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Broken Pieces

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The first thing Dean sees when he opens his sore eyes is Castiel. His blue eyes seem concerned, but they quickly shift into relief as he approaches the side of the bed.

“Hello, Dean,” Castiel says, sounding really relieved.

“Hey, Cas,” Dean greets. As Castiel gets closer, Dean can see that he has horrible circles around his eyes and that his hair is a complete mess.

“How are you feeling?” Castiel asks, looking directly at Dean’s eyes.

“Tired.” He sighs and looks around the hospital room. He doesn’t remember how he got there. “Where are we?”

“In a hospital.”

Dean fights the urge to roll his eyes. “State. City.”

“Clarinda. Iowa.”

Dean nods. “Where’s Sam?”

“He went to the cafeteria to eat something. Given that he bled a less amount of blood than you, he didn’t have to be urgently intervened.”

Dean nods. To defeat Chuck, they had needed Billie’s help. Given that Amara was still alive and didn’t want to do anything with her brother, the balance between lightness and darkness had to disappear somehow. For that, Billie needed to become more powerful than God. She could have reaped him, but if she had done that, the balance would have fallen onto the darkness, and that was something no one wanted.

Billie had to annihilate that balance, and the only way she could do that was with a spell performed by her and Rowena. And of course, the spell required some sacrifices.

The life of a Nephilim. The grace of a fallen angel. Four liters of blood from two men who had been in Hell. Those were the hardest ingredients. Billie had to acquire a scythe from a reaper and Rowena had to find a weapon that was used to kill her in the past. Rowena’s ingredient was hard to find, but it wasn’t a sacrifice.

Jack didn’t hesitate to give up his life. And neither did Castiel when he had to give up his grace. Dean gave his blood, almost everything, because the spell only dictated that four liters were required in total. It didn’t matter if there was more of one blood than the other; as long as there were four liters in total and that there were two different bloods, proportions didn’t matter.

That’s how he ended up in the hospital; he gave three liters of blood while Sam gave just one. Sam had argued against it, but Dean had always been the first one to jump into the whole self-sacrifice act and protect his brother.

“How’re you doing?” Dean asks, looking at Cas. “You’re human again.”

Castiel grimaces. “I’m just doing.”

Before Dean can say anything else, Sam appears in the room, his eyes brightening as he sees Dean awake.

“You’re finally awake,” Sam says, smiling.

“Yeah,” Dean says, trying to smile, but failing.

“You shouldn’t have given almost all your blood.”

Dean rolls his eyes. “Save the whole lecture for later, alright? Or better yet, save it for never. Chuck’s gone and we’re alive. That’s what matters.”

“Jack’s not alive,” Sam says with a painful grimace.

Neither Castiel nor Dean says anything about that.

“The kid is alright,” Billie says, making the three men turn their heads in the direction of her voice. Billie stands behind Castiel, wearing her characteristic black clothes and her white ring. “He’s in Heaven, and the Empty won’t come for him. Ever.” She looks at Castiel as she says that.

“The Empty?” Dean inquires, frowning.

“That’s where angels and demons go when they die. Also, Nephilims.”

“Why would you do that?” Castiel asks.

Billie makes a half smile. “You three have given me more power than any of you would have ever wanted me to have. You are the reason I am this powerful now, and I don’t like owing anything to anyone.” She looks at the three of them, her gaze turning sharper. “Sooner or later, each of you would have asked of something from me, claiming that I owe you for my current power, so I think that it’s better if I already pay my debt with all of you. Rowena has already received something. And Jack is in Heaven, with his mother, without the fear of the Empty dragging him to its territory.”

“And why not bring back Jack?” Sam asks.

“Because of the same reason I can’t restore Castiel’s grace. Because if I bring him back to life, the spell breaks, and with the spell broken, the balance between the lightness and the darkness comes back. Which is something none of us wants.”
Dean, Castiel and Sam just look at Billie, not knowing what to say.

“Jack gets to be in Heaven, with Kelly Kline. That’s better than being in the Empty,” Billie says.

“But not better than being alive,” Castiel snaps.

“If sacrifices were easy and didn’t have any consequences, they wouldn’t be called sacrifices.”

“And what’s your sacrifice, then?” Dean asks. “Because you’re the one who gained the most without losing anything.”

“My sacrifice consists on having to fix some things that I didn’t have to fix in order to keep you three satisfied with the deal.”

“Have you considered that maybe we don’t want anything more from you?” Dean makes a sassy smile and glares her.

Billie chuckles. “You do want what I offer. And I know you won’t refuse it.”

“What makes you so sure?”

Billie looks directly at Castiel who frowns. “For starters, I got rid of Castiel’s deal with the Empty.”

Castiel looks at her, with his lips parted, unable to say a word, while Dean and Sam look at Billie, confused and shocked.

“What deal?” Dean asks, while Sam asks, “What are you talking about?”

Billie then looks at Castiel, who is glaring her. “They didn’t know, did they?”

“No,” Castiel answers.

“Castiel made a deal with the Empty back when Jack first died. He offered himself instead of Jack, but the Empty was not satisfied with that deal. Instead, the Empty offered to let Jack alone that time, but the Empty promised to drag Castiel with him once Castiel was fully happy.”

Dean looks at Castiel, devastated. He can’t believe that Castiel made a deal like that and he didn’t tell them about it. He didn’t tell him about it. “How could you do that?” Dean asks, hating how shaky his voice comes.

“I had to get the Empty away from Jack and that was the only way,” Castiel answers, without looking at Dean.

“You could’ve been dragged to the empty at any moment and we wouldn’t have known! What the fuck were you thinking?!”

“It doesn’t matter now,” Billie interrupts, clearly irritated. “I made the Empty break the deal. Castiel is now human, with a soul, so he will go to Heaven or Hell when he dies. The Empty will never come after you.”

“Thank you,” Castiel mutters.

“Now, for the Winchesters,” Billie says, walking past Castiel and looking at Sam and Dean. “I closed the gates of Hell so no demon can get out. I did the same with Heaven, so no angel can get out. I even created a few more angels to avoid the collapse of Heaven. The last thing any of us wants is another apocalypse. Heaven and Hell will keep working, being able to receive any soul that goes in there. But you won’t have to worry any more about angels or demons trying to kill you. The only thing you’ll have to worry about, are monsters.”

“You could have gotten rid of the monsters while you were at it,” Dean suggests, bitterly. Although he is glad that he won’t have to deal with angels or demons anymore.

Billie glares him. “That’s asking too much. You three and Rowena are alive. The Empty isn’t after Jack nor Castiel. You won’t have to fight against God nor angels nor demons anymore. I think that you three have gained more than you expected.”

“And now what are you gonna do?” Sam asks, giving her a distrustful glance.

“Keep being Death.”

“That’s all?” Dean asks, but by the time he finishes his question, Billie is completely gone. “Fucking awesome. Really fucking awesome,” he grunts.

“Let’s hope she was telling the truth,” Sam says, rubbing his nape.

Dean snorts and the he looks at Castiel, who has turned around but isn’t looking at Dean’s face. “I can’t believe you made that deal.”

“It doesn’t matter anymore,” Castiel says. “I’m free of it.”

“Why didn’t you tell us?” Sam asks, sounding hurt, but less than Dean.

“I didn’t want to worry you. I wanted to give you two a win without any consequences.”

“You should have told us,” Dean mutters, angrily. “How do you think we would have felt if one day, you suddenly died without any apparent reason? Do you think we would have been okay with that?”

Do you think I would have been okay with seeing you die again? Do you think I would recover from that? Dean wants to ask, but doesn’t. When it comes to he and Cas, things are complicated and he never says out loud what he really wants to say.

“I had to be happy in order to get dragged to the Empty,” Castiel explains, and something in his voice makes Dean’s heart ache. The ex-angel sounds angry, but so sad, and also resigned, and Dean hates it. “That was unlikely to happen.”

A part of Dean has to agree with him, because in their life, happiness is something that neither of them knows.

“You should have told us,” Dean repeats, still angry. “You always do this; you hide important stuff from us! And when it’s too late to do something about it or when things are fucked up, you finally tell us! When are you gonna stop doing this shit?!”

Castiel glares him. “I didn’t want to add any more distress to you! We still had to deal with Michael! The last thing you needed was another problem to worry about!”

“You don’t get to decide what we should or shouldn’t know!”

“Guys! Stop!” Sam yells before Castiel can yell at Dean. “The problem is solved, so there’s no point in arguing about what should have been done.”

Dean puffs, annoyed with his brother. There is a point in arguing about the topic, and the point is showing Cas that he fucked up and that he should stop hiding important stuff from them and stop risking his life.

“Cas,” Sam says, clearing his throat. “Find the doctor and tell her that Dean’s awake. I’m gonna call Rowena and tell her that Dean’s alright.” At that Dean arches both eyebrows. “She was really concerned about your well-being.”

Dean chuckles. “That’s a first.”

 

***

 

The next day, they drive back home, to the bunker. Sam is the one who insists on driving because Dean still needs some rest. It’s only a five hour drive, but Dean agrees with his brother, so he sits on the passenger seat while Cas sits on the backseat.
It’s a quiet drive. They don’t say much. They don’t know what to say yet. It’s been a long year.

By the time they arrive to the bunker, it’s almost night time. The three of them go to the kitchen, feeling hungry and thirsty. There’s plenty of food to cook something, but neither of them feels like cooking, so they end up grabbing some beers, some potato snacks and some fruit, because Sam insists that they need some healthy food. Dean isn’t going to complain.

“So,” Sam starts to say, trying to get rid of the uncomfortable silence. “What comes now?”

Dean keeps his eyes fixed on the label of his beer bottle, scratching it with his nail. “Just monsters, I guess.”

Sam hums in agreement. “Yeah. Just monsters.”

Dean nods and looks at Castiel, whose eyes are also stuck on the label of the beer. He wants to ask him so many things, but he fears the answers.

“Can I stay in the bunker?” Castiel asks, without lifting his eyes.

“Dude,” Dean says, looking at him. “What kind of question is that?”

The ex-angel meets Dean’s eyes, frowning at him. “This is your home. I have to ask for permission to stay.”

This is Castiel’s home, too. At least it feels like that to Dean. It hurts him to know that Cas doesn’t see the bunker as his home.

“You have a bedroom. It’s all yours, buddy. Don’t need to ask for permission,” Dean finally says before taking a long sip of beer.

“Thank you,” Castiel says, nodding his head.

“Now that you’re human,” Sam says, making his characteristic concerned face. “What are you gonna do? Do you have any plans? Do you want to become a hunter?”

Dean looks at Castiel. Cas is now human. He might want to experience human things. He might want to leave the bunker and get himself a house, a job, a partner… He might want to leave and find himself or something like that. It terrifies Dean knowing that Cas might leave soon and won’t come back for a long time or ever. Because there’s nothing that will make Cas come back to the bunker to Dean, right?

“I don’t know,” Castiel answers. “I need to get used to being human. I would like to hunt, but I will have to learn about weapons, and get used to not being as strong as I used to. I’m afraid it will take too much time.”

“We can teach you anything about hunting,” Sam says.

“Yeah,” Dean agrees.

“Thank you, but I don’t want to be a nuisance to neither of you,” Castiel says, ashamed.

“Cas, c’mon, you won’t be a nuisance. Yeah, it’ll take time, because you have to change how you move, how you attack, ‘cause you gotta adapt to not being almost invincible, but we all had to learn. Besides, it’ll be good for us to train a little.”

“Okay,” Castiel whispers.

“Now, your main concern is eating, drinking water, taking showers, and sleeping,” Sam says, with a sympathetic smile. “You’ll figure out the rest.”

“I’ll need clothes, too.”

“I can give you some of my older clothes,” Dean offers, feeling how his cheeks try to blush. Seeing Cas wearing his clothes is something that he has imagined more times than he would like to admit. “Use them until we get you some clothes.”

Castiel nods. “Thank you.”

Dean clinks his bottle against Castiel’s and then he takes another sip.

“I’m going to hit the hay,” Sam announces as he stands up. “I’m exhausted of driving.”

“You only drove for five hours,” Dean protests. “What are you, sixty?”

Sam rolls his eyes. “Shut up, Dean.”

Without saying anything else, Sam walks out of the kitchen, leaving Dean and Castiel alone.

Dean stares at Cas. He looks sad and tired. They all lost Jack, but Cas also lost Heaven and his grace. He is the one who lost the most. Sam and Dean gave up their blood, but they both could get that back.

He hasn’t stopped thinking about Billie’s revelation. Cas made a deal with the Empty. He offered himself to die and he didn’t tell them. For that to happen, Cas had to be happy, which probably wouldn’t have happened, but still, it hurts Dean to know that at any moment, Cas could have been dragged to the Empty.

“You’re still thinking about my deal,” Castiel states, looking at Dean.

“Why did you do it?” Dean asks, more hurt than angry.

“It was the only way to get Jack back.”

“Yeah, you’ve already told me that. I just wanna know why you always have to do something that puts your life at risk.”

“I could ask you the same.”

Dean clenches his jaw and glares him. “I hate you.”

“I know,” Castiel murmurs before drinking his beer.

It hasn’t been a great year for the two of them. Dean was angry at Castiel for hiding them about Jack not being okay. Then Jack killed Mary, and Dean got angry at Cas, because a part of Dean blamed Cas for his mother’s death. Dean was so angry and frustrated and he kept being angry at Cas simply because he could.

Dean pinches the bridge of his nose and takes a deep breath. “I’m sorry, Cas. I didn’t mean that. I’m just angry and tired, and I— I am such a jerk to you. I’ve been a jerk to you since Mom died and I— I’m so sorry.”

Castiel nods but doesn’t say anything. Dean doesn’t blame him. Cas has been too patient with him, and even though he has snapped at him for putting all the blame on him, he had to deal with so many crap from Dean, and Dean knows that their relationship has been strained because of this past year.

The worst part is that he doesn’t know if they can fix it this time.

“Cas—” Dean tries again, because he has to try. After everything they have been through, after losing too much, they can’t lose each other. Things are broken, and they aren’t going to be easy to fix, but Dean wants to start over. Heaven nor Hell nor Chuck is there to screw them up, so they can start over. He wants to believe that. “Cas, I—” He clears his throat, hoping that Cas will look at him, but the ex-angel keeps his eyes focused on the bottle. “I’m sorry for being such an asshole to you for this whole year. I’m really sorry. I really am.”

