Actions

Work Header

oh sooner or later it all comes down to faith

Chapter Text

The first "customer" they have at the bar is Charlie. 

 

She wanders in about fifteen minutes after Dean's gotten through a long, excited babble about the difference in two brands of beer, because yes, Cas, those things actually matter. There's a little overhead ding when the door opens that gets their attention—Dean is cutting limes, and Cas is arranging the colorful paper parasols. 

 

"Oh," Charlie says, when she comes in, "I was wondering where I was gonna end up. Looks like I wanted to see you guys this morning." 

 

Dean is halfway around the counter before she even finishes speaking, meeting her for a tight hug. She laughs lightly and squeezes him, then starts easily chattering away as he leads her over to the bar. She gets a drink, Dean makes it for her, and they talk. They talk for a long time, only pausing when Cas shows her the X-wing Starfighter he actually did end up finishing. She loves it, and he lets her have it. 

 

Before she leaves, Dean says, "Don't be a stranger, Charlie. Come have a drink whenever you want." 

 

"And when I don't want, you could come visit me at my place," Charlie offers, grinning at him. "I have a life-sized C-3PO costume, and it's awesome." 

 

"I don't know where you live," Dean admits. 

 

Charlie shrugs. "Just get in your car and drive. If I'm home, and I'm cool with you being there, you'll end up where you need to. You could always write a note. It'll disappear when you're done and end up where you need it to, and I could send one back. Hell, you could even manifest a phone here, if you wanted. Why haven't you done that yet? I've been waiting for your number to show up in mine." 

 

"I—I didn't even think of that," Dean mutters. 

 

"Come on, Dean, you gotta make Heaven your bitch, man. Make it work for you," Charlie says, winking at him. "Where are you staying at, by the way? It's not the Bunker, is it? Do you think Heaven's version of it would have Dot? Ooh, that would be something." 

 

Dean coughs. "Uh, you ever been to Cas' place?" 

 

"No." Charlie shoots a faint look of amusement over at Cas. "He doesn't really like a lot of guests, I'm guessing, so no one can find him if they try." 

 

"Oh," Dean murmurs. It takes him a second to rip his gaze away from Cas, from that little tidbit of information. He didn't have any problems finding Cas. Hmm. "Well, I'm with—I live with him." 

 

"Cool," Charlie chirps, "maybe you can convince him not to be such a hermit, dude. I wanna come over and have marathons. I'm thinking about face-masks and popcorn up to my ears." 

 

Dean snorts. "You have vision." 

 

"Heaven is my canvas," Charlie says with a small smirk and a flick of the wrist. 

 

She kisses his cheek before she goes, and as soon as her little yellow car is gone, Dean has Cas pinned up against a counter. Cas barely gets to complain about being interrupted in the middle of stocking the straws before Dean is kissing him a bit desperately. Cas is on board immediately, knocking over all his straws in his haste to get closer and kiss back with just as much ferocity as he's being given. 

 

"Dean?" Cas grunts when Dean rips his lips away to mouth at Cas' jaw and neck instead. 

 

"No one else could find you but me, huh?" Dean murmurs, gently biting down on the spot that Cas' fluttering pulse is trapped under, delighting in the way he hisses and arches closer. 

 

Cas hums, a gravelly sound. "Jack could, of course, but he knows I prefer my home to be—private. To even try and convince myself that I didn't want you to come and see me would be pointless. I think there were days where I looked for you and had to stop myself. I did not want you to be dead." 

 

"But you missed me," Dean mumbles. 

 

"Very much," Cas agrees, dipping his head forward as Dean lifts his, their foreheads meeting in the middle. He lifts his fingers and gently touches them to Dean's cheek, careful adoration. "Heaven could give me everything I wanted, but it could not give me you. That had to be willing on your part." 

 

"I think it's obvious that I'm pretty willing." 

 

"Yes, well, that's now. Before…I simply did not know. I did not make the conscious decision to allow you to find me so easily, Dean. That desire was not something I ever knew about. That was just Heaven giving me a chance at what I wanted most." 

 

Dean blows out an explosive breath. "I'm sorry I made you wait so long, Cas." 

 

"I would have waited for eternity," Cas says. 

 

"I know," Dean whispers. He reaches up and taps Cas' chest where his heart is, three times. Slow and gentle. I love you. 

 

"I love you, too," Cas tells him. 

 

Dean kisses him again, and Cas is more than happy to kiss back. They're still doing just that when Jack appears in the bar—not even using the door. He just shows up, and Cas is the one who notices first, turning his head to break the kiss. He jolts, clearing his throat and blinking blearily at his son. 

 

"Hello," Jack says with his customary wave. "One juice box, please." 

 

"Were you raised in a barn?" Dean mutters, pulling away from Cas and doing his absolute best to ignore the heat in his face. "Use the goddamn door, Jack, that's what it's there for. No fucking manners." 

 

"I was raised in the Bunker," Jack informs him very seriously, moving to sit at the bar. He brightens when Cas slides him a juice box. 

 

"Jack doesn't tend to use doors," Cas says with a sigh. "He can go anywhere in Heaven, with or without permission." 

 

Dean crosses his arms. "Well, not here. You come in through the door, or not at all, understand?" 

 

"I understand," Jack agrees, nodding. He's a child, and he is God, and he's still going to listen to the rules his pseudo-parents give him. It's kinda adorable. "Castiel says I have to knock when I come to the house, too. He says it's only polite. Mom doesn't make me knock when I visit her. She says I'm welcome at any time." 

 

Cas sends Dean a look. "We're having minor disagreements on parenting." 

 

"You and Kelly?" Dean asks, eyebrows raised. 

 

"Yes," Cas says. 

 

Dean chuckles. "Yeah, well, you're not parents if you're not fighting about how to do it. Boundaries are good, though. Jack, knock on more doors." 

 

"I'll try," Jack declares, eyebrows furrowed. 

 

He visits with them for a while, sipping his juice box and playing the spot-the-differences game on the back. He's got Cas and Dean in on it, in fact—Cas has spotted all twelve, but he's an asshole and won't tell Dean and Jack where they are—when the door opens again. Eileen and Sam come ambling in, and Sam has another moment of giddy delight when seeing Jack again. His dad instincts must be flaring up, because he gets misty-eyed when he claps Jack on the shoulder and ruffles his hair. 

 

Cas and Eileen almost immediately launch into conversation with their hands, and Dean has to awkwardly lean out of his seat when Eileen insists on distractedly giving him a hug. He allows the motion to get him out of his seat and lead him around the bar where he makes drinks and quietly soaks in the sight of his family. 

 

It continues in this vein for the rest of the day. 

 

Bobby comes by. Dean and Sam spend a lot of time with him, and it's really nice. 

 

Random people come in they've never met before, apparently wanting a drink bad enough to end up at this bar. When Dean asks, Cas says that people end up at places that the atmosphere suits them best, which means that this bar will be their favorite. 

 

The people closest to Dean always get around to asking him where he's staying at some point, usually just because they want to know where they could be visiting. Dean just says he's staying with Cas, and no one seems particularly surprised. Bobby just nods, says that he figured that, and then keeps right on talking. Dean doesn't know if it's because people assume that, since he died single in life, he's just okay to live with his best friend by default, or if it's because he's so transparent that everyone knows about his feelings for Cas. 

 

Whatever it is, Dean doesn't ask, and he's thankful that no one seems to feel the need to linger on it for too long. The only people who likely have a solidified idea is Sam and Eileen—and Jack, for obvious reasons—because he actually does tell them. Or, well, he weaponizes it. 

 

"How's cohabitation?" Sam asks cheekily, when the bar is empty in between visitors. 

 

Dean looks him dead in the eye, preemptively rejoicing at how much he's going to scar his little brother when he says, "Better than I expected, but getting your brains fucked out will do that to anyone, I guess. It's going great." 

 

Predictably, Sam gives a full-body flinch and stares at him in horror before he sputters, "Dean! Gross, dude, what the hell? I didn't need to know that. I mean, I'm happy for you, but come on." 

 

Dean would probably be more offended by that if Sam wasn't such a prude to begin with. If Dean had ended up with a woman and started telling Sam about his sex life, Sam's reaction would be no different. Eileen—who had been watching Dean's mouth in avid interest—leans across the bar to give the blushing Cas a very enthusiastic high-five. 

 

Anyway, the bar is a great idea. A stream of people come in throughout the day in broken-up clusters. Dean always has time to breathe between them, and when he needs a second, there are other strangers to go meet who don't know shit about him. His favorite of the day is a woman named Irene, who had died in the early fifties after poisoning her husband and outrunning the authorities. She's a riot. 

 

A lot of people visit. Ellen, Ash, Jo, Kevin and Mrs. Tran. Hell, even Adam shows up, and that results in Dean and Sam sitting down with him for a few hours to sort of...clear the air. It's not really that feasible, considering how much shit they've all been through with each other, but Adam is happy in Heaven and figures there's no point in holding any grudges. It's a very weird conversation when Adam admits that he actually, genuinely misses Michael. 

 

"You know he kinda, uh, betrayed us and the whole world in the end, right?" Sam asks tentatively. 

 

Adam shrugs. "He didn't betray me. I was already dead. He wouldn't have done it if—if—" 

 

"What, because you were special to him, or something? His favorite pet human?" Dean mutters, arching an eyebrow at him. 

 

"Well, you'd know all about that, wouldn't you, Dean?" Adam says with a pointed look towards Cas. 

 

Dean snaps his mouth shut and doesn't say another goddamn word. He doesn't, not even when Adam talks about Michael's daddy issues—but seriously, get the fuck in line, that doesn't excuse the betrayal, even if Dean won't say it. He even keeps his opinions to himself when Adam admits that he's put in something of an appeal to Jack to have Michael come to Heaven, even if only for Adam's happiness. Sam does enough of showing the dubiousness on his face for both of them, but again, neither of them say anything. They don't really have the right. 

 

Thankfully, Adam is gone by the time John and Mary come breezing in. They show up for maybe three minutes before Sam is suddenly saying that he and Eileen have to go, and Eileen—the supportive wife that she is—agrees with her arms crossed, looking John square in the eye as she flatly declares that she has a headache because the bar is too loud. 

 

Dean feels an odd sense of hero-worship for her because of that. Jesus Christ. She's wonderful. He always said she was too good for Sam, but now he's convinced Eileen is too good for everyone. 

 

Cas also makes himself busy fairly quickly, suddenly determined to go mingle with all the strangers that he absolutely didn't care about a few minutes before. This means that Dean is left alone with his mom and dad, and it's not until he nearly drops the beer he's getting his dad that he realizes he's not exactly looking forward to this. His hands are shaking. He sets his shoulders and forces them to be steady. 

 

"So, this is the dream, huh?" John asks, lightly tapping the bar as he looks around. 

 

"Something like that," Dean mutters, sliding them their drinks. More limes pop up for him to cut, which he's thankful for. It gives him a reason to stay moving and focused on other things. 

 

"It's really nice," Mary says with a warm smile. She looks around, eyebrows raised in appreciation. "I like the background music. Is that—it's The Temptations, isn't it? Papa Was a Rollin' Stone?" 

 

Dean's fingers still on the lime he's halving in two, listening. "Yeah," he says, staring down at the lime as he mechanically goes back to cutting it in half, his fingers stiff. "It's a classic." 

 

"My mom would really like it here," Mary tells him, leaning on the bar. "I should tell her to stop by. You're named after her, you know. Sam was named after my dad. It would have been nice if you two could have met them. They were...well, they—"

 

"We met your dad. Spent time with him," Dean says when she cuts herself off. Her head snaps up, eyes wide, and he gives her a thin smile. "It's a long story. He was resurrected. There wasn't a whole lot of familial affection. Sam killed him." 

 

Mary blinks. "Oh, that's—huh. Well." 

 

"Great," John mutters, "the next dinner at the in-laws is going to be war. Good going, Dean." 

 

"Met your dad, too," Dean tells him. He nods when John stares at him. "He was a good man. Dunno if he's around here, but you should try and find him. It's a long story, but he never—he didn't abandon you, not on purpose." 

 

John doesn't say anything. He just takes a long pull from his beer and looks away. 

 

"Oh, Castiel," Mary says brightly, swiveling in her seat to snag him by the arm as he goes by. He stares at her, startled, then smiles. She grins back. "You didn't think you were gonna go without saying hey to me, did you? You've been here longer than Dean, and I haven't seen you once." 

 

"I've been busy," Cas says—likely a lie. Dean taught him that. Nonetheless, he allows Mary to give him a brief hug. "I was helping Jack with reconstruction, so I didn't have a lot of time. I apologize." 

 

"It's fine, you're here now." Mary reaches out and smacks John on the shoulder. "Hey, this is the other one I was telling you about. One of my boys." 

 

John flicks his gaze over Cas, then nods at him in greeting. "Right. The angel. Yeah, I remember." 

 

Cas doesn't even look at him. 

 

"Don't mind him. He wasn't always so rough around the edges." Mary rolls her eyes, shaking her head at Cas. "So, you're helping Dean with the bar now, too? You're just out and about helping everyone, huh? Rufus said you've been giving him wood-carvings. He uses them to trade while playing poker, Castiel. You encourage his gambling habit." 

 

"I don't tell him what to do with them," is Cas' diplomatic answer. 

 

Mary huffs a laugh and nods. "Yeah, I guess you don't. It probably doesn't matter in Heaven anyway. We all have our hobbies, don't we?" 

 

"We do," Cas agrees. 

 

John passes Dean his empty bottle, and Dean wordlessly replaces it with a full one. He keeps cutting limes after, trying to focus on that and not the way he and his dad are both paying attention to Mary and Cas' conversation. 

 

"What's yours?" Mary asks. 

 

Cas seems to pause and think about that for a second, and Dean refuses to look up. So help him, if Cas' says Dean is his hobby… 

 

"Gardening," Cas says. 

 

"Oh, that's nice," Mary replies. 

 

John snorts, and Dean's head snaps up. He stares at his dad, his fingers tightening around the handle of his knife. He can practically see it, the judgement on John's face. Men don't garden, he would say, and Cas would say that couldn't be true because he gardens and he is, in fact, a man—genderless, but also a man, a distinction Cas would probably feel the need to make, and then everything would just spiral outta control from there. 

 

But all John actually does say is, "Did you tend to the plants in the Garden of Eden?" 

 

Ah, angel jokes. Less...problematic, but still. 

 

"No one tended to the plants in the Garden of Eden," Cas says. "Joshua did, however, tend to Heaven's Garden. He gave me tips, once." 

 

"What, between the time you were commanding an army of angels, or killing all of them?" Dean asks dryly, raising his eyebrows. 

 

Cas arches an eyebrow right back. "You'll have to be more specific. I've done both of those things multiple times." 

 

"Someone's modest," John comments sardonically. 

 

"He actually is," Dean mutters. 

 

"Well, I think it's nice," Mary continues, nudging Cas with her elbow. "I never really pictured you running a bar, but I think it suits you. You and Dean. Gotta have something to do around here." 

 

"When you're not at home anyway," John agrees. He glances at Dean. "Where is that for you, by the way? You ain't living with Sam, are you?" 

 

"No, sir," Dean says, his stomach cramping. He has to put the knife down for a second. "I'm actually staying with Cas." 

 

"You don't have your own place?" John asks, eyebrows folding together in visible distaste. Dean can see it clearly; he's always been good at figuring out when his dad didn't like something. 

 

"Yes," Cas answers for him. "With me." 

