your side every morning and I would love to find a place together where you can devour me on every surface imaginable.”

Dean chuckled but he was distracted quickly when Cas kissed him again and moved just so, lightly rutting against him. Dean groaned. With hardly any alone time over the past week, due to the case and them sharing a room with Gabe, Dean had been craving this. Even with Gabe’s knowledge about their relationship, he had threatened to kill them if he had to bear witness to anything.

So Dean was certainly on board with Cas’ plans for the rest of the afternoon.

 

~*~

 

~ Now ~

It had taken them much longer than either of them had liked but between missions and their different ideas of what they were looking for, it had taken a few tries until their realtor had found them just the perfect place together.

Looking around their loft now, Dean couldn’t believe just how much this had become their safe haven over the past five years. And now, he would have to go through all the rooms to make sure to remove any trace of them as a couple. Cleaning the place to look just like it would have, should they ever be visited by someone who didn’t know about them.

“Where do you wanna start?”

Dean looked at his brother, trying not to break. It took him a moment longer before he could reply.

“No idea. Bedroom, I guess.”

“Should we split up?” Charlie asked him.

Both Sam and Charlie had taken the day off just to help Dean get it all done before Cas would be released the next day. His doctor hadn’t been kidding when she said she wanted her patient to be back in his normal surroundings A.S.A.P. So after the morning visitation had shown his vitals to be stable and his condition almost back to normal, aside from the memory loss and the wound on his head, she’d decided to keep him for just one more night to be absolutely sure and then release him.

That gave Dean only about twenty-four hours to pack up his life as he knew it and move into the lie they had been telling everybody else for the past five years: two best friends, living together as roommates to share rent.

“Yeah, we could. Let me just... let me get some stuff out of the other rooms first.”

“Really, Dean?” Sam asked, clearly annoyed at his brother while Charlie only laughed.

He flipped them both off while moving to the bathroom. Getting one of their toiletry bags, he moved first to the open living room area, the heart of their loft. Getting the lube and Cas’ favorite vibrator out of the drawer in the couch table he made sure neither Sam nor Charlie would see it from where they had moved to the open kitchen. Doing the same in the room Cas and he used as a library-slash-gym, Dean zipped the bag and went back to the living room. 

“Alright, all kid-safe now.”

“I can’t believe you have these stashed all over the place.”

“Of course you can’t, Sammy. I’m sure you and Eileen are the ‘bed-only’-type of people, right?”

Sam was clearly about to reply when Charlie placed a hand on his arm.

“Let’s not fight. We have a lot to do. So let’s start. Sam, you take the library-gym, I’ll take the living room and kitchen. Dean? You okay with doing the bedroom and bathroom?”

“Do I have a choice?” he replied, already moving back to the bathroom.

They had a small stash here as well - yes, okay, maybe it was a bit much but they just loved being all over each other whenever they were in the safety of their own four walls, okay? - but aside from that, not much was to be cleaned up. Cas was still the neat and tidy person he’d always been, and funny enough, Dean had picked up on it over the years.

That meant he had to face reality. Moving on, he went to their bedroom. A room that screamed ‘couple’.

Standing inside the door for a moment, Dean swallowed heavy. Their bed was made - it always was because Cas loved to come home to a clean place - but Dean could still imagine Cas in there, cuddled up to him. 

He looked around, looked at every little piece with new eyes, trying to make up his mind where he could start.

It was just so damn hard. As if they had broken up and now had to split their belongings.

“Get it together, Winchester,” Dean finally grumbled, wiping over his face and pretending he couldn’t feel any wetness.

There was no breaking up. There was no split. This was not because of a sad ending to a great love story. 

This was to help Cas. To help the man he loved more than his own life. The man he would die for - so he would certainly be able to get through this. It was the best for Cas’ health and sanity.

Moving over to the large bay window, he opened it first to get some fresh air in. Next, he stripped the bed of its covers, forcing himself not to inhale the sweet scent on Cas’ pillow. Once it was all taken off, he took all the laundry over into the bathroom and threw it into the washer, starting the first machine.

On his way back, he took a second toiletry bag and back in the bedroom, filled it with the contents of their nightstands, leaving only Cas’ normal stuff there, a book, his chapstick, pen and paper, phone charger - the usual stuff.

Next, he opened the closet. Taking a heavy breath, he got out a duffle bag and threw all his clothes in. Thankfully, Cas had always made sure their stuff didn’t get mixed together too badly, making it much easier for Dean now. He also got the container with the dirty clothes, threw a few more things in and then moved it to the bathroom to go next into the machine. After the toiletry bag as well as the duffle had been moved to the guest room - Dean avoiding Charlie’s worried gazes while he had to pass through the living room - Dean gave the closet a quick once over. Sure that he’d gotten everything of his own, he spread Cas’ stuff out a bit, so the gap of missing clothes wouldn’t be too obvious. Not that either of them had an abundance of clothes but still.

He also got new sets of covers out, getting the bed ready again. Thankfully, he’d done it often enough by now to know exactly how Cas liked it. He still spent a few extra minutes doing this part - just so he could avoid moving on to the next.

When he really couldn’t avoid it any longer, Dean looked up and over at the wall opposite from their bed.

It was covered by a huge collage of pictures, all of them.

They had been taken at random times, on missions when they were able to steal a minute or two away from the team, on vacations, them joining the pride parade, their wedding, calm times at home, moments with their friends and family who knew about their secret.

It was their life.

Had they been allowed to live their love openly, this would be their Instagram.

“I can do this for you,” he heard Charlie’s soft voice behind him.

Shaking his head and not turning around, Dean ignored how his vision went blurry as he took down the first picture.

 

Chapter Text

~*~ Chapter Four ~*~

~ Now ~

Waking up this morning had been somewhat disappointing for Cas. After all the craziness of last night, he’d somewhat hoped he would wake up and everything would have gone back to normal. That hope had been ruined the moment he came to in the same hospital room as before and was completely crushed when Winchester had entered the room. Still in the same FBI uniform as the night before. Seriously, did the man never go home or at least get some fresh clothes?

It had been a real relief when he had agreed to go home to get everything ready for Cas’ return. Although, what that could be, he had no idea. Maybe his story was fake after all and now he quickly needed to prepare his messy home so it would look like a second person lived there.

Forcing himself to stop thinking such things -  the option of Winchester messing up a case, leaving him stuck in a strange alternative timeline actually had crossed his mind, damn that man for apparently knowing Cas’ thoughts so well - he concentrated on his brother’s company.

He’d always liked Gabriel the most out of all of his family and he’d been heartbroken when the man had run away some... well, he guessed it had been eighteen years now. 

With Winchester gone as well as the first shock over, he had time to truly reconcile with Gabriel now. Listening to how they had reunited some nine years ago, Cas almost wished for this reality to be true and for him to remember - even if it meant he was stuck with Winchester.

“You really did become friends, you know,” Gabriel told him after Cas had said as much. “I know it’s hard for you to believe. But Dean’s a good guy, once he lets you see behind his facade and all the macho man behavior.”

“You mean that’s not his normal behavior?”

“Oh, it certainly is,” Gabriel told him with a grin. “But it’s not who he really is, no. He’s... he’s kind and caring. He’s an awesome leader and he would catch a bullet for just about anyone in his charge. He would even die for his closest friends and his family.”

“Sounds like you like him a bit too much.”

“Oh, look at this. The blow to your head hasn’t robbed you of your unique humor.”

Cas’ glare was answered only by a cheeky grin, causing him to roll his eyes in annoyance. Instead of pressing the matter, he moved back to their own past, making Gabriel tell him how he’d joined the SDA.

“Well, it wasn’t really a big deal,” Gabriel began, brushing his hair out of his face. 

At least he had taken some time last night to go home, shower and change. This was how a functional man behaved. 

“We met on one of your missions, shortly before the SDA was launched, shortly before the program for hunters started. You offered me to join.”

“Wait. Wait, does that mean you were a Hunter?”

“Not exactly. I mean... maybe? I knew about the supernatural, of course. Who in our family doesn’t? And given my name, I was able to get intel now and then. I guess you could say I made sure no supernatural being would mess with the people close to me or come near the area I lived in? I wouldn’t call that a Hunter, per se. More like a person who liked their peace and quiet.”

“And you still joined the FBI? What made you change your mind?”

“You.”

Looking at his brother, perplexed, Cas was glad Gabriel went on without him needing to prompt for more information.

“When you came into my hometown, investigating, I couldn’t believe my little baby brother had made such a career in the FBI. I mean, I had heard of you now and then but it only really hit me when I saw you. We met and reconciled. I helped you solve the case and when I realized our time together was almost over... it was weird, you know? Finally having you back in my life, finally having back a piece of my family... it was nice. It was great. Then you told me about the plans for the SDA - and I guess I just jumped at the opportunity to be a real Novak again.”

“What did our family say?”

“Well, I’m still somewhat of an outcast. But you know, it’s not like we have Sunday dinners together anyways, so yeah.”

That was true, actually. The Novak clan, while huge, widespread, and very much respected in both the FBI and the military, was not one for lovey-dovey family gatherings.

“We work together with three family members, don’t we?”

“Yes,” Gabriel confirmed. “Jack joined last year. Before coming back, I only remembered him as a baby. I guess, at the moment it’s kinda the same for you?”

“Well, not a baby. But a young teenager, yes.”

“He’s a kid genius, really. A bit naive sometimes but a genius. And a fighter.”

“Is he... is he anything like -”

“Like his father? No. No really, he couldn’t be a sweeter soul. He’s much like his mother. If anything, he’s working very hard to make everybody forget about the stench his father brought to the family name.”

Jack’s father, Luke (mostly called Lucifer in their family now), was one of Gabe and Cas’ older brothers and the black sheep of the Novak clan no one ever really talked about. He was a convicted criminal, locked away in a psych ward after a murder spree on a military base. All that had happened before Jack was even born. Kelly, the girl who had had a one night stand with Luke some months earlier, had been shocked by the revelation. But the Novaks hadn’t hesitated to welcome her and the baby into the family, making sure she and Jack were taken care of.

“I assure you, he’s a great kid. You’ll like him once you get to know him again.”

“Good. And Anael?”

“Ehm, you call her Ana now. But yeah. She’s somewhat of a rebel, just like us. Still closer to the family but I think, if push came to shove, she would be on our side.”

“What do you mean?”

“Nothing,” Gabriel was quick to tell him. “Just... yeah, just that she’s cool. She’s not like Naomi or Hester or any of our other cousins. She’s not always following the ‘Novak clan rules’.”

Cas nodded, knowing exactly what Gabriel was talking about. Sometimes - a lot of times - it was a burden to carry the name of Novak. It came in handy many times, yes. But it also meant that people expected certain things of a member of this family. Mostly the family itself.

“Now, with Dumah,” Gabriel continued. “I don’t really know. I mean, don’t get me wrong, she’s cool and I totally trust her on missions. But she really likes being a Novak now. When she married Michael, it was a big event.”

“What’s Michael doing right now?” Cas asked, wondering over his third, and last brother.

“He’s overseas right now, leading a mission in the Middle East.”

“He’s made a big name for himself?” 

“As expected of him, yes,” Gabriel replied, grinning.

Cas had to join in on the grin. Michael had always been the most proper of the four brothers; as if he’d been compensating for the three others, who he’d considered black sheep. At least, he thought so of Lucifer and Gabriel. Cas... well, Cas had done everything in his power to follow the family’s vision of a good soldier or agent. For a moment, he was tempted to ask Gabriel if that had changed. If he’d done something in his past that had led to himself being seen as a black sheep as well. But he kept himself from doing so, ignoring the impulse. Gabriel had spoken of them both as rebels... so maybe he had. But that was something to worry over on another day.

After all, there was nothing that would warrant such behavior from him. Nothing he would ever act on to make him an outcast in his family. And seeing how many of his cousins, aunts, and uncles had been at the hospital last night and over the course of the day, he was sure it was all still okay.

For a moment, he was glad he hadn’t lost the memories of his parents. Hadn’t lost knowing how much Chuck and Sera Novak had loved their children before they had both died on a mission when Cas had still been a teenager. He was glad because that meant he hadn’t had to go through the pain of getting the dreadful message all over again. 

But that was long in the past and the moment was gone quickly, when Gabriel continued talking, telling him about some of their missions over the years in the SDA.

 

~*~

 

Winchester didn’t come back that day, which Cas was glad about. But he was back the next morning, ready to bring him home.

Home.

What a weird word to connect with the man. However, Gabriel was there as well, so he followed them without any complaint.

The drive from the hospital was silent, except for Winchester informing Gabriel that he would take a few days off to help Cas find his ways around and to take care of everything. Apparently, that made Gabe the Unit Chief on duty, as he was the third in command.

Cas didn’t say anything to the prospect of spending the next few days in Winchester’s close proximity. He would just have to live with it, as it seemed there would be no way around it. Hopefully, he had a nice room and would be able to mostly stay holed up in it.

As it turned out, the loft they’d rented was in a better part of the city, the apartment building quite nice and well maintained. Even more surprising than that was the loft itself. Cas couldn’t help staring as he walked in.

The front door opened directly into a light, spacious room. There was a small entrance area with both a coat rack and a shoe rack, plus a locker, obviously for their gear that had to be locked away in case other people came to visit. After a few steps, the whole room came into view. Directly to the left, a modern and open kitchen was located, an island with a counter and some high chairs setting a visual separation to the living room that followed directly behind it.

The left wall was almost completely covered by a shelving system. Where it was still standing in the kitchen, it held boxes of what Cas guessed to be ingredients. Some sections were also covered by cabinet doors. Where the living room area began, the shelves looked different right away, clearly separating the two areas. Here, they held DVDs and games and some consoles, as far as Cas could tell. Then the shelves opened up to make room for a huge TV - one that must have clearly been for Winchester’s entertainment as Cas would never buy anything like it. The shelf boards continued on the other side of the TV, holding even more DVDs. But there were also some plants mixed in with the DVDs as well as pictures, showing pics of them as well as some friends and family. It was clean and well organized - something where Cas could certainly detect his own touch.

After the bookshelf, in the far left corner, there was a door, which was closed.

The wall opposite from the entrance door wasn’t really a wall so much as a huge window. Behind it, Cas could make out a balcony, which actually held plants and as far as he could tell, some herbs and wildflowers. It was like a little paradise for him.

The wall on the right side started with yet another closed door, followed by some more shelves, these holding closed boxes of various sizes - one that looked suspiciously like a guitar case - mixed with what looked like memorabilia and some more pictures and some cookbooks.

On the right-hand side of the entrance, where the wall ended, a hallway began and Cas could make out two more closed doors.

A quick calculation told him that one of the doors would be the bathroom, two more would be Winchester’s and his own two rooms. What the fourth door held, though, he had no idea.

As it seemed, the living room was the center of their loft. The L-shaped couch looked comfortable and was also huge, big enough to host a lot of friends for cozy evenings together. Did they do game nights? Or movie nights? The abundance of DVDs told him that yes, at least the second one was certainly a thing Winchester would do. But did he join them?

“Welcome home, Cas,” Winchester told him now, getting out of his shoes and putting them neatly away. Funny, he’d always thought the guy was more of the messy type.

Gabriel followed suit, so Cas did as well. Hesitantly, he stepped into the living room.

“Alright, let me give you a quick tour. Unless... how are you feeling? Too tired? In that case, I’ll just show you your room.”

“I’m fine,” Cas grunted out. 

Winchester hesitated for just a moment, before moving to the door on the far left side.

“Alright, let’s start here. This is what we call our library-gym. Never came up with a better name, never really bothered to.”

Cas was actually intrigued about it. As he stepped in, he was met by a view he certainly hadn't expected. On the right-hand side, the window wall from the living room continued, making this room just as bright and open. The left-hand wall was again just one huge bookshelf, this one packed to its fullest with tomes and books and magazines and everything alike.

“Wow,” he breathed out, not able to help himself.

“Quite impressive, huh,” Winchester asked, grinning. “We have it sorted between normal literature and stuff about the supernatural. Of course, it's just a small collection compared to what the SDA has in stock but you like to browse it sometimes when we have a day off.”

Cas nodded, already noticing some of his own books he recognized from his old place. There was a working area in the corner, with a table and comfortable looking chairs. In the other corner, the floor was covered with soft mats - a sparing area, no doubt. There was also a punching bag hanging from the ceiling and some weights neatly stored away in a special rack. No wonder they called it a gym as well.

When Cas moved around, Winchester took the hint and moved on with their tour.

“That’s my room,” he said, pointing to the opposite door but moving past it. Apparently, Cas wasn’t allowed to get to look inside of it. Maybe their rooms were off-limits to each other?

He would very much like that.

“Bathroom,” Winchester said next, pointing to the first door in the hallway, before opening the second one. “And here’s your room.”

There was a strange note in his voice Cas found trouble placing but instead of thinking any further about it, he moved passed the man and entered the room.

It was... not what he had expected and certainly different from what he had been living in before. But a quick look around told him that he liked it; the room had a bay window on the opposite wall instead of a complete window front as it was in the living room and a walk-in closet, some nice landscape shots decorated the walls. There was a larger gap on the wall between closet and window, opposite the bed but Cas paid it no mind for now. Perhaps, he had recently decided to redecorate.

The bed, however, was what caught his eyes for now. It was king-sized and he was sure he hadn’t had this in his old apartment. He usually preferred smaller beds, as weird as that sounded.

“What’s with this huge bed?” he asked, realizing too late that it was probably a weird question to ask. But now that he had started it he could very well move on. “I’m sure I had a different one before.”

“Oh, eh, yeah. Yeah, you decided to buy a new one when we moved in here.”

“And why on earth would I buy such a monster?”

“Hey, don’t ask me,” Winchester replied. “It was your decision, not mine.”

Cas narrowed his eyes.

“Why would it be your decision what my bed looks like?”

“Exactly,” Winchester exclaimed, appearing slightly flustered. “That wouldn’t make any sense at all. So don’t ask me what made you choose this bed. I have no idea, obviously.”

He actually had to agree with Winchester on this. 

“Well, I’ll leave you to it then,” the man told him out of nowhere, turning and leaving Cas back in his room.

Not paying the strange behavior too much mind - really, what did he know about Winchester’s behavior at all? - Cas went to the bathroom.

It was nice, not too small but also not especially extravagant. Just about right. But most importantly, it was clean, much to Cas’ surprise. Maybe he really did have a wrong picture of Winchester in his mind. 

Splashing some water into his face and checking his bandage, he finally took a minute to look at himself in the mirror. He’d certainly aged, maybe even beyond his years. There were a few more wrinkles around his eyes. Weirdly enough, they looked like laugh lines, even though Cas wasn’t one to laugh a lot, so he had no idea how they should have gotten there.

Other than that, he appeared almost normal.

Except for the slight smell of the hospital still sticking to him - even if only in his imagination. Maybe he should take a shower?

Decision made, he quickly went back to his room, ignoring the voices from the kitchen. Instead, he took a moment to fully take in this place that apparently was his own. He could certainly see why he had agreed to this loft in general and why he had taken this room in particular. He liked the huge bay window, as well as the view that lay beyond. He could picture himself sitting there to relax and to read.

The room was neat and clean – at least that hadn’t changed about him. He was obviously still a well-organized person, even though he’d made questionable decisions when it came to his acquaintances.

Opening his closet, Cas was pleased to see some of his usual clothes - or at least in the style he would usually wear. He picked out something comfortable and went back to the bathroom. Getting undressed, he was careful not to hurt his head. Seeing his hair, he decided to wash it as well. He couldn’t stand the filth and the idea of dirt from Purgatory still being all over him suddenly made him very itchy.

Carefully touching the back of his head, he made sure the water-tight bandage was still safely in place and also tried to remember where the stitches were, so as not to rub them. The skin underneath was tender and he was sure he wasn’t supposed to do this just yet, even with the special bandage. But he didn’t care.

The shower was amazing and he had to force himself to make it short. Winchester and Gabriel were probably still out there, waiting for him. He gently washed his hair and then rinsed completely, switching over to cold for one last rinse. 

After drying off and toweling his hair, he once more gently checked the back of his head. Nothing seemed amiss, the bandage still in place. Cas wasn’t a vain person but he still hoped his hair would grow back quickly, no desire to even see how messed up the back of his head now looked. 

Quickly throwing on his clothes, he mentally prepared himself for his next encounter with Winchester.

When he left the bathroom, he heard whispered voices from the kitchen. From this position, he had a direct view and could see Winchester’s gloomy face while Gabriel appeared to be talking insistently to him. Winchester only nodded every now and then. After a moment, he looked up and spotted Cas standing there.

“Cas, hey,” he said, the dark look on his face completely gone right away, as he pushed himself away from the counter.

Gabriel had stopped talking instantly and busied himself with getting glasses out of the cabinets, intensifying Cas’ feeling that he’d been missing something. He had no time to ponder over it, however, when Dean’s gaze turned into a scrutinizing one all of a sudden.

“Did you wash your hair? Cas, your stitches -”

“What about them?” Cas replied, already annoyed again by Winchester’s behavior. Who did he think he was? His mother? 

It was as if Winchester hadn’t even listened to him. Instead, the man had the audacity to move behind him and check the back of his head. When Cas tried to move away, he pushed him down in one of the stools at the counter.

“I’m not joking around right now, Cas,” he insisted. “Sit down and keep still so I can check. Or I swear to God, I’ll take you back to the hospital right away.”

By the tone of his voice, Cas could tell Winchester was serious, even though he thought the man was overreacting. And definitely invading his personal space. A look towards Gabriel told him that his brother was siding with Winchester on this one, though, looking at the man as if waiting for a verdict.

After a moment, the hand on the back of his head was gone.

“Looks all fine. But don’t do it again. And don’t you dare try to change that bandage on your own. If it needs to be changed, I’ll do it for you.”

“I don’t need -”

“It’s either me or back to the hospital. What will it be?”

Cas frowned at the man but it appeared once more that Winchester was dead serious, scolding right back. Accepting that it would probably be nice not to have to try to do it himself, he nodded at last, hoping the topic wouldn’t even come up and the bandage would stick until he went back to the hospital to get the sutures removed.

Winchester nodded as well. “Good,” he commented before his voice and demeanor turned a touch softer. “You hungry?”

“I... yes, I guess I could eat,” he replied. He wanted to say no, wanted to go back to his room, his limit of Winchester-time certainly already exceeded. But he really was hungry, so it seemed he had to endure the man for a bit longer.

Winchester pulled some stuff out of the fridge while Gabriel got down some plates.

“Sorry, didn’t have much time to prepare stuff, so it’s just gonna be some sandwiches.”

“Which isn’t bad,” Gabriel told him as he put the plates on the counter. “You love those sandwiches. Everybody does, really.”

Cas watched as Winchester quickly put together their food and placed it in front of them. Instead of sitting down as well, he stayed where he was, probably because it was easier this way to see both Cas and Gabriel and to have a conversation this way.

“I’ll inform the team later, by the way,” he said to Gabriel after the first few bites. “Tell them not to worry and to behave while you’re in charge.”

“I think I can handle that myself, thanks, Dean-o.”

“Be glad I’m not asking you to behave while I’m gone.”

Gabriel grimaced but eventually nodded. 

“True. Alright. Want us to go back to the current case?”

“Yeah, but don’t you dare try to get to Hell again.”

“Hell?” Cas threw in, confused about that. Hell had been closed for quite a while now, why would Gabriel try to go there?

The two other agents looked surprised for a moment before Winchester seemed to remember that Cas wasn’t on the same page as them and nodded. 

“Ehm, yeah. I guess you remember the main portal to Hell is sealed? Well, a few years ago, we found a backdoor, as we call it. It’s located in Purgatory. We use it sometimes but it’s not allowed.”

“And we were trying to enter it when this-” he pointed to his head, “-happened?”

“Yeah,” Winchester admitted, looking rueful.

“Henriksen on your case because of it?” Gabriel asked. His nonchalant voice hinted at the fact that this wasn’t the first time.

“Yeah, he indirectly ordered me to come up with a cover story as to why we would have been in Purgatory. Since one of us got severely injured this time, I guess the higher-ups won’t just let it slide so easily if they find out why we were really there.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll put Charlie on it. She’ll write your report and you’ll just have to sign it.”

“Thanks, Gabe. Maybe you’ll find another way to contact Crowley.”

Gabriel shrugged his shoulders. “Unlikely. The King of Hell isn’t one to leave his place quite often, after all. But I’ll try. And I’ll have Ketch and the new kid work on an alternative way to solve the case. Without Crowley’s help.”

“Good. Let’s make sure Sam’s getting as strong a case as possible.”

While Gabriel nodded, Cas’ head was spinning from all the new information.

“Who’s Sam?” he finally asked, realizing the new name didn’t mean a thing to him.

There was a quick exchange between the two other men, one Cas’ once more couldn’t place. Finally, Dean took a deep breath and explained.

“Sam’s my brother. He’s a lawyer with the SDA. To break it down, his job is to help the victims of supernatural issues. Mostly those that have been possessed by demons and done stuff they are now held accountable for, even though they didn’t actually do it.”

“That... wow, okay,” Cas replied, astonished. He’d never really given any thought to the people they left behind after cases. People whose lives would never be the same without any of it being their fault. “How is he doing that. I mean... it’s not like he can just tell the jury the truth, right?”

“No, of course not. That’s why he mostly tries not to let it get that far. Some of the judges all over the country know about the supernatural world, working closely together with the SDA. When Sam or one of his colleagues is put on a case, they usually already know what’s up. The usual verdict will be that the people were under the influence of drugs someone gave them, making them victims themselves or that they need to be put in a hospital ward. Whatever will help them best in the future and for them to deal with what happened. Over the years since the SDA was formed, this has helped quite a lot of people.”

Cas was quiet for a moment, taking in all this new information. It was impressive really. The way he remembered it, the idea for the Supernatural Defence Agency had started as a passing one, something Henriksen was working towards to make happen someday. Now, ten years later, it had grown so big out of nowhere (at least in Cas’ mind) and he had a hard time comprehending it all. 

“What about our current case?” he asked when he was sure his head wouldn’t explode.

“Demon possession,” Winchester explained while he began clearing the counter. “Only, this one has gone on a murder spree. Turning an innocent father of three into a serial killer. We were able to stop him but the demon left before we could kill it. So now the father is in custody with the SDA. We’re trying to find a way to get him out but of course, with a serial killer, the media is all over it. We were trying to talk to Crowley-”

“The King of Hell?”

“-Yeah, believe it or not, but he’s an ally. He has no desire for his demons getting out of hand. He has a pretty tight grip on them and if they do stuff like this to demonstrate their power over him and his rules, they are usually punished. For one, to show who's the boss down there and two because it ‘doesn’t fit the concept of Hell’ as Crowley likes to put it.”

“Wow.”

“Yep. So, yeah, we were trying to contact him. But since Hell is closed...”

“I see.”

He really did, even though his head was spinning and he wished for some quiet.

Apparently, it must have shown on his face as Winchester looked worried again. Damn, that man was probably going to mollycoddle him to death, if he let him.

“Are you alright, Cas?”

“I’m actually getting a bit tired. It’s been more draining than I thought,” he admitted, not quite feeling well with admitting such a weakness to the man but pushing that feeling aside. He would have to learn to trust him sooner or later, as it seemed. Not that he planned on doing it too quickly - the whole ‘thrown into an alternative reality’ theory was still ringing in the back of his head, somewhere.

Winchester’s reaction to his admission was somewhat startling. The worry etched deeper into his face as he reached for Cas but stopped himself just shy of touching his arm. Hesitantly, he pulled his hand back.

Cas didn’t comment on it as he slowly got up.

“I think I’ll just lay down.”

“Alright. I’ll bring you some water in a minute.”

True to his words, Winchester knocked on the door just as Cas had laid down, fully clothed, on the covers of his bed.

“Come in.”

Besides the glass of water, he also carried a carafe and what turned out to be painkillers.

“The doc said you should drink a lot. And to take two of these before going to bed, so you will be able to sleep.”

“Thanks,” Cas replied, feeling weird when Winchester halted at hearing those words, before talking again.

“I actually have to run some errands, I’m sorry. We didn’t have much time before the mission, so we’re running low on groceries. I’m also gonna stop at headquarters. I have to get some papers and all that. Do you feel alright being alone? Or do you want Gabe to stay here?”

“I’m sick, Winchester, not an invalid.”

He saw the man swallow hard and had an inkling that it was because of him using his last name. It made him wonder how long it had been since he’d been calling him that. When had they grown close enough for Cas to switch to his first name? 

“Alright. Just offering,” Winchester replied, evading Cas’ gaze now. “I’ll leave you to it then. If... if there’s anything you need, my number is in your phone.”

“Alright.”

Winchester gave him a curt nod before turning around and leaving the room. Before he closed the door fully, he looked at him for just a moment longer, making Cas think he was about to say something else. But he didn’t and when the door closed, the room finally fell quiet.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Dean was done quickly with grocery shopping, his mind far away. He’d given Gabriel a lift home, the man clever enough not to comment on anything that had happened. The not so funny pep talk - or really, his warning to be more precise - earlier when Cas had been in the shower had certainly been enough. Not that it had been necessary, Dean knew full well that he had to be patient with his husband but it was still appreciated. 

It also helped having Gabriel there, at least to some degree. Interacting with Cas like this... it was just weird. Hearing him call him Winchester again, mistrusting him... Dean was man enough to admit that it hurt like a bitch, even though he wasn’t allowed to show it. At least not to Cas.

He’s not your husband right now.

That was the mantra he constantly had to repeat to himself, just to get through it all. Just until they would be able to... to what actually? Trigger Cas’ memories? Bring them back somehow? How would they actually do that if Cas wasn’t allowed to know the full truth?

Trying not to overthink it, Dean was glad when he pulled his Baby into the parking lot of the FBI’s headquarters. He just needed to get some stuff from his office so he could stay up to date while spending a few days at home, trying to make his husband like him again... and maybe fall in love with him again?

No, Dean wouldn’t even think this far just yet. The most important task at the moment was to get Cas’ health back. Maybe get him back to being able to go on missions. That might help him. The doctor had told them that there wasn’t anything else wrong with him, so he should rest for a good week, and if everything was alright after his next check-up, he could go back. At least for some desk work.

Yeah, as if, Dean thought to himself, grinning. Cas hated desk work. Even more reason why he hadn’t wanted to be unit chief. The amount of paperwork Dean had to work on was outrageous.

Entering his office, Dean was still deep in thought when a voice startled him out of it.

“Hello, Dean.”

Right away, Dean’s hand flew to his Glock, relaxing just a little in the next moment as he recognized the intruder. He was still ready to pull his weapon, one could never be too safe with a demon, even an ally.

“Crowley. To what do I owe this... honor?”

“Aww, now. No need to hurt my feelings. I know you secretly love seeing me, even though you won’t admit it.”

Rolling his eyes, Dean moved to his desk and sat down in his chair.

“I’m sorry to not entertain you the way you want but I’m kind of in a hurry. So, if you would kindly let me know what you want?”

“A little birdy told me you’ve tried to break into Hell the other day.”

“It’s not really breaking in if you know the backdoor is always open.”

“That sounds like a very dirty innuendo but I’ll let it slide.”

Rolling his eyes yet again, Dean started on collecting the stuff he needed. He knew he should use the opportunity to get the intel from Crowley they needed. The one they had risked everything for, just to get it. But knowing the King of Hell, he had not shown up for nothing. So obviously, Dean wouldn’t have to bring it up himself.

“I heard what happened to your sweetheart.”

This time, Dean threw Crowley a dark look. He still hated that Crowley was one of the few to know their secret - it appeared that one couldn’t keep things like that from the King of Hell. At least Dean knew he wouldn’t rat them out, far more interested in having a threat hanging over their heads.

“Fickle things, those human memories, aren’t they? So easily taken...”

Scowling at him, Dean tried to figure out if Crowley was just an ass as always or if he was trying to tell him something for a change. But Crowley didn’t leave him much time to think.

“Anyways, I thought, you’re probably too busy trying to get all that fixed to keep an eye on the case.”

“Gabriel and the rest of the team will handle it.”

“Ah, see but there is not really any need for it. I already handled it. As I said I would handle all business regarding Hell.”

“Just like that?”

“Of course not just like that. Here’s the deal. The demon you’ve been chasing has been a thorn in my side for quite a while now. I have located him and I’ll make sure he’ll be in the body of another human-”

“Not that again, Crowley,” Dean groaned, knowing where this would lead.

“Let me finish. This other man is... well, I guess other humans would call him a monster. He’s yet another serial killer - a real serial killer. One who did what he did because he wanted to, not because one of my demons went rampant.”

“You have no idea about the amount of paperwork that will come with this.”

“Paperwork, really, Winchester? That’s your issue with this? As always, you can only win with this. Two monsters - both a human and a demonic one - off the street, your innocent victim walking free. Cleared of all charges. And all we need for this is one teeny tiny incantation to trap the demon in the man’s body. You have your serial killer to throw into prison and have people feel safe again, I have my peace from the demon for a few decades.”

“You always make it sound so easy.”

“Because that’s just what it is.”

Dean hated this. He always hated deals like this. But - as always - Crowley was actually right.

“And the criminal-”

“Is not an innocent soul for me to corrupt, you have my word. I’ll make sure your little redhead has his file to check it but really, Dean, how many times have we done this before? And have I ever cheated on you?” His grin was very suggestive as he said this.

Pinching the bridge of his nose in annoyance - really, sometimes Crowley’s innuendos rubbed him just the wrong way - Dean finally sighed before nodding in agreement.

“Fine. When and where?”

“Tomorrow, five o’clock in the morning. Usual place. And please, tell Gabriel to be on time.” With that, he stood up, doing up the few buttons of his suit jacket. About to leave, he looked back at Dean once more. “Oh and good luck with your sweetheart. If you can’t get his memories back, you always know where to find me.”

He was gone before Dean was able to shoot him.

 

~*~

 

The newest deal with the Devil... King of Hell, whatever, was still on Dean’s mind when he pulled into the parking lot of their apartment complex. He’d called Gabe on the way and explained all the details to him. He ordered him to take Charlie and Ketch with him but to leave the rest of the team out of it. If they got caught by the authorities, these three would know how to handle it. They had been a part of the deals before.

Gabriel had to assure him three times over that they would be fine and that if he would see Dean there he would kick his ass.

“You stay at home and keep my brother safe, you hear me?” he had ordered and Dean planned on doing just that. 

It was already dark outside, the moon giving just enough light in the darkened loft. It was completely quiet and after putting the groceries away, Dean silently went over to their bedroom... to Cas’ bedroom. His soft knock wasn’t answered. He knew he shouldn’t but still, he gently pushed the door open, just far enough to see the silhouette of his husband lying in bed. His back was turned towards the door, his shoulder softly moving up and down with his inhales and exhales.

Dean wanted to go over, wanted to brush away the hair he knew must have fallen into Cas’ face by now. Because it always did and because he always brushed it away.

