The drive home after a case was always long, it was often Dean's only form of meditation. The open road and the Impala were his home more than the bunker ever would be. Not long ago getting back to a beer and Cas were his favorite things. Now, the only thing that was waiting for him was that beer. Sure Jack was there, but he wasn’t fully on board with what they were doing. Every time he wanted to cut ties with Jack he remembered Cas had wanted to protect that boy. So he decided he would try, out of reverence for his lover, his best friend, his guardian angel.
Dean's phone rang stirring Sam out his dead sleep. Dean picked up the unknown call. In the hunter’s life you don’t screen calls, you know that picking up the phone can be life or death for the person on the other end. With all the pain in their lives lately, getting a call to help beat some supernatural ass was the distraction he needed.
“Yeah.” Dean’s voice was as cool and distant as ever. He didn’t give his name, normally whoever called knew who they are calling.
“Dean, it’s me.” The voice was gruff and unmistakable.
His heart stopped. He sat there eyes wide, his mind becoming white with static. He was driving, but could hardly process what was happening.
“Cas?” His voice was betraying him and he knew it.
“Yes, I...I’m back.” Cas sounded as uncertain as he felt. How could he be back? No one has ever returned from the Empty. He felt like himself, he had his memories. He knew everything from the moment he came into existence up until now. He had no doubts about himself, but he knew they would.
“How? I mean...where are you?” Dean knew not to believe it right away, though his heart wanted to so badly.
Cas gave his location and waited. It was gonna be an agonizing wait, but not worse than what he had just left. Maybe he could make sense of it all before they got there. He started to think of all his time with Dean. What in their history would be that reassurance that he was going to need?
Sam was still waking up when Dean threw the phone down between them. They had just finished a case and were already exhausted having driven several hours that night. Sam was worried by what he had just heard. Dean had been barely hanging onto himself for months now. If this was real or fake he knew his brother was going to break.
“Dean…” Before he could even say another word he was interrupted.
“Sam, don’t. I know everything you’re about say.” He kept his eyes on the road not taking a moment to see his brother’s reaction.
“Okay, but...” Again he was interrupted.
“No, stop. We are going to drive in silence until we get there. If it’s not Cas we’ll deal with it then. If it is him...” Dean felt his voice choke, so he hid it by clearing his throat. “If it is him, then we have a win. And we’ll beat down all this shit that’s been happening. Maybe death was wrong.”
Sam nodded even though he knew his brother wasn’t watching. Dean tried to keep his mind focused on the road, not let himself believe this was really possible. He focused on the day he burnt Cas’s body. He recounted every detail, remembering if there was anything he noticed that was strange but had been too overcome with despair that he had ignored it. He thought about how the body looked, how it felt to lay his lips on Cas’s one last time. The body had been cold in a way he had never witnessed before, but maybe that's just because it was Cas. He remembered the color of the ripped curtains he had torn down to wrap the body. Dean's eyes were brimming with hot tears. He rolled down his window to get the cool air on his face. He hadn't broken down in front of Sam yet, this was not going to be that day. The sky was heavy, and the roads were wet from a recent storm. It was Dean’s favorite kind of weather to drive in, but it didn’t mean a damn tonight.
Dean lightly smacked at his brother’s leg. Sam had fallen asleep again as his fatigue had pulled him under. “Sammy, we’re here.” As Dean made that final turn he held his breath without realising. He turned off the lights as the car slowly pulled up to a figure that Dean would have known in the dark with his eyes closed.
Cas turned around as a knot jumped into his throat. They were here, surely they could both tell it was him. But it wasn’t like the other times when God had brought him back. This was so different, he knew he had left behind a body. Dean's held breath forced its way from his lips as he swiftly got out of the car. Sam and Dean both walked up to Cas with questions in their eyes. If it wasn’t him they both felt themselves almost willing to accept this ruse just to have him back. Things weren’t always great when they were by themselves.
“Cas, is that really you?” Looking at this man he had spent years memorizing it really seemed like Cas. He still held back though, afraid the shoe would drop and that it would be a trap.
“No. You’re...you’re dead.” Sam sounded like a child lost for understanding.
