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These Precious Things

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The rain pattered softly down the windows of the motel room, the clouds dark and overhung across the Midwest where the Winchesters were currently stationed, looking for their latest hunt. The soft, distant thunder was followed by the faint, unnoticed sound of ruffling wings.

"Dean, I am in need of your assistance."

The sudden deep gravelly voice startled both boys from their research, causing Sam to nearly overturn his coffee and Dean to drop the gun he'd been cleaning on his bed, which thankfully wasn't loaded.

"Jesus Cas, I'm serious, a goddamn bell or somethin'!"

"Cas? What's wrong?" Sam asked, frowning as he closed his laptop for the moment, research temporarily forgotten in the wake of the angel's arrival.

It was then that the older Winchester noticed Castiel's state; dark hair matted down, pinned underneath the weight of water and how his overcoat hung heavily on his shoulders, arms cradling against his chest.

"The hell Cas, you look like you fell into the Niagara." Dean said as he stood, setting his gun down on the bed to approach the angel. "You hurt? Cas, are you okay?"

"I am fine, Dean .. but this .. I could not leave it .." Castiel said as he pulled his hands back from his chest a fraction to allow Dean to see, the angel stepping forward well into Dean's personal space. It made the hunter a little uncomfortable but at the moment Dean thought Cas was injured, so he took the closeness in stride.

Until he saw just what Castiel had cradled within his hands.

"... Is that a cat?"

"It's a kitten, Dean." Sam said from somewhere behind him, his tall frame peering over Dean's shoulder to see. "You brought us a kitten?"

"No he didn't bring us a kitten, Sam!" Dean said, annoyed before looking back to Castiel whose attention was turned to the thing mewing brokenly in his arms. "You didn't, right?"

Castiel looked up at the Winchesters and frowned, blue eyes large and wide, full of hope. "I could not leave it, Dean. It is one of my Father's creatures. No creature should be made to suffer like this .. alone and cold." The angel said quietly, long fingers stroking over short matted fur. "Do you have any milk?"

"In the fridge, yeah."

"Sam!"

"Dean! I'm not going to let you starve a kitten."

"Oh for the love of .. I wasn't going to let it starve! Christ, Sam, I'm not that much of a dick! I'm just sayin'--"

"Saying what, Dean? That you won't help Cas? That you won't help a starving, defenseless kitten?"

".. That was uncalled for and you know it! I'm just saying, Sam, that we can't afford to keep a pet. We can barely afford to keep ourselves out of shit creek."

"God, Dean, you sound just like Dad did."

"Don't you even compare me to --"

"Dean."

Both boys stopped their bickering at the sound of Castiel's distressed voice. "What is it Cas?" Sam asked, giving Dean a bitchface as he walked away.

"There is no milk, at least this isn't .. what one would call fresh." The angel said as he held up the half empty milk container in distaste. Sam grabbed it and looked at the date. "It's only a few days old, it can't be that ba -- oh ew, gross." Sam exclaimed, blanching at the sour smell that emanated from the container the moment he opened the carton. "Okay, yeah, this needs to go. Dean, I'm going to get some milk." Sam said as he dumped the sour contents down the drain of the sink.

Dean just stood there with his arms across his chest, scowling and rolling his eyes. "Fine, but pick up some beer while you're at it. And bring back some damn pie. I haven't had pie in like, months." The hunter groused.

Sam just bitchfaced at him as he snatched up the keys to the Impala and headed to the door. "I'll be back in awhile." He said, and 'don't do anything stupid' was heavily implied as he walked out the door.

Sighing, as he was now stuck with a kitten and a wet angel, Dean walked over to Cas and grabbed him by the shoulders as he steered the shorter man into the bathroom. "C'mon Noah, lets get you outta that trenchcoat."

"Why are you calling me Noah, Dean? I am not building an Ark."

".. You know, cuz it's raining and you're all wet and you have a animal? Nevermind, let's just this thing off you so you can dry off."

"Overcoat, Dean."

"What?"

"It's technically an overcoat."

"Whatever, just get out of it before you track water everywhere."

Castiel nodded but stood there for a few moments, seemingly lost. "Dean?"

Dean sighed, and counted to ten. "Yeah, Cas?"

"The kitten? I can't .. remove my overcoat while holding the kitten. I expended too much .. mojo as you put it .. getting here."

".. Okay, give it here." Dean said and held out his hands. Castiel gave him a skeptical look but when he deemed Dean safe enough he handed the small, wet furry bundle over. Dean made his own brand of bitchface when he took the shivering little thing from Cas' warm hands.