“I’m sorry, too,” Castiel says, finally looking at Dean. “For everything.”

Dean sighs and nods.

“I’m going to bed,” Castiel announces as he stands up.

“Come to my bedroom. I’ll let you some pajamas,” Dean says as he stands up as well.

They walk next to each other, without saying a single word. They used to have comfortable silences, but now it feels wrong and Dean hates it.

They reach Dean’s bedroom and Dean steps inside while Castiel leans on the doorframe and waits for Dean to find some old pajamas in his wardrobe.

“Here,” Dean says as he hands Cas his old pajamas. “There’s also a pair of boxers. Wearing dirty underwear sucks.”

“Thank you, Dean. I appreciate it.”

Dean nods. “Do you need anything else?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Well, if you need anything, just come here and tell me.”

“Of course.” He tries to give Dean a smile, but it comes out as a sad one. “Goodnight, Dean.”

“Goodnight, Cas.”

Castiel turns around and starts walking to his bedroom. Dean watches him leave for a moment before closing his bedroom door.

He presses his back against the door and tilts his head up, taking a deep breath. Things aren’t great in between them, but they have time to fix this. Cas is going to stay in the bunker, so they are going to have time together, which means that they will find some way to fix this whole mess in between them.

Dean closes his eyes and sighs. They can fix this. They can find a way to fix their relationship. Even though it might seem broken, they can put every piece back together.

Chapter Text

Castiel leaves the bunker four days after their arrival to the bunker.

At least this time he announces his departure to both Sam and Dean, which is an improvement, but it still leaves Dean heartbroken.

Castiel insists that he needs to leave in order to think about everything, to figure things out for a while. He doesn’t say for how long he is going to be out, only that he needs to be somewhere where he can see the horizon.

Still, it hurts.

The next morning after Cas’ departure, Sam finds Dean in the library, focused on his laptop, looking for a case while he is drinking his second glass of whiskey, but Dean doesn’t tell him that it’s his second glass. The last thing he needs right now is for Sam to make a point about his alcoholism or to try to give him some kind of talk regarding the touchy topic.

“Dude, it’s not even ten A.M. yet,” Sam says, pointing at the bottle of whiskey.

“It’s night somewhere,” Dean grunts. Before his brother can say anything else, Dean says, “I think I found us a case.”

Sam frowns. “I thought we were gonna get a one week break before jumping into any job.”

“It’s been almost a week.”

“Did you and Cas argue before he left?” Sam asks.

Dean turns his face to look at his brother with a confused expression. “No. What makes you think that?”

“You only start drinking this early when you’re upset, and you’re desperately looking for a case, something you do when you’re angry or don’t want to think about something.” He points first at the whiskey and then at the laptop, and Dean rolls his eyes. “And Cas left yesterday, and since he left, you’ve been upset. You’ve been trying to hide it, but something happened between you two, so I guess you two argued. You two have been arguing way too much this year.”

Dean clenches his jaw and looks at the laptop, avoiding his brother’s incriminatory eyes. Even Sam is aware of how his friendship with Cas is broken. “We didn’t argue before he left.”

“Then why are you so angry?”

“Because he left. Like he always fucking does.”

Sam sighs and sits on the chair next to Dean, dragging it so he can be a bit closer to him. “Dean, he lost Jack, his grace and Heaven. He needs time to adjust. Time to figure things out. He needs space. This is something Cas needs to do on his own.”

Dean doesn’t say anything.

“He’ll come back, eventually,” Sam says.

“Sure,” Dean says, sarcastically. Cas has always come back in the past, but Dean isn’t sure he will come back this time. “Well, in the meantime, I think there’s a ghoul in San Francisco.”

 

***

 

Dean is in the motel room, eating a cold burrito while he looks into the police records about any strange happenings in the cemetery while Sam is out, interrogating the staff of a mortuary. He keeps looking at files, trying to find something that might give him a lead about this case when suddenly, his phone rings.

He is expecting to find Sam’s name on the screen, bringing him some news about the case, but the name that is displayed is Castiel’s.

It’s been five days since they last talked. Dean wanted to send Cas a text message, but every time he typed something, he quickly deleted it and closed the app. He wanted to start a casual conversation, but he didn’t know how. Words have never been Dean’s strength, but now that his relationship with Cas is strained, Dean thinks he has gotten even worse at it.

Still, it’s been several days since they talked, which means that if Cas is calling, it’s probably because something bad has happened. His stomach twists at that thought.

“Cas?” Dean asks, trying to remain calm. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong,” Castiel answers, and Dean swears he can hear him frown. “Why do you think something is wrong?”

“Well, I haven’t heard anything about you for five days, so I thought something bad had happened. Most of the times, when you call, it’s because something bad has happened.”

Castiel sighs. “That’s true.”

There is a tiny silence in between then. Dean clears his throat and asks, “How are you?”

“Tired. The human body needs too much care and energy to function properly.”

“Yeah, it fucking sucks.”

“Also, I hate how much time is wasted by just going to the bathroom. Sloths only have to defecate once per week.”

“Wait, are you serious? They only poop one single time in a whole week?”

“Yes. Imagine all you could accomplish if humans had evolved like the sloths in that aspect.”

Dean chuckles, happily, because the conversation is kind of ridiculous, but it’s nice to talk to Cas. He tries to remember the last time they laughed together or the last time they talked about something that didn’t involve a case or an apocalypse or some kind of shitty problem. It was at least two years ago.

“How are you, Dean?”

“I’m a bit tired. We’re in San Francisco, working on a case. We know it’s a ghoul, but we still haven’t found it. Right now I’m looking at some records, trying to find something weird that happened in the cemetery.”

“I should probably hang up, then. You’re busy.”

“Don’t,” Dean says, sounding a bit more desperate than he would like to. He clears his throat again. “Talk to me. Where are you right now?”

“Jackson, Wyoming. I’m sitting on the hood of my car, watching the Rocky Mountains.”

Dean smiles. “That sounds nice.”

“It is.”

There is another small silence in between them, and Dean pictures Cas, sitting on the hood of his car, letting the sun warm his skin and feeling the wind caressing his face. He must be watching the mountains in the distance and listening to the birds and the sound of the wind among the leaves.

I wish I were there. I miss you, Dean wants to say, but the words never make it out. They never do.

“How— how long are you gonna be there?” Dean asks instead.

“I don’t know,” Castiel answers. “For as long as I need to. I like it here.”

Dean nods, absently. He starts twisting the fabric of his dress pants, nervously, trying to calm the pain in his heart. He thought that Cas would come back after being gone for ten days at most, but it seems that it’s going to be longer. Part of him knows that Cas needs this, but another part of Dean wants to have Cas around. He misses him.

“Well, I hope you enjoy your time there,” Dean manages to say.

“I will try to,” Castiel says. There is a small pause in between them, and Dean can hear the wind on the other end of the line. “I should probably go back to the town and get something to eat. Being hungry is unpleasant.”

“Yeah, tell me about it…”

Dean wants to make the call last for a little bit longer, but he doesn’t know what to say. Talking to Cas used to be easier. How could things get so bad in between them?

“It was nice talking to you, Dean,” Castiel says, and for a moment, Dean thinks he can hear Cas smiling.

“It’s good to hear your voice, Cas,” Dean confesses, managing a small smile of his own. “Be careful, okay?”

“You, too. I hope the hunt goes good and without any injuries.”

“Let’s hope so.”

“See you, Dean.”

“See you, Cas.”

Cas hangs up and Dean looks at the screen for a while, even when it has darkened. After a few minutes, he leaves the phone on the table and tries to focus on his task on the laptop, to keep doing research, but he can’t stop thinking about Cas.

Even though it was nice to talk to him after so many days, Dean still can’t help feeling disappointed. Cas is still away, and he won’t come back home for who knows how long. Dean misses him a lot. Now that Cas can stick around, he doesn’t. And there’s also the fact that their friendship is broken.

He grabs his phone and goes to his phone gallery and looks for a photo of Cas he took two years ago. Cas didn’t notice that Dean took that photo, or maybe he did and decided to say nothing about it. Dean took that photo while they were on a case in Forks, Washington. Cas was sitting on the hood of the Impala, looking at the horizon while he waited for Dean to get some food for himself. Cas looked beautiful under the sunlight with the trees in the background, revealing that autumn had arrived. Dean just loved seeing Cas like that, so beautiful and in peace. Dean decided to take a photo of him. After knowing each other for so long, Dean didn’t have a photo of Cas.

Now, whenever he misses Cas, he looks at that photo.

“Come back home soon, please,” Dean murmurs to the photo. “I miss you.”

 

***

 

Despite telling Dean that he was going to get some food, Castiel remains on the same spot he was while he called Dean. The landscape and the sounds of nature help him with the pain and the hollowness in his chest.

He wants to go back to the bunker and be with Dean, but he can’t do that. Castiel knows he is a waste of space right now. When he had his grace, at least he was useful, but still, he kept screwing up over and over again. Now that he is human, he fears that he will only cause even more trouble. That both Sam and Dean will have to look after him constantly and fix everything that he breaks. And he doesn’t want them to go through that.

As much as Castiel wanted to remain in the bunker, he knows that he isn’t welcomed there, no matter what the Winchesters say. He knows that Dean doesn’t want him there. Things have been harsh in between them for the past year. Dean has apologized for everything and so has Castiel, but he is afraid that things won’t be good again in between them.

And even though Castiel desperately wants to fix things between Dean and him, he knows that it won’t happen. Things only keep getting worse and worse for the two of them, and they have hurt each other countless of times. Castiel is tired, and so is Dean. Maybe they have finally reached the point where they want to give up.

But it still hurts, because Castiel is still deeply in love with Dean.

He has been in love with Dean for so long, way before he even knew what love was. And he has learnt how to hide it, and how to live with it because Dean has never felt that way about Castiel. He accepted a long time ago that Dean will never love him, but he was happy with having his friendship. Now, he isn’t sure if they still have a friendship.

He called Dean because he missed him, and he wanted to hear his voice. He wanted to be reminded of home.

Home. He doesn’t have one anymore. Heaven stopped being his home almost a decade ago. The bunker became some sort of home later, but now he doesn’t belong there. He doesn’t think he ever belonged. Home was where Dean was, but he can’t have that home now.

Castiel feels lost and alone. Those are two terrible things to feel. He felt those things when he was an angel, but now that he is a human, those feelings are overwhelming, making them unbearable.

He takes one last look at the Rocky Mountains and he gets into his car. He needs to feed himself.

 

***

 

When Castiel became human after the angels fell, he found sleeping to be a really difficult task. Now that he is human again, the task seems almost impossible.

The bed of his motel room is too soft and he feels like part of his body is on the floor while the other is on the mattress. Also, the pillow is too hard. Tiredness will make him fall asleep late in the night, but Castiel hates waiting for that moment.

Instead, he leaves the awful bed, grabs his trench coat and leaves his room. He walks to his car and sits on the hood, watching the starry sky. A long time ago, he created and touched some of the stars in the night sky. He had even seen galaxies being born and stars collapsing and spreading their dust across the universe. Those things seem to belong to another life, to another Castiel.

Looking at the stars, Castiel can feel how insignificant he is. Looking at the starts used to give him comfort, now it hurts. They remind him of what he used to be.

It’s not that he doesn’t like being human, it’s just that he doesn’t think he will be good at it. But that has always been Castiel’s problem. He was too human to be an angel, now he is too angel to be a human. He has always been in between two things, but never enough for any of them.

He keeps his eyes fixed on the stars, trying to appreciate its beauty, until he feels a few tears tracing down his cheeks.

He walks back to his room and takes his trench coat off. He wipes his face and sighs, tired and sad. He is about to get back under the sheets when his phone beeps, indicating that he has a text message.

He grabs his phone and sees that it’s a message from Dean.

Made it back home. We only have a couple of scratches but we’re good.

Castiel smiles, relieved. Sam and Dean are back home and they are safe.

I’m glad, Castiel texts back.

When he gets back in bed, more tears fall down his sore eyes, longing for a home and for a person he can’t go back to.

Chapter Text

Weeks pass and Castiel still doesn’t come back home. Dean keeps waiting, but Castiel doesn’t seem to feel like coming back.

They text each other almost daily, and they call each other at least two days per week, but it’s not enough. Dean misses him so damn much. So he buries himself in alcohol and the job, trying to keep the pining, the disdain and the pain away for some moments.

It works partly.

Sam notices, of course he does. He mentions it once, but Dean snaps at him angrily and he storms to his room, not coming out of it for the rest of the day. After that, Sam decides not to approach the subject, even though he desperately wants to.

Weeks keep passing without Cas, until they become a month.

Dean starts losing hope. He doesn’t think he will see Cas anytime soon. He wants to stop texting him, because he is mad at him, but he can’t lose what’s left of his relationship with Cas. All they have left is texting and calling.

The nights tend to be the worst for him, because he lies awake, wondering about how things would have gone if he hadn’t said something or if he had said the things he has been trying to say for years.

Of course that Dean is in love with Cas. He has been in love with him for years. He has tried to deny it in the past, because he was a human, and Cas was an angel. There was no way they could get together without fucking everything up. But there came a point where Dean didn’t care about that, and just admitted to himself that he was in love with Cas and that he wanted to be with him. No matter their differences.

Dean should have confessed a long time ago. A part of him believes that Cas felt that way, but he isn’t sure anymore. Still, even if Cas did feel that way, Dean was still just a hunter, with nothing to offer, except for a place in his bed. That’s all. Cas deserves better than a fucked up hunter with too many physical and emotional scars.

Even if things were good in between them, Dean would still hide his feelings, because there is no way someone like Cas, someone who could create entire galaxies, would want to do anything with a guy that only knows how to hunt monsters.

When Dean starts thinking about all of that, he grabs a bottle of whiskey and keeps drinking until his thoughts blur and the pain is just something dull that can be easy to ignore.

 

***

 

Yesterday they arrived home from a hunt; nevertheless, Dean is already looking for a new case. They should get some rest, they both need it, but Dean feels better when his head is focused on a case. His thoughts aren’t so poisonous and harmful when he has to focus on finding and killing a monster.