 

John glances at Cas, and there's a sudden shift. Dean watches it happen as if it's in slow motion. Just an abrupt straightening of John's shoulders, sitting a little taller, tension palpable in the air. It's the abrupt awareness of an incoming fight, like an old jacket that John is shrugging into. He's bracing himself for it, sizing Cas up with narrowed eyes, and Cas doesn't so much as twitch. He just meets John's gaze, staring him down, unafraid and unmoved. 

 

Dean's entire body prickles from the strain between them. He's holding his breath without even meaning to, struck dumb by the realization that Cas doesn't like John at all. He's not sure how he didn't see it, but the disdain is very fucking obvious, which is exactly what John's reacting to at the moment. You'd have to be a goddamn idiot to miss Cas' apparent desire to set John Winchester on fire—because he's got that look on his face again—and John is a lot of things, but an idiot isn't one. He's gearing up for a fight in a second, just off instinct alone, and Dean can see it. 

 

The bell over the door jingles, breaking the moment, and Dean exhales heavily, only to suck in a sharp breath when he sees who walks in. 

 

"Missouri?!" Dean blurts out. 

 

"Don't you even think about launching yourself over that bar to get to me, boy," Missouri scolds. "You'll walk around and hug me like you got some sense." 

 

Dean's shoulders relax, and he grins as he leaves his limes to walk around the counter, just like he was told. "Yes, ma'am," he says, dipping in to hug her. He could kiss her for showing up when she did, the perfect timing. Maybe she's even a psychic in Heaven, because she offers him her cheek with a smile, which he kisses. "It's good to see you." 

 

"And it's good to see you, but I wish you didn't have to die to pay me a visit," Missouri tells him, patting his shoulder with a sigh. "Tell me, Patience…" 

 

"Fine, fine," Dean says quickly. "You could probably find out more from Sam." 

 

Missouri nods. "I'll stop by to see him and his lovely wife here soon. He's going to ask me for recipes, so I need to grab a cookbook before I go. Well, aren't you going to introduce me to him?" 

 

"Who? Oh." Dean huffs a weak laugh, turning to see that Cas has abandoned John and Mary as soon as possible to hover behind him instead. "Uh, well, you already know, I'm guessing, but this is Castiel. Angel. Asshole. Halo. Hindrance. You'll love him." 

 

"No halo," Cas corrects. 

 

"Hmmm." Missouri sizes him up for a second, reaching out to put her hands on Cas' shoulders, lips pursed. After a beat, she smiles. "Yes, you'll do just fine, honey. Well, what are you two standing around for, huh? Get me a drink." She swings around to move away. "John Winchester, don't think I didn't see you trying to hide from me. Yeah, I see you. Me and Mary have a lot to talk about, and you're gonna be a part of the whole conversation." 

 

John winces. 

 

Dean decides Missouri is his new favorite person. 

 

Whatever tension had existed before is blown to smithereens by Missouri's presence. She has a way of wrangling anyone, no-nonsense and straight to the point, so very warm-hearted and well-meaning. Even Mary seems a little stunned by her, in awe, and they get on like a house on— 

 

Well, poor metaphors aside, they get along. Dean relaxes into the easy atmosphere, feeling like he can breathe properly again. He's not really sure what to do about Cas apparently hating his dad. He's not sure if there's anything he can do. 

 

Or, even wants to.  

 

It sticks in Dean's brain all day, even after John and Mary leave. He knows, realistically, that his dad wasn't the best. He has always been the one to swing wildly between defending John, or despising him, and he doesn't really know what to settle on now. It's different. This is eternity. This is Heaven, where things are...easier, in some ways. 

 

Nothing to do with John Winchester is easy. It's complicated because Dean doesn't really know how to act around him. This isn't John just showing up for a day or two because of some supernatural interference, a limited time that Dean can ignore the worst parts and focus on the best. This is eternal, this is endless time for him to have to live in his dad's presence when he loves and hates him in equal measure. Dean doesn't want to deal with that shit. 

 

When they close the bar down and go home, Dean tries to stop thinking about it. He manages through dinner. He especially manages through a shower, because when Cas goes in, Dean just follows him. He even manages through cleaning his guns and listening to Cas talk about plant maintenance. He manages right up until they're in bed. 

 

"Cas," Dean says. 

 

"Yes, Dean?" 

 

"You don't like my dad, do you?" 

 

Cas is silent for a beat, then he bluntly says, "No." 

 

"You don't even know him," Dean mumbles. 

 

"I know enough," Cas says coldly. 

 

Dean closes his eyes and sighs, pressing his head further back into his pillow. Cas reaches out to take his hand, threading their fingers together, and Dean has to swallow the knee-jerk urge to snap at him for it. Instead, he mutters, "He's my dad." 

 

"Yes, and technically, Chuck is mine," Cas snaps, fingers tightening around Dean's. "If I decided that Chuck should get a free pass for simply being my father, you would not be okay with it." 

 

"Well, yeah, but my dad didn't destroy the whole fucking world, Cas." 

 

"Is that the limit a father has to reach before he's deemed unforgivable, Dean?" 

 

"Dude, come on. It's—it's complicated, man. You know it is. Don't make this harder for me than it already is. Can't you just—" Dean wearily lifts his free hand and waves it around. "I don't know. Just stay out of it, Cas." 

 

Cas makes a low, angry sound in the back of his throat. "The fact that he is here, that I have not dragged him to Hell myself, is me staying out of it. I will not provoke your father, Dean, but I also will not stand idly by if he does something intolerable."

 

"He won't. What can he do? This is Heaven, man. He's just—he's here, and he's got Mom, and it can get easier. We just need time." Dean flips onto his side to reach out with his free hand, drawing meaningless shapes on Cas' chest. "I don't ask for much, but I'm asking now. Don't make this harder for me, Cas, please." 

 

"Fine," Cas relents, sounding very pissy about it, the asshole. "I will...stay out of it." 

 

"Thank you," Dean murmurs. He taps his fingers over Cas' heart three times, and Cas catches them in his hand, bringing them up to his mouth to kiss. 

 

"I love you, too," Cas tells him, voice softening. 

 

Dean brushes his thumb over Cas' bottom lip as relief swells within him, and he smiles, feeling the same echoed beneath his fingers. 

 


 

Garth shows up, and it's a pretty sad ordeal. He spends some time with his own family—those that died before he did—but he starts crying the moment someone makes the mistake of bringing up his wife and kids. It becomes a known rule very quickly not to bring them up when Garth is around. 

 

Alternatively, Dean has to duck down behind the bar and wheeze through laughter when Garth forces Bobby into a hug and cries all over him. Bobby keeps calling him an idjit, and it only makes Garth cry harder while beaming through laughter. 

 

Fortunately, Garth gets distracted by Sam and Eileen—they'd all apparently got closer after Dean died, later in life, something to do with their kids. Bobby gets his chance to escape to the bar with a small huff, sitting down and shaking his head. 

 

"Be nice to him," Dean teases. "He idolized you." 

 

Bobby grunts and waves his hand for a drink. "I ain't spendin' the rest of eternity letting him cry all over me. He gets just that once." 

 

"Softie," Dean says, sliding over a drink and leaning forward so Cas can scoot by to get to the Martini glasses. "Where's Rufus at today? You two are usually bickering wherever you go." 

 

"Well, we do have two separate lives, Dean," Bobby says dryly. "Different families. Different homes. Not all best friends stay together." 

 

Dean snorts. "Maybe they should. You're missing out, Bobby, lemme tell ya." 

 

"He wears my socks," Cas informs Bobby solemnly, shaking his head. "He doesn't even match them." 

 

"Well, that just ain't right," Bobby says. "I'm sorry that you have to put up with him." 

 

"Fuck off, both of you," Dean mutters, flicking a balled up piece of straw-paper at Cas with a mock-scowl. "I'm a goddamn delight to be around." 

 

"Yes," Cas agrees bluntly, "but I would appreciate it if you would stop mixing up my socks." 

 

Dean bites back a smile, twisting around to watch Cas scoot back by with a drink in his hand—Frank's by the look of it. He darts his hand out, quickly tapping Cas on the chest three times, and Cas' face softens into a smile before he continues on. 

 

The door dings just as Cas slips away, and Dean looks up as John comes ambling in. Mary isn't with him today for some reason, and Dean feels his smile drop right off his face. A blender is suddenly on the counter behind the bar, in pieces, waiting to be cleaned and put back together. Yet another thing to keep his hands busy. Great. 

 

"Hey, what's Sammy up to today?" John asks as he slides into a seat—one between him and Bobby, like bumping elbows is out of the question. 

 

Dean shrugs. "How am I supposed to know? What am I, his keeper?" 

 

"Hey now, watch your tone with me," John says, raising his eyebrows. "Just because we're already dead and in Heaven doesn't mean I won't take your ass outside." 

 

"Not that'll be a riot," Bobby declares gruffly. "I'll make sure to find Mary so she can come watch you put your kid in the dirt, eh, John? That's if you can. Dean ain't a little kid, and I think you're forgetting some of the things he has fought." 

 

John grunts and waves his hand in a motion Dean recognizes with ease—a request for a drink. As Dean passes it to him, he mutters, "Yeah, well, being dead don't mean you forget to be respectful. Anyhow, I just haven't seen Sam around that much, that's all. Can't find his damn house, either." 

 

"Maybe he doesn't want you there," Bobby suggests bluntly, leaning back in his chair in a completely unbothered fashion when John scowls at him. "I wouldn't know. I've already visited twice." 

 

"I'll let him know," Dean cuts in quickly, shooting Bobby a look before nodding at John. "When I see him again, I'll tell him. Don't worry about it, Dad. He just gets—I don't fucking know. He's probably absorbed in a book or something, the nerd." 

 

"Tell him to get a goddamn phone while you're at it. This is Heaven, not the stone age," John grumbles, shaking his head and taking a swallow of beer. 

 

"Right," Dean mumbles, focusing back on the blender, grimacing when Bobby snorts derisively. 

 

Well, there's no love loss there, unsurprisingly. Dean knows Bobby and John have a history, mostly revolving around how John raised Sam and Dean, up to and including how he kinda didn't. He also knows that Bobby and John have an odd friendship of sorts that they maintain, for whatever reasons. Dean's caught snippets from others saying that they've done things together, drinking or fishing or whatever the fuck it is that old men do. It's like they keep up something to do with each other for reasons Dean doesn't really understand, even though he knows Bobby has issues with John—always did. It's just another complicated relationship. 

 

"You know, Dean, yours isn't the only bar in Heaven," John says. "Ellen's got one. The Roadhouse. That pretty little girl of hers helps her run it. Said they knew you years and years ago." 

 

"Yes, sir," Dean agrees idly, unsure where this is going. He scoots forward again when Cas swings behind the bar to make yet another drink. 

 

"What's the story there?" John asks. 

 

Dean holds Cas' gaze for a moment, and Cas just narrows his eyes and turns away, so Dean figures nothing bad is going to happen. "Not much of one, really. Well, kinda. It was the end of the world. Uh, the first one. Everyone talks about it, so I'm sure you've got the idea of what was going on. Lucifer, mainly. Some demons. Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Angels being dicks. Um, not Cas. Anyway, Ellen and Jo helped with...everything, really." 

 

"What am I, chopped liver?" Bobby grouses. 

 

"No, 'course not," Dean says indulgently, rolling his eyes. "You did your part, too." 

 

"So, you were all pretty close, huh?" John asks. 

 

"Yeah, you could say that," Dean allows, frowning as he tries to click the blender into place. 

 

John hums. "Whatcha think of that Harvelle girl?" 

 

"Ellen?" Dean muses, not even looking up. "She's great. Badass. Love her bar. Why?" 

 

"No, not Ellen," John snaps. "Jo." 

 

Dean glances up, hands going still. "You talk to her, or something?" 

 

"No, not really," John admits. "She didn't serve me when I stopped by. Ellen did, though." 

 

"Her dad—" Dean stops, unsure how best to approach this situation. He clears his throat. "You remember Bill?" 

 

"Yeah, I do. He's there with them. He…" 

 

"Died on a hunt with you." 

 

John takes another pull from his drink, lips pursing, but he nods. "Yeah. She knows?" 

 

"Yeah," Dean says. 

 

"I take it she isn't very fond of me then, huh?" 

 

"No, sir, I'd say she ain't." 

 

"She fond of you?" John asks, eyebrows raised. 

 

Dean blinks. "Uh, she likes me well enough, I guess. We were—um, we got along well before she died. We've spoken since I've been here. We're...friends." 

 

"Pretty girl like that who doesn't put up with anyone's shit, and you wanna be her friend?" John declares, doubt clear in his tone. 

 

There's a shatter from behind Dean, and he goes rigid, already knowing what's happened before he turns. Sure enough, when he looks, Cas has apparently clenched the glass of the drink he was making so hard that it broke into pieces. Ah, shit, Dean thinks, his heart thumping unevenly. 

 

"Shut it down," Cas grits out, whirling around on the spot to glare at Dean. "Now." 

 

"Yup," Dean blurts out, hastily whipping around to bang his hand down on the bar. The background music cuts out and everyone goes silent. "Hey, we're closing early. Everyone out!" 

 

As if his announcement isn't clear enough, everyone's drinks abruptly disappear from their hands. People do fuss, but they don't stick around to do it, so that's all that matters. Everyone starts filing out, the bell over the door dinging over and over. 

 

"Oh, boy," Bobby mutters, but he slides off his stool with a sigh. 

 

John is staring incredulously at Dean. "You've got to be kidding me. Just like that? He tells you to close, and you just do it?" 

 

"Out," Cas snarls. 

 

"Who the fuck—" John cuts himself off when Dean slides in front of Cas with a tight smile. 

 

"Something came up," Dean lies. "Heaven stuff. Just, um, come around later, okay? Bobby, don't you—" 

 

"Yeah, just the thing," Bobby cuts in easily, reaching out to clap John on the shoulder. "Come on, I got some whiskey that don't need no memories to taste like Heaven. Let these idjits sort out whatever it is that's needin' sorting out." 

 

John scoffs, eyebrows dropping low. "My own son kicking me outta his bar." 

 

Wouldn't be the first, Dean thinks. 

 

"Wouldn't be the first," Bobby says, jerking his head towards the door. "Hop to it, skippy. We've got places to be, and don't think I won't call Mary to light a fire under your ass." 

 

The bar door opens with a loud bang! Dean keeps his face perfectly smooth, despite knowing that Cas is growing more and more pissed right behind him. He can almost feel the anger, like a tangible brush against his skin. He's got fucking goosebumps. 

 

The threat of Mary seems to do the trick, because John throws one more calculating look at Cas before turning and marching out the door, cursing under his breath. Bobby looks at Dean, shakes his head, then leaves, too. The door slams shut behind them the moment they're gone, and the snap of the lock flicking makes Dean's already racing heart speed up to alarming levels. He has to remind himself that he can't have a heart attack here in Heaven. 

 

"Cas," is all that Dean gets out of his mouth before he's being yanked around, shoved roughly up against the counter, and kissed with reckless abandon. 

 

Dean barely has time to get his balance before he's being manhandled onto the counter, knees shoved apart, the button of his jeans nearly ripped off before Cas' hands manage to yank it open. Cas is thoroughly plundering his mouth, intense and hot, making Dean's head spin and all common sense go skittering in endless, different directions. He doesn't realize he's moaning until it cuts into a choked sound as Cas curls his fingers into the waist of his jeans and underwear to yank them down. 

 

"Lean back," Cas orders sharply, pressing his hand to the middle of Dean's chest and pushing. 

