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As Natural As Breathing

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I.

The next time Cas drops by the bunker, Sam pays attention.

He’s less preoccupied for one thing, with Dean not being a demon anymore. But it’s also like he knows what to look for now, and hangs back when Cas flaps into the library mid-afternoon. He ‘lands’ about three feet from Dean, measured generously, and Sam (standing in the doorway) gains a new perspective on the whole proximity non-issue.

Dean doesn’t even flinch, which Sam notes in amusement, just fucking beams instead as he drops his book and stands rights up. This puts him in Castiel’s space, of course, and his hands flex at his sides like he’s dying to touch. Then they stare, and stare, Cas looking exhausted, Dean scuffing his boots. Sam watches curiously, convincing himself that this isn’t creepy, and he gawks when Cas finally says “Hello, Dean,” and that’s all it takes for Dean to pull him into a bone-crushing hug.

Sam remembers the last time he hugged Cas, how the angel had gone still, reciprocated once reminded, rather than instinctively. Now, though, it’s different, because Cas all but melts against Dean’s chest, and Dean is holding him up, Sam realizes, holding on tight and asking him not to leave.

So when Cas confirms that he is indeed planning to stay, Dean’s smile is face-splitting, while Sam fights the urge to congratulate them.

 

II.

One late morning, a couple of weeks later, Dean walks out to find Sam on the couch, cradling his iPad like a pillow. He frowns at his brother’s red-rimmed eyes and asks, “D’you not sleep?”

Sam sniffs. “I, uh, I was reading.”

Dean quirks an eyebrow, mutters “Nerd” like this isn’t the first time Sam’s read all night (which it isn’t). He shrugs and scratches at his stomach lazily, barely notices Sam shuffling around to hand him a square paper sleeve. “What’s this?”

“Um, a record. I found it on the… one of the shelves.”

Dean flips the vinyl in his hand, eyes widening. “Dude, Elvis! Nice.”

“Yeah,” Sam squeaks out, but Dean is already rushing to the record player.

“Cas!” he calls loudly. “Cas, man, you awake?”

“What is it, Dean?”

Cas emerges from the kitchen, much to Sam’s surprise; he hadn’t even heard him moving around the floor. He then nearly chokes at the carton of milk held in Cas’ hand, and Dean ignores all of this as he beckons the angel to pull up a chair.

“This is quite nice,” Cas concludes partway through the track list. He tilts his head when Dean replies, “Yeah, Elvis is the King” and wishes to know, “The king of what?”

“Of rock and roll,” Dean smiles.

Cas smiles back. “I like it.”

“I like it too.”

Sam blows his nose.

 

III.

Sam wonders what Marie would say if he told her that Dean and Cas- That they bake together now.

Because they are. Terrorizing the kitchen, that is. There’s flour everywhere and a cube of butter sliding mournfully down the cabinet door.

“No, no, you’re supposed to slice the apples, Cas.”

“But Dean, the recipe says-”

“I don’t care, it tastes best when they’re sliced.”

“May I ask why we’re consulting a recipe then?”

“Oh, don’t you get sarcastic with me, sweetheart.”

“Sweet- Dean, stop being difficult.”

“Cas, just slice the damn apples. They’re turning brown.”

“Perhaps you should, given your superior knowledge of baked fruit.”

“Jesus Christ-”

“Dean.”

What.”

“You have flour in your hair.” Cas takes a step forward, lifting his hand, and Sam’s pretty sure that’s cinnamon on his fingers but Cas pushes them through Dean’s hair nonetheless. The touch is gentle and soft; Sam can tell by the way Dean’s shoulders relax and slump. He imagines that he hears some low purring too, like a cat, but that can’t be true. No way. No way the universe is making it that easy to tease his brother.

“I… I guess we could also, you know, dice them. The, um, apples.”

“Of course, Dean.”

Oh, Sam looks forward to teasing Dean mercilessly for that.

 

IV.

When it gets closer to Thanksgiving, the bunker becomes too cold for Cas.

Sam didn’t think it was possible for angels to be cold, just assumed they had some internal control panel for maintaining pleasant vessel temperatures. Apparently, it’s the floors, concrete and hardwood and frosty. They’re no longer conducive to Cas going around in his slippers. 

Sam smiles sympathetically, but doesn’t expect Dean to disappear halfway through the day.

He returns after a few hours, walks pointedly past Sam’s grin over to Cas’ room. By dinnertime, the reason for his outing is on Cas’ feet: thick, soft-looking wool socks with turkeys, orange and brown, buggy-eyed and festive.

The next day, Cas wears socks with little floating pies, and the day after that, a pair with autumn leaves. And after that, Sam just smiles, because Cas looks warm and happy to be cared for, and Dean looks so damn pleased with himself, playfully nudging Cas’ feet with his own.

 

V.

“So, uh, what does Cas like to eat?”

Sam glances up from his laptop. “What?”

Dean rolls his eyes. “I want to… I don’t know, you said yourself that I’m a good cook.”

“You are,” Sam nods seriously. “You want to make dinner for Cas?”

“Whatever,” Dean says, which means a ‘yes’ and Sam bites back a laugh.

“He said food tastes like molecules though.”

“The hell’s that supposed to mean?”

Sam shrugs. “Why don’t you just ask him? Maybe there’s something he wants to eat.”

Dean squirms in his chair, looks away. “He’s still sleeping.”

“Oh? You checked his room?”

“No.” Dean coughs. “No, he’s in my room… What? We were talking, okay? It was late!”

Sam stares until Dean blushes and it dawns on him that they were just talking. Huh. “Well,” he starts, choosing not to mock because he’s a saint, “he does like burgers, right?”

Dean’s eyes actually light up; it’s sort of gross. “Burgers, yeah. He said they make him happy.”

“There you go.”

“Good. Yeah, I can do burgers.” Dean stands up, patting his pocket for his keys. “So, uh, I guess- You probably know that I… We…”

“Obviously,” Sam says, leaning back in his chair. “Makes sense that it’d take an angel of the Lord to whip you into a whipped boyfriend.”

“Shut up,” Dean glares, zipping up his jacket and turning to leave.

Sam waits till he’s out in the hallway to shout, “So are you going with Deastiel or CasDean?”

“Shut up, Samantha!” Then a pause. “And it’s DeanCas, you asshole!”

Sam can’t stop laughing for an hour.