It seems that nothing monstrous has happened yet, and although Dean feels relieved that no one has been killed by a monster, he also feels a pang of disappointment because he needs to find something to occupy his head meanwhile.

He decides to look for some books to buy, something in the fantasy or the sci-fi genre.

“Tell me you aren’t looking for a case,” Sam groans as he appears on the library.

“I’m not,” Dean says, showing him the screen. “I’m just looking at some websites, trying to find some books that might be interesting.”

Sam gives him a brief suspicious look, but he sighs and sits down in front of Dean, placing a book and a cup of coffee on the table. “Good. I need a break.”

Dean hums and keeps navigating.

Minutes later, they both startle as they hear the front door being opened.

Dean immediately stands up and almost runs to the war room. He finds Cas, closing the door behind him, and when he turns around to walk down the stairs, he meets Dean’s eyes, and he smiles, softly.

Dean is still angry and hurt, but Cas is smiling at him in that soft way that makes Dean’s heart melt. It’s been too long since they saw each other, and Dean is so damn tired of being mad all the time.

As he descends the stairs, Dean takes a moment to look at him, to fully appreciate the ex-angel. Cas looks tired and a bit tanner than usual. His hair is still a mess. He is wearing jeans, Dean’s old grey Henley and a black jacket. Even though he looks tired, he still looks beautiful.

He still manages to leave Dean breathless after all this time.

“Hello, Dean,” Castiel says as he walks downstairs.

“Hey, Cas,” Dean says, quite awed.

Castiel walks to Dean and Dean immediately gets his arms around Cas, hugging him tightly, feeling his solid body against his. Castiel embraces Dean, his grip tighter than Dean’s, and he releases a silent sigh.

It’s good to have Cas back.

“Welcome back,” Dean says, pulling away, but letting his hands linger on Cas’ arms.

Something in Cas’ eyes sparkle, but Dean doesn’t know what it is. He wants to think that it is happiness. “Thank you.”

Then, Dean notices the stiches on the ex-angel’s right temple. His fingers reach for the wound, caressing the skin softly, barely registering how intimate the touch is. “What happened?”

“A bar fight,” Castiel answers with a grimace.

Dean looks at him, arching his brow and he pulls his hand away. They are still too close, and both still have their hands on each other. It seems as if neither of them wants to remove the closeness in between them.

“A bar fight?” Dean repeats.

“A man was harassing a young woman and I stepped in. The man was stronger than me and I miscalculated my strength and reflexes at first, hence the wound. But I managed to get him away from the young woman.”

Dean smiles, but still is concerned about Cas’ wound.

“Hey there, Cas,” Sam says, clearing his throat.

Just with that, both Dean and Castiel step from each other, aware of how close they were standing. Both blush slightly, and don’t say a word.

“Hello, Sam,” Castiel says, walking towards Sam. They hug, but their hug is shorter, nonetheless, it’s still a tight hug.

“It’s good to see you, man,” Sam says with a smile. “Are you passing by or are you staying with us for a little while?”

Dean hadn’t thought that Cas might be just passing by, paying them a tiny visit before he decides to leave again. The happiness and relief he felt moments ago dissolve and turn into fear and anxiety.

“I’m staying here for a while,” Castiel announces, and then he looks at Dean. “If that’s okay.”

“Of course it’s okay,” Dean says, releasing some of the tension in his body. Cas is staying for a while. It means that he will eventually leave, but he is staying. Hopefully this time, his stay will last longer than four days. “I was gonna make some burgers for dinner, do you want one? ‘Cause that means I’ve gotta get another burger from the freezer to defrost.”

“That would be amazing, Dean.”

“Great. I’ll be right back.”

He walks away from the war room, leaving Sam and Cas to chat while he walks towards the kitchen. He tries to steady his beating heart and tries to hold the tears that threaten to fall. Cas is back. He doesn’t know for how long he will stay, but Cas is back home.

Dean rubs his face and takes a deep breath. He grabs a burger from the freezer, placing it next to the other two that are already defrosting. Then, he grabs three beers and carries them with him. Cas is back home and that’s something to be celebrated.

 

***

 

Dinner goes great. The three of them talk and laugh. Castiel even congratulates Dean for the amazing burger, saying that in the past month, he has been to a couple of burger joints and none of them could compare to the ones Dean makes. Dean, naturally, smiles and blushes.

It almost feels as if things were perfectly okay, but Dean knows they are not. It’s been a little bit more than a month since they last saw each other, and they haven’t talked about anything of what’s going on in between the two of them, but for supper, all the bad things have been put aside.

“Well, I’m gonna go to my bedroom and read something before falling asleep,” Sam announces after they have washed the dishes. “I still need to recover myself from all these hunts. I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

“Goodnight, Sam,” Dean and Castiel say at the same time.

“Goodnight, guys.”

The moment Sam leaves, the silence in between Dean and Cas appears, and Dean hates it. He looks at Cas, wanting to touch him, to feel that he is real. He has always been hungry for Cas’ touch, but after being separated for one month, he is even more touch starved than ever.

“Do you wanna watch a movie?” Dean asks, desperate to be around Cas, to get any chance to have a sense of normalcy in between them. “Or are you too tired from the drive?”

“I am tired,” Castiel recognizes, and Dean tries not to let any disappointment appear on his face. “But I would love to watch a movie with you.”

“Awesome,” Dean says, grinning, which makes Castiel smile shyly. When was the last time he made Cas smile? Maybe things aren’t too broken after all. “I will even let you pick.”

Castiel arches his brow. “Really?”

“Really.”

“Anything?”

“Anything except a chick-flick.”

Castiel smiles. “Okay.”

“C’mon,” Dean says standing up, feeling excited.

They walk towards the Dean cave. There used to be two armchairs, but they were so old that they eventually broke, so they had to replace them with a couch that could fit the three of them.

Even though the couch is large, Dean decides to sit almost in the middle, like he always does when he is with Cas, just to have him closer. He hands him the remote once Cas is sitting next to him.

“Do you have anything in mind?” Dean asks as Cas navigates through Netflix.

“Something that doesn’t have cowboys in it,” Castiel deadpans.

Dean groans, making Castiel smile. He had missed these moments.

As Cas decides to watch Jumanji, Dean starts getting some hope back. They might be able to fix everything in between them.

As long as Cas stays, things will get better.

 

***

 

By the time the movie finishes, Dean switches off the TV and he and Cas walk down the hall, side by side, each going to their respective bedrooms.

“Dean,” Castiel says, clearing his throat.

“Yeah?” Dean asks, looking at him. He knows that tone; Cas only uses it when he wants to ask for something that he isn’t sure if he should ask because he doesn’t want to bother him.

“Would you mind teaching me some fighting? I need to get used to not being as strong as I used to.”

“Yeah, sure. You also wanna learn how to shoot a gun?”

“I would really appreciate that, too.”

“Alright, we’ll start in a couple of days.”

“Thank you,” Castiel says, stopping walking, because they have reached Dean’s door. “I’m sorry for being a nuisance and wasting your time.”

“Cas, c’mon, you aren’t a nuisance and you don’t waste my time. Don’t be ridiculous. You know I enjoy spending my time with you.”

Castiel looks up, touched by those words. Something in Dean stings, because it feels as if Cas didn’t think that Dean could enjoy being with him.

Castiel doesn’t say anything and just nods. “Goodnight, Dean.”

“Goodnight, Cas,” he says. Castiel starts walking to his door, and then, Dean says his name. “Cas.”

Castiel stops and turns around, to look at Dean. “Yeah?”

“I’m glad you’re back.”

His words manage to make Castiel smile, and his body stops being so tense. “I’m glad to be back, too.”

Dean grins and gets inside his bedroom. He lets out a breath he didn’t know he was holding and feels better than he has been feeling for the past month.

Things aren’t perfect, but they are both trying to do something about it.

For the first time in a whole month, Dean manages to fall asleep without intrusive thoughts and without having to drown himself in alcohol.

 

***

 

Castiel closes the door of his bedroom and switches on the light. His bedroom looks exactly as he left it, only that he has already placed his clothes in the drawers and in the wardrobe while Dean helped him clean the dust.

He doesn’t know how long he is going to stay in the bunker, but he wants to stay for a couple of weeks, if he is allowed to do so. Dean seems happy to have him in the bunker again, but Castiel is afraid that he will change his mind the moment Dean finds out how useless Castiel is.

Dean has promised to teach him how to fight and shoot, and maybe by learning that, Castiel can be useful again, making him worthy of staying in the Winchesters’ home.

He had been considered coming back to Kansas for a while, but he wasn’t sure if he was going to be welcomed back. Even though he still feels like he needs to be away, he missed both Sam and Dean and wanted to see them again. He was expecting to receive a cold welcome from Dean, but the hunter seemed glad to see him again. Maybe things aren’t as broken as Castiel thought.

Dean and him had a delightful night, a night they hadn’t had for years. It was good to have Dean by his side, enjoying each other’s company.

Castiel fears that moments like that will be eventually gone, when Dean gets tired of him, when Dean gets pissed at him for not being useful, for being a waste of space.

He sighs and changes into his pajamas. He gets into his bed, his body quickly appreciating the comfortable mattress and the wonderful pillow. Something as simple as a good mattress and a good pillow is almost impossible to find in a motel room.

He switches off the lights and covers himself with the sheets that Dean changed, smelling the soft and fresh smell of the softener.

Castiel closes his eyes and sighs, happy to be in what he considers to be his home even though he doesn’t think he has any right to call Sam and Dean’s home his home, but it is the closest thing Castiel has.

He is back home, with his family. It makes him feel happy, even if a big part of him knows that, eventually, he will have to leave.

But he tries not to think about it for now. He only thinks about being in a comfortable bed and under the same roof as his family.

Chapter Text

Despite being human, Castiel is still a great fighter. The only problem is that he keeps miscalculating his strength, which means that he hurts himself with every hit he gives, or he ends up giving such a weak hit that his opponent doesn’t get hurt at all.

It also means that Dean ends up too close to him, being aware of the small distance in between their bodies. He tries to focus on teaching Cas about fighting without hurting himself, but their hands end up on each other one way or another. The touches tend to be brief or harsh, after all, they are training in fighting, but still, Dean keeps looking forward to the small contact, starving for some touch.

Being touch starved has always been present in Dean’s life. He learnt through the years how to live with that constant longing, but once Cas appeared in his life, that hunger became more intense, and it has been getting worse and worse through the past years. But he has also learnt how to keep that hunger at bay, trying not to let it show.

Castiel comes forward, attacking Dean. They struggle together, holding each other, until Dean manages to throw Castiel onto the mat, putting all his weight onto the ex-angel, and pinning his hands above his head.

Dean smirks, trying to ignore how good it feels to be pressed against Cas. He is going to make a sassy comment, just to avoid thinking about how amazing it is to be on top of Cas, when Cas gets his legs around Dean’s hips and he turns the two of them, reversing their positions.

Having Cas on top of him also feels amazing. Especially when Cas is smirking in such a smug way.

Dean is going to need a really cold shower after this. The temperature of his body has risen notably; he only hopes that his dick stays in place. He doesn’t need to make things awkward in between them; that’s the last thing they need.

“You should keep a better grip on your opponent,” Castiel says.

“I’m the one teaching you. So I’m the only one allowed to be smartass about this,” Dean snaps, trying to keep some space in between their bodies, but Cas is gripping him tightly, pressing his body against Dean. “C’mon, you—” But he doesn’t finish the sentence because he notices that the wound on Cas’ right temple is open. “Fuck, Cas. Your wound is bleeding.”

Castiel immediately lifts his hand, reaching for the wound. He pulls his fingers away, looking at the blood on his fingertips. “Oh,” is all that Castiel says.

“Let’s go to the bathroom to heal you.”

Castiel stands up and offers his hand to Dean, who holds it and stands up. He pushes away the thoughts of how relieved and disappointed he is now that he isn’t pressed against Castiel. Those thoughts will haunt him later, he knows that. But now, all he can think about is healing Cas.

They make it to the bathroom and Castiel sits on the edge of the bathtub while Dean looks for some disinfectant, some gauze and some stiches. By the time he has everything, he sits in front of Cas and he starts cleaning the wound with the disinfectant, which makes Castiel pull away and hiss.

“It’s not that bad, Cas,” Dean says, rolling his eyes.

“It smarts,” Castiel protests.

“Of course it smarts.” He tries to apply the disinfectant on Cas again, but the ex-angel moves before the gauze even brushes him. “Cas, c’mon! If that wound gets infected, that’s gonna hurt like hell.”

Castiel sighs and gets closer. Tentatively, Dean tries again, and although Castiel hisses, he doesn’t move away.

When the wound is clean, Dean puts some stiches on it. Even though most if has closed since Cas arrived to the bunker, there is still a big gap that needs to close.

“Okay, Cas, you’re good to go,” Dean says.

“Thank you,” Castiel says, and Dean thinks there is some sadness in his voice.

“No problem, buddy.” He stands up and starts gathering everything up.

“I’m sorry,” Castiel murmurs as he approaches Dean, leaving only a few inches in between them.

Dean frowns and looks at him. “What are you apologizing for?”

“I’m only causing you trouble.”

“No, you aren’t. What even makes you think that?” Dean doesn’t have any idea where this is coming from.

“I—” He sighs and looks at Dean briefly. Then he shakes his head and starts turning around. “It doesn’t matter.”

Dean grabs his arm, stopping him. “Cas, c’mon, talk to me. What’s wrong?”

Castiel looks at him, and Dean can see that there is so much sadness and misery in his eyes. He wants to know what’s wrong with his friend, to help him, but he can’t unless Cas talks to him. They know each other so well, but they are still unable to read each other when it comes to personal feelings.

Cas opens his mouth, and for a second it looks like as if he is actually going to talk to Dean, but in the last second, he closes his mouth, clenching his jaw, and Dean knows that he isn’t going to tell him anything.

“I should better go to my bedroom and get some rest. I’m quite tired,” Castiel says, without looking at Dean.

“Yeah. Okay,” Dean murmurs, letting Cas’ arm go.