“Yeah, I was. But then I...annoyed an ancient cosmic being so much that he sent me back.” Cas sounded almost proud of that.
“I don’t even know what to say.” Sam was still grasping for meaning, some explanation as to how this was possible.
“I do.” Dean sounding assured and went to Cas to embrace him.
“Welcome home, pal.” The skepticism was still in his eyes. If this was an impersonator the best way to find out would be to welcome them as if it were Cas and see how it interacted with everyone. He embraced this being that smelled like Cas, acted like Cas, but still defied all logic. Dean was good at the long game, and would hold back his approval until he could be with Cas one-on-one. Sam hugged Cas as well feeling like maybe he could let his guard down now that Dean appeared convinced.
“How long was I gone?” Cas was utterly devoid of time unable to tell if it had been days, or years. Clearly Dean looked similar in age, but he was much more worn than last he'd seen him. But even if it had been 30 years it wouldn't have changed the way he looked at Dean.
“Too damn long.” Dean responded with a nod.
Sam needed answers, "Where were you? In Heaven?”
“No.” Cas was afraid the explanation of the Empty would break their hearts and minds, but he couldn’t hold back.
Dean looked scared for a moment, not in heaven? He thought of what it had been like in Hell for him, imagining Cas suffering broke his heart.
“No, I was in the Empty.” Cas said it plainly as to not make it sound more threatening to them, as humans.
“Really?” Dean was even less inclined to believe this.
“Apparently, it’s where angels and demons go when they die.” Cas was not excited to share this. It meant that if Dean made it to heaven when he died as a human, and Cas died as an angel they would never be together in the afterlife. As the words escaped him, it hit him with full force. He wondered if Dean would realize what he had just implied.
“What was it like?” Sam wasn’t catching all of the subtext, that was to be expected though as he wasn't fully aware of how close Dean and Cas had been. To him Cas was like a middle brother keeping Dean and himself working together rather than at each other’s throats.
“Well it’s dark, and nothing. It’s like...nothing.” Cas made a slight shrug as he was trying to be supportive of Sam, to help him follow what he was saying, but he was breaking on the inside from what he had experienced. He knew it would be his future again. “I was sleeping, and I heard a voice that said my name, and I woke up. I thought you...had done something.” He looked to both of them, but could clearly tell from their faces they weren’t the ones to thank for coming back.
“No, we…” Dean was stunned by what he was hearing. He couldn’t imagine what power in the universe could have pulled Cas from the Empty. “We didn’t even think we could bring you back.” His guilt was catching up to him. Had he stopped trying? Had he given up on Cas to early like he had in purgatory? Were they now indebted to a higher power and at what cost? And what did Cas mean it was only for angels and demons? He felt his heart slowing as he grasped what Cas was saying. He too had held onto that small glimmer of hope for their afterlife.
“So who was it? Chuck -- uh, God?” Sam asked.
“No. No he has no power in the Empty.” Cas realized that no one he knew with any real power could have done this. Did he have an unknown enemy to thank?
“Well, then, who does?” Dean was already on the same conclusion.
Sam looked like he had just cracked the case, “Jack.”
Cas and Dean looked at him very skeptical. Cas thought Jack was merely a baby so the likelihood seemed far fetched. Dean knew Jack was powerful, but how could a half-human half- angel do something not even God could do?
The ride back to the bunker felt four times longer than it should have as they all sat in relative silence. When they were about 20 minutes out from the bunker in Lebanon Kansas Sam started to explain a few things.
“Cas, you need to know something about Jack.” Sam had already taken to Jack in many respects. He felt like a father figure, or at least that it was a chance to be a good older brother.
“Is he okay?” Cas said concerned, he knew they all would be a good influence on Jack, but being a baby it would be difficult for them both. Mary was with them though, she had taken care of a baby more recently than any of them.
“Well, he...he won’t look the way you would expect. You’ve not been gone long enough for him to look as old as he does.” Sam tried to explain with hand gestures as he talked, which of course were lost to Cas as he was sitting in the back.
“So how old does he look?” Cas asked.
