Castiel’s hand hovered over Dean’s back, not quite touching. He was still afraid. The last time Castiel had reached out to hold his hand, Dean had winced. Castiel remembered the instant panic in his eyes. He remembered how it had pierced through his chest - the notion that Dean was fearful of what Cas could do to him - and the hatred he felt towards those who were responsible. But Castiel only remembered Dean cowering away from him - from his angel - and it hurt.
But surely not as much as it must hurt to be the hunter right now. He seethed with the desire to take away the pain, the bruises and the exhaustion. But Dean didn’t want him to -
It stunned him how human he’d become, that he denied himself such basic touches, to heal and to absolve, even on seeing Dean in such a terrible state. However, what was most important was what Dean wanted.
He was crouched up in the front of the Impala, next to Cas on the driver’s seat, but the car wasn’t moving anymore. Cas couldn’t drive, when he could feel Dean breaking down next to him. Once sufficiently away from the scene, Cas parked in a secluded spot under a tree, and was completely focused on Dean.
“Dean,” He whispered, still seething with a righteous fury, an emotional anger, and absolute hurt.
The blond man didn’t even look up at him. He was covered only by Cas’s trenchcoat, and under that familiar layer, he was bare, scarred and abused. Cas’s blood boiled, and hardly able to keep his feelings in check, he choked out. “Dean!” Look at me, please listen to me, he begged, wishing his thoughts were heard.
When Dean’s eyes were raised to meet Cas’s, he saw the shine of those emeralds fading into a dull green. He looked tired, and scared, and there was a tear threatening to fall from an eye, and there was a bruise across his brow, which looked like it must still hurt.
“May I,” Cas pleaded. Dean shook his head. “Please, Dean.”
Dean screwed his eyes shut, and a tear rolled down his cheeks. Cas swallowed, not expecting it. “No, Cas, you’re not healing me.”
“But it must hurt,” Cas’s voice quivered, and now his hand rested on Dean’s shoulder. He only shuddered once, before leaning into it. “Let me, Dean. I’m pleading you to let me.”
“When I say no, it means no!” Dean began in a slightly raised tone, with glazed eyes, but ended up subdued. His voice was scratchy from screaming, and his throat was barren. He slumped once more, bringing himself in tighter, and mumbling. “And I’m saying no to you, Cas.”
Cas changed tact. “Do you need some water?” Anything, at all? Would you like for me to get you food? Clothes? He didn’t know how to ask. He didn’t know if Dean was even listening.
An entire moment later, Dean looked at Cas with a look of absolute need. Desperate, and broken, and torn apart. Cas reached out towards him with his other hand, but didn’t touch his face like he wanted to. He knew he wouldn’t be able to rein in his ability to relieve Dean of his pain, if he got that close to it. He urged Dean with his eyes to say yes, to the water, to getting healed.
He wanted Dean to give him some idea of what he was supposed to do. He had no idea how to deal - all he knew was that he’d never seen Dean Winchester this broken, and he, himself, prayed to every force ever, to take it away. Just relieve him of all of this.
“I want to go home.” Dean let out, in a small voice.
“Of course -” Cas reached for Dean’s hand, prepared to fly them away.
Dean pulled away his hand, and rested his head backwards, against the seat. It seemed like impossibly long before he finally asked. Unsure, as if somehow he still felt as though Castiel would deny him, anything, ever.
“Could you drive?”
“Dean,” Cas mouthed, on their second stop. Dean had needed to use the bathroom, and Cas had brought him a pair of trousers from the trunk of Baby somehow, yet Dean still fastened the trenchcoat around himself when he stumbled off. When he came back, he looked just as haphazard and terrified, as he’d been when Cas found him on the ground, circled by those men, a few dreadful hours ago. He may have been sitting up more, but he still looked a shell compared to the Dean Winchester, Cas knew, driving Baby like she was his pride. “Dean,” Cas had no idea what else to say. Will you let me hold you? “Will you let me heal?” His voice trembled, too, but he had no idea what else to offer. “Can you trust me? Please, Dean, I want to help.”
“I trust you,” Dean choked on the words. “Cas, you - I do, okay? But I don’t want - don’t want anyone holding me.”
Cas had little idea of what he was supposed to say next. “Will you talk to me?”
“Dean,” Cas did not know how to ask. But he knew he must. He needed to. If Dean would let it out, it might feel lesser. That much he’d learnt, living with the Winchesters. “Did they…”
Silence loomed over their heads.
Dean didn’t say something for a long, long time.
