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Dean decides to make an effort. To live. Because it’s what Cas would have wanted. Even though the phrase what Cas would have wanted tastes bitter in his mouth. Cas didn’t get what he wanted. For his part, Dean doesn’t know if he’ll even able to want things anymore.

It’s a couple of weeks After Chuck, and Dean feels like he doesn’t know a lot of things. At this particular moment, he doesn’t know what he was planning to make for dinner. He stares at the vegetables arrayed on the cutting board, and can’t remember. His eyes follow the curve of the knife, and he hears the words, the most loving human being I have ever known replay in his head. He closes his eyes and curses under his breath. Blood pounding in his skull, Dean decides for the fifth time so far that day to try to be the man Cas thought he was. To just keep going. 

He thinks about Everything you have ever done, you have done for love and That is who you are and Everyone who knows you sees it . Dean thinks about those words so that he doesn’t have to think about I love you . No point to thinking about that last one, to torturing himself by figuring out how he feels about it. Not now. Not with Cas gone. How he feels about Cas being in love with him is just something else on the list of things that Dean doesn’t know.

One thing he does know is that the slide of the knife through potatoes is satisfying, so he focuses on that, figuring he can remember what he was going to cook after he finishes chopping. 

A rush of displaced air hits the back of Dean’s neck, and there’s a sound of rustling wings that he hasn’t heard in years. The knife slips across Dean’s knuckle, drawing blood. The pain doesn’t even register as he spins around.

“Hello!” Jack says, with a raised hand and a pleased tilt to his smile. 

Castiel is next to him. 

As rumpled and serious as any given Thursday, Cas stands there. Tie askew, mussed hair, tired blue eyes; all