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they say miracles are past

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Dean buys a whiteboard for the house and marks it into sections. There's a grocery list now. He's organized. And domestic. Sam would be very proud of this.

Cas doesn't understand whiteboards, and Dean has to walk him through the difference between permanent markers and dry erase, but eventually Dean sits him in front of a new episode of How It's Made and Cas shuts up about the whole thing.

Sometimes Dean finds things Cas scribbles on the shopping list. Animals, mostly. Cas wants a cat and a fish and a dog and a deer and a cow. (Dean spends ten minutes explaining why they can't get a cow, because, Cas, not only do we not have enough room, why do you want a cow, we get our milk from Rite Aid, no, sorry, we are not getting a cow, period.) He also wants flowers, which Dean allows. Cas plants things in pots on the windowsill in the kitchen and the whole house starts to smell like basil and oregano.

Over Christmas Dean makes it a project to convert the totally abandoned study into Cas's room.

"I don't need a bedroom," Cas says, when Dean presents the idea at breakfast. "What do you do in a bedroom? Presumably, you sleep. I do not sleep."

"You should have a space," Dean argues. "Your own. Space. For stuff you have. Like, I don't know, what happens when you run out of room in the kitchen? And if we ever get a cat, or a dog, or a fish, or whatever, it's sure as hell not sleeping in my room."

When they go to the Salvation Army to drop off a bunch of Dean's old stuff after a rigorous weekend cleaning session (Dean is all about those), Cas finds what is probably the ugliest jacket in the entire store. It's one of those terrible colorful patterned parkas, and it looks like it was last worn in 1994. Dean thinks he's going to have a heart attack when Cas tries it on.

"Cas," he chokes out, "Cas, you can't– Jesus. Jesus Christ. No."

Cas frowns at him. "I like it," he says. "It's colorful."

"Fine," Dean says. "Buy it."

The sales lady grins at them when they check out. "Oh, man, I love that jacket," she says. "I'm pretty sure my dad had the same one back in, like, '94." Fuck.

Cas smiles smugly at Dean on the way out. "Yeah, okay," Dean says. "Whatever, Cas."

Cas loves things, but mostly he loves people. They can't ride the subway anywhere anymore, because there's observation, and then there's Cas's brand of observation. Plus Cas reads auras or minds or whatever the fuck it is gods can do, and people get kind of freaked out when some guy wearing a parka tells you he's sorry about you missing the wedding, but your dad and stepmom forgive you.

So they use Dean's bulletproof, missile-proof, spell-proof, fireproof, waterproof, every-fucking-weapon-imaginable-proof-thanks-to-Cas's-runes car. Which, you know, Dean is not complaining, he loves his car. It's Cas who doesn't. Which pains Dean. Physically pains him.

One day Cas disappears.

The car isn't gone– but Cas doesn't even know how to drive, so that's not, like, that doesn't mean anything, and Dean calls Sam and Victor and Charlie and Jo and none of them know anything and Dean considers calling the police. But he figures he can cast a tracking spell as strong as half of their detectives, he went to Salem, thank you, and maybe he majored in defensive magic but he knows his shit.

The spell doesn't work. Figures. Cas is still a god, and that's what Dean tells himself as he paces back in forth in the kitchen. He drops a cup and it shatters, and all of a sudden he misses the stupid 90s parka fiercely, but mostly he misses the stupid god inside of it.

Cas is still a god, Cas is still more powerful than Dean could dream of being, Cas knows what he's doing.

Except, no, he doesn't. Cas doesn't know how to drive and he doesn't know what drywall is and he thinks flowers have souls. He doesn't know how public transportation works and he doesn't really even understand human currency. He gets maybe 10% of Dean's pop culture references on a good day, because Dean has taught him a lot but Dean's knowledge is extensive.

Jesus, Jesus Christ, he's going to stop breathing, he can't breathe.

Like the sun, it hurt to look at you, says Cas's voice, and Dean is going to lose it. What if Cas never shows up, what if he's dead, oh, can you kill a god, can gods die? They can, right? It's been awhile since his intro classes at Salem. This stuff never seemed important before.

