“We’re heading out for some burgers Cass. You wanna come with?” Asks Dean as he wipes off his machete. Who knew killing a bunch of vamps could be so therapeutic even with Michael knocking around in his brain.
Sam’d been careful to only let him go on easy hunts, and for the most part Dean didn’t complain, he didn’t want to risk Michael getting out just as much as the next apocalypse junkie.
“No.” Says Cass, eloquent as ever, “I have other plans.”
Sam’s eyebrows shoot up, “You holding out on us Cass?”
Meanwhile Dean does little to hide his suspicion, “You getting some sugar on the side buddy?”
Cass gives him that pinched, squinty eyed expression and huffs, “I leave that to you Dean.”
“Woah! Woah there wingless, how exactly do you plan on getting back?” Demands Dean, already wracking his mind for whatever he did wrong. Nothing in the recent past… other than that joke about Mikey on the way over. But surely that wasn’t the reason for Cass’ sourness.
“Ten miles?” demands Sam, almost incredulous.
“If you wanna exercise so badly why don’t you just push the car back to the hotel? You get your jollies and then some and I save gas.”
Castiel’s glare is like a beam from the Death Star. “I’ll come with you under one condition.”
Now he’s afraid. Bargaining is never a good sign.
“So?” he says, throwing his hand up to shake off the suspense, “What do you want man?”
“I get to drive.”
Cass looks at him, genuinely hurt.
“C’mon buddy.” He tries placating Cass by patting his shoulder, his friend is having none of it though. He shoves Dean away, his face in a classic pout. “Sam barely gets to drive her. You… you ride the breaks and you tug on the steering wheel like it’s your dick!”
“Thanks for that imagery Dean.” Sam mutters dryly, “Also, hurry it up would you, I’m starving.”
Dean shoots him a stern look, “You can eat some grass while we’re talking, it’d have about the same effect.”
“Screw you.” are Sam’s parting words as he hops into the car.
“Why don’t you want to ride with us?” Wonders Dean, “It’s not like you have much angel business to deal with.”
“It’s um… not something I want to discuss with you.”
His eyebrows raise. There’s not much Dean isn’t willing to talk about… and Cass knows it.
“Come on.” He pleads, “I’ll let you sit shot gun. If Sam doesn’t eat some ‘salad’ soon he’s likely to eat my seats.”
Cass winces. Dean’s mouth drops. It couldn’t be… “Cass, you don’t like Baby?”
The angel fidgets, giving Dean his answer. The only suitable reaction is horror. This is Baby. Is this why Cass always disappeared.
For the first time Dean wished he had another car. And he immediately cursed himself.
“Dean.” Cass pleads, stepping closer, “I know what your car is to you. It was your home when you had none. It’s just – I don’t hate it alright.”
“Then what?” Dean throws his hands up, he’s at a complete and utter loss as to why Cass is suddenly adverse to riding with them.
The angel cringes inward, “It’s embarrassing Dean. And not something a human would sympathise with.”
“Don’t you bullshit me.”
Cass fidgets. “Let’s just go Dean.”
“Oh, hell no!” he hisses, wrenching the angel back by his coat. “Far be it from me to force you to endure a horrific ride of doom with us.”
He finds himself suddenly knocked back a few paces, Cass scowling at him, “I knew you’d act like this Dean, you can’t seem to help yourself.”
“So it is us then.” He snaps, pointing an accusing finger. “And you’re just afraid to say it. Be straight with me!”
The sound of muttering is all he hears. “Oh I seemed to miss that buddy.”
“You know what you do in that car Dean. The aura lingers no matter how much you think you clean it.” The angel’s voice is resigned, his eyes glued to the ground. “And you know about me, and how I feel.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” For once, Dean is genuinely confused. He couldn’t make any sense of Cass’ last rebuttal.
“Of course you do Dean.” Again, Cass’ voice is subdued, barely carrying over the white noise surrounding them. “Everyone knows. They say it’s ‘glaringly, pathetically obvious’” His voice turns bitter, and his eyes once more bore into Dean, “Sam knows, Jack knows and he’s barely a child, Crowley definitely knew, all of my brothers and sisters are well aware and you mother knew it the instant she saw me. So don’t you dare.”
But he doesn’t know. He definitely wants to though. He’d always thought that he knew Cass better than anyone. But there some sort of secret was being kept from him… one that everyone else seemed to be aware of.
He shakes his head dejectedly, “Alright buddy. You drive.”
When they get to the bunker, Cass immediately heads to see Jack and Sam moves away, probably to check up on his tribe of hunters, but Dean snags his shirt sleeve.