But he didn’t. 

Opening the door was already too much and he knew Cas would be mad if he knew. But Dean had to know he was okay or he wouldn’t be able to sleep tonight.

Not that he would be able to anyway. Last night had already been hell, sleeping in the guest room. But at least the loft had been empty. Now, though? Now his husband was but a few feet away from him and yet as far away as he had ever been.

Closing the door softly, Dean leaned his head against the wood, trying to regulate his breathing and struggling to keep his tears at bay.

“Sleep tight, sweetheart,” he whispered. “I love you.”

He imagined Cas sleepily smiling at him, giving him a soft kiss and answering that he loved him as well.

Swallowing hard, he finally let go of the door and moved back to the kitchen. For a moment, he stood there, lost, trying to bring up the energy to make himself a light dinner.

But he found no appetite at all.

So instead, he went to the bathroom and got ready for bed, then moved to his room. Not bothering to switch on any lights - he really didn’t want to see the emptiness that lay before him - he got undressed and after plugging his phone in and making sure it was loud enough so he could hear in case Gabe called, Dean tried to at least find some restless sleep.

 

Chapter Text

~*~ Chapter Five ~*~

~ Now ~

The dream was foggy, silhouettes everywhere, excited voices, laughter.

A man was holding his hands, saying something to him but Cas couldn’t quite catch it.

Except for one line.

“I’ll catch you when you fall.”

 

~*~

 

Waking up the first morning in new surroundings was somewhat confusing for Cas. He wasn’t a morning person to start with and the huge bed felt somewhat... empty?

Shaking his sleep-addled mind, banishing the last trace of a dream that made no sense as well as his bizarre thoughts, he turned his head to check the time. It was just after nine am but what actually got his attention was the mug sitting there, right beside a book that seemed well-read. Sure that the mug hadn’t been there last night, he sat up and checked its content.

Black tea, still steaming hot.

“What the...?”

Sitting up completely his naked feet touched the soft rug he already liked very much. As he reached for the mug he was careful not to burn his fingertips. He took a sniff and was perplexed to smell the sweetness – just as he liked it.

The spoon was still in the mug and Cas gave it a few good stirs before taking a judging sip. The burn of the hot liquid was just right, the sweetness measured to perfection. His mind traveled back to his stay in Germany a few years ago where he had fallen in love with this way of drinking his tea. The secret was the rock sugar* that was typical for the northern parts of the country and was so hard to find in the States. It was unflavored, made of sugar beets, and just the best when it came to tea. He’d missed it ever since he’d come back to America but he never seemed to be able to find the same kind of black tea in the States, let alone rock sugar.

There were so many questions on his mind with just this single sip alone but as he took a few more burning ones, his tongue pleasantly numb, his mind finally caught up on the moment completely. 

The mug had been in his room.

Actually growling, Cas put the mug down to throw on some clothes. With no desire for streetwear, he quickly chose some sweatpants and a plain shirt. For a moment, he thought about staying in his room, checking all the things that were new for him. He should probably cool down a bit, not overreact. Or at least let those questions on his mind be more important. But all he could think of right now was that Winchester had invaded his privacy and even if that was normal for the two of them now, it certainly didn’t mean Cas had to like it. So he took his mug and left his room.

After a short stop in the bathroom he made his way to the open kitchen area. Music was softly playing on the stereo and Winchester was moving around, cutting something on the kitchen island while a few pots cooked on the stove behind him.

When the man looked up, he greeted Cas with a hesitant smile. All too quickly, it slipped off his face.

“Everything alright?”

“No, Winchester, nothing is alright,” he told him, his voice harsh even to his own ears. The fact that Winchester flinched away at least made him cool down somewhat. “Look, I get that you are used to certain things now. But I am not and I would appreciate it if you could be more mindful of that.”

“What-?”

“The mug! The mug in my room, Winchester. I mean, thanks for the tea-“ his voice didn’t sound thankful at all “-but please refrain from just entering my room. Especially while I’m still asleep. That’s... creepy. You’re invading my personal space and I don’t like it. My room is off-limits to you, understood?”

The man swallowed hard but nodded.

“Sure,” he croaked out, his voice raspy. “Sorry.”

The whole situation seemed to hit the man harder than it should and it confused Cas even more than this whole ordeal already did. Was this such an odd request?

Certainly not. He didn’t like this man, so who could blame him that he didn’t want him in his room?

The thought of maybe calming down hit Cas again. Winchester had accepted his request, so maybe he could sit down now, enjoy his tea. Ask the questions he had. Have a civil conversation.

But he couldn’t.

Instead, he nodded and moved on to the library. A few hours away from Winchester would certainly do him good.

 

~*~*~*~

 

The cutting knife lay forgotten on the counter while Dean leaned against it, his knuckles white from gripping the edge so hard. He swallowed, dry and hard, three times until the urge to scream or to let his tears fall had calmed down.

Stupid.

He’d been so stupid. But bringing Cas his morning tea was such a normal routine for him now. It was ingrained in his muscle memory, so to speak. It was one of the first things he did, making sure his husband would be functional by the time he left the room.

Looking over towards the second mug, he took it and in a momentary lack of control, he flung it into the sink, the cluttering of breaking china sickeningly satisfying. Only then he felt the burning on his hand. Locking down, he saw that it was covered in tea.

Shaking his head, he took a deep breath, slowly exhaled, and moved over to the sink. Washing off the now cooled but sticky liquid of Cas’ second mug, he quickly got rid of the broken pieces. Thank God he hadn’t used one of Cas’ favorite mugs – Dean would have hated himself for breaking one of them.

Once all the evidence of his outburst was gone, he looked back over to the island counter and the ingredients for some stew he was preparing. It was only meant to stock up their freezer again, as they were running low on homemade dinners. The pancake batter for their breakfast was also waiting in the fridge but he was sure that this Cas had degenerated back to the man who never ate in the mornings, only filled up on black tea or – in the times before Dean had found the right ingredients for him to prepare it – black coffee.

And more importantly, Dean’s desire to follow their usual routine had deflagrated. He switched off the stove, left all the cutting stuff as it was – something he never did – and moved to the guest room.

Just as he closed the door, his phone rang, the Star Wars soundtrack playing. While he let himself fall on the unmade bed, he picked up.

“Hey, Charlie.”

“Wow, who has died? Is Cas alright?”

“Yes,” Dean replied, trying not to sound too bitter. “He just hates me and everything I do.”

“Gabe said he was rather civil last night.”

“Yeah, well.” Rubbing his face, Dean sat back up, slouching at the end of the bed. It was just too damn uncomfortable to handle, at least in Dean’s mind. “Maybe that was with Gabe present. Or it’s just his usual morning grumpiness amplified. Whatever it is, he hates me.”

“What happened?”

Dean gave her a short run-through about the happenings of last night and this morning. The fact that Charlie was quiet for a few moments after he had finished spoke volumes.

“I’m so sorry, Dean,” she finally whispered. “I can only advise you to give him time.”

“I’m trying, Charlie. I’m really trying to.”

“I know.”

There wasn’t much else to say about the topic. Charlie knew him, like hardly anyone else did. Not as well as Cas once did, but probably just as well as Sam... maybe even more, in some regards. With Cas’ memories gone, right now, Charlie was probably the one who knew him best.

And she obviously knew that there was nothing really to say to cheer Dean up at this moment.

So instead, she went on and told him about the meeting with Crowley that morning. Not that she needed to, since Gabe had called him right after, telling him that all had gone as planned. But it was still nice to hear her side of the story as well as being distracted, if only for a little while.

Charlie had also finished the report about Purgatory for him, coming up with a good excuse why they had been there. She promised to stop by around dinner time to have him sign it, so he wouldn’t have to bother coming back to headquarters for now.

All too soon, the call came to an end. Charlie had to go back to work, leaving Dean alone with his thoughts once more.

 

~*~

 

He stayed in his room for a good part of the morning and as far as he could tell, Cas didn’t leave the library either.

Around lunchtime, Dean’s stomach finally protested for going without any breakfast and he moved back into the kitchen. Putting away all the prepared stuff for the stew, he got the pancake batter out and cooked them up. Cas still hadn’t left the library. Dean just put aside a stack for him, covering it with another plate, before moving back to his room.

Looking around while he munched on the pancakes, Dean thought about maybe getting used to this as his room. Maybe even decorating it some to his liking. Who knew how long he would have to stay in here?

The rest of the day went by in some kind of silent stupor, grating on Dean’s nerves more than he could have imagined.

Somewhere in the middle of it, he heard Cas leave the library and move to the kitchen. Soon after, the door the bedroom closed and Dean hoped he’d at least taken the pancakes.

But if not, Dean sure as hell wouldn’t force him to.

Or make him something else to eat.

Maybe.

Groaning, Dean got up to check the kitchen.

Even if Cas hated him again, Dean would make damn sure his man was fed.

 

~*~

 

The doorbell announcing Charlie’s arrival was a relief like Dean had hardly ever experienced. The tension in the loft was close to exploding, slowly suffocating Dean. He hadn’t seen Cas all day after their confrontation in the morning and he was about to go insane.

Sadly, Charlie’s company didn’t make it any better, Cas still not leaving his room. Charlie joined him for dinner so he had at least some company. But that was about the highlight of the day, since his friend couldn’t stay for long. He signed her report without much fuss and sent her on her way soon after. 

Once again leaving a plate out for Cas, Dean went to the gym. He needed to let off some steam, and the punching bag was just what he needed. He didn’t stop until he’d worn himself out, even taking off his shirt somewhere in the middle of it. He let the repetition of his punches soothe him, the routine numb his mind. The few moments of oblivion were pure bliss, the single-minded focus a relief. He didn’t even stop when his muscles started burning and protesting, moving on and on. One more punch and another one and another one.

He only stopped when his lungs were screaming, his arms already numb, his punches not even half of the force they were in the beginning.

Catching his breath, he picked up his shirt and used it to wipe away the sweat from his face while he left the gym for the bathroom.

Halfway through the living room, he sensed eyes on him and looking up, he found Cas standing at the kitchen isle, eating the dinner Dean had prepared for him. His eyes, however, were glued to Dean.

The moment he realized that Dean had caught him staring, his scolding frown was back, his eyes turning dark. He took his plate and left for his room before Dean could even get a word out, the loud bang of the door the last he heard from Cas that evening.

 

~*~

 

The next two days went on in a similar depressing fashion, Cas avoiding him, either staying in his room or in the library or even on the balcony where he tended to his flowers and herbs like he always did, reminding Dean of better times. Dean was wise enough to stay out of his way, leaving tea and food on the kitchen counter instead of invading his personal space.

The result was that they didn’t speak a word at all but at least he also wasn’t ambushed by an angry husband, so it was probably a plus.

Sam made sure to text or call regularly, and Charlie and Gabe called him daily, mostly to keep him up to date on the cases but also to check in on him – more so than on Cas, which showed Dean once more the deep friendship they had for him. They knew he would tell them if there was improvement with Cas but would hardly ever talk about his own feelings if not prompted.

“Honestly, it sometimes feels like I’m trying to get a wild animal to get used to me; give it space, leave out nourishment for them, don’t startle them or push them into a corner. I’m only here, waiting for the day it will come out of its room willingly.”

“Give him time.”

Yeah, give him time. That was all the advice they ever had for him. But honestly, what else were they going to tell him? Dean knew there was no real general recipe for handling a person with memory loss.

Therefore, all Dean could do was try to get back to his own normal life. And for him, that meant finally getting back to that stew preparation on Sunday morning, three days after he’d originally started it.

On the counter, the mug with hot tea was waiting for Cas to come out of his room.

 

~*~*~*~

 

The hand was soft, leaving a warm tingle on the skin it touched...

~*~

“Cas?” 

The voice was familiar, and Cas was responding to it, smiling back at the man...

~*~

Laughter rang through the room and Cas playfully slapped the man on the chest before joining into the laughter…

~*~

Green eyes were staring at him, joyful, intently. 

“Finder’s fee?”

 

~*~

 

In those few seconds between sleep and wakefulness, Cas could still feel the touch on his cheek, like a whisper of a feather; could still see those green eyes and hear the melody of his laughter which made his heart beat faster. All those snippets of a dream slowly faded as he came to, all the little moments becoming memories he couldn’t make sense of. He didn’t wake with a start, it was more of a calm process, where one second he was still in his dream and the next he was aware of himself and that he was waking up. Clinging to the feeling for just a moment longer, he opened his eyes at last.

What curious dreams. Cas was sure that the other man had been Winchester but he couldn’t remember ever seeing him this... soft? And he had no idea why the man should touch him like he had in the first dream, even if they were friends now.

Friends.

That was still a concept he had a hard time wrapping his head around. There were only a few things he knew about the man. Like, that he was a semi-competent Hunter – okay, so he was an excellent Hunter, even though Cas would never let him know he thought so... at least as far as he knew. If they were friends now, did that mean he would tell Winchester things like that?

He also came to appreciate that Winchester was a really good cook – Cas was sure he had never eaten this good in his entire life but that certainly was something he wouldn’t tell the man either.

Something he definitely knew about the man was that he was a man-whore, for lack of a better word. Seriously, he’d even let himself be seduced by a Siren. Who did that?

But then there was also the way Winchester had worried over him and made sure he was taken care of. Sure, it had annoyed him - still did a bit - but given the reactions of the people around them, his behavior was normal. And really, it showed a good side of him.

There were other things he realized when it came to Winchester, but Cas had never let himself think about those and he certainly wouldn’t start with it now. 

Looking over to his nightstand, he once again found it empty. And just like the other two mornings before, it left a hollow feeling in the deepest pit of his stomach.

This was absurd.

He had told Winchester not to enter his room and it seemed the man had listened. Even going as far as to avoid him altogether.

But Cas couldn’t shake the feeling of something missing. Some... some normalcy. Something he had become used to and just couldn’t remember.

This was strange.

Very strange.

Cas’ feelings were going haywire and he had no real idea how to handle it. Avoiding Winchester over the past few days had given him enough time to think and to explore his room. And he couldn’t shake the feeling that parts of this room were simply missing. Not just because he couldn’t remember it but because it felt... empty.

Like someone had ripped chunks of a whole away and left it tattered and in pieces.

“This is stupid,” Cas admonished himself for his crazy thoughts.

Getting up, he decided to not spend another day holed up and alone with his thoughts. It was time to face reality and part of that meant facing Winchester.

Maybe the man would prove quite useful, helping him remember things.

Just like the days before, Cas ignored his more formal clothes and went for something comfortable. He was still injured, after all, so he was allowed some comfort. Instead of a plain shirt, however, he grabbed a band shirt this time. He had absolutely no idea why he would have bought this but it certainly looked comfortable right now.

After his stop to the bathroom, Cas hesitantly moved to the kitchen, somewhat relieved to still find the man in there, even if he did not look up. Cas noticed how the melodic sound of chopping halted for a second but it quickly continued.

“Good morning,” he finally greeted, bringing the chopping once more to a stop.

When Winchester looked up, his eyes were somewhat wider than usual. Funny enough, they grew even wider when it seemed they were stuck on Cas’ chest.

However, he quickly caught himself, giving Cas no time to wonder over this weird incident.

“Morning,” he replied, before hesitantly adding, “How are you feeling?”

“Alright, I guess,” Cas rasped out. 

He ignored the impulse to touch the back of his head. For a while now, his stitches had been itching but probably more in a phantom kind of way than really itching.

Instead, he sat down on the counter and took a sip from his tea. Just like every morning, it was perfect and it revitalized Cas’ senses, making him an almost functional person by the time he finished the mug.

When the tea was gone, Cas thought about making himself a new one but Winchester surprised him by pulling another mug from next to the stove and handing it to him without a word. His confusion must have been written on his face because the man softly grinned at him.

“I know you don’t wanna believe it and you’re probably going to be mad at me again for just saying it but, I know you. And you always drink two mugs in the morning. I’m actually amazed you spoke before you started your second one.”

“Does... does that mean those second mugs yesterday and the day before were for me?”

When Winchester nodded, his jaw tense, Cas sensed guilt washing over him.

“I always thought they were yours.”

“I don’t drink tea,” was all that Winchester said.

Letting this sink in, Cas chose not to comment on it. Instead, he silently sat at the kitchen island,  sipping his second tea and watching Winchester chop some carrots. After the second mug was almost finished, he finally felt awake enough to engage in a real conversation.

“Since when have I been drinking my tea like this?”

The chopping stopped for a moment, Winchester obviously not expecting Cas to continue talking to him. After a moment’s hesitation, he cleared his throat and replied.

“Ehm, must have been about five years now? I found all the right brands for the tea and sugar on the internet, shortly after we moved in together. Got it all as a present for you. You’ve been much more bearable in the mornings ever since,” he finished, sending him a grin that might have been cheeky if Winchester wasn’t so hesitant and careful, as if he was stepping on thin ice.

For a moment, a warm feeling spread through Cas’ chest. Winchester had gone through the trouble of finding the right ingredients just so Cas could enjoy his tea? Why?

Instead of replying or thinking about this any further, Cas took another sip to keep himself from saying anything, for now, watching as Winchester moved on to chopping peppers and thinking about his next question.

“How did you know when I would wake up every morning? I never set an alarm.”

“I guess, repeating once more that ‘I know you’ is not an answer you’re looking for, right?”

“Not really, no.”

“Well, in that case... it was pure luck that me brewing the tea and you waking up has been perfectly synced for four days in a row now.”

Once again, Winchester sent him a grin, only this time Cas could tell that he was lying. It hadn’t been pure luck, the man really did know when Cas would wake up.

Cas wanted to be bothered by it but by now even his irrational side had to accept the fact that they had been friends and roommates for quite a while. Obviously, Winchester would know his habits.

“Alright, Mister Smarty-Pants. If you know me so well, what do I usually do on a day off?”

“You normally read in our library or tend to your flowers. So, basically exactly what you did the past few days… minus the part where you were avoiding me because sometimes we play games, go out, or spar. Or we watch a movie, depending on our mood.”

“So we... do a lot of things together?”

Once again, the chopping stopped, this time accompanied by a sigh from Winchester.

“Yes, Cas,” he replied, his mood darkened. “We’re friends, we do things together and we do it a lot.”

“No need to get all defensive. I’m sorry but up until a few days ago - at least in my timeline - I’ve hated you. So, forgive me if all this takes a bit to sink in.”

“I get that, okay. I get it. Just...”

Instead of finishing his sentence, his chopping started up again, much more aggressive now.

“Just what?”

Sighing, Winchester flung the knife on the chopping board and leaned against the countertop, gripping it hard.

“For just a second, could you at least try to put yourself in my shoes?” He looked up at Cas, staring at him, hard, before continuing. “I’ve never hated you, you know that.” 

Yes, Cas knew. The man had always seemed to be rather amused by Cas’ obvious aversion towards him. 

“Then, some nine years ago, I was finally able to gain your trust and eventually your friendship. But all of a sudden, all this is taken from me. From us.”

Winchester’s voice was shaking just the tiniest bit. It was enough to touch a chord inside of Cas, keeping him from interrupting the man.

“I get that this isn’t your fault but damn it, Cas. It hurts, okay? It hurts having to go through this again. I’m trying to be patient, I really am. I promise I’ll go on giving you your space if you need it, I promise not to invade your personal space, and I promise to answer all your questions honestly. But would it kill you to not be so... so cold? Or so surprised about the fact that I was able to earn your friendship? Or about the fact that we’re friends now and therefore do stuff together or know things about each other? Could you at least try to not be an ass about it? Because that would really help. And it would certainly hurt less because quite frankly, while you don’t remember a thing, I remember everything and seeing you like this... it just- hurts.”

That... actually made sense. Cas had been so occupied with his own thoughts and problems, he hadn’t even taken into account what this meant for the other people involved with him and his life. And as it seemed, Winchester had become a big part of it. He could see how his previous behavior hadn’t been fair against the man.

“Okay,” he replied before really thinking it through. Then he nodded, really meaning what he said. “Yeah, okay. Sounds fair. You will answer any question I have and in return, I’ll try not to be surprised all the time and just accept it.”

“Deal?” Winchester asked, a hopeful lilt in his voice.

Thinking about it for a short moment, Cas was sure he would be able to pull that off. 

“Deal.”

Grinning for real this time, Dean went back to whatever food he was preparing. It certainly didn’t look like breakfast.

“What are you cooking?”

“Stew. On our free days, I usually prepare a lot of cooking, so we have dinner in the freezer whenever we’re home to eat here.”

“Do I usually help?”

“God, no,” Winchester exclaimed with a laugh. “You tried a few times, in the beginning. And I certainly tried to teach you. But after you burned some freaking spaghetti, we both decided you’re not allowed in the kitchen any longer.”

“How... how did I manage to do that?”

“I’ve been asking you that ever since. But it remains a mystery.”

“So... I don’t need to feel bad for just sitting here doing nothing?”

“You usually keep me company and we talk a lot,” Dean replied, his mood clearly lightened as he sent yet another smile towards Cas. “Just like now.”

The warm feeling in his chest was spreading again and Cas drank the last of his tea in a feeble attempt at ignoring it.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Once Dean was done with preparing the stew, he got out the stuff he had prepared for their breakfast, happy about the fact that they might just eat together this morning, just like they always did. Whenever they would have the time for it, they would have a later, brunch-like breakfast, enjoying the calm and quiet and the food.

“I... I actually like your pancakes,” Cas admitted while the first one was in the frying pan.

Smiling about this admission, Dean got out the plates and cutlery.

“I have to admit that I know that as well – probably why I have made them four mornings in a row now,” he admitted, winking at Cas.

To his delight, Cas’ eye roll was accompanied with a small grin, telling him that he wasn’t really annoyed. So Dean went on explaining.

“You usually don’t like eating breakfast. Pancakes were the first thing I got you to eat first thing after waking up, so I thought... what’s the harm, right? And it seems like you liked it, so... yeah.”

Not really knowing how to finish his explanation, he put the plates and cutlery down in front of Cas.

While doing so, he tried hard not to let his gaze linger too long on Cas’ chest. Leave it to the man to find and put on the only shirt of Dean’s he must have missed during his big clean-out. Not that he minded, of course. It was just... it was so normal. Cas would always complain about Dean’s shabby shirts and then, whenever he had a chance, he would be the first to wear one of them.

The fact that this Cas, the one who had lost his memories of the past ten years, would randomly choose just one of these shirts...

It was probably stupid but somehow, it was like balm to Dean’s beaten soul.

It gave him hope.

Just like this somewhat normal conversation. Maybe giving time really was all that Cas had needed. Maybe just as much as Dean had needed his little outburst. It seemed like something had exploded and the aftermath was somewhat refreshing and peaceful.

Cas looked at the plates in confusion for just a moment, probably being pulled out of his thoughts but quickly caught on as to what Dean wanted to tell him and he spread the stuff around the counter, so they could both sit there and eat.

Once he was sure Cas was alright, Dean checked on the food, both the stew and the pancakes.

“So, any more questions?”

“No real questions, no,” Cas told him.

His voice was closer and when Dean looked up, Cas was standing in the kitchen area, looking at the cupboards. After a moment, he opened the first one, squinted at it, then closed it and repeated with the second one. This time, he looked in triumph and pulled out two glasses.

Dean couldn’t help himself but smile about the cute look on Cas’ face. He quickly turned back to the stove, not wanting Cas to catch him watching him. For the past few days, he’d always made sure to leave everything Cas might need on the counter, including glasses, juices, and water. Maybe it would do Cas some good to have to find his way around the kitchen again on his own.

As long as he stayed clear from the stove.

Once he was back at the counter, Cas continued to talk.

“But I would like to hear a bit about our past.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. Anything, really. Like, how was your start in the FBI? How did the SDA finally come to life? How was the team put together?”

Smiling, Dean finished preparing their breakfast and then sat down to answer all of Cas’ questions.

 

Chapter Text

~*~ Chapter Six ~*~

~ Now ~

When Cas went to bed that night, he had to admit that the day had been quite nice. Winchester had told him some stories of their years together in the SDA but he’d also left him space when Cas needed some time alone again. 

Therefore, he had no issue with continuing this routine the next day, even somewhat pleased to see how happy Winchester was about his company.

The man was preparing their lunch and was currently in the middle of retelling a mission in Oregon, where their team had hunted actual dragons* when the doorbell rang.

Not expecting anyone, Winchester went to check, apparently surprised when Henriksen’s voice was to be heard on the other end.

A short while later found their Assistant Director on the couch, a cup of coffee in hand.

“Listen, Novak,” he cut right to the chase. “I have to talk to you about something. It does concern Winchester in some ways since he is your Unit Chief. But since it’s a confidential topic, I leave it up to you if you want him in the room or if you want me to just give him the final verdict.”

Cas thought about that for a moment. He had an inkling as to what Henriksen wanted to talk to him about and for some reason, he knew that Winchester should stay.

Obviously misreading his silence, Winchester got up, nodding.

“I’ll leave you two to it. I’ll be in my room if you need anything.”

“No, wait,” Cas spoke before he’d really thought it through.

Looking up at the man, he made the decision that felt right at that moment.

“I don’t mind you staying. I guess we all know what this is about.”

Winchester looked surprised. “If you’re sure?”

“Yes,” Cas confirmed, already turning his attention back to Henriksen while Winchester sat back down.

Henriksen nodded as if he had anticipated that Cas would decide this way – or perhaps he didn’t care either way.

“Very well then. Yes, this is obviously about your memory loss.”

“I feel fine otherwise,” Cas assured right away. “Just a few more days and I should be good to go back to work.”

“Well, that’s just it, Novak. It’s not like the FBI has set rules for this exact scenario. But... there is the rule that an agent needs to be at full health to be considered fit for action.”

“What are you saying?” Winchester interrupted, a frown on his features and his voice dark.

“I’m saying,” Henriksen continued, obviously not happy with what he was about to tell them, “that, technically, Novak shouldn’t be allowed back to work until he has his memories back.”

“What?”

The exclamation came from both men but Henriksen had already lifted his hands as if he wanted to calm them down.

“I know, I know. I get it, okay? I’m not looking forward to having one of my best agents benched for God knows how long either. Which is why I had Bradbury look into it. And she found us a loophole.”

“What is it?”

Henriksen put his coffee on the table, leaning forward as he gestured along with his words. “The rule states that the agent needs to be considered fit for action, meaning he needs to be well trained, both physically and mentally. He also needs to be up to date on the latest regulations.”

“Yeah because the SDA always plays by the rules,” Winchester muttered, earning himself a dark look from Henriksen.

“As far as our bosses know, we do. Anyway, I was thinking that, as long as Novak is able to pass a test once he gets back to work, we should be fine.”

“A test?”

“Yes. The standard test recruits have to go through before they become agents. I’ll have your physical health tested as well as your mental one. And you’ll have to sit down and take a theoretical test. Just like the recruits have to.”

“But... but it’s been ten years,” Cas tried to protest. “I’m sure there are some new regulations and-“

“Which is exactly why you need to be schooled in those to be allowed back in the field. I brought you this,” Henriksen said, getting a bunch of papers out of his bag and dropping them on the table. “Everything the new recruits have to learn. Go over it, refresh your memory on old stuff, get in your brain what’s new for you. Also, once you can, start training again.”

Cas stared at the Assistant Director, who gave him an awkward and lopsided grin.

“I wasn’t kidding, Novak. I want you to pass this test and I want you back on board A.S.A.P.”

With that, the Assistant Director got up and moved to the door. Cas was already leafing through the package. 

“I’ll leave you to it now,” he commented, opening the door. “You have some work ahead of you. But I’m sure Winchester will be a willing instructor. Isn’t that right, Winchester?”

Not waiting for a reply, he showed himself out, leaving the two men behind with a task for the upcoming week.

 

~*~*~*~

 

~ Then ~

“Welcome, Hunters, to the FBI training campus in Quantico.”

Novak’s voice rang out over the field. He had forgone his usual suit and tie and was standing there in a black uniform, ready for some action as it seemed. He was looking at the group of maybe thirty Hunters, some of which Dean knew, some of whom were new to him.

Had anyone told him Novak would be their trainer... well... 

“Once you have completed this boot camp, the Supernatural Defence Agency, short SDA, will be launched as the newest - and classified! - unit of the FBI,” Novak continued with a meaningful glare. “Only those hand-picked, selected, and considered worthy will know of its existence. You are all here because one of the real agents you’ve run into during one of your hunts deems you worthy and thinks you might be a good addition. Or, as in my case and with the Hunters I’ve recruited, simply wants to make sure you’re no longer screwing up their cases by your lack of professionalism.”

“Aww, Novak, you wound me,” Dean called out, getting everybody’s attention at once - but mostly Agent Novak’s. “Here I was, thinking I was special to you.”

While the Hunters around him chuckled - most of them acquainted to Dean’s ways or simply as easy going as the Hunters liked to be - Novak’s face became a stony mask, his permanent frown etched into it.

Purposefully, he stepped over to Dean, oozing authority which - to be honest - gave Dean a pleasant tingle in regions of his body he should probably not think about right now. Once Novak was close enough to be considered invading his personal space, his gaze intensified.

“Since you’re already considered skilled and worthy, my main focus will lie on FBI rules, etiquette, and the required stamina.”

“Stamina? Really, Novak?” Dean asked with a shit-eating grin. “You wanna test my stamina?”

Again, the other Hunters were hardly able to suppress their chuckles, while Novak’s eyes became fiery. In fact, it was hot as hell, even though Dean had a feeling the man could smite him with just his touch in this very second.

Leaning in even closer, his voice was full of intense.

“Rule number one, you should show me some respect,” he told him, icy and clear. “I dragged you out of your lousy life. I can throw you back in.”

Swallowing, Dean could only nod, all his thoughts focused on not getting a boner right at this moment. Jesus, who gave this man the right to be so damn attractive, especially when he was pissed like this?

Apparently satisfied, Novak took a step back, talking to the whole group once more.

“Rule number two, if one of you doesn’t follow rule number one, all of you will pay for it. So I hope you all had a good laugh because Winchester here is the reason you can run ten laps in the obstacle course-” the groaning was mutual “- and a pop quiz about FBI etiquette right after it.”

Novak moved back to his original point to oversee the new recruits and the course directly behind them.

“And you better hurry. You will hand in all your papers at the same time but you are allowed to start right the moment you finished the course. Welcome to Quantico, Recruits. And... GO!”

 

~*~*~*~

 

~ Now ~

“Are you sure this isn’t too soon?”

Glaring at Winchester, Cas continued to stretch his arms and then loosely jumped up and down on the spot a few times to get ready.

“Yes, Winchester, I’m sure. I feel absolutely fine so as long as you don’t go for my head, it’s all good.”

The man still didn’t look convinced but at least he now started to stretch as well.

It was Wednesday, two days after Henriksen had shown up, and Cas finally wanted to train again. He had a feeling he was already rusty even though Winchester had assured him that their last training session had only been two weeks ago, shortly before the mission. If that was true, then he should be able to handle himself in some light combat against the other agent.

Getting on the mat, Cas waited for Winchester to finally man up. But he was still hesitating.

Groaning, Cas loosened his fight position.

“Really, Winchester? I thought you wanted to help me. I’ve been working on those papers for the past two days, I need to give my brain some rest. And I need to be able to pass the physical as well. So are we doing this now or what?”

At last, the man stepped onto the mat and their fight began. Cas could tell that Winchester was holding back but he had no desire to. As soon as he could, Cas held onto the man and quickly hooked his ankle behind Winchester’s, pulling hard. The moment he sensed him losing his footing, Cas pushed on his chest, sending him to the floor. His hand still on his chest while he was kneeling by his side, he glared at him.

“Really, Winchester? I hope you’re a better fighter than that.”

“I don’t want to hurt you,” Winchester bit back but made no move to get away from Cas.

Letting go and getting up again, Cas tried not to burst with anger. “I don’t need you to mollycoddle me, I’m a grown man and I want this.”

Instead of admonishing him, Winchester looked flabbergasted. 

As if he’d seen a ghost.

“What?” Cas finally asked, apparently pulling the man out of a memory.

Winchester shook his head and huffed an unamused laugh. 

“Nothing.” He finally got up. “Alright. No holding back. You’ve asked for it, sweet cheeks.”

“Wha-” 

Cas didn’t get to ask what that absurd nickname was about, Winchester’s first kick aiming precisely for his chest. Had he not been so confused, he might have been able to fend it better. As it was, he was still able to parry the full blow but Winchester’s foot still made contact with his chest.

Stupid mistake, letting himself be distracted by Winchester. That had probably been his plan with the stupid name.

The next kick followed directly after, only this time Cas was able to evade it, and aiming his own punch in Winchester’s direction.

What followed was a battle on eye level and Cas became exhilarated the more he realized he could keep up with his sparring partner. Maybe Winchester was still holding back but nevertheless, it was a real mock fight that had them sweating fast. Soon after, they started breathing heavier, both of them not so young anymore.

In those short moments where they would catch their breaths, just eyeing the other in case they wanted to attack again, Cas couldn’t help but notice the way Winchester’s shirt was plastered to his body, his mind thrown back to his first day home when Winchester had stepped out of the gym without a shirt, glistening with sweat.

Cas would never admit it but that view had haunted him ever since.

Just as he was sure the way Winchester’s chest was heaving now would replay itself in his mind during the nights to come.

That’s absurd! 

He chastised himself, angry with his confused thoughts.

Instead of giving those thoughts much more room, he quickly launched himself at the man, tackling him to the floor in no time. But Winchester broke free right away and the fight continued on the floor.

It seemed Cas’ rage had given him a new boost of energy though, as soon enough, he had Winchester pinned to the floor, straddling his lower stomach, leaning slightly over him to pin his hands to either side.

After a moment, Winchester stopped fighting back and went still instead.

“Okay, you win. Now get up,” he wheezed out, not even looking at him.

Cas, however, couldn’t help the triumphant grin. “See, I’m not weak.”

“Never said that. Cas, please get up.”

“I don’t need to be mollycoddled,” Cas went on, still heaving heavily himself, trying to catch his breath but not able to stop grinning.

When Winchester didn’t reply this time but closed his eyes instead and swallowed hard, Cas got a feeling that he was crossing a line here. The man seemed uncomfortable, even pale, and Cas hastened to release his pinned hands.

The moment he moved back to get up, Winchester’s hands flew to his hip, gripping hard while the man exclaimed in a breathy whisper.

 “Cas, don’t.”

It took Cas a second to realize why that was. Then he became aware of the firmness he could now feel against his ass, almost touching his crotch had he straddled Winchester just a bit further down.

His eyes widened while Winchester was still pressing his shut as if to try and make it all go away.

Then the full situation hit Cas and he couldn’t get up fast enough, even accidentally bracing himself on Winchester’s stomach to get up. Ignoring the pained ‘Oomph’ sound from the man, Cas hastened to get out of the room.

Once he was back in his own, his mind was racing. It was screaming and completely blank at the same time, the whole situation too much to handle.

What had just happened?

And why was he reacting like this?