"Just take off anything that's wet and hang it over the shower rod in the bathtub. I'll have Sam take it to the laundromat to dry later if your mojo ain't back yet." Dean said before exiting the bathroom, but not before grabbing a few towels. He was not letting this thing soak through his motel bed.

Padding over to the bed he sat down and laid the towels out across the bed like thick pads and gently set the kitten down onto it. The poor thing was soaked and shaking, letting out little half broken mewls. Despite coming off as a hard ass half the time Dean was anything but. He hated situations like this because he wanted to fix it and he didn't know how. He didn't know how to fix a half frozen, starving kitten.

The poor soul just laid there, shaking and scared. Reaching out Dean stroked a finger down it's little spine and his chest twisted when it mewed, a quiet half sound. The kitten was small, a few weeks old at best, maybe one month. It's fur was black, small body with a gnawed off tail, and he noticed one eye missing. The other was a stark blue, but he often remembered seeing most kittens with blue eyes that usually changed to a more normal color once they grew older.

Glancing over from the shut door, Dean pulled up the edges of the towel and began to dry the little kitten off, his large rough hands gentle as he ruffled the soft cotton over the wet fur. A tiny little smile crossed his face when the feline began to purr. The sound was a little disjointed, like it didn't quite have how to purr worked out yet, but he'd been around animals enough to know it was definitely a purr.

It was then that Castiel emerged from the bathroom clad in only a white under shirt and the boxers his vessel was wearing, everything else hanging in the bathroom -- even his socks. Dean looked over and stopped what he was doing, unintentionally staring as Castiel looked down at himself, as if he himself were unused to wearing so little. "Is this alright?" He asked, looking up to Dean and catching the man's surprised green gaze.

Their eyes locked and all they could do was stare. The depth of the man's gaze felt endless, like Dean was drowning in a sea of ocean blue and the angel felt similarly, as if he could see every beautiful thing his Father created in those mossy green eyes. Dean's eyes dropped down to the man's pliant chapped lips, that parted a fraction to inhale. Then the spell was broken when the kitten the hunter was drying off sneezed, causing Dean to tear his attention away from Cas to the little bundle on the bed. "Yeah, s'fine .." He replied awkwardly.

Dean coughed and cleared his throat, a light flush creeping up his neck as he went back to idly rubbing the kitten to keep it warm, noticing that the little thing was shivering less. Castiel hovered in the same spot just outside the bathroom for a moment longer before padding near silent over to the other side of the bed, taking a seat on the edge.

"I do not understand .." Castiel started, as he stared at the kitten laying prone in the pile of towels as Dean rubbed at it's ears with the cloth, "Why Father would allow something so cruel to happen to such an innocent creature, to these precious things." The angel said as he reached out to lightly rub at the kitten's face, gingerly over it's wounded eye.

Dean was quiet as he watched the tender moment. "Sometimes bad things happen to good people Cas, or in this case good animals. Where'd you find it anyway?" He asked curious, and though it was raining it couldn't be raining hard enough to drench Cas through his clothes.

"A river. I heard it crying, and when I realized what it was .." Castiel trailed off as he stroked over the back of the little kittens ears, lips twitching as it purred brokenly. "How could I not save it? One of my father's beautiful creatures, suffering .. how could I leave it there?"

When Dean looked up from the kitten he found Cas' piercing blue eyes staring right at him, and he had the faintest belief that Cas wasn't talking about just the kitten.

"Cas .. I'm not --" Dean muttered, voice rough but the words were cut off when Castiel brought his hand up to lightly cup Dean's cheek.

"But you are, Dean. How can you not see that?" Castiel asked, inching closer on the bed as he spoke, thumb stroking the light stubble across the man's jaw. "You are one of my Father's most stunning creations, Dean. You are brave and righteous, dealing justice with strength and compassion. You put others before yourself, you save so many yet do not believe you yourself can be saved. Why is it that you cannot see your own worth?" Castiel asked, voice low and rough with passion, as if that alone would be able to make Dean see what he saw, the sheer beauty of his soul.

"Cas .. I .. the things I've done .. in Hell .. I can't .." Dean choked out, green eyes bright as he stared at the man before him, the angel who believed so faithfully in him. "I'll just let you down .."

"You haven't thus far." Castiel said quietly, thumb sliding up from Dean's jaw to sweep tenderly over his lips. "I will always believe in you, Dean." Inch by slow inch Castiel closed the distance between them.

He saw it coming, could have moved away, stopped it but he didn't, as Cas leaned in and pressed his chapped lips to Dean's own, the kiss warm and slow, and Dean found himself tilting his head and slanting lips more firmly against Cas', accepting. Castiel sighed in relief as he pressed his mouth more insistently against Dean's, and the hunter complied, lips parting and the angel answered by pressing his tongue into the warm recesses of Dean's mouth.