 

Dean tilts backwards, heaving a deep breath, eyes rolling around a little uselessly. The faucet of the sink behind the bar is digging into his back, but he only just feels it. His head drops down until the curve of the back of his skull rests on the bar, right where his dad was sitting. Scrambling to make sense of this situation, Dean braces the heel of his boots against the shelves below the counter, more glass shattering as he accidentally knocks over the ones stacked there—wine glasses, he thinks deliriously. 

 

His jeans are pulled down just enough to free his half-hard dick, and he lifts his head with words on his lips, but fuck if he knows what they were gonna be. The moment Cas bends down and takes Dean into his mouth, the ability to speak or remember what he was going to say flees him. He releases a high-pitched garble and slams his head back against the bar, sucking in a sharp breath as his shaking fingers fumble for Cas' unruly hair. 

 

It's not like Dean's never gotten a blowjob before. Never from a man, sure, but a mouth is a mouth, so whatever gender owns it isn't going to change that much. That being said, it's less about technique and the mouth itself at this moment. Mainly, it revolves around the general feel of the whole thing, the mood. And, right now, the whole point of this seems to be fucking Dean's whole world up, which Cas is managing just fine. Dean goes along with it because, well, because he can't really help it. 

 

Blowjob scores aside, Cas is clearly making a point. He's not fucking around. This isn't a goddamn joke to him. Whether he's ever done this before this very moment or not, he obviously has some idea of how he wants this to go in his head. He seems focused on sucking hard and deep, making Dean release stunned sounds, and then just...not letting up. 

 

If it ain't broke, don't fix it—that kinda thing. Whatever seems to make Dean the loudest, that's what Cas does and continues to do relentlessly. 

 

Cas figures out in less than a minute flat that Dean especially likes it when he takes him all the way in and swallows around the head, and then he just keeps doing that. Dean wonders, vaguely and little hysterically, if Cas is managing just because they're in Heaven, so he can just will himself to have no gag-reflex and no worry of being suffocated. Whatever the reason, Dean is pretty sure that he's not going to survive it—dead as he already is and all. 

 

Of course, a lot of this has to do with the tension, with the way Cas is digging one hand into his thigh hard enough to leave bruises, the other pressed flat to Dean's chest above his own head, pinning Dean to the bar. It has to do with the knowledge that Cas was—jealous, maybe? Was that what that was? Pissed, for sure, just at the mere insinuation that Dean would run off and find himself a pretty girl to end up with. 

 

Cas hums around him, and Dean chokes out, "Oh my fucking—oh, Jesus fucking Christ, Cas." 

 

The hand in the middle of Dean's chest shifts, fingers curling in, and then it slides up. Dean feels it, the weight of the fingers digging into his sternum, then his throat, then his jaw. There's a pressure against his cheeks, fingertips pressing in, forcing Dean to open his mouth. Why? Dean doesn't know, and he doesn't really care, either. 

 

He just opens his mouth because that's apparently what Cas wants him to do. He finds out the point of it a moment later when Cas' thumb slides between his parted lips, easing in slowly, suggestively. It's so sensual for literally no reason, and Dean hears it echo in his mind when he moans—a long, filthy sound that goes muffled by the finger in his mouth. 

 

Cas' fingers curl around his jaw, digging into the tender, vulnerable underside. Dean's hips jerk, eyes squeezing shut as heat spreads through every inch of him, inside and out. He's moaning again, louder this time, and Cas' thumb presses down on his tongue, pushing it flat and wrenching his lips open. 

 

His whole body locks up, and the only goddamn thing he can think to do is cry out and suck a little frantically on Cas' finger, his head swimming as his release slams into him. He flinches against the bar, Cas' forearm still pinning him down while his hand holds Dean's head in place by fingers gripping in and outside of his mouth. He doesn't even have the mind to try and warn Cas, but there's no need to. 

 

Cas just...swallows. 

 

He keeps swallowing, even after Dean has nothing else to give, even after Dean is twitching against the bar, even after Dean starts going soft in his mouth. The sensitivity of it is so bad that the corners of Dean's eyes prick with heat when he feels the soft, hot tightening of Cas' throat constricting around his spent length. He gives a muffled whimper, yanking on Cas' hair, hips jerking uselessly. 

 

Finally, finally, Cas unfolds from above him, slipping his finger out of Dean's mouth and immediately putting it into his own. Dean stares at him, dazed, trying to make sense of...literally anything. He's shaking so bad that the glasses on the counter not yet pushed to the ground are rattling. 

 

Cas tugs his finger out of his mouth with a pop and says, "Turn over." 

 

"You're—you're going to kill me," Dean wheezes. 

 

"Impossible," Cas says. Then, again, "Turn over."

 

Dean closes his eyes. "Cas, I don't really think my legs are going to be able to hold me up so you can bend me over the counter and fuck me." 

 

"Hm." Cas pauses, and when Dean cracks open one eye, he seems to be considering that seriously. He ends up nodding. "Okay, get on your knees." 

 

"Oh my god," Dean whispers, his whole body twitching again. 

 

It's so unnecessarily hot that Dean thinks it might actually be a blessing in disguise that they waited to do this sort of shit until after they were dead. Dean's just fully fucking convinced that he wouldn't be able to survive this otherwise. If Cas had done this type of shit when they were alive, Dean's very sure he would have been ruined beyond repair—not that he isn't or wasn't already, but still, this would have been a different type of destruction. 

 

Fuck, he would have been so weak for Cas. 

 

He knows this, because he is right now. Even though he's trembling all over and feels like cooked noodles, he still shimmies his pants back up and practically flops to the floor. It's sort of graceless, but he does manage to get on his knees, and it's only because his brain has been sucked right outta his dick that he doesn't think very hard about it. 

 

Dean is on his knees in front of another man, his best friend, and he's genuinely so fucked out that he doesn't really care. He just tips his head back, eyes drooping low, and he waits. 

 

Admittedly, he has no idea what Cas' plans are, and maybe he'd be panicking about the implications some other time. If this is going to be the first time he has a dick in his mouth, so be it. Cas could probably do anything to him right now, and Dean would just let it happen. 

 

What Cas' plan turns out to be is not Dean sucking his dick. No, instead, it's something oddly filthier than that—hotter, too, not that Dean would ever admit that out loud. Cas just opens his pants, sliding down the zipper, gets his dick out, and proceeds to fuck his own fist while staring at Dean with bright eyes. Dean blinks up at him, sort of hazy and lost, unable to watch what his hand is doing when Cas is staring down at him like that. So fucking intense. 

 

Cas' hand reaches out, brushing Dean's cheek. His thumb presses into his bottom lip, catching against it. Dean's lips part almost automatically, a Pavlovian response that only took once to train. Cas sucks in a sharp breath, and that's all the warning Dean gets. It's enough time for him to, thankfully, close his eyes as Cas covers his face. 

 

In abstract, it's kinda gross. Or, it should be, at least. Someone just came on his face. It's hot and wet and sticky. However, in reality, Dean has to resist the urge to reach up and swipe his fingers through the mess just to actively feel the evidence of the wild implications of it. He doesn't, which turns out to be a good thing, because there's the drag of a zipper and the dull thud of Cas hitting his knees as well. 

 

And then—well, Cas proceeds to clean him up with his mouth. Again. Which is, once more, somehow very hot to Dean's pudding-brain. 

 

Once he apparently deems the mess gone, Cas pulls back and says, "We have the rest of the day off. I think we should visit Jack." 

 

"Cas, man, you gotta—you gotta give me a second. Jesus Christ," Dean mumbles, flopping back on his ass with a wheezing, choked laugh. He wipes his hand across his face, grimacing at the slightly wet quality to it from Cas' tongue. 

 

"Maybe at Sam and Eileen's," Cas continues, like nothing world-altering just happened. "We should go there first. I know how to call Jack. If he isn't at his mother's, he'll show up." 

 

"Hey, could we—I dunno—shift focus for a second, dude?" Dean mutters, staring at him a little incredulously. "You just—you just—" 

 

Cas flicks his gaze over Dean's face, a sheepish quality to his blue eyes. "You weren't complaining at the time, in my defense." 

 

"No, uh, I wasn't. You got me there." Dean clears his throat and sits his elbows on his knees. "But still, you can't just throw a tantrum and screw my brains out whenever you get jealous." 

 

"I like Jo very much," Cas says diplomatically, which isn't even close to an agreement. 

 

Dean snorts. "Yeah, I get that. It's not about Jo so much as the, um, idea. Right? Just the thought that I would...end up with someone else. Anyone else." 

 

"Well," Cas says, frowning, "yes, that's right." 

 

"Okay, well, I won't," Dean murmurs. "You don't have to worry about shit like that. I'm not going anywhere, so unclench a little." 

 

"I'm not worried." Cas sounds sincere, at least. He tilts his head, squinting. "I just don't like it." 

 

"Right, got it. Crystal clear on that one, buddy," Dean says with a snort. He points at his own face, raising his eyebrows. "You know, it would have probably been faster if you just pissed on me, you possessive bastard." 

 

Cas hums. "Yes, but it wouldn't have felt as good for both parties involved." 

 

"You're so stupid," Dean mutters, reaching out to grab Cas' tie and drag him closer. "C'mere." 

 

"Do you want me to apologize?" Cas whispers against his mouth, their noses brushing. 

 

Dean huffs a laugh and nips his bottom lip a little playfully. "Don't you fucking dare." 

 

Cas makes a pleased noise in the back of his throat and kisses him harder. Dean wraps his arms around his shoulders and lets him. He probably shouldn't be sprawled out in a mess of glass with Cas, making out slow and sweet, because it's kind of idiotic. Nonetheless, he does it anyway, because there's nothing else he wants to be doing. 

 

He could get used to doing what he wants, he thinks, especially if it's going to be like this. 

 


 

It's a few weeks before Dean sees his dad again. 

 

Behind the counter, Cas is cleaning out the blender, frowning gently down at multiple pieces that it breaks into, trying to figure out how to put it back together. Dean steps up behind him to watch, hooking his chin on his shoulder because it's only Sam and Eileen inside the bar at the moment, and he doesn't bother to help. Cas likes to do things on his own, and Dean likes watching him concentrate on seemingly simple things. It causes a surge of affection to burst warm and bright in his chest. 

 

Dean sighs and squeezes Cas' hips. "Sam wants a goddamn Strawberry Daiquiri—frozen. I feel like everything I did for him was for nothing."  

 

"The other blender is clean," Cas tells him, not even looking up from what he's doing. 

 

"Yeah, okay, but I feel like you're not taking me seriously here, man. A Strawberry Daiquiri, Cas." Dean moves over to start the drink, clicking his tongue to hide his amusement. "If I knew dying would lead him to drinking shit like that, I would have waited and saved him from himself." 

 

Cas sends him an arch look. "You like Strawberry Daiquiris, Dean. And Piña Coladas. And—" 

 

"In the comfort of my own home where no one can rightfully judge me for it," Dean interrupts, leaning over to raise his eyebrows, getting a small thrill out of the way Cas' eyes brighten briefly when he calls their home his own, claiming it. 

 

"Rightfully," Cas repeats flatly, staring at him like he most certainly is judging Dean for it, and more. He rolls his eyes and turns back to his disassembled blender, eyebrows furrowing again. 

 

Dean finishes Sam's drink and plasters himself against Cas' back again, just because he can. "You look like you're struggling." 

 

"I can do it," Cas murmurs. 

 

"Mhm." Dean reaches around Cas' body, under his arms, to grab the two pieces that have to click in first. "Start here. You have to twist them until they click in, or the whole damn thing will come apart and spill everywhere the next time you use it." 

 

"I see," Cas tells him, in a tone that suggests he does not, in fact, see. He leans back into Dean, humming, clearly distracted and not paying attention at all—it's the reason they barely get anything done around here, and also why Cas doesn't know how to do the damn blenders by now. 

 

Dean drops his forehead into the curve of Cas' shoulder, closing his eyes. The warmth of him is heady and inviting. He's tempted to close the bar down early and just go home, get a little lost in Cas' mouth and skin, which is a thing they do often enough now, since the last time, that literally no one would be surprised if they came by to see the place shut down for the day. 

 

Heaven is a strange place to be in love, but it seems only fitting that they'd do it here, too. Having started their journey in Hell, went through what they did in Purgatory, and experienced so much together on Earth, Heaven just seems like completing the whole set. Shit, they've had a thing for each other in every place they could—even the Empty, if he really thinks about it, considering how Cas died the final time that he did. 

 

"Sam is waiting," Cas says suddenly, leaning forward and shrugging Dean off, ducking his head as he focuses on the blender. "Take him his drink. Your parents are approaching, so I'll start making theirs." 

 

"Yeah, yeah," Dean mumbles, pulling back to grab Sam's drink and take it to him. If he takes a small sip on the way over, no he did not because he is a respectable bar-owner and would never do that. 

 

The tiny chime of the door comes on overhead as Mary and John ease inside, and Dean nods at them as he passes. Mary smiles warmly, while John takes one look at the drink in Dean's hands and grimaces. Dean picks up his pace and resists the urge to toss the drink out and bring Sam a beer instead. 

 

"About damn time," Sam mutters, picking up his drink and happily sipping out of the bright yellow straw like the pink umbrella poking him in the cheek doesn't bother him at all. Eileen watches him fondly. When he pulls away with a sigh, he grins up at Dean. "You know, it could just be because of my old age, but that just tastes better than whiskey." 

 

"Don't actually agree, but alright," Dean says. 

 

Sam's gone all starry-eyed, though, and there's no stopping him now as he gazes at Eileen. "Tastes like our fifth anniversary. We went to—" 

 

"—that hotel-bar, yeah," Eileen cuts in, her fingers flying as she signs along. "We pretended to be strangers for a night. It was nice." 

 

"Okay, if you two are going to be disgustingly sweet right in front of me, I'm gonna go," Dean mutters, jerking his thumb over his shoulder. 

 

"Yeah, you're gonna have to go," Sam admits, grinning with all teeth. "Send Mom over, will you? I never finished telling her about Dean's first crush." 

 

"You never told me about that, either," Dean muses as he backs away, a little bemused as always to hear his name applied to Sam's son. It was nice of him and all, but it can get confusing for some during conversation, plus it's kinda cliche. Whatever, he's not gonna judge. "You said it was hilarious." 

 

"You're gonna love this one," Sam says. "Took him when he was fourteen to meet Garth and the kids for the first time. Cas was seventeen, and Dean was infatuated instantly. Pretty much swore off Sam because that was the name of his dad, but Castiel? Yeah, he was fair game. It was a fucking riot to see history repeat itself, you know?" 

 

Dean flips him off. "Die." 

 

"Already did," Sam retorts cheerfully. "Dean took after his dear ol' uncle in that case, anyway. Cas—the young one, I mean, obviously—literally had no idea. He went off to college, and Dean was a wreck about it."

 

"His first heartbreak, that Cas," Eileen says with a soft, nostalgic sigh. 

 

"Tough break," Dean says weakly, then can't help but send out a ridiculous thought to his nephew along the lines of yeah, me too, kid. 

 

"He really took after you in that case," Sam teases, lips curling up. 

 

"Fuck off," Dean mutters. "Cas wasn't my first—" 

 

"Oh, please," Sam cuts in with a snort. "I know I'm old, but my memory ain't shit up here. I remember your heartbreak quite well, young man." 

 

"Can you stop acting like you're older than me just because I died young?" Dean grumbles as he pivots in place. He calls over his shoulder a sharp, "And seriously, fuck off!"  

 

Sam just laughs at him as he goes. 