He knew Winchester was like that. So what if he had gotten a boner because Cas was straddling him?

Was Cas so disgusted that he would freak?

Or was it...

No!

No, Cas could not think about it that way.

That was absurd.

It was abnormal.

Deviant.

No. No, he couldn’t-

Grabbing a fresh set of clothes, he hastened to the bathroom, locking himself in, and ripping his clothes off.

He needed a shower, long and cold.

And he certainly would not acknowledge that he could still feel the press of Winchester’s hard length against his ass.

Or, God forbid, his own hard cock.

 

~*~*~*~

 

How long Dean had been lying on the mat, he couldn’t tell later on. It had certainly been long enough for his shirt to dry again and for Cas to take a shower and then lock himself in his room.

Rubbing over his face, Dean finally forced himself up.

Damn his stupid body.

Damn his stupid reaction but honestly... who could blame him?

It’s not like he would have had such a reaction with just anyone. Or as if he had it all the time when Cas and he were training in the past.

Sure, yeah, they’d had sex on these mats more times than he could remember but...

Getting up, Dean sat down on the bench, ignoring the weights and staring into the sunset instead.

Those words Cas had said to him. The ones that had gotten Dean to fight for real. They rung so familiar and Dean forced himself not to think of the time Cas had told him almost the exact same thing before.

But he had thought about it, at least parts of it, during their fight. He’d been so preoccupied. And finally sparring with his husband again... 

Dean swallowed hard.

It hadn’t been like always, not completely. The moves hadn’t been as sure as they used to be but it was still somewhat familiar. Still, somewhat like the dance they danced so well.

And then the moment Cas had straddled him.

Damnit, Dean wasn’t a saint and fuck, he missed that. He missed Cas, he missed their closeness, their cuddles, and yes, he missed the sex.

Finally dragging himself up and out of the gym, Dean ignored the bathroom and just went straight to his own room.

It felt much too cold and certainly way too big. He hated this room, hated everything about it.

Getting one of the many hidden boxes out of his closet, he opened it and got a handful of their pictures out. It killed him that these had to be hidden away in a box and he usually left them there to not be reminded of it too much. But right now, he needed them.

He leafed through them, not even trying to keep his tears from slowly falling. When he reached their wedding picture he leaned over to his nightstand and pulled out the necklace hidden in there. Holding it up, he looked at the two wedding bands dangling from it.

Of course, neither of them could wear these to work. Instead, they wore them on necklaces, perfectly hidden by their suits or uniforms alike.

But Cas’ necklace had been ripped off during his accident in Purgatory and Dean had been so relieved when Charlie had been level-headed enough to pick up the ring before they had rushed back to the portal to get Cas to the hospital.

Ever since then, his ring rested next to Dean’s.

But he couldn’t wear them. He just couldn’t bring himself to do so when the other one wasn’t resting against Cas’ heart.

Bringing the rings up to his lips, he kissed Cas’ before putting the necklace back into the drawer and the pictures back into the closet.

All he could do was hope that his little action back in the gym hadn’t triggered Cas’ homophobia so much that it would throw them back a few steps again.

 

~*~

 

~ Then ~

By the time the first Hunters had completed the obstacle course, Novak seriously had gotten some papers together, which showed Dean that all this had been planned. It wasn’t his fault for being cheeky with their instructor, as Novak had made them believe before sending them into the obstacle course. Novak just liked to mess with him.

Quite happy with himself when it came to the course - he hadn’t finished last and he certainly counted that as a win - Dean took one of the papers and a pen and plopped down on the grass to fill in the multiple-choice test. By the time Novak called them to hand in the papers, Dean had just barely finished but was sure he got most of it correct.

After everyone had handed in their papers, Novak dismissed their first class at Quantico and told them to go back to their quarters. 

“Not you, Winchester,” he called out as the first began to jog back to campus.

Novak waited until they were alone before even looking up from the papers to acknowledge Dean’s presence.

“Listen up, Winchester. I know it’s your nature to be insufferable and sexually-deviant-”

“Excuse me?”

“- but you’ve joined the FBI now and we don’t do these kind of things. If you make suggestive comments towards me again - be it about your stamina or anything else - I will report you. If you continue after that, I will make sure you’re kicked out of the program, understood?”

Dean couldn’t believe what he’d just heard. He wanted to give the man a piece of his mind but then again, it was certainly not the first time he had to listen to homophobic slurs. And he certainly wouldn’t give Novak the satisfaction of being kicked out on his first day.

Therefore, all he did was grit his teeth before pressing out, “Of course, Agent.”

He left the obstacle course without any further comment.

 

~*~

 

At the end of their first week in Quantico, the Hunters thought it was time for a trip to town, to blow off some steam. Novak was one son of a bitch as an instructor but the majority of the group still liked him because while he was hard as stone, he was also just and he certainly had their backs.

Dean couldn’t quite jump in on the general pleasant words about the agent. He hadn’t told anyone about what Novak had said to him, leaving everybody to think Novak had simply given him a hard time after what he had said. He simply couldn’t bring himself to tell them what kind of homophobe the man really was.

It didn’t make sense in Dean’s mind, to be honest. Novak had known about Dean’s orientation, that he liked to get steamy with men and women alike. But he had never shown open disgust about it, just his general dislike of Dean as a Hunter.

He had even offered him a job with the FBI, so really, why did he do that if he was so disgusted by Dean’s sexual orientation?

Dean was still brooding over it when Charlie jabbed her elbow into his side.

“Hey, Winchester, wake up. Hot chick right over at the pool tables. She’s been checking you out for quite a bit now.”

Dean looked up and saw right away who his friend was talking about. Admittedly, the girl was hot but Dean really wasn’t in the mood right now.

“Or would you prefer hot agent instead?” Charlie whispered into his ear.

When Dean looked up in shock, Charlie unobtrusively nodded over to where Dean knew Novak was sitting at one of the booths, talking with his brother.

“Very funny, Charlie.”

“Oh, come on, Dean. I know you well enough. He’s exactly your type and I had a pretty good view on you that first day. Look me in the eye and tell me you didn’t almost get a boner over him being all bossy.”

“Shut up, someone will hear you,” Dean replied, quickly looking around. Thankfully, there wasn’t anyone too close and the music was loud enough, giving him some sense of secrecy.

Charlie huffed at him. “Since when do you care about if people might hear who you’re into?”

“Since Agent I-have-a-stick-up-my-ass turned out to be a homophobe.”

“Excuse me, what?”

“Shhh, Charlie, honestly.”

“You serious?” Charlie inquired, shock written all over her face. No wonder, she’d admired Novak from day one and was already planning on being on his team once the SDA units would be formed. Too bad Dean would have to burst that bubble for her.

“He called me deviant.”

WHAT?

“Charlie!”

Dean looked around again but thankfully only a few people were looking their way, the rest too occupied by their own lives or from the loud music.

One of the people looking, though, was Agent Novak. He had his scowl back on and too late Dean realized that it might have been because Charlie was glaring daggers at him. Jabbing his elbow into her side, he made sure she looked back at her drink.

“Not helping, you know.”

Gloomily, Charlie picked at the label of her beer. “I can’t believe he said that.”

“Yeah, me neither,” Dean agreed, taking a long sip of his own drink.

“We should report him and-”

“And what? Charlie, this is the freaking FBI, remember? Besides, he’s a Novak.”

“Well then. How about we take the hot dude over there and you put on a show for Novak to get really uncomfortable over?”

“What now?”

Looking up, directly across from him Dean saw a man who certainly wasn’t a hunter and who also didn’t seem to be part of the other FBI recruits as far as Dean could tell. When the man caught his gaze, he saluted him with his beer.

Honestly, that was all the encouragement Dean needed after this shitty first week. He said his farewell to Charlie, took his own beer and moved over to the man, ready to forget all about Agent Novak.

 

~*~*~*~

 

From the moment Winchester had gotten up and moved over to the stranger at the bar, Cas couldn’t help himself but to let his gaze wander over there every now and then. Too late, he realized that his brother had stopped talking and when he looked back at him the next time, Gabriel was giving him a calculating look.

“What?”

“You like him, don’t you?”

“Excuse me?”

“Winchester. You like the man.”

“Why would I... I mean, of course not. That’s absurd, Gabriel.”

Absurd? Really?” Gabriel asked, giving him a judgemental look. “You really wanna sound like Uncle Metatron now?”

“What does that have-”

“You’re not still believing in all their bullshit believes against homosexuals, do you?”

“What? Gabriel, what the hell?”

“Look, I’m just saying... the man certainly looks good and I bet that he’s into you.”

“Into me? You mean as in, he wants to get into my pants? Because Gabriel, I assure you, the guy wants into everybody’s pants if they aren’t fast enough to run away.”

“I’m sure you’re exaggerating here.”

“Really now?” Cas replied, pointedly looking over to the bar again where Winchester and the stranger were just getting up, obviously leaving the bar together. “I rest my case.”

While Gabriel chose not to reply to that other than shaking his head, Cas was glad his brother didn’t continue to inquire about Cas’ own feelings regarding homosexuality. His mind was confused enough as it was. He took a big gulp of his beer, trying to rid himself of the tightness in his stomach.

 

~*~

 

~ Now ~

Cas slowly came back to reality and reached for his alarm to switch it off. It was just seven in the morning - certainly too early to be up while still officially not back to work. But he was thankful for being woken up, the tightness from his dream still lingering in his stomach. To be honest, it had him confused because for one, he couldn’t remember ever going to a bar together with Gabriel and Winchester. And two... what was it with this irrational feeling? It made his stomach heavy and made it harder to breathe.

In any other moment, he would have thought it was jealousy but how would that make sense?

Obviously, yesterday’s events had mingled in his dreams, leaving him confused.

Why was it that Winchester had such an effect on him? The man forced him to think about things Cas had thought long and deeply buried. Things he couldn’t... he wouldn’t think about anymore.

He was just confused, that was all. 

Because any other reason he would react to Winchester in such a way was simply...

Absurd!

Getting up, Cas promised himself to not let yesterday’s happenings have any effect on his training. He had a check-up at the hospital tomorrow, hopefully with the verdict that his sutures could be removed. So if everything went well, he was good to go back to work on Monday, take Henriksen’s stupid test, and then be back in action.

As had become their usual routine over the past few days, Winchester was already in the kitchen, preparing them some light breakfast. The man was even controlling his nutrition now, making sure Cas went against his habits of skipping breakfast.

At least, he never forgot to brew some amazing black tea.

When Cas left the bathroom and made his way over to the kitchen, Winchester looked up hesitantly and greeted him with his usual, ‘Morning.’

Cas nodded in reply and sat down on the counter. Going without dinner last night, he actually was hungry now and was glad to see the scrambled eggs and some perfectly baked bacon on the plate Winchester was putting down in front of him.

“Listen, man, I... I wanted to apologize for what happened yesterday.”

Once more, Cas nodded in reply, stuffing his face with eggs instead of talking. Because really, what could he say?

“I hope this won’t keep you from continuing your training.”

Frowning, Cas looked up at that.

“Why would your hormones keep me from pursuing my goal?”

“That’s not-” Winchester replied, closing his eyes for a moment as if to rethink what to say. “I didn’t mean it like that. Just... I hope you’ll still feel okay about training with me.”

Oh.

Well, that was actually a good point.

“I think I’ve proven that I’m still very much trained when it comes to combat. I’ll just go back to the theoretical stuff for today.”

“Okay,” Winchester replied, nodding. “Okay, sounds good.”

They ate in silence for a moment, Cas pondering if he should say something else. It was obvious that Winchester was still blaming himself and that he actually was sorry. It wasn’t the man’s fault Cas had reacted so badly. Not really.

So, in an attempt at a peace offering, Cas spoke up again.

“I’m not holding what happened yesterday against you.”

He could sense Winchester’s gaze back on him but he kept his own eyes on his plate.

“You’ve been holed up with me for over a week now. If my memory serves me right, you’re rather used to... going out and... meeting people quite regularly. I guess you've reached your limit.”

Winchester was still not saying anything. It seemed, Cas had to spell it out for him.

“You don’t need to babysit me all the time, you know? I’m fine. If you need to, you can go out. Get it... out of your system or whatever.”

“Get it out of my system?” Winchester repeated, sounding incredulous. “Are you... are you suggesting I go out to hook up with someone to not get a boner in front of you again?”

Flinching at the harsh words, Cas nodded.

“Wow,” Winchester breathed out, sounding hurt for whatever reason.

Wasn’t that exactly what the guy needed?

“Wow, unbelievable.”

Chucking his fork on the half-eaten breakfast plate, Winchester got up and left the kitchen. Cas had barely resumed eating, the eggs suddenly tasting very stale, when the door to Winchester’s room opened again. Without another word, he rummaged around the entrance area before the front door opened, only to close again with a loud bang.

 

Chapter Text

~*~ Chapter Seven ~*~

~ Now ~

It was already late in the afternoon when Cas heard the keys in the door again. He’d spent the day on the couch, trying to read through all the papers but he was somehow preoccupied by Winchester’s reaction.

Something about this whole situation was off, he just couldn’t put his finger on it.

Taking a deep breath, he got ready to apologize - even though he had no real idea what he would be apologizing about. Getting up, all words died in his throat when he saw the person standing in the door.

“Gabriel?”

“Hey, baby bro. I mean... Cas. Hey, Cas.”

“It’s... it’s fine, you can call me whatever you want to,” Cas replied absentmindedly. “But what are you doing here? Where’s Winchester?”

Gabriel closed the door behind himself and threw his keys onto the cabinet by the door, dropping a bag on the floor that Cas recognized as the standard FBI bags every agent had for traveling around the country. It contained everything they would need for a short stay on a mission.

“And what’s with the overnight bag?”

“Dean’s at his brother’s. He called and asked me to stay with you until tomorrow.”

“What? Why? I don’t need a babysitter.”

“Yeah, well, you got one. You can either fight it and lose anyway, or you can accept it and use the time. I can help you with that stuff,” he pointed to the papers strewn all over the coffee table, “or you can ask me questions you don’t wanna ask Dean. Whatever you want.”

Cas thought about it for a moment. He’d already hurt one person today, he really wasn’t looking forward to hurting his brother as well.

“You don’t know how to cook, by any chance, do you?”

Laughing at that, Gabriel moved over to the kitchen area.

“I do, actually. But I also know how to defrost one of Dean-o’s awesome meals.”

 

~*~

 

The lasagna Gabriel had chosen was amazing and Cas was relieved his brother had turned up. Without him, he would probably have called some delivery, no desire to burn down the house while Winchester was gone.

So far, they hadn’t talked much aside from Gabriel talking about the past few days on the job. But there was actually something he really wanted to know and he had a feeling that it would be best not to ask Winchester himself.

“I know all these years ago, I grew... accustomed to Winchester,” - he ignored Gabriel’s scoff - “and I’m sure he is a really good Unit Chief the way you keep talking about him. But... I just don’t see what could have happened that made me trust him so much so that I would give up being Unit Chief myself.”

“You know you hate leading, Cas. I mean, you’re fucking brilliant at it, one of the best to be honest. But you hate doing it.”

“Yeah, I know that. But that wasn’t my question. Why not you? Why not anyone else? Why him?”

Gabriel took a big bite of his dinner, apparently mulling over that question while he ate.

“Well,” he finally replied, thankfully after swallowing his bite. “I can’t exactly tell you all that happened between you or what your thoughts were. I know that it mostly happened during the two months of boot camp at Quantico. My best guess is that you really got to know the man and that you saw the potential in him.”

“In that case, I would have recommended him to be a Unit Chief for one of the teams - it still doesn’t explain why I would willingly work under him.”

Gabriel choked on his next bite, coughed and took a gulp of water, before answering.

“Sorry, went down the wrong pipe. Ehm… well I guess all I can do is tell you about the incident that made you view him in a different light? I mean, I wasn’t there so I can only recount what you told me. But maybe it will be a start to help you understand?”

“Maybe? It’s better than nothing, I guess,” Cas agreed, getting ready for story-time.

 

~*~

 

~ Then ~

They were in the middle of a meeting when an urgent-sounding knock against Henriksen’s door interrupted them. Whoever it was, he hardly waited for an answer, Henriksen just so able to call out, “Come in,” before the man stormed into the room.

It was Winchester, eyes wide and breathing heavy. It seemed like he had been running.

“Sorry, Sir - oh, hey, Novak,” Dean stopped himself, apparently distracted by Cas’ presence.

Henriksen got him back on track, “It’s alright, this looks important. What is it?”

“Sir, I need a few days off. Unpaid if it has to be.”

“What’s this about?”

“I… I don’t really know how to explain this. Please, Sir. This is important.”

But Henriksen kept his cool. “Winchester, come in and close the door. Novak, you stay,” he told him when Cas made a move to get up and leave them to it. “You’re his instructor so this concerns you as well. Now,” he continued, turning his attention back to Winchester. “I understand you’re in a hurry but I can’t just let you go during a classified training program without a good reason. So take a breath, take a seat, and try to explain.”

Winchester followed his order, except for sitting down, tension oozing out of the man.

“It’s my brother, Sam. I just got a call from him. Apparently…,” he paused for a moment, shaking his head, “Apparently he got married? We last talked two days ago and he didn’t even have a girlfriend then.”

“Sounds like something crazy a Winchester would do,” Cas threw in, not able to help himself. The picture of Winchester leaving the bar with a random stranger was still edged into his mind.

The glare he got from the man was icy.

“You don’t know my brother, don’t you dare judge him. Sam’s not like that.”

Cas wanted to rebuke him for being disrespectful but Henriksen spoke first.

“What is it you think is going on?”

“I honestly have no idea, Sir. But I know the girl who married him and she’s a crazy chick. She’s been all over him for years now.”

“You think she forced him in some ways?”

“Maybe? Sir, I really don’t know. All I know is that Sammy would never act like this. It took him almost two years to even fall in love again after his college sweetheart died. He- he always takes his time when it comes to love. And… I know for sure he would never get married without me by his side.”

Cas would never say it out loud but he was actually touched by this admission. It was the first time he heard the man talking about his brother and it didn’t take much to see how close they were. Winchester really was worried sick over this.

Henricksen seemed to think about it, before finally nodding.

“Alright. I guess this can be seen as a family emergency. You may go and check on your brother, see if this woman keeps him against his will.”

“Thank you, Sir,” Winchester replied, already making his way towards the door.

“But,” Henriksen stopped him. “I want Novak to accompany you.”

What?

Cas couldn’t tell who of them sounded more shocked about this but Henriksen went on undeterred.

“You’re FBI now and we don’t let our men go into potential danger alone. Plus, you’re still a recruit from a highly classified program. I don’t know you well enough yet to trust you so I want a senior agent by your side.”

“You want me to babysit him?” Cas asked, incredulous.

Henriksen actually shrugged.

“If you want to call it that? Then- yes. Go, babysit Winchester.”

And this was how, soon after, they found themselves in Winchester’s car, speeding towards Delaware. They hardly talked during the three-hour drive and Cas could see that the tension never left the man. 

 

~*~

 

As it turned out, Winchester’s instincts had been correct, the whole matter even turning out to be a case once they realized that the girl, Becky Rosen*, had gotten the love potion to dose Sam from a crossroad demon in return for her soul. 

It took them only two days of working together to solve the case and get Sam Winchester out of there. During all the time, Cas got to witness how worried Winchester was. Almost completely out of his mind. 

And yet, the man kept a cool head, making rational decisions, leading them through the case without a hitch.

To say Cas was impressed was a slight understatement.

“How have you two grown so close?”

It was no wonder Winchester looked at him in surprise, his eyes soon back on the dark road. It was the middle of the night and it would probably have been wise for them to stay in Delaware until morning. But they both wanted to get back. Sam was sleeping on the back seat, Winchester planning on taking him to Quantico until he could be absolutely sure the potion wouldn’t have any aftereffects they couldn’t see now.

Cas’ question came out of the blue, after two days of only talking to each other when it was about the case.

Eventually, the man started talking, calmly enough to not wake his brother.

“I basically raised him. We lost our mom when I was four. Sammy was still a baby. It was a demon and our dad spent the rest of his life hunting it, trying to avenge her. That left Sammy to me.”

“But…” Cas spoke up, thinking about it. “You were a kid yourself, weren’t you?”

Instead of replying, Dean simply shrugged his shoulders. 

“Were there- I mean, couldn’t someone else take care of you? A neighbor? A friend?”

“Bobby Singer, another hunter, sometimes watched us. We didn’t have neighbors we were close enough to since we always moved around. We lived in motels or in this car.”

This car?” Cas asked, remembering to keep his own voice low as well.

Winchester nodded. 

“Yeah. Baby… she’s like home to us,” he replied, a soft smile even playing around his lips. “We didn’t have much but at least we had her. And we had each other.”

His words made Cas contemplatively, something he’d found out about the man coming back to mind.

“The bread and peanut butter.”

There was no reply but his grip around the steering wheel grew harder.

“That’s why you stole them, right? To feed your brother?”

The man still didn’t answer right away, leading Cas to believe he would not get an answer at all. Resigning to drop the topic, he was surprised when Winchester spoke after all.

“Sometimes, a mission kept dad away for longer than he’d anticipated. When the money ran low…”

“Sounds like you did it a few times?”

“I did what I had to to feed him.”

There was a finality in those words that stopped Cas from asking any further questions.

 

~*~

 

~ Now ~

“That trip shortly after we’d started at Quantico changed a lot about how you saw the man,” Gabriel concluded his tale.

Cas didn’t answer right away, letting it sink in first. He was pushing the rest of his lasagna around the plate.

Maybe he had been too harsh to Winchester over the past few days. He’d promised himself to be civil but had failed to do so. Even his peace offer must have hurt the man somehow. Obviously, he had been insensitive without noticing.

But really, who could blame him? Could anyone hold it against him that he was sticking to his own truth? Acting how he would have had time not jumped ten years into the future without him knowing? Maybe Winchester was a great guy now, maybe they were friends and maybe they knew every secret about each other - but Cas simply couldn’t remember it. Why should he make himself uncomfortable, just to make everybody else happy?

Yes, he realized that it was also somewhat selfish to think this way.

“You learned to trust him, you grew closer. I think by the time you told Henriksen you didn’t want to become Unit Chief, you counted him as a friend. You even solved that whole misunderstanding with your homophobia.”

“Come again?” Cas asked, flabbergasted. 

“Yeah. On our first day in training, Dean was a touch too flirty and you told him to stop. You even threatened to get him kicked out - and you called him deviant.”

“But-” Cas stopped himself, thinking about what to say before he spoke. “I’m sure I didn’t mean-”

“Well, that’s the point. You meant his general behavior - he thought you meant his bisexuality. How the man was able to push that aside and still train under you, open up to you, even befriend you, I really don’t know. Because it wasn’t until that day that he learned the truth.”

 

~*~

 

~ Then ~

When the door closed behind them, Cas took a deep breath. He had done it. He had made his decision and…

And it felt good.

It really did. He knew he could trust Winchester and that the man would do a great job as Unit Chief. That was all that really mattered.

“Hey, Novak.”

The hand on his arm was unexpected and Cas stopped in his tracks to look back to Winchester, who still looked shocked.

“What was that?”

“What was what?”

That. Back there. Why- why would you tell Henriksen to make me Unit Chief, not you?”

“I explained that,” Cas replied, confused by Winchester’s obvious irritation. “Do you not want this position?”

“I do. Yes, I do. Just…”

Turning fully towards the man, he tried to read his face. Winchester’s eyes were clear and focused on him, searching his face just like Cas’ eyes were searching as well.

“Then I don’t understand,” he admitted. “What is the problem?”

“You hate me,” Winchester finally exclaimed. Right away, he lowered his voice again. “You hate me. I thought you couldn’t stand me.”

“I don’t hate you,” Cas replied, baffled that the man would still think so after the past two months at Quantico. “True, I didn’t like you in the beginning. But surely you’ve noticed that this has changed.”

“We get along now, yes,” Winchester replied, his eyes flicking over Cas’ face as if he was searching for something, “But you still despise who I am.”

What?” Cas asked, likewise trying to keep his voice down. “Why would you think that?”

“Because you made it very clear by telling me this to my face. Right on my first day here.”

There was a kind of bitterness in his voice that struck a chord with Cas. Slowly shaking his head, he tried to remember all that had happened on Winchester’s first day.

“I don’t-”

“You called me deviant.”

“Because you made me feel uncomfortable that day. You haven’t ever since.”

“Okay, look, I’m sorry I made you feel uncomfortable. That certainly wasn’t my intention. I just don’t get why you never told me before that you have a problem with my sexuality and-”

“Your sexuality? What? No-” Cas interrupted, incredulous. “No, I don’t have a problem with that. I couldn’t care less about it.”

Well, that wasn’t exactly true but he would certainly not dive into that right now. And most certainly not with Winchester.

“Then why-”

“I was talking about your… your behavior in general. All those innuendos, sexualizing everything. I have always hated that but I couldn’t do anything about it before. I was certainly not gonna let it slide as soon as I was your instructor. For one, it really does make me feel uncomfortable. And two, how was I to get the respect of the other recruits if you would constantly do that?”

Winchester looked at him for a moment, blinking a few times, obviously trying to take in this new information.

“Oh,” he finally breathed out. “Oh, wow. I’m sorry, Novak. For the past two months, I kinda thought… I thought you were a homophobe.”

Cas eyes went wide. He wanted to say something but could not even find the words. Probably for the best, as Winchester wasn’t done yet.

“I mean, you never made another remark about it and you treated me just like anyone else so I was able to overlook it most of the time. But… just now, when you praised me like that in front of Henriksen… I just didn’t get it.”

“You really thought this of me?” Cas finally pressed out. “Winchester, I don’t care what you do outside of campus.”

Again, not the full truth even though Cas wanted it to be true. He would tell this to himself as long as he needed to, hoping he would believe his own words some day.

“And all that I said to Henriksen is true. I know I hated you in the beginning. But I got to know you over the past few weeks. The real you. The hardworking guy who is leading a group in a mock fight without even trying. The guy everybody else listens to and follows without restraint. You might not have noticed it but you have already proven yourself as their leader without even trying.”

“Wow,” Winchester breathed out, shoving a hand through his hair. Chuckling, he sounded embarrassed somehow. “Wow, thank you. I had no idea you saw it this way.”

“I’ve been watching you closely for a while now.”

The man’s lips twitched into a smile. “Good to know.”

“I’m glad we could solve this. And I’m happy this didn’t influence your decision back in Henriksen’s office.”

“Are you kidding? The salary will be amazing.”

Grinning, Cas rolled his eyes, already turning around to move back to his quarters.

Only to be held up by Winchester once more.

“Hey, the other recruits and I are going to the pub later. Celebrating for the boot camp coming to an end and our new jobs starting soon. Care to join?”

“Do you think that would be alright? I’ve been their instructor for two months now.”

“You were our instructor. Very soon, you’ll be part of one of the teams - my team, to be precise. And… I want you there. So, yeah. Yeah, it will be fine with everybody else.”

Hesitating only for a moment, Cas finally nodded, feeling warmth spread in his chest when he got a smile in return - a real smile of Winchester as he had not seen one directed at him in a while.

 

~*~*~*~

 

~ Now ~

Just like the evening before, Dean was watching the sunset but did not really see it. He was slowly nursing his beer, trying not to fall into a complete black hole.

There had been so much miscommunication between Cas and him in the beginning years. So many things they only amended by accident and that could have destroyed their friendship. Things that could have been avoided if they had just been able to talk with each other.

And now, Dean wasn’t allowed to really talk to his husband. He wasn’t able to tell him the truth and it hurt more with each passing day. By now, he was actually considering telling him, consequences be damned.

Whenever he thought about doing so, two voices rang in his head. The first was that of Cas’ doctor, reminding Dean that it might overtax his husband if he got too much information that would completely overthrow the mindset he was in now. The second one was Cas’ voice, telling him not to be an idiot by risking their cover.

Therefore, obviously, he would keep silent. Rather he was hurting than Cas.

The patter of little feet finally pulled him out of his dark thoughts.

“Goodnight, Uncle Dean.”

Looking up, Dean forced his dark thoughts aside, smiling at his niece.

“Goodnight, little sunshine. Come here, give your old uncle a hug, he really needs one.”

Maddy jumped up on the couch and hugged Dean close, squeezing him tight.

“Love you, little munchkin. Sleep tight.”

“Are you feeling better now?”

“Of course. How could I not after such an amazing hug.”

Maddy giggled and gave him a peck on his cheek, then she ran to where Eileen was waiting for her. He waved at his sister-in-law, who waved back in a ‘goodnight’ gesture, then took Maddy’s hand and left with her. Not too soon after, Sam joined him in the guestroom.

“You doing okay?” his brother asked.

Dean shrugged. “Not really. It feels like- like we took a step forward and now we’re thrown five steps back. I just needed to get out of there for a while.”

“You know I’m here if you need to talk.”

Looking at his brother, he nodded. “Thank you, Sammy. But I think I’ll just go to bed. Forget about this day altogether.”

“That might be a good idea. You look like you haven't slept in days.”

“That’s because I haven’t,” he admitted, putting down his beer. “Not really, at least.”

“Then try to while you’re here,” Sam told him, giving him a pat on the shoulder that turned into a strong grip. “We will get through this, Dean. You will get him back.”

Dean couldn’t reply to that, so he nodded again, waiting for Sam to leave the room before lying down and trying to find some rest.

 

Chapter Text

~*~ Chapter Eight ~*~

~ Now ~

Dean drove back early in the morning, still in time to prepare breakfast for the two of them before driving Cas to the hospital. They didn’t talk during the drive and part of him was glad about that, not sure if he could handle whatever it was Cas would come up with today.

At least the doctor had good news for them. The wound was healing nicely, she was able to remove the sutures, and she cleared him for work. In a quiet moment, she took Dean aside, advising him to stay positive and to give it time.

Yeah, as if he hadn’t heard that advice often enough over the past few days.

“Now that he’s doing better, take him to places he might remember. Noises, smells, visuals, all that could trigger his memories.”

Following that advice, Dean decided to take them to their favorite diner for lunch. He could tell that Cas was skeptical at first but followed Dean without complaint.

The first few minutes were awkward as hell, both of them studying the menu even though Dean already knew what he wanted.

However, the most unexpected thing happened as Cas put down his menu and sighed.

“I can’t really decide. What is it I usually eat?”

Putting the menu down himself, Dean cleared his throat, trying not to make a big deal out of Cas asking for his help.

“Ehr, for lunch, you usually switch between salads, depending on your mood. Your favorite is the one with avocado and chicken but sometimes you feel more like the one with feta cheese and arugula.”

“That both sounds really good. Have I ever tried combining them?”

Bit by bit, the tight sadness around Dean’s chest loosened again. Especially now, that he had to huff a laugh about Cas’ question.

“Only about every time. You once had a ten-minute discussion with the waitress as to why this would be an ideal combination. You even forced me once to order the other one, just so you could mix them and prove your point.”

“Well,” Cas replied, sounding amused about that. “It looks like old me has good taste. I’ll order both.”

As if his decision had summoned the waitress, she appeared beside them, taking their order with a slightly raised eyebrow about Cas ordering two salads. She wasn’t the one Cas had had the discussion with but she’d been here for a few months now and probably recognized them as regulars.

Once she’d left, Cas took a sip of his water. Dean was already preparing himself for more silence when once again, Cas surprised him.

“How did we switch to a first-name basis last time?”

Looking at Cas, Dean had to grasp the meaning of this question for a moment. It didn’t sound hostile, not at all. Cas was obviously simply curious.

“We went to a pub,” Dean began, once again, making sure not to make a big deal of this. “It was the day you told Henriksen to make me Unit Chief instead of you. Ehm, I think we had a few beers already when we simply decided that - after two years and a few, ehr, misunderstandings we’d finally solved - it was alright for us not to be so formal anymore. I mean, it really wasn’t a big deal or anything. No fuss about it. Just…” 

Dean ended his explanation with a shrug, not knowing what else to say.

But it seemed enough for Cas, as he was nodding.

“I could tell I was hurting you by calling you by your last name again.”

“Hey, no. No, it’s fine, I get it. You need-”

“Yeah, but I get it as well, Dean.”

Dean stilled when he heard his name on Cas’ lips again, not daring to interrupt the man.

Cas was giving him a shy smile. 

“I get it as well,” he repeated, leaning towards him. “I was hurting you. And over the past week, you’ve been nothing but understanding. So, the least I could do is not be an ass anymore. Especially not about a thing that seems to be a big deal for you but, really, is no issue for me.”

Dean had to swallow hard while he stared at Cas. His blue eyes were open and earnest and Dean knew he really meant what he said.

“If this is alright for you-”

“It is, Dean. It really is.”

The arrival of their lunch prevented Dean from saying anything embarrassing.

 

~*~*~*~

 

His salads tasted delicious and Cas was glad he had ordered both.

It also made him happy to see the little smile sticking to Dean’s lips ever since he’d used his first name again. It was fascinating that such a seemingly small detail could do so much to the human psyche.

He had dreamed of the man again last night. Nothing big, just random impressions he couldn’t make sense of - a smile, a touch, laughter. It was more about the feeling that was captured in these dreams. It was the warmth of familiarity, of closeness. 

It made him content.

Watching Dean closely, something over his shoulder caught Cas’ attention. Focusing on what it was, he saw a woman in a white dress on the other side of the street. She stuck out, somehow, the crowd of people walking past not touching her. They were passing her as if she had a bubble around her, her white dress certainly making her visible for miles.

But what struck Cas the most was her own calmness among the flood of people. And the fact that she seemed to be watching him. But…

That wasn’t possible, right? Why would this woman just stand around at a street corner, watching a random person?

Going back to his lunch, Cas couldn’t help but look back up again a moment later. She was still there, unmoved, untouched, unfazed.

“Ehm, Dean?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you see that woman over there?”

Dean turned around, looking over his shoulder.

“I see a lot of women, Cas. Anyone in particular?”

Why would he even have to ask?

“The one in the white dress, of course. She’s right there.”

Dean moved his head as if he was trying to scan the area.

“Cas, I don’t see a woman in a white dress. Where did you see her?”

Right at that moment, a bus drove passed them, momentarily taking his view off the other side. 

When the bus had passed, the woman was gone.

“Cas? What woman?”

“She…” He swallowed, slightly shaking his head to clear it. Had he imagined it? “She was right there.”

“Okay? What was so special about her?”

“Just…” 

Still confused, Cas decided that he’d just imagined things. He’d definitely seen her but she was probably just a regular woman, maybe a bit freakishly dressed but certainly nothing to worry about. 

“Nothing,” he finally replied, digging back into his salad, ignoring Dean’s gaze.

 

~*~

 

He did worry about it. Of course he did, his mind not letting it rest. For whatever reason, the picture of that woman haunted him for the rest of the day. 

Dean seemed to notice his unease and gave him space once again. Strange as it was, though, Cas would have rather wished for his company. Or really, just any. Just to stop thinking the whole time.