Dean looked over to Sam, and then responded. “He looks about 16 years old maybe a little younger or older. He learns quick Cas. He really wants to meet you.”
Cas smirked, but not because Jack was already grown, and remembered him. He smiled at the small fantasy he had, had before dying. Part of himself imagined raising Jack with Dean as their son. Dean showing him the best of being human, and himself teaching Jack what it was to be angelic. That dream was only something he allowed himself in moments of weakness. He had almost been happy Kelly would surely die in childbirth for his fantasy to come true. It was his one dark thought, even now it still gave him joy visualizing Dean as a father. Cas knew he was not the angel he was before meeting Dean. That thought didn’t frighten him as it did so long ago. He had free will, he felt emotions, he was unlike most angels in many ways, and there was no way to explain it.
Before he had died, the bunker had begun to feel like home to Cas. Being there again he felt his body relax from tension he hadn’t known was building. The boys went to Jack first to try and prepare him. Meeting Jack was a proud moment for Cas. His emotions showed on his face as he held onto this boy he had given his protection to from the womb. As an angel he never imagined a life like this for himself. The chance to help raise a child of any kind was never meant for him. The joy he suddenly felt was intense, and not like an emotion he had ever experienced. He felt true pride. They spent several hours getting to know each other, eventually Dean and Sam slipped away to give them some alone time.
Dean grabbed something harder than a beer as he walked through the kitchen. It was almost a ritual of his own device now. He took out a low-ball glass, he enjoyed the sound it made on the metal work station. He pulled two large pieces of ice from the fridge clinking them into the glass. From the bar he pulled the whiskey pouring a perfect three fingers. Dean always fancied himself an excellent bartender in another life. He took a sip, the golden liquid burned and he welcomed the sensation. Dean went to his room, glass in hand. He paced in front of his desk for a while working out how to best test this Cas. His drink was gone and the ice nearly melted after his 6th lap. He still wasn’t convinced about Cas yet, there was too much on the line. He needed to be 100% sure or he would never be able to trust him with all that was coming. As he thought more, flashes of the moments he’d shared with Cas in that room came back. He turned his head sharply, closing his eyes tightly hoping to keep the exquisite and painful memories at bay. He thought of a small test he could use to see if Cas was at least still an angel. He whispered a prayer, “Castiel, I pray to you, hear my prayer. When you are done talking with Jack come see me. I’ll be up...we need to talk.” If Cas could still hear prayers it was just one more reason to trust in him. After some more pacing he turned to his old friend, the laptop. He settled onto the bed trying to distract himself. It could still be hours, and he didn’t want to rush Cas’s first meeting with Jack, if it really was him.
Castiel left Jack when they had finally discussed as much as they could in one night. His heart was full at seeing how well Jack was doing. He couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome, but Jack wasn’t the only one he needed to talk to that night. He walked through the kitchen and saw the whiskey bottle on the counter. He smirked lifting the bottle to his nose. He didn't drink often, it was more of a social activity to him. It took a lot for angels to get drunk and no one had the money for that.
Cas had heard Dean’s prayer, which was a comfort. He wrung his hands together starting to go over the things he wanted to say. He never assumed things with Dean would be the way they had been. He had hoped, but he didn’t want to expect it then be heartbroken if Dean had moved on. Distraught he laboriously found himself shuffling through the hall. 'Would Dean ever trust that he was truly Cas and not some trick from Lucifer, Michael, or hell even God for that matter?' What if? What if? What if? His thoughts were racing, but also crawling as each pained possible outcome overcame him.
Finally he was there, just outside Dean's door. Seeing that it was open Cas entered. At a loss for words he looked at his feet not knowing where to begin.
Dean was sitting on his bed looking up from his laptop as Cas entered. He closed the computer quickly and put it on the desk in a fluid motion that left Cas remembering many other smooth fluid movements he had, had with this man.
Dean went for the door checking that no one like Jack was lurking in the hall, then closed and locked it. With the door secured he felt his shoulders relax, and he let out a breath he hadn't known he had been holding. Dean had this conversation with himself over and over on the long drive home. But then it hit him, ‘Cas heard my prayer!’ Waves of realization on what that meant rushed over him in a tingling sensation. Almost afraid to turn around and face the real possibility of it being him he heard Cas speak first.