Cas started the engine, worried he’d pushed more than he should’ve, and kept on driving.
Then Dean spoke up.
“Did they, what, rape me?” When he spoke, there was suddenly an edge in his tone. It wasn’t directed at Cas, but it was dangerous. “No. Maybe. I dunno. Probably…you know what, yeah.”
Cas swallowed, letting Dean continue.
“I couldn’t do a damn thing, Cas.” His voice was somehow level. “I couldn’t move, and there were his fucking fingers shoved in my mouth - I couldn’t yell, and they had me tied, I couldn’t fight back. I couldn’t even think - I’ve died, Cas, and I felt that less.”
“Dean,” Cas’s voice trembled.
“I was fucking scared.” His voice started gaining more emotion as he spoke, and it should’ve been better than the monotone, but seeing Dean like this hurt even more. Cas screwed his eyes shut, feeling Dean’s pain wash over him, across their bond. He was devastated. “I was goddamn terrified of having to live with that. Of dying like that, alone, abandoned by them once I stopped screaming. Of it happening to me, Cas. Of being torn apart.” He cried out, unable to stop, now that he spoke on.
“I have no fucking idea what I feel right now, if that was the next thing you’d ask.” He barked. “I feel nothing - I’m numb, I don’t even feel the pain you keep insisting you wanna heal! I goddamn cannot even feel my heart beating! I don’t know if I’m even fully alive!”
There was a look in his eyes, which pleaded for validity.
It was okay to feel this way. It was normal. There was nothing normal about this ordeal, and shall never be, but how you feel is okay, and you’re going to heal from this, you’re going to feel fine someday, you’re going to live again.
“You’re alive,” Cas shivered, as Dean did. “You’re safe now, Dean. You’re safe, you’re with me, you’re in your car, you’ll be with your family soon. You’re alive. You’re here. Stay with me. You’re all here now, Dean.”
“I can’t -” Dean muttered. “I cannot -” He suddenly raised his own hands, and stared at those hard-lined palms. He clenched his fists. “This is me!” He cried, and this time, the tears came - before Cas could stop him, Dean slapped himself.
“Dean, don’t -”
“I need to feel something.” He cried out, looking at Cas like everything hurt, but insistent that nothing even existed enough to hurt.
He ran a hand through his hair, pulling at the ends with his eyes shut, until it surely stung - and again made a motion to slap himself - but Cas gripped his wrist before he could.
“Please, Dean - stop -”
Dean crashed their lips together.
For a moment, Cas floundered, at a loss. Dean hung onto him for dear life, grappling at his shoulders and neck, and his nails pierced through Cas’s skin, but he didn’t feel it - everything drowned in the sheer flood of everything Dean was projecting towards him.
Dean fought to have him closer, and fisted at his shirt - but with no purpose of getting it off. Just to get him closer, still. Cas went with it at first, shocked to stillness, and let Dean claw at him for something - anything he needed, that he might find, if he frantically breathed into Castiel’s parted lips, with no finesse, and all need.
In a clashing of teeth and tongue, clumsy and messed up, Dean Winchester kissed his angel for the first Time, and he didn’t even mean to.
He just needed to feel something.
He just needed the drive of a sudden kiss, the momentum in his veins, the thud of his heart against his ribs. And Castiel was his only option, of feeling alive. But he remembered the way Dean had withdrawn from him, earlier.
This wasn’t what Dean wanted. It wasn’t. He didn’t even want the lingering comfort of touch, and certainly not Castiel, right now. What he needed was to understand that Cas was here for him, but more physical anything wasn’t what he needed. He needed to let it go. He needed to come back.
Or Dean would really, really regret it later.
And Castiel finally had an idea of how to help him, something other than helplessly, persistently asking him for his consent to heal him.
Cas pulled off, his eyes stony, his glare commanding. He held Dean from himself with a hand on his naked chest, the trenchcoat having come off.
“You don’t -” Dean whimpered, backing away further than Castiel had pushed him to. “I’m sorry, Cas, I wasn’t thinking, of course you don’t want this, I’m this mess and now I’m not even -”
“Dean.” Cas looked at him steadily. “Never doubt my feelings for you. I love you, a million times over, but -” his voice trailed off.
“Cas, I need this, I need to feel, I need it to start hurting, and I need it to stop - I need you!” He stammered.
Cas didn’t ignore him, he couldn’t, he didn’t have it in him - but he started, on a different topic altogether. “Dean, listen to me. You don’t want me. But if you would have me be close, would you let me hold you?”
