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“Open your eyes.”

 

Dean opened his eyes slowly, trying to gather his bearings. He was looking out over a beach alright, but not quite the one he had been expecting. It was narrow and more pebble than sand. Technically, he could sink his toes into it, but it would be less of a tropical feeling and more of a homemade-gravel-pedicure. The sun was out, spots of sharp light reflecting in the water but the warmth was not enough to stop a shudder going through Dean. The body of water looked more like a lake than the ocean, and along the shoreline, Dean spotted several buildings, a huge bridge spanning over the water and what looked like a park. He glanced at Cas. “Did your angel-GPS malfunction or something, Cas? This does not look like Mauritius.”

 

Cas smiled, shaking his head. “My 'GPS' doesn't malfunction. I sensed the last remnants of a huge downpour over our location in Mauritius. So I figured a brief detour would do us good until the weather clears and then we'll be on the island.”

 

“Uh-huh. Alright. So how long until the weather clears?” Dean turned and noticed that the tiny beach was close to a paved path that by the looks of it went all around the lake. Now and then, people passed by, but none seemed to take any notice of them. They just looked like two guys staring out over the waters. “And where are we?” Dean added.

 

“By my estimations, the weather will be back to normal in around seventeen hours. That gives us plenty of time to explore Juna. It's in Sweden, the southern parts.”

 

Dean grabbed his suitcase, raising an eyebrow at Cas. “Sweden, huh? The land of IKEA, Volvo's and Robyn.” Another chill wind passed by Dean, and with the sun in hiding, goosebumps rose all over Dean's skin. He pulled at his green and black flannel shirt, which suddenly felt all too thin. “I guess Sweden didn't get the memo that it's summer.”

 

Cas grabbed his suitcase. “It is summer. Just an unusually chilly one. Follow me. We need a car.”

 

 

 

Dean sighed. “I don't know, Cas. I didn't even think about cars since we were heading towards tropical islands, pineapple drinks speared with cute umbrellas and lots of naps. Is this really the car that says Winchester, bad-ass hunter and baker extraordinaire? What will Jack think of us? Kids are impressionable at his age... ”

 

“While your cooking is good, grabbing a pie from the store doesn't count as 'baking'. The only extraordinary fact about that is that you manage to save pie for me.” Looking at the picture of an Audi A1, Cas narrowed his eyes. “And I don't see anything wrong with this car. It's nice and sturdy. The safety features are – “

 

“I have another suggestion, husband.” Dean grabbed Cas' hand, stroking it lightly before he stabbed a determined finger at the brochure, on the car next to the Audi. “It still has a number one in its name.” When Cas hesitated, Dean went in with the killing blow. He smiled and spoke softly. “We are on vacation after all. What good is it if we can't have a little fun with the only decent car in this place?”

 

The woman at the counter looked up at that, her eyes still friendly. “We have a higher segment with a more... fun assortment of cars if it pleases you, sir?”

 

Dean looked back at Cas. ”It starts with a B, just as Baby. That has to be a good sign.” Taking a small step towards him, Dean noticed a tiny twitch at the corner of Cas' soft, kissable lips. “This car pleases me, sir,” he whispered.

 

Cas cleared his voice and directed his attention to the woman. “We will hire the BMW. A full day is enough.”

 

As Cas turned back, Dean was nodding in approval. He added a thumbs up for good measure.

 

Punching the suitcase one last time, Dean slammed the tailgate hurriedly as to avoid the suitcases bouncing back up. Sitting down in the passenger seat, Dean buckled up. “It's a nice car for being this tiny, but still. If we had Baby, we'd have no difficulties putting our suitcases in the back. That and a body.”

 

Castiel glanced in the rearview mirror before putting in reverse. “Luckily, we are still on vacation. So no hunting. And I hope to avoid a scenario that entails bodies needing to be put in trunks.”

 

Dean put up his hands. “Hey, I'm all for a little R&R. Just saying, if we run into a little murderous gnome or forest spirit with a chip on her shoulder, I wouldn't complain.” He licked his lips. “I wouldn't mind putting parts of my body in your trunk.”

 

Cas shook his head in amusement and was about to reply when a loud growl interrupted him. He raised an eyebrow towards Dean, humor in his voice. “By the sound of that, it looks like we need to put food in that body of yours.“

 

“Fine, I am hungry.” Dean winked and did a clawing gesture with his hand.“Rawr.”

 

Laughter escaped Cas as he shook his head. “I need to focus on driving. Let's see what Juna has to offer.”

 

 

The traffic on the road was almost nonexistent. The two-lane roads were devoid of the normal city bustle and traffic jams but people were milling about on the sidewalks. Finding a huge parking-garage, they circled upwards until they found a free spot.

 

As Dean came back with a parking slip, Cas was just finishing a call on the phone. Sliding the phone in his back pocket, he smiled. “Let's grab some food.”

 

“Let's. Everything alright back home?”

 

Cas nodded. “Yes, was just checking in.”