“Sammy.” He whispers, wanting to keep whatever Cass’ secret is away from anyone else. “Cass said something to me.”
“He tends to do that often Dean.” His brother deadpans.
He frowns, “I’m not joking around.”
“Alright. Alright. Lay it on me.”
Dean takes a deep breath, desperately hoping that Sam has better luck interpreting ‘cryptic angel’ than he does. Besides, he’s apparently already well aware of whatever it is. “He gave me some bullshit about not cleaning the car and what I do in it and knowing ‘how he feels about it.’” He doesn’t miss the twitch near Sam’s eye, “That it’s some secret that everyone knows and doesn’t tell me.”
“Dean…” Sam trails off, understanding dawning on him. “You really don’t know.” He mutters, scratching his head, looking anywhere else but at him, “Damn Dean, I always thought you knew. It should’ve been obvious. For you most of all.”
He huffs in annoyance. Sam’s talking like it’s the biggest thing since sliced bread. “Spit it out Sammy and quit it with the teenage angst.”
“If you don’t know. I don’t think I should tell you.”
“Dean listen - ”
“No you listen!” he demands, tired of being left in the dark, “You’re gonna tell me right now.”
“Don’t freak out.” Sam hold his hands out reassuringly, laying them on Dean’s shoulders, “Cass is in love with you.”
Barking a laugh, he shoves Sam off. “Good one.”
“Dean.” His brother chastises, “Cass is in love with you.”
The smile slips off his face as he realises that Sam really believes this nonsense. “No he’s not.”
Sam blows out a harsh breath, running a hand through his hair in agitation. But Dean doesn’t believe it. Cass is his best friend. He’s an angel. He couldn’t be in love with Dean of all people.
“Think about it.” Says Sam, “He pulled you from the pit then he betrayed everything he every knew for you. And even when you failed he still stuck with you. ‘More profound bond.’ When he ate those Leviathan all he cared about was making it up to you, he broke free of his insanity because you asked him to help us and he almost died in Purgatory to keep him alive. Cass did everything he could to free you from the Mark even though he was slowly dying. He was broken when he thought you’d died, then again when you became a demon. And the way he acted after he left the bunker. He said yes to the devil just because he didn’t want you to lose me! He offered to go with you when he knew it meant death. He broke a deal to save you because I knew – I god-dammed knew that you were going to let her take you! And when we lost you to Michael he worked every second to save you. He was heartbroken Dean. Everyone knows.”
Sam looks him over but Dean can’t move.
It’s not true.
Cass is his friend. Sam’s exaggerating the facts.
His mind flashes to Isham. Balthazar.
Cass is his brother. Sam’s just obsessed with this Desitel crap from that damned high school play.
“Angels can sense things. Cass can probably sense all the hook-ups and left over fluids in the back seat. Imagine: he has to sit there, simmering in them for hours with us but he can’t say anything.”
Dean feels unsteady, his world is falling off kilter and the pounding in his head rears up once more and it feels like he’s drowning all over again.
Dean hobbles away from Sam, refusing to be a part of that conversation. Yet it follows him along anyway; his brother’s words forming the water that choked him.
He doubted his doubt. Because Sam had made a good case. He wanted to bang on Cass’ door and demand that he explain himself. But Dean knew how that would go. Cass thought that Dean already knew his mysterious secret.
And almost as though she heard his longing for her, she walks around the corner, a mass of blonde hair and flannel.
“Hey Dean.” She says, pulling him into a swift hug that instantly sooths the banging in his brain, “What’s up?”
“Cass has this secret.” He explains once more, “He says you knew it as soon as you saw him.”
Mary chuckles, “When I saw him I was about to shoot him.”
“But what did you think?”
Her soft smile melts into a grimace, “It was stupid.”
Oh, now he’s interested.
“I thought it was sweet that you had someone who loved you so much.”
Right. She gets it. “Yea. He’s my best friend.” He pauses, “Now if you’d please explain to Sam that he isn’t in love with me that’d be great mom.”
“Yeah. About that Dean…”
His mouth drops, “Not you too.”
“Look. I’m not saying that’s how it is between you too. But the look on his face when he saw you… it reminded me of how I looked at John after he came back to life.” His mouth wants to tell her to stop talking, but he’s frozen, “And the way you looked at him when he walked through that portal… and then when Lucifer stabbed him. That was why I did what I did.”
Dean is trembling as he makes his way to Jack’s room. The Nephilim is the only one who can assuage Dean’s frayed nerves now.
“Jack.” He calls carefully.