It's late, but not that late, and he's so exhausted he can't sleep. He's had nothing to drink. He can't be like that, not if Cas comes home. When he comes home. Christ, he has to come home, Dean hasn't told him anything. He doesn't even know about Christmas.

Religion is dying, in their world. More people are starting to follow magic instead of a singular faith, but magic accepts all faith. Magic is faith. And Dean needs Cas to come home now, because he needs to stop thinking, they're going to watch something ridiculous on late-night TV and if Cas doesn't come home, Dean doesn't know what he's going to do.

Cas doesn't come home that night.

Dean dreams about a fish dying on a beach. It's not scary, or painful, but he wakes up on the couch and he's sweating, and there are chills.

Dean drives to work and Charlie asks, did you find him?

I'm sure he's fine, everyone says. Dean doesn't say anything.

There's a knock on his door. It's probably Victor, Victor checks up on people, Victor's brother is a cop and protectiveness runs in the family.

Dean answers it. He's wearing the shirt he wore yesterday and a pair of flannels from college. He hasn't showered in a few days. The circles under his eyes are probably record-breaking.

It isn't Victor.

"Jesus Christ," Dean breathes, and then he's hugging Cas and Cas probably can't even breathe, and he's not hugging back. Dean laughs, shakily. Cas doesn't even know how to hug people. "Arms here," Dean instructs. Cas is carrying something, Dean doesn't know what, but he's warm and solid and the air smells like a thunderstorm.

"That was pleasant," Cas says. "Thank you."

Dean wants to kiss him for good measure; he doesn't.

"Don't ever do that again," Dean says, hands on Cas's shoulders because he can't let go. "Tell me where you're going next time. God, Cas, I was scared outta my mind. Don't."

Cas holds up the bag. It's... a bag of water. With a fish. A little goldfish, swimming around and around.

Fucking hell, Castiel.

"I was getting a fish," Cas says.

"I see that."

"It's a goldfish."

"Uh huh."

"The cashier said I should let you name her."

Dean gapes. "You told the cashier about me?"

Cas walks past Dean, into the house. Dean closes the door behind him and follows him into the kitchen and everything is so much brighter. The mint is browning at the top; Dean should water their plants. No. Cas's plants. Shit. "I told everyone about you," he says.

"Oh," Dean says.

Cas produces a clear bowl from the depths of Dean's kitchen cabinets and fills it up with clean water. He puts the bag into the bowl. 

"Why don't you just put the fish into the bowl, 'stead of the bag?" Dean asks.

"The woman said I had to let the fish acclimate to new water and temperature." Cas turns towards him. "Also, we need a fish tank," he says. He walks over to the whiteboard, and Dean doesn't stop him, just watches as he writes, in slightly cramped cursive, fish tank.

"Oh my God," Dean says.

"Gods, plural," Cas corrects him.

"Whatever, Cas."

Dean leans over and watches the fish swim to the opening of the bag, and then back in. The bag bobs in the water. "It's pretty," he admits. Then, because he's an asshole, because he can't help himself, he asks, "So, what'd you tell the cashier about me?"

"I said, I'm buying a fish for Dean. She asked me who Dean was. I told her you were my friend. And I told her about things you like."

"Wow, I'm touched."

Cas squints at him. "I didn't touch you," he says.

Dean cracks up.

"Aw," says Charlie, when Cas goes to the break room to read Vonnegut. "You bought him a fish. That's so cute."

"He bought himself a fish," Dean reminds her. "I bought him a fish tank, but only because if the fish died he would probably, I don't know, cry, I can't deal with a crying god– Charlie, stop– stop laughing at me, you asshole, this isn't funny."

Pamela whaps his ass with a rolled up newspaper and says, "Nice. A fish. Classy, romantic, I like it."

"Romantic?" Dean splutters. "All of you– fuck you, you are all fired, get out of here, get– leave, go away."