 

The restaurant they finally settled on was close to a pier, a small, inviting restaurant looking out over another, larger lake. Huge glass windows allowed the customers an amazing view of blue, sparkly water. The wind had not relented; if anything it seemed harsher now this close to the large lake and although the sun did shine on them, Dean couldn't tell.

 

He glanced over at the two tables closest to them, one with a couple that seemed to be fairly new to the dating game. They had that look about them with the eyes; constantly gazing at each other for so long that others would find it uncomfortable. Tongues licking lips and the guy moving this way, inching closer to her, the woman's hand slowly making circles on the guy's palm. Yeah, they wanted to fuck each other. The guy was wearing a T-shirt and jeans, and his date had a yellow polka dot dress on.

 

The other table was more lively, a couple and their four kids, all girls, ages ranging from Wheels on the bus- is to die for, talking-way-too-loudly-in-public, all the way to Miss-Teen-rolling-her-eyes-at-everything. They were all digging in on a dessert, pie from the looks of it. Any place that deemed it a good idea to have pie on the menu was Dean's kind of place. He noticed that they too had thin clothes on. Strap tank tops, a dress with Pippi Longstocking, T-shirt and shorts on the man. The wife was ignoring all the hustle and bustle, her expression serene as she had her face turned towards the sun.

 

“I don't know what the Swedes are having for breakfast, but this is not the kind of weather that would make me go all sun-worshiping lizard. It's fucking cold.”

 

“Come here.” Cas grabbed Dean's hand and started rubbing them vigorously. “Better?”

 

A warm smile creased Dean's lips. “Mm. A nice burger would warm me even more.”

 

As the waiter came back to take their orders, Dean's brow was furrowed in thought.

 

“Do you need a few more minutes?” The waiter, a tall guy with blonde hair more styled unruly than actually messy with open, green eyes was hovering over them. A discreet name tag had the name 'Jonas' written on it.

 

Dean's glance turned inquisitive. Jonas was solidly built, just the right side of thick with a smile that turned a nice face breathtaking. The kind of guy Dean would have looked at before, in what now seemed to be another lifetime. Before Cas. Before all the shit they had gone through, before all the drama, disasters and... deaths. Before them now. The thought made him grin and he flashed a smile towards Cas who by the looks of it had already decided on what to order.

 

Jonas directed his attention to Cas as Dean looked at the menu. Thankfully, the names of all the dishes were translated, not that there would be a language barrier of any kind. It seemed every person in Sweden had devoured an English dictionary at birth, only to then progress to the final graduation where a thesaurus had been on the menu. Sure, he could hear a weird accent here and there but he was getting by, by a mile.

 

The food, on the other hand, Dean was not sure would get him by. Where were the fucking hamburgers? Boiled potatoes with chives and smoked salmon. Eggs with dill and pickled herrings. Boiled potatoes with dill and mustard herring. Onion herring. Herring with lingonberries. Herring with lime and ginger. Herring pickled with beer. If it was one thing he might be willing to try it was the beer-fish. Potato pie, potato salad, a cheese pie called Västerbotten, that sounded more like a medicine than actual food. Chives there too. If it had only been a sweet pie. Pie was a lunch food, right?

 

“Are you ready, sir?” The waiter was clearly aiming his question at Dean.

 

Dean cleared his throat. “You done already, Cas?”

 

“Yes, Jonas was very helpful and recommended quite a few items.”

 

Narrowing his eyes, Dean looked at Jonas. “Uh, I couldn't help but notice there is quite a lot of … herring on the menu but not many burgers.”

 

Jonas flashed another smile that just made him look stunning again. Dean shook his head slightly. He was tempted to give the dude a mirror but was afraid he'd go full-on Narcissus on him. “Yes, this is our special midsummer-menu. Traditional Swedish feast-dishes. It's midsummer after all.” It ended on a question like this was common knowledge.

 

Dean was tempted to tell him that Cas had beamed them all the way up here a la Star Trek so he hadn't had time to eye through the Swedish tourist guide. “I see, heavy on the potatoes, tight with the meat. Uh, I'll take the cheese pie and beer fish.”

 

“Excellent choice. I'll be back shortly with your drinks.”

 

As Jonas turned on his heel, Cas chuckled. “Cheese and beer?”

 

Dean shrugged. “It's food.”

 

 

“This is food!” Dean moaned around another mouthful of the fish. “Whoever came up with the idea to pair beer and fish together was a fucking genius. And this pie, Cas – “ Dean held out a fork inviting Cas to taste.

 

“It has a certain... pungent sting to it.” Cas swallowed it down, only to grab his glass of apple cider.

 

Putting down his fork, Dean sighed. He'd grumbled in the beginning at the small serving of pie, what kind of monster feed their guests a sliver of pie, but as he dug in he started to understand. An explosion of flavor hit his mouth with the most distinct cheese taste he'd ever had. Even though Dean had nibbled on the pile of arugula they'd tossed on there, the small slice of pie settled in his stomach like a rock. “It's not pungent, Cas. It has an... aroma. And now I need a nap. How was your food?”

 

“Delicious. You want a new potato?”

 

“Just one more bite and I'll explode, like a ripe melon on the sun.”