Castiel walks away, leaving Dean in the bathroom. The hunter sighs and presses his forehead against the cold tiles of the wall.

Just when he thought that things were starting to get a little better in between then, reality comes crashing down to remind him that things are as screwed up as they were.

 

***

 

Dean wakes up with a silent yell and he looks at his right forearm, seeing that the Mark of Cain is gone. It’s been gone for five years, but whenever he has nightmares about it, they are so vivid that he needs to check that he is free from its grip, that the Mark is no longer on his skin.

He kicks the covers and sits on his bed. He takes a deep breath and rubs his face with both hands, trying to calm his raggedy breath and his restless heart.

Dean has lived with nightmares since he was four years old. Nightmares only got worse with the years. The more he grew up, the more nightmares he lived in real life, the more people he lost, the more corpses he left behind, the more mistakes he made. Nightmares accumulated in real life and they easily made their way into Dean’s dreams.

He looks around his bedroom, looking for some alcohol, but there isn’t any around there. So Dean decides to stand up, puts on his sleepers and makes his way to the kitchen.

It’s quiet in the bunker, and Dean tries to keep his steps silent; he doesn’t want to wake Cas nor Sam.

He switches on the light of the kitchen and he goes to one of his secret places where he hides some bottles of alcohol. Sam hasn’t found out any of those places, and Dean is glad about it; he doesn’t want to have a conversation about his alcoholism.

Dean knows he has a problem with alcohol, but alcohol is the only thing that buzzes his pain, that makes the pain bearable. It’s the only comfort he has. It isn’t healthy. But who cares about being healthy when he is probably going to die in the hands of a monster?

At least when Dean is drunk, he doesn’t beat his family like John did. Dean might be an alcoholic, but he isn’t an aggressive alcoholic.

He pours himself a generous glass of whiskey and sits at the table, carrying both the bottle and the glass with him.

He takes a long sip, almost drinking all the liquid. He closes his eyes, focusing on the burn the whiskey leaves on his throat. He sighs and looks at the glass, trying to get lost in the sight of the amber liquid.

After a few minutes, Dean hears some steps. He lifts his eyes and Castiel appears, stopping on the threshold when he sees Dean.

“Cas,” Dean says, frowning. “What are you doing awake this late?”

Castiel sighs and walks into the kitchen. “I can’t sleep. You?”

“Same” He takes the remaining sip and then pours himself some more. “Get a glass if you want some.”

Castiel walks towards the cupboard and gets himself a glass. Before he sits in front of Dean, Dean grabs the empty glass and pours him a generous quantity of whiskey. Castiel immediately takes a sip. Dean watches him drink, admiring how his apple bobbles as he drinks.

“Does this ever help?” Castiel asks with a deeper voice than usual.

“Sometimes,” Dean answers, moving the glass in his hand so the liquid can swirl. “It also depends on how much you drink.”

“But it is only a temporary solution.”

“Yeah. It is. But it’s better than nothing.” He takes another sip, almost finishing his glass. “It only drowns things for a while, but for that while, everything becomes a buzz and it doesn’t hurt that much.”

Castiel nods and decides to take a sip.

“You should go slow,” Dean says before the glass reaches Castiel’s lips. “You get tipsy easily.”

Castiel glares him and takes a long sip. Cas has always been stubborn and challenging. Still, he coughs after putting the glass back on the table, and Dean can’t help making a tiny smirk.

“Told ya,” Dean says.

Castiel mutters something in enochian, and Dean knows it’s an insult just for the sound of the word.

“Don’t be rude,” Dean protests as he kicks Castiel’s shin playfully.

Castiel chuckles.

Dean gives him a brief smile and then he looks back at his glass. His eyes dart to where the Mark used to be, just to make sure one more time that it is completely gone.

“Did you have a nightmare about the Mark of Cain?” Castiel asks, worried.

Dean lifts his eyes to meet Castiel’s. “How do you know?”

“You’re looking at the place where the Mark used to be.”

Dean gives him a surprised look; he hadn’t expected Cas to pick up on that, but he did. “Yeah, I did. Once in a while, I get nightmares about having the Mark again.”

“Do you want to talk about that?” Castiel says. There’s so much empathy and care in his voice that it makes Dean feel something warm blooming in his chest. Something that has nothing to do with drinking alcohol.

“No, not really,” Dean answers with a grimace as he looks at his forearm. “It’s something I don’t like talking about.”

Castiel nods. “I understand.” He looks at Dean’s forearm too, and then he says, “I wish I still had my grace. Then I could stop you from having nightmares like I used to.”

Dean looks at him, stunned. “You used to stop my nightmares?”

Castiel blushes and nods. “Yes, I did. Every time I was under the same roof as you and you were having nightmares, I stopped them.”

Dean tries to remember every time Cas was around, whether he was in the bunker or in a motel room, and how those nights when Dean was sleeping, he never seemed to have a nightmare. Nightmares always appeared when Cas wasn’t around or when Cas wasn’t an angel. He can’t believe he never noticed before.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Dean asks, moved by the knowledge of Cas’ gesture.

“If you found out, you would have probably told me to stop doing it. To save my grace for something more important,” Castiel answers.

Dean chuckles. “Yeah, that sounds like me.” He gives Castiel an appreciative smile. “Thanks, by the way. You didn’t have to, but thanks.”

Castiel smiles, softly, and it makes Dean’s heart skip a beat. “You’re welcome, Dean.”

They remain in silence for a while, finishing their glasses. Eventually, Castiel stands up.

“I’m going back to bed and try to get some sleep,” Castiel announces.

“Yeah, me too,” Dean says as he drinks the remaining of his whiskey and he stands up. “Just let me wash this. I don’t want Sam finding out about our drinking shenanigans.”

Dean gets his glass and Castiel’s. He quickly washes them and then he puts the bottle back in its secret place. Then, he and Castiel walk side by side back to their respective bedrooms.

As they walk together, Dean notices that Castiel is only wearing a t-shirt, a pair of boxers and his sleepers, just like him. He avoids looking at Cas form the waist down, but it doesn’t help much, because the t-shirt hangs low on his collarbone, revealing said collarbone. It also doesn’t help that Dean can see Castiel’s strong arms, revealing so much tanned skin and his muscles.

If things weren’t as complicated as they are now and if Dean wasn’t so afraid and so buried in his self-loathing, he would remove the space in between them and kiss Castiel until neither of them could breathe. He would tell him how he feels, and they would kiss again and get their hands on each other and make up for the lost chances they had in the past.

In that scenario, Cas would return his feelings, which is something Dean knows that probably won’t be the case in the real world.

Cas is so close. Dean only needs to move his hand a few inches and they could lace their fingers. Cas is so close, but yet so far.

Dean remains by his side, without removing their distance. He can’t chase after something that is impossible.

They reach Dean’s bedroom door and they both stop in front of it.

“I hope you get some sleep, Cas,” Dean says.

“I hope you do, too, Dean,” Castiel says.

Dean nods. He is about to wish Cas a goodnight when the ex-angel steps into Dean’s personal space and his hand reaches for the place where the Mark of Cain used to be.

Castiel’s thumb starts to rub circles on that spot, and Dean looks at the motion, holding a breath. Then he looks at Castiel’s face, so close to his, and so full of an emotion that Dean can’t put a name on.

“It’s long gone, Dean,” Castiel says in a low voice that sends shivers down Dean’s spine. “It will never come back. We got rid of it a long time ago.”

Their eyes meet, and for the first time in months, there is no pain nor misery nor resentment. It’s just something intense, like it used to be when they looked at each other. Cas’ hand remains on Dean’s forearm, caressing his skin, and Dean wants to just bring Cas closer and kiss him, and hold him, and have him like he has wanted for years. But he can’t. It’s not the right time for them. Probably will never be.

Castiel steps away, pulling his hand away, and Dean immediately misses the warmth of Castiel’s touch, and its gentleness. Those hands have killed and hurt, but on Dean, they have always been gentle and tender. Except for those times Cas was possessed or cursed.

“Sweet dreams, Dean,” Castiel says before turning around and walking to his bedroom.

Dean watches him go, feeling stunned and awed, and after a while manages to whisper, “Sweet dreams, Cas.”

Chapter Text

Weeks pass and Castiel stays in the bunker. Even when Dean and Sam leave to hunt monsters, Cas is still in the bunker when they make it back home.

The two hunts are easy, but Castiel remains back in the bunker, because Dean doesn’t feel that Cas is ready yet.

Dean is relieved to find Cas in the bunker the two times he comes back home after a hunt. A part of him wants to believe that Cas will definitely stay this time, but a big part of him is waiting for the other shoe to drop.

But meanwhile, things at the bunker keep going as before. Both Dean and Sam train Castiel with fighting without weapons, they train him in shooting and also they train him with fighting with a blade, being this last task the one Castiel excels at. The rest of the time, each spends their time doing something they enjoy, like reading, cooking, running, taking a walk, watching something… Other times they spend their time together, sometimes just two of them and other times the three of them.

It feels nice. Dean keeps telling himself not to get used to it, because he knows Cas’ record of leaving. He will eventually leave, he knows that. There isn’t anything in the bunker that will make him stay, but Dean can’t help getting some hope.

The three of them are in the library. Both Sam and Dean are on their respective laptops, while Castiel is reading Alice in Wonderland. Once in a while, Dean steals some glances at Cas, being happy with just having him there. Things in between them aren’t progressing as well as Dean hoped for; they haven’t talked about anything, but at least they get to spend some time together, whether if it’s just training or just spending their free time together.

Whenever Castiel catches Dean staring, Dean quickly looks back to his laptop. He stares too much, and it probably looks creepy to Cas, but Dean can’t help it. He likes having Cas, he likes seeing him in their home, he likes seeing him as a part of his life when there are no monsters involved.

“I think I found us a case,” Dean says after a while, getting Sam’s attention. “In Evansville, Indiana. Five houses have been burnt in a week, in different days, but all in the same neighborhood. All started around night, and it seems that the fire starts burning from their backyard and it quickly spreads through the house. Nobody knows how it exactly started, but two witnesses swear that they saw some kind of monstrous black figure that resembled a cat”

“A cat?” Sam asks, arching both eyebrows.

“That’s what the report says.”

“Alright, let’s check it out. I’m gonna get my stuff,” Sam says as he starts switching off his laptop.

“Can I go?” Castiel asks, looking first at Sam and then at Dean.

“You wanna go hunting?” Dean asks, trying not to let his tremor show. Cas has improved a lot. He has gotten used to his strength and speed as a human, his aim is pretty good, and he kicks ass with a blade, but still, Cas is now human, and that means he’s vulnerable. The last thing Dean wants is to lose him. Again. “Do you feel ready?”

“Yes,” Castiel says casually, and then he squints his eyes. “You don’t think I am ready?”

No one is truly ready for a hunt. Both Sam and Dean have been hunting for almost their whole life, and most of the time, something goes wrong. Someone gets hurt eventually. Dean is scared that Cas will be the one who gets hurt this time.

Dean knew that sooner or later Cas would want to join them in a hunt, but he wasn’t ready for it. Cas is capable of hunting, Dean is well aware of that, but so many things could go wrong. Cas knows how to fight both with or without a blade, and he knows how to shoot a gun. But so do Dean and Sam, and they still get hurt every once in a while. And they have more experience than Cas.

Castiel keeps looking at Dean, expecting an answer. Sam looks at the two of them, wanting to say something, but not doing it, because this is one of those things that it’s only about Dean and Cas.

“Yeah, I think you are,” Dean ends up saying.

He doesn’t think so, but Cas needs some confidence and trust, and Dean will give them to him. After all, Cas won’t know the drill until he begins hunting. As much as Dean is worried about Cas’ well-being, he knows that Cas needs to do this. He needs some real practice.

Castiel nods and there is a hint of a smile. “Thank you.”

“Get your stuff and meet us in the garage when you’ve packed,” Dean explains.

“Of course.” He stands up, closes the book, leaves it on the shelf and walks away.

Dean starts switching off his laptop and feels Sam’s look on him. “What?”

“I thought you were gonna tell him that he wasn’t ready,” Sam says. “I’m glad you didn’t.”

Dean hums and doesn’t say anything. If he talks, he is afraid that he will reveal how scared he is about Cas getting hurt.

 

***

 

They find a motel that has a room for three people. When they make it to the room, they find two beds; one is a queen size bed and the other is a twin.

“Dibs on the twin bed,” Sam announces as he drops his duffel bag onto the bed.

Dean’s heart skips a beat and he remains still on his place. He is going to share a bed with Cas. That’s dangerous territory. Cas doesn’t seem to mind or be affected by this at all. He places his duffel bag onto the left side of the bed and starts looking for something. He says something to Dean, but Dean doesn’t hear him because he can’t stop thinking about the fact that he is going to sleep in the same bed as Cas.

“Dean,” Castiel says again, giving Dean a confused frown.

“Yeah?” Dean says, shaking his head.

“I asked you which side of the bed you prefer.”

“Oh. Uhm, the right side.” He walks towards the bed, placing his duffel bag on the free spot.

“Are you alright?”

“Yeah. Yeah. Just a bit tired from the drive.” He’s been driving for almost eleven hours, so he can use that excuse.

“Why don’t you give me the keys and I drive around town to get some supper?” Sam asks. “It’s quite late, so we won’t be able to do much until tomorrow.”

Dean fishes the Impala’s keys from his pocket and he tosses them to Sam. “Bring something greasy. And beer.”

Sam rolls his eyes. “You should watch your diet.”

“This is what I think about diets,” Dean says, showing his middle finger.

Sam shakes his head and leaves the room.

“Sam is right,” Castiel says as he sits on the edge of the bed. “You should be eating healthier.”

“Don’t take his side,” Dean groans as he puts his toiletry bag on the bedside table.

“I can’t reduce your cholesterol levels anymore.”

Dean looks at him. “You did that?”

“Every time I healed you. Why do you think you could eat all that junk food without having any side effects?”

“I liked to think that I was able to burn all the cholesterol with just hunting.”

“You were wrong.”

Dean huffs and drops his duffel bag to the floor before sitting on the bed, stretching his legs on the mattress. “So now I’ve gotta start eating healthy?”

Castiel joins him, mirroring Dean’s position. The bed isn’t too big, so they only have a few inches in between their bodies. “I’m afraid so.”