 

Mary and John are taking the drinks that Cas slides to them when Dean swings back around the counter. He smiles at Mary when she smiles at him, nodding his head and saying, "Sam said to send you over. He's got a story about your grandchild's first crush. Apparently, I'm not the last Dean to be a little too, uh, attached to a Cas." 

 

"Ah, right." Mary's eyes sparkle a little as she picks up her glass and slides off her stool. She pats John's hand with her free one. "I'll be back." 

 

"Mhm," John says, lips twitching as she walks away, his gaze trailing after her. He still looks at her every day like she's the only beautiful woman in the world, which can be a little insulting to Adam's mother, who actually lives across town and does everything within her power not to come across John. 

 

Dean would have figured that awkward encounters wouldn't exist in Heaven, but they apparently do. That likely wasn't a fun experience for his dad, having to watch Kate and Mary interact, and Dean is thankful he wasn't there to see it, even if he heard about it later from gossipmonger Bobby. 

 

On top of that, Bobby said John looked mildly uncomfortable when he found out that Adam, Sam, and Dean all got together, like two worlds colliding in the most discomforting way possible. Dean perhaps shouldn't get a vindictive surge of amusement about that, but he usually tends to. 

 

"Your nephew," Cas starts, eyebrows tumbling together, "and a...girl named Cassie, I presume?" 

 

Dean snorts. "That's not very progressive of you, Cas. Nah, I dunno if you ever found out, but Garth named his twin sons Sam and Castiel. The nephew apparently met 'em and fell head over heels for Castiel at one glance." 

 

"Oh." Cas blinks, then squints. "Garth named a child after me? He never said." 

 

"You know he doesn't talk much about Beth and the kids. Makes him sad," Dean tells him, knocking his elbow into Cas' arm, only to freeze when Cas leans away from him. Okay, weird. 

 

John plunks his glass down and leans forward on his elbows. "Hey, whaddya think about heading to an old fishing spot that dried up before I was even twenty? Real nice location. It's about an hour's drive for some reason, but Bobby and Rufus agreed to go."

 

"Ah, I can't," Dean says. "Cas and I—" 

 

"You should go," Cas interrupts, looking straight ahead, directly to the left of John. 

 

Dean stares at him. "What?" 

 

"He's got the right idea," John cuts in, focused entirely on Dean. "Whatever plans you got can't be more important than spending some time with your old man. Just cancel 'em." 

 

Actually, Dean's plans consist of him and Cas taking the four hour drive to go visit Kelly. She's living in a place that looks like New York, and she has herself a real nice apartment with—well, with the former president. Cas and her are pretty close friends, actually, which is fair, considering everything they've been through together. They don't always get to see each other as much as they like, so Cas being willing to cancel the trip is pretty weird. 

 

Anyway, fuck that. If Dean wanted to go fishing with his dad, he'd have rolled up in Baby and asked his mom, who would have bullied John into it, no matter what was going on. It'd be nice to see Bobby and Rufus, sure, but he sees them pretty damn often. And really, Dean doesn't wanna go unless Sam is going to be there, and there's a likely chance that he won't be. Sam will claim back pain in the way that means he's actually in no mood to deal with their dad, and well...fair enough. 

 

"You should go," Cas tells him again. 

 

"What about Kelly?" Dean asks, frowning. 

 

Cas blinks at him. "I will let her know you send your regards, if you want." 

 

"Oh." Dean is struck with the sudden thought that Cas isn't planning to cancel his trip at all. No, instead, he's clearly fine to spend a day away from Dean (and possibly overnight, because they do sometimes stay over). "Right. Are you, uh, sure?" 

 

"Yes," Cas says. 

 

John knocks on the bar. "He said he's sure. You don't have to hold his hand through everything. There, it's settled. Bring the car. I'd like to get her out on the road at some point." 

 

"Cas is taking her," Dean says quickly, heading off that request before it can even get any further. He ignores his father's scowl entirely and turns to Cas, crossing his arms. "Dude, you okay? You're—" 

 

"Fine," Cas cuts him off, stepping back when Dean reaches out to him. "If you'll excuse me, there's something I wish to speak with Eileen about." 

 

Before Dean can open his mouth to so much as argue, Cas is walking away to go join the others. Dean stares after him, blinking, feeling oddly out of sorts. That's just fucking weird. Cas doesn't really act all that stiff anymore, and he sure as hell doesn't pull away when Dean tries to get close to him. 

 

Are they fighting? They do that sometimes. Wouldn't feel right if they didn't. It's usually about stupid, small shit that Dean forgets by the time they're making up. Occasionally, they'll have some huge fights about heavier things, about some of the shit they left behind when they were alive. 

 

But, usually, they don't fight that much. Bickering is always on the table, but that's fun. It's actually flirting, most of the time. Generally speaking, though, they're always happy and just struggling to keep their hands off each other. It's good. It's really good, in fact. Being with Cas like this is goddamn delight, and he regrets most that he never got to do it while actually alive. 

 

Seeing as most of their fights are ridiculous, Dean wonders what the fuck he did this time. It's pretty hard to mess things up in Heaven—physically, at least—so it's gotta be something he said. He does that sometimes too, often not even meaning to. He's a natural asshole, and it can and has gotten him in trouble with Cas, even here. But what the fuck did he say? He wracks his brain, trying to figure out what he's going to need to apologize for, but he comes up empty. He has no idea. 

 

"You look like a kicked dog," John tells him, staring at him flatly, a downward tick to his lips. 

 

Dean automatically straightens up and rips his gaze away from where he was (mournfully) looking over at Cas. "When is everyone heading out?" 

 

"Bobby and Rufus should make it over to mine just a bit before the sun rises. It's going to be an all-day thing." John arches an eyebrow at him. "You're really letting him take the car?" 

 

"Yes, sir," Dean says, looking down in relief when there's a small clink of glasses—there are suddenly a line of mugs that need to be wiped out, giving him something to do with his hands. "Baby is pretty fast and he's got farther to go. It ain't a big deal. If it was Sam, I'd let him take Baby, too." 

 

"It isn't Sam," John points out. 

 

Dean just shrugs and focuses on the glass he's meticulously wiping. There's silence between them until Mary eventually drifts back over, and he spends the rest of the time talking to her. He hasn't known her nearly as long as his dad, and not as well, but it's somehow a lot easier to deal with her than him. 

 

He breathes easier when they leave. 

 

When he tries to rope Sam into going fishing with them, Sam just grimaces and says, "Ah, can't. Pretty sure I pulled a muscle or something." 

 

"Dude, you can't pull a muscle in Heaven," Dean grumbles. "You can just tell me you don't want to spend time around Dad, you know. It's—I'm not going to be a dick about it." 

 

"I know," Sam says, his voice softening. He looks down, eyebrows furrowed. "I guess I'm just...guilty, man. I mean, it doesn't feel right to just leave you to deal with him, but…" 

 

"Hey, come on, what do you have to be guilty for, huh?" Dean reaches out and lightly smacks him on the arm. "Whatever your reasons to keep your distance, I ain't gonna fuss at you about 'em. I got over that shit in my thirties, I think. Dad is—it's fine. I know how to handle him. I know you never really figured out how to, not really." 

 

Sam glances at him, frowning. "It's worse now, I think. It's different when you raise your own. You wanna know something? When I first found out Eileen was pregnant, I was scared. Really scared. I didn't want to do it without you, for a start, but I was also terrified I'd be like Dad." 

 

"He wasn't that bad," Dean mutters, a reflex that makes him grimace—he's half-convinced that it's true, while a part of him thinks it's a lie. 

 

"He was worse," Sam says sharply. "Like I said, it's different when you raise your own. I know he didn't have it the easiest, but I couldn't ever imagine abandoning my fucking kid at some hotel room. We would go weeks without hearing a word from him. It was like he didn't even care, and you were—" 

 

"Sam," Dean cuts in harshly. 

 

Mouth clacking shut, Sam looks away and clears his throat. "It's just really hard to—to see it the way I do now. I didn't—I never really realized just how much you took care of me. I mean, I knew, but I didn't really know until I raised a kid of my own. I realized somewhere along the way that I was doing shit for my son that you did for me, and you were only six years old, man. And Dad—" Sam shakes his head, blowing out a deep breath. "If we're being really honest here, Dean, I should be calling you Dad, and probably Mom, too—not them. I love them, don't get me wrong, but I don't think I can spend a lot of time with them without hurting their feelings or getting into a fight, Dad especially." 

 

"You don't have to worry about it, Sammy," Dean says, his voice softening. "I'll handle it." 

 

"Just like always, huh?" Sam asks, lips twisting bitterly as he shakes his head. 

 

Dean shrugs and smiles slightly. "That's what I do, man. Doesn't matter how old you get, I'm always gonna take care of you." 

 

"Like that," Sam rasps, face spasming with a peculiar look of pain. "That's the shit I mean. Those are the things I have said to my son. Those are the things Dad should say to me, not you." 

 

"Give him a little more credit," Dean mumbles, averting his eyes. "If you needed him…" 

 

"I know. Well, sometimes. There were times when we needed him and he wasn't there. But I never really needed him, just you. And Dean," Sam says, ducking his head to look at him seriously, "it's not him saying it. That's the point." 

 

"Cut him some slack," Dean whispers. 

 

"You do that enough for both of us." Sam reaches out and claps his shoulder with a sigh. "Look, I'll try to be—I want to make it easier, maybe take some of the weight off of you. I know you're—struggling a bit, especially because of...Cas." 

 

Dean closes his eyes briefly, releasing a deep breath. "I'm not—I don't know how to—" 

 

"It's none of his business," Sam declares firmly. 

 

"I know," Dean agrees. 

 

Sam watches him for a long moment, then he blows out an explosive breath. "Just give me a little more time. Not the fishing trip, but the next...whatever he decides to do, I'll be there, okay? For you." 

 

"You don't have—" 

 

"Dean, shut up and let me do this." 

 

"Sam," Dean starts, but Sam just stands firm, not budging on this. Dean sighs and nods. "Okay." 

 

He feels an odd sense of guilt for how much that actively reassures him. It's a weird guilt. The kind that has to do with feeling so tangled up about his dad that his brother being around to take some of the attention would be a relief. The kind that has to do with feeling like he's kind of throwing Sam into the crossfire, even though there's no danger, or there shouldn't be. He's really fucking used to handling shit so Sam doesn't have to, and the idea that Sam will be trying to do some of that for him now is… 

 

They've been through a lot, but Dean still has that natural instinct to take the full brunt of anything and everything that Sam doesn't want or shouldn't have to deal with. Even in Heaven. Dean's pretty sure that's just a part of him. 

 

He's a little quiet for most of the day, his brain working in overdrive not to make a big deal about the upcoming fishing trip. On top of that, Cas is being a little weird, too. He's always weird, but this is a little different. 

 

Dean's struggling to wrap his mind around the fact that Cas is actually going to go see Kelly without him. Since Dean has been here, they've gone to visit her three times, and they stayed the night twice. Dean has literally slept next to Cas every single night since he stepped foot in Heaven, and he's a little—well, admittedly, he's kinda upset that he might spend a night without him. 

 

It's a little odd because Cas is back to normal by the time they make it back home. He waters his plants and drags Dean outside to laze around in the hammock, his back to Dean's chest as he reads. He eventually falls asleep there, the book falling from slack fingers to land haphazardly on the ground. Dean runs his hands through Cas' hair and tries not to worry about anything for a couple of hours at least, and then he wakes Cas up for dinner. 

 

"You're really letting me take Baby?" Cas asks later that night, when they're both just settling under the covers and facing each other. 

 

The truth is, Dean hasn't let John drive Baby. He has been avoiding that. He's not sure why, exactly, but the mere idea of it makes him feel… Well, he isn't too keen on it, is all. Maybe it's just a small, possessive kind of thing. Baby isn't his; Baby is Dean's. It doesn't matter who she belonged to first. No one gets to drive her without his say so, and they sure as hell don't get to demand it, not even John fucking Winchester. Dean will put his foot down on that if he has to—respect his fucking car, and respect that it's his. Cas does that. John doesn't. 

 

Dean hums. "Yeah, man. That okay?" 

 

Cas' answer to that question is to climb over him and knock his legs apart while kissing him, then scooping up the lube that falls by Dean's head. He opens Dean up torturously slow, taking him apart and then filling in all his empty spaces. They tangle up together, gasping, sweaty. Cas fucks him for a long time, for hours, taking his time, making Dean ache for it to the point that he's begging shamelessly for release by the end of it. 

 

And, at the end of it, Cas cleans him up with his mouth, as he always does, before scooting backwards into Dean's chest. Sometimes he demands to be the little spoon without ever opening his goddamn mouth, and Dean has to press his smile against the back of Cas' neck as he settles in. He curls his arm over Cas' chest, tapping out I love you over his heart, and Cas catches Dean's fingers in his own, tangling them together, kissing them. 

 

He says it back, "I love you, too," and they drift off to sleep without another word between them. 

 

When Dean wakes, Cas and Baby are gone. 

 

Fishing with his dad isn't as bad as he thought it was going to be, especially with Bobby and Rufus there doing most of the talking. Besides, fishing is kind of a quiet activity, which works in his favor. 

 

Dean's favorite version of his dad has always been this one. Not drunk, not wound up from having no leads to Yellow-Eyes for a while, not bitching at Dean about Sam, not disappearing for days and weeks at a time. Just the best kind of John Winchester in Dean's memory—sitting relaxed somewhere, nursing a beer, in a good mood. This is when it's easiest to be around John, and Dean realizes that he has missed it. 

 

Maybe it's because of Mary, but John seems lighter, a little happier, less of a hardass about everything. He still demands respect, but Dean knows goddamn well that John will always do that. At the very least, this is—well, it's as close to easy as it's ever going to get, Dean's sure. He basks in it. 

 

John ends up being the one dropping Dean off at the end of the day, back at Dean's place, and he looks very impressed by the glowing lake. Dean explains about the glowworms and the fireflies and that, yes, he has that view every night. 

 

"Cas thought it up," Dean admits, trying to keep the underlying tremble of pride out of his voice—failing to do so. "It's something he wanted, I guess. He's kinda—well, he's pragmatic about a lot of things, so this was sort of indulgence on his part." 

 

"Uh huh." John glances at him, grimacing a little, then looks away. "What's his deal anyway? I know he's your friend, but he's really fucking weird." 

 

Dean stiffens a little. "He's not—he's actually pretty badass. If you knew him...well, he's been around longer than you and I were ever even thought about. When he first showed up, he was practically a machine, and it was like he was on this setting to just...do whatever the fuck he was told. Didn't matter if it was right or wrong, he had his orders and he was supposed to follow 'em." 

 

"And?" John asks, sounding skeptical. 

 

"And then he just...rebelled," Dean mutters, the weight of his words hitting him even as he says them. He clears his throat. "He spent the next decade and some change basically giving God the finger while helping people. I mean, he tried his best, and he made some mistakes, fumbled here and there, but so did everyone else. Hell, so did me and Sammy. In Cas' defense, he ain't human. Even when he was human, he wasn't human. He's—he's not weird, Dad, he's just...Cas." 

 

John swings around in his seat, staring at him. He purses his lips, then grunts. "You oughta tell him to stop looking at me the way he does. I don't care if he's Jesus Christ himself, I won't just lay down and take that shit just because you're on some E.T. kick." 

 

"That's just his face," Dean lies. 

 

"Well, he can fix it, or I can fix it for him," John says shortly, raising his eyebrows. 

 

Once again, Dean stiffens. His jaw unlocks, and he very firmly says, "With all due respect, sir, no you won't. You aren't gonna lay a hand on him." 