 

Cas just smirked at Dean's jab. “It's a good expression. I heard a handsome celestial being said it. Very intelligent and bright. 'Sexy as fuck' some sources say. A source.”

 

Pulling out his card, Dean put it in the tab, inching it towards the edge of the table. “Mm, you believe that source? Sounds like he played you.”

 

“I don't think so. He's been very persistent in expressing that certain sentiment. He's particularly fond of the color of my eyes. Said something along the lines of that it wasn't fair that such a shade existed, not coupled with that very kissable, hungry, mouth of mine. I have sexy bed hair too... and my thighs are – “

 

Dean cleared his throat that suddenly felt very dry and took a swig of pear cider that did little to mitigate the issue. If it turned more dry, his elbows would have serious competition. “Christ, Cas... sounds like that person is kind of stalking you. Might need a restraining order.”

 

Jonas came back with the tab and bid them a further pleasant stay in the city before taking his leave. Dean glanced at the number, translating krona to dollars and grimaced. With how much they'd charged them for that beer fish and potatoes Dean should've eaten Cas' leftover potatoes too. New potatoes, old potatoes, teenage potatoes, he'd eat them all.

 

“I'll restrain him somehow.” It was spoken casually, a low rumble in Cas' chest that deepened his voice and made Dean's blood flow faster. By the small twitch of Cas' lips and the amused twinkle in his eyes, Cas was very much aware of what his words were doing to Dean.

 

Dean needed to cool down. The wind was still relentless as they walked along the pier but Dean had spotted something else that he'd rather cool himself down with.

 

Cas tilted his head slightly. “I thought you were about to explode? Not that I would ever deny you something sweet.”

 

“Dessert has its own gut.”

 

The ice cream stand was fairly popular, judging by the people that had gathered and not only by the locals. Dean picked up English, the harsh rhythm of German speakers and something that resembled Swedish but not quite. Instead of the soft almost sing-song quality to the words and sentence structure, this was coarse and muffled. When it was Dean's turn, he turned to Cas, only to notice that he was off in the corner, thumbs flying over his phone screen. He gave an apologetic shrug and waved.

 

Dean didn't mind in the slightest that he was captain in charge of this particular vessel. A sign boasted that the ice cream stand had 38 different flavors, ranging from plain vanilla, Dean chuckled at that, to egg liqueur and a dark, black color. Dean pointed at the ice cream. “What flavor is that?”

 

The guy, by the look of it in his teens, followed where Dean pointed. “Salty licorice.”

 

“Salt? Is it any good?”

 

The guy nodded. “My favorite. We have chocolate, gums, and candy with that flavor too. But the ice cream is something extra. One scoop? Cone?”

 

“Yeah, cone is fine. One scoop of the black stuff and one scoop of – Do you have something that tastes like toffee, or caramel?”

 

The young man smiled as he served up a large scoop of the licorice. “We have salty caramel, that's the closest flavor that comes to mind.”

 

First the potatoes, and now with the salt. A smile tugged at Dean's lips. Why not? He was on vacation, wasn't that a time to be all adventurous? Not to mention the fact that this was the kind of adventurous that didn't involve demons deals, God throwing a fucking temper tantrum or him being a meat suit to a fucking dick of an angel. Dean pushed down the fleeting emotion of panic at not being able to breathe, water all around him. That memory could stay buried. Michael was dead. “Caramel is good, thanks.”

 

When Dean walked over to Cas, huge ice cream in hand, he was done with the phone. “We have a theme with the ice cream too. Salt is apparently this summer's go-to-hit.” Dean sniffed at the ice cream. “It smells alright. Here we go!” Taking a huge chunk from the salty licorice, Dean let it swirl in his mouth. It was not too bad. Then a wall of salt hit him as he bit into something crunchy. Definitely more salty than a freshly peppered ghost. He couldn't decide if it was good or not, but it sure as hell was different. Grabbing a cup, he pushed at the black ball of frozen goo until it landed with a satisfying thud. Piercing it with a plastic spoon, Dean handed the cup over to Cas. “Cause I love you. And 'cause your taste buds are not pro as mine.”

 

Cas took the cup and dug in with the spoon. “It certainly has an... interesting composition with the sweet and salty. It's... interesting.”

 

Dean moaned softly as he tasted the salty caramel. “Now, this is the kind of salt I approve of. You take that interesting ice cream and I'll stick with this one. Besides, you're an angel. Slightly impaired taste buds, so you might even like it.”

 

After finishing the ice cream they walked a paved path for a while that stretched around the lake. It might not have been the wisest decision to eat something cold with even colder winds coming in from the lake, like a frigid reminder that summer always seemed to be a fragile promise in this city. Not that Dean knew much, or anything really, about Juna but with how the locals reveled in every sliver of sun and warmth, he figured fall was not so much knocking at the door as ignoring common courtesy and kicking the door into tiny splinters with a frosty I'm here!