"Dean, I know this is unusual. What can I do to convince you that it's me?" The words weren't everything he wanted to say, but he was always at a loss for explaining his feelings in human terms.
Dean turned to face Cas, his eyes were brimming with tears that would fall the instant he would blink. His face was in anguish.
"Cas, I burned your body! I'm the one who wrapped it. The one who lifted you to that pire." His words were filled with an angry pain that swelled emotion inside Cas. Before he could reply Dean continued. "My heart has been dead to the world the moment I saw that blade go through you." Dean beat at his chest with his last words. His breath was weak and short as if he could break hearing what Cas would reply.
"I know, I knew you must have. It is me though. I have all of my memories, all of the feelings, and the emotions I had before. When I woke up in the empty my first thought," Cas hesitated not wanting to admit this out loud. "...my first thought wasn't about Jack, it was that I had left you. I was almost too scared to return to earth in case Lucifer had killed you. I didn't even want to come back to a world like that. I nearly decided to stay there, awake forever if only to keep my memories of being with you, of us alive." As Cas was still trying to explain Dean closed the distance between them, fiercely grabbing Cas's trench coat pulling him into a deep searching kiss.
This was the last test. If this was Cas he would be able to tell. It might sound like Cas and be convincing in other ways, but they would never be able to impersonate how it was between them. No one had known about them either. Dean had kept it quiet not out of any shame, but for protection. It was no secret how important Cas was to the Winchester boys, but no one knew Dean and Cas were lovers.
Cas was stunned, but quickly returned the anguished probing kiss in kind. He tasted the tears from Dean mingle in their mouth. Those tears were for him, they were for them. The faint taste of whiskey was still clinging to Dean's tongue. Cas felt a deep sound of need escape him without having any control over it. Dean knew this sound, knew this response.
His hands searched Cas, but it wasn't enough. Without taking his attention away in a fluid movement he slipped off the trench coat laying it on the chair. Their entanglement of hands and mouths continued as they found that familiar comforting rhythm. Dean knew it was Cas, he had no doubts now. He didn't care how Cas had come back or who he owed for his only prayer to have been answered. He had the love of his life back in his arms, and it wasn't a dream.
Cas fumbled with the buttons on Dean's shirt. Eager and impatient Dean pulled it off over his head leaving his chest bare with goosebumps prickling all over. Cas stared in awe as he always did when it came to Dean. He led his fingers gently over the warding tattoo then traced them over to his mark on Dean's arm. Cas felt the energy building as he laid his whole hand on top of the mark. Dean felt electric tingles surge through his body forcing his face to the heavens in ecstasy. Being more open than he ever had been Cas accidentally began to share his memories and feelings through their connection. In flashes Dean saw their timeline through Cas's eyes. He saw the first time Cas showed himself to Dean in that barn. He experienced the jealousy Cas felt towards the lovers Dean would take. All of the stolen glances he took, and the growing of their bond. Dean saw himself the way Cas saw him. It was overwhelming, and the truest moment he had ever felt with anyone in his life. Wanting to reciprocate he searched for that thread of himself. Pulling his memories he tried pushing them back through that connection. Cas breathed in sharply as a flood of Dean's memories crashed into his mind. He saw how early their romantic relationship had started for Dean. He felt how it grew from appreciation, to genuine admiration, to actual love. He watched Dean prepare his body, and witnessed his death feeling what Dean went through. Cas knew what he felt was love for Dean, but it had never felt so validated before. The surge proved their bond had held even past death. Cas felt bare and exposed in the most amazing way. He felt truly seen for the first time in his existence. When he woke from his trance of visions Dean was watching him with the eyes of a wolf, making Cas feel like the lamb.
"I never thought you looked at me like that." Cas sounded fragile as he met Dean's gaze. Dean touched him, gently running his fingers along that stubble he adored. Slowly with his thumb he traced the bottom lip. Cas parted his lips leaving a light kiss.