He was about to crawl into bed when a soft knock stopped him.

“Yeah?”

The door opened and Dean walked in with something in his hand.

“I thought you might like this.”

Automatically, Cas reached for what Dean was offering him. It was an old walkman. Not able to make sense of this, Cas looked up at Dean, who now also held out a cassette tape.

“When you’re nervous or fidgeting, you like to listen to music. You say it calms you down.”

That statement had Cas frowning, even though he still took the tape.

“I can’t remember ever doing that.”

“Ehm, no,” Dean replied, looking embarrassed. “It became a thing after we traveled around the country in my car. Which we did quite regularly before the SDA got a big enough budget to send us around by plane. Erm…” 

He rubbed the back of his neck and Cas could see color rising in his cheeks.

“You… ehm. You would often fall asleep in my car and since all I ever listen to in my Baby is classic rock, you…” He shrugged. “I guess you got used to it. To these songs. And now they’re calming to you.”

Cas looked down at the tape, which read ‘Dean’s top 13 Zepp TRA XX’. He wanted to roll his eyes over the way the man wrote but the gesture, the whole story, actually, touched him deeply.

“I mean,” Dean started again, sounding nervous now, “they might not have the same effect on you now since you don’t remember those times in the car. I just thought… well… there’s no harm in trying, right?”

“Thank you,” Cas finally spoke, stopping Dean’s babble. “Thank you, Dean. This is really sweet of you.”

The man swallowed, his lips tugging into a smile. He looked up, his eyes glued to the bed for a moment. 

“Well, I’ll let you get to bed. Have a good night, Cas. If you need anything-”

“I know where to find you,” Cas replied, not harsh but with a little smile on his lips. “Goodnight, Dean.”

Once the door was closed, Cas got comfortable in bed. Putting the tape into his walkman, he pressed ‘start’ and closed his eyes, letting the unfamiliar music wash over him.

 

~*~

 

There was no doubt in Cas’ mind that he would continue listening to this music the following nights. He couldn’t even really describe what had happened but he woke up the next morning with a content, pleasant feeling. There had been no real dreams, more like figments, moments, instances. Dean had been there again and whatever they’d talked about or done - Cas couldn’t really remember anything but Dean’s smile - it left a sense of warmth all over him. 

Sure, the tape couldn’t be the reason for all his dreams that night, one side only running for a maximum of ninety minutes. But Cas was certain whatever this music had done to him, it had set his mind at peace.

He hadn’t thought about that mysterious woman even once.

When he told Dean, the man seemed very pleased and happy, letting him know that there were many more tapes for him to listen to as well.

They spent the weekend in a calm manner. Dean would randomly ask him FBI related questions and Cas was thrilled with how easy it was for him to answer them all.

Therefore, it wasn’t hard for him to pass Henriksen’s test the next day with flying colors.

 

~*~

 

“It’s so good to finally have you back.” 

The woman Cas knew was named Charlie and was Dean’s closest friend hugged him tightly, not letting go until Dean cleared his throat.

“Charlie, you’re making him uncomfortable.”

“Oh, shit, sorry,” she replied, letting go right away. “Right, you don’t remember me. Sorry about that.”

“It’s… ehr… alright?”

One of the other men in the room chuckled. When Cas looked up, he stretched out his hand and Cas took it on reflex.

“Arthur Ketch. It’s good to have you back, Novak.”

Cas didn’t know what to reply and was glad when the rest of the team followed quickly to welcome him. Of course he recognized his cousins, even though they looked older now, but his nephew… 

Last he remembered seeing Jack, the boy had been a young teen. Now he was one of the youngest agents of the FBI. Thanks to his name, he’d even been permitted long before his twenty-third birthday. The smile he gave Cas was the same smile he remembered and he accepted his hug.

“It’s great to have you back, Castiel.”

Cas certainly notice that Jack was the only one still calling him by his full name but he didn’t comment on it. His nephew had always been a bit more formal in his ways and somehow it was endearing.

Releasing Jack from the embrace, there was a moment of silence before Dean spoke up.

“Well, I have missed all of you as well, thanks for noticing my return.”

“You were just on vacation,” Anael - no, Ana, Cas reminded himself - threw in, rolling her eyes, “not facing Death and recovering from it.”

“I feel so loved right now,” Dean replied dryly.

“I’ve missed you,” Jack piped up, even looking sincere.

Dean looked pleased, moving over to the chairs around their conference table.

“See, at least one of you likes me. I’ll sit with Jack today.”

And thus, the meeting began, Cas mostly just watching in fascination. He still very vividly remembered the times of secret meetings in Henriksen’s office, just him and the other two agents assigned to be sent on supernatural cases present. Henriksen would hand them a case and they were on their way, sometimes alone, sometimes together, depending on how dangerous the case appeared to be. Cas had always preferred to work alone, not wanting to be either held back or even be hindered by one of the other two agents.

Now, the whole system was on a completely new level. The SDA had the whole 13th floor to themselves and did not have to hide their knowledge in one or two of the offices.

This meeting room, as Dean had explained to him beforehand, was one of many to be used by the different SDA units to prepare for the next few missions. Henriksen was still the contributor of missions but he didn’t search for them alone. He had a whole research team, just there to find new cases. Henriksen then would collect them and hand them out to the different units. But not just one case at a time, no. There were always plenty, the units being able to decide for themselves in what order to work on them or maybe even which to redirect. This actually happened on a regular basis as it seemed, the SDA now working closely together with Hunters who never cared to join the FBI for real but wouldn’t mind getting tipped off for a new hunt.

Of course, the team members were also allowed to hand in their own cases should they stumble over something but Dean assured him that this rarely happened. Henriksen kept them busy enough.

“Alright,” Charlie spoke up, the big screen behind her flaring to life. “Boss, you will find copies of our reports from last week on your table but it’s basically just what we already told you on the phone. Nothing real thrilling happened.”

“Good,” Dean threw in, a file in his hand as he seemed to read over something.

Charlie continued. “We’ve only got two more cases this week but they seem to be bigger ones, so I guess that’s why. The first one is a possible shapeshifter in Texas…”

 

~*~

 

Getting back on missions was actually like riding a bike, especially since it was almost the same as it had been ten years ago. Only now, Cas was part of a team - one that worked precisely and effortlessly, thank God. They solved the shapeshifter case within three days and from there, went directly to California. It was Saturday when they finally found the vampire nest and killed every last one of them. To Cas’ surprise, Dean gave in when the team begged him for one more night in L.A.

When he asked him, Dean shrugged.

“They wanna celebrate a good week at the job and having you back on the team. Why deny them? Besides, we can’t be on missions twenty-four seven. Sometimes, we have to do something for our own sanity.”

Cas couldn’t help but agree and only a few hours later, he found himself in a local club, sitting around a booth with his team, drinking and… having fun.

Yes, he actually had fun, surprising himself with this admission.

The music was a bit loud for his taste and the cocktail Gabe had ordered for him a bit too sweet - but all in all, he enjoyed himself.

That didn’t even change when Ana pulled him up and over to the dancefloor.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Dean was in a surprisingly good mood. 

And why shouldn’t he? He was out with his team, having a good time. His husband seemed to have finally warmed up to him and even though Dean had to share a room with Jack while Cas shared with Gabe, at least they were back on missions together. Dean certainly counted this as a win.

Seeing Cas now, on the dancefloor with Ana, was a sweet picture as well. He could see the initial awkwardness slowly draining out of him, Cas opening up more and more. This might not have been his kind of music but the man actually liked to dance even though he hid it well.

Dean took a long sip from his beer and turned his attention back to the table, which had mostly emptied out after Ana had gotten up to dance with Cas. Charlie and Dumah had followed them, Dumah surprisingly letting loose, for once not caring for proper manners and instead enjoying herself. Ketch had left for the bar and Gabriel seemed to have found an interest in one of the women from the bachelorette party a few booths over. Jack and Noah were in deep conversation, Dean catching some words about alternative realities and interdimensional travels, deciding not to bother.

Instead, he finished his beer, got up, and left for the bar. Ketch was already deep in conversation with two women, his British accent noticeable more pronounced as usual. The man knew how to charm the ladies.

Grinning, Dean tried to stay clear of them but Ketch seemed to have other plans.

“Ah, Ladies. I have to introduce you to one of the finest men you will ever meet.”

“Ketch,” Dean said in warning but the man had already put his arm around Dean’s shoulders and pulled him into their little circle.

“Boss, say hello to Izzy and Faith, two lovely ladies from Maryland.”

“Hello,” Dean replied politely.

It wasn’t their fault, after all, that Ketch tried to have Dean as his wingman. Or be his wingman, either way. Sometimes Dean wished he could tell the guy that he was happily married to the love of his life - but then again he wondered if Ketch would even care or just continue on as always.

Dean had to admit that some ten years ago, he would have jumped at the opportunity. Maybe Ketch and he would have been the best duo out there, getting all the hot chicks. Because these two certainly were hot, he could admit to that. They were also certainly interested. But all Dean could think about right now was how to get out of this situation.

Maybe he could find an unobtrusive way to put the idea of a threesome with these ladies in Ketch’s mind. Then again, the man had probably already thought about it himself and was just being polite.

It took Dean five full minutes and three tries until he was finally able to politely excuse himself, get out of Ketch’s grip and away from Izzy’s wandering hands (at least he thought it had been Izzy whose hand he had suddenly felt on his ass while they were all laughing about a joke. Could have been Faith’ as well, not that he had remembered who was who).

Obviously, that had been the final straw. Really, he’d once loved brisk women who weren’t afraid to simply take what they wanted, even getting a bit touchy with him - but he obviously wasn’t looking for that now.

A few feet away from the trio, Dean sat down at the bar and ordered a whiskey, neat.

“I certainly thought you would have taken that chance.”

The sudden voice next to him startled Dean, Cas appearing out of thin air. A quick glance showed him that their girls had moved on to dancing together, still having fun even without Cas in their middle.

There was something gloomy about the man, only really detectable for Dean after years of knowing him. Since he could tell that Cas had enjoyed himself on the dancefloor, there really was only one conclusion Dean’s mind could jump to. Maybe it was more wishful thinking than anything else but in this moment, he believed that Cas was jealous.

Taking a sip of his whiskey once it had been placed in front of him, Dean gave Cas an alluring grin before leaning in closely, whispering into his ear.

“I had absolutely no desire to.”

His heart skipped a beat when a shiver ran through Cas’ body, Dean close enough to sense it. He had to force himself to pull back, not able to do anything further. They weren’t alone, their team members all around them. Besides, Cas still didn’t have his memories back so Dean needed to be careful.

A moment later, Cas seemed to have caught himself again. He nodded, and without any further words, he turned around and headed back to the dancefloor, Dean following his every move with his eyes. 

Which was why he saw right away when Cas stopped, looking at something - or someone - towards the back of the dancefloor and then suddenly moved forward.

Not hesitating for a second, Dean put his whiskey down and rushed after him, pressing through the dancing crowd.

He was only halfway through it when he saw Cas flashing his badge to a security guard and leaving the club through a side door.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Cas tried to control his breathing and - even more important - calm his heartbeat as he moved back to the dancefloor. He hated the way this man could make him feel and he hated that he would react like this.

Ignoring the voice in his head that told him a different tune, Cas felt a strong pull out of nowhere. Nothing physical, more as if someone had called for him. Looking up, he froze.

The woman in white.

Not hesitating, Cas dashed forward, quickly squeezing through the crowd. Reaching the end, there was no sign of the woman but Cas had last seen her by the backdoor so he raced towards it, already pulling out his badge.

“FBI, where does this door lead?” he asked the security guard, ordering to let him through once the man told him it led to a back alley.

Chasing down the three steps, Cas only stopped once he was standing in the middle of the small alley, able to look around. It was a typical side alley and he could see people passing by on one end, heard their chatter and laughter mixed with the sounds of traffic.

The alley itself appeared to be empty - until the moment the door closed loudly and a soft voice spoke up.

“Hello, Castiel.”

Cas whirled around, coming face to face with the woman in white.

“It is so good to finally meet you,” she told him, a smile dancing around her lips.

She was just as beautiful as Cas remembered from when he had seen her outside the diner. Same dress, same serene look. It was as if nothing had changed about her since last Friday.

“Who are you?”

“Someone waiting for you.”

Cas frowned. “Waiting?”

“Do not let me wait for long.”

The back door opened again, Cas side-tracked for just a second - too long, as it seemed. When he looked back to where the woman had been standing, she was gone, no trace left of her.

“Cas? Hey, you alright?”

Cas looked around the alley once more.

Laughter, chatter, traffic noise - but no woman in white, the alley just as empty as before. Looking up at Dean, Cas had no idea how to answer his question.

 

Chapter Text

~*~ Chapter Nine ~*~

~ Now ~

“How about a finder’s fee?”

The man’s voice was full of mirth and very sensual, his grin playful.

There was a slight shift, like a memory not fully remembered - or a dream jumping from one moment to another - and the man slowly pushed off of the wall, coming closer ever so slowly. Carefully, lovingly, he cupped his cheek with one of his roughened hands.

“Promise me something,” he whispered, his breath ghosting over Cas’ lips.

There was another shift, Dean’s lips hot on his but so very soft. Patient, sweet, caring.

Another shift and Dean was grinning again.

“I know this might be a novel concept to you but how about trusting me? For once?”

The next moment, he was kissing him again.

 

~*~

 

Cas sat up in bed with a start, gasping for air.

“What... what the fuck?” he swore, still breathing heavy, and pulling the plugs from his walkman out of his ears.

Not giving his brain any time to catch up on what he’d just dreamed about, Cas scrambled out of bed and rushed to the bathroom, splashing his face. It only helped a little to calm him down. And it certainly didn’t help the problem he had in his pants. It was as if Dean’s lips were still burning on his, and the more he thought about it, the harder he grew.

“Fuck,” he muttered again, willing his thoughts to go away.

What had started out as fragments and little snippets had grown into vivid and intense dreams over the past few weeks. Especially when he was sleeping in his own bed and not on a mission with a snoring Gabriel in the next bed over.

Some nights he dreamed of other things but more often than not, Dean was featured in his dreams, in various ways. Some things always stuck out when he dreamed of the man. His smile, mostly. His laugh, his touch. His warmth. 

And for some reason, the phrase “finder’s fee”. Every so often it would be muttered in his dreams. He hadn’t been able to detect it from the beginning but the more he dreamed of it, the more he couldn’t shake it, the words stuck to his waking mind. It didn’t make sense to him but he was hesitant about telling Dean in case it was nothing and he just imagined things.

He usually welcomed all these dreams but he had certainly not agreed to wet dreams about this man, for God’s sake. Dean was his friend and after almost a month, they were finally on a somewhat normal level, at least in his opinion. So why were his mind and body so completely out of control, trying to ruin the tender friendship he had rebuilt with Dean by some unwelcome hormones?

A quick look at the alarm showed him it wasn’t even three in the morning. Even though he felt wide awake, he needed to calm down. Needed to go back to sleep or he wouldn’t be functional in the morning.

After a detour to the kitchen to fetch himself a glass of water, Cas went back to his room. Switching the cassette in his walkman to side B, he gulped down the water and went back to bed. Thankfully, the by-now-familiar music helped him calm his mind. It wasn’t long until he drifted back to sleep.

 

~*~

 

It was cold, even in their heavy clothes. The snow was surrounding them and so were the creatures attacking them. Cas could feel his blood pumping.

Pain colored his world red, just as he found himself right at the edge of the abyss.

A strong hand took his, pulling, pushing.

The snow was everywhere - until it wasn’t. A body pressed against his but while he should have been scared, he wasn’t. 

It was familiar. 

It was warm.

It was safe.

 

~*~

 

When Cas woke this time, it was thanks to his alarm. He got up and heaved himself through his morning routine, his mind still cloudy, the dream lingering and clinging to him. While it had been very surreal, it had also been so vivid.

Just like the other dreams he had had over the past few weeks. 

Recently, his mysterious stalker woman, as the team now called her, had made an appearance in his dreams as well. She was quite literally haunting him now. After L.A., he had seen her two more times, never long enough to point her out to another team member. By now, however, he was sure it wouldn’t make a difference. For whatever reason, only he seemed able to see her.

At least she hadn't been talking to him again, just standing there, watching him.

Even though they knew it was most likely a supernatural occurrence, Dean had insisted on taking Cas to the hospital. As expected, his doctor hadn’t found anything troublesome - from the medical side, he was perfectly healthy, his memory loss notwithstanding.

When he had been alone with her during the examination, though, he had told her about his confusing dreams - not the content, just that they happened - and she had encouraged him to talk to Dean, since it was always possible his mind was trying to remember, his dreams not actual dreams but memories. Or at the very least, figments of memories, warped with strange dreams.

He had been hesitant about it until now, not wanting to give them both false hope. But this last dream, the snowy hill… it had him wondering.

“Good morning, sleepyhead,” Dean greeted cheerfully, pulling Cas out of his musings as soon as he came close to the kitchen area.

For a brief moment, Cas wondered if his old self had ever gotten used to the man’s chipper morning mood after such a long time of living together - if so, he really needed to remember, and fast - but the thought flew out of his mind when Dean pushed the first mug of black tea over to him. Just as always, it was perfectly brewed and Cas let his thoughts wander while he slowly let the tea work its magic and wake him up.

When he started on his second, last night’s dreams still as vivid in his mind as before, he finally decided to give in.

“Dean?” he asked calmly, not even looking up.

He got a positive sound in return, Dean still busy preparing their breakfast.

“Have we ever been on a mission to a snowy mountain?”

When he sensed Dean’s head snapping towards him, he looked up himself, his eyes meeting Dean’s wide gaze.

“You remember?”

“So it really happened?”

“Wait, pause, rewind,” Dean told him, putting the spatula down and taking the pan off the stove. “Let’s start from the beginning. Yes, we did have a mission on a snowy mountain about a year after the SDA started and it was absolutely crazy. Now... do you remember?”

“I don’t know,” Cas admitted, feeling chills at Dean’s admission. But then again, just because they did have a mission like that didn’t mean Cas remembered correctly. “I had this weird dream. We were... on this hill and... we were attacked?”

Dean nodded eagerly.

“I don’t remember if the team was there but... you definitely were. And then there was... I don’t know, some kind of avalanche?”

“Yes,” Dean confirmed, grinning by now. “Anything else?”

“I’m not sure... did you... did you save me by pushing me to a wall and covering me with your own body?”

Yes,” Dean exclaimed, positively thrilled by now. “I can’t believe it, Cas. This is huge. Have you had other dreams before?”

“A few but... they all seemed normal.” At least to some degree. And he would certainly not retell the first dream he had last night. 

“Why haven’t you told me before?”

“Because I thought they were just regular dreams. My mind trying to compensate or to rationalize. But this one? It was just so crazy.”

“Well, it was a crazy mission, let me tell you this...”

 

~*~*~*~

 

~ Then ~

“I swear, if we’re not gonna find the Yeti while we’re here, I’ll be severely disappointed.”

“Dean, the Yeti is a myth.”

“Oh, really, Charlie? I bet you thought the same about werewolves and vampires before you actually met some.”

Dean was sure he would have gotten more than a glare for his comment if Charlie had been closer to him and if it hadn’t been such a pain to move through the snow.

They were currently in the Rocky Mountains, trying to solve a case of missing hikers. So far, witness reports had led them to believe they were dealing with a Wendigo but some things didn’t add up. For one, they had never heard of Wendigos hunting in packs but some of the witnesses swore they’d seen multiple ambushers before they could run away. And two, some of the witnesses had described the attackers as small human beings - not tall, hairy people, as one would describe a Wendigo.

Cas had the theory that they were dealing with Melon Heads* - yes, Dean had laughed about that name - but the issue here was that they were legends from Connecticut. Sure, similar sightings had been reported in Michigan and Ohio but not in the Rockies. Yet.

Yet, since everything else fit - small humanoids with bulbous heads, cannibalism to survive harsh winters, usually hunting together - they were now prepared to face... Melon Heads. Seriously, who had come up with that name?

“Hey, Dean-o,” Gabe called, stopping where he was leading them along the snowy trail to look back at him. “Once you find the Yeti, do you wanna take a picture with him or kill the beast?”

“Are you insane? No-one would kill the Yeti, that would be blasphemy.”

“You make me wonder if maybe I should have added a lesson on heavenly entities and on what counted as godlike and whatnot,” Cas replied dryly as he passed Dean on the small trail. “I’m sure you would have come to realize that the Yeti is not a God, ergo killing him could not be blasphemous.”

“I have honestly no idea what you just said,” Dean replied, ignoring the chuckle from Ketch, who was about to pass him as well.

Rolling his eyes, Dean picked up a bit of speed, not letting Ketch pass as well. He wasn’t that old, he wouldn’t let just anyone pass him by.

A short while later, they found a plateau on the trail, giving them just enough space to sit down and rest for a short while.

It wasn’t long after that they should find out that Cas’ theory was actually correct.

A group of nine creatures, the size of dwarfs and with abnormal, melon-like heads, attacked them. Thankfully, they were easy to kill, given that they’d once been humans and could therefore be killed just like them.

Dean was just decapitating the last that was in his reach when he heard Cas grunt in pain. Looking up, the man was standing too close to the edge, staggering, blood streaming down his cheek. There was no Melon Head even close to him but the next moment, Dean witnessed some debris hitting the man, making him stagger further, veering dangerously close to the edge.

Avalanche!

The yell didn’t even really register with Dean as he was already moving forward. Just two steps brought him close enough to Cas to reach for the man’s hand, pulling hard to get him away from the abyss. Acting purely on instinct, he used his momentum to push Cas against the mountain face, already being hit by some debris himself. Pushing against Cas as close as he could - for one to get out of the avalanche’s way and two to cover the man - Dean became almost painfully aware of Cas’ closeness.

After a short moment, he could feel Cas’ hands digging into his sides, pulling Dean impossibly closer. His breath was hot on Dean’s neck, sending chills up and down his spine. Dean’s nose was digging into Cas’ head. Even with the cap in the way, he could smell his fragrance, almost driving him insane.

As quick as the avalanche had surprised them, as quick it was gone again, leaving behind some eerie silence. For just the shortest moment, it was as if they were in a different world, before the storm picked up, making the snow twirl all around them.

Carefully lifting his head, Dean looked directly in shocked blue eyes, wide and clear. He hadn’t noticed how heavy he was breathing but he did now as their breaths mingled. For just a second, those blue eyes flicked to Dean’s lips, he was sure of it.

“Everybody alright?”

Dean had to swallow hard, trying not to think about killing Ketch.

Because the man was actually right to check on the team - something that was Dean’s job and that he should have remembered to take care of.

“Yes,” he called out, his eyes still glued to Cas’ face. “I’ve got Cas. Charlie, Gabe?”

“Still alive, boss.”

“Got a nasty hit to my arm but I’ll survive.”

Charlie’s admission finally pulled Dean back to reality. Letting go of Cas, he quickly checked that the cut on his cheek wasn’t too severe, before moving over to Charlie. Once they had given it some emergency treatment, they made sure to get the hell off that snowy hill before something else could surprise them.

 

~*~

 

~ Now ~

“That is some insane story.”

“I know, right,” Dean replied, digging into his sandwich. Over all his excitement about Cas’ dream, they had run out of time to actually prepare and eat their normal breakfast. So they had stopped at their favorite bakery along the way, treating themselves to some delicious sandwiches. After all, they had reason to celebrate, at least in Dean’s opinion.

They were currently sitting in Baby, already parked close to the FBI headquarters, making sure they would be there on time. They still had about ten minutes.

“And you’re saying you had dreams like this for the past month?”

“Not every night, and I certainly don’t know what all could count as memories and whatnot. But, yes, I guess.”

“You could tell me and we could figure it out together.”

“Dean, I’m not gonna tell you all my dreams.”

Dean had to chuckle over Cas’ grumpiness. Gazing at the man next to him, he could almost pretend like everything was normal again. Like they had their old lives back. 

Watching him so closely, Dean could see the frown appearing on Cas’ face, his eyebrows knitting together as he stared intently ahead.

“Cas?”

“That’s her again.”

“What?”

Pointing across the FBI’s parking lot to where the street was, Cas sat up straight.

“Over there. That’s her.”

“You mean your stalker no one else has seen,” Dean replied, worry in his voice as he followed Cas’ pointing finger.

“Come on Dean, she’s right there. Please tell me you can see her,” Cas pleaded with him.

But Dean couldn’t.

He really couldn’t.

He scanned the whole area, twice. Yet, no matter how hard he tried, there was no woman to be seen.

“Cas, I really think we should bring this to Henriksen’s attention now.”

“Urgh, Dean, come on. I’m not gonna bother the Assistant Director over a ghost haunting me.”

“Well, what if it isn’t a ghost?”

“Then at least we have a point to start now,” Cas replied, wadding the paper from his finished sandwich into a ball. “I just saw her on FBI ground. If she was really there, she’ll be on the surveillance cameras. Come on.”

 

~*~

 

A few minutes later found them in Charlie’s batcave, as she liked to call her computer room. Often enough, Charlie would stay back instead of following them onto missions, rather helping them from her batcave by getting them all the information they needed, doing research and feeding them information while the others were on a mission.

She wasn’t the only tech genius of the SDA, allowing for her to sometimes join them in their missions - but she certainly was the best and usually preferred staying back over going out in the field.

Right now, she was digging up the previous few minutes from the surveillance cameras in the parking lot, all three of them scanning the videos intently. But no matter how often she replayed them, no matter how sure Cas was of the exact location - there was no woman in a white dress.

“So, what do we think?” Charlie finally asked when Dean told her to stop the videos. “Ghost? Vision due to Cas’ blow to the head?”

“It kind of reminds me of my time in the Djinn world**,” Dean replied, crossing his arms as he leaned against Charlie’s table. “Every now and then, I would see this girl that didn’t quite seem to fit. Turned out she was another captive, my two realities mixing whenever I was close to waking up, the ‘Djinn serum’ or whatever running low.”

“Excuse me,” Cas said, looking as if he was trying to catch all his thoughts. “But you’ve been captured by a Djinn before? You?”

“Hey, I was a young Hunter once, okay? I was hot-headed and made stupid mistakes. The point is, your woman somewhat sounds like that girl.”

“So, what are you saying? That I’m currently in a Djinn reality and should try to wake up?”

Dean narrowed his eyes, glaring at Cas.

“Oh, I don’t know. Has it always been your deepest wish to live in a reality where everything is confusing you and you live with a guy you hate?”

“I don’t hate you anymore,” Cas told him, sounding incredulous that Dean would still think so.

While the admission touched him somehow, Dean still rolled his eyes. 

“My point is, this is certainly not your biggest wish come true. Therefore no, this is not a Djinn world so please don’t kill yourself.”

“Why would I kill myself?”

Before Dean could reply, Gabriel walked into the room, some papers in hand, answering Cas’ question instead, “Because that’s how you would get yourself out of a Djinn’s world. Or really, just any dream world. Have you not done your homework? If you die in your sleep, you wake up. Bada boom bada bing.”

He handed a set of papers over to Dean, the second one to Charlie so she would know what to research before going into the conference room.

“And funny, boss, that you would mention a Djinn. Cause it looks like one of our next cases could be one.”

Dean took the papers and scanned the list of new cases Hendriksen had assigned their unit. Seeing the long list, Dean sometimes wondered if what they did even had any effect at all in the long run. He had been hunting these creatures for over two decades now and the list was ever so long. And that was just for their unit, not counting the dozens of other SDA agents as well as the Hunters out there.

Clearing his throat, Dean got up. 

“Alright, meeting in twenty. Let the team know. Cas? I want you to go tell Henriksen about your stalker ghost.”

“I really don’t think that’s -”

“I wasn’t asking,” Dean interrupted, using what his friends had long dubbed his ‘Unit Chief’ voice. “This might be nothing or it might be a potential threat. Henriksen needs to know.”

The old Cas, he knew for sure, would have protested. Maybe even disobeyed him on this one. This new Cas, however - still so much inclined to follow rules - only gritted his teeth and nodded before leaving the room.

Gabriel took a deep breath and let it out real slow while his gaze was following Cas. After a moment, he gripped Dean’s shoulder, wordlessly telling him to stay strong.

A notion Dean appreciated.

Once Gabriel was gone as well, Dean sat down next to Charlie, letting his head sink into his hands. 

One tiny moment of hope. 

And now this.

As if they did not have enough to worry about.

Now it also seemed that Cas was haunted. Or going crazy.

Neither option sounded preferable.

One step forward, two steps back.

“Have you slept at all these past few days?”

Dean had no reason to ask why Charlie was wondering. He had seen the dark circles under his eyes himself but he could not help it.

“You know I don’t sleep well in that room.”

“Go, lie down,” Charlie told him, nodding over to her couch. “I’ll give the team a thorough run through the cases anyway. No need for you to read the information ahead.”

They both knew that was not true. As Unit Chief, he should already know the cases by heart by the time the team is informed. Should already know which to put first or how to split them amongst the team members.

But Dean was just so tired.

And he had run this team for long enough now, he would be able to handle it on the spot.

Without any form of protest, Dean got up and lay down on the couch. With Charlie’s constant clicking as a familiar melody in his ear, he drifted off for a few minutes of shut-eye. 

 

~*~

 

“That’s the list of new cases. Have at it,” Charlie told the team after her presentation, sitting back down.

Dumah spoke up first. “As tragic as that case in Colorado sounds, I guess we can all agree it’s most likely a nest of Bisaans*** and it seems we were informed too late. At this stage, we won’t find any survivors, their mating cycle is already over. It’s harsh, I know, but they won’t pose a threat for the next twenty-seven years. I’d say, let’s inform some Hunters close by, let them find the nest and take care of it.”

The team gloomily nodded, Dean agreeing as well. With a few clicks on Charlie’s laptop, the file on the huge monitor could be seen disappearing into a folder, designed for reappointing cases to other units or - as in this case - Hunters.

Once done, Charlie looked up again. “Alright, next one?” 

“The one were the Canyon Valley Health Spa**** connects all victims... could it be witches?” Ana asked, checking the files on her tablet again.

“Could be,” Dean confirmed, checking the notes himself. “I guess this one will best be investigated from the inside. Anyone care for a little undercover job at a spa?”

Right away, the three ladies in their group raised their hands - as well as Ketch, making Dean chuckle.

“Two will do, I guess. Charlie, I’ll need you here, sorry. Ketch... no. Ana, Dumah, make sure to study the case more closely before going in. And I want regular updates.”

“On it, boss,” they replied, getting up and leaving, both grinning.

“And remember, you’re working,” Dean called after them, only getting a ‘sure boss’ in return.

Rolling his eyes in good nature, he looked back at the board. The case had already gotten a color code and appeared in a smaller version at the top of the computer, marking that their team was currently on it.

They went on like this, pushing some of the cases back or Dean assigning teams to get the job done. Thankfully, none of the current cases was big enough that it would need the whole team’s attention. Ketch, Jack, and Noah were sent off for what seemed to be a larger ghost hunt in Nebraska.

Since the team was split up and all over the country, Dean had Charlie stay back to make sure they all checked in on time and to help them wherever she could.

That left Gabe, Cas, and Dean for the last case, which seemed rather pressing: the Djinn hunt.

 

~*~

 

The first thing Dean became aware of was the fragrance filling his senses. He buried his nose deeper into the warm skin of his husband’s neck, inhaling deeply, letting the familiar scent wash over him. Calm him.

It was so warm and comfortable. Early morning sunlight was dancing over his closed eyelids, slowly pulling him further out of his dream. The warm body next to him moved and Dean pulled him closer, not getting enough of the feel of warm and smooth skin against his own. Once again, he took a deep breath, never getting enough of his husband, who let out a content grumble when Dean kissed the warm skin of his neck. Dean could tell he wasn’t quite awake yet but he was almost there. Just a few minutes longer and he would turn around to give Dean his good morning kiss.

Until then, he didn’t mind spending his time softly breathing his husband in, just enjoying the calm moment.

He had no idea what exactly made him come to his senses but with a start, Dean sat up straight. He knew something was wrong before he even took in the room - a room that wasn’t theirs. Looking down at Cas, Dean had to swallow, hard.

Tan skin against soft sheets.

How often had he dreamed about this in the past month? Had wished to have it back, to be able to just crawl back into bed with Cas, just holding him, feeling his warmth and his closeness.

Here he was, so close Dean was actually still touching him.

Quickly, he moved away from the sleeping man, even got out of bed. In his absence, Cas turned around, hugging Dean’s pillow close. It made Dean’s heart ache, for this was exactly what his Cas did almost every morning.

Dean shook his head, trying to rid himself of the fog clouding his mind and the visions of a happy life. Instead, he forced himself to remember.

What was the last thing he remembered? It certainly wasn’t some miraculous healing on Cas’ part, his memories still missing no matter how much this- this dream wanted to tell him otherwise.

Dream.

A dream, that was it!

The memories rushed back to Dean: the Djinn.

“Fuck,” he muttered, quickly pulling on the sweatpants lying on the floor.

They had been on a mission involving a Djinn and while he’d made sure they were careful and watching each others’ backs, something must have gone terribly wrong. He remembered the Djinn, remembered being ambushed. Then Dean’s world had gone black. 

He needed to get out of this world, needed to wake up quickly to be able to help Gabriel and Cas.

His Cas, the real one.

One last longing look to his sleeping husband, then Dean hastened out of the room. He had to search around for a moment because this was certainly not their loft. It looked more like a house. Dean had to ignore the walls full of pictures, different from the ones they actually had in their home. Going by instinct, Dean soon found the kitchen and quickly got out one of the knives. Taking a deep breath, he pointed the sharp end towards him, ready to kill himself to wake up and leave this world behind. 

He was sure the Djinn had taken extra care of creating a perfect world for him and Dean had no desire to explore it. Had no desire of getting to know a world in which all his dreams had come true, all his greatest desires reality. 

He didn’t want to know so he gripped the knife even harder and moved it to his stomach - only to stop when he heard the patter of little feet, followed by a noise at the door and a little girl’s voice speaking up.

“Daddy, what are you doing with the knife?”

 

Chapter Text

~*~ Chapter Ten ~*~

~ Now ~

Dean was frozen on the spot. The little girl was just standing there, by the door, watching him with huge, blue eyes. She looked so much like a little version of Cas there was no doubt who she was supposed to be.

“I... ehm...”

He had no idea what to say, slowly putting the knife back down. No matter how fast he wanted to leave this world, he would not do it in front... in front of their daughter.

The girl didn’t seem to be interested in the knife any longer, hugging her blanket close as she shuffled closer. “Daddy, what’s for breakfast? Can we have pancakes? Can you make them now, before Ben and Emma wake up, so I can have more? Please.”

“Ben... and Emma?” Dean breathed out, the memory of those names choking him. The daughter he should have never had and the son he had had for a short time and lost again. Of course, they would both be here in this perfect world.

“They will eat all the pancakes if we wake them up now. Daddy, can you please make some before you wake them or Papa?”