 

Dean joined his fingers with Cas' and they held hands as they continued their leisurely pace. It was nice to walk like this and just feel... normal. The shrill cries of seagulls bore into his skull, mingling with the gentle crashing of waves on rocks and the low hum of others going about their business. Looking at Cas briefly – the wind ruffling his hair, the sun in his eyes forcing him to squint – Dean felt an immense and sudden sense of gratitude. Despite everything, all the crap they'd been forced to go through, all Dean's... issues that he'd had to deal with on top of almost every supernatural entity in the book gunning for their asses, they had landed here. In Sweden, soon to be in Mauritius, with Cas. His husband Cas. Toes in the sand. Drink in hand.

 

And not only that but in a few months they were going on another vacation. He, Cas, Sam and Jack had planned a trip to Hawaii. More toes in the sand and drinks in hand. Blue waters and warm sun. And sure, he was still feeling that tug in his heart sometimes, a need to be somewhere and do something, whether that was hunting for a vampire nest or crushing a filthy hexbag, but just the fact that he could have a vacation was a win in his book. That he could have one together with Cas was a double win.

 

“A penny for your thoughts?” Cas' smooth voice interrupted Dean's musings.

 

“Hm, you were saying, Cas?”

 

Cas chuckled. “I was saying you seemed lost in thought. That, and you trying to rub a hole through my hand was a sign.”

 

Only then did Dean realize that he'd been rubbing Cas' hand with his thumb, rather frantically at that. Clearing his throat, Dean relaxed his hand around Cas'. Even after all this time, every moment of affection, whether it be a soft kiss, a determined hand piercing through his hair as they kissed with fervor or a stray finger exploring a wrinkle was meaningful to Dean. Important and something to be remembered. No one could blame him for wanting, needing, to create good memories. Just thinking about everything they'd gone through to finally reach the point where they were now was enough to ruin any ordinary man. But Dean wasn't no ordinary milk and vanilla kind of guy and Cas, well, Cas was everything.

 

“Dean?” Cas sounded questioning now, as if Dean's silence was a sign of something amiss.

 

Dean tugged at Cas' hand, indicating that they should turn back and walk towards the city center again. “I was just thinking about... how nice this is. You and me. Doing normal things.” He paused, only to look at Cas and see how his eyes seemed brighter when he smiled. “Just, you and me together, everything is better. The salty ice cream is a bonus. The good kind of ice cream with just enough salt, not the other one. It wouldn't be missed if it sort of just... melted away.”

 

“It is true that the way to a man's heart is through his di...et.”

 

Dean laughed. “Diet, dick, I don't care. Give me all the D's, Cas.”

 

“I'll make a note to bring some of that caramel ice cream with us. As for dick, well, my dick is always with me too. I'd be worried if it wasn't.”

 

Dean snorted at that. “You and me both, Cas, you and me both.”

 

Cas turned serious. “I'm very grateful that we have... this between us, Dean. That I have you.”

 

“Yeah, same. It's been a long time coming.”

 

The car was just a short walk away and Dean and Cas settled in a comfortable silence as they strolled on, smooth cobblestones muting their footsteps. Dean glanced at the clothes, toys, and perfumes that were on display in the windows as they walked by. Dotted between the stores were restaurants, and local cafés, their windows spotless to show off a variety of cookies and pastries. From cinnamon buns, shortbread cookies,vanilla and oatmeal cookies to green marzipan pastries complete with a pink marzipan rose on top. He wondered if they had any decent dessert pies. They could always take some pie to go. “Cas, what do you know about Swedish pies?”

 

Cas was looking the other way, and when he didn't answer, Dean nudged him with his elbow but not before noticing how Cas slid his cellphone into his pocket. “Yes?”

 

“Swedish pies? You think they're good pies?”

 

“A pie is basically a crust with different fillings, some with cream and some with fruits. It's a very basic pastry so yes, I do think that even people in Sweden can make good pies.”

 

“Cas... there are pies and then there are pies. And I'm offended. You calling pies basic pastry. Nothing basic about a flaky crust or one with just the right amount of resistance as you bite through that graham layering. And fillings! Caramel filling, cream cheese, cinnamon fried apples and I haven't even mentioned nuts! Pecans and walnuts and coconuts. Any nut. Now, tell me again how a pie is basic?” Dean's brows came down in a frown. ”You loved that banoffe pie I baked last week. Sam ate two slices, Jack ate four!”

 

“Four?”

 

Dean chuckled. “Yeah, I gave him an extra helping while Sam and you were playing Pictionary. What? He's growing, he needs pie.” Dean paused, before adding confidently. ”Everyone needs pie.”

 

As they buckled up in the Beamer, Dean grabbed his phone and did a simple search. “Seems they have no shortage of hotel rooms. This midsummer holiday doesn't really bring the party crowd to Juna.”

 

Cas just hummed and turned right in a roundabout that led them away from the non-existent hustle and bustle of the city. The bright glare of a phone screen flashed briefly as Cas pulled it out of his pocket, only to give it a quick glance before pocketing it again.

 

“So, you gonna reveal why your hand has been glued to your phone for the last half hour?”

 

Turning around, Cas' eyebrows climbed up before he pulled his features together and settled into an expression that was a mix of surprised Pikachu and angry panther that was about to throw a hissyfit and claw at him. “Yup, I've noticed you been acting weird, Cas. Your mustache was twitching violently like the world suddenly turned to cheese.”