Castiel groaned softly and moved closer, his hand sliding from Dean's face into his hair, cupping the back of his head as he pulled himself closer, nearly crawling into the hunter's lap, desperate for more. He'd waited so long for this moment, when Dean would finally accept him and now it was here, right in front of him and he couldn't let go just yet, afraid it was just a hoax.

Dean couldn't remember the last time just kissing felt this good, this intoxicating and he knew in that moment he was done for. There was no way he could go back to what he had -- the meaningless one night stands -- not when he had someone willing right in front of him. Someone he hadn't even realized he wanted, needed. Or maybe he had but was just too stubborn to admit it. Either way, he wasn't at all disturbed by the thought of Castiel kissing him, holding him close and trembling in his arms and god, just that alone was enough to get the fire going.

But later -- later he told himself, because they had more important things to do right now -- and he really couldn't believe he was even saying that to himself. But Sam would be back soon and the kitten was curled around his hand, head burrowed in his palm and his arm was tingling from the position it was stuck in since he refused to move it and wake the damn thing. Man he must be getting soft in his age.

"Cas .." Dean groaned as he pulled back, "Cas, stop .. we can't .. not right now .. the kitten .." He said, and felt stupid for using the little feline as an excuse.

"What?" Castiel asked as he pulled back, lips red and kiss-swollen, pupils blown to near black and inwardly Dean cursed. "The ..? Oh .. oh, yes .. the kitten .. I .. sorry .." The angel muttered as he moved back on the bed, away from Dean. "I apologize .. I wasn't .. thinking .. I should --" But Dean stopped Castiel from getting up, hand snagging the man's slender wrist.

"It's fine Cas, you don't gotta leave. But we should take care of this first, yeah? Kinda more important don't you think?" Dean said with a small grin, which only grew wider as Cas' cheeks darkened with color and the angel nodded.

"Yes, of course Dean. I was perhaps .. a little .. hasty." He said as he seated himself once again on the edge of the bed, and Dean scooted over to give the shorter man some room. Castiel smiled a little as he moved up onto the bed, sitting beside Dean, the little kitten nestled between them on a pile of warm towels.

Castiel reached out and lightly ran his fingers over the fuzzy kitten, pleased to find it of adequate temperature now and slumbering somewhat peacefully. There was a tiny wheeze when it breathed but overall the kitten seemed well if not entirely exhausted.

It was then that Sam returned, two bags full in his large hands, as he kicked the door shut behind him once inside. He looked up, paused at the sight of the two men on the same bed, side by side, Castiel wearing quite a bit less than Dean. His lips curled into a small smile as he headed past them and into the tiny kitchenette area, saying nothing about their situation.

"I got the milk, and some soft cat food. I asked someone at the store and they said that the wet canned food would be good for it since it's soft enough for the kitten to eat. Just have to watch how much to feed it. And yes, Dean, I remembered beer and pie." Sam said before Dean could get a word out, the older hunter's mouth snapping shut as he'd been on the verge of complaining.

"Thank you, Sam. I am sure the kitten will appreciate your efforts." Castiel said as he stood up from the bed and padded into the little kitchen to pour some milk into a plastic bowl that Sam pulled from one of the bags. Sam popped open a can of soft cat food and dished some out into a second plastic bowl.

Carefully Castiel brought the little bowls back over to the bed and wordlessly set them down in front of the kitten. It was only Sam's bitchface (ruin this and I will pee on everything you love) that stopped Dean from complaining about getting food and milk spilled all over his bed. The little furball lifted its head and sniffed around before spotting the food and milk. Dean's chest ached when the kitten tried to move toward it but failed, a little distressed mewl sounding from the poor thing.

Without hesitation Dean picked the kitten up, cradling it against his chest with one hand and with the other he picked up the bowl of milk and held it close to the fuzzy creature, allowing the kitten to drink from it. He held his hands steady, and when it seemed like the kitten had enough, he lowered the bowl and grabbed the food, doing the same with it as well. He grinned a little as the kitten seemed more interested in the food than the milk and chowed down.

Sam's gaze moved back and forth between Dean, the kitten and Castiel. The angel watched with rapt attention as Dean took care of the little feline, his eyes wide and an expression of awe on his face, as if it was so rare to see Dean being so careful -- and maybe it was. Even now, his brother could still surprise him, he supposed. He hadn't thought Dean taking care of a little kitten was something he'd ever see. But it was nice, he had to admit. Dean often came off so distant and cold at times. It was good to see he wasn't always. Sam thought maybe Cas was good for him in that way.