Dean’s heart was hurting. He wanted to say yes, wanted to turn around and make pancakes like he had done so many mornings for just him and Cas.

But this here, this wasn’t real and he had to remind himself of that. This wasn’t his daughter, no matter how sweet the kid was and this wasn’t his life no matter how much he had once wished for it. Now it just left a bitter taste, reminding him of that one fateful morning a month ago.

If only Dean hadn’t said a thing, if only they had resolved their fight, if only Cas hadn’t been so distracted-

“Daddy? Please?”

“Sure,” Dean finally rasped out. He needed to focus, needed to get his head back into this mission. He needed to make sure the girl was gone. “Sure. How about you… ehr, go and wake... Papa and I’ll start on the batter.”

He needed her to leave. He needed time to ram this knife into his stomach and kill himself. He needed her gone because he would never be able to do it while she was watching him.

The little girl smiled. “Okay,” she replied, already turning on the spot, giving Dean hope that he could end this horribly beautiful dream.

But the next moment, that hope was destroyed when Cas turned around the corner and entered the kitchen, smiling when he saw them. Moving over to the girl, he brushed her hair out of her face in a loving gesture.

“Morning, little Miss Haley.”

Haley? No, that name didn’t ring a bell but Dean wasn’t going to ask. Not that it was important where his fantasy daughter got her name from. He would not stay long enough to get to know her.

“And good morning to you, Honey,” Cas continued as he moved over to Dean and pressed a kiss to his cheek. “Hope you slept well.”

“Sure,” Dean replied robotically.

“What’s with the knife, Hon?”

Dean hadn’t even noticed he’d reached for it again. But it felt good in his hand. He knew he needed to use it, needed to get out of this picture-perfect world.

Speaking of pictures...

He did not need to look around to spot countless family pictures covering the kitchen.

There were his parents, both still very much alive, holding Haley in their arms, Ben and Emma flanking them, both exactly the age Dean remembered them. There were pictures of Sam and his family - not his real family though. It was Jessica and their four kids that never got to be born. 

There were also pictures of Dean and Sam, clearly enjoying time together and Dean had to scoff. The one problem he had with the dream word the other Djinn had created for him all those years ago, the fact that the brothers had grown apart. It looked like this Djinn had done a more thorough job of giving Dean exactly what he wanted. Exactly what he desired.

“It’s not real,” he muttered to himself, gripping the knife even harder.

Cas looked at him with his big blue eyes. “What did you say, Honey?”

And this was another thing. Cas never called him honey. Never. Maybe he could get used to this one day but right now it was rubbing him the wrong way, grating on his nerves.

The Djinn had certainly given this its best - but not even a perfect copy of Cas was as good as the real version of him.

“I said, this isn’t real. You aren’t real and neither are the kids.”

Cas looked worried now, even reaching for Dean. Or rather, for the knife.

“Dean, what are you talking about? Do you not feel well?”

No, he certainly did not feel well, not at all. But he knew what he had to do. As he raised the knife, Cas’ demeanor suddenly changed, just as Dean remembered Sam’s change in the last Djinn world.

“Why can’t you just leave it alone?” he accused. His voice had lost its sweetness. “You have everything you ever wanted here. You have your parents, your brother, and he has his true love.”

Dean wanted to protest at that but Cas went on.

“You have children, a family. Me. And I haven’t forgotten how deeply I love you.”

“But you are. Not. Real.”

“Daddy, please put the knife away, you’re scaring me.”

“Dad, what are you doing?”

The voice cut into him, deep, but he could not stop himself from looking up. There was Ben, Emma by his side, holding her little sister on her arms.

“Dad, don’t leave us. Please.”

This was not fair. This was so not fair and he would kill this Djinn for doing it to him.

“Dean,” Cas told him, his voice soft again as well as his touch when he cupped Dean’s cheek. “Dean, I love you. I’m not hiding it from the world and I won’t ever forget about it. Isn’t that all you ever wanted?”

Dean was stunned, not able to pull away when Cas pressed a gentle kiss to his lips.

He wanted to - but at the same time, he wanted to meld, wanted to give in. Wanted to live in this dream.

But when Cas ended the kiss and gazed lovingly at him, he still slowly shook his head.

“No,” he breathed out. “I wanted this, yes. But not like this. Not with you. You aren’t real. You aren’t my Cas. I don’t care if he remembers me or not. I love him.”

With his last word, he grabbed the knife again, able to pull it away from where Cas had tried to sneak it away from him. Without a second’s hesitation, he rammed it into his stomach, his world turning black as he heard his children and dream Cas scream his name.

 

~*~

 

Dean gasped for air, waking up with a start. His head was throbbing but at least he was on the floor, not hanging on the ceiling with his arms over his head, like last time.

“Dean-o, finally! What the hell took you so long?”

Not able to reply, Dean reached for Gabriel’s outstretched hand, letting the man help him to his feet.

“What happened?” he rasped out as he found his balance again. “Where’s Cas?”

“I’m here,” he heard his husband’s reply from across the small room.

Looking over, he saw Cas peeking through what seemed to be an observation slit in a shabby door. The door itself had a heavy timber in front of it.

“It wasn’t just one Djinn,” Gabriel explained, handing Dean his weapon. “We ran into a freaking Djinn nest.”

“A nest? Since when do these things work together?”

“Good question,” was the only answer he got, Gabriel already moving over towards the door.

Dean followed.

“And where are we now?”

“A little room further to the back,” Cas told him, not stopping his observation. “You were attacked by two Djinns at the same time. We killed them both but could hear that more were coming. So we took you and searched for a place to hide.”

“How long have I been out of it?”

“About ten minutes,” Gabriel told him, voice accusing. “I mean, really, what took you so long? Was there no knife or gun close by in that dreamworld of yours?”

Dean had to swallow hard, remembering the faces of his kids, pleading with him to stay.

Thankfully, he was saved from needing to answer when they heard the first noise close by. They were in an old warehouse but it certainly was not so big that the Djinns would need over ten minutes to find them.

What took them so long?

After a moment, Cas held up one finger, signaling to them that it was only one Djinn. Gabriel pointed to himself and Cas nodded, positioning himself in such a way that he would be able to open the door for Gabriel without being a hindrance. Waiting for just the right moment, Cas opened the door and Gabe jumped forward, plunging the knife into the Djinn’s flesh.

 

~*~

 

A search through the warehouse quickly led them to the room with the victims, heavily guarded by the rest of the Djinns, explaining why it had taken the other one so long to find them. He had been alone.

They took care of the matter, calling an ambulance for the victims once they had made the crime scene presentable for normal people. Out of the thirteen victims the Djinns had shared, eight survived, a number that might not have been the best but - considering the size of the nest - was acceptable.

Dean was glad about the fight and the whole cleanup afterward, the whole affair keeping his mind off of the fantasy world he had just left. He knew this would be on his mind for quite a while to come - and he certainly wasn’t looking forward to that.

 

~*~

 

Of course, Dean had been right. He once used to be a master at burying his feelings but his years with Cas had made him raw in that aspect. There had been no need for him to hide his feelings when being with his husband, no need to swallow and keep it bottled up. Now he was back to selecting what he could share with him and it didn’t help with this matter.

It was particularly hard when they were at their loft, Dean forced to sleep in the bed in ‘his’ room. Twice now, he’d fallen asleep on the couch, rather spending the night there. Aside from that, things between them seemed kind of… stuck? That was probably the right word. It was an awkward dance around each other, Dean still rotating between giving Cas space and helping him find his memories. He was there when Cas wanted answers, was fine with telling him about old cases. However, it became harder and harder for him to not fall back into old habits. Just a slight touch here or there, a flirty word, a kiss out of nowhere - these were their usual things to share and the more Cas seemed to get used to being around Dean again, the more Dean had to be on his toes not to just let something like this happen.

His only relief was the workload they were currently swamped with. Over the next two weeks or so the cases were piling up on their plate, hardly giving them time to breathe, and they kept Dean’s mind busy most of the time. 

Two weeks since the Djinn incident and Dean still could not shake the feelings, still thought about it sometimes. Still dreamed about it.

It was not regret, of course. God no. He would never regret his decision. 

No, it was more a kind of longing that grew constantly, mostly due to the fact that he did not have his husband by his side at the moment. At least, not in the way he was used to.

 

~*~

 

All of this led to Dean being oddly relieved when one of their bigger cases brought them to Louisiana, his mood even slightly improving again. 

Right on their second night, he cleaned up nicely, planning on going to one of the better places of New Orleans. Before leaving the hotel, he went to Gabe’s room and knocked on the door - only to have Cas open it.

"Oh, hey," Dean breathed out, not expecting to see his husband. 

Cas’ hair was rumbled, still wet at parts while his cheeks were still rosy from the shower he obviously just had. Dean had to swallow hard, forcing his hands to stay by his side instead of brushing away the unruly strands on Cas’ forehead.

He needed to get out of here, right now, or he would go insane.

"Gabe here?"

"He's in the bathroom," Cas replied, his eyes shortly flickering up and down Dean's body.

Dean couldn't fail but notice how his eyes went just a tad wider, his man probably wondering why he had gotten dressed up like this. His lips twitched into a smile.

"Could you let him know I'm going out and that he's in charge for the rest of the night?"

"You- you're going out? Alone?"

Before Dean could answer, a door inside the room opened and Gabe came around the corner.

"Hey Dean-o, going out?"

"Yep. Take care of the kids?"

"Sure thing. Tell Benny I said hi. Oh, and," Gabe said, grinning, “please try to be back by a reasonable time.”

Dean rolled his eyes at that but couldn’t help his grin. "Will do," he promised, mock saluting Gabe before letting his hand drop in a kind of ‘goodbye’-gesture towards Cas. “See you two in the morning.”

Cas looked absolutely irritated but Dean was sure Gabe would explain in case he would ask.

As for him, he really needed a night away from everything and to see a good old friend. 

It had been too long since he'd seen Benny. There hadn’t been a case close by for a while now and Benny hardly had the time to visit them, busy with trying to live a normal enough life.

As much as that was possible as a vampire.

They met in the heart of New Orleans, the city pulsing and full of life. Dean couldn't believe how good it was to see Benny again, happily reciprocating the bear hug Benny gave him.

“It’s been way too long, brother.”

“Absolutely,” Dean replied, clapping the man on the back before letting go at last. “Gabe says hi.”

“Oh, thanks. And Cas? Was he grumpy about you meeting me?”

Dean’s lips twitched into a sad smile. Right away, Benny’s smile fell.

“Oh no, what happened? You and him, you aren’t-”

No. No, it’s… well, it’s definitely a long story and I think I need a drink first.”

 

~*~

 

They were both nursing their second beer by the time Dean was done telling his tale. He would have loved to stick with the amazing bourbon they had in their favorite bar but as Unit Chief he had to be responsible, the case still going on.

“Brother, this is messed up.”

Eyes on the rows of whiskey bottles behind the bar but not really seeing anything, Dean nodded while deep in thought.

“He really went back to hating you?”

Dean shrugged. “He didn’t know any better. So really, who could blame him?”

“So you’re back to… to what now? Friends?”

“I guess? I honestly don’t even know, Benny. I’ve tried so much to trigger his memories without spelling it out to him. I’ve been making him tea every morning and cooked all his favorite food. I’ve given him all the mixtapes we listened to back when still traveling around the country in Baby. I’ve even given him the one I made just for him and I gave him the one he put together.”

“The one to annoy you?” Benny asked with a grin, taking a sip of his beer.

“God, I still remember that smug little smile he wore the first time he was able to switch tapes in my Baby without me noticing.”

Benny’s rumbled laugh soothed him somehow, the sound pleasantly familiar. 

“If he’d already known you better back then, he would have realized how much you were gone for him. Honestly, has anyone else ever done that and gotten away alive?”

Dean chuckled but took a long sip instead of answering.

“What else have you done? To trigger his memories, I mean.” 

“Well… answered all his questions, talked to him. We went to some of the places we usually go to, like our favorite diners. Things like that.”

“Okay, but have you actually tried telling him?”

Shaking his head, Dean began picking on the lapel of his beer. “I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“The doctor said it might overtax him.”

“Yeah, maybe in the beginning,” Benny replied, sounding confused. “But that has been how long? Almost two months?”

“A bit over six weeks now,” Dean corrected.

“Still. Brother, that’s a lot of time.”

Oh, didn’t he know it. Trying to chase away the bitter taste in his mouth, Dean took another long gulp.

Once he was done, Benny leaned in closer.

“I thought you were back to being friends. You really think it would still overtax him if you told him the truth now?”

“Benny, you know how Cas was back then,” Dean replied with a bit more force in his voice, looking at his friend. “You know how far he was in the closet. It took five years to get him out of there. Five years. You think I can change that now in just six weeks?”

“I don’t think it’s the same situation,” Benny replied, leaning back again to sip on his beer.

Dean used the time to throw in, “Of course it isn’t. We skipped the whole time we needed to become friends, yes. But… what if those years were what made him come clean with his sexuality?”

“Honestly, I think you’re overthinking this.”

“How so?”

“You say you’ve tried giving him his space, right?”

Dean nodded in reply.

“Well, how about you stop doing that?”

“What?”

Once again, Benny leaned in, his voice insistent as he repeated, “Stop giving him space. Come on, Winchester,” he exclaimed, gesturing with his hands. “You know this man. Better than anyone. You know all his weaknesses when it comes to you. Know what he likes and what he doesn’t. Use it.”

“Are you… are you saying…”

Seduce your husband! Have him fall in love with you again.”

Dean was speechless for a moment, trying to take in that suggestion.

“You’re insane,” he finally told his friend. “That… no, you’re insane.”

“Am I, though?” Benny replied, his eyes serious.

“Benny, I can’t just… seduce Cas. That wouldn’t be fair. Playing him like that.”

Playing? Have you been in the sun for too long? Dean, this is your husband we’re talking about. I’m not telling you to use your old Casanova tricks on him to get him in bed. I’m saying, use what you know about him to remind him how much he loves you. Open his eyes again.”

“But…”

“Brother,” Benny interrupted, gripping his arm. “You said it yourself, Cas might not ever get his memories back. Do you want to go on like this forever? Or at least another five years until things explode once more?”

Of course he didn’t. Swallowing hard, Dean shook his head.

“Then get your ass up and do something about it. Fight for your man. For his love.” His grip tightened, slightly shaking Dean as if to shake some sense into him. “If you can’t get your husband out of that closet again, who else could? Stop giving him space. Give him a push instead.”

After a short moment of silent, Benny released his arm, clapping his shoulder instead. They went back to nursing their beers, Dean deep in thought for the time being, and Benny, always the understanding friend, silently supporting him.

 

Chapter Text

~*~ Chapter Eleven ~*~

~ Now ~

His calloused hand wandered over Cas’ skin, leaving a hot trail. They were breathing heavily, the car’s windows already fogged, making sure no one would see them.

And even if they could, Cas didn’t care, his focus solely on the man above him, his need too big to care for the world around them.

Dean’s lips caught his, tongue exploring Cas’ mouth with hunger, while his hands held him closer. Cas’ fingers were scraping through Dean’s hair, gently tugging on his strands, pulling moan after moan from the man.

Cas was already so close, their make-out session hot and intense.

Finally, Dean took him in hand-

 

~*~

 

Gasping awake, Cas couldn’t help himself, throwing his sheets away. The moment he touched his cock, he had to bite into his pillow to repress a scream. His hand became erratic and after just a few strokes he came into his boxershorts, heaving for air, trying to calm down.

“Fuck,” he swore softly, rubbing his face with his other hand. “Fuck, fuck, fuck.”

What was this man doing to him?

Cas’ dreams had become more and more intense. What had once started with fragments every other night had become a regular occurrence now, the snippets longer and the feelings stronger, more fervent. It was not so much of a collage of impressions anymore - rather movie-like pictures, like a video playing in his mind.

Like a memory.

And for a while now, those ‘memories’ had become more and more sexual.

It was all Dean’s fault, Cas was sure of that. For a few days now, the man seemed… different. Cas couldn’t quite put his finger on it but something had changed.

Once his breathing had calmed, Cas made quick work of getting up and ridding himself of his shorts, throwing them into the hamper. Checking the clock - it was four in the morning - he risked making the short trip to the bathroom naked, taking a quick shower. He was sweaty and reeked and he was sure he would only be able to get some more rest if he rid himself of all that - including the last traces of his dream.

Back in his room, he got into bed, eyes wide open.

His mind not finding any peace.

Instead, it wandered into forbidden territory.

Picturing Dean’s naked and very sweaty body again, his husky voice and roughened hands…

It wasn’t as if Cas needed to imagine much of it. For the past few days, the man had picked up the habit of training without a shirt.

There were also other little changes about him, Cas not sure if he imagined them or not. Or if maybe Dean had just gone back to being… normal? Maybe it really was normal between them, the way Dean was more… more touchy. 

Every now and then, he would find a way to come into contact with Cas, be it a pat on the shoulder or their hands brushing when he handed Cas his tea or Dean gripping his arm when he was laughing.

And that right there- that was another thing.

Dean’s mood had improved out of nowhere and Cas’ tried not to let himself think of the reason. Because he could pinpoint the exact time. Knew that it had been since their stay in New Orleans.

Since the time Dean had returned to the hotel in the early morning with a little smile on his lips and a new swing to his steps.

Cas had tried to get Gabe to tell him who this Benny-person was without being too suspicious but his brother hadn’t given anything away other than that he was an old friend of Dean’s. One he apparently visited every time they made it anywhere close to Louisiana.

Even now, ten days later, Cas tried to convince himself that he was not jealous.

But God dammit, he was. He had no idea who this guy was. Had no idea why Dean had cleaned up so nicely just to see him. Maybe they really had just met as old friends. But then why had Dean been in such a good mood the next morning?

And then again, why did Cas even care?

Because you’re falling for him, admit it.

Growling, Cas threw himself into another position, trying to think of something else.

Or better yet, admit you’ve long been falling for him.

Punching his pillow, Cas wanted nothing more than for his brain to shut up.

Or why not be completely honest, you aren’t falling for him. You’re already totally gone on the guy.

“Shut up,” he growled, pulling the pillow over his head.

This situation was certainly not new to him. It had become frighteningly regular now that he would lie in his bed, wide awake, his thoughts all over the place, jumping here and there and yet all of them circling around one beacon of light.

Dean.

Growling again, Cas pushed the pillow aside and reached for his walkman. The music had become a soothing companion over the past few weeks, always able to calm him down. Within minutes, the tunes of Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline had lulled him back to sleep.

 

~*~

 

“The love I have for you…”

The husky whisper was close to his ear, sending a pleasant shiver down his spine. They were moving softly, swaying to the music, laughter ringing all around them.

“... is a love that knows no bounds,” Cas replied, pulling Dean into a long kiss.

 

~*~

 

When Cas woke this time, it was with a long-suffering groan.

What was his mind doing to him? 

He pulled himself out of bed, glad it was about his usual time to wake up anyway and even more glad it was their day off of work. Although, the thought of being holed up with Dean the whole day…

Shaking his head, Cas refused to think about that now and rather got ready for the day. Once he was dressed, he took his walkman and left for the kitchen. His tea was already waiting for him, the kitchen otherwise empty. Cas could hear soft thuds from the direction of the gym, letting him know that Dean was already working out. 

Putting his walkman down to leaf through the mail and the newspaper on the counter, he tried not to think about the man next door.

Tried not to think of steamy car windows and hot kisses.

“Dammit,” he muttered, putting the newspaper back down.

In the end, he gave in to his desire. Mug in hand he moved over to the gym, peeking around the corner. 

The view made his mouth water.

Dean was in the gym corner at the punching bag, his upper body naked and sweaty, glistening in the sunlight falling through the window front. 

Like a wet dream come to life, just to taunt him.

Cas tried hard to avert his eyes or to take a step back and leave. Before he could, however, Dean suddenly stopped his hard punches and looked back over his shoulder, catching Cas red-handed.

“Hey,” he greeted with a smile, breathing hard. “Need something?”

Cas swallowed, his throat so very dry. All he could do was stand there in the entrance and stare at Dean.

“Cas?” Dean asked with a crooked smile, wiping some sweat from his face with his forearm.

Realizing what he was doing, Cas slightly shook his head. “No. No, I’m fine. Just, ehm... library.”

Dean had used the short pause to get a towel, getting rid of most of the sweat. Now he was looking at Cas with a raised brow. 

“What about it?”

“I... memory loss.”

 Stopping himself, Cas closed his eyes and took a breath to calm himself. When he opened his eyes again, the smile playing around Dean’s lips had grown, taunting him now with how cute it was. 

He forced himself to get out a real sentence this time.

“I was thinking I might look for some more books about memory loss. In the library.” 

There.

That wasn’t so hard, now was it?

Given Dean’s knowing grin, he knew just how hard it was for Cas to concentrate in this moment. And considering how well the man knew him, he probably also knew the reason. To Cas’ annoyance, that theory was proven right when Dean’s smile grew just a nuance wider as he slowly moved towards the door. Towards where Cas was still standing, rooted to the spot.

Only, ‘moved’ was so not the right word to use. 

‘Swaggered’ was probably a more fitting one. 

Cas couldn’t help himself, his eyes followed the movement of Dean’s chest, still heaving with his heavy breath after the exercise. For just a moment, Cas’ mind played out a possible picture of how Dean might look like this during another form of ‘exercise’. It was so vivid Cas could feel the heat in his cheeks instantly.

Forcing his eyes away from Dean’s nakedness, he hoped the man would pass him quickly.

Of course, he did no such thing. He stopped right next to Cas, who refused to look at him. He was, however, not safe from his other senses, Dean’s heat radiating off of him and an intoxicating fragrance hitting Cas’ nostrils. When he spoke, Cas was sure the bastard had his voice sound extra rough.

“Sure, whatever pleases you.”

The fucker had long left the room by the time Cas realized Dean had meant raiding the library and not what Cas’ mind had jumped to at this suggestion.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Dean was whistling along to the music while he was working on his Bolognese. He had just showered, his t-shirt clinging to his back where he had not dried himself properly. Dancing along to the music as well, Dean replayed their latest encounter. 

Ever since New Orleans, Dean had followed Benny’s advice. He had started with subtle things - ‘forgetting’ to put on his shirt here and there, handing Cas stuff in a way that made sure their hands would brush, even going so far as to pretend Cas’ tie was crooked and he had to redo it for him. Over time, his offense had become bolder.

And Cas… God, he reacted to it so beautifully.

Just as Benny had predicted, the sonofabitch. Dean would have to send him a bottle of the most expensive whiskey he could find should his plan actually work.

He hadn’t been in such a good mood in weeks. Admittedly, he still now and then wondered if it was mean of him - to ambush his unsuspecting husband like this. But every time the thought would invade his mind, he was reminded of how thrilling it was to see Cas fall for him all over again. 

Benny had been right, no one knew his husband as well as Dean did, knew how to read him. And if he read him correctly, Cas certainly did not mind their changed dynamic.

So really, was it mean of him to use his knowledge to have Cas fall for him again?

If it was, then Dean was okay with that because nothing could take away the butterflies in his stomach. Not even this constant longing, this ache he still had in his heart.

He longed to hold Cas, more than anything, longed for his presence and his touch. Not even in a sexual way, no. He missed the quiet evenings spent on the couch, just being close. Just cuddling. 

Sure, it would be a lie if he said he did not miss the sex as well. But really, more than anything, he... he missed them. He missed their little rituals and jokes. Their way to communicate without words, their effortless movements around and with each other whenever they did cores or when they were sparring or really just about anything. 

They used to be so in sync, it sometimes felt like a dance.

“Dean, have you seen my walkman? I must have put it here somewhere.”

“Sure,” Dean replied without looking up. 

Still deep in thought, he reached for where he remembered seeing it on the counter, handing it over to Cas. 

“Finder’s fee.”

“What did you say?”

Everything froze.

All of Dean’s thoughts came to a screeching halt.

Cas’ question, while so natural for him in his current state, pierced Dean’s heart and took the air from his lungs. 

He could not breathe, could not think.

Where there had been butterflies in his stomach until a moment ago, he could now feel bile rising.

He had done it. He had fallen back into an old pattern.

And the fact that Cas could not remember it hurt him deeper than he would have ever thought.

His husband was still staring at him, eyes narrowed in question but also filled with concern.

Dean tried to breathe.

“S- sorry... nothing, sorry,” he mumbled, hardly able to press out the words.

He pulled his hand away from where it had still touched the device and rushed to his room, ignoring Cas’ irritated gaze and the softly called question if he was alright.

He ignored it because he was far from being alright.

And he had no idea how to explain this to his husband.

Instead, he closed and locked the door, slipped down the wall and tried to breathe again while the first tear ran down his cheek.

 

~*~

 

~ Then ~

“Honestly, Dean. Would it kill you to not be so messy? At least while we have to share a room?”

One,” Dean began to list, not even looking at Cas and instead leafing through his Dad’s old journal while getting comfortable on his bed, “It’s not my fault the SDA is saving some bucks by always booking us double rooms instead of singles. Two, we’re on missions so often, we share a room approximately eight months out of twelve. Are you really asking me to change such a huge part of my personality for such a long time?” 

At his last question, he looked up at Cas, sending him a wide grin with just a touch of flirt in it. 

Even over two years after Quantico, Dean was still hesitant to outright be his cheeky, flirty self with Cas again. Sure, they were at a point in their friendship now where Cas just accepted it as part of his nature. But Dean still remembered how Cas had once told him that it made him uncomfortable and he certainly didn’t want that.

Besides… over time, it had also begun to mean something to Dean. It made his heart flutter whenever Cas was close and in those rare occasions he reacted to Dean’s flirting, his cheeks coloring or his eyes averted, Dean’s heart would skip a beat.

Somewhere along the way, he had fallen for his partner.

Not that he ever thought anything would come of this, he knew Cas did not swing that way - but a man was allowed to dream, right? He was only playing with his own heart, after all, and he was sure Cas would tell him in case he ever went too far again.

Until then, he would enjoy those little reactions he got out of Cas whenever he threw him a flirty smile or a suggestive wink.

Right now, though, Cas was frowning at him in warning, his answer to Dean’s question short and giving no room for argument: “Yes.”

Pouting, Dean threw the journal on the pile of clothes next to his bed and sat up.

Three, it’s not like we have so much stuff we won’t find everything we need, even if it’s a bit messy.”

“That’s just where you are wrong. I’m looking for my blue tie and I simply can’t find it.”

“And how is this my fault? If you’re so well organized, how come your stuff gets mixed up with my mess?”

“Because your stuff is everywhere.”

“Cas, I’ve known you for a good five years now, we’ve been partners for a little over two years – and yet this is the first time I see you so completely exaggerating,” Dean told him in a mock-serious voice.

His partner’s reaction was just as he had pictured it – an eyeroll and a groan of total despair, as if he was hardly able to handle Dean’s shit any longer – and it made Dean chuckle. He certainly loved teasing Cas, for the man always had the cutest reactions.

Showing mercy, however, Dean got up and helped him look for his tie. They had already been on this case for a good nine days, meaning that yeah, Dean’s stuff had gotten everywhere. 

Probably. 

Not that he would admit that, of course. 

It wasn’t as if he had time for such trivial things as cleaning up when this case had them stuck so badly he’d even gotten out his dad’s journal to see if the late Hunter could give him any insight. The rest of their team was currently either out, following different leads on this case in the hopes of finally finding something; or they were in their own rooms, most likely resting. Their next official meeting would be at eight in the morning unless any of them made a breakthrough in the case or something severe happened.

Given that, Dean really had no idea why it was so important for Cas to find his tie right now. 

Nevertheless, Dean located it about two minutes after he had started searching for it. Holding it up, he held it up triumphantly for Cas to see. 

“Ha, now that wasn’t too hard. I don’t know what all the drama was about.”

“The drama, Winchester, is that I wouldn’t even have to search for it if the room had been tidy in the first place,” Cas replied, taking the few steps over to Dean to reach for the tie.

For no real reason, Dean pulled it out of his reach in the last second, grinning when Cas’ frown deepened.

“Give me the tie, Dean. This isn’t funny.”

“Actually, I think it is,” Dean replied, still making sure Cas could not reach it. Not an easy task, as he could only move backwards so far until he was stuck against the wall. He still held the tie far above his head. “What will you give me for it?”

“Give you? It’s my tie.”

“Yeah, and I found it. So how about a finder’s fee?”

“A finder’s fee? Are you completely mad now?”

Grinning, Dean let the tie dangle in front of Cas, only to pull it away again the moment he reached for it, annoying his partner to no end.

“Dean, seriously.”

“Finder’s fee,” Dean repeated, enjoying himself greatly. “How about an apple pie?”

“You think I’ll go and get you an apple pie now, just so you’ll give me my tie?”

With his last words, he tried to reach the tie again, groaning in annoyance when Dean pulled it away again at just the right moment. 

Dean was about to reply that they could just get it later, even thought about just handing the tie over - he had his fun after all - when all of a sudden, Cas stepped back just slightly and took a deep breath.

“You know what? Fuck this.”

With that, Cas stepped into his personal space and out of nowhere, his lips were on Dean’s, pressing just a tad too hard.

Dean was shocked, eyes wide, and for a moment, his brain was unable to function. His body, however, reacted instantly, one of his hands moving to Cas’ hips. And then, the situation sank in and Dean closed his eyes, pulling Cas closer. Slowly, he moved his lips against Cas’, guiding him, showing him how he liked it. Cas loosened some of the firm press, following Dean’s movements willingly. 

After yet another moment, Dean’s grip around the tie loosened, the garment falling to the floor while he buried his hand into Cas’ hair. He pulled him closer yet, even guiding his head so Cas would tilt it just so.

A moan escaped the man’s lips and Dean did not hesitate one moment, softly pushing his tongue into Cas’ mouth. Cas’ moan grew louder as he stepped even closer, pressing Dean against the wall.

There was no way for Dean to hide his growing erection and right now, he felt no need to. Quite to the contrary, he wanted Cas to know how much he was turning him on. So he moved his hip, just enough to rub against Cas’ upper thigh. This time, Cas had to break their kiss to actually breathe through the groan, luring a breathy chuckle out of Dean. God, the man was noisy. Dean would have so much fun with him. He loved responsive and noisy partners. 

When Cas’ gaze met his again, Dean was amazed by the heat in the man’s eyes, the dark blue burning with fire and passion.

“How’s that for a finder’s fee?” Cas asked and Dean was sure he could come from hearing that dark, rough voice alone.

“Not bad,” he replied, pulling Cas close again. “How about a tip as well?”

“Greedy,” Cas admonished but was kissing him again before Dean could even think of a reply.

He had no idea who had started it but after a few more moments, the first clothes were lying on the floor, Cas’ hands wandering all over Dean’s naked chest. So much for greedy. Although, Dean was hardly any better, his hands already working on Cas’ belt and then the button of his pants. When it was open just far enough, he reached in, pressing his hand firmly against Cas’ hard-on.

Once again, Cas had to break their kiss, groaning and sucking in air. When Dean pressed even harder, Cas threw his head back.

“Fuck.”

Maybe Dean was imagining it but he was certain he was developing a new kink right now, hearing Cas - the prim and proper agent who would use swear words like 'assbutt' because he could not bring himself to say anything harsher - hearing him swear was such a turn on.

So really, who could blame him that he wanted to hear it again? Taking Cas’ erection in his hand, he stepped right into Cas’ space, sucking on his pulse.

“Oh God, fuck.”

Yep, definitely a new kink.

His back was suddenly thrown against the wall again - not that he had stepped that far away from it - Cas pressing against him, his lips back on his. It was sloppy, it was wild, it was aggressive - and Jesus, Dean loved every second of it. 

He had fantasized about a moment like this with his partner for far too long. Had even jacked off in the shower to fantasies about him more often than he cared to admit. 

Cas was certainly as eager as Dean himself, if not more, given the way he was impatiently yanking at Dean’s belt now. Dean got the impression that the man had not that much experience when it came to undressing other people but Dean didn’t mind. He simply helped him along, undoing his own pants. Cas’ hand was on him in a heartbeat, causing Dean to rut into him out of pure reflex. 

God, that felt good.

So good, indeed, that it took him a moment to realize Cas had stopped kissing back. His hand was also stilled, not moving at all. When Dean opened his eyes and pulled away from their kiss, Cas was only standing there, breathing heavy. The fire was still burning in his eyes but there was also a different note. 

An ounce of hesitation.

“Cas?”

“I... I’m sorry, I...”

He took a few steps back, looking panicked all of a sudden.

Trying to get the man to talk to him, Dean reached for him and grabbed him by his wrist.

“Hey, what’s wrong?”

Instead of answering, Cas just shook his head and a dreadful feeling took hold of Dean.

“Cas, have you ever been with a man before?”

Ripping his hand away, Cas moved further away from Dean, groaning. This time, however, his groan sounded positively pissed. One hand was in his hair, pulling at it, while the other one was holding up his pants. Dean would have laughed if the situation had not been so serious all of a sudden.

“Cas?”

“No, Dean,” Cas exclaimed, enraged. “No, I have not been with a man before, okay? And I have certainly not been with as many women as you have been. I’m... I mean... I... damn it.

Dean bit his tongue, sensing somehow that Cas’ anger was directed not at Dean but rather at himself. Or at something else, maybe. So he gave him time to form his words.

Soon enough, Cas found his words.

“I’m gay. And I’ve known this for a long time.”

Dean had had an inkling that Cas was not into women and since up until a few minutes ago he had also thought Cas was not into men, his best guess had always been that he was asexual. Because really, he had never shown any interest in people in that way at all.

There was another long pause after Cas’ admission, leading Dean to carefully respond with, “Okay,” because really, he had no idea what else to say. 

Apparently, it was the wrong thing to reply with.

“No, Dean, it’s not okay. Don’t you see? In my family, you aren’t gay. You just aren’t.” 

Usually, Dean would beg to differ. But he had met Cas’ family, so he might just agree in this case.

He was distracted from that thought when Cas went on.

“But... damn, I want you. I’ve wanted you... this... for so damn long. I want you to throw me on your bed and fuck me senseless. I want you to kiss me like there’s no one else for you, even though I know there are plenty. I want -”

“Woah, woah, Cas, wait a second,” Dean finally stopped him, trying hard not to let the image of Cas’ first request cloud his senses. “Let me clear one thing up, okay? There aren’t plenty. And if I had it my way, there would be no one else but you.”

“What?”

It was Dean’s turn to mess up his hair, slightly pulling it as he searched for the right words.

“I’ve been into you for a while, Cas. Much longer than you would believe. Fuck, I thought you were hot the first time I saw you. By the second time, I wanted to rip your clothes off, even though you clearly hated me. You have no idea how sexy you are when you get mad. And that was solely me being attracted to your looks.

They were staring at each other for a moment before Dean could continue.

“Now add to it that we became friends and I got to know you better. You and your quirky ways, and your moral code, and your wicked sense of humor. Now we even have to share a room and it’s driving me mad in the best way possible and... I don’t know.”