 

"Excuse me?" John blurts. "He's a grown man, Dean. If he wants to pick a fight with me, I'll fucking finish it, so you might wanna tell him that." 

 

"I'm not telling him that," Dean says, "because there isn't anything to start or finish. Cas is family, Dad." 

 

John snorts rudely. "He ain't mine." 

 

"Well, he's mine," Dean snaps. "We're a package deal, so you can either leave him alone, or you can be the one to tell Mom why the two of you suddenly can't find me for the rest of eternity. I'm sure that conversation will go over well." 

 

"He must be some friend," John says stiffly, staring at him with a level, calculating look. 

 

Dean grits his teeth. "The best Sam and I ever had." 

 

"Well," John mutters, after a long beat of silence in the car, "as long as he keeps to himself, it should be fine, shouldn't it? Threaten me with your mother all you like, Dean—everyone does, and I know it—but that doesn't change the fact that as long as he doesn't start any shit, there won't be none. I can be civil if he can. Just seems to me that he can't."

 

"He can. He is," Dean says, because Cas really is and has been. John has no idea just how much. "Don't worry about it. Look, I'm gonna go on inside. I'll see you when I see you." 

 

"Uh huh," John grunts, watching him get out of the car with an unhappy twist to his lips. 

 

Disappointment. Dean knows that look on his dad's face very well. It hasn't changed a bit. 

 

Dean shuts the door and heads inside, the porch creaking under his boots. It's weird how quiet the place seems without Cas here, but he doesn't allow that to make him falter. He eases in the house, flicking on the lights and peering out the peephole until John's car drives away. As soon as it's gone, Dean blows out a deep sigh and lets his head land against the door with a dull tap. 

 

It takes him a few moments, but he does eventually pull himself away and head for the shower. He tries not to think about the fact that he just stood up to his own dad in defense of Cas. He never thought he'd have to do that before, and it's so bizarre. 

 

The thing is, Dean isn't gonna stand by and let his dad say stupid shit like that, unchecked. He wouldn't if it was Sam. Hell, Sam wouldn't if it was Eileen. John can't just go around alluding to his apparent willingness to kick people's partners' asses. Not that he actually knows that Cas is Dean's partner, but in retrospect, it's probably for the best that he doesn't. He can picture how that would go over, and it's...not a pretty picture. 

 

His dad would be—fuck, it would be bad. John isn't one of those type of men who would beat the shit out of somebody for being gay, or something like it, but he is one of those who'd shrug if someone else did. He's not gonna go fucking with Charlie—which is good, because Dean would kill him—but she isn't his kid, either. He may not agree with her love of women as a woman, but he'd just shake his head and keep his mouth shut about it. Stay out of it. Not his kid, not his family, not his business. 

 

Dean's his kid, though. Dean grew up a certain way. When he was seven years old, he told his dad that his friend from school had pretty eyes, and his dad chewed him up and spit him out for it— boys don't have pretty eyes, Dean, don't say stupid shit like that again. When he was nine, he told Sam it was okay to cry, and his dad made it very clear that it was not. When he was thirteen, his hair was long enough for the girls at school to put tiny braids into, and his dad made him keep it short from then on. When he was sixteen, he had a friend that was a girl, and his dad gave him a condom and told him not to knock her up, even though Dean wasn't at all interested. 

 

By the time he was seventeen, Dean had it all figured out. He'd worked out what it was that his dad was getting at—be a man, be tougher, act like this, talk like this, and don't do things like that. It was like he spent his whole life stumbling around a maze, and once he finally figured out how to navigate it, he didn't use the newfound knowledge to leave, choosing instead to show-off what he knew by walking every inch of the labyrinth. 

 

And, the thing is, Dean had wanted to act that way. It's something he made the conscious decision to do. He liked guns, women, and rock music. He liked his leather jacket, his flirting with any lady that moved, his rough and tumble car and his ability to walk into bars with gruff men just like his father and fit in. He actually liked those things, and to an extent, he still does. It's just not as loud and weaponized anymore, because he's not as quick to use it to hide that he just so happens to like other things as well. 

 

He likes cooking, so fucking what? He likes funny socks, and Taylor Swift, and nerding out over slasher horror films, and the comfort of holding a dog, and the sight of kids laughing while trick-or-treating, and the way Cas smiles. He likes the things his younger self—his dad—would scoff at. 

 

It took him years to be okay with that kind of shit, even just to himself. He's still not jumping at the thought of other people knowing it, especially John. 

 

Because, the thing is, while John would never say a word to Charlie, Dean would get something else entirely. He's already failed to fulfill that image in John's head he expected of Dean—a man with a wife, with a family. It would be so much worse if he found out that Dean was with Cas like this. 

 

Like Sam said, though—it's none of his goddamn business. This is eternity, and Dean will be damned before he spends it trying to make his dad happy. He got over that urge years ago. Mostly.

 

Sighing, Dean gets out of the shower and pads around the weirdly hollow house with a grimace. He has dinner alone, frowning at the sad sandwich he puts together. It tastes like the time he found Cas in Purgatory—that hug, that slightly out-of-bounds touch against the scruff on Cas' face, that long look, and that smile on Dean's face. He can remember it with startling clarity when he closes his eyes, and he thinks, bemusedly, oh, we were in love there, huh? 

 

Dean promptly loses his appetite and tosses his half-finished sandwich, pushing to his feet. He waters Cas' plants, because he's pretty sure that Cas would want him to. After that, he settles in to clean his guns, but even that feels weird without Cas hacking away at some tree stump in front of the fireplace, or curling up to read on the sofa. The record player isn't on. Shit. 

 

Huffing, Dean gets back up and shuffles over to put something—anything—on, vaguely annoyed that his routine has fallen all out of whack. He puts the first thing on that he grabs right off the stack, heading back to his seat, only to jerk to a halt halfway across the room when he hears the song. 

 

Come out Virginia, don't let 'em wait. 

 

"You've got to be fucking kidding me," Dean mutters, swiveling around to glare at the record player. Fucking Billy Joel again. Say it ain't so. 

 

Well, they showed you a statue, told you to pray. They built you a temple and locked you away. Aw, but they never told you the price that you pay. For things that you might have done. 

 

Dean groans and throws himself down onto the couch, grabbing a throw pillow and holding it to his chest. He scowls up at the ceiling, listening to the song, hating it. He fucking hates this fucking song because he knows—he just knows —that it has a deeper meaning to Cas. It's not about trying to sleep with a Catholic girl, not to him. 

 

Without having to be told, Dean understands that Cas likes this song because it represents his shift from being a hammer for God to choosing rebellion. Dean—of course—is Billy in this scenario, tempting Cas to make that choice, which he did in the end. 

 

It's practically a goddamn love song, when it comes to them, and Dean hates it because he doesn't at all. He shouldn't be so grateful to have corrupted an angel—even if Cas doesn't see it that way. You changed me, Dean, he'd said. Yeah, no shit. And it worked out real well for them in the end, didn't it? 

 

Ignoring that they're spending eternity in Heaven together, and only focusing on what happened to them on Earth...well, no, it didn't work out. Cas shouldn't fucking glorify it. Truthfully, it sets Dean's teeth on edge how things ended for them. They should have had more. More time, more chances, more...everything. Cas, especially. 

 

So come on Virginia show me a sign. Send up a signal and I'll throw you the line. The stained-glass curtain you're hiding behind, never lets in the sun. Darlin' only the good die young. 

 

"Don't do it, Virginia," Dean mutters. "You'll just end up dying for a fucking idiot." 

 

Huffing, Dean brings the pillow up over his face and lets it sit there. He closes his eyes and listens to the song, hating it and loving it in equal measure. He indulges his own dramatics until the song is finishing up— Oh sooner or later it comes down to faith. Oh I might as well be the one —and then he forces himself to get up, dragging back over to finish with his guns just as the last verse fades out. Other Billy Joel songs are acceptable, but Just The Way You Are is on thin fucking ice. 

 

It takes a long time for Dean to realize that he's just sitting around, waiting, and then he snaps, "Oh, Jesus fucking Christ," because there's no goddamn way he's lingering like he can will Cas to come through the door, all because he misses him. 

 

Dean grimaces at his own idiocy and forces himself to go to bed. He's spent years sleeping alone. It shouldn't be a hard thing to do. And yet, the bed feels too big and too cold, and he keeps looking over at the empty spot beside him, growing more and more frustrated by the second. 

 

He doesn't sleep very much. 

 

He manages to get a few hours, he thinks. In Heaven, it doesn't really matter, though. There isn't some headache from the lack of sleep. He doesn't feel lethargic, or moody, or grumpy—not because of the sleep he's missed, anyway. No, all of that has to do with the fact that he slept alone and he's apparently being a little bitch about it. 

 

He doesn't open the bar the next day, ignoring the reasoning behind that decision entirely. He's not waiting around for Cas to show up. He's not. 

 

Dean has coffee, sitting at the kitchen table and glaring at Cas' rainbow plant-pots on the windowsill. His leg is jumping up and down, and he knows with every useless cell in his body that he's absolutely going to tear into Cas the moment he comes home. It's going to be a fight. He can feel it. 

 

And it is. 

 

When the front door opens, Dean jerks in his seat, letting his coffee mug hit the table with a loud thunk. He can hear Cas moving around. He knows the weight of Cas' steps, knows the sound of them. Cas is checking on his goddamn plants, the asshole. 

 

Eventually, Cas appears in the doorway of the kitchen. He takes one look at Dean, then squints. Dean narrows his eyes right back. 

 

"Enjoy your time at Kelly's?" Dean asks. 

 

"Yes," Cas says bluntly. 

 

That, as they say, is the straw that breaks the very fragile camel's back. What proceeds is Dean making waves because he is an asshole, one who feels bitter because he sat around like some oh-woe-is-me house-wife waiting for her husband to return from the goddamn war. For the rest of the day, Dean gives Cas the cold shoulder, or just snaps at him, slamming doors everywhere he goes and being all-around outright ridiculous. 

 

He doesn't see it that way, of course, but still. 

 

Cas—never one to put up with anyone's shit for too long, not even Dean's—gives as good as he gets. For every barbed thing Dean has to say, Cas has a response that's equally cutting. They turn each other into pincushions, going around and around like it's a sport they're determined to win. 

 

Dean knows that Cas is trying to find out what his fucking problem is, but he's in no mood to give Cas any hints. He's not in a mood to do anything other than be mean, doing his absolute best to make Cas get pissed off, or even hurt his feelings. At this point, Dean will consider both a victory. 

 

They know how to hurt each other. They've perfected it through the years. Every serious argument they have is—bad. They go right for the soft underbelly of each other, knowing where to strike to make it as painful and infuriating as possible. Dean thinks every fight between them that isn't just some bickering war that hasn't yet spiralled out of control is actually a facade for them to go at each other's throats. 

 

Maybe that's just a catalyst to loving someone so much, especially when they have so much history. 

 

It's pointless to dredge up the past and forget to live in the present, or whatever the fuck Gandalf said, but Dean doesn't give not one fuck. He makes waves, bigger and bigger, and anyone else in the world would go fleeing for the shore instead of putting up with his shit. But no, not Cas, not this asshole who may as well be a fucking mermaid for how completely immune to Dean's shit he is. 

 

In the end, after Dean has said some very unsavory things that he'd kill anyone else for saying about Cas, there's a long stretch of silence as they glare at each other from across their bedroom—where they migrated into when it got close to bedtime. In that stillness, Dean has one moment of genuine fear. Just that first prick of panic that Cas is gonna decide that he's tired of swimming and leave. 

 

And then, Cas squints at him and says, "Are you being like this because you...missed me, Dean?" 

 

"No," Dean scoffs immediately. "Fuck you. I don't give a shit if you wanna fuck off. Do it, please. Actually, stay gone longer next time." 

 

"If you'd like," Cas says, arching an eyebrow in challenge. "Kelly would be delighted to have me stay with her for a few more days." 

 

Dean snaps his mouth shut, wavering. After a long beat, he mutters, "Well, if that's what you wanna do, who the fuck am I to stop you?" 

 

"If you want me gone," Cas insists, pointedly, "I will leave. Hand me my bag out of the closet." 

 

"I—" Dean stops, clenching his jaw. He's now backed himself into a corner, and there's literally only one way out. Why is swallowing pride so damn hard? It tastes like battery acid. 

 

"My bag, Dean," Cas says, watching him, not backing down. Waiting. Knowing. He already fucking knows. Of course he does. 

 

Pathetically, all Dean manages to say is, "Don't."

 

Not: don't leave, I don't want you to go, I'm sorry I'm such an asshole. Just: don't. That's it. If Dean had to put up with himself, he'd leave. He'd run as far and as fast as his legs would carry him, because fucking hell, he's a goddamn mess and a half. 

 

"Okay," Cas says calmly, taking what he's given like that's more than enough for him. His lips twitch, and he looks down at his shoes, pleased. 

 

You deserve more, Dean wants to say. You deserve better. That shouldn't be enough for you. It's not enough. 

 

The moment that the thought strikes him, it's not enough, burrowing under his skin like a splinter of guilt, Dean just sort of deflates and goes shuffling around the bed with a sigh. Cas watches him approach, not wary, not particularly surprised either. He's smiling a little even before Dean reaches out to tap his chest three times. He opens his mouth to reply, but Dean dips in to kiss him before he can. 

 

This time, he's earned it not to have those words echoing like a balm in his head. He's earned far worse for being such a shit, but Cas isn't an asshole the same way Dean is. 

 

Cas murmurs something against his mouth, still smiling, and Dean huffs at the fact that he's not taking this shit seriously. He reaches out to shove Cas' shoulders, pushing him down on the bed. Cas finally stops smiling, humming in approval instead. 

 

What proceeds is the tide calming, the waves turning to a comforting crash, a rippling ocean that rocks and sways without destroying everything in sight. Dean kisses him, and kisses him, and keeps kissing him—slow, warm, and sweet. He gets Cas out of his clothes, leisurely about it, huffing laughter into the side of Cas' jaw when they elbow each other trying to twist and kick clothes out of the way. 

 

It's the first time Dean ever fucks Cas, and he doesn't really ask. The lube falls to the bed while Dean is laying on top of him, and Cas just opens his legs without fuss, as if he already knows what Dean wants. Dean doesn't even know he wanted it until the option is suddenly there, then he can barely focus on anything else. Looks like Cas is on the bottom bunk tonight, which should be interesting. 

 

It is, actually. Dean's never had his fingers in a man's ass before. A woman's, yes, but this is different. It's a little messier because of the lube, and he honestly isn't sure if he's doing it as good as Cas does, but he can feel the heat of it, how tight it is, and it makes him swallow. He knows from experience with women how good it feels this way, and he doubts it's that much different with a man. 

 

It's not. 

 

It feels really, really fucking good. Dean has to shove his face into Cas' throat when he finally bottoms out, and Cas tangles his fingers into Dean's hair, lightly tugging on it. That hand tightens and grows rougher when Dean starts moving, fingers clenching and yanking Dean's head up so they can groan into each other's mouths, both of them shuddering. 

 

Dean tries to be gentle, he really does, but Cas isn't having that shit. He apparently has enough of the soft touches and the slow way Dean rolls his hips, because his free hand slides down Dean's back, nails digging in, and he grips Dean's hip hard. He squeezes, then yanks on it, urging Dean to move faster and harder. Dean's head swims, but he does as he was nonverbally told. 