"You are so beautiful." It was all that Cas could let out.
'Always the wordsmith.' Dean thought, as the sides of his lips curled into a bright smile. Trying to stifle his grin he leaned in and took the love from Cas's lips again.
Dean pulled away whispering "You are beautiful too..." Grabbing him closer he continued, "Let me be your first, in this body…" Cas squirmed feeling shivers up his spine, then kissed him deeply. Dean tugged at Cas's shirt and the sound of buttons tickled the floor. Tracing the geography of his lover he felt the collar bone, the shoulders, and the chest he had spent years learning. He knew this body wasn't exactly Cas's true form, but it was his mind, his being, that Dean adored.
Pulling Cas against him the feeling of their skin together surged butterflies up his body. After all of these years it was always the same when they returned to each other.
Cas felt breathless while his need grew stronger. Angels weren’t meant for this, having love, making love, it was just just one more thing he never imagined he'd experience, or want to. He always gave himself to Dean, as much as he could. He would never be able to show him his true face, his true voice. It used to bother him, but now he would choose to be human if only they could keep this between them. His head was swimming as he felt Dean kiss along his neck. Light teeth ran across his pulse as Dean laid his mouth down and gently sucked. He never wanted to give pain to Cas, but there was a trust between them that he had never given to anyone else. He sucked on that spot leaving a very small mark that healed itself moments later. As he pulled away Cas’s eyes were drowsy and fluttering with a smile at the corners of his lips. This look often meant he wanted more. Cas wanted to see all of Dean now. He never understood being nude before. The shame that humans were supposed to feel after the fall and how morality became attached to what one wore was a mystery. But now that he understood real love, human love, he did know the act of undressing one another was exquisite. Standing close and having done it a hundred times before Cas unbuckled that familiar belt proceeding to undress the only human he ever loved.
Dean watched every movement, and every reaction that ran over Cas's stoic face. Cas bent down pulling off Dean's jeans leaving him bare. Still kneeling he rubbed his face against him like a cat. While steadying himself he held onto Dean’s leg as he laid a kiss on the growing desire. Gently pulling Dean into his mouth, it was warm and growing hotter as his tongue traced the delicate skin. He enjoyed this moment, when Dean was completely held by his attention. He explored with his mouth for longer than he realized. Dean covered his face with his hands raising his head to the sky. He smiled and spoke through his hands almost chuckling.
"Cas my legs will give out if you continue." He looked up and saw Dean grinning down at him. Wistfully he pulled himself up, "Get on the bed." Cas said, gently pushing Dean back. He positioned himself on the bed as Cas removed his pants keeping his eyes locked on Dean who was matching his gaze. He went to straddle Dean's legs taking up where he left off. He began to cradle and fondle Dean's scrotum while his mouth continued to search. Dean's arms tightly grabbed the bars of his bed frame above his head. Cas may not be wonderful with words, but he knew what to do with his mouth. Cas pushed his hands under Dean’s ass and gripped it firmly, enough to leave his hand marks when they pulled away. He was taking Dean deep into his mouth when he felt it.
Dean watched as Cas's wings flew out behind him, this always meant Cas was letting go, he was completely in this moment. The first time he saw Cas's wings like this he...his mind suddenly started making small explosions. "Wait, wait…" Dean's voice was strained, but holding on. "I want to be inside you when I come." Cas's eyes looked up the body of his lover licking Dean one more time before letting him move. Dean shuddered trying hard not to show his glee in a dopey grin. He went to the end of the bed controlling Cas's position by gently tugging at those extended wings. Kneeling on all fours was often the easiest position they could take when his wings were out, and Cas didn't mind at all. This was also the same position they had the first time they had made love. The memory prickled down his spine, "I.." Cas could barely get his words out. "Are you okay?" Dean sounded worried. 'Had he pulled the wings too hard?' He leaned in to get closer as Cas continued, "...I've missed you so much." Softly smiling Dean put his forehead against Cas’s back between the wings. He laid a gentle kiss there, “Not more than I’ve missed you... I know it’s you Cas, I believe it, I feel it."