Taking a deep breath, Dean tried to get his thoughts back on track.

“I never thought there was even the slightest chance of you liking me back in this way. So, whatever else is upsetting you right now, believe me, you don’t have to worry about me sleeping around anymore. I haven’t for a while. I’m way too occupied with our cases. And with thoughts about you, to be honest.”

Cas was looking at him like he was lost. As if Dean’s admission confused him more than it had cleared things up.

“That was unexpected,” he finally replied, sitting down on the foot of Dean’s bed, looking defeated. “The thought of me being just another fuck for you…” Looking up at Dean, he told him earnestly, “It’s what helped me stay away from you. I didn’t want to make our partnership weird by a crazy one-night stand. Which was a perfect excuse to ignore my growing feelings for you.” His gaze turned apologetic. “It was easier than having to face reality. Having to actually admit that I’m gay, no matter how much my family would disapprove of it.”

“Well, it’s not like you have to rub it in their faces, right? Not that we would be allowed to officially have a relationship anyway. I’m your Unit Chief, after all.”

“Oh God,” Cas groaned, burying his face in his hands. “What are we doing here? This is wrong on so many levels.”

Before Dean could reply, Cas’ head snapped back up, his blue eyes fixing him.

“And I still don’t care. I want you too damn much.”

Dean had to swallow hard at this admission. He was still leaning against the wall, unable to move. Yet, he certainly needed to know one detail.

“With ‘wrong on so many levels,’ you mean...”

Cas was already rolling his eyes, getting up again. “No Dean, I do not mean being gay. I mean that you’re my boss. That we’re partners. That we’re on a mission and that our team is actually out there, probably working on the case right now.”

“To be fair, they’re most likely all asleep by now-”

Dean.”

“Alright, alright, I get it. But what do you want me to say, huh?” he asked, not giving Cas a chance to answer. “I know all that, and I still don’t care, okay? What I care about right now is you. Call me selfish but right now, I wanna clear up whatever this is between us. And whatever it is that made you stop. Because if we don’t, my mind will certainly not go back to this case. It will keep replaying the way we were making out and it will be constantly repeating your whole ‘throw me on the bed and fuck me senseless’ request. So forgive me but the FBI and everything to do with it can fuck itself right now.”

“Dean-”

“Cas, I’m serious. And most importantly, I wanna know... I need to know if I did something that made you uncomfortable. Because if so-”

“No,” Cas interrupted him, stepping closer again. “No, Dean, you certainly didn’t. You did nothing I wasn’t completely fine with.”

“You sure? Because when you pulled away-”

“I was just astonished by my own boldness,” Cas explained, voice strong and honest. “Also by the way I reacted to you. And when I suddenly felt you, hard in my hand…” 

He swallowed hard, closing his eyes for a moment, making Dean wonder if he was replaying that moment in his head just like Dean was. 

“I guess I just realized in that moment what I was about to do.”

Dean nodded, knowing what was about to come. 

“And you’re not ready for that, I completely understand and I apologize-”

“Woah, what? No. No, Dean, I never said that.”

“You didn’t have to. Cas, look, it’s perfectly fine to freak a little-”

“Dean, stop,” Cas ordered, his voice clear and strong. “Do not mollycoddle me about this or pretend like you know my reaction better than I do. I’m a grown man, I know what I want.”

“I didn’t-”

“I know I just freaked, and I’m sorry. But that wasn’t because I don’t feel ready-” he stopped himself for a moment, then started over. “Okay, I admit, maybe it was a bit fast, or too rushed and heated. But I certainly want this. I want it all and I want it with you. I just needed... a moment to think, I guess. And maybe to let you know that I’m not as experienced as you might be used to with your partners. Is that okay for you?”

Instead of answering him right away, Dean watched the man in front of him for a moment. His slight frown was back, proving that Cas was annoyed about something and Dean guessed it was him right now. But under the frown, there were clear blue eyes. 

Eyes that held no trace of fear, just sureness and heat. Maybe Cas wanted this a bit too much, maybe to prove something - to himself or to Dean, he wasn’t sure. But in the end, it was his decision to make, not Dean’s.

It was Dean’s decision only in regards of his part - and he was certainly on board with devouring Cas right here and right now. It would be Cas’ decision if he wanted it as well; that was not a decision Dean would make for him because Cas was right, he was a grown man who could speak for himself. If he said he wanted this, even if he was a bit unsure, then Dean would not disregard that.

No, he would just make damn well sure to help Cas overcome his insecurity.

Pushing away from the wall, Dean moved over to Cas, cupping his cheek with one hand.

“I don’t care how experienced you are or aren’t. As long as you promise me something.”

“What’s that?”

“To tell me honestly if there’s anything you don’t like me or us doing, okay? Don’t you think, for even a second, you have to compare yourself to my previous partners or that you have to compete with them, understood?”

“Yes,” Cas promised, his voice already roughened again but still strong and honest.

That was all Dean needed to hear. “Good.”

When his lips met Cas’ this time, the kiss was much softer, Dean taking his sweet time with him. Cas’ hands were already back on him but he caught them before they could make their way back into his pants. At Cas’ growl, Dean chuckled and softly bit his lower lip.

“Patience. No need to rush it.”

“Dean, I swear, if you go all soft and mushy on me now, I’ll kill you.”

“Not wanting to rush and going mushy are two different things,” Dean told him, squeezing Cas’ asscheeks, hard. Grinning at the way Cas’ eyes rolled back before he closed them, the man slightly leaning into him. “I know this might be a novel concept to you but, how about trusting me? For once?”

Cas’ only reply was to nod, not even a cheeky comeback or an admonishment. Dean took that as a good sign, going back to devouring Cas’ mouth. Without any hesitation at all, Cas opened up to him, letting his tongue in and exploring Dean’s mouth in return.

When he was sure Cas was distracted enough, he got rid of his slacks and turned them just right. At the last moment, he picked Cas up and - following his request - half threw, half dropped him on the bed. Grunting, Cas looked up, a playfully lecherous grin on his lips. Dean was back on him before he could even get a word out.

The rest of Dean’s clothing was gone soon enough, Cas’ hands moving and stroking all over his body. He was trying too hard, still nervous and overly excited all at once, Dean could tell. On the spur of the moment, he decided to do something to get all this pent up energy out of Cas.

Breaking their kiss and without any detour or preamble, Dean moved further down the bed, taking Cas’ cock in his mouth and deepthroating him.

“Jesus, fuck.”

Dean should probably worry about them being too loud but tasting Cas for the first time was heavenly. He didn't even care how cheesy that sounded.

All too soon, it was proven that Cas really had not that much experience when it came to sex. It took Dean just a few minutes to have him reach his breaking point. Dean pulled back in the last possible moment, using his hand to help Cas ride out his orgasm.

Looking up, he could not help but smile at the view. Cas was still writhing on the sheets but his movements had become softer now, lazy. There was a blissed-out smile on his face and a beautiful blush on his heaving chest.

Quickly cleaning his hand on the sheets - Dean had a hunch neither of them would be sleeping in this bed later on anyway - he moved back up, catching Cas’ lips in a searing kiss before the man had even come down from his high. He could feel Cas’ hands back on his waist, much more relaxed now, softly stroking over Dean’s skin.

Ending their kiss, he looked down at Cas, the man still needing a moment before opening his eyes. When his blue ones finally met his, Dean couldn’t help but smile.

“Better now?”

Nodding, one of Cas’ hands found its way into Dean’s hair, softly pulling his head back down. Dean chuckled but obliged, letting himself be led into a kiss, for now happy to feel Cas’ crotch pressed against his own erection. He had always been one to enjoy savoring his lovers, not one to rush sex just to get off. He left that for quickies in bathroom stalls - not for when he had all the time in the world. 

And certainly not for when he finally had the man of his dreams in bed, willing and needy.

 

~*~

 

By the time the two of them lay next to each other, spent, content, and blissed out, Dean was sure he knew every inch of Cas’ body. Just as much as he was sure he would explore it all again first thing in the morning.

“Honestly,” Dean whispered, playing with Cas’ fingers. “This really wasn’t what I had in mind when I asked for a finder’s fee.”

Cas’ full-body laugh rumbled around the silent room as he rolled over, draping himself over Dean’s chest. 

“Shut up,” he muttered with a wide grin, “and kiss me.”

Needing no encouragement at all, Dean pulled Cas into a slow kiss.

It was moments like these that he enjoyed most. The tender, sweet ones. With peaceful closeness and lazy kisses.

Soon enough, Cas made himself comfortable on Dean’s chest, looking up at the man. 

“You know,” he began. “I think I know why I hated you so much when we first met.”

“You really did, didn’t you?” Dean threw in, brushing his fingers through Cas’ hair. “I often wondered if maybe you just hated what I did or if maybe you really were pissed I interfered with FBI business.”

“That added to the problem, I admit. But no, I really couldn’t stand you. But… much later, I came to realize that it wasn’t really because of you. It was the effect you had on me.”

Dean was certainly intrigued.

“I have always known I’m gay. But you know my family. I had to hide it from such an early age, I had myself convinced for many years that I could be ‘normal.’ Even dated a few women, which usually ended because they thought I had lost my interest in them. To be honest, I was never interested in them to begin with but I had myself convinced that it was for the best and that I just had to try.”

While he confessed all this, he drew circles on Dean’s chest, following his finger rather than looking Dean in the eye. But his voice sounded normal, no unease to be detected.

“Then I met you, a guy who was just openly who he is, not caring for what others would think of him. Not a care in the world, really. At least that’s how I saw you and I envied that. I envied you - and at the same time, I wanted you. Badly. You brought back feelings I had thought so long and well buried and it drove me crazy and made me hate you even more. And the more we ran into each other, the more I got angry at myself for reacting to you in such a way.”

“What made you change your mind? I mean, what made you offer me a job that would guarantee we would see each other even more often?”

“Aside from you being perfect for this job, I have to admit that it was my own pride. I let myself believe that I was stronger than this. Or that my desire for you would just wear off with time.”

He pressed his lips to Dean’s sternum before finally looking back up at him, smiling.

“Obviously, I was very, very wrong.”

“Thank God for that,” Dean replied, pulling Cas in for another kiss.

 

Chapter Text

~*~ Chapter Twelve ~*~

~ Now ~

A soft knock pulled Dean out of his memories. He knew his behavior hadn’t been fair towards Cas but he just couldn’t help it. Over the years, finder’s fee had become such a monumental part of their relationship. It wouldn’t always lead to sex, of course, but a kiss was their usual ‘fee’. They had even started saying it in public, sometimes. Of course, in those instances, no kiss would follow but their gazes would always hold a promise for later that night.

Finder’s fee was ingrained into both of their systems. And now, Cas had forgotten even that.

“Dean?”

Leaning the back of his head against the wall, Dean prayed for strength - but it seemed, God wasn’t listening. His tears would still come, slowly running down his cheek.

“Dean, please. Can we talk?”

“Please go away.” 

It hurt so much to say these words but he really could not deal with this right now. He couldn’t explain this away, couldn’t pretend it was just a joke between two friends. Even if he could stop his tears, he just could not tell such a lie.

When Cas spoke again, his voice was closer, more on Dean’s head level.

“I will leave you alone but I need to know something first. You promised to answer all my questions.”

Closing his eyes, Dean softly banged his head against the wall, once, twice, three times. Not enough to make a loud noise but enough to hurt. He wanted to numb himself, wanted to stop thinking, to stop feeling.

To stop hurting so much.

It did not help but he replied anyway. “What do you wanna know?”

“Once we became friends, have I... I mean, did I ever tell you why I hated you so much in the beginning?”

Why? Why was God so cruel. In how many more ways would he be able to hurt him?

“Yes,” he admitted, hardly able to breathe.

Cas’ next question, however, made time stop.

“Am... am I out?”

Cas knew.

He had to, that was the only explanation for the direction his questions were taking. He knew something was going on, Dean had given himself away.

Sure that by now Cas trusted him enough again to not get him into trouble, Dean wiped away his tears while replying. 

“To some, yes. Most of our team and the rest of the FBI don’t know.”

Please don’t ask, please don’t ask, please don’t ask.

“Dean...”

Please. Please.

“How long have we been in a relationship?”

For just a fracture of time, Dean wasn’t able to breathe at all - but within a heartbeat, the tightness around his chest loosened and relief warmed his heart.

He had not expected Cas to word it like this. He had expected him to ask if they were in a relationship at all and that would have hurt so much, he just knew.

But Cas had not asked that. Cas already knew, he just wasn’t sure about the amount of time. Somehow, that was easier to handle. Somehow, it took some of the pain away.

“About six years now.”

When there was no reply, Dean slowly reached up and unlocked the door, opening it a tiny crack. Cas was sitting on the other side of it.

“I’m so sorry,” he whispered. “I’m sorry that I’ve forgotten about my love for you.”

Dean pushed the door further apart before he leaned his head against the wall again, looking over to Cas. The man moved just slightly, just enough so Dean could see him better. There were tears in his eyes as well.

“It’s not your fault,” Dean replied softly.

Cas looked at him. “Maybe not, but I’ve hurt you, haven’t I?”

He searched his eyes and Dean knew there was no need for him to answer that question.

“I reverted back to hating you. I distrusted you. And I guess there are many things I did or didn’t do that hurt you, simply because it’s something that has become normal for you. For us.”

“Yes,” Dean admitted gently, seeing no good in lying about it. “So far, it was bearable. I just had to remind myself every now and then that it’s not really you. That you couldn’t know.”

“But not with this... finder’s fee, was it?”

Dean swallowed hard and nodded.

“Will you tell me?”

“Maybe. But not right now. I just...”

“I get it, Dean, really. It hurts too much, doesn’t it?”

Nodding again, Dean wiped away a tear.

“I’m sorry, Cas. Really. I didn’t mean to... to let you see me like this. None of this is your fault. If at all, it’s mine.”

“How on earth could this be your fault?”

The way Cas said it had Dean huff a teary laugh. Just two months ago, Cas had woken up, blaming Dean for everything that happened without a second of hesitation. Now, he couldn’t believe Dean to be at fault. A lot had changed in such a short time.

“We had a fight. That morning of our mission. We had a fight and... and...”

“And you think I was distracted because of it?” he finished what Dean was unable to put into words. “Can you tell me what the fight was about?”

Could he?

It was hard, really. But he’d also promised to be honest to Cas. He’d already denied explaining ‘finder’s fee’, so he couldn’t decline a second time.

“When we started this relationship, we’ve both agreed that kids would never be for us. For one, our jobs are too dangerous, and two, we’re still keeping us a secret, so how would we explain kids? But that morning, I had just heard from Sam that Eileen is pregnant with their second child.”

It had been stupid, really. And thinking about it now, Dean once more regretted every word he’d said or hadn’t said that morning. 

“I don’t know about the man I am now,” Cas told him, “or what he’s been through in those ten years but... I have actually always wanted children.”

“I know,” Dean replied. “So did I. But I guess we’ve both just seen enough evil in this world. And with our jobs, it was probably the right decision we made.”

“But hearing about your brother changed something? Or made you question that decision?”

“Not really, no,” Dean said truthfully, remembering that morning and his feelings. “No, I don’t even know what happened. I just mentioned that I was happy for Sam and then you wondered if I wasn’t happy with our decision anymore and then... I don’t know, suddenly we were fighting over the topic. Which, in hindsight, was stupid because we were both on the same page. We both agreed to what the other said. It wasn’t really that we were angry with each other... more with the whole situation itself, you know?”

“Yeah, I get what you mean.” 

They were both quiet for a while, most likely both deep in thought, before Cas spoke again.

“And we didn’t solve our fight before going to work?”

He moved a bit, just enough to lean his back against the doorframe, watching Dean.

“No,” he admitted, heavy with remorse. “Which was a first for us. We promised each other to never go to bed or to work without solving any disagreements. I just wish we had stuck to that promise.”

Cas watched him for a few silent moments.

“You really do blame yourself for this, don’t you?”

“I mean,” Dean began, interrupting himself to sigh and think about it for a moment. “I know you’re not infallible, even though you’re a damn good agent. I just feel like... like, if we hadn’t had this fight, maybe you wouldn’t have been so distracted. Maybe none of this would have happened. Maybe-”

Maybe is a really strong word, don’t you think? And still somehow cowardly*.”

“Cowardly?” Dean asked, confused.

“Yeah,” Cas confirmed. “It leaves too many possible alternatives that seem to be better, more agreeable. What if this, what if that, maybe... all these things just lead to people trying to evade reality.”

Dean couldn’t help but look at him, watching as Cas continued to explain.

“Yes, maybe our fight distracted me. And yes, maybe all this wouldn’t have happened without it. But then again, I also believe that everything happens for a reason.”

“God, I always hate when you say that,” Dean groaned, leaning his head back against the wall.

They were both chuckling about it for a moment before Dean sobered up again.

“I know it’s like your life’s motto. But please, I’m begging you, tell me what could possibly be a good reason for all of this?”

“Well, for one, I don’t think we would have had such a conversation if it hadn’t been for my memory loss -”

Dean scoffed about that. Of course not, there would have been no reason to. On the other hand, he did get what Cas meant. 

They still shared honest and deep conversations with each other, but… yeah, after six years they knew almost everything about each other and everything had become normal to them, somehow. Not particularly in a bad way but still...

Cas did not let himself be distracted by Dean’s scoff and continued right away.

“I also wouldn’t have had the chance to fall in love with you for the first time all over again.”

Sure that his heart had stopped for a moment there, Dean stared at Cas, completely baffled. He had seen Cas fall for him again, had suspected it, really. But he would not have thought he would admit to it so freely and so soon. Back then, it had taken years of pining and flirting, skirting around each other, pulling back and forth. 

And now, Cas just said it.

“I hope that’s okay for you?”

“Okay? God, Cas,” Dean pressed out, his tears welling up again. He let his face sink into his hands, overwhelmed by Cas’ admission.

He noticed the movement but was still surprised when he felt Cas touch on his hands, pulling them away. Dean let him, sniffing and holding his husband’s gaze. Cas was looking intently at him. After a moment, he let go of one of his hands, wiping away Dean’s tears instead. 

Dean had to close his eyes. 

Feeling Cas’ touch again, after such a long time, was exhilarating and too much all at once.

“It has also made it possible that I’ll get another first kiss from you. If you’ll let me,” he added.

Normally, Dean would have argued. Would have told him that he shouldn’t feel obligated. But, new Cas or not, he knew his man. He knew Cas wouldn’t say this if he hadn’t thought about it already and if he wasn’t absolutely sure that he wanted to.

So, all Dean did was to give a slight nod, his eyes still closed. 

After a moment, Cas’ other hand traced the tear streaks on his other cheek, softly wiping away any trace of sadness. Dean had always been amazed about how gentle these rough hands could be. He had seen them kill countless creatures, slaughter them mercilessly. And yet, when it came to Dean, they were loving and kind.

When Cas placed both hands on Dean’s cheeks, Dean automatically raised his head just a little. Just enough to have the perfect angle. 

The moment Cas’ lips found his, Dean had to force himself to keep still. The kiss was shy - as shy as Cas had never really been. This was new to Dean and it made the whole moment so much more special. Maybe Cas was right after all. Maybe everything did happen for a reason.

The thrill he got from Cas’ shyness was amazing. Not that he would say it made the whole ordeal worth it, God no. But it was at least something... a start to repay for it all.

All those thoughts flew right out the window, along with his self-restraint, the moment Cas’ tongue traced his lips. Right away, Dean opened up to him, groaning softly. He couldn’t help himself, his arms winding around Cas, pulling him into his lap. His heart jumped when he felt no hesitation, no holding back. 

All shyness gone, Cas crawled even closer, one leg on either side of Dean. His hands were in Dean’s hair and, oh God, had he missed this. The kiss quickly turned from shy to hungry and Dean certainly wouldn’t complain. Especially not when Cas’ started to softly pull his hair and scrape his fingers over Dean’s scalp. Breathing heavy, Dean had to break the kiss to let out a groan and actually get some air.

“Fuck,” he whispered.

Cas’ rough chuckle didn’t help at all to calm him down. “I take it you like that?” he asked teasingly, his fingers still playing in his hair.

“Yes.”

Dean’s voice was nothing more than a breath, almost instantly swallowed by Cas’ lips again. He tried to let Cas control this, tried to not push too much. But he couldn’t help himself, his arms pulling Cas impossibly closer, no room left between them. 

He also couldn’t help himself chasing Cas’ lips when the man pulled away even the slightest bit to breathe. The hands in his hair were still driving him nuts but they also let him know that it was okay. That Cas didn’t feel uncomfortable. It seemed he was just as into this as Dean was.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, he remembered Cas’ reaction the first time they had kissed like this. The first time they had gotten this close. And he certainly kept mindful of any kind of reaction like Cas’ panic back then.

That reaction, however, never came. It might have been because Cas already knew that they were a couple, that they were okay, that they were each other’s safe haven. Whatever it was, it was amazing because Cas completely let loose, kissing Dean with all he got.

And for just the slightest of moments, Dean was able to forget that Cas had forgotten about him.

 

~*~

 

How long they stayed like this, Dean was unable to say. At one point, their kisses ended and while they tried to catch their breaths, Dean buried his face in Cas’ neck, avoiding reality for just a few moments longer. He didn’t want to let go, didn’t want to go back to a world where Cas had forgotten about them and all they held dear.

Although, if this was anything to go by, maybe they could start over. Maybe having Cas fall for him all over again would be kind of thrilling.

Maybe is such a cowardly word.

Cas’ words resounded in his mind. So maybe, he should stop thinking so much and instead take reality as it came. 

Because everything happened for a reason, right?

“Dean?”

The question was whispered, as if Cas didn’t want to ruin the moment. A fact that Dean greatly appreciated. He made a grunting noise in acknowledgement, too lazy to move his head and to answer.

“Who all knows about us?”

Taking a last deep breath - inhaling Cas’ fragrance was intoxicating and he couldn’t believe he was finally able to take it in again - Dean raised his head. He peppered little kisses along Cas’ jaw, before finally leaning back. Still holding Cas close, he looked at him with a content smile while he answered.

“Sam and his family, Charlie, and Gabriel. Also a few old friends but they don’t live in town.”

“Sam I get. Charlie, I guess because she is such a close friend of yours?”

Dean nodded in reply. “Yeah. Besides, we’d been each other’s wingmen too often for me to hide from her.”

Cas’ frown appeared on his face, making Dean chuckle before he kissed the frown away.

“Don’t look like that. You knew about my time as a philanderer all along.”

“So, I’m okay with that fact by now?”

Dean didn’t have to think about that for even a second. “No. Absolutely not,” he told Cas with a wide grin. “But you know I’m the most faithful soul, so you’ve kinda found your peace with it.”

“Am I still getting jealous?”

“All the time.” Moving his legs so Cas fell a little closer towards him, Dean hugged him close again. “But it always makes for great sex afterward.”

He’d never seen his husband turn red so quick and he would have laughed, had it not been so endearing.

Clearing his throat, Cas quickly moved on.

“Okay, so Charlie because you wouldn’t have been able to hide it from her. And because you trusted her.”

“You as well. We’ve never made this decision alone. Who we would tell and who not was always something we both had to agree on.”

“I think after the past few weeks, I also understand why I would trust Gabe enough to come out to him.”

Dean nodded. “Yeah, I know you hadn’t seen him in years until that mission shortly before the SDA started. But ever since he returned and joined us at Quantico, you’ve grown impossibly close. If he wasn’t your brother, I would have reason to be jealous.”

“If you’d told me this in the beginning, it would have been hard for me to believe. But now... now that I got to know him again, I guess I can see it.”

“You spend a lot of time together. Gabe likes to joke that it’s you two against the rest of your family. He actually found out on accident but he was thrilled you were so happy.”

“Gabe has always been the family’s rebel. I guess him keeping my secret isn’t the most unbelievable thing, actually.”

“Exactly.”

“So, what about the rest of the team?”

“Well, Noah is the new kid, obviously we haven’t told him. Ketch we trust on missions and all but he’s a stickler for rules so we are not exactly sure he wouldn’t rat us out. We’re sure he wouldn’t mind the fact that we’re two men in a relationship. More the fact that we’re two agents in the same unit.”

“That actually makes sense.”

“Yeah, I know,” Dean admitted, brushing Cas’ forehead with his lips before he continued. “As for your other family members, Dumah is a bit like Ketch, a stickler for the rules, so again we’re not sure if our secret would be safe with her. With Jack, we’re both sure he’s too naive to keep the secret. He always wants to see the best in people, especially his family. So we fear he might not see the same danger as we do, should our secret get out.”

Cas looked surprised at that. “We think he would rat us out even if we ask him not to?”

“Well, the way we see it, he probably wouldn’t think of it as ‘ratting us out,’ more like... helping us. So we can openly be with each other.”

Obviously mulling this over, Cas finally nodded. “The little I have gotten to know him now, this actually sounds like him. And Ana?”

“With her, we aren’t really sure. We’ve thought about it quite often, as of late. But we aren’t sure how she will react. So for now, we thought it would be safest to not get her involved.”

“And the rest of my family? Does anyone know?”

“No. You don’t even feel comfortable telling them you’re gay, so obviously, you wouldn’t tell them about us.”

Cas was quiet for a while, playing with the hem of Dean’s shirt. Every now and then, his fingers would brush Dean’s stomach, sending goosebumps all over his body. His legs were slowly falling asleep but he didn’t care. He wouldn’t care even if they fell off. It had been way too long since he had been allowed to hold Cas this close.

“How are you able to handle it?”

Confused, Dean looked back up from Cas’ hands to his face. 

“What do you mean?”

“I mean... this. Me. Having to keep us a secret for so long just because of my insecurities and-”

“Hey, woah, no. Nope, Cas, no,” Dean interrupted right away, making Cas look up at him by softly pulling his chin up with the knuckle of his finger. “Don’t even start that. It’s not your insecurities that keep us from telling everyone. It’s the rules of the FBI. One of us would have to switch units and neither of us wants that. It’s not your fault half your family is all over the FBI, forcing us to be careful. This really isn’t your fault, so don’t let your thoughts go there, you hear me?”

“But still -”

“You really think I would give up on us just because we’re living a life in secret? You clearly still need to get to know me much better then, Sweetheart.”

A small smile played around Cas’ lips, and Dean pulled him closer to kiss him just there.

“Nothing could ever force me away from you. I love you too damn much for that.”

 

Chapter Text

~*~ Chapter Thirteen ~*~

~ Now ~

When his legs started to hurt for real, Dean finally gave in, asking Cas to please get up.

“I’m old. I hurt much quicker now.”

“I’ve been sitting in your lap for a good hour now. I think you’re allowed to hurt by now.”

While Dean got up and shook his legs to get the feeling back in, he watched as Cas looked around the place.

“This isn’t really your room, right?”

“Course not,” Dean admitted. “It’s a guest room for those that know about us and a fake room for when guests should show up that don’t know about us.”

“Fake room?”

“Well, let me put it like this, over the past few weeks, I’ve been living the lie we tell everybody else. That we’re roommates.”

“I see. Well, now the big bed in ‘my’ room makes so much more sense.”

Dean laughed as he moved over to the closet where he pulled out the box with all their pictures and put it on his bed.

“Well, technically, you did select that one, so it wasn’t really a lie when I said you chose it.”

Rolling his eyes, Cas followed Dean to the bed, looking intrigued by the box.

“What’s that?”

“I thought, now that you know the truth, I could show you some of the pictures I had to hide. Would you like to?”

“Absolutely,” Cas instantly replied, diving for the first frame.

It showed the two of them during their first pride parade as a couple. They had traveled to San Francisco for this, to be far away from Cas’ family. They’d also made sure to stay clear of any cameras, except their own of course. Dean had pointed out now and then that it might still be too risky but ever since Cas had left the closet - even just for a few people to know - he’d been proud to join the pride parade. 

Sometimes, Dean wondered if he was playing with the fire on purpose. With the risk of being outed by the media or maybe even hoping for it. It was a theory Dean never dared to question out loud. He’d never had a problem with his own sexuality, so if this was Cas’ way of showing he was perfectly fine with his own, Dean would have his back.

He actually knew that Cas was confident in his own skin, even if he did not tell his family. No one would like the kind of drama he would get, so why the hell even bother?

The next picture showed them in Cas’ old apartment, cuddled close during a movie night with Charlie and Sam. Cas was already asleep on Dean’s chest, Dean absentmindedly playing with his hair while sleepily watching the movie. Charlie had taken this gem of a shot and given it to them as a present for their first year anniversary.

When Cas reached for the third picture, Dean held his breath, unsure of what to expect.

His husband stared at it for a moment, mouth agape, then looked up at Dean in wonder.

“We’re married.”

It wasn’t a question, more of a statement, full of wonder and even joy.

“How- I mean- I mean when? And- how?”

Dean smiled about this sweet reaction and reached for a DVD case in the box. It showed the same picture Cas was holding in his hands.

“How about I show you?”

 

~*~

 

~ Then ~

“It’s September 18, 2015, and here we see one of the grooms to be,” Charlie’s chipper voice sounded near the door and as Dean looked up, his best friend was standing there, holding up her camera. “Say hi, Dean.”

“Charlie, please. I’m nervous as hell and you’re not making this any better.”

“Dean, you’re on camera. Do you really want your future husband to hear that you’re nervous when you watch this movie in thirty years or so?”

“Well, for one, you can always edit it out. Two, I’m pretty sure he’s more nervous than me. And three, of course I’m nervous. I’m about to marry the love of my life in a secret ceremony, why wouldn’t I be nervous? I want this to be perfect, after all.”

“Aww,” Charlie replied, still relentlessly filming every moment. “This is so sweet. Totally stays on the tape.”

Dean only rolled his eyes as he finished tying his tie, giving himself one last once over. Just in time, as Sam knocked on the frame of the open door right then.

“Time to go, Dean. You ready?”

Taking a deep breath, Dean nodded before moving to the door. Charlie rushed ahead to be able to film every moment of when they would come in.

It was a lovely little venue they had chosen, nothing big for there were only their closest friends here to attend. Sam and Gabe were their best men, of course. Charlie was in charge of filming the event and Eileen, radiant from her first pregnancy, was taking pictures. Bobby was there and so were Jody and Donna. Even Benny had made it in time. They didn’t need more to be happy. They only needed this.

As Dean took his place next to Sam to wait for his fiancé, he couldn’t believe they were actually here. He couldn’t believe they’d actually gotten to this point.

And when Cas entered the room, Dean was hardly able to breathe, his heart so full of joy. He wanted to run to him, wanted to hold him and never let go. He loved this man so much and he still could not believe his luck of being asked by Cas to marry him. Right now, he was so overjoyed that Charlie was filming the whole ceremony, for it felt like it was moving all too fast and he would certainly have to watch it later on, over and over again, just to take it all in. A heartbeat or maybe one hundred later, Cas was right there with him, smiling and not looking away for even a second.

Dean was the first to speak.*

“The love I have for you...”

“... is a love that knows no bounds.” Cas completed the sentence, his smile deepening.

Dean returned the smile, concentrating to get the vows they had written together out correctly. 

“In times of joy as well as sadness...”

“... in sickness and in health...”

“... I will love you as my equal...”

“... and protect you above all else.”

They’d proven this to each other on so many occasions, neither of them would ever doubt these words to be truthful.

“I’ll share with you my truest feelings...” Dean promised from the bottom of his heart and Cas once more completed their vow.

“... and when you speak, I will listen.”

“I’ll catch you when you fall.”

Always. He would always be there for Cas, no matter what. Even if it would mean his own death.

“And when you soar,” Cas told him, his eyes shining. “I will help you reach your greatest heights.”

Dean needed a moment to catch his breath, Cas’ words ringing so true in his ears and in his heart.

“Castiel Novak,” he finally said as he took a step towards the man he loved so much.

Cas closed the last gap between them, while he replied, “Dean Winchester.”

And as they held hands, together they finished the last part of their vows.

“I am, and will always be, your loving husband.”

Dean hardly heard when the official told them, “It is my honor to pronounce you one,” already pulling Cas close for their kiss. Their friends broke into thunderous applause, Charlie even whooped as she threw some rose petals over their heads. Dean knew he absolutely would have to watch the video later to even realize what all had happened here. Because right now, right at this moment, all that counted was one thing.

Cas was his husband and he would always be.

 

~*~*~*~

 

~ Now ~

Cas couldn’t help himself, the tears wouldn’t be stopped.

“This is so beautiful,” he whispered after a while, trying to get his emotions in check as he watched their first dance to Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline, accompanied by many sweet laughs and kisses.

Dean’s hand was in his hair, softly massaging the back of his neck, drawing circles just where his hairline began.

“Why this song? It’s on one of the mixtapes as well.”

Dean’s voice was slightly raspy when he spoke.

“When we traveled around the country in Baby, you would often complain about my classic rock music. So one day, you switched out one of the tapes, forcing me to listen to your mix. This was the first song on that tape and every time you were able to sneak it in again, this would be the first song we would have to listen to. Sometimes I would leave it in, seeing how it made you happy, sometimes I would turn it off right away. Over time, this song… it simply grew on me and when we had to choose a song for our first dance, this was the one we thought of first. Somehow, along the way, this became our song.”

Hardly able to take his eyes off the reception, though

While the dance ended and the music changed to an upbeat song, Cas lay down, his head resting against Dean’s chest. Right away, Dean pulled him closer, pressing a kiss into his hair. Without needing to ask, Cas knew that they had a very affectionate, very loving, relationship and he could tell that Dean had missed moments like these.

He knew he would if they were suddenly denied to him.

Snuggling closer into Dean, they continued watching the video. Even though they had invited only a handful of people, it seemed they had the time of their lives. He recognized most of their guests and asked Dean about the others. When the camera zoomed in on Dean talking to a tall, bear-like man, while Cas could be seen dancing with Eileen, Cas once more had to ask.

“Oh, that’s Benny, old friend of mine.”

Abruptly, Cas looked up.

“Benny? As… as in the guy you went out with down in New Orleans?”

“Yep,” Dean replied, grinning. “That reminds me. I’ll have to send him a good bottle of whiskey, thanking him big time.”

Frowning, Cas asked why that was.

Dean’s grin turned wider. “Because it was he who told me to stop giving you space and… well… seduce you.”

“Excuse me?”

Dean broke into a belly laugh, shaking Cas as his body rocked with laughter. He pulled him closer again once he had calmed down, only a wide grin left.

“Is… is that what you’ve been doing these past two weeks? Seducing me?”

“Well, let’s just say… I went back to acting more normal around you again? I stopped being so damn careful and… well, look where it got us,” he finished, lovingly brushing a strand of hair away from Cas’ forehead.

Cas thought about that for a moment, finally admitting, “Guess I’ll have to thank him as well.”

“You don’t sound pleased by that,” Dean pointed out.

Cas shrugged his shoulders. “Well, I admit, I was slightly… I guess you can call it jealous when you left the hotel to meet with the guy. It just seemed like- like you had plans for that night.”