“Hello Dean.” He sits cross-legged on the bed, his laptop in front of him.
“I need you to answer something for me. Honestly.”
Jack perks up immediately, shooting him a comforting smile, “Ask me anything.”
“Me and Cass. You know we’re best friends right?”
Jack nods and Dean feels the relief flood through him. “Of course.”
He could hug the kid. He knows Cass almost as well as he does. So if he says they’re friends, then that’s exactly what they are.
“I’ve always admired your relationship. And your continued dedication to each other.” He continues, “I’ve actually read some literature that supports it.”
“Yea.” He agrees, still on riding his high, “Lots of stories about best friends exploring the globe.”
Jack cocks his head at him. “That’s not what I meant. I was referring to the romantic aspect. Best friends fall in love.”
“Dean?” Dean waves wildly and Jack springs up, approaching him quickly.
“We’re not in love!” he practically screams. He’s sick of these people making stuff up about him and Cass.
Jack cocks his head staring at him almost disappointedly. “But you fit all the criteria. You save each other. You profoundly sad when one of you is in trouble – I called out to Cass because I could feel how much you missed him because you’re in love. You look at each other as though you’re the only two people in the whole world - ”
Cass is in love with him.
He whorls, staring blankly at the door. Jack is still talking but the words don’t reach him.
He thinks back to what sad told him. About sensing all his hook-ups. And boy have they been plenty.
He can’t think. He can’t breathe.
So he does the only thing he knows how to.
He gets in Baby and he high-tails it out of the bunker.
“Dean is missing.” Sam says as a greeting.
Cass glances up from his book and Jack frowns. “He seemed pretty mad after we talked.”
Cass gives him an appraising glance, “What did you two talk about.”
Shrugging Jack says, “Just the aspects of your relationship that fall into the normal romantic tropes.”
Cass’ eyes dash to Sam in panic.
Sam feels his heart sink for the angel. “He really didn’t know Cass.” He mutters, wondering how Cass was handling this. “He probably just needs to cool off.”
Jack pipes up, trying to lend some comfort to Cass too, “It’s okay Cass, Dean won’t stop loving you.”
Cass sighs dejectedly, “Dean places a certain value on friendships.” He explains, “That I’ve done something to taint our – I don’t think that is something he can forgive.”
“Cass, he won’t blame you for something you can’t help.” And Sam wished that it were true, if only for the wilting angel before him.
“He’ll come back Castiel.” Assures Jack, “I can still feel his love for you.”
Hmm. Sam wonders how that works… and why Cass didn’t seem to pick up on it too.
But any wonderings are cut short when the bunker entrance bangs open. Dean saunters down the stairs with a bag full of groceries, a newspaper and a shit-eating grin on his face.
“Got a case.” He announces, “Slash and burn. We can have a little outing, just the four of us. Teach Jack here how to dig a grave.”
He shoots Jack a wink. The kid eats it up, immediately springing into action and running off to collect supplies.
Posture tense, Castiel seems as though he’s preparing himself for the inevitable blow out. But Dean just stares at him, expectantly, “Chop chop Cass.”
“I’ll hang back here.” He mutters.
Sam winces on their behalf. He feels as though he’s trapped and stewing in a pot of awkwardness.
“No. C’mon man. The car is free of all creepy auras. Pinky promise.”
“Dean – ”
His brother quickly shushes any disagreements, “Just check it out okay. If you still – y’know – then fine. Stay.”
Sam’s never been happier to leave a room in his life.
But he’s even less happier to find Cass gaping at the Impala… and Dean’s smug grin as he twirls his keys. “Told ya.”
“How’d you clean it out?” He knew Dean wouldn’t dare use bleach on his baby. And some of those stains were years old.
“Yeah.” Dean stops fiddling with his keys, his eyes darting over to Cass, “I just changed the seats. There was a mechanic in town who did it for a fair price.”
This car is Dean’s pride and joy. His literal Baby. To remove a seat from her would have been like cutting off one of Sam’s legs to him. He’d flipped out when Sam had dared install an mp3 and now here he is, ripping her to shreds.
Shifty eyed, Dean glances away from him, “Don’t look at me like that.”
But how could he not.
Dean losing faith and killing himself after dying in front of him and a thousand glances over the years…
As his brother walks away to look for Jack Sam spins to find Castiel.
The angel stares at the new seats in wonder, clearly having picked up on their conversation.
Sam taps on the glass, “What the hell was that?”
Cass slowly lifts his head his gaze filled with a disturbing amount of hope and ardour, his lips morph into a radiant smile, as he utters one word: “Love.”