 

Cas huffed out a breath in disbelief. “If I suddenly had a mustache, I would certainly twitch with unease. I don't think that would be a very compelling look for me.”

 

Wiggling his eyebrow, Dean interjected.”Can be kind of hot. Dr. Sexy had a mustache in 'Select me like your Selleck snack'. Was a good episode. Delusional patient came in and only allowed treatment from Selleck. Luckily, Dr. Sexy had grown out a nice 'stash and saved the day.”

 

“Sounds like a … fascinating episode.” Cas hit the gas as they entered the highway, taking them south. The huge lake was a constant companion on their left side with small sailboats laying anchored at docks while on the right side a natural cliff wall followed them along until it gave way to a more open landscape with houses dotting what became grass and dense forest.

 

After turning off from the main highway, the BMW took them through a neighborhood with houses and schools, road twisting and turning as it slowly inched upwards. Soon the view turned from one of residences to open roads with trees and fields surrounding them and as Cas took another turn, paved road turned to dusty gravel.

 

Dean had been listening to the radio, some pop tune-channel. So far he hadn't been able to find a channel that was solely devoted to metal and rock but some of the bubblepopalop songs were rather good. “So, you gonna tell me where we heading or do I need to bring out the big guns?”

 

“They are not that big,” Cas said, amusement in his voice. “But I'd rather show than tell. I thought since we did a little detour to Sweden, why settle with an ordinary hotel? An extraordinary husband demands an extraordinary hotel stay.”

 

“Yeah... well, I can't argue with that. You're kind of cool too.” The gravel hummed under the tires, rocking the car gently. When Dean thought he'd be dizzy with all the trees flashing past them a huge building came into view, sleek black stone and huge windows that glowed with a warm light.

 

Parking the car, Cas grabbed the suitcases and motioned for Dean to follow him.

 

 

There were no signs as they neared the entrance, nor a fancy doormat with the name printed on, nothing to give them a clue to what this place was.

 

“No signs, and a huge black rock in the middle of nowhere. I've seen too many sci-fi movies to not see where this is going, “ Dean mumbled as he looked around.

 

“You've been hunting all your life and seen vampires, ghouls, fairies. Even God. Don't you think you would've met the aliens by now?”

 

Dean opened what looked like a door but what could as easily be masked as the entrance to an intergalactic spaceship, ready to take them away to the nearest alien galaxy. “You're right. I've seen God. Even aliens would not be a match against that giant dick.”

 

Walking up to a sleek desk, the rest of the room looked very much like an elegant lobby. A sign with ornate writing spelled out 'Ren SPA'. The woman at the desk greeted Cas as if she was expecting him and gave him a card. “Enjoy your stay, Mr. and Mr. Winchester.”

 

 

Dean ran his hands across the fabric, touching the robe for the hundredth time. “This is one of those robes you can take home right?”

 

Cas shrugged. “I think so?”

 

“Excellent. This is no flimsy thin cotton. No, this is the good stuff. Thick and fluffy and very comfy. This is more than a hug. This robe wraps you up with love and offers you beer and peanuts.” Grabbing Cas, Dean pulled him in and kissed the side of his neck gently before nuzzling his neck. A smile played at his lips and he pulled back to look Cas in the eyes. “You know, you didn't need to do this.”

 

“I know. But I wanted to. I figured you'd seen so many crappy hotels through the years, so the least I could do was to give you an experience of a nice one.”

 

“We're heading to Mauritius tomorrow,” Dean murmured as he traced his fingers over Cas' shoulder.

 

“Yes. I'm sure they have nice hotels there too.”

 

“And a beach.”

 

Cas laughed. “And a beach. Now, I'd love to cuddle some more but we have an appointment. Don't want to be late.”

 

Tying the robe, Dean grabbed a few cashews from a bowl. “I gotta say, I'm impressed. You did all this while being sort of sneaky with your phone.”

 

“Midsummer is not a popular holiday for spa visits. They celebrate in other ways. With food, songs, and dance – “

 

“Are you gonna tell me what we are doing on this appointment?”

 

Cas opened the door for Dean, motioning for him to follow him. “It's a surprise, Dean. So no.”

 

Dean grabbed Cas' hand and allowed himself to be led. He didn't even try to play offended. Just the thought that Cas had planned all this, as much as an accidental trip to Sweden could be planned, made Dean love him just that much more. He understood that. No one could say that Dean was the most romantic guy in the world. He'd rather kill poltergeists than write poetry but he took care of the people he loved. And he sure as fuck loved Cas.

 

They walked up a flight of wide wooden stairs, their footfalls muted by thin cotton slippers. Soft music played throughout their walk, speakers hidden somewhere in the wooden beams, Dean guessed. Soon Cas stopped in front of the door. The brown room, a small plaque declared. A knock later and a voice beckoned them in.