 

Cas is loud, of course. He always is. He's so goddamn vocal about the shit he likes, even though Dean's pretty sure he never really says much outside of Dean's name. He's mostly just moaning, a low and raspy sound that makes Dean's skin prickle with heat. Dean does most of the talking for them both, babbling as the tension cranks higher, unaware of whatever the fuck falls out of his mouth. 

 

When it all falls apart, Dean chokes out, "Holy fucking shit, Cas," and tries to pull out because Cas is a gentleman and always does, so he has the distant idea that maybe he should as well. 

 

However, Cas just arches up into him, broad fingers slipping over his asscheek, grabbing it and forcing his hips forward. Dean jerks, wheezing oh, oh, oh my fucking god over and over as he spills into Cas, who moans as Dean frantically strokes his dick and proceeds to make a mess over both of their chests. 

 

Dean twitches when he slips free and falls to the side with a huff, blinking rapidly. He's trying to wrap his mind around the fact that Cas didn't want him to pull out, which is very hard to do when his mind is currently the consistency of pudding. Again. As always. Cas fucks his world up every damn time. 

 

He's still breathing very hard when Cas rolls over to clean up his own mess off Dean's chest. With his mouth. Because he always does that, too. It's always hot, so Dean just lays there pliantly and pants, letting Cas do whatever the fuck he wants to. Is it weird? It's probably weird. Dean feels like his measurement for what's weird is skewed these days. 

 

Cas even swipes his mess off his own chest to lick it off his fingers, and Dean's brain whites out as he watches. When he comes back to himself, he can't help but ask, "Do you have a thing for jizz, dude?" 

 

Is that a gay thing? Dean almost asks, but then doesn't because he's half-sure, even with his scrambled thoughts, that it's probably insensitive. 

 

"Are you complaining?" Cas asks, arching an eyebrow at him. 

 

"No," Dean admits. "Just asking. You always just, um, lick it up. Mine and yours." 

 

"I want to," Cas says simply. 

 

Dean blinks. "Oh. Okay." 

 

Cas lays back beside him, dropping his head onto the pillow with a sigh and a small smile. Dean watches him for a long moment, trying to figure out what revelation is skittering around in his brain. Something to do with being consumed, with taking in every part of someone. Is it a possessive thing? 

 

Dean isn't sure, but he's pretty certain that he doesn't give a shit because it's hot. Different strokes for different folks, and this is a good stroke for him, so no, he isn't complaining. 

 

Cas stares at him for a long time, then murmurs, "I did miss you too, you know." 

 

"Didn't fucking act like it," Dean grouses halfheartedly. He reaches out and traces Cas' nose, frowning. Cas catches his fingers and tangles them lazily and loosely with his own. 

 

"I was trying to 'stay out of it'—" Cas lifts one hand to do quotation marks, the bastard, "—as you asked me to do when it comes to your father. I didn't want you to feel pressured to choose." 

 

Dean narrows his eyes. "Between you and him?" 

 

"Yes." 

 

"Come on, man, it's not a competition." 

 

"If you wanted to go fishing with your father, you shouldn't have felt the need to refuse simply to join me in visiting Kelly," Cas murmurs. 

 

"If I wanted to go fishing with my dad, I'd show up at his goddamn house and ask him to go fishing, Cas." Dean leans up on his elbow, peering at him with a glare. "How 'bout you let me decide how I wanna spend my time, huh? Because, nine times outta ten, I'm gonna wanna be with you." 

 

Cas' lips curl up in an instant, eyes going warm and soft. "Okay, Dean." 

 

"Fucking sap," Dean mutters with a scoff, but he folds forward to kiss Cas on the forehead anyway, just because he knows it will make Cas' smile grow. 

 

"By the way," Cas says softly, pointedly, "I love you, too, Dean. Very much." 

 

Dean flops back onto his pillow with a huff, throwing his free arm over his eyes, gruffly saying, "Shut the fuck up and go to sleep, Cas. I didn't get very much last night, so." 

 

"Ah, yes, and I am the sap," Cas muses. 

 

"Suck my dick, you asshat." 

 

"Wake me in an hour, and I will." 

 

"Really?" Dean's head pops up, eyebrows raising, and Cas rolls his eyes. "Dude, I'm holding you to that, you know that, right?" 

 

"If you say so, Dean," Cas says. 

 

"Hey, Cas." 

 

"Hm?" 

 

"The next time you leave, I'm burning that goddamn Billy Joel record," Dean tells him. 

 

Cas hums. "I'll just manifest it again." 

 

"The point is," Dean mutters, "don't leave." 

 

"Oh. Right." Cas curls into him, pressing a smile into his shoulder. "Okay, Dean." 

 


 

It's a full house in the bar. Donna just got in after visiting with family, settling into Heaven with her cheerful disposition. She's only said that she hopes the girls don't miss her too much. She spends a solid two hours talking to Cas about the woman Claire turned out to be—a damn good hunter, a wife to Kaia, and something of a mentor to other kids involved in the life. Dean hugs Donna for a long time, then spends an even longer time catching up with her. Jo swoops in, and Charlie isn't that far behind, trying to seduce her, so Dean hastily leaves her to it, watching curiously every now and again to see if anything comes of it. 

 

Dean doesn't know what kinda game Charlie has, but she somehow manages to secure an invite over to Jo's goddamn house. Dean gapes at her, and Charlie just winks at him when she fetches Jo another drink. Well, whatever floats their boat. 

 

Jack stops in again. He's around a lot, thankfully. Dean has been showing him how to make drinks, amused by the idea of a three year old serving alcohol. Cas sends him scolding looks, but Dean just grins and lets Jack mix more drinks. It seems to soothe Cas that Jack has no interest in the drinks themselves, just in making them—he always gets juice boxes here, which is so fucking funny that Dean tells anyone who will listen about it. 

 

The former president—Jefferson—teases Dean for being the type of dad who talks about his kid all the time, and Dean has to try and figure out more elaborate ways to explain that he's not exactly Jack's dad, even though he kinda is. It usually ends up more confusing than just giving in and agreeing that Jack has more parents than he knows what to do with. More fathers, mostly. 

 

Dean is once again trying to walk Jack through the process of making a Bloody Mary when the already packed bar gets fuller with the arrival of John and Mary. Cas abruptly needs to go mingle with regulars, and Dean sighs as he goes. 

 

"I think I messed up again," Jack murmurs with a small frown. The glass empties out, which is a sure sign that he did. He glances up when Mary and John sit down across the bar, then he smiles brightly at them both. "Hello, Mary. Hello, John." 

 

"Hey, Jack," Mary says, lips curling up. "Dean's showing you how to make drinks, huh?" 

 

"Yes," Jack confirms, nodding. 

 

John side-eyes Jack, but he doesn't say a goddamn word, which is for the best. Dean knows John has feelings about Jack he very carefully doesn't let show. He heard about how Mary died the second time that she did. He's likely not very pleased being around the kid who had a hand in that, complicated as the situation may be. Mary and Jack see each other often, and she holds no ill will towards him, but John is John, and he wouldn't be him if he just fully let it go. He wisely doesn't make a fuss, though. 

 

"That sounds fun." Mary lifts up on her elbows, peering over the bar. "Jack, what do you have planned for dinner later?" 

 

"I was thinking a lunchable," Jack tells her, completely unironically. "I like the ones with the oreos in them. I dip them in milk." 

 

Mary's smile broadens. "Who doesn't? Well, how attached to that are you? I've got a big dinner slow cooking at my house, and I'm planning to do a couple of pies. You're invited." 

 

"Oh, that sounds good," Jack says. 

 

"Sam's already agreed," Mary tells him, then flicks her gaze over to Dean, her eyes—his eyes—crinkling at the corners. "You're coming, too, right? You and Castiel? I made enough food to feed a small army." 

 

Dean feels caught out, but with Sam and Jack being there, he can't not go. He hasn't stepped foot in his parents' house yet, but he knows that he can't avoid it forever. "Yeah, sounds great. I'll be there." 

 

"Castiel, too?" Mary checks. 

 

"Uh," Dean says, "yeah. Definitely." 

 

He glances over at John, who is staring down at the bar with his lips pressed into a thin line. Dean quickly looks away and smiles at Mary. 

 

When Cas finds out why they're closing the bar a little early, he says, "No, I'm not going." 

 

"Why not?" Jack asks, sitting up on the empty bar and kicking his legs back and forth. "It sounds like it's going to be fun. Mary is making pie. I like pie." 

 

"I know, Jack," Cas says wearily. He glances around the now-empty bar and heaves a quiet sigh before looking at Dean. "I…" 

 

"Come on, man, I already told Mom you'd be there. She's going to be there, so it'll be fine." Dean taps Jack's knee and jerks his thumb, nodding when Jack automatically hops down from the bar, letting Dean wipe it down in full. "Sam's gonna be there. Eileen and Jack. You gonna leave us hanging?" 

 

Cas squints at him. "You know why I don't want to go, Dean." 

 

"Why don't you want to go?" Jack asks, blinking at Cas. "It's all the Winchesters! We like the Winchesters. I'm a Winchester." 

 

"I know, Jack," Cas says, his voice strained. 

 

Jack frowns at him. "What is it?" 

 

"Nothing to stress about, kid," Dean mutters, nudging Jack with his elbow. "Cas is just being a worrywart for no reason. It's gonna be fine." 

 

"You're practically a Winchester, too," Jack points out with all the innocence of a goddamn child, not seeming to notice the way Cas grimaces. "You should definitely come." 

 

"Kid's gotta point," Dean says, raising his eyebrows. 

 

Cas presses his lips into a thin line, but he does eventually give a jerky nod. "Fine," he says, tone clipped and sharp. "Remember what I said, Dean. I will not allow anyone to treat me like—" 

 

"No, hey, I know." Dean drops his rag on the bar and moves closer to Cas, reaching out to grab his shoulder and squeeze it, holding his gaze. "I know you're—I know, okay, but...thanks for coming anyway. We've got a few hours before, so why don't we just go on home and unwind a little?" 

 

"That's acceptable," Cas allows, eyes narrowed. 

 

"Jack, you coming with us?" Dean asks, glancing over at him. 

 

"Yes, I'd like that," Jack says. 

 

They head out, Jack happily climbing into the back of Baby, humming something under his breath. Dean turns on the radio—AC/DC, which is nice—and they enjoy a mostly quiet ride home. Jack does poke his head over the seat at some point to ask if Dean will turn a song up—it's Hotel California, so the kid has some taste—but it's otherwise quiet and relaxed, so Cas seems to calm down a bit. 

 

When they get home, Jack finds a stack of boardgames by the records that only ever seems to be there when he comes around, just like the extra door that manifests down the hall. Dean's pretty sure that Jack just sort of lives wherever he wants to, whenever he wants to, so he has rooms at different places he stays—always with a parent, though. He doesn't have a home of his own, because his home tends to be with everyone else. He's a kid, though, so that's kinda the point. 

 

Jack's room coming and going is a little strange, but Cas says that it's a moving room of sorts. It's the same room wherever he goes, popping up in whatever house he's staying in at the time, along with the manifested things he likes to have around. The room itself is a mixture of what Jack's room looked like in the Bunker, except it's so clearly a child's room that it's not even funny—he's got goddamn action figures and legos on his shelves, which Dean won't admit out loud are kinda awesome. Everyone has an inner kid, and Jack is scarily good at bringing it out in whoever he's near. 

 

Like now. 

 

Jack wants to play Trouble, so Cas decides not to do any wood-carvings today, for which the rug in front of the fireplace is likely thankful. Dean figures he can clean his guns later and settles in to waste a few hours with them. When Cas goes to put on music, Dean swats him over the head for playing that goddamn Billy Joel song again, which earns him a kick in the ankle in retaliation. 

 

They nurse a few beers—Jack has a popsicle—and it's a surprisingly invigorating lead up to dinner. They have fun, they relax, they don't stress. Dean likes having Jack over, especially to stay the night because he'll stay up and watch Scooby-Doo with Dean long after Cas has already rolled his eyes and slipped off to bed. Dean also knows that Jack bounces around between their place, Sam and Eileen's, and Kelly's and Jefferson's. There's something endlessly amusing that the new God has three different bedtimes to adhere to. 

 

When it's time to head out, Dean waits for Jack to slip outside to grab Cas by the face and plant a quick, smacking kiss on his mouth, complete with a ridiculous little, "Mwah!" 

 

Cas squints at him suspiciously, but he's also smiling, so that's enough for Dean. 

 

Mary and John's house is—well, Dean knows it. Not only does it stand before him now, but it lives in his memories. It's the house Mary died in. Dean clenches his hands around Baby's steering wheel, then releases a slow breath as he slides out along with Cas and Jack. Sam and Eileen pull up just as they are, and for a long moment, Sam and Dean just share a look—a thousand unsaid things go between them in that look, but Dean hears them all. 

 

"Say the word, and I'll make sure not to pass the salt to John," Eileen tells him as she walks up for a brief hug. She pulls back with a mischievous smile, eyes bright. "The pepper, too, if I'm feeling bold. I can teach you how to sign it." 

 

"You're a goddamn marvel, Eileen Leahy," Dean declares, lips curling up. 

 

"That's Eileen Winchester to you," Eileen says, then proceeds to actually teach him the signs for salt and pepper in case he wants to get everyone in on being a passive-aggressive asshole to his dad. 

 

The only person who doesn't treat this like it's about to be a very complex dinner is Jack. He's all sunshine and ignorance, bounding up to the door and knocking on it because he's working on boundaries. Kelly has finally caved and agreed to stop letting him get away with literally everything. 

 

Mary is the one who opens the door, and she hugs everyone as they file in, chattering away. Her hair is long enough to be pulled up in a haphazard bun on her head, but still short enough that blonde tendrils are falling down and getting in her face. She keeps distractedly blowing them away in between sentences, and Dean feels like it's one of those things she's always done, a habit of hers, except he's never known it because he didn't ever really get the chance to know her. It stings. 

 

Great start. Dean already wants to leave. 

 

"The pies are in the oven," Mary tells them as she leads them into the dining room. 

 

Dean has a visceral flash of a memory, one that's fuzzy in his mind but achingly real. Him, running full-speed into this very room with his toy truck, getting yanked up by a laughing John. He thinks he'd giggled and tried to squirm away when John ruffled his hair, Mary standing in the background with her hand on her swollen stomach and watching with a small, fond smile. 

 

The memory all but shatters when he sees his dad already sitting at the table, watching everyone come in. It's like a funhouse mirror, distorting everything that was supposed to be with what reality actually fell upon them. The worst part, Dean thinks, is that Sam doesn't look like he has any memories at all, like he has no dream of what could have been to compare to what actually was. It all started with a goddamn fire, years and years ago, and that's all she wrote. 

 

Cas sits as far away from John as possible. 

 

To start with, it's not so bad. It's a little weird to see Mary being—like this. He used to have this image of who his mom was in his head, right up until he met her. She's not Suzy Homemaker; she's a badass hunter with a mean streak, a person capable of mistakes, someone who loves her family fiercely and started the original tradition of making stupid deals for loved ones. She knows her way around a gun, she punched Lucifer in the fucking face, she failed and failed and failed to be the mother Dean and Sam needed her to be. She can be all of that, all at once, and she is. Most of all, what she has always been and what she still is, Mary Winchester is an enigma. 

 

So, to see her bustling around with a beaming smile, passing out plates and joking around with everyone, it's a little weird. She seems suspended in an idea, half of what he always expected her to be and half of what she ended up being when she came back. It's a complicated, tangled thing. He doesn't want to think about it. He thinks about it anyway. 