Dean stared at him for a moment before out of the blue, he broke into a quiet laughing fit, his shoulders shaking. 

“What?”

“God, Cas, I can’t believe this,” Dean wheezed out, his chuckles hardly contained.

“What’s so funny?”

“What the hell is it with you and Benny?” Dean asked, finally able to calm down enough to explain. “For whatever reason, you have always, always been slightly jealous of him. No one knows why, not even you. You know you have no reason to, you trust me completely, and you know Benny is straight. It’s just… just something you can’t shake and over the years, it’s become a sort of joke between the two of you. Because aside from your jealousy you actually like the guy.” Chuckling again, Dean still pressed out, “But now you don’t even remember the man and you’re still jealous of him.”

Cas wanted to glare at Dean for his obvious amusement about Cas’ feelings but really, it did sound funny, so his glare quickly vanished as he joined into Dean’s amusement, chuckling as well. 

As it seemed, Dean and Benny held a really close friendship - close enough that Benny was one of their inner circle, one of those that knew their secret. Close enough that Dean would tell him about their current issues and even take his advice on how to proceed.

Maybe, one day he would remember what his issue with the guy was. Right now, though, he didn’t care.

Instead, he leaned down to steal a long kiss from his husband - husband! - before getting comfortable again, resting his head on Dean’s chest.

However, he was hardly able to focus on the lovely reception, something else on his mind. It had been ever since he had heard their wedding vows.

Having missed a huge part of the reception already anyway, Cas had no qualms continuing their conversation, as he was already planning on watching their wedding again.

“Dean?”

“Mhhh?”

“I… I don’t want to give you any kind of false hope. But I think I’m actually remembering more parts of our lives than I thought at first.”

“You mean in your dreams?” Dean asked, his breath ghosting over Cas’ head, his hand wandering up and down Cas’ back.

Cas nodded. “Some lines from our vow sounded stunningly familiar. And… ehm…”

“What?” Dean softly urged.

“In many of my dreams, there was always this one phrase.” Looking up, he could see in Dean’s eyes that he already knew what would follow.

“Finder’s fee?” Dean whispered, so much hope in his voice it had Cas ache for him.

When he nodded to confirm, Dean gently pulled him closer, kissing him. 

Their lips were still almost touching, brushing against each other when Dean told him, “This is our finder’s fee.”

“A kiss?”

Were they really that sappy and sweet?

“Yeah, most of the times. Sometimes… it’s more.”

Trying not to think about that now, Cas pressed his lips to Dean’s, kissing him again.

“I bet there is a story behind that?”

“Oh yeah, there is. The first time I asked you for a finder’s fee, it was a joke and we were still only friends. But then you surprised me with a kiss that would change everything.”

“Wait,” Cas asked, raising his head further up to better see the man. “Wait, wait, wait. I kissed you? Me? I was the one to orchestrate our first kiss?”

Dean chuckled about his reaction and nodded.

“Oh, believe me, I was just as shocked as you.”

The story that followed sounded so unbelievable, Cas wished Dean had a video for that one as well.

Speaking of video, their wedding video was slowly coming to an end and as soon as Dean had finished the story of how they had gotten together, they settled down again, Cas insisting to rewind it almost all the way, starting with their first dance. Once more snuggled against Dean’s chest, Cas admired how amazing they looked together, how fluent their dance was, how sure Dean was leading him.

How absolutely gleeful and full of bliss they were, laughing and talking all through the dance, not a care for the world at all.

When the camera caught Eileen with a camera in the background, Cas suddenly realized something that had been amiss all along.

“Dean?”

“Mhhh?”

“Why don’t I have any pictures of us on my phone? Did you delete them all?”

“No,” Dean replied, his hand drawing circles on Cas’ back by now. “We don’t have any pictures on our work phones since they are the property of the SDA.”

“Oh. Yeah, makes sense.” He couldn’t help the sad note in his tone.

When Dean chuckled, Cas could feel the vibration. He was sure that he could get used to this feeling.

“We do, however, have thousands of pictures on our private phones.”

Leaning up slightly, Cas looked at Dean, astonished. “I have a private phone?”

“Sure.”

“Where?”

“In the top drawer of my nightstand. I took it out of our bedroom before you came home.”

“But… why?”

Dean simply shrugged, rubbing his hands up and down Cas’ arms.

“So I wouldn’t have to delete all the pictures on it. It’s not like you use it for much anyway, other than taking pictures and playing games.”

“Me? I play games on my phone?”

“Only all the time,” Dean replied with a laugh. “But hey, you haven’t missed it once, maybe you’re cured.”

Cas frowned at him. “Maybe if you let me play, some of my memories would be triggered.”

“Very funny,” Dean replied, pulling Cas back down to steal a kiss from him.

Quickly, Cas ended the kiss. “Let me watch the video or we will have to rewind again.”

“Hey, I’m not the one asking questions.”

Choosing to ignore this and instead turn his attention back to the reception, Cas soon saw a close-up of their hands. Biting his lower lip for just a moment, he gave in to his curiosity after all.

“Hey, Dean?”

“Mhhh?” By now, Dean sounded slightly amused.

“Where are our rings?”

“Also in the top drawer of my nightstand.”

“How… I mean… do we usually wear them?”

“Yeah, on a necklace.”

“Oh,” Cas replied, a bit disappointed when he realized he hadn’t seen Dean wear any kind of necklace at all over the past two months.

They were silent for a few moments and when Dean spoke again, it sounded subdued.

“Your necklace ripped off during your accident. Charlie found your ring just before we left the place. When she gave it to me, I put it on my own necklace, ready to give it back to you once you woke, only…” 

Dean swallowed hard, stopping himself for a moment.

“When I cleaned out our loft, packing up everything that was us-” there was a hitch in his voice but Dean still went on, “-I just couldn’t. My rational side argued that I would hardly be able to hide them here anyway, running around just in shirts.”

Or sometimes without a shirt, Cas thought but didn’t dare interrupt Dean.

“But really, it was just hurting too much. And it felt… it felt wrong somehow, wearing them when you wouldn’t.”

Dean finished his explanation with another kiss to Cas’ hair, burying his nose there for a moment. When he leaned back again, Cas looked up, resting his chin on Dean’s chest.

“Can I see them?”

“Sure,” Dean replied right away, getting up.

Cas moved just enough to let him off the couch, then made himself comfortable in the warm spot Dean had just left. Gazing after the man, he was deeply touched by all that he had just heard. The man he remembered from a time ten years ago had been a cocky bastard with a big mouth. This man, however… the real Dean Winchester had the biggest heart and Cas had hurt it without even realizing.

Before his thoughts could get too dark about this, Dean was back, sitting down on Cas’ other side, now that his place was taken. When he opened his hand, Cas gasped.

Their wedding bands were stunning, a core of platinum with a golden fringe. One of them held a very small diamond in its middle and right away, Cas knew that it was his. 

Carefully, he ran his fingers over it, whispering, “They are so beautiful.”

“Eileen was so sweet to get you a new necklace. But… I mean, I can keep them until-”

Knowing what Dean wanted to tell him and touched that he wasn’t going to push him into something Cas might not be ready for, he picked up his necklace. Without hesitation, he put it over his head, the ring resting against his chest, just over his heart.

For a moment, he watched it as it lay there, feeling the slight weight against his chest, a sense of rightness overcoming him.

When he looked back up, a single tear was running down Dean’s cheek. Leaning forward, Cas gently wiped it away, cupping Dean’s cheek for just a moment.

“Of course I’m gonna wear it.”

Then he picked up the other necklace, not looking away from Dean’s face, taking in his reaction. Something akin to relief seemed to wash over the man. Slowly, Cas put the necklace over Dean’s head, touching his chest once the ring rested over his heart again as well.

After a moment, he hooked his finger into the necklace, using it to carefully drag Dean closer. The man followed without hesitation, their kiss sealing their bond anew.

 

~*~

 

Their quiet moment was interrupted all too soon by Dean’s phone ringing with an emergency call. Seven children had gone missing in a known werewolf area - two days before the next full moon.

Cas and Dean were out of the door within minutes, driving directly to the airport for the FBI’s own jet. The SDA didn’t get to use it often but seven missing children certainly warranted extra treatment. 

The team was already there and at the last minute, Dean reminded Cas to hide his ring.

Soon after, they were up in the air, on their way to Kansas to save seven innocent lives.

 

Chapter Text

~*~ Chapter Fourteen ~*~

~ Now ~

“I see you guys are wearing your necklaces again.”

Dean looked up quickly, checking that no one was close enough to hear Charlie’s whispered comment. Turning back to the little kitchenette on the plane where he was currently preparing himself a coffee as well as some tea for Cas, he didn’t even try to hide his smile.

“Yeah, Cas figured it out. So we had a long chat. And I showed him the video.”

“Awww,” Charlie replied, quickly clapping her hand over her mouth when she must have realized that she was just a tad too loud.

Somehow, Dean didn’t mind.

“So, what does this mean now? Are you… back together, or something?”

“Well, for one, we had never split up-”

“Obviously.”

“And two… I don’t know? We’ve… we’ve kissed again but then we got interrupted by this case.”

“Dean, this is huge!”

“I know,” Dean replied, hiding his smile in his coffee mug.

“And his memories?”

Dean shrugged. “Still as before. But… if this is all I’ll get - a second chance with him - then I’ll take it.”

Looking over to where Gabe was talking to Cas, Dean was sure of his words. If he had to spend the rest of their days retelling old stories while having Cas fall for him all over again, then he would gladly take that over any dream world a Djinn could ever create for him.

 

~*~*~*~

 

The case had them run off their feet the next few days.

Not to draw any suspicion towards them, they checked into the hotel rooms in the same constellation as they had for the past two months, Cas sharing with Gabe, Dean with Jack. Not that Cas thought it might have changed anything if they had shared a room because the case was pressing, taking all their power and devotion. So it was probably good that they wouldn’t be distracted in such a manner.

The team was able to save the children but not before two of them got bitten. Obviously, they had packed what all was needed to create the cure, Ketch not hesitating to get the blood from the sire werewolf and Dumah handling the administration, calmly speaking to the bitten children.

After making sure that everything was taken care of, Cas excused himself and stepped up to the river to wash away the blood. He had no desire to go back to the hotel looking like a crazed out serial killer.

After he’d cleaned his hands, he cupped them together, splashing some of the fresh water against his face.

When he opened his eyes again, something white in the water caught his attention. He looked closer - when all of a sudden, the mysterious woman appeared, breaking the surface of the river.

“Holy shit,” Cas exclaimed, falling back on his rear, trying to scramble away from the shore.

“Castiel, come to me.”

Her voice rang soft and clear but in the next moment, the woman was gone again.

Cas was still staring at the spot when Dean’s face appeared in front of him.

“Cas? Hey, Cas, what’s wrong?”

“The woman. She was here.”

“Here? Where?”

“In the water. She- she just appeared out of the water, said something, and then vanished again.”

“What did she say,” Noah asked, standing behind him with the rest of the team.

Cas hated how worried they all looked once he told them, most of all Dean.

However, it was Noah who spoke up first, surprising them.

“Can I ask you something?” he inquired, crouching down next to him.

When Cas only nodded, he continued.

“This might come as a weird question but… could you tell me again what the last thing is you remembered before losing your memory?”

“What does this have to do with him having a stalker ghost?” Dean threw in harshly but Cas raised his hand to stop him.

Not knowing what Noah was playing at either, he still answered him.

“I was on a mission in Purgatory. Then my vision went black and I woke up in the hospital ten years later.”

“But wasn’t there something else? Something in between? At least I think you told us back when you woke up?”

Cas had to think about that for a moment, finally nodding.

“Yeah, I remember seeing Dean there, yelling at me to watch out. I remember being confused.”

“And before that? The first instance between your ‘old’ memories and the ‘new’ ones?”

“You mean the river?”

“Is that really the very first ‘new’ memory?”

“Ophis, what are you playing at?” Dean grumbled out again, obviously annoyed now.

When Cas nodded to confirm Noah’s question, the man looked thoughtful.

“Ophis!”

“I don’t know, boss. Yet, I mean,” he quickly added when Dean’s face darkened. “I- I have a hunch though.”

“Well, why don’t you spit it out?”

Noah swallowed, getting up again - maybe to get out of Dean’s immediate reach - before replying.

“I would rather look into this first if you don’t mind? Give me a day? We’re close to my family’s estate. I could go there, check my theory, and then meet you back at Headquarters tomorrow.”

“Why won’t you tell us now? Charlie could dive into it right here,” Dean replied, voice dark, threatening. 

When he saw Noah’s unease, Cas put a hand on Dean’s arm, trying to calm him down.

“Dean, it’s alright. We have enough to do with the clean up here.”

Turning back to Noah, he nodded. “Alright, go. We’ll see you tomorrow.”

Hesitant for just a moment, eyes flicking back to Dean, Noah finally nodded in reply, turned around and jogged back to where they had parked their cars.

 

~*~*~*~

 

That night Dean threw caution to the wind. After getting ready for bed, he put on just enough clothes to look presentable again and then went to Cas’ room. Gabriel opened the door for him, bag in hand, obviously anticipating that Dean would want to stay with his husband after the latest events.

Cautiously entering the room, Dean found his husband already in bed, sitting up against the headboard, legs pulled close and hugging them. 

He looked scared.

Not hesitating any longer, Dean stripped down to his boxer shorts and shirt and crawled into bed next to him. Right away, Cas snuggled into him, clinging tight, head resting on Dean’s chest.

Instantly, Dean could feel him relax, if only a little fraction.

“What is wrong with me?”

“Nothing,” Dean replied instantly. “But I could kick myself for not making sure this issue had priority.”

“Dean, this is not your fault.”

“You’ve been seeing her for almost two months now and all I did was take you to the hospital and have you tell Henriksen.”

He had a hard time not to explode, the warm presence of his husband thankfully able to keep him grounded.

“First thing tomorrow, I’ll tell Henriksen that our unit isn’t taking any other cases until this is solved.”

“Dean-”

“I’m not gonna discuss this, Cas. You have priority. And not just because you’re my husband.”

Cas was quiet after that, not arguing any longer. It gave Dean time to finally and fully enjoy this moment.

He had his husband back in his arms.

Pressing him closer, Dean was overcome with a wave of relief and warmth.

“Is… is this okay for you?” he asked calmly, lips close to Cas’ hair. “Or do you want me to take the other bed?”

“Don’t you dare move,” Cas replied, giving a good impression of a koala bear as he snuck his arm around Dean’s middle, clinging even further to Dean.

It had Dean’s heart soaring, so much so it almost ached. But it was a good ache. The kind of ache that made one feel like they couldn’t contain their heart and all their love and happiness any longer because it was so big and ever-growing.

Swallowing hard, Dean pressed a kiss to Cas’ hair. Not releasing him from his tight hold, he made himself comfortable and soon enough - with Cas’ soft snoring as a melody he had missed so much - he let sleep take over.

 

~*~

 

The next morning, some kind of weird energy was going on within the team. Everybody wanted to know what Noah had thought of and more importantly if he had figured out their problem. Charlie had spent the entire flight searching for anything that could be related to Cas’ ghost stalker but just like before, nothing fit.

Dean was still musing over their problem when he was already back in his office, trying to focus on his report. 

The knock on his door made everything stop, finally pulling him out of his musings. Taking a deep breath, Dean rubbed a hand down his face and called in whoever it was, hoping it was the man he was waiting for. 

Noah entered his office.

“Boss, I’m back. Do you have a minute now?”

“Sure. Did you find anything interesting?”

Noah took the seat across from Dean and dove right in.

“I think so, yes. There were a few puzzle pieces I had to add together first. Sorry about yesterday, I didn’t want to give you or Cas any false hope.”

“What are you talking about?”

Noah leaned forward. “I think his ‘stalker ghost’ is connected to his memory loss.”

“Come again?”

“Well, I didn’t connect it at first. But when Cas said she’d come out of the water, something just clicked. I’ve thought before that something about the way he lost his memories didn’t add up. After that incident, I was even surer.”

“Well, what is it?” Dean inquired. He was intrigued, especially since something about it had always bothered him as well.

“Okay, so we all thought it was the blow to his head that made him lose his memories, right?”

“Yes.”

“But Cas told us - and he confirmed it once more yesterday - that he remembered breaking the surface of the river and even seeing you standing there.”

“Again, yes.”

“Well, how is that possible?”

“What do you mean?”

Noah leaned forward, obviously eager to make Dean understand.

“If the blow erased all his memories of the past ten years, how can it be that he remembers the few short moments directly before it?”

“I... I don’t know,” Dean replied, his mind already racing to find an acceptable answer. “I mean, the mind is a complicated thing.”

Noah nodded at that. “Yeah sure. But... what if the blow to his head wasn’t really the problem all along.”

Dean’s head was spinning at that prospect. 

“Then what would be the problem? What are you thinking of?”

“As I said, I wasn’t sure myself and I didn’t want to give you false hope. So I did some digging first because I… I kind of know what Cas means to you,” he admitted very hesitantly.

Dean’s blood ran cold as he stared at the younger agent.

Right away, Noah lifted his hands.

“I’m not gonna say anything, I swear. And I surely don’t mind or judge or anything, really. I just thought you should know that… well… that I figured that out as well. Seeing you at the hospital like that…”

Dean closed his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose and prayed for strength. He wasn’t sure yet if he could trust the man just like that but it wasn’t as if he had a choice anymore. 

For now, there was a much more pressing issue and he finally wanted to know the answer.

Therefore, worrying about keeping their secret would have to wait for later.

“Can you just tell me what you found?”

“Oh, yeah, right, sorry. Does the name Lethe mean anything to you?”

 

Chapter Text

~*~ Chapter Fifteen ~*~

~ Now ~

“Okay, so,” Charlie began her presentation while Dumah hastily entered the room and sat down, completing their team. “Wikipedia is actually really helpful when it comes to this. It says here, ‘In Greek mythology, Lethe was one of the five rivers of the underworld of Hades. Also known as the Ameles potamos (river of unmindfulness), the Lethe flowed around the cave of Hypnos and through the Underworld, where all those who drank from it experienced complete forgetfulness. Lethe was also the name of the Greek spirit of forgetfulness and oblivion, with whom the river was often identified.’ A bit further down it also mentions that ‘it bordered Elysium’ and that ‘the shades of the dead were required to drink the waters of the Lethe in order to forget their earthly life’. If you ask me, all this sounds a bit too close to what we have here.”

“I can’t believe this,” Dean replied, rubbing his temple. “All this time, we waited for him to heal? Hoped to maybe trigger his memories? When we should have been out there, hunting what? A goddess?”

“Looks like it?” Charlie replied carefully, obviously getting that Dean wanted to punch something.

“We could have had him back? Months ago?”

“Dean,” Cas tried to calm him but Dean was furious.

Furious with himself, furious for not paying attention to detail.

Furious with Lethe for taking away his husband.

“Alright, what do we have to do? Kill her?” he bit out. Getting up, he stepped behind his chair and grabbed its back, trying to stay calm for a moment longer.

“We would have to research that further. Noah brought some tomes from his family’s estate with him and I raided the SDA’s library. All stuff on Greek mythology,” Charlie said, pointing to the thick books on the table. “I will go back to search online as well but I guess it would be good if it were all hands on deck.”

“Good, you guys do that. I have to check on something.”

He was hardly able to walk calmly over to his office. Hearing a chair scrub over the floor and knowing that no one else would be insane enough to follow him in this mood - no one but Cas - he left his door open.

The moment he heard it being closed and locked, his fist connected with the wall.

“Dean! Stop it.”

Cas was by his side, holding his fist in his hands. The skin over one of his knuckles was broken, a few droplets of blood leaking out. 

“I’m so sorry, Cas,” he said, vibrating with all the anger still inside of him. “I’ve failed you. I should have known-”

“No one could have known that,” Cas insisted, one hand on Dean’s cheek, forcing him to look into his eyes. “Let’s just be glad Noah figured it out. Now we have a chance to work on it.”

“But all these weeks-”

“Is nothing I will ever regret, okay?”

Cas’ hand was still making sure that Dean couldn’t turn his head. He still tried, only to be pulled back by Cas.

“Hey, look at me. You hear me? I don’t regret it. And you know why, remember?”

He waited for Dean to actually nod before he continued.

“I’m not saying it was perfect and I can only start imagining the amount of pain you went through and for that, I am so, so sorry. But... I don’t regret it.”

“How can you say that?”

“Can’t you see how amazing this really is? What a miracle it is that we reached this point a second time? I’ve overcome my homophobia twice - for you. I’ve overcome my bad impression of you for a second time - because I love you. I fell for you again. No matter what it is that’s been trying to push us apart, it couldn’t win. Because you never gave up on us.”

“I could never give you up,” Dean replied exasperatedly.

He was cut short by something he and Cas had promised themselves never to do at work. But he surely wouldn’t stop his husband from kissing him. It was chaste but strong, with purpose behind it. 

“Stop worrying about what if’s and maybe’s,” Cas soon whispered against his lips, his thumb soothingly stroking over Dean’s cheek. “Let’s make the best of it now. Let’s find this bitch and make her give me back my memories.”

Huffing out a laugh at Cas’ swear, Dean nodded in agreement. Giving in to his desire, he stole another kiss from Cas before composing himself and leaving his office.

As they got back into the conference room, Cas stilled by his side right away. Looking over at him, Dean saw that his eyes were glued to the whiteboard. Charlie had pulled up some pages, all of them showing beautiful women who looked vaguely similar.

“That’s her,” Cas breathed out.

Everybody in the room looked up, full attention on Cas.

“What?” Ana asked, her eyes narrowing.

Cas stepped forward, pointing to one of the pictures.

“That’s the woman I’ve been seeing. The stalker.”

Charlie had already clicked on said picture, pulling the accompanying article to the forefront.

“This artist claims to remember his former life,” she told them, scanning through the article faster than any of them could. “His last memory was of a woman who told him he would either go to hell for his sins or he would have to drink from her river to be reborn and lead a better life to be admitted to heaven. He claims it was the goddess Lethe.”

“It is, it’s her,” Cas confirmed. “And now it finally makes sense that I would be the only one able to see her. It really was her river I fell into - and somehow, I’m connected to her now.”

“But why would she be stalking you?” Dumah asked. “You’re not one of the dead.”

Shaking his head, Cas gloomily admitted, “I have no idea.”

 

~*~

 

They spent the next few hours buried deep in books, searching for any new information that could help them. Once again, it was Noah who found a solution to their problem.

“A stake?” 

“Yes,” Noah replied, paraphrasing what he had found in a book about deities in general. “It seems many deities are vulnerable to certain types of wooden stakes. They have to be made from trees common to the homeland or nation of the deity -”

“So... Greece?”

“Or Purgatory,” Ana threw in.

“As I take it, it’s more about the origin, so yes, Greece. They also have to be dipped in either a certain kind of blood or water.”

“Eww,” Charlie replied, already typing away again on her laptop. “Okay, so it seems the most typical tree for Greece would be an olive tree. Let me just check - yep, we do have some wood down in the warehouse.”

“Why would the FBI have that in its warehouse?” Cas asked, confusion written all over his face.

Charlie just shrugged her shoulders. “I guess the SDA has a lot of stuff down there that could be used for rituals. Okay, now for the other ingredient, let me google a bit more.”

They hadn’t found much more by the time Henriksen came in and ordered them to go home. Dean wanted to protest but he could also see how tired and drained his team was. No matter what else they would be able to find out now, they wouldn’t be able to go after Lethe right away anyway. 

As Unit Chief, Dean knew that. And he knew he had to make sure his team was refreshed before a potential fight.

But as Husband?

Taking as many books with him as he could carry, Dean already knew he would read the whole night.

 

~*~*~*~

 

They didn’t talk on their way back home and they didn’t talk during dinner.

Cas knew that Dean was still beating himself up over not solving this puzzle any sooner. Once again, he thought it was all his fault and Cas’ heart hurt seeing him like this.

Once dinner was done, Dean left for his room without a further word, the bag with all the tomes over his shoulder. Cas stayed back, soon moving to the bathroom and thinking about just turning in early. He took a shower to soothe his nerves but by the time he was lying down in bed, he was still wide awake.

All he had told Dean had been true.

He really did not regret what had happened to him, even though he admitted that Dean had probably been hurt more in the process than he himself had. Of course he missed his husband. Of course it wasn’t easy for him.

But Cas still saw the good in all this.

About an hour after going to bed, Cas was still tossing and turning. His alarm crept closer to midnight and still his mind couldn’t find any peace.

On the spur of the moment, Cas got up and left his room.

Light shone from under the door to Dean’s room, telling him the man was still awake. His soft knock was answered with a surprised sounding, “Come in.”

“Hey,” he greeted, not really knowing how to proceed from here.

Dean was launching on his bed, all the tomes spread around him. He looked tired but determined, dark circles around his eyes that Cas had been noticing for quite a while now.

“Hey, Cas. Thought you were already in bed.”

“I couldn’t sleep,” he admitted, still rooted to his spot, unsure if what he wanted was something Dean could get behind. “Too much on my mind.”

“Yeah, I get that,” Dean replied, pinching the bridge of his nose as if to avert a headache. “Can’t sleep either. This thing with Lethe...”

“Actually,” Cas threw in when Dean didn’t continue his thought, “it was rather something else that kept me awake.”

Getting up and sitting on the side of his bed to drink some water, Dean looked back up at Cas. “What’s that?”

Taking a deep breath, Cas pushed away from the doorframe, slowly crossing the room. “I... I don’t know how to say. I’d rather show you.”

“Show me what?” 

Dean’s eyes followed Cas and when he stepped up close, his legs opened up automatically, letting Cas stand between them. Cas cupped Dean’s face in his hands, softly stroking the dark circles under his eyes.

“Cas?” Dean asked, his hands already on Cas’ hip, holding him steadily.

Without any words, Cas leaned down, capturing Dean’s lips hesitantly. It didn’t take long for Dean to respond, even pulling him closer.

With every passing minute, with every move of Dean’s lips, Cas grew bolder. Crawling into Dean’s lap, he opened up to the man, let him explore his mouth. Dean pulled him closer still, his arms circling Cas’ waist. It wasn’t long before Cas could feel him respond, the erection against his own causing him to break their kiss for just a moment.

“Is this okay for you?” he whispered, needing to make sure.

Dean was tracing his jaw with gentle fingers. “Why wouldn’t this be okay for me?”

“Because... because I’m not really me. I’m not the Cas you know and... and I’m not sure if this is okay with you.”

“Cas. ‘I’ll catch you when you fall,’ remember? And ‘I am, and will always be, your loving husband.’ Those weren’t just words. Those were promises. You are my husband, with or without your memories.”

“But back in the conference room...”

“What?” Dean prompted softly as he cupped Cas’ face, his thumb gently stroking over Cas’ lips.

“You said something about ‘getting me back’.”

Dean flinched, probably remembering his outburst.

“I didn’t mean it like that. Cas, of course I wish we could have your memories back, sooner rather than later. But... do you really think, after these past few months, do you really think I wouldn't want you, even if you never got your memories back?”

“Really?”

“Oh, Sweetheart. Of course. God, Cas, I love you. I. Love. You. Your missing memories won’t change that.”

When Cas gave him a soft smile for that, Dean gave him a peek on his lips in return before talking again.

“Is this why you couldn’t sleep? Because you thought I wouldn’t want you anymore in case we didn’t get your memories back?”

“No,” Cas answered honestly. “No, it was more... because of what we’d just started.”

He could feel the heat rising at the back of his neck and Dean’s grin really didn’t make it any better. If anything, it intensified it.

Trying to distract himself, he continued, his explanation rather mumbled. “I just... I got sidetracked. Thinking of what you might think of this situation and... well, I’m sure what I want I just wasn’t sure if you would want it and -”

“Hey, Cas?”

“Yeah?”

“Shut up and kiss me.”

The grin on Dean’s lips told him that this phrase had some kind of meaning to them but instead of worrying about it, he followed Dean’s request willingly, sighing in relief when their lips met again.

He was just about to dig his fingers into Dean’s hair, when the man stopped the kiss abruptly. 

“Okay, no. Sorry, not here.”

“What?” Cas asked, confused, worry already creeping back in.

Dean’s quick kiss did little to appease him, especially since the man got up right after, forcing Cas to his feet as well. Once more, Dean left a searing kiss on Cas’ lips that left him breathless, before he moved over to his nightstand and pulled something out of it.

“It’s just... it’s this room. Sorry, Cas, I didn’t mean to scare you but -” he turned back around, reaching for Cas’ hand and pulling him closer. “Could we move this to our room?”

Getting the meaning of all this at last, Cas nodded and leaned in, letting Dean kiss him again. In no time at all, they’d crossed the living room and while Dean asked Cas to go ahead, he himself made a quick stop in the bathroom. 

As he could hear the water running, he was trying not to freak. He had wanted this to be quick, something natural, kissing leading to sex without giving him much time to think.

Now their moment had been interrupted and even though he could understand it from Dean’s point of view, it gave him too much time to think about his insecurities and the old phobia hammered into his mind.

He had been so preoccupied, he hadn’t even heard Dean enter their room. Strong arms wound around his middle, pulling him close, the hot breath on his neck sending pleasant chills up and down his body.

“You have no reason to freak, Sweetheart.”

“I’m not-”

Dean’s chuckle was deep, husky, and Cas closed his eyes at the sound, hardly able to breathe.

“This picture looked too familiar. I know you were trying not to but you were actually freaking. And it’s okay. But you have no reason to, I swear.”

“Did I ruin our first time because of it?”

“No,” Dean replied without hesitation, kissing a sensitive spot right behind Cas’ ear that left him a trembling mess in Dean’s arms. “No, our first time was perfect.”

“Wow, no pressure there.”

Dean chuckled again, turning Cas in his arms. “Why would there be any pressure on you, Cas? I’m the one who has to make our second first time just as amazing as the first, so you will have the same pleasant memory I have.”

Sure that Dean was mostly joking, Cas let himself melt against the man, soaking up his warmth and letting it chase away any insecurities. Dean’s lips left a hot trail of kisses on his temple, his forehead, and his hairline. The smell of freshly showered Dean lay under his shirt and Cas overcame the urge to feel it, to taste every part of it. Letting his hands wander under Dean’s shirt, he pulled it up, no resistance at all. The shirt wasn’t even removed fully when Cas’ lips and hands were already on Dean’s skin.

So smooth and warm. 

A soft groan left his throat.

Dean’s hands were hot on his waist, his own shirt being pulled up, followed quickly by his sleep pants. He didn’t mind at all, the thin garment doing little to hide his erection but a lot to annoy him, as it was in the way of feeling Dean fully.

He was pulled close again, his groan being swallowed by Dean. He hadn’t noticed that Dean had undressed himself as well, the first contact with Dean’s hardness leaving him lightheaded. He clung to Dean, letting the man devour his mouth, while he tried not to rut against him like a horny teenager. 

No real idea how he’d gotten enough authority over his legs again, Cas pulled Dean with him, slowly walking them to their bed. Dean followed willingly, stopping at just the right moment and turning around, so he could sit down first. Without breaking their kiss, he pulled Cas back in his lap, bringing them back in the same position as before. The one he had interrupted earlier.

Only now, all their clothes were gone and Cas couldn’t help himself but to move his hips up and down, rubbing against Dean. The feeling of his own cock against Dean’s was like nothing he could have imagined.

After a moment, Dean took them both in hand, squeezing just the slightest bit, letting Cas do the rest. The extra touch, the feeling of Dean’s hand, the pressure - it had Cas reeling, his head thrown back as he gripped Dean’s shoulders, clinging to him once more, erratically moving his hips.

He knew he wouldn’t last long. Too many weeks of pent up emotions, of flirting and teasing, of emotional roller coasters and love confessions. Of pining.

When Dean started moving his hand, it took no time at all until Cas let out a loud groan, coming onto Dean’s hand, shivering as he rode out his orgasm. As he came down, he could feel Dean’s fingers digging into the flesh of his waist, burying his face in Cas’ neck. The groan was still clear to hear, while Cas felt a fresh wave of warm cum on his cock.

“Fuck,” Dean whispered, his hand slowly stopping its movements, the other one digging even further into Cas’ flesh, pulling him closer. “Fuck, I’ve missed you so much.”

Not sure if Dean wanted a reply and not knowing what to say anyway, Cas leaned in, kissing Dean deeply. The grip on his waist loosened, Dean winding his arm around his middle instead. Their kiss was sensual, slow, most of the raw heat gone for now. Cas wanted to press even closer, wanted to crawl into Dean’s warmth but the man’s hand in between them as well as the mess made it harder.

Whining about it, Cas gave Dean a slight shove when the man started chuckling.

“Hang on,” Dean asked him, helping him stand up. “I removed all of our stuff from the bedroom before you came home from the hospital and I forgot. Let me get a towel.”

“We usually keep a towel in the bedroom just for this?”

“Of course, you always complain about the mess,” Dean explained, stealing a quick kiss from Cas before moving to the bathroom. “Don’t freak again while I’m gone.”

“Har har,” Cas replied but was unable to suppress his happy grin. Carefully sitting back down on the corner of the bed, he closed his eyes, savoring the tingling all over his body.

This time, he heard it when Dean came back, enjoying the view of the naked man moving over towards the bed. He had a towel in one hand and something Cas couldn’t quite detect in the other. That was, until Dean held it up.

It was lube.

“Forgot this in the bathroom after my shower,” he told him, putting it down on the nightstand for now before getting down on one knee and slowly cleaning Cas off the cold cum.

Seeing Dean between his legs like this had Cas whimper, the sound so unexpected he couldn’t keep it in. Dean’s eyes were on his, the fire burning again, a playful smile on his lips.

Keeping the eye contact, he turned his head just slightly, just enough to kiss the inside of Cas’ thigh, leaving a trail of hot and wet kisses as he moved further up.

“Dean,” Cas breathed out, his hand in Dean’s hair the moment he took Cas’ cock in his mouth. “Oh, God.”

Sure that he would not be able to get hard again so soon after his orgasm, Cas let himself enjoy the moment - taken by surprise when very soon, he was growing hard again. He let his hands run through Dean’s hair and remembering how much he liked it, gently tugged on the strands now and then, eliciting deep moans from Dean every time. The vibration went directly to his cock, causing it to grow even harder.

The feeling of Dean engulfing him like this was amazing but he put up no protest when Dean stopped, kissing his way along Cas’ stomach and up to his chest instead. When he caught his lips again, he slowly pushed Cas further onto the bed, crawling in as well. Cas went, oh so willingly, knowing he could trust his husband completely. There was no hesitation when he laid back, pulling Dean down with him right away. He wanted to feel his heat and his skin, wanted to feel the weight trapped above him. 

Closing his eyes, he simply took in the sensations, breathed in the wonderful scent that was Dean, let the weight on his chest calm him. 

He was safe, secure.

Loved.