Dean stared at him, relentlessly, and still shivering. He made a motion to put the trench coat back on, but stopped midway, and looked steadfastly at the angel. And then nodded.
And within seconds, Dean had his head cradled intimately against Castiel’s ribs, the latter’s trenchcoat providing the heat that he was so desperate to feel, again. And in those warm arms, Cas gently wrapped around him like perhaps he didn’t hate him, Dean sought out the insanely human need to sob.
Dean slipped in and out of consciousness - at least, it felt like it, because moments of intense shivering through tears, were followed by complete stillness - and Castiel held him through both. He so terribly wished that it helped, but Dean’s eyes were always wet when they opened.
Dean’s voice kept rushing through his head. He remembered how he had looked saying it, still keeping it all shoved in - all the words, all the need for intimacy, all the feelings - And he remembered his eyes. His voice. I couldn’t do a damn thing, Cas I couldn’t move, and there were his fucking fingers shoved in my mouth - I couldn’t yell, and they had me tied, I couldn’t fight back. I couldn’t even think - I’ve died, Cas, and I felt that less. Jesus Christ, Dean - Castiel’s head swam with an anger he hadn’t felt in millenia. Sheer, absolute rage. They had hurt him. They had hurt Dean Winchester, and Castiel was going to -
Just about then, Dean got up slightly - as Castiel realized, when he drew back from him on seeing Castiel not wearing the soft, sad look anymore. It was true, Castiel felt an absolutely enormous amount of anger. Perhaps it showed in his eyes.
“I know you want to go home, Dean, and I want to take you. But,” He began, but his anger finally got the better of him. “We need to go back. I - I didn’t kill all of them, Dean. They were humans, I thought. But they’re not. They’re fucking monsters, and they deserve to be dead, and I will rip them apart, and I will burn that place down and -” Cas hissed, through his teeth.
“Don’t go back.” Dean swallowed, hard. Please don’t leave me, Cas. “I can’t - how will I face Sam?”
“He’s your brother, Dean, what -” Castiel stopped short, struggling to comprehend what he meant.
“But,” Dean finally, finally stopped trembling. He stared at Cas, and Cas felt his will grow stronger, with his hardening eyes. “I know. I just, I need -”
“Stay.” He finally whispered. “Please.” He added, barely audible.
“Dean,” Castiel lost all his determination to race back.
“Please,” He repeated.
“Of course, I will.” Cas turned on the engine a second time, and began to drive towards Lawrence.
“Stay,” Dean said to the wind, as he turned away from Castiel, as if shy of asking him to do something that simple. As if unaware that Cas would stay forever, if Dean just asked, just as he’d give his life for him.
“I won’t let them live.” Cas swore, under his breath, driving with both his hands clenching the wheel. “None of them. If I knew who, I’d kill every abuser in the Universe. They don’t deserve -”
“Cas.” Dean mouthed, tiredly. Cas took a moment to steal a glance at him. “Maybe send me to sleep.”
“Would you let me heal you too?” Cas repeated, suddenly back to being more concerned. The passionate, righteous fury hadn’t dissipated - it’d just gotten overpowered by the realization that Dean was finally letting him use his grace.
“Just..take it all away, and make me sleep.”
Cas cried his own tears, and kept on driving after he’d taken care of Dean. The hunter lay asleep, against his shoulder soon, completely out of it. A single look at the sleeping man, finally ridden of the troubled lines; and he knew that he was going to take him home first. Those fucking bastards would all be dealt with - he and Sam would goddamn see to it - but Dean had asked to go home, and whatever Castiel may want, Dean’s words must be respected. That’s what it was about.
Cas had a million questions. Why humans did this to each other - why they couldn’t live in peace, live with love, live with respect!?
He wanted to demand why Dean hadn’t prayed to him before. Dean had sent a short prayer, sounding so completely unlike himself, that Castiel had instantly flown to find him. But if he’d prayed an hour ago, before - Castiel had no idea why he didn’t. But he knew it wasn’t something he could ask Dean right now, and he hardly knew what it even meant.
He even wanted to ask him why Dean was hesitant in telling Sam. Sam was human, he would understand. Sam would know what to do. Sam would tell Cas how to help. Sam would be helpful. Was Dean - was he afraid of telling Sam? Hesitant? Ashamed? It made no sense at all.
The questions were uncountable, but his priorities were straight. He kept his eyes on the road. He detested the part of him which still inwardly considered circling back to the scene, and dealing with the ones he let go - the part of him which didn’t want to respect Dean’s desires.
He kept in mind Dean’s words, and kept on driving. To take him home.