“Fuck, man. I should have asked Billie to get me some kind of immunity against cholesterol.”

Castiel frowns. “You would have preferred to have that instead of having all the demons and angels locked up?”

Dean makes a thoughtful grimace. “It would have been a difficult choice.”

Castiel rolls his eyes. “Your priorities are strange, Dean.”

“Don’t give me that look. Food is one of the best things we have. Especially homemade food, that’s why I cook as much as I can when we’re in the bunker, but when we’re stuck in a motel because of a case, we can’t have that, and junk food is the best solution and such an awesome treat. Besides, eating healthy is so fucking expensive, and it’s not like we’re swimming in money, you know?”

Castiel makes an agreement face. “You have a point there. Still, you should be mindful with what you eat. You can’t live on burgers alone.”

Dean smirks. “Watch me.”

Castiel shakes his head and rolls his eyes.

Dean gives Castiel’s boot a playful kick, making Castiel look at him. “I’m joking, Cas.”

“You didn’t sound like joking.”

Dean rolls his eyes. He doesn’t feel like talking about that topic anymore, so he stands up, grabs his laptop and goes back to the bed, sitting next to Cas, being too aware of the closeness but not saying a word about it.

“What are you doing?” Castiel says after Dean has opened the browser.

Cas leans closer, until his arm is pressed against Dean’s, making their faces to be really close. Dean tries to keep himself together, trying not to be affected by the feeling of having Cas so close.

“I’m— I’m,” Dean starts. He clears his throat. Keep your shit together, Winchester. “I’m gonna try to find in the lore something about black figures that resemble cats.”

“Try looking for Slavic monsters,” Castiel says, still really close to Dean. “I think there is one who fits that description.”

“Alright,” Dean says. He starts typing and he quickly finds a website about Slavic lore. He starts reading about the monsters until he finds what he is looking for. “This is it. Ovinnik.”

“A malevolent spirit prone to burning the threshing of houses by setting fire to the grain,” Castiel reads out loud.

“But all the fires started on the backyard,” Dean says, looking at Cas’ eyes; they are so close that Dean can see himself reflected in those sapphires. “There were not threshing houses or any grain.”

Castiel frowns, making a thoughtful face. “Maybe the houses that burned down had some kind of orchard? Maybe the ovinnik had to adapt to the current times and it just burnt the closest thing it could find to some kind of grain.”

“Or maybe it just wanted to burn anything,” Dean says, looking at the picture of the ovinnik. He keeps looking at the website, trying to find a way to kill it. “It doesn’t say how to kill it.”

“Beheading might be the best choice.”

Dean nods. Beheading not always works, but at least it slows the monster. “We’ll talk to the witnesses and the police tomorrow and we’ll investigate the burnt houses and see if it’s an ovinnik or not.” He closes the laptop and places it on the bedside table, being careful of leaving it well set; he doesn’t want to accidentally break it.

Castiel moves a little, bringing back the small distance in between them. Once again, Dean is hit with a mix of feeling both relieved and disappointed at the same time.

He turns his face to look at Cas, who is focused on one of the holes in his jeans.

“Are you nervous about the hunt?” Dean asks, worried, but also hoping that they can get some honest talk.

“A little,” Castiel confesses.

“You’ll do great, Cas,” Dean admits, patting Castiel’s knee.

Before anyone can say anything else, Sam appears, bringing some Chinese food and beers with him. Dean quickly moves away from Cas, startled by the interruption. Sam doesn’t seem to have noticed how close they were sitting, and Dean is glad about it.

“Hey, we might have an idea of what monster we’re dealing with,” Dean says as he gets the beer and settles them on the table.

As they have dinner, both Dean and Cas inform Sam about what they found on the internet, and the three of them theorize about the monster.

After finishing their food, they each take turns to brush their teeth and then they get in bed.

Castiel is the last one to get in the bed, and the mattress dips as he settles on his side.

“I hope you don’t snore,” Dean says, trying to use humor as a way to avoid thinking about how close they are, and how easy it would be to remove those stupid inches in between them.

Apart from all the sexual fantasies about Cas that Dean has, he has always fantasied about sleeping next to Cas. Dean has always wanted to share a bed with him. He has always wanted to sleep next to him and wake up next to him. He thought that the first time that would happen, would be because both wanted to sleep in the same bed, not because they were forced to do so in a motel room.

But then again, life never gives Dean anything the way he wants to.

“I don’t know,” Castiel says before switching off the lights. “We will find the answer tomorrow morning.”

“Asshole.”

Castiel chuckles and rolls onto his side, showing his back to Dean. This time, Dean feels more disappointed than relieved.

“Goodnight, Dean,” Castiel murmurs.

“Goodnight, Cas,” Dean whispers, looking at Castiel’s dark form.

He also rolls onto his side, facing Castiel’s opposite direction, just to avoid any accidental touching in between them, even though Dean yearns for some kind of physical touch in between them, something that will remove the inches that feel like miles in between them.

Cas falls asleep easily while Dean remains awake for a long time.

 

***

 

It takes them two days to find the ovinnik, and when they finally do, trying to kill it or even hurt it, seems to be a really difficult task.

The ovinnik manages to scratch the three of them, tearing part of their clothes and making them bleed. But it also keeps kicking them and throwing them against the closest wall, hurting them badly.

Bullets don’t affect it and they don’t slow it down either. But they piss it off a lot.

Dean looks around the floor for his machete, which is far away from where he is lying. Sam’s machete has been melted by the ovinnik’s fire and Castiel’s machete has been thrown to the ceiling, and not even Sam can reach it.

Sam keeps shooting the ovinnik, trying to hurt it, or to slow it down, but it only makes it angrier. The ovinnik reaches Sam, throwing his gun away and then throwing Sam against the wall.

“Go and get the machete,” Castiel whispers to Dean. “I’ll distract it.”

“Cas, no,” Dean hisses, but Cas doesn’t listen and runs towards the ovinnik.

The ovinnik turns around, noticing Cas and it grabs him by the neck, pressing him against the wall, lifting him without any effort at all. Castiel tries to free himself from its tight grip, but it is useless. He tries to kick him and punch him, but the ovinnik, once again, is unaffected.

Cas starts struggling for breath, his body quickly starts to give up. And that’s when Dean manages to behead the ovinnik. His head rolls onto the floor, dots of black blood spreading in its direction.

Castiel drops onto the floor, coughing, trying to get some needed air.

“What the fuck were you thinking?!” Dean yells, angry and hurt. “Are you fucking insane?!”

Castiel glares him but he doesn’t say a single word; he still needs to catch his breath.

Sam approaches them and he puts a hand on Dean’s shoulder, pulling him away. “Dean, take it easy on him, okay?” He offers his hand to Cas so he can stand up. Cas takes it and stands up. “You okay, man?”

Castiel nods as he touches his neck. “Yes. I’m fine.”

“Bullshit,” Dean says. “Let’s burn that body and get out of here.”

Before Cas or Sam can say anything to him, Dean is walking away, going to the Impala to get some gasoline to burn the corpse of the ovinnink.

 

***

 

The moment the three of them are in the motel room, Dean can’t hold his anger anymore. He managed to remain quiet while they burnt the ovinnink and while they drove back to the motel, but he can’t take it anymore.

“What the fuck were you even thinking, Cas?!” Dean asks, turning around to look at Cas, who immediately glares him.

“Dean—” Sam begins to say with a warning tone.

“This doesn’t concern you, Sam!” Dean yells, and Sam makes a disbelieving face that Dean decides to ignore. “You could’ve been killed!”

“I wasn’t,” Castiel says.

Dean clenches his jaw and glares him. “Why is it that you always have to do something stupid that risks your life?! Is that the only solution to you?!”

“I didn’t see a better choice, Dean!”

“You always say that!” Dean yells, getting closer. “There wasn’t any other choice! It was the only thing I could do!” He yells, mockingly, making Castiel clench his jaw. “You’re always so eager to get yourself killed!”

Castiel lets out a bitter chuckle. “It’s quite ironic that you are the one saying that, don’t you think? When you are always the first one doing something that involves getting yourself killed!”

“At least I do it because there really is no other choice!”

“Of course,” Castiel sasses.

“Don’t use that tone! You always think that you’re so righteous and that your choices are always the best, but you always end up fucking up everything! You hide stuff from us and run away without a fucking word and when you come back, things are so fucked up there’s no way to fucking fix it! And if you think that’s not the case, look at what happened to Mom!”

The moment Dean has said the last word, a tense silence falls upon the room. Dean knows he shouldn’t have said that, that those words are a product of his anger and pain, but he can’t take them back. He is still furious about Cas risking his life and all that anger and pain has poisoned him, making him unable to control himself, or to even show some regret. He stands there, looking at Cas with too much hurt.

Castiel looks at Dean, angry and hurt. There are tears forming on the corners of his eyes, but he doesn’t let them out.

“Fuck you, Dean,” Castiel says. “Fuck you.”

Castiel walks towards the bed, where his duffel bag is and he grabs it.

“You’re in a hurry to leave again?” Dean asks, with a venous voice. “Of fucking course.”

Castiel glares him. “I don’t know why my leaving bothers you so much when you clearly don’t want me here.”

Something in Dean’s heart breaks at hearing those words, but his face doesn’t show it.

“Cas, c’mon,” Sam says, giving Cas a pleading look. “You can’t—”

“I’m sorry, Sam. But this is for the better.”

Castiel opens the door and closes it behind him with a bang. Sam gives Dean a deadly glare and is about to open the door to go after Cas when Dean says, “Let him go.”

“Are you serious?” Sam says, giving Dean a despiteful look.

“Yeah,” Dean murmurs, letting himself drop onto the bed he shared with Cas. “He won’t come back.” He looks at Sam, defeated. He is starting to realize the consequences of his words and his actions, and he knows there is no way to fix it anymore.

Sam notices that Dean has realized how harmful he was to Cas, so he sighs. “He will come back eventually. He always does.”

“No. He won’t come back this time. After this, Cas has no reason to come back at all.”

And as he says that, a few tears spill from his sore green eyes.

Chapter Text

Dean knows Cas is pissed at him and that he won’t come back. Still, he sends him a few text messages, desperate to get some answer from him, but most all, he is desperate to apologize.

I’m sorry for what I said. I didn’t mean it. I’m sorry, Cas.

Just let me know that you’re alright, okay?

Cas, please, answer me.

I’m sorry. I fucked up and I’m sorry.

Castiel never answers.

Dean eventually tries to call him but once again, Castiel doesn’t answer.

He keeps trying to reach Cas, but whenever he calls him, the phone goes straight to voicemail. At first he thinks that Cas forgot to charge his phone, but after the same thing happens over and over again, Dean starts fearing the worst.

Unless Cas’ phone isn’t on, he can’t track him down, but Dean can track him down by knowing where he used his credit card. After all, he gave Cas that card when he first left the bunker, so he knows the number.

He grabs his laptop and tries to see when was the last time Cas used his credit card and where. His stomach drops when he sees the last time he used it was nine days ago, just when his phone started going directly to voicemail. It can’t be a coincidence.

What if something terribly bad happened to Cas? Dean doesn’t dare to start thinking about that. Something must have happened. Cas might have gotten ridden of his phone, but he left without any cash, which means that he depended on his credit card, and he hasn’t used it for nine days. Something must have happened.

Dean needs to find Cas.

He grabs his phone and calls to the only person who might be able to find Cas.

“Hel—”

“Rowena,” Dean says, interrupting her. “I need you to find Cas.”

“What happened to the handsome ex-angel?” Rowena asks, with a worried voice.

“It’s a long story. Can you find him?”

“Of course I can. But I will need something of him to make the locating spell. Like a hair or something he wore.”

“Okay. Well, just come here to the bunker and we’ll find something. Just be quick, please.”

Rowena sighs. “Why is it that every time you or Samuel calls me I have to be there as soon as possible?”

 

***

 

“Bloody hell,” Rowena says after Dean has explained all that went down with him and Cas.

“Yeah,” Dean says with a grimace.

“Why did you have to be so harsh with him?”

“I was mad, okay? He almost got himself killed. It was his first hunt as a human and he didn’t even think about how reckless he was.”

Rowena arches her brow. “Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?”

Sam chuckles at that while Dean glares the two of them. “Whatever,” Dean says, ignoring both Rowena and Sam. “How accurate is that spell?”

“Quite accurate,” Rowena says as she starts putting all the ingredients in the bowl. “I’ll be able to tell you in which city or town he is and in which area he might be.”

“That’s good. That’s really good.”

Rowena smiles, pleased.

“And when she locates him, what are you gonna do?” Sam asks.

“Go to wherever he is and see if he isn’t hurt,” Dean answers.

“And then?”

“I— I’ll try to bring him back home.”

“Good luck with that,” Rowena scoffs. “If I were Castiel, I would punch you if I saw your face again.”

“I have to try.”

“Then try not to be an emotionless and cold hearted douchebag.”

Dean glares him.

She drops into the bowl one of Castiel’s ugly socks and then she starts reciting in Latin. A purple flame appears and Rowena’s eyes turn into purple as well. She closes them and after a few seconds, and when she opens them, her eyes slowly turn to their usual color.

“He is in the northwest of Canyonville, Oregon,” Rowena states.

Dean breathes relieved. If Rowena has been able to locate him, it means that Cas is alive. “Thank you,” Dean says before leaving the room.

“Wait!” Sam says, making Dean turn around. “Are you gonna leave right now?”

“Yeah. The sooner I leave, the sooner I’ll get to him.”

 

***

 

It’s a twenty five hour drive and Dean only stops once to sleep in a motel room and another time to refill the Impala’s tank. He drives faster than it is allowed, but he doesn’t care; he needs to see Cas.

It’s been more than two weeks since Cas walked away and Dean hasn’t heard a word from him. Cas is probably still pissed at him, and Dean knows that it’s his fault. He fucked up, but he is going to do anything that he can to fix this. They both fucked everything up tons of times in the past and they always found a way to fix it and move pass it.

But Dean fears this time they won’t be able to fix anything.

Since Chuck died, both he and Cas had been dancing around the issue, trying to fix what was broken, but unable to do anything about it. They just pretended that nothing was wrong, while everything was wrong, and it hasn’t worked.