 

“Welcome. I hope your stay so far has been pleasant. My name is Malin and I'll be taking care of you this hour. My colleague Robin will be with us shortly. Do you have any questions before we start?” Malin was a short, thin woman with her long brown hair pulled back tightly into a ponytail.

 

Cas looked at Dean quickly, before giving Malin a friendly smile. “No, thank you. I think we are good.”

 

The brown room was very brown. Dark wooden planks made up the walls and with no windows it would have given a closed-off, almost claustrophobic impression if not for the slightly less brown wooden floor and the small mirrors hanging on the walls with candles attached to them, reflecting the light. Instead, it felt welcoming; a space that encouraged relaxation and reflection.

 

“Please, remove your robes and lay face down on the benches. There is water on the table next to you, infused with ginger, lime, and lingonberries.”

 

Cas was already removing his robe and taking the massage bed closest to the door.

 

Dean hung up his robe next to Cas and whispered before easing himself down on the bed. “Couple massage? Spa? If this is where your mind is at, I say be sneaky more often, Cas.”

 

Cas chuckled and turned his head to the side. “Well, I figure that is what vacations are for. Rest and relaxation. And spa-visits are a thing couples do. At least, that's what that magazine said that Sam brought me.”

 

Letting out a deep sigh, Dean turned to Cas.”Sammy, Sammy. Well, this was one of his better ideas.”

 

Malin interrupted their musings. “Please give me a few minutes while I retrieve the stones.”

 

Dean perked up at that. “Stones? Why would you need stones... what kind of massage – “

 

Malin was apparently stealthier than a ghost cause she was already gone.

 

“Cas, why would she need stones?”

 

Letting out a chuckle, Cas reached over the small gap their beds made and grabbed Dean's hand. “Relaxation, Dean. You remember that?”

 

“Yeah, yeah, I'm relaxed. But still, what kind of place uses stones for massage? I know feet and hands and... that's all I know.” Dean didn't have time to ponder more about the mysteries of massages, because Malin was back again and by the shuffling of feet, Robin was with her.

 

“Robin will take care of you, Dean. If there is anything you need, please talk to him.”

 

Him? Dean arched his head to get a more clear view of Robin and stifled a gasp at the face looking back at him. Adrenaline flooded him and it was not due to the fact that Robin was a guy, but due to the fact that the face looking back at him was the image of a ghost.

 

Blue eyes, but not the shade that awoke butterflies in Dean's stomach, rather a tint that stoned the flying creatures into a bloody pulp. Defined cheekbones and short hair that was not combed to the side, rather messy instead, but the same fucking color. Somewhat plump lips that Dean could see pull back into that condescending and full of himself smile that he used to wear. Dean was staring at the spitting image of Eldon Styne. It didn't make any sense but it sure as hell was him.

 

Dean poked at Cas, who was already closing his eyes as Malin worked his back with some oil. “Cas”, he hissed until Cas finally peeled one eye open.

 

“That's Eldon. I don't know what's going on but I would recognize that motherf- person anywhere. It's him. Tell me you have your blade with – ”

 

“Dean.” Cas looked up, and glanced at Robin long enough to make a judgment but not long enough to bring any further attention to himself. “While I do see the uncanny resemblance... – ”

 

Uncanny? If it's not him, it's his clone or runaway twin. If Eldon was Phoebe, brunette over there is definitely Ursula.”

 

“I'm sure it's just a coincidence. What's that saying about doppelgangers...? Just make small talk and you'll see, it'll be nothing.” Cas flashed Dean a reassuring smile and whispered before closing his eyes. “Enjoy the stones. Relax.”

 

“Please let me know if the oil is too hot.” Eldon's... Robin's voice didn't sound like Eldon's, but that fact didn't penetrate the suspicion that was clouding Dean's mind. He could feel soft but strong hands on his back, slowly spreading out the oil over his shoulder blades and down across his spine. Despite himself, Dean felt himself relax with Robin's ministrations. Maybe some subtle questions masked as small talk would make sense of this whole thing.

 

“Please let me know if you have anything I should be aware of before starting, any places that give you discomfort or any pains I should know about?” Robin's voice was calm and matter of factly. Nothing indicated that he would go full on murder on Dean.

 

“No pains, I'm fine.” Dean coughed and tried to relax. A sharp blade stabbed him near his shoulder blade and Dean rose up on his arms.

 

“I'm so sorry,” Robin said. “I can do a very gentle massage if you feel any pain or sense of discomfort.”

 

Looking back, Dean's gaze flickered to Robin's empty hands.

 

“My bad. Occupational hazard. I'm fine... really.” He sank back into the bed. It was just a Swedish guy with some really unlucky genes. Not a Styne.

 

As Robin worked his way with Dean, rubbing at knots in his neck and loosening stiff muscles, Dean felt himself relax more and more until he felt another jab near his shoulder blade. He muttered under his breath as his whole body clenched up. Warmth enveloped him as Robin did whatever the hell he was doing. So far Dean was not as relaxed as he could be.

 

“You're very stiff. You ever had a massage before, with or without stones?”

 

Dean searched his memory and came up blank. “No. Had a brief stint with my brother as a massage therapist though. Just one time. Fish tacos. Turned bad.”