When the kitten was done eating, Dean put the near empty bowl down onto the nightstand, then moved milk bowl over there as well, stacking one inside the other for now. The little feline curled up against the hunter's chest and started purring. Dean felt at a loss for what to do. He didn't exactly want the furball to sleep on him but he didn't really want to move the poor thing either. He looked over to Cas who just watched him, blinking innocently though he could see affection twinkle in those blue eyes of his.

Dean sighed and leaned back against the headboard of the bed. Might as well get comfortable he supposed, since it looked like he wouldn't be moving for awhile. Sam just chuckled and decided to give his poor brother a break. The taller Winchester brought over a beer for both Dean and Cas, to which Dean clinked his bottle against Sam's in reply before taking a swig of it, sighing at it's 'oh so good' taste. Castiel accepted his own, twisting the cap off and taking a drink, though he was much more preoccupied with watching Dean and the kitten who was now asleep on the man's chest.

Two hours later had the Winchesters laying on their respective beds with the television on some old western movie Dean had wanted to watch. The pie was half empty in it's container and the beer was three-fourth's the way gone. Castiel was curled up at Dean's side, head resting on the hunter's shoulder, eyes closed though he wasn't asleep and hands -- though hidden by their bodies -- clasped together. The kitten was still curled up, asleep, on Dean's chest, eased by the slow rise and fall of his chest, the comforting beat of his heart.

They are lost in the moment together and Sam took the opportunity to pull out his cellphone and snap a picture of them, unaware, and grinned at how comfortable they both looked with one another. The click and flash caught Dean's attention and looked over, but by then Sam had stashed his cell away, his brother none the wiser.

Dean gave Sam a skeptical look, to which Sam bitchfaced at him. "What?" Dean shook his head. "Nothin', thought I heard somethin' was all."

Sam just nodded. He'd tell Dean later, of course, send him a copy, maybe Cas too when they were ready. Dean looked content, happy even, with Cas laying there next to him despite the ball of fur that Dean insisted he didn't like laying on top of him.

"So .." Sam started quietly, closing his laptop and pushing it to the side. "You and Cas, huh?"

Dean stiffened up, went rigid and Sam knew he was walking on very delicate territory. "Your point, Sam?" Dean asked, voice gruff and low, so as not to disturb the angel next to him -- though they both knew he was probably awake anyway.

"Honestly?" Sam asked, sitting up a bit straighter in the bed.

Dean nodded, steeling himself for whatever Sam was going to say next, knowing it would make or break their relationship. Truthfully, Dean had no idea what he had with Cas, or where it was going. But he couldn't deny any more -- didn't want to -- that being around and with Cas made him happy, filled him with something that at times almost made him complete. If Sam couldn't accept that then he didn't know what he'd do.

"About damn time, Dean, Jesus." Sam said with a small grin. "Do you know how annoying it was watching the poor guy pine after you and you just being so stupidly oblivious to it?"

"... Excuse me?" Dean asked, completely baffled and maybe just a little pissed off.

"Look, look." Sam replied, holding up his hands in a gesture of retreat. "I don't wanna fight. I'm just saying .. I'm glad for you, both of you. Cas is good for you, you know? And I want you to be happy."

The older Winchester stared for a few moments, as if trying to discern if Sam was telling the truth. But Sam just gave him a firm nod. Approval. Dean sighed and sunk back against the headboard.

".. Thanks, Sammy .."

"No problem, Dean. You know I like Cas, he's part of the family." Sam said honestly, shrugging. "Has been for awhile. Just glad you two are finally hitting it off."

Dean said nothing in response but felt Cas move against his side, burying his face against his shoulder, hand squeezing his own. Yeah, Cas heard that too. Maybe that's why Sam said it the way he did. Dean knew Sam had no problem with Cas, he just hadn't known if that would continue if anything happened between them. He's glad to know it would. He didn't want to have to choose.

"But just so we're clear .." Sam spoke up after a moment, completely serious. "I don't want to see anything. I don't want to spend rest of my life clawing out my eyes because I accidentally walked in on you two." Sam gave an exaggerated shudder at the thought.

Dean just laughed, and felt Cas smile against his shoulder in reply.

"I mean it Dean."

"Sure Sammy, whatever you say."

"Dean, I'm serious."

"I know."

"Oh god, why did I even say anything!"

"Why indeed, Sam. You should know better than to encourage your brother."

"Oh not you too!" Sam whined, "You guys!"

All either man could do was laugh.

And possibly plot ways to scar Sam for life.

Well, Dean was at any rate.