Dean doesn’t know what will happen once he and Cas see each other.

By the time he reaches Canyonville, it’s already dusk and it’s raining heavily. He drives until he is in the northwest side of the city, looking around, trying to spot Cas somewhere, but he doesn’t see him.

He drives around, until he finds a motel and decides to try his luck there. At this time and with this weather, Dean is sure that Cas might be wherever he might be sleeping, sheltering from the rain, and a motel room seems like a good guess.

He parks the car on a free spot and he walks towards the entrance of the motel, drenching himself.

There is a man in his fifties behind the counter, and he gives Dean a small glare when he sees him drenched and dripping onto the floor.

“How can I help you?” the man asks with a raspy voice.

“I’m looking for someone,” Dean says as he fishes his phone, looking for a photo of Cas. “He might be staying in here.”

“I can’t give you that kind of information.”

Dean was expecting that, but he was hoping that he would get that information without having to pay the guy. He gets his wallet and gives him a fifty dollar bill before showing him Castiel’s face again.

“Is he staying here?” Dean asks, quite irritated.

The man gets the bill and looks at the photo. “Yeah. He’s in room 13.”

“Thanks.”

Dean walks out and looks at the two floors of the motel room, trying to make out where room thirteen is. There are twenty rooms in total, so Cas’ room must be on the second floor.

Dean walks upstairs, drenching himself even more under the heavy rain. He walks until he sees the number thirteen on the door. There is light coming from the room, and Dean stops walking, feeling how his heart begins to beat rapidly and how his stomach starts doing funny things.

He takes a deep breath. He can do this. He wants to do this. But he is nervous as hell.

What if he fucks things up in between them again? What if he loses Cas forever? What if he hurts Cas even more?

Dean takes a look at the closed door, feeling scared and nervous. He has survived several apocalypses, he has fought against monsters, angels and demons, and yet, the idea of having a heart to heart conversation with Cas seems more terrifying than any of that.

He takes another deep breath and walks towards the door, knocking on it.

The door opens, revealing Castiel, unharmed, looking quite good, and Dean can’t help letting out a relieved sigh.

“Hey, Cas,” Dean says.

Castiel’s surprise turns quickly into anger. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“I— Can I come in? Because it’s raining a lot.”

Castiel looks at him for a moment. Then he grunts and steps aside, letting Dean in, who is immediately thankful for the shelter and the warmth.

Castiel leans against the door. “Dean, what the hell are you doing here?”

“I wanted to see if you were alright. I’ve been calling you and texting you and you didn’t answer. Every time I called you, your phone was dead.”

“Didn’t it occur you that maybe I didn’t want to talk to you?”

“Yeah. But your phone was dead for nine days, Cas. I was starting to get worried. I also—” He clears his throat, uncomfortable with confessing the next thing. “I also checked your credit card records, and they showed that you hadn’t used it for nine days, and I thought it couldn’t be a coincidence. I was worried that something had happened to you.”

Castiel shakes his head, and his expression is hard to read. “How did you find me, then?”

“Rowena.”

“I should have warded myself against witchcraft.”

“Cas, c’mon—”

“Now that you have seen that I’m alright,” Castiel begins to say as he moves away from the door. “I think it’s time for you to go back to Lebanon.”

Dean knew things weren’t going to go easy in between them, but he wasn’t expecting Cas to end things this quickly. “Cas, just—”

“Just what?” Castiel snaps. “What the fuck do you want, Dean?”

“To talk!” Dean snaps, hating himself for raising his voice. He takes a deep breath and rubs his neck, trying to calm himself. “And to apologize for what I said.”

Castiel looks at him, without saying a word, but his eyes are a sea of complicated emotions.

“I was mad, really mad, Cas, and as always, it made me say things that I didn’t mean. And I’m sorry, I really sorry.”

Castiel sighs, tiredly, and he presses his back against the wall. “Dean, I can’t keep putting up with being the target of all your anger. I’m tired of it.”

“I know, Cas. But—”

“Dean, it’s been more than a year,” Castiel interrupts, sounding so hurt. “I knew you were mourning your mother, and that it was hard, and I was patient with you, because I knew how painful it was the loss of your mother, but you kept over and over again throwing your anger at me, blaming me for her death. I know I should have told you about Jack, but I didn’t kill your mother.”

“I know, Cas. I know,” Dean admits. “He was also my responsibility, too. And Sam’s. We all screwed it up somehow. And I know that you tried to do your best, even though it wasn’t the best choice.”

“Do you really mean that or are they just empty words?”

“I really mean that, Cas.”

“Until when? Until you get mad at me again and decide to blame me again for her death like you did the last time?”

“Cas, after the last hunt I was mad—”

“Stop saying that!”

“You don’t understand!” Dean yells, frustrated.

“You keep saying that all the time and—”

“I was mad because you almost died!” Dean confesses, frustration, pain and anger slipping into his raised voice. “I almost lost you!”

Castiel looks at him, shocked.

Dean sighs and runs his fingers through his wet hair. “That night I wasn’t mad because of the things that happened last year. I was mad because you throw yourself to the ovinnik without hesitation and it almost killed you. I— Fuck, Cas, how many times are you gonna make me watch you die?”

“Dean…”

“I can’t lose you again. I’ve already lost you too many times. And now if you die, you fucking die. There’s no resurrection. There’s no— There’s no coming back.”

“I didn’t think you actually cared if I lived or died.”

Dean feels his heart break. “Did you actually think that?”

Castiel nods.

“Holy shit. Cas, I— Of course that I care if you live or die. What made you think that I didn’t?”

“Almost every single thing that you said to me last year. And everything that happened in between us.”

“Fuck.” Dean shakes his head, feeling tears on his eyes. “I’m so sorry. I’m so fucking sorry.”

“I know, Dean. I know.”

They remain in silence for a while, just looking at each other, not knowing what to say and processing what has just been revealed.

“Is that why you always leave?” Dean asks after a while. “Because you think that I don’t care about you?”

“Sometimes that’s the reason, yes,” Castiel confesses.

“Fuck,” Dean says again, hating himself even more.

“But sometimes I leave because that’s the only way to protect you.”

Dean looks at him, giving him a confused frown. “Protect me from what?”

Castiel takes a deep breath. “From making the wrong choice and having to carry it upon your shoulders.”

“That should be something I should decide myself, Cas.”

“I know that. But I always try to do it, just to make myself useful to you and your brother and as a way to fix all my mistakes.”

Dean sighs. He is feeling a little bit cold because of the rain on his body and clothes, but he doesn’t care about that now. There is another silence in between them, but this time, they aren’t looking at each other.

“Come home with me, Cas,” Dean pleads.

“Dean…”

“Please,” Dean interrupts as he walks closer to Cas, keeping some distance in between them. “Just come back home.”

Castiel looks at Dean with glassy eyes. “Dean, please…”

Dean places his hand on Cas’ forearm. “I miss you. Please. Come back home. Let’s go home. I want you to come back. I need you to come back.”

Castiel closes his eyes and starts shaking his head. “I can’t.”

“Why not?” Dean asks, with tremor in his voice.

Castiel opens his eyes and looks at Dean. “Because I’m tired, Dean. I’m tired of getting hurt constantly, I—”

“I’m tired, too, Cas. I’m so fucking tired, too,” Dean confesses. “But even if I’m tired, I’m not gonna give up on you. I don’t wanna lose you.”

“You didn’t care about losing me last year.”

“Yes, I did. But I— I just didn’t prove it. But I cared. It hurt me when you walked away. Just come back, please. Come back home with me, Cas.”

“What do you want from me, Dean?”

I want to be with you. I want us to be together. I want us to be happy. I want to have with you things that I have never allowed myself to have or even dream about. I want to grow old together with you. I want to be able to love you every day without aching about it every day.

But Dean doesn’t say any of those things. Now it’s not the right moment. So instead, Dean says, “I want us to be good again, to fix what’s been broken. I want us to stop being angry at each other. I want us to stop hurting. I want to be okay with you. I just— I just want my best friend back.”

Castiel closes his eyes, letting a tear fall down his eye. Dean then allows himself to shred some tears as well. He feels that he is about to lose Cas forever, and he can’t take it, but he keeps holding onto Cas’ forearm, not wanting to let go.

“Okay,” Castiel says, opening his beautiful but sad eyes. “Okay.”

“Really?” Dean asks, looking at Cas surprised.

“Really,” Castiel says, nodding. “Let’s try and fix this.”

“It won’t be easy.”

“It never is. But I want to try.”

“Awesome,” Dean says, managing to smile for the first time in so many days. He pulls away, aware of how long his hand has been holding Cas, but he doesn’t remove the distance in between them. “I should— I should get a room for myself tonight.”

“Stay here. The bed’s big enough for the two of us.”

“Do you—” Dean starts saying. “Do you really want me here?”

“Yes. I do.”

Dean lets out a relieved sigh. “Okay, then.”

“I would suggest you to take a hot shower, but I’m afraid that none of the showers in this motel have been able to produce hot water for two days.”

“That’s okay. I just need to get some dry clothes on and I’ll be fine.”

“I’ll give you some,” Castiel says, walking towards the tiny wardrobe.

“I can go to the Impala and get my duffel bag from the trunk.”

“That would involve getting wet again,” Castiel says as he hands Dean a black Henley and a pair or pajamas pants.

“Thanks, Cas.”

Castiel nods and sits on the bed while Dean starts removing all his clothes, except for his boxers, showing his back to Cas.

“What happened to you?” Castiel asks, worried, standing from the bed.

Dean frowns at first and then he remembers the bandage on his left shoulder blade. “A ghost threw me against some wall that had old nails on it from hanging frames and they got through my clothes and skin.” He looks at Cas as he explains it, and his heart melts when he sees Cas’ concern. “I’ve had worse,” Dean asks, shrugging casually.

“The bandage is wet. I should replace it with a dry one.”

“You don’t have to, Cas.”

“Just sit on the bed, Dean,” Castiel says as he walks towards his duffel bag.

Dean does as he is told, leaving the Henley on the bed. Cas sits next to him and starts removing the wet bandage.

“How did you get to Oregon?” Dean asks.

“Bus,” Castiel answers as he sticks the dry bandage. “I took different buses, until I ended here. I’ve been in Canyonville for five days.”

“How’ve you been paying stuff?” Dean asks as he grabs the Henley and puts it on, appreciating the dryness of it and most of all Cas’ scent left in the fabric. “You haven’t been using the card I gave you for more than a week.”

“I called Claire and she taught me how to get a fake credit card,” Castiel confesses as he stands up and throws the wet bandage. “I knew that you could track me by looking at my credit card records, so I got myself a new one to avoid being located. Also, I switched off my phone and removed the battery to also avoid being located.” He sits down on the bed, next to Dean, leaving only a few inches in between them. “I should have added some wards against witchcraft, but I didn’t think you would want to find me.”

“I’m glad you didn’t ward yourself against witchcraft,” Dean confesses.

“I’m glad, too,” Castiel says, looking at Dean.

Dean nods and makes a tiny smile. “Do you wanna sleep?”

“Yes. I’m tired.”

“Me, too.”

While Castiel puts on his pajamas, Dean gets in bed. The mattress isn’t great, but it isn’t the worst either.

Cas joins him and switches off the light. The bed is big enough for the two of them, allowing them to keep some distance in between their bodies. Dean would be bothered by that annoying space in between, but after everything that has happened in the last two weeks, he is just glad to be sharing a bed with Cas.

“Cas,” Dean says after a while.

“Yes, Dean?” Castiel says with a sleepy voice.

Dean turns his face to look at Cas. He can’t see him properly in the dark, but he can see that Cas has turned his face as well. “You aren’t gonna leave in the middle of the night while I’m sleeping, are you?”

“Of course not, Dean.”

“Okay,” Dean murmurs, turning his face again so he can stare at the ceiling. “Goodnight, Cas.”

“Goodnight, Dean,” Castiel whispers back. “I missed you.”

Dean closes his eyes and smiles, relieved.

When he wakes up next morning, Castiel is still in bed with him.

Chapter Text

Dean is sitting on the hood of the Impala while Cas gets the key of his room back to the owner.

When Cas starts walking towards the Impala, Dean feels so many emotions blooming in his chest. Things are complicated in between them, but they both agreed on trying to fix it. And Cas is also coming home. If Dean is being honest, he is quite happy.

Now he only hopes for thing to finally start getting better.

“Here,” Dean says as he hands Castiel a cup of coffee he bought.

“Thank you,” Castiel says before taking a long sip of coffee. “I hate how dependent of caffeine I have become.”

Dean grimaces apologetically. “Yeah. It won’t get better. Sorry.” He grabs a paper bag and gets two sausage, cheese and egg sandwiches; one for him and another for Cas. “I also got this. They had some pastries, but they looked dry.”

“I can confirm you from experience that they are even drier than they look,” Castiel admits as he sits on the hood, next to Dean. He grabs the sandwich and he starts eating it. “How many hours does it take from here to Lebanon?”

“Twenty-five,” Dean answers with his mouth full. “We’ll stop in the middle to find some motel room and get some rest.”

Castiel simply hums and keeps having breakfast.

They finish their remaining breakfast in silence. Dean keeps stealing quick glances at Cas, still trying to make sure that the fallen angel has agreed to go back to Kansas.

When they are done with their breakfasts, they throw the waste into the closest bin.

“Ready for a really long drive back home?” Dean asks, clapping his hands.

“Of course.”

Dean smiles and the two of them get in the Impala. Dean starts the car and he looks at Cas, until the ex-angel notices Dean’s eyes on him.

“What?” Castiel asks, frowning.

“Nothing,” Dean says. “Just that I’m glad that you’re coming back home with me.”

Castiel smiles, timidly. “I’m glad that I’m coming back home with you, too.”

 

***

 

After driving for fourteen hours, they finally make a stop in Evanston, Wyoming, to get some needed rest. Dean used to drive for longer hours, but he is no longer in his twenties and thirties anymore, and his body is not what it used to be. They could have stopped at Salt Lake City, but Dean wants to be back home as soon as he can.

They get a room with two beds, much to Dean’s dislike, but he doesn’t have an excuse to sleep in the same bed as Cas anymore. Last night there was only one bed, and the last time they slept in the same bed was because there were only two beds and there were three people in one room.