Dean’s kisses began on his neck, his hot lips slowly wandering over his shoulder and chest, further down yet. Apparently, there was a point on his stomach that was more sensitive than the others and Dean spent some extra time there before moving even further. Cas’ hands were back in Dean’s hair and when Dean engulfed him once more, he closed his eyes, holding onto his husband as he simply gave in to the blissful feeling. 

He hardly noticed when Dean lifted his hips and pushed a small pillow under his back, gazing lovingly up at him when he looked down, his eyelids half-closed.

The next moment, he could feel Dean’s slick fingers at his entrance.

“Oh,” he breathed, the rest of whatever he’d been about to moan stuck in his throat as Dean’s first finger pushed in, sending him into another kind of blissful delirium. 

By the time Dean entered his second digit, Cas was sure he was seeing stars. Dean’s tongue drove him crazy, the warmth of his mouth, the sucking, the fingers in his ass.

“De-” he tried to warn him but once again, his voice broke, the words stuck as he fought to stay coherent. With the next flick of Dean’s tongue, Cas was done for, pure bliss taking him over. He could still feel those fingers, still feel the warmth of Dean’s mouth and while he was trying to catch his breath, he looked down to see Dean swallow before licking Cas clean.

The view alone made Cas groan, still riding on the wave of his orgasm.

Dean took the time to fully clean Cas as well as his own fingers with the towel before throwing it on the floor by the end of the bed. Trailing hot kisses all over Cas’ body, he slowly moved back up. Impatient as he was, Cas tried to hasten him - but Dean simply caught one of his wandering hands, kissing its palm before going back to devouring his body. 

At long last, Dean seemed to have gotten his fill of Cas, stretching out beside him, propping his head on his fist to look down at him. When their gazes met, there was a loving, blissful smile on Dean’s features. 

Too content to even talk, Cas curled up against Dean’s chest, resting his head against his heart. Right away, Dean put his arm around him and laid down on his back, pulling Cas along so he could lie on his chest. Snuggling up even closer, he pressed a kiss on Dean’s chest, right over his heart, before letting exhaustion pull him into a peaceful sleep.

 

Chapter Text

~*~ Chapter Sixteen ~*~

~ Now ~

Holy water.

That was the second ingredient they all agreed on in the end. It was the most rational component, as it contained Lethe’s element but the blessed part of it should work like poison to a deity of another religion.

At least in theory.

They had mulled over it for two more days, Dean getting more and more impatient, finally not wanting to wait anymore. So they prepared an adequate amount of weapons and entered Purgatory.

The long track from the portal to Hell’s backdoor - and therefore the river - appeared to be very familiar to the rest of the team and Cas secretly wondered just how often they were breaking SDA rules.

They had to fight a few monsters on their way but certainly nothing the team couldn’t handle. Sooner than he would have expected, the river came into view. The peaceful quiet around them grating harshly on Cas’ nerves.

It wasn’t until they were close to the shore that a calm voice greeted them.

“Castiel, you finally came.”

Whirling around, stake at the ready, Cas was momentarily rooted to the spot. Lethe was smiling at him - not a menacing, harsh smile but a friendly, welcoming one.

“I have waited so long for you, watching you.”

“You mean stalking him,” Dean growled at her, surprising Cas.

“You can see her?”

“Of course he can,” Lethe replied, sounding rapturous about it. “You are in my realm now.” 

Her gaze roamed over them, stopping on a point just to Cas’ left.

“Noah, it is so good to finally meet you.”

All eyes flew to the newest member of their team. The man’s eyes were wide, a shocked confusion written over his face.

“Thank you for bringing Castiel to me, Nephew.”

What?

“No! No, I- I didn’t…”

Before he could say anything further, a screech warned them that creatures were coming. They quickly moved into a circle, backs to each other, weapons ready.

Standing close together, Cas could hear Dean snap at Noah that this would have consequences, then they were attacked by a mob of different creatures.

In a calm moment between two attacks, Cas was able to gaze at Lethe, who was standing calmly in the shallow water of her river, the fight a mere amusement to her, if the placid smile on her face was anything to go by.

Only a few steps and he would be right in front of her.

When he noticed the attack slowly dying down, Cas switched his machete against the stake. Waiting for the right moment, he rushed forward, raising his hand.

The stake stabbed into her flesh without hindrance, giving Cas a sick feeling of satisfaction. 

As Lethe gasped, he was sure they had won. But then her face stilled and her lips contorted into a smile. On anyone else, Cas would describe it as a cruel, triumphant smile, yet on Lethe, it simply looked as though now everything was right in the world again.

“Did you really think a stake would kill me? Castiel, I am the personification of Oblivion.”

She leaned closer, her lips brushing over his ear as she whispered, “I cannot be killed.”

Her arms wound around him, cold and wet.

“But at least,” she whispered, pulling him close, as in a lovers embrace, “now you are mine.”

With her final words, she let herself fall back into the river, pulling Cas with her under the surface and into the darkness.

 

~*~*~*~

 

The moment Dean saw Cas being pulled into the water by Lethe, his world stopped.

“Cas, NO.”

His shout was ringing in his own ears, his legs moving before his brain had even caught up to the situation. His weapons fell to the ground, his hands already opening his weapon belt and security vest. Even though his brain wasn’t focusing on it, his subconsciousness went through the motions of getting rid of the items that would weigh him down inside of a body of water. His shoes, however, stayed on because he had not a moment to stop.

Later on, if he was questioned he would certainly come up with the lie that he had known Gabriel and Charlie were capable of handling the situation, leading the rest of the team in case it got much worse.

In reality, he didn’t think at all.

All he knew was that Cas - his husband, his love, his everything - was pulled into oblivion and that he would never, ever let that happen. He would die before he would lose him.

He was diving into the river without a second of hesitation, following the shadow of a man that was pulled further to the ground.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Cas was sure his life was over, the water surrounding him cold and dark. However, all of a sudden, Lethe stopped her movement. Instead, he could feel a ripple of confusion go through the water, her voice clear as spring rain.

“What is this?”

Her question sounded innocent, intrigued almost, and a moment later, Cas was able to breathe again.

Gasping for air, he realized that his feet touched solid ground and when he looked around, he was at the bottom of the river, a cavity of air around him, holding back the water, which constantly kept moving, pressing against his small refuge. 

It was not just any water, though.

It was Lethe.

Lethe was all around him, constantly moving, the bubble of air quivering.

Looking up, he could see just how far down underwater he was. Cas could hardly make out the already very dim sunlight of Purgatory.

“Look who has joined us,” Lethe’s voice could be heard and a moment later, Dean broke through the wall, landing inside the bubble while gasping for air as well.

“Dean,” Cas yelled.

When his husband looked up and his green eyes met Cas’, it was like a sucker punch to his stomach. 

The air left Cas and he doubled over, just so able to keep his balance. 

They were all back.

All his memories, the good ones and the bad, the quiet and the loud. Ten years of memories floated back into his system, making him dizzy and faint.

“Cas!” 

As Dean reached for him, a wall of water came up between them, forcing the man to take an involuntary step back. Not hesitating, not caring, Dean reached through it, - only to pull back his hand, screaming in agony. His skin was sizzling, the water burning hot.

Nevertheless, Dean stepped back, looking determined as he got into a position that made it obvious he wanted to jump.

“NO!” Cas yelled, trying to keep him from such insanity. “No! There has to be another way.”

“In all my thousands of years...” 

Lethe’s voice was all around them, just like the water. 

“In all my millennia, I have only ever heard of a love between two humans as the two of you share. But I have never witnessed it.”

Suddenly, the hot water was gone and the goddess was standing there instead. 

“Then again,” she added. “It is not as though I leave my home often.”

“Why do I have my memories back?” Cas asked. 

Really it was the only thing he could think of asking right now. It made no real sense. Lethe was still alive and he had gotten back his memories long after she had pulled him under, not when he had stabbed her. So really, why now?

Dean looked at him, a hopeful glance in his eyes.

“Don’t interrupt me, Castiel,” Lethe replied instead of giving an answer. 

Like before, her voice was soft, airy. It wasn’t really an admonishment, more of a request. As if she was unable to comprehend why he had chosen to interrupt her.

“I have held your memories for quite a while now. I saw them all. All those memories between the two of you and the love you hold for each other. It’s... quite beautiful.”

She stepped closer to him, one of her hands ghosting over his cheek.

“But soon after I got all your memories, one by one you would fight to get them back. One after another, these beautiful memories would slip through my fingers, leaving behind only the strong emotions for me to enjoy.”

Her eyes flicked all over his face.

“But I do not wish to lose them. I want to hold on to these memories.”

“They are mine,” Cas dared to interrupt. He was disturbed about her closeness but couldn’t bring himself to step away.

Lethe watched him closely, her eyes still soft. He would say, maybe even loving.

“Oh, I know. I know and I do not desire to take them away from you again. Do you not see? As long as you are here with me, you can have them - we can have them. As long as you are here, we share them.”

“You… you want to keep me here? To share my memories of my love for Dean?”

“Exactly!” she exclaimed gleefully, “Now you see how good this will be?”

“No!”

“I have seen into your heart, Castiel. Your love - it is so pure. I want this love-”

“Don’t you get it?” Cas interrupted with force. “My love is so pure because all of it belongs to Dean. I could never love anyone as I love him.”

In a heartbeat, Lethe’s eyes turned cold and dark and in the next moment, Dean was gasping for air, his hands clawing at his throat.

“NO!” Cas yelled out, trying to chase to his husband’s side.

Lethe stopped him without even touching him.

“I told you not to interrupt me and it is you who does not get it.”

Suddenly, Dean was coughing, sucking in air again. Not taking the time to recover, he lunged for Lethe but was stopped once more by sizzling hot water.

“Castiel, I do not wish for you to love me. What I want is your love.”

“You do not make sense.”

“Because you will not listen! I want the pureness that comes with your memories. But as long as you are back in your world, you will keep pulling and pushing. Fighting to get them back. So, the simplest solution of them all is to just keep you here.”

“And you think I will stay? Willingly?”

Lethe’s eyes turned softer again but there was still some cold darkness in it.

“I could promise to let your husband go if you do. I would say I let him stay here with you but… I do not wish to have two mortal beings in my realm. Even though his love for you is just as beautiful and pure. I might keep his memories once he has died.”

“If you let him go, Dean will never stop searching for me. He will never stop trying to find a way to kill you and bring me back.”

Lethe shrugged as if this was an inconvenience easily taken care of.

“I could simply kill him.”

Once again, Dean’s hand flew to his throat. He went to his knees right away, fighting an invisible force that was choking him.

“You know nothing about the human heart, do you?” Cas screamed at Lethe, watching Dean through the wall of water. “If you take him away from me, I will despise you with the same pure passion that I love him with - do you want that?”

“I told you, Castiel, I have no desire for you to love me. All I want, are those memories.”

Playing with them, she once more let the choking end and vanished the wall of water. Dean was crouching on the floor, wheezing as he tried to get enough air again.

“Then take the memories and let us go. I promise, I won’t fight for them again.”

“Oh, Castiel,” Lethe breathed out, once more brushing her hand over his cheek. “You cannot control it. While you were asleep, your subconscious did all the work for you. Do you not remember? All these dreams bringing back memories of Dean?”

Cas didn’t reply. He didn’t know what to do or how to get them out of this. Lethe was a deity that couldn’t be killed and she clearly wanted him.

“Take me instead,” Dean rasped out, fighting himself in a sitting position. “Take me, let him go.”

“Dean, no.”

“I knew you would say that,” Lethe replied, her smile wide and gleeful. “But really, I want Castiel. You see… you have loved this man from the very beginning and such a love is rare and sublime. Love at first sight, you humans call it, I believe. But Castiel?” she continued, turning back towards Cas. “Castiel, you had to overcome all of your beliefs and struggles. Had you been honest with yourself, you would have known that you loved him from the beginning as well. But this inner struggle you had to overcome, all these years of pining… They make your memories all the more delicious.”

Lethe’s gaze turned dreamy as she let her gushing float away, her words ringing in Cas’ ears.

Echoing in his mind.

Giving him an idea, a last shred of hope

“Then let me fight for it again. One last time.”

Right away, Lethe’s gaze cleared, focused completely on Cas.

“Give me one chance, just one. A- a test or something. Anything. Give me one chance and if I succeed, you let Dean and me go. If not… if not, then I’ll stay with you, willingly, and Dean will promise to let me go.”

“I will do no such thing,” Dean grunted but thankfully fell silent when Cas gave him a warning glare.

Focus back on Lethe, Cas tried with all he had. “Lethe, I’m begging you. One chance.”

The goddess seemed to contemplate but Cas could already tell she was hooked. If legends were true, deities were suckers for humans proving themselves, be it in matters of loyalty, strength - or love.

His hopeful feeling died the second he heard Dean gasping for air a third time.

“No-”

“Alright, Castiel,” Lethe told him, stopping all his actions. “One last chance. If you fail, one of you will be mine. If you make it to shore in time, you are free to go, taking all your memories with you.”

Her smile turned deadly beautiful.

“But you better swim fast because I will be here, waiting. Taking away one memory after another. So if at any point you wonder why you are dragging a man behind you that you hate instead of saving your own life… well, we will see how pure your love will be then.”

Behind her, Dean’s struggles stopped, this time not because Lethe had released him.

But because he had lost consciousness.

“Get your love to shore,” Lethe told him, gently brushing her lips to his. “Or die trying.”

 

Chapter Text

~*~ Chapter Seventeen ~*~

~ Now ~

The moment Lethe released him, water broke over him, surrounding him within seconds. Only able to take one last breath, Cas lunged for Dean, gripping his husband tight as he began to swim, raising up from the ground, dragging them away from perdition.

It didn’t take long until he could feel his power draining out of him, Dean heavy on his arm. But Cas would not give up. He had no idea anymore how he had gotten into this situation but his husband was in danger and he would do everything he could to save them.

The darkness surrounding them was deep but he could see a sliver of lighter darkness directly above them. He kept swimming, dragging Dean along.

His lungs were burning now and slowly, he wondered what kind of mission Winchester had messed up this time to bring them in such a situation. Once again, it seemed he had to save the man’s ass.

His arms and legs grew heavy, his movements turning weaker and weaker. Why was he dragging this man along with him? Was he trying to save him? Maybe he was a victim?

The surface was still so far away, Castiel was sure of it. The person he held closely pressed to his chest with one arm… was this person even worth it? Castiel had probably tried his best to save them. Maybe he should just let go now, make sure to save himself.

But his hand wouldn’t listen to his brain. It didn’t open up to release the deadweight. Quite on the contrary, it gripped even tighter, holding the man to his chest. His heart ached.

His lungs were burning.

His legs were almost giving in.

And then, when he finally broke the surface, a screech of despair rang in his ears.

 

~*~

 

~ Then ~

Cas was trying not to watch as Winchester hastily dressed himself. He was raging with anger about the man’s stupidity, doing his best to ignore all other feelings inside of him. Feelings he would rather die before admitting were some form of attraction and even jealousy.

“I can’t believe how stupid you were. Letting a suspect seduce you like that.”

“Hey, he was a Siren! How could I resist?”

“Maybe with some self respect? If you would keep it in your pants more often-”

“Oh get that stick out of your ass, Novak. He was a hot dude, how could I have known he was a Siren?”

Cas only rolled his eyes over this. He was so done with this case and the man, he just wanted to go. Just as he reached the door, Winchester called out for him.

“Hey, Novak.”

“What?” he asked irritably, turning back around.

“Sorry for attacking you. And… uhm… thanks for saving my life.”

Winchester sounded so sincere, there was no trace of his usual cheekiness or flirtatiousness.

Quite frankly, Cas had no idea how to handle that so his reply turned out a tad more snarky than his usual self. “Always happy to bleed for you, Winchester. Just don’t let it become a habit. I won’t always be there to save you.”

“Har har,” Winchester replied, picking up his things. “I promise I’ll repay you. Next time I’ll save you, sweet cheeks.”

“Please refrain from ever calling me that again.”

“Honey bun?”

“I swear I’m gonna kill you myself.”

“Angel?”

“I’m leaving. And for the last time, stay the hell away from FBI business.”

With that, he left the motel room, hoping this would be his last encounter with Dean Winchester.

 

~*~

 

~ Now ~

Gasping desperately, Cas tried to fill his lungs with air, ignoring the burn and the way his body was hurting. Not stopping to swim, he dragged Dean behind him, his husband still unconscious.

“Dean, wake up,” he begged him, focusing on where he saw their team at the shore. “Almost there, keep breathing.”

Charlie was waving at him. “Cas, here.”

When she made a move, Cas yelled back to stay away from the water. The last thing he needed now was for one of the others to be taken by Lethe.

Heaving them to shore, Cas didn’t stop until they were completely out of the river. Their team was around them instantly but Cas didn’t hesitate, starting with a kiss of life right away. Ketch was on Dean’s other side immediately, giving him cardiac massage as soon as Cas stopped.

“Come on, Dean,” Cas pressed out between breaths, waiting for Ketch to be done with his turn. 

Dean’s lips were cold with a blue tinge, his face deadly pale.

“Come on,” Cas begged again, wiping away some droplets of water while once again waiting for Ketch. “Don’t you dare die on me. I’ll drag you out of hell just to kill you myself if you do.”

Once again, Ketch’s counting reached the final number and Cas bent down, breathing air into Dean’s lungs. All of a sudden, he sensed a reaction, pulling away when Dean coughed up water.

Relief washed over Cas, as he helped Dean to lean over and spit out all the river water, softly brushing his shoulder.

“It’s alright, Dean. You’re safe now.”

Once all the water was out, Dean leaned back and looked up at him. His eyes showed an ounce of confusion.

“Sorry, do I know you?”

Cas couldn’t reply, couldn’t even breathe, all the words, all the air stuck in his throat.

This couldn’t be. No. No, Lethe had promised-

Before he could break into a slight panic attack, Dean’s lips pulled into a smile, weakened only by his current condition. The smile turned into husky laughter when Cas slapped him on the chest without even thinking.

“You Assbutt! Don’t do that to me,” he exclaimed but couldn’t help huffing out a laugh himself. 

They had done it.

They were both safe and Cas even had his memories back, all of them.

And dear Lord, he loved this man so much.

Leaning down, he caught Dean’s lips. At first, Dean let it happen, only to pull back after a moment.

“Cas, the others-”

“Don’t care,” he whispered, catching his lips again without hesitation.

This time, Dean kissed him back.

They kept the whole kiss chaste but it still needed someone clearing their throat to seperate them again.

“Look, this is sweet and all,” Ana explained with a sincere smile, “but could we maybe relocate the reunion back to Earth?”

“Good idea,” Gabe confirmed, helping Dean to his feet.

Cas got up himself but had trouble standing straight, his legs still burning. Dumah and Jack rushed to his side, helping him. Looking around for the rest of their team, Cas noticed Noah standing apart from them.

“You coming?”

When Noah looked over to Dean, Cas understood his hesitation and answered his unasked question. 

“We’re going to handle this back at Headquarters. Now, come on.”

And thus, the team began the long track back to the portal.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Back at headquarters, Dean sent Charlie to inform Henriksen about a mission well completed while he and Cas took a quick detour to his office, changing their clothes for dry ones.

At least, that was the official reason.

The real reason became evident the moment the office door closed and locked, Cas instantly on him. The momentum threw Dean back against the door but he was quick to take the lead, turning them around and pressing Cas against the wall, invading his space until there wasn’t a breath of air between them.

How long it was until their kiss calmed down from it’s ferocity, neither could tell. Yet it felt like all too soon, when their rational, responsible side woke up, forcing them to end the kiss.

They allowed themselves just a moment longer, losing themselves in each other’s eyes.

“You remember it all?”

Cas nodded as he played with Dean’s wedding band.

“Every moment.”

Pulling him in again, a chaste kiss was all they let happen for now. In the end, Cas pushed against Dean’s chest to get the man moving.

“Let’s talk about all of this later. We need to talk to the team.”

They quickly got changed and after one last, quick, clinging kiss they left together for the conference room.

 

~*~

 

Their unit was already there, chattering amongst them. Only Noah seemed to be subdued, probably fearing his sentence.

But first things first.

“Alright, folks,” Dean spoke up, getting everybody’s attention.

Cas closed the door behind him, making sure their conversation would stay private.

“I guess we owe you an apology and an explanation.” He took a deep breath, trying to figure out what to say or where to start.

“Indeed,” Ketch replied, crossing his arms in front of him, eyes pinched.

Dumah nodded, looking sternly at Dean. “Absolutely. We are severely disappointed.”

“How could you?” Ana added, giving him a judgemental glare.

Dean had to swallow hard. Searching for Cas’ gaze, he silently asked what to do but Cas looked just as stunned. They had always expected it would be better to keep their relationship a secret but to hear it so loud and clear hurt more than he could have imagined.

Ana was the first to break, her giggling ringing clearly in the room.

Finally, she clarified, “How could you not tell us sooner?” 

“We are severely disappointed you didn’t trust us.”

“Indeed,” Ketch said again, “As if we haven’t known all along.”

“You… wait, what?”

Now they all chuckled, even Jack and Noah joining in.

“Sorry to say this, Dean,” Jack spoke up. “But you’re not as subtle as you might think.”

“Yeah, I guess the last shred of doubt any of us had flew out the window back in the hospital,” Ketch threw in, the rest of their team nodding in agreement.

Dean couldn’t believe it. They all had known. And for so long? Even before the hospital?

“I’ve kind of known for a few years,” Ana explained, “Just wanted to wait for you guys to deem me worthy of your trust.”

“I’ve known since I saw your necklaces once,” Jack told them. “The ring had slipped out of your shirt and you forgot to put it back right away.”

“Oh, I remember that,” Dumah called out with excitement. “Such beautiful rings. I only wish you could wear them openly.”

“For me it was-”

“Okay, guys, guys,” Dean exclaimed, holding up his hand. “Stop, please.”

He took a deep breath, looking at each and every one of his team members. Charlie and Gabe were grinning happily, obviously enjoying the moment. The rest of them were smiling at Dean, or at Cas. Even Noah wore a little grin.

This was unbelievable.

“So… you’re all okay with this? With Cas and me, I mean? Married, but still on the same team?”

There was not a moment's hesitation, when his team answered in unison, “Yeah, of course.”

“Did you really think we would rat you out?”

“Or have either of you switch units?”

“We just fought to get our old Cas back-”

“And believe it or not, Boss, we actually like you as our leader, as funny as that sounds.”

Dean had no idea how to reply to this, the words touching him deeply. He needed a moment to get his emotions in check, swallowing hard. Still, when he spoke again his voice was a tad higher than usual.

“Wow, guys... thank you. This- this really means a lot to me.” Looking over to Cas, he found his husband just as touched as he himself was and corrected his statement. “To us. This means a lot to us.”

“Yes, thank you.”

“Don’t sweat it. But hey, I feel like you should invite us over some time,” Ana told them with a cheeky grin. 

Dumah clapped her hands, “Oh yes. Family dinner. And by family, I mean this team.”

“I think some of your amazing cooking should be the least to make it up to us for not trusting us enough to be let in on the secret.”

“Ketch, come on man. Guys… that’s not… we-”

“Dean,” Ana interrupted, waiting for him to pay her attention. “We’re just messing with you. Honestly, we all get it.”

Relieved, Dean finally let himself relax, huffing out a laugh.

“Well, family dinner sounds nice.”

On that note, Dean’s smile vanished, his gaze finally fixing on Noah.

“Speaking of family…”

“Dean, I swear I have no idea why she would say that. I promise this wasn’t a trap or anything. I only meant to help, I never wanted-”

“Noah, Noah,” Dean interrupted the man, raising his hand to calm him down. “I never thought you did.”

That took the wind right out Noah’s sails. “You didn’t?”

“Of course not. Who would bring a whole unit of skilled and highly trained SDA agents if they meant this to be a trap?”

“Oh,” Noah replied, looked perplexed. “I just thought-”

“No, it’s not about what she said,” Dean clarified, “It’s about what she called you. Why on earth would a goddess call you her nephew?”

Noah sighed, folding his fingers on the table and staring at them. After swallowing hard, he finally spoke up.

“Because… because I’m a Gorgon.”

“Come again?”

“I’m… a Gorgon. A sort of demigod. Ehm… think Medusa, maybe? She- well I guess you could call her a cousin of mine.”

“Are… are we talking the Medusa?” Dean asked, making gestures around his head. “Snakes as hair, turning people into stone with her gaze?”

“Yes.”

The room was deadly silent, no one knowing what to say.

Dean leaned forward, gripping the back of the chair in front of him.

“Alright, what exactly is it you are telling me? That you’re… actually a supernatural being? One that - under different circumstances - we would have hunted and killed?” 

Noah swallowed hard, but still nodded in agreement.

“If I had followed into my family’s footsteps, then yes, I guess. I do have rather… frightening powers,” Noah admitted, hastily adding, “but I have never used them. I just know I could.”

“Cool, what are they?” Jack asked, sounding rather intrigued.

Dean was sure he had already accepted this weird fact about their team member, bless his good nature.

“Ehm… Well I… can talk to snakes, read minds. There’s uhm, paralyzing venom,” he said quickly, “and I’m strong, stronger than humans and I can look into the future. But for that I would have to kill someone.”

The room was absolutely silent, eyes slowly wandering between Noah and Dean.

Pinching the bridge of his nose, Dean thought about the situation, which was certainly huge. Noah was the first supernatural being to ever become an agent of the SDA - there would be legal repercussions if this ever came out.

“You should have told us,” he finally pressed out, wishing he had an inkling on how to handle this.

Noah looked at him with big, pleading eyes. “You mean like you should have told us that you are married to a fellow agent?”

There was a slight murmur around the room but before Dean could even reply to that, Noah hastened to add to his words.

“Sorry, sorry I didn’t mean it like that. What I’m trying to say is… is…” He paused, obviously searching for the right words. “You had a damn good reason to hide your relationship - because you feared one of us might give you away, on purpose or maybe just by accident. You still have a reason to hide it because we all know one of you would have to switch units and no one here wants this. And I guess it is clear by now that we will all keep your secret. What I’m saying is… you had a reason and so did I.”

Noah’s eyes grew even bigger, giving a very good imitation of puppy-dog eyes.

“The FBI, especially the SDA, would have never allowed me into the program if they knew what I really am. But… I wanted this. I’ve wanted to be part of the SDA ever since I’ve heard of you guys slaying some creatures close to my hometown. Ever since I heard other creatures whisper about you, I knew that this was where I wanted to be, where I wanted to go. I hate what I am and I despise what my family does. But I have to live with that. All I’m trying to do is… make things right by ridding this world of other monsters.”

The silence that followed his little speech was first broken by Ketch, who slowly clapped, stopping only when Charlie poked him in his side.

Dean gave all of this a moment to sink in, not wanting to speak too harshly. Noah must have misread his silence.

“Boss, I know this might not compare but we all know you have friends within the supernatural world. There is that werewolf, Garth, and the vampire, Benny, right? You trust them, don’t you?”

Dean nodded slowly.

“Okay.”

“Oh- okay?”

“Yeah,” Dean replied. “Okay.”

“Just… just like that?”

“Noah, do you know why I trust Benny so much?”

“Ehm? No?”

Looking around the room as if to search for the answer, Noah was met with confused shrugs. Well, how could they know, Dean had never told them.

His lips quirked up into a soft smile.

“I trust him because he once saved what is most important to me.”

His gaze wandered over to Cas and was met with the same confusion as the rest of the room showed.

“He saved Cas that one time we were trapped in Purgatory. He could have killed him but instead killed the creature that was attacking Cas.”

“You never told me this was the reason you liked him,” Cas said, sounding perplexed.

Dean chuckled. “Sweetheart, you’ve been jealous of Benny from day one. I wasn’t gonna tell you that you’re kinda the reason I like him.”

If looks could kill, Dean would be ash on the floor. He threw Cas a wink that had him rolling his eyes. Only when there were slight chuckles did Dean realize what he’d just done, heat rising on his neck.

Clearing his throat, he got back to the topic at hand.

“Anyway, what I’m saying is, there are different reasons why I trust people or creatures. And keeping those safe that mean the most to me certainly counts as one.” His gaze wandered back to Noah. “You’ve been a great asset to this team over the past few months, never given me reason to doubt you. And, yes, you are the reason my husband has his memories back. So… yeah. ‘Just like that,’ I’m accepting your explanation.”

Noah was visibly flabbergasted, not able to get out any words.

“See, I told you,” Ketch threw in, irritating everybody. “Give it a month or two and you are part of the fam. Once that happens, well… mistakes are forgiven.”

“Okay,” Noah finally replied, voice a bit shaky. “Okay, but what does this mean for… well for my future on the team?”

“You’re staying, of course,” Dean told him without hesitation. “You’re staying and it will be up to you who to tell and when to tell anyone. And if you decide to never do it - fine. I’m sure we’re still not the unit with the most secrets.”

That had them all chuckling.

“And who knows, give it a few years and we will go and speak to Henriksen. See if we could make this part of a program, involving supernatural beings into our ranks. The SDA is still young - who knows how it will look in a few years from now.”

 

~*~*~*~

 

The meeting soon came to an end, everybody tired and overtaxed by the day’s events and revelations.

Cas held Dean’s hand on their drive home but otherwise they remained in silence. Both releshing the peace.

Once inside their safe haven, Dean didn’t let go of his hand, pulling him along and to the bathroom instead. Knowing that his husband needed to take care of him right now, he let Dean strip him down instead of doing it himself. Once inside the shower, Cas closed his eyes, enjoying the sensation of Dean’s hands on his skin, lathering him with his favorite scented soap. It wasn’t sexual, simply intimate, Dean re-exploring every part of his body.

Before he washed his hair, Dean checked the sensitive skin over his wound. Cas was sure it was long since healed but he let Dean do it anyway - because his husband needed this.

“Looks good,” Dean finally spoke the verdict, pressing a kiss to Cas’ neck and then beginning to rub shampoo through the strands. “But I’m gonna give you a haircut tomorrow.”

“Whatever makes you happy.”

“This,” Dean whispered, his arms sneaking around Cas’ body, pulling him back against his chest. “This makes me happy. Being able to hold you again, have you close. Have you by my side. I don’t need more.”

The way he phrased it had Cas wondering about something. Maybe asking was a bad idea Maybe he should just let it rest.

But he remembered now. He remembered that one fateful morning and their fight just before work.

He simply had to ask.

“Dean?”

“Mhhh?”

“What did you see in the Djinn world?”

Dean’s hold on him grew stronger, the water still engulfing them in their own world while Cas was waiting for his husband to find the words.

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Please,” he whispered, sensing that they needed to talk about this. Needed to address it before it would become an unspoken issue between them.

Dean rested his chin on Cas’ shoulder, nestling his cheek against Cas’ jar.

“You, of course. And you hadn’t lost your memories.”

“Well, that was a given,” he replied, chuckling when he felt Dean’s smile.

All too soon, the smile vanished.

“We lived in a nice house, full of pictures of our families at various occasions. My parents were still alive and obviously, the pictures were there to show me that you were out and we weren’t keeping our love a secret.”

Cas couldn’t help it, he went rigid. Right away, Dean turned his head, kissing him on the corner of his mouth. When Cas didn’t respond, Dean released his hold of him, turning him instead, gently guiding him to take a few steps backwards. Cas hissed in pleasure when he came into contact with the cold wall, loving the feeling. The kiss that followed was long and deep, making Cas’ head spin. When it ended, Dean took his chin in his hand, making sure Cas was looking at him.

“Don’t ever think that this is bothering me. Maybe there is a version of us, in some alternative universe, that is prancing around, able to show their love openly. But never - not in a million years - would I change what I have with you for their lives. You know that, don’t you?”

Unable to speak, Cas simply nodded, wishing he could finally get rid of this last ounce of insecurity.

Dean leaned in again, resting his forehead against Cas’.

“Obviously, all that wouldn’t have kept me in that world for long. I was already prepared to end it - when suddenly, there was a little girl. Spitting image of you, just to add to the pain.”

Dean leaned back again, their gazes meeting, both knowing how to read the pain that lay in the other’s eyes. 

“We had three, Emma and Ben being there as well, of course.”

“Of course,” Cas whispered, averting his eyes. Well, he just had to ask, of course. He should have known this would hurt like hell.

He actually had known but still he had asked.

“No wonder you wanted to stay there.”

“I didn’t.”

At that, Cas looked back up at his husband.

“I just couldn’t… ram that knife into my stomach while the little girl was watching. Not at first, at least. And then you came in, trying to convince me that it all was perfect. And all three kids begged me not to go. I admit. For just... a fraction of a second, I wanted to. I wanted to give in but I always knew I wouldn’t.”

“What made you do it, in the end?”

“You, of course. That other you kissed me and it… it just wasn’t the same,” Dean explained, once more lifting Cas’ chin so he would look at him. “He wasn’t you, Cas. Not the Cas I deeply love. I don’t need kids, I don’t need a white picket fence life to be happy. All I need, all I will ever want, is you.”

Cas’ tears were washed away by the water, which slowly grew colder. They ignored it both as Dean once more captured his lips in a deep kiss.

 

~*~

 

The water was completely frigid by the time Cas finally - and now very quickly - soaped and rinsed Dean’s hair and body, just like Dean had for him. Once his husband was clean as well, they got out of the shower and dried off, getting ready for bed.

“How about we spend tomorrow putting all the decorations and pictures back? The loft looks so empty without them.”

“Of course, Sweetheart,” Dean replied, stealing a kiss from Cas before they turned to the sink to brush their teeth.

“Oh, by the way,” Cas told him once he had rinsed his mouth, “I want my phone back! Two months, Dean, two months. My farm will be completely destroyed.”

Dean had the audacity to roll his eyes. “I’m sure you will have it back in its pristine state in no time.”

“I feel like you’re not taking this seriously,” Cas told him with a fake pout, grinning when Dean leaned in to give him a sweet kiss.

He let his husband take his hand, ready to go to bed. However, instead of going to their bedroom, Dean pulled him towards the living room where he switched on the stereo.

Cas had no idea what his husband was planning - until the first notes rang through the room, making him laugh in delight and taking Dean’s hand the moment his husband came back to him, he let Dean lead him into a first twirl.

 

Where it began, I can't begin to knowing

But then I know it's growing strong

 

“You are such a sap sometimes, Dean Winchester.”

 

Was in the spring

 

“And you love me for it, Castiel Novak-Winchester.”

 

Then spring became the summer

Who'd have believed you'd come along

 

“With every fiber of my being.”

 

Hands, touching hands

Reaching out, touching me, touching you

 

“The love I have for you...” Dean whispered into his hair, breathing a kiss before twirling him into the more upbeat part of the song.

 

Sweet Caroline

Good times never seemed so good

 

“... is a love that knows no bounds,” Cas completed once he was back in Dean’s arms, hooking his finger around Dean’s necklace to pull him close for a searing kiss, the music fading into the background as they once more sank into their own, blissful world.

 

~*~ The End ~*~