 

Robin just hummed, not questioning the odd answer. “I'll put the stones on you now. Let me know if it's too hot. It should be nice and warm, not scalding. The goal is to relax the muscles.”

 

“Yeah, gentle roast, not scalding. Got it. Tell me, you got family?”

 

A pit of fire erupted near his spine as a stone was put into place and Dean gasped as Robin put the other stone on the other side.

 

“Yes, a large one at that. Three brothers and two sisters.”

 

Unflexing his fingers that had grabbed the side of the bed, Dean exhaled. The stones made a trail of heat from the bottom of his spine all the way up and when the initial path of fire had subsided, Dean could feel his muscles sighing in relief, despite a light throb of pain. It was rather pleasant, this rock massage.

 

“I have one brother... So besides being a massage therapist, any hobbies? Say butchering maybe?”

 

“Butchering? As a hobby?” Robin was hesitant as if trying to decipher if he'd heard Dean correctly.

 

From the other table, Cas coughed harshly.

 

Dean turned to Cas, only to receive a glare. He could see those beautiful lips mouth what he thought was “relax.” Giving a thumbs-up, Dean turned his attention back to Robin. “Yeah, or maybe hunting... or needlework? Knifeplay?”

 

“Nah, I don't have the stomach for neither hunting or... uh, butchering? That a common hobby from where you're from?” Robin's hands disappeared from Dean for a moment, only to return again shortly thereafter. Dean sighed harshly as fresh warm stones were put near his neck, and close to his spine. “Just a few minutes, and then we'll move down your legs and calves.”

 

“Well, hunting is a family business, you could say.”

 

Robin's voice was low as not to disturb Cas but Dean paid full attention. “Been a rough year?”

 

“Why you ask?”

 

“I don't wanna come across as rude...”

 

Dean moved on the bed, repositioning himself. Robin's hands went to his thighs and Dean stifled a groan. How could this be so painful when he'd been stabbed, shot and dead ten times over?

 

“I've been doing this for over a decade and I've never come across a client with such stiff muscles. How are you even walking around?”

 

Dean chuckled at that. “Trust me, you are not the first one who's asked that question. I'm a stubborn son of a bitch. Let's just say it's been a really rough year. A lot of rough years. But I'm quite certain this year will be different. A new beginning.” He grabbed Cas' hand and squeezed it before letting go.

 

Robin chit-chatted awhile with Dean until he noticed that Dean had fallen quiet. Now fully relaxed with the knowledge that Robin was not in fact a resurrected Frankencopy of Eldon, Dean enjoyed his ministrations. They'd turned more soothing than painful and not before long, Dean closed his eyes.

 

 

“Ah, this is life, Cas.” Dean nursed his cold beer, looking out over the still light forest landscape. The outside pool was pleasantly heated, making a sharp contrast to the cooler evening. The sun was setting slowly and Dean could still make out the trees but it was eerily quiet for being an early summer night. No cicadas or any other insects buzzing, just the soft splash of water could be heard as Dean and Cas stirred in the pool. They'd ordered a late dinner table and it seemed most of the spa's guests preferred to dine early.

 

Cas pressed himself against Dean's front until Dean wound an arm over him, hugging him tightly. “I can sense that you're relaxed. I told you the massage would help. After you got over … the Eldon thing.”

 

“It was like looking at his clone. Freaking weird, Cas. But this, a beer in hand, you by my side and these little gummy candy cars, Ahlgren's bilar – “ Dean took a mouthful and chewed happily. “Fucking delicious. We are taking some to Mauritius. The green ones are my fav.”

 

“The pink, white and green ones taste the same. There's no difference.”

 

Dean objected. “Of course there is a difference. The white ones are minty. The pink ones are mild and the green ones have more oomph, like.. uh, a spiced pear.”

 

Cas took one each of the gummies and chewed them at the same time. “I can sense the molecular structure. They consist of the same basic ingredients and the food coloring does not impact the flavors. They taste the same.”

 

Dean grabbed two green gummies. “Nah-ah. Or you know what? Alright, works in my favor anyway. All white are yours, the rest are mine.” Taking another sip of the beer, Dean sighed.

 

“So, can I take that sigh as a sign that this detour was a success?”

 

Kissing Cas on top of the head, Dean nodded. “You put the S in success. Thanks. I didn't realize I needed this. It's... nice just being with you and not worrying about anything. Not having to think about apocalypses, or vampires or Jack eating all the good kind of cereals. Not worrying about Sam tossing popcorn at us.”

 

Cas grinned. “I didn't remember a single line from that movie.”

 

“Heh, me neither. Something about a dog. And dog walking. I do remember the fine powder of popcorn crushings on my pillow afterward though.”

 

“Short-lived as it was. I did wash the sheets afterward.” Cas' voice was a matter of fact as he turned to face Dean.

 

“Oh, come on, you know that Sam was the reason for it raining popcorn. Well, that and your tongue in my mouth.”

 

“Mm.” Cas nuzzled close, kissing the side of Dean's neck.