Dean drops onto the bed, hurting himself in the back because of the really hard mattress. He groans, not only because of the slight pain, but also because of the tiredness.

“I saw a McDonald’s a few blocks down the street. Do you want me to walk there and get us some food?” Castiel asks, throwing his duffel bag onto the other bed.

“That’d be awesome,” Dean says, turning his face to look at Cas. “You really don’t mind?”

“I don’t. I really need to stretch my legs.”

Dean fishes in his pocket for the room’s key and he throws it at Cas, who catches it easily. “Thanks.”

Castiel nods and he leaves the room.

It doesn’t take Dean more than two minutes to drift off.

He wakes up startled when the door of the room closes. He tries to reach for the gun he tends to keep under the pillow, but he didn’t have time to put it when they arrived it, so he ends up throwing the pillow to Castiel, only registering that it is Cas and not an intruder the moment the pillow has left his hand.

Castiel easily moves to his side, dodging the pillow. He gives Dean a confused look.

“If I had been an intruder, a pillow wouldn’t have stopped me,” Castiel sasses as he moves towards the table.

“I didn’t have my gun,” Dean mutters as he stands up and grabs the pillow throwing it back to the bed.

Castiel gives him a deadly glare. “I should consider myself lucky, then.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. I wouldn’t have shot you. In any case, I would’ve pointed the gun at you, but that’s all.” He approaches the table and sits on the chair, dragging it until he can be a bit closer to Cas.

Castiel sits down on the chair and he starts eating, Dean does the same, looking at Cas once every now and then, not wanting to be caught staring.

“You’ve been really quiet the whole day,” Dean murmurs, making Castiel look at him. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah,” Castiel answers, but his answer doesn’t seem to be true.

Dean wants to press the topic, call on Cas’ bullshit, but the last thing he wants to do is make something that will anger or hurt Cas. He doesn’t want to make Cas leave again; he just got him back.

“Okay,” Dean says, but the word tastes bad in his mouth.

Castiel doesn’t say anything else and the two of them continue eating in complete silence.

The only thing they say to each other before they go to bed is “Goodnight”. As Dean switches off the light, he finds himself unable to fall asleep despite being exhausted.

Slumber eventually finds him, and he surrenders to it, but he is still worried about Cas, which makes him have a restless sleep.

He wakes up a couple of times in the night. He rolls over to his side, facing Cas’ bed, when he notices that the bed is empty. He looks at the bathroom’s door, which is open, and Dean feels a shiver running down his spine.

He kicks the sheets and leaves the bed. He then notices that Cas’ duffel bag is on the floor, and Dean sighs relieved, because if Cas left, he would have picked up his bag.

For a moment Dean thought Cas had left again.

Still, it’s three A.M. and Cas isn’t in the room. Where the hell is he?

Dean walks towards the window and moves the curtains to see outside. He spots Cas, leaning onto the rail. Dean immediately puts on his sleepers and he leaves the room, joining Cas.

“Can’t sleep?” Dean asks before leaning his forearms onto the rail.

“No,” Castiel confesses, sighing.

“Me neither.”

“Nightmares again?”

“Restlessness.” He looks at Cas and the ex-angel nods. “What about you? What’s keeping you awake?”

“My head.”

“Heads can be a real nightmare sometimes.”

“Yeah,” Castiel whispers.

“Hey,” Dean says, turning slightly, getting into Cas’ personal space. He touches his shoulder and Castiel looks at him. “Talk to me.”

“Being human is hard,” Castiel begins to say. “I’ve been human before, but now it’s different, because I know this time is permanent. Adapting to everything that comes with humanity is turning out to be a difficult task.” He clenches his jaw and looks at the city, where only a few nightlights are on. “Sometimes it’s too much and sometimes it’s not enough.”

“That’s life,” Dean murmurs before dropping his hand. “You never really get used to it. We just pretend to get used to it, but we really don’t.” He leans the small of his back against the railing and he keeps looking at Cas.

“You don’t see to be struggling.”

Dean chuckles. “That’s ‘cause I’m good at faking it. We all are.”

Castiel closes his eyes and nods. A chilly breeze blows around them, and Castiel sighs at its feeling.

Dean moves his hand closer, until his fingers can brush Castiel’s. The contact makes Castiel open his eyes and look at their hands before he looks at Dean. It’s an intimate gesture, but Dean knows from experience that a slight touch can mean so much, that it can actually ground someone and that it can bring some sliver of peace.

“You’ll be okay, Cas,” Dean murmurs. “You’re a tough guy. And so fucking stubborn, so you won’t let life fuck you.” He smiles at that and Castiel rolls his eyes, but Dean can see the hint of a smile on his lips. “You’ll do fine. You just need time. That’s all.”

“I’m surprised you still have faith in me.”

“You were the one who actually started making me believe in angels, so…” He shrugs, casually. He moves his hand away, immediately missing Cas’ warmth. “C’mon, let’s get inside and try to get some sleep before we freeze ourselves out here.”

Castiel nods and he walks into the room, followed by Dean.

 

***

 

“Castiel!” Rowena exclaims delighted when Dean and Castiel appear in the library.

“What are you still doing here?” Dean asks, frowning.

“Hello to you, too, Dean,” Rowena sasses, glaring him. “I wanted to see if Castiel was alright. You left both I and Samuel worried about his well-being.” She approaches Cas and she gives him a flirting look that would make Dean extremely jealous if Cas wasn’t so terrible on realizing when someone is flirting with him. But Dean still feels some pinch of jealousy. “My, my, Castiel. Humanity looks good on you. You should have gotten rid of that trench coat years ago. It hid some of your best features.”

Castiel tilts his head and squints his eyes. “I still have my trench coat. But it isn’t cold enough to wear it yet.”

“Burn it, dear. You would be doing me and Dean a huge favor. Right, Dean?”

Dean blushes all the way up to the tip of his ears. Castiel looks at him, still confused by Rowena’s words.

“Where’s Sam?” Dean asks, clearing his throat.

“Showering. He came back from running stinking,” Rowena answers, scrunching her nose.

“He left you alone here?”

“Why are you so scandalized about it?”

“Because we have tons of books and things you might want to steal.”

“I know how to behave myself, Dean.”

Dean gives her a sassy look.

“Most of the time,” Rowena concedes.

Dean shakes his head and chuckles. “What have you collected this time?”

“Nothing. I’m capable of obtaining things by myself without any of your help. Not unlike you three.”

“She has a point,” Castiel says.

Dean rolls his eyes and glares his friend. “Don’t take her side.”

“Cas!” Sam exclaims, as he appears into the library. He is fully dressed, but part of his hair is still wet. “How are you?”

“I’m good, Sam. How are you?” Castiel says, with a soft smile.

“I’m good.” He smiles and he clasps his arm. “It’s good to have you back, man.”

“Thank you.” He nods. “I’m going to leave all my stuff in my room, if you don’t mind.”

“Go ahead,” Dean says, with a smile.

“So, are you guys good?” Sam asks once Castiel has left the library.

Dean shakes his hand. “More or less. We still have to figure things out, but we’re working on it.”

“I’m surprised he decided to come back with you after everything,” Rowena says with a surprised face. Then, she studies Dean with her gaze. “Did something steamy and exciting happen between you two?”

“What?! No! Of course not!”

“There’s no need to be so defensive, Dean. It was just a question,” Rowena says with a playful smile that Dean doesn’t like at all. “Does that mean that Castiel might be interested in experiencing the most carnal aspects of humanity with a beautiful and powerful red-haired witch? Or are you going to get defensive about that too?”

Dean glares her and feels how his face is turning into a scarlet shade. “I’m gonna go to my room and leave all my stuff there.”

Dean walks away from the library, being both pissed and ashamed.

 

***

 

While Dean is getting ready for bed, there is a knock on his door.

“Just one moment,” Dean says as he stops unzipping his jeans. He doesn’t bother to put on some sleepers and decides to walk barefoot to open the door, finding Castiel. ”What’s up, Cas?”

“I’m looking for a book that I had on my bedside table but isn’t there anymore. It’s not in the library either,” Castiel explains. “Have you seen it?”

“Which book was it?”

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

“Yeah, I got it in here. If I can remember where the hell I left it,” Dean says. He turns around and starts looking at his shelves. “Just come in and help me find it. If it’s not in my shelves, it’s in some drawer or in that desk.”

Castiel does as he is told and starts looking around.

When Dean has finished reading the spines of the books on his shelves, he groans. “I swear I had it here. Have you found it yet?” He turns around and sees that Castiel is staring at the content of a drawer. “Cas?” Dean asks, approaching him, and then he sees that the book is there, but there’s also a photo of Mary with Dean when he was four years old.

“You used to have her photo on display,” Castiel says, his eyes still focused on the photo.

“Yeah. I will put it on display eventually, when— when it doesn’t hurt to look at the photo.”

Castiel nods. “She was kind to me. Even though I wasn’t of her blood, she still cared about me.” He grabs the book and closes the drawer. “I failed her.”

“Hey, none of us expected Jack to kill her. Even when you knew what was going on with him, did you think he was gonna be able to kill her?”

“No. I didn’t. I knew things weren’t right with him, but I didn’t expect him to do something like that.”

“Me and Sammy would have thought the same. It was all so sudden, so stop beating yourself for it,” Dean says, and he truly believes his words after all this tiresome year.

Castiel looks at him and his eyes are full of emotion.

“What?” Dean asks, confused.

“It’s nice to hear you say that,” Castiel confesses.

“Well, I guess I just needed time to process everything and mourn, like you said. I’m— I’m sorry that I decided to be so angry at you. I wasn’t in a good place, but I shouldn’t have treated you the way I did. I shouldn’t have said any of the stuff I said. I sorry I hurt you.”

Castiel smiles. “I’m also sorry for hiding so many things from you. I know it wasn’t the best choice.”

Dean nods. “Yeah. But I know you were trying to help.”

“Sometimes that isn’t enough.”

“Maybe. But it’s fine.”

There is a small silence in between them that they spend just looking at each other.

“Thank you for the book,” Castiel says eventually.

“Yeah, sure. Enjoy it,” Dean says, trying to make a smile that looks honest.

Castiel nods and he starts walking towards the door.

“Cas,” Dean says.

“Yes?” Castiel asks, turning around.

Dean starts moving his mouth, unable of what to say. He knows what he wants to say, spend the night with me. But there is no way he can say that. As much as he wants to share a bed with Cas again, and more other things that he doesn’t allow himself to think because he knows he will never have that, he knows Cas will refuse the idea of sharing his bed.

So like always, Dean swallows his feelings and he says, “Goodnight.”

Castiel smiles. “Goodnight, Dean.”

Then he leaves the bedroom, closing the door behind him. Dean drops onto the bed and sighs.

Like always, Cas is so close and yet so far.

But at least things are slowly getting better in between them.

Then, why does he want more when he knows he won’t be able to have it?

Chapter Text

Castiel once said that waking up Dean was like waking up a bear. It’s kind of true. Dean hates being awake all of a sudden. He likes waking up slowly, so he can linger in bed for a little while, allowing his body to slowly wake up. If he doesn’t get to have that, he is grumpy and needs coffee to be properly awake.

That’s why, most of the times, when Dean wakes up in the bunker, he isn’t grumpy.

It also helps waking up and knowing that Cas is still there. But Dean doesn’t tell anyone that.

He wakes up, goes to the bathroom to relieve himself and then he goes to the kitchen to make breakfast.

Dean decides to make some pancakes for today and also some bacon. He is even going to make a fruit salad for later. Just to balance all the cholesterol they are going to ingest.

As he starts making the batter, he hears Cas dragging his feet.

Cas is the grumpiest person in the morning. He hates mornings. And he needs to have at least two cups of coffee to remove his grumpiness.

It’s better not to say a word to Cas before he has had his first cup of coffee, but Dean is such a teaser.

“Good morning, sunshine,” Dean greets with a bright smile.

Castiel grunts, shows him his middle finger and then goes to the coffee machine.

Dean can’t help but laugh.

Whenever Cas is in the bunker, neither Dean nor Sam make coffee. Cas is a disaster in the kitchen, but somehow, he manages to make the best coffee. It has become a rule in the bunker that as long as Cas is there, Cas has to make coffee.

While Dean keeps mixing the batter, he hears the coffee machine working. He looks at Cas, still angry about the existence of mornings, and Dean smiles. He loves waking up and having Cas in the kitchen, being part of his life. It makes his chest hurt in a good way.

Dean brings his focus back to the batter, until Cas nudges him on the arm. Dean looks at him and grabs the mug with coffee that Cas offers him.

“Thanks, Cas,” Dean says, smiling. Their fingers brush, and Dean feel his heart skipping a beat.

Castiel nods and takes a long sip from his own mug. Dean drinks too, humming pleased at the taste.

“It’s so damn good, Cas,” Dean says, leaving the mug on the counter.

“Thank you,” Castiel says, managing to make a tiny smile. Something that could be considered a miracle given that he is still grumpy because he has only had one cup of coffee. He drinks the remaining of his drink and walks to the coffee machine to pour himself the second one. “Do you drink something before coming to the kitchen?” Castiel asks as he approaches Dean, leaning the small of his back against the counter.

Dean frowns. “No. Why do you ask?”

“I find it unnatural to be in such a happy mood this early without any coffee in your system.”

Dean shrugs. “Depends on the morning.”

More like it depends if Cas is here or not, Dean thinks.

He looks at Cas. His hair is always messy, but when he wakes up every morning, it looks as if he had been having sex all night, and it is unfair how good he looks with that wild hair. Dean tears his eyes from Cas, not wanting to stare way too much, and he starts putting the batter onto the griddle, avoiding thinking about how nice it would be to run his fingers through that hair while they kiss.

“Do you need any help?” Castiel asks.

Dean makes a thoughtful look and then says, “Yeah. Why don’t you get some fruit and peel it and slice it a put it on a bowl?”

“Are you ever going to let me use the stove?”

“Yeah, I will. Once you stop burning food.”

Castiel rolls his eyes and grumbles something in enochian while he walks to Dean’s right side, where the fruit is. “I can’t get better if I don’t practice.”