 

Even here in Heaven, though, she's still a badass. She's the thing everyone uses to keep John's ass in line. It's a little insane, but Dean can't deny that there's something kinda amazing about that. 

 

For nearly the whole meal, things are fine. Jack, Mary, and Eileen seem to be pulling most of the weight here. Kids and women—they're always on top of that shit. Men? They're useless, basically, and it shows because Cas, Sam, Dean, and John barely speak for most of the time. They just kinda eat and answer noncommittally when Mary speaks to them. 

 

It all goes downhill when Mary brings up Donna, saying, "She was talking about how she thinks Jody and the girls are going to miss her too much. She's hoping they won't show up for some time yet, but it wasn't looking good for Jody. They were both getting old. She said that it'll hit the girls doubly hard if Jody goes so soon after she does." 

 

"Donna seems like a nice woman," John comments when Mary glances over at him. 

 

"She's great," Sam agrees quietly. 

 

John nods. "Knew her well?" 

 

"Yeah," Sam says. "I mean, those women formed a really strong bond. Kinda crazy to think it all started with Jody and Alex, then Claire. And she was only involved because of Cas." 

 

"Because of him, how?" John asks, raising his eyebrows at Sam. 

 

"Uh," Sam mutters. 

 

"Claire is great," Jack declares happily. "She calls me Beanstalk. I'm...not really sure why, but I like it." 

 

"Jack and the Beanstalk," Dean tells him. "It's sort of—it's a story. I'll explain later." 

 

Cas swivels in his chair to frown at Jack. "You visit Claire? I thought you said you wouldn't interfere?" 

 

"I don't," Jack blurts out, eyes going wide. "I never have, I promise. We just—we texted some, after we saved Kaia from the Bad Place. She still texts me sometimes, even though I never reply. I think it's because the messages go through." 

 

"You kept your phone?" Cas asks, eyes narrowing. 

 

"Sam bought it for me," Jack says, lips twitching down. He tilts his head, visibly confused. 

 

Dean snorts. "Cas, chill out, man. Waste not, want not, right? I thought you were trying to teach him some values and stuff." 

 

"You stay out of this," Cas declares distractedly, still frowning at Jack. "I'm telling your mother about this, Jack. You promised to—" 

 

"Ah, come on, Cas," Sam needles, "it's just a phone. It's nothing like Chuck, right? You heard him. He doesn't even reply. Maybe it's a comfort for Claire and Jack both, and hey, they're basically siblings in a really weird way, ya know?" 

 

"Jesus," John mutters, "how many kids does he collect?" 

 

Dean's heart immediately trips in his chest when Cas snaps up straight, head slowly turning. Oh no, no no no, Dean thinks, eyes bulging. It's one thing to go after Cas, personally, but it's a whole other story to talk any hint of shit about the kids that aren't really his, even if he nonetheless cares for them. Even Dean didn't get away with treating Jack any kind of way. Cas outright fucked off to do what was best for Jack before he was even born, resulting in him and Dean having a pretty major fight about it. 

 

This is gonna go bad, Dean can already see it now. Even Sam looks alarmed, glancing over at Dean with a wince. Cas fixes John with a frigid stare, lips tightening like he's about to snarl at him. 

 

"Is there something wrong with caring for children?" Cas asks, each word coming out harsh and cutting. "Or, is that such a distant concept to you that you genuinely can't fathom it?" 

 

"Oh, shit," Sam breathes out. 

 

"The fuck is that supposed to mean?" John barks, letting his fork clatter to his plate. 

 

"John," Mary says sharply. 

 

"Cas," Dean mutters, shaking his head. 

 

"You got something you want to say to me?" John continues, leaning forward, eyes narrowed. 

 

Cas' nostrils flare, but his eyes flick to Dean for a beat, and he exhales slowly. "There are quite a lot of things I could say to you, John Winchester, but for the sake of the others, I will not. I do not collect children, because children are not possessions to own and order around as you see fit. Jack and Claire are my responsibility, and frankly, it's none of your business why that is." 

 

"Not sure if I agree with you there, Castiel. Jack's sitting at my goddamn dinner table, isn't he?" 

 

"Yes, at Mary's invite, as this is also her house. Perhaps if you did not want him or anyone else here, you should have made that clear to your wife. That sounds like a marital issue, not my problem." 

 

"Castiel!" Mary blurts out, astonished. 

 

"Dad," Dean says warningly. 

 

Sam sinks lower in his chair and whispers, "Shit, shit, shit, shit, sh—" 

 

"Who the hell do you think you are?!" John slams his hand down on the table, making the dishes rattle, and Dean flinches at the same time that Jack does. "I don't know who put it in your fucking head that you have any right to come into my home and disrespect me. You can get the fuck out before I drag you out." 

 

"I'd like to see you try," Cas retorts immediately, and oh, this is so bad. So fucking bad. 

 

"Well, I fucking wouldn't," Mary snaps, standing up out of her chair to fix John with a glare, then Cas with one as well. "I don't know what the hell has gotten into either of you, but—" 

 

"Into me?" John snaps his head up to stare at her with his jaw clenched. "Why is he here? Why the hell did you invite him?!"

 

"Because he's family," Mary says sharply. "I invited Eileen, didn't I? And Jack. They're family." 

 

"What, because Dean lives with him?" John asks, face scrunching up with disbelief. 

 

Mary stares at John, her eyebrows crumbling together. "John, Castiel and Dean are—" 

 

"Ahh!" Sam yells, shoving his chair back and shooting to his feet.  Everyone turns to stare at him, and he coughs. "Ah, I—my back. It spasms." 

 

"No, it doesn't. Sit the fuck down," John orders, and Sam's jaw hardens, eyes flashing. "I don't know what kinda idiot you take me for, but I know damn well your back doesn't hurt." He turns back to Mary before Sam can even open his mouth. "Now, what the hell were you about to say about Dean?" 

 

"Nothing," Cas cuts in. "She wasn't about to say anything. Jack, get up, we're leaving." 

 

Jack throws a cautious look at John, but he does get to his feet. Cas points to the door, lips pressed into a thin line, and Jack goes. Dean wavers for a moment, then he also stands up, legs feeling wobbly. It could have been worse, he thinks, right before it gets worse. 

 

"Oh, and you're going, too?" John snaps. 

 

"Yeah," Dean rasps, "that might be for the best. I'm their ride anyway, so I should—" 

 

"Sit down," John says harshly, "I'm not done with you. Give me one good goddamn reason I should have to put up with him for the rest of eternity." 

 

Dean's legs sort of...stop working, and he goes folding back into his chair, following the order like that's all he'll ever know how to do. "Dad, come on."

 

"Dean," Cas says. 

 

"Shut the hell up, we're not talking to you," John cuts in, pointing at him. 

 

"Dad," Sam barks, just as Mary hisses, "John!" 

 

"I wasn't talking to you," Cas declares, simply turning to look at Dean. "We need to go." 

 

"Right," Dean says, clearing his throat. Once again, he gets to his feet. "Right, let's just—" 

 

"No, you got a goddamn problem with me, and you have some kinda hold on my son." John also shoves to his feet, stomping around the table at an alarming pace. "I don't know what the fuck you've done to him, or what you told him, but this isn't the Dean I raised. He'd know better than to let you talk to me any kind of way. If he won't explain to you why, I'll be damn happy to show—" 

 

John cuts himself off and rears back when Dean careens around the table—nearly knocking Sam over to get there—and blocks him with a grimace. "Dad, stop it. No one's showing anyone anything. We obviously aren't going to be making family dinners a regular thing, so it's—it doesn't even matter. Just let it go. We're leaving." 

 

"Family dinners would probably go a little smoother if he wasn't here," John grits out. "If you weren't trailing around after him like some kind of—of—" 

 

"Some kind of what?" Dean asks, taking a step back, staring at John without really feeling much of anything. The room is suddenly silent and stifling like everyone's on tenterhooks abruptly. Dean spares one second to be grateful that Jack is outside. 

 

"Bitch," John spits. "You're like his goddamn bitch, you know that? Do you even realize the way you act around him? You're always with him. You live with him. You run a goddamn bar with him. Do you have any idea how that looks, Dean?" 

 

Dean drifts his gaze to the side, staring at the corner where he has the foggiest memory of his father playing cops and robbers with him. "How does that look, Dad? Tell me." 

 

"Do you honestly not see it?" John shakes his head and reaches up to scrub his palm over his mouth. Dean does that. That's a thing he does. Did he get it from his dad? "No one's said it, but I can guarantee you that they're thinking it. Thinking that you and that angel of yours are—are—" 

 

"Are what?" Dean prompts again. He can hear himself. He sounds so—flat. He feels submerged, as if he's doing all of this from underwater, like the tide is crashing in over his head and everything is just...loud and distant, all at once. His mouth moves mechanically when he says, "What? Fucking? Is that what people are thinking, Dad?" 

 

John stares at him, his face slowly smoothing out. It takes only a second because he's not an idiot, not at all. There's a flash in his eyes, the twitch of his cheek as he clenches his jaw, and John very slowly, very sharply says, "And they'd be right, wouldn't they? To think that you and him are—" 

 

Dean says nothing. He just...prepares. It's an odd sensation, an old one, a remembered one that's more skin-deep that anything else. It would have to be that way, though, because his skin held a bruise from John better than his memories ever did. 

 

The room is so thick with the silence that Dean feels like he's suffocating in it. He doesn't quite look at his dad, and his gaze drifts to the side, staring at everyone else. Mary doesn't look surprised, and it's at that moment he realizes she already knew, that she'd been aware of him and Cas this whole time, maybe even before Heaven at all. She does, however, seem to be staring at John like she's never quite seen him before, like he's a whole new man. 

 

Sam looks like he's wavering in place, unsure how to intervene but clearly wanting to. He's not like Dean. He doesn't know how to handle their dad. He doesn't come with the knowledge that it takes putting your body in between whatever John's target is. Sam wouldn't know. He's usually the target. 

 

Eileen is staring at Cas, who Dean can't really see behind him. Her hand is gripping the back of her chair, eyes wide, lips pressed into a thin line. 

 

Finally, John says, "So that's why, huh? That's why you let him say and do whatever? You got it in your head that you love him, Dean?" 

 

Again, Dean says nothing. 

 

"Answer me!" John bellows. 

 

And Dean does, because he's not sure what else he's supposed to do. He knows better to lie to his dad, so he's whispering, "I do love him," before he can really think twice about it. 

 

"Oh, you do, do you?" John scoffs and swivels his head to stare at Cas, his lip curling. "I should have fucking known just by looking at you. The way you look at him, I knew it wasn't right." 

 

"I don't need your approval," Cas growls. 

 

"You need a goddamn boot to the teeth," John says, low and angry, mouth twisting. "And I'm gonna be the one to give it to you since Dean apparently grew too soft. He's not going back with you. He stays here where I can sort him the fuck out, and you, you cocksucking mother—" 

 

It's not until John goes crashing into the table that Dean realizes he even balled his fist up, raised it, and launched it right at John's face. There's no pain in his knuckles, and he's a little startled when he watches it all happen. John falls into a chair, the table skittering a little under his weight, glasses toppling over and beer bottles spilling everywhere. 

 

Mary shouts something, Sam curses, Eileen launches herself from the chair, and John comes back up swinging. It all happens very fast, and Dean's not even really sure how it happened at all. 

 

Dean has fought with his dad before, usually just some sort of training through the years. He's also been shoved around, smacked over the head, gripped hard enough to leave bruises, and—on one memorable occasion—actually got punched in the face when he made the wrong comment at the wrong time. John has always been very good at making Dean eat dirt. He's strong. He has a mean right hook. He's got reflexes and a military background. He's fought and killed all sorts of monsters out there, up to and including demons. 

 

Dean has fought the devil. Dean has fought God. Demons are a regular Monday to him. He's been through Hell, literally; he's fought a future version of himself; he has killed so many different people and things—angels, demons, knights of hell, humans, Death, even the first fucking murderer in the world, Cain. 

 

And yet, the moment his dad lunges for him, Dean just...freezes. He locks up. He takes the hit, his head rocking to the side from the force of it. No pain, just an imprint of it, like a small ache that he's sure comes from the reasons behind it more than the actual punch itself. The thing is, Dean would have once crumbled underneath the hit, but he barely even flinches now. He's had worse from worse. 

 

Maybe it's that acknowledgement that unclicks something in his brain. Maybe it's that Cas is behind him, and John would go for him next. Maybe it's that Sam is surging forward like he's about to learn what it means to stand between John and his target for the very first time. Maybe it's just because Dean is suddenly so fucking angry that nothing else matters. Maybe he reacts for everyone else, but he knows for damn sure that he reacts for himself. 

 

The next punch John throws swings wide when Dean jerks out of the way, kicking his dad in the knee and shoving him in the back of the shoulder as he sidesteps out of the way. John stumbles, and Dean just—he just takes him down. With an elbow to the back of the neck and a boot to the back of the knee, Dean slams his dad down and grabs his arm, twisting it back. He drops his knee in between John's shoulder blades and bends his wrist so far that he can feel the bones grind. 

 

"Stay the fuck down," Dean snaps, his words cutting through the sudden silence. John tries to lift his head, so Dean bears down harder, making his face drag across the floor. John coughs, then goes very still. "When I get up, I'm walking out of here. If you try to stop me, I'll make sure you can't get up again."

 

John wheezes a harsh laugh. "Nice to know turning gay didn't make you weak." 

 

"I'm not actually gay," Dean says flatly, "if you cared to know. I like both. How's that taste? Knowing your son likes both, and he still ended up with a man?" 

 

"Tastes like shit," John grits out. 

 

Dean hums. "I'll bet. You should ask Cas how my come tastes, since he swallows it practically every night. And he's gonna keep doing that, for eternity, and I'm gonna keep letting him, and there's not a goddamn thing you can do about it." 

 

"You fucking—" John thrashes like a fish out of water, but he's caught. He can't move. He goes still again, turning his head with a grunt. 

 

"You should be real fucking careful who you risk pissing off up here," Dean warns. "You see, Jack… Well, he's Cas' kid. How quickly do you think he'd toss your ass back into the pit if basically all of his parents asked him to, huh?" 

 

Somehow, John goes even more still, an unnatural stillness, one bred from fear. Dean feels a strange surge of vindictive delight at that, like a predator watching prey realize there's nowhere to go. 

 

"You're here because of Mom," Dean says harshly, dipping down a little, his voice low and sharp. "It sure as shit isn't because you earned a spot up here. Not a lot of us did, I'll grant you that, but at least we know it. You weren't a good father." 

 

"Don't you fucking dare," John hisses, struggling around a little. "I did the best—" 

 

"Really?!" Dean bursts out, scoffing. "Why don't you sit down with Mom and have a long, long conversation about how you abandoned her fucking kids on a revenge mission she never even wanted? Why don't you tell Mom how you treated Sam because he dared to want a life that didn't go along with what you wanted? Why don't you tell her about all the times you shoved us off on Pastor Jim or Bobby, about all the times you made it clear Sammy was the only fucking thing I was alive for, about all the goddamn times you screwed over your living children to go chasing the dead?"

 

John goes rigid beneath him. "Don't you fucking talking to me like that! You know damn well—" 

 

"Shut the fuck up!" Dean snarls, shoving his knee into John's back just to hear him wheeze again. "Tell me I'm lying. Tell me I'm lying, Dad! Am I?!" 

 

"You got some guts, kid," John coughs out, thumping his head to the floor. "I ain't gonna say you got balls, since your current infatuation has 'em in his hands. Surprised he ain't clipped 'em yet." 