"I didn't come here thinking this would happen, I mean... I hoped, but…" Cas wasn't sure how to complete his thought.
Dean interrupted him, they had found each other again, that was all that mattered now. "I never got to say goodbye before. Even if this was the last moment I could be with you for the rest of my life, I would take it. I won't risk this moment disappearing if you vanished in the morning." He hesitated because he hardly ever said these words to anyone, "I love you Cas."
Cas slowly turned sitting up on his knees so he could turn and see Dean's expression. It was pained with yearning. He leaned in so he could take comfort from Cas's lip again. Their kiss grew and Dean's hands searched Cas finding all the places that were reserved only for him. He felt himself grow hard again, and wanting everything from his lover. He put Cas back onto all fours as he gently bit at his back. He took small bites leaving delicate marks that quickly faded. Building noises escaped Dean as he was losing himself to the desire. The need to devour was great. His hands found Cas hard and eager. With his other hand he rubbed his sex against Cas. Taking his time he made sure they were both ready. He made small, slow, gentle motions as he put himself deeper in his lover. This was no race, there was no need to be forceful.
Cas's body responded, it was always a mixture of pain and pleasure at first. He pushed back against Dean slowly moving his hips to Dean's growing rhythm. They always found their motion, they could anticipate what the other was doing, and what they needed.
Dean held onto Cas's wings as nearly the whole length of himself had filled Cas. He knew not to pull too hard, but those wings were an extension of Cas and deserved to be included. Cas's head rose up as he couldn't hold back his moans. Dean felt that he was starting to hit that spot within all men that leaves them helpless. He reached around and held Cas in his hand. He was pulsatingly hard and cried out as Dean began to move his hand over his sex. He knew Cas was near climax. His wings began to shine, and like a bulb bursting the wings disappeared while Cas was writhing. He came powerfully, almost violently. Dean held him tight taking Cas's seed into his hand. As Cas quieted he put his lover's seed on his sex and continued. He too was close. Cas pushed back against Dean, but was quite spent now leaning down unable to keep himself on his arms. He could feel every inch of Dean filling him, and relished the sensation. Dean's hands were digging into Cas's ass as he thrust himself over and over. He felt the building sensation. "Cas…" He whispered losing his speech.
"Let go Dean." Cas felt him do just that, sometimes that small permission was all Dean needed to finally finish. With small grunts and deep breaths Dean came in surges. It was a moment he never thought would happen again. His mind was left white, empty, and content.
Dean gently pulled out lowering himself to the bed. He laid down spooning Cas with his face buried into the back of his neck. Their bodies tightly copied what the other was doing, and they cuddled almost afraid it had been a dream for both of them.
Cas felt Dean's breathing slow and eventually slipping away into sleep. As angels don't sleep he wondered if he should stay until morning or leave. He stayed there for at least an hour just listening to the sleeping noises Dean made. They had never told Sam they were lovers, and now with Jack it could get complicated. Eventually he kissed Dean's arm that was laid over him and teleported himself out of bed. He didn't want to make things more difficult. Besides, he could do research and try contacting heaven. As he started to pick up his clothes he heard a groggy, "Cas?" Dean was somewhere between sleep, and wakefulness, there was slight fear in his voice.
"I'm here, I just thought I'd leave. I don't think you would want Sam or Jack to see me leaving your room in the morning." Cas was trying to sound considerate.
"Cas, you've stayed in my bed all night before. If Jack sees something so be it. I'm not having our first night back together interrupted." Dean patted the bed where he had been laying.
Cas smiled with his eyes. He knew why they hadn't told others, they had agreed a long time ago it was for the best. The world they lived in was so complicated and not becoming more simple. He didn't know what this year would hold, and if the Empty would pull him back tomorrow, this was more important. Laying the clothes back down he got in the bed pulling the covers over them both. This time Dean had turned on his other side so Cas would be big spoon. Cas drew him tightly against himself closing his eyes. He didn't sleep, but he could meditate. He took in every movement, smell, and sound as Dean slept. Cas would protect this man, this man he pulled from perdition so long ago, he was a guardian angel after all.