He has a point. “You need supervision. And also to be awake. I don’t trust your cooking skills on mornings.”

“Fair point.”

Dean smiles and looks at him again. Cas is wearing his robe, a t-shirt and boxers. Along with his sleepers. He has been wearing that every morning, which makes it so hard for Dean not to stare. He tries to avoid looking anywhere that isn’t Cas’ face, but it’s so difficult when Dean can see his thick thighs or his strong chest. And worst of all, the area hidden by his boxers. Sometimes Dean’s eyes act on their own and he finds himself staring and he has to force himself not to look at any part of Cas’ body.

Castiel lifts his arm, reaching for a bowl in the cupboard, and part of his t-shirt lifts, revealing skin, his sharp hipbones and part of his enochian tattoo, and Dean stares, feeling his mouth go suddenly dry.

Before Castiel can notice, Dean moves his eyes back to the pancakes, feeling how his whole face blushes. Better to have an effect on his face than on his dick.

He has always been attracted to Cas, but before he fell, Dean had to use his imagination to know what was hidden under all those clothes Cas wore. Now, he can see almost every part of Cas every morning, and it’s breathtaking, and Dean wants to touch him and kiss him everywhere, and praise every inch of his body.

And he also should stop before all his blood decides to go south.

“Do you think this will be enough?” Castiel asks when he has peeled and cut the fruit.

“Yeah,” Dean says, licking his lips. “Thanks, Cas.”

Castiel nods and walks to the table, leaving the bowl with fruit there.

“Good morning, guys,” Sam announces when he steps into the kitchen.

“Good morning, Sam,” Dean and Castiel say at the same time.

“Donna sent me an email,” Sam begins to tell while he approaches the coffee machine to pour himself the remaining coffee. “She has a case in Stillwater, Minnesota, probably some vampires. But she thinks there’s also another case in Lawton, Oklahoma. Some friend of hers has reported some unusual deaths.”

“How unusual?” Castiel asks, frowning.

“Apparently, all the victims either drowned when they were sleeping or they were burnt in bed. Nobody knows how they drowned or how they got burn.”

“Sounds fun,” Dean says, sarcastically. He puts the bacon on a plate and he carries both the bacon and the pancakes to the table where Sam and Cas are already sitting. He sits next to Cas. “So how do you propose we do this?”

“I was thinking about going to Minnesota while you and Cas go to Oklahoma,” Sam answers as he serves himself some pancakes. “Donna’s good with vampires, but she’ll need some back-up. Apparently, Jody and the girls are busy with something in Sioux Falls, so that’s why she called.” He looks at Dean, and he notices that he is frowning. “Something’s wrong?”

Dean shakes his head. “No. I was just thinking about the case in Lawton,” Dean says.

“You think you two can handle it?”

“Of course,” Castiel says.

Dean nods. He knows that they can handle it. But he is worried about Cas getting hurt again.

 

***

 

Dean knocks on Castiel’s ajar door before opening it a little bit more. “You ready?”

“Almost,” Castiel says dryly.

“Cas, are you okay?” Dean asks. Cas is mad, and Dean doesn’t have any idea about why his friend might be angry.

Castiel clenches his jaw and gives Dean a mean look. Apparently it has to do with Dean. That’s not a good sign.

Things have been going pretty good for the last four days. Eventually, something had to happen. The thing is that Dean has no idea what he did this time.

“You don’t want me on this hunt,” Castiel accuses.

Dean frowns. “What makes you think so?”

“Your attitude this morning. When Sam mentioned you had to get stuck with me, you were unhappy.”

Dean sighs. “That’s not it, Cas.”

“Then what is it?”

Dean sighs and feels some blush coming to his cheeks. He hates having to admit the truth, but they have lied to each other too many times, and some truth could do them so good, so Dean answers, honestly, “I don’t want you to get hurt again or— or something worse.”

Castiel’s eyes soften, but there’s some disappoint in them. “I can take care of myself, Dean.”

“I know. Just promise me you won’t do anything reckless or stupid.”

Castiel clenches his jaw and glares him. “Only if you promise me not to do something reckless or stupid as well.”

Dean dedicates him a deadly glare. Cas can be so fucking stubborn sometimes. “You promise first.”

“Fine. I promise,” Castiel mutters while he grabs his duffel bag. “Now your turn.”

“I promise,” Dean says through gritted teeth. “Anything else?”

Castiel says something in enochian and leaves the room.

Dean follows him while he rolls his eyes.

 

***

 

When they reach Lawton, they get a motel room, change into their FBI suits and go to talk to Donna’s friend about the case. She shows them the files about the cases and she also shows them the two last bodies they found. One has been burn, barely leaving any flesh, while the other is in perfect conditions, only that their lungs were full of water.

By the time they finish in the morgue, it’s almost dark, and they both decide not to bother any families this late and get some pizza and eat in the motel room while they do some research.

Even when there is no more pizza left in the box, they keep looking into the victims, trying to find anything about them that might connect them, but they only have in common that they all were men and that they all were in their late thirties.

Dean rubs his face and yawns. “Maybe we should call it a night, don’t you think?” Dean asks, looking at Castiel with pleading eyes.

Castiel rubs his eyes and nods. “Yeah, I think you’re right.”

Dean starts switching off his laptop, stealing a quick glance at Cas, noticing that something is worrying the ex-angel. “What is it?”

“If I didn’t have to sleep, I could keep researching on my own, like I used to.”

“Hey, don’t worry about that. Me and Sammy always had to sleep and we always ended up solving the case.” He gives him an encouraging smile as he stands up and stretches his arms, feeling some pain in his back. He is getting old. “There’s always tomorrow, Cas.”

Castiel nods. “Okay.”

They both undress. Dean avoids looking at Cas and focuses on the wall and its ugly painted paper. By the time Dean has changed into his pajamas, Cas is already getting in bed.

They both wish each other a goodnight and Dean switches off the lights, falling asleep easily.

He sleeps for hours, until some distressed noise wakes him up. He opens his eyes, and finds the room in complete darkness. He looks for a strange shadow or a strange figure, but there’s nothing there. He hears the sound again, and he recognizes that the pained sounds are coming from Cas.

“Cas?” Dean asks, sitting on his bed and switching on the light.

When the rooms is lighted, Dean sees that Cas is still in bed, with his eyes closed, but his head moves, as if he was trying to get away from something. He also keeps making those sounds, as if he were in pain, and Dean knows from experience that Cas is having a nightmare.

Dean walks towards Cas’ bed, sitting next to his body and he starts shaking him.

“C’mon, Cas. Wake up. Wake up, Cas. Just wake up.”

When Cas opens his blue eyes, they are filled with terror and pain. His hands grip Dean’s biceps tightly, and Dean startles at the whole thing, but he places a hand on Cas’ left shoulder, keeping him in place, trying to reassure him.

“It’s me, Cas. It was just a nightmare,” Dean says, as softly as he can.

Castiel’s breathing is uneven and shaky, and his body is trembling. He manages to sit on the bed, pulling the covers away. He does it so fast that Dean doesn’t have any time to keep him in place or do anything.

Castiel closes his eyes and grips the sheets tightly. He is trying to keep his body from shaking and trying to calm his breath, but he can’t.

“Cas,” Dean says, touching his right shoulder.

When he touches him, Castiel opens his eyes, revealing that he is about to cry and Dean hates to see him hurting that way.

“C’mere,” Dean says, embracing him until they are hugging and Cas can bury his face in the crook of Dean’s neck. “It’s okay, Cas. Just let it out. I’m not going anywhere.”

Castiel starts crying. He fists the back of Dean’s t-shirt, shaking while he cries. And Dean holds him tightly, murmuring soft words, stroking his back in circles, hoping that Cas will eventually feel better.

And eventually he does. His breathing evens, and his body stops shaking. He even stops crying, but he doesn’t pull away from Dean, and Dean doesn’t pull him away either.

“Thank you,” Castiel says, softly, pulling his face away from Dean. “And I’m sorry for—”

“Don’t apologize, Cas,” Dean interrupts, rubbing Cas’ back again. “You needed it. Nightmares can leave you pretty fucked up.”

“Yes. They definitely can,” Castiel admits, sighing tiredly.

“Wanna talk about it?”

“Not really.”

“Yeah, I get that.” He looks at Cas, trying to make sure that he is okay. “You okay?”

“I’m better,” Castiel answers, which doesn’t completely answer Dean’s question. “I should get some water.”

“Here,” Dean says as he stands up and walks towards his bedside table to grab a bottle of water. He walks back to Cas’ bed and he hands it to him.

“Thank you.” He drinks the water, slowly, and when he is done, he sighs and hands it back to Dean, who leaves it on Cas’ bedside table.

“Do you think you’re gonna be able to get some sleep?” Dean asks, worried.

“Yes, I think I will.”

“Okay.” Dean stands up and is about to walk back to his bed, but Cas grabs his wrist, stopping him. Dean looks at Cas, who can’t meet his eyes, and Dean can swear he seems to see some slight blush on his cheeks.

“Could you—” Castiel begins to say. “Could you sleep with me tonight, Dean? Please. Just tonight.”

Dean looks at him, a bit shocked. He wasn’t expecting that. He takes too long to answer, which makes Castiel look at him. He looks scared, but he also looks embarrassed about having to ask for that. Dean feels a pang of pain in his heart; Cas doesn’t seem to be happy about the idea of sleeping with Dean, but he needs it tonight. It hurts Dean, but at the same time, he knows Cas needs this, so he is going to give it to him. Even if it means a lot for Dean and it doesn’t mean anything to Cas, Dean is still going to accept it.

Cas has needed him in the past and Dean wasn’t there as much as he would have wanted to. Now Cas needs him again, and Dean is going to be there.

“Yeah, I can,” Dean answers.

Castiel sighs, relieved, and he lets go of Dean’s wrist, leaving the ghost of his touch on Dean’s skin. “Thank you, Dean.”

Dean nods and he walks to the right side of Cas’ bed. It’s a twin bed, so there’s not much space for two people, but neither of them seems to care.

When Dean is in bed, Castiel switches off the light and he turns around so he can face Dean, surprising him. Their knees touch under the covers, and Dean wants to remove the tiny inches in between them, but he keeps the distance, so does Cas.

“Goodnight, Dean,” Castiel whispers.

“Goodnight, Cas,” Dean whispers back.

Castiel falls asleep easily, while sleep takes its time to come after Dean.

 

***

 

It turns out that the responsible of the mysterious deaths is the ghost of a witch that died in the end of the nineteenth century. She kills by the two ways most women suspected of witchcraft were killed in the past; by drowning or burning. And she only attacks men of the same age more or less because the lovers who betrayed her were that age.

She had been burnt, but an old lady who likes to collect old and occult stuff, ended up with a necklace that belonged to the witch.

Dean and Cas decide to go burn the necklace, but the witch shows herself and attacks.

Powerful ghosts are dangerous and make things hard, but a powerful ghost that was also a witch is even worse.

Both Dean and Castiel attack her with iron, but she reappears quickly, attacking them and throwing them against the closest wall.

“Where is the fucking necklace?!” Dean asks after hitting the ghost with iron for the tenth time.

Castiel is about to answer him when the witch reappears behind Dean. “Dean!” Castiel yells.

The witch gets his hand on Dean’s back and Dean starts to feel how his lungs burn as they are filled with water. His mouth quickly spurts water. Castiel attacks the witch with iron again, making her disappear, but Dean is still drowning.

“Hold on, Dean! Hold on!” Castiel says before he runs to the sofa, to get the necklace.

Dean is on the floor, unable to breathe. He tries to, but his lungs can’t stop getting more and more water inside them. He watches Cas, getting some gas on the necklace. He is about to burn it with a matchstick when the witch appears behind him. Dean wants to warn him, but he can’t.

The witch gets her hand on Castiel’s back, and Castiel groans, but he manages to drop the matchstick on the necklace, igniting it and the ghost of the witch starts burning.

Castiel doesn’t remain on the sofa to watch her burn and instead he runs towards Dean. He rolls him on his side as Dean starts coughing all the water that made it to his mouth, feeling his lungs empty, and being able to breathe, although with a slight pain.

“Dean, are you okay?” Castiel asks, cupping his face and looking at Dean, worried.

“Yeah, I’m good. I’m good,” Dean answers, still trying to get some needed air. He closes his eyes and leans onto Castiel’s touch. “Thanks, Cas.”

“You’re welcome, Dean.”

Castiel holds him while Dean still struggles to get some needed air. The fallen angel waits with him, never letting his hands go from Dean, who leans into the touch.

When Castiel sees that Dean’s breathing is even, he says, “Let’s get out of here.”

 

***

 

“Well, despite the whole drowning thing, the hunt went pretty well, don’t you think?” Dean says, looking at Cas on the passenger’s seat.

Despite being quite late, Dean had insisted on driving back to the bunker tonight. Castiel thinks Dean should get some rest, but sometimes the hunter is even more stubborn than Castiel.

“Yes, it went quite well,” Castiel admits, gladly. He was worried that he was going to fail Dean somehow, but he managed to save him in time and finish the ghost.

“Y’know,” Dean starts to say, and for some reason he sounds shy. “I missed going on hunts with you.”

Castiel smiles, timidly. “Thank you, Dean.”

Castiel is glad to know that Dean isn’t disappointed in him, that Castiel has managed to prove his worth. He still thinks that he will eventually let Dean down somehow, but Castiel doesn’t allow himself to think about that. For now, he is going to enjoy this. It’s been so long since the two of them could be like this.

He looks at Dean, who moves his eyes from the road to look at Cas, and they both smile before they both look away.

Castiel looks at the stars through the window, and for the first time since he became human, he doesn’t feel that hollow. He still feels some ache in his chest, but it’s not as painful as it used to be. At least not tonight.

“Do you wanna hear some music?” Dean asks.

“Of course,” Castiel says.

Dean grins and he presses the play button. It’s Never Too Late by Steppenwolf plays, and Dean starts singing it. Castiel watches him, with a small smile on his lips. When Dean notices, he blushes and grins, but he keeps singing, this time louder, and Castiel ends up grinning.

For the first time in a long time, he is really happy and he isn’t scared about being happy.

He only hopes that this happiness won’t be ephemeral.