 

“And popcorn was not the reason you washed those sheets, Cas.” Dean arched his neck, inviting Cas to kiss and suck at that spot that made his toes curls. His fingers played over Cas' back, stroking idly. A smile bloomed over his face. It still amazed him that Cas was his.

 

“Not my fault that you're so dirty.” Cas' mouth latched on and sucked hard at Dean's skin.

 

“Fuck. Cas, I'm not sure this is the right place. Hell, it is the right place, any place is right with you but... I got to confess.”

 

Pulling away from Dean, Cas cocked his head. “Confess to what?”

 

“I'm hungry.”

 

Castiel laughed out loud. “We can fix that.”

 

 

A table in the corner suited them just fine. A window overlooking more forest revealed huge crowns of trees and a sprawling landscape of yet more trees. Dean knew he'd only seen a fraction of Sweden but so far the impression he'd had of its nature was that it consisted of ninety-nine percent wood. He blinked as he saw what looked like a huge flowery dick upside down, jammed into the earth. “I think I found a new kink, Cas.”

 

Cas wrinkled his eyebrows in confusion as he looked out the window. A laugh escaped him. “Oh, that. It's the Maypole. There's usually dancing around it and the kids sing songs. It's not really a phallic symbol. The Romans used to decorate their homes with green leaves for new years celebrations and a long time ago the first of May was considered the start of the new year.”

 

“I'd go with the huge dick celebration instead of flowery greens. Cool story though.” Looking at the menu, Dean huffed out a breath. “They really are sticklers for tradition. Herring and potatoes again. Is that some special power food or something?”

 

“They have lobster. Comes with those puny potatoes you liked, “ Cas offered.

 

“We are having dessert!” Dean exclaimed enthusiastically. “Check this out, Cas. A triple pie combo. Strawberry pie, a tart elderflower pie, don't know what it is but it's a pie. And cinnamon apple pie with traditional crumble. Comes with a side of whip cream. Oh, man, if that isn't mouthwatering I don't know what is.”

 

Dean talked to Cas about their plans for Mauritius as they consumed their main course and when the dessert was presented to the table, he was in seventh heaven. Taking another spoon of apple pie, he nodded in satisfaction. “This apple pie, Cas. Do you mind if I steal the chef who made this and bring him along?”

 

“I do think the chef would mind.”

 

Dipping a spoon full of pie in the whipped cream, Dean shook his head. “Who in his right mind would object to a vacation to Mauritius with a rather nice-looking hunter and ridiculously hot angel?”

 

Cas took a sip of wine. “Oh, I don't know, a kidnapped chef perhaps?”

 

Dean grinned around his mouthful of pie. “Yeah, you're right. But still... Mauritius, Cas.” Swallowing down his pie with some beer, Dean sighed. “I never thought I'd say this but if I eat any more pie, I think me and pie will need to take a break from this relationship.”

 

 

Laying in bed, Dean sighed and pulled at Cas, urging him to come closer. Wrapping an arm around him, Dean enjoyed the heavy weight of him as Cas rested his head on Dean's chest. “I gotta say, I'm glad this detour happened.”

 

“Mm, you liked your spa-surprise?” Cas' voice was soft and content, void of any worry. Dean figured not having to worry what your dick of a divine father was up to would put anyone at ease.

 

“Yep. I'd like a spa-rerun tomorrow. Can you fix a real beach then, you think? Soft sand, no pebbles? Umbrella drinks?”

 

“That can be arranged.”

 

Dean's voice was colored with amusement as he spoke next. “You changed your mind about the chef? You can just Jedi-bop his mind if you're worried about him freaking out.”

 

“I'm not going to 'Jedi-bop' anyone. Let alone do it for pie.”

 

Dean chuckled and let his fingers play with Cas' hair. “I figured you'd say no.” They swirled through that thick mass, tugging, pulling and playing. It was a simple token of affection, yet for Dean, it was enough. Their experiences together had been larger than life, and now that Dean had Cas, he didn't need to shout out his love from the rooftops or do any grand gestures. Them being together was a crystal clear declaration to the universe itself of their love.

 

“You're sleepy, Dean. I can hear it in your voice. It's alright. We have a new day tomorrow.” He intertwined his fingers with Dean's, squeezing once.

 

“Not sleepy. Just... speaking slowly. Preserving words.” Dean turned slightly to the side.

 

Cas eased off his chest, and Dean smiled as Cas wrapped his arms around his chest instead, pulling him close. “Preserving words, mm? How about you cease to speak? It would help you with the falling asleep part.”

 

Dean had already closed his eyes, his breathing taking on the quiet, gentle rhythm of sleep to come. “Told you. No sleep. Just relaxing. Resting my eyes.”

 

He could feel Cas hug him close. “Love you, Dean. Now relax that mouth of yours.”

 

Body shaking from silent laughter, Dean mumbled. “Mm, naughty. Love you too, Cas.”

 

“You're impossibly – “

 

The rest of Cas' words escaped Dean, his mind hovering on the precipice of sleep, but he would've liked to think that Cas had said that he'd been impossibly handsome, gorgeous...cool.

 

Oblivion finally took him under.