 

"You don't want Mom to know, do you?" Dean asks coldly. "Go on, Dad, tell her. Do it. Why don't you tell her that we used to go hungry? That I used to have to turn tricks to feed Sam? Did you know that? Did you know I was eighteen and getting old men and women off in the back of shady bars? The first time I ever touched a goddamn dick that wasn't my own, it was because you hadn't come back to pay for the fucking hotel room you left us in, all alone, and we'd gone days living off of the peanut butter we could scrape outta the jar."

 

"Who knows? Maybe that's where it all started, Dean," John grits out. "You should have starved before doing that."

 

"I did!" Dean shouts. "I fucking did, don't you get that? But I wasn't gonna let Sammy go hungry. If you had just—if you—" Dean snaps his mouth shut, distantly aware that his chin is trembling. He blinks hard. "The next time you come near me, or Sam, or Cas, it better be grovelling on your goddamn knees. When I get up, I'm walking away, and if you ever, ever, ever want to have anything to do with me, or Sam, or your family, you'll swallow your goddamn pride and be a fucking man. Oh, and you'll treat Cas like the angel he is while you're at it, 'cause just as easily as he pulled me outta Hell, he'll drag you right back in. And, trust me, he can." 

 

Dean doesn't wait. He just launches himself off of his dad and steps back, watching John immediately spring to his feet. There's a long stretch of one second where Dean and John stare at each other, feelings shifting, emotions crumbling down between them, everything thrown off-center. 

 

John takes one step forward, and Mary is suddenly there, slapping him. It's so abrupt and so loud that Dean jolts, blinking in surprise. John barely even flinches, just staring down at Mary with his lips pressed into a thin line. She raises a finger at him, and it's trembling as she gives a few false starts, no words escaping, just sounds. 

 

Finally, she says—just this, just a harsh, quivering, "Sit down and start talking." 

 

"Come on," Sam says quietly, reaching out to snag Dean's arm. "Dean, we don't—we don't need to be here for this. Let's just—let's go." 

 

"Yeah," Dean agrees dully, then turns around and heads right for the door without looking back. He thinks, a little hysterically, as he steps outside, that it's a real damn shame he didn't get to eat his mom's pie at least one more time. 

 

Outside, they can see Jack sitting in the backseat of Baby, and Eileen immediately breaks off to go over and slide in—presumably talking to him, calming him down, maybe explaining some of it, maybe not. 

 

Dean falters a few feet from the car, blinking down at his boots. He has the most absurd urge to bust out laughing. Jesus fucking Christ, he just told his dad that Cas swallows his come every night. Holy shit. 

 

"Dean," Sam says quietly. He's got that pinched, concerned look on his face, and Dean realizes that Sam just heard—well, everything. 

 

"It's fine," Dean mutters. "I'm fine. I really am. Don't worry about it, Sammy. It's all fine." 

 

Sam's throat bobs. "Dean, I never knew you—you—"

 

"C'mon, Sam, I don't wanna talk about it, man. Just not—not right now, okay?" Dean raises a hand and palms his mouth, only to stop when he realizes what he's doing. He clears his throat. "Listen, I'm—I'm pretty fucking tired. I kinda just wanna go home. We can hash this shit out tomorrow. I'll stop by." 

 

"If you're sure," Sam says. 

 

"Hundred percent positive," Dean assures him. 

 

"Cas," Sam mutters, shooting him a serious, weighted look, "you got this?" 

 

This being Dean, which is obvious because Cas says, ever so bluntly, "Yes, you needn't worry, Sam. I'll take care of him." 

 

Dean wants to complain about that, but Sam's shoulder slump a little in relief, so he keeps his damn mouth shut. When they all approach Baby, Eileen slides back out with a tight smile. She doesn't say anything, just leans up to give Cas a hug, then the same treatment for Dean, except she gives him a rather fierce kiss on the cheek while she's at it. 

 

Dean slides into Baby in sync with Cas, and then he cranks her up and tears out of the driveway without looking in the rearview mirror. The trip back to the house lasts close to an hour because Dean apparently needs to burn up a road at top speed more than he needs to get home. Driving therapy is a thing, or it should be. Either way, neither Cas or Jack complain that it takes longer than normal. 

 

When they do make it back home, they all sit in the silence of Baby after he cuts the engine, staring out at the glowing lake. Dean breathes. He keeps waiting for—something. Anything. There's nothing, not yet, but he's sure there will be.

 

And he's right. 

 

Jack leans forward eventually and murmurs, "I don't think John likes me very much." 

 

Dean thinks ha, me too, kid, then just—

 

He leans forward and presses his face against his arms resting against Baby's wheel, his fingers curling tighter around it. Then there's that something. That anything that turns out to be a harsh pressure in his chest, forcing him to tears to try and alleviate it. He's crying very suddenly, very hard, unable to stop once he's started. 

 

"Jack," Cas says softly, "go stay with your mother tonight, okay?" 

 

There's no answer, but Jack must be gone because Cas scoots across the seat and touches Dean's shoulder. Dean gives a hollow laugh, still just fucking crying, which is pointless and useless and helping absolutely no one. If anything, it only makes all of this bullshit worse. He cries and thinks about how John would call him less of a man for it. 

 

This is an odd sort of crying. A little empty, yet very messy. There's really nothing pretty about it. He's curling in over Baby's wheel and gripping it like a lifeline, listening to his deeply stupid sobbing, the kind that quakes on the way out, the kind that makes his chest feel like it's caving in. It's the desperate sort of crying that comes from knowing the tears won't salvage anything. It's all fucked up. 

 

It just pisses him off. Dean sucks in a deep breath and yanks back, slamming his hand down on Baby's wheel. He does it again, and again, and again. He does it until he's starting to feel the pain of it, and then he realizes that Heaven is giving him that because that's what he actually desires. He makes a fist and hits the wheel until his knuckles split, until they ache, until Cas catches his wrist. His knuckles heal almost immediately.

 

"Dean," Cas says firmly, "stop it." 

 

"It's not even what he did, Cas," Dean chokes out, swiveling his head to stare at him, eyes blurry, nose running. "It's just that he's not even sorry." 

 

Cas' expression fractures entirely. He tugs on Dean's wrist, even as he scoots across the bench, pulling Dean in close. Dean sort of just slumps into him and closes his eyes, pressing his face into Cas' shoulder. His breath shudders in and out of him. Cas smells really nice. Dean never wants to move. 

 

"He won't be able to find you—not here, not at the bar, not unless you want him to," Cas murmurs. He cups the back of Dean's neck, lightly scratching at the short hairs there. "You've already set the terms for how he will only be able to see you again, so he won't be able to unless he meets them." 

 

"So I'll never see him again," Dean croaks. 

 

Cas is silent for a long beat, then his hand eases up through Dean's hair. "Perhaps you will. Perhaps he will come to realize that you matter more than his own pride. He may one day stop holding onto what he believes are yours and Sam's wrongdoings just to excuse his own. I can't be certain." 

 

"I've defended him for so long, Cas." Dean shakes his head a little, inhaling the heady smell of him. "I still want to defend him. I know he wasn't perfect, but I've never—I don't know if he's a bad father. I was just so angry. I'm always so—" 

 

"I know, Dean," Cas murmurs. 

 

Dean tips backwards, lifting his head to stare at Cas, lips twitching weakly. "Guess that wasn't how you wanted to find out that I've—that I…" 

 

"What?" 

 

"The things I did to feed Sam." 

 

Cas sighs quietly. "Dean, I already knew." 

 

"You always know," Dean mutters. He grimaces and scoots back, away, putting space between them. "I reckon it seems kinda stupid how I reacted to—us, considering the shit I've done." 

 

"It's not stupid." 

 

"It's just—I don't think about it, Cas. I don't count that shit. I wasn't really there for it. I didn't do anything except with—with my hands. I could usually trick people into paying me for that. I had the face for it, ya know? Young, pretty, shit like that. If anyone tried to cross a line, I kicked their ass. So, it's not—it isn't like Dad was right. Me being—the way I am didn't start there. I was just doing what the fuck I had to for Sam, that's all. And I blocked most of it out anyway, so I barely remember that shit." 

 

"Sam doesn't know," Cas comments. 

 

Dean shakes his head, looking away. "'Course he doesn't know. What the fuck does he need to worry about it for? I know him. He would have been upset. He's going to be upset. I dunno how to explain that it doesn't really...matter to me." He glances at Cas, swallowing. "It's better if I don't have to talk about it, you know what I mean? I just—I can't really emphasize enough how much it doesn't feel like me. I know I did it. I just don't remember all of it. Any of it, really. I remember bringing food home to Sam. That's the part that mattered. The rest? Nah." 

 

"I understand." Cas leans his head to the side, resting it against Baby's seat. He looks thoughtful for a while, humming. "I can't recall Naomi's torture anymore, if that makes sense. I know it happened. I know you're the reason I broke free from her control. The rest is…" He waves a hand a little, waggling his fingers and sighing. "I have no interest in remembering any of it, so I understand." 

 

"Hey," Dean mumbles, his eyes tracking Cas' fingers moving lazily, "we're a real fucked up pair, huh?" 

 

"Mm," Cas agrees mildly. He looks at Dean and smiles slightly. "I told you we're well-suited." 

 

Dean huffs a weak laugh and shakes his head. He reaches out to grab the edge of Cas' coat—not of the trench variety, thankfully. It's one of Dean's. He tugs at a loose thread, eyes downcast. "You're not gonna be like one of those people on the TV who don't know how to handle their, um, lover or whatever after finding out that they were—that they—" 

 

"Pleasured strangers at the tender age of eighteen and beyond?" Cas supplies bluntly. 

 

"Yeah, that," Dean mutters. 

 

Cas squints at him. "Are you worried that I will treat you differently? Or that I will feel differently?" 

 

"Do you?" Dean asks, flicking his gaze up. 

 

"No," Cas says. 

 

"Because I don't want you to be, like, scared to touch me, or something. I don't even remember. Hell was worse, if I'm honest. Doing what I did back then wasn't the worst thing I've ever done or had to do. So don't treat me like—don't think I'm—" 

 

Cas reaches out to hook a hand behind the back of his neck, jerking him in for a—quite frankly—very filthy kiss. Dean relaxes all at once, sagging into it with a sigh, his fingers lifting from the loose thread to slide into Cas' hair. He scoots closer and lets Cas make his point, lets Cas lick into his mouth just like he would any other time, lets Cas kiss him with the same passion he's had from the very first they shared. 

 

It softens, eventually. Turns slow and languid. Dean sort of drifts in it, forgetting for a moment why his eyes are itchy even when closed, why they're in Baby to begin with. This could just be any other night. Nothing has changed, nothing at all. Slowly, Cas pulls back, humming quietly in approval. 

 

"I won't, Dean." 

 

"I don't know how to love you normally," Dean whispers, and maybe it's because they're in the safe bubble of leather and home that is Baby that allows him to admit it. Maybe it's because the kiss knocked his goddamn common sense right outta his head. He swallows and keeps his eyes closed, confessing. "I don't think I know how to love anyone normally. It's too much or not at all with me, sometimes. I can't figure out how to make it—less." 

 

"So, don't," Cas says calmly. "If it has escaped your notice, you should know I love you abnormally as well. I love you more than—" He pauses, then clears his throat. "Well, I think my existence is woven into my love for you. I cannot have one without the other. If I do not love you, then I must not exist, for that would be the only possible way I would stop." 

 

"Okay, Shakespeare, that's enough of that," Dean mutters gruffly, ducking his head and focusing back on the loose thread. He drops his hands and starts idly tugging on it again. "I shouldn't have made you come tonight. It all went to shit, and I just—I thought it would go alright because Mom was there. Guess she never knew what Dad could be like when he got really pissed off." 

 

"I believe she had some idea," Cas murmurs. "As soon as Heaven became more open, she started interacting with other people outside of your father. Some people weren't very subtle." 

 

"She smacked the shit outta him." 

 

"Yes, she did." 

 

Dean blows out a deep breath. "Well, I can add ruining my parents' marriage to the long list of things I never expected I'd manage to fuck up. In my defense, they were both dead, so." 

 

"You're very good at defying impossibilities," Cas agrees, lips twitching when Dean snorts. 

 

"It's kinda fucked that I feel like I should go back and let my dad kick my ass, huh?" 

 

"Honestly? Yes, a bit. You did nothing wrong." 

 

"Aren't you biased?" Dean asks wryly. 

 

Cas levels him with a look. "You did nothing wrong, Dean. His actions were inexcusable. Yours were mild, in comparison. I fail to understand why you blame yourself for things that would never happen if he did not act intolerably. He could have let you leave when you tried. He could have refrained from provoking me. He could have brought his children food. He could have stayed with them, instead of leaving. He could have mourned his dead wife and raised his children in a life she would have been proud of. There are many other things John Winchester could have done; if you believe that for yourself, why can't you believe it for him?" 

 

"This is gonna sound really stupid, man, considering everything that happened, but...he's my dad." Dean shrugs a little, his smile self-depreciating. "I think sometimes that I hate him. But I know all the time that I love him. I'm not sure how not to." 

 

"I cannot help you there," Cas admits. "I have absolutely no love for my father. In fairness, he was never really a father at all. It's different for angels, as you know, and Chuck was…" 

 

"A joke?" Dean mutters. 

 

Cas hums. "Yes, precisely. So, no, I have nothing to say about this. I won't claim to understand. I don't. I think you should be allowed to hate him. Only hate." 

 

"It wasn't always bad, you know." Dean glances out the windshield, frowning. "He's a hardass, that's true, but there were times… Well, he taught me about cars—Baby, specifically. He helped me make my first ever mixtape. When we were on cases together, before everything got really serious with Yellow-Eyes, Dad would always have a coffee waiting whenever I first woke up. He wasn't the warm-and-fuzzy type, but he was prone to bouts of his own version of affection, I think. There's more bad than good, I won't lie, and whole helluva lot of neutral. But the good? It was good, man." 

 

"The good can't erase the bad." 

 

"No, but who's to say I shouldn't be allowed the good if I fucking want it? Dad changed after Mom died. He wasn't the same man after that, and him being here… I dunno, maybe he wants to do the good shit, too. Maybe he could—" 

 

When Dean cuts himself off, Cas sighs and leans in, lips tipped down. "I'm not disagreeing with you, Dean. Your relationship with your father is between you and your father. I will never like him. I'm sorry. However, if he did the right thing, and it made you happy, I would be...cordial." 

 

"Doesn't matter anyway. I know my dad. It's never going to sit right with him that I'm with you." Dean flicks his gaze to Cas, licking his lips. "It's not so much about two men, I don't think. If it was anyone else, he'd keep his opinions to himself. But it's me. I'm his son. And oh, buddy, he does not like you." 

 

"The feeling is very mutual," Cas says dryly, and he holds Dean's gaze for a long moment. "I'm not going to suggest that you leave me to please him, because I do not think that would make you happier than ignoring him to be with me. Dean, I think it's up to your father to make the right decision here, this time. I'm sorry that he might not. I'm sorry that I'm a factor in that possibility. I'm sorry that it's going to affect you, and there's nothing you can do, but there truly isn't. You have done nothing wrong. It's not you losing him, if he can't do right; it's him losing you, and Dean, that is a great loss." 

 

"Well," Dean says with a gusty sigh, "I guess we'll just have to wait and see, huh? Life goes on. Or, well, afterlife goes on, I guess. This is Heaven. It's supposed to be easy." 

 

Cas looks at him fondly. "Freedom is never easy, Dean. That's why it's so special." 

 

Dean closes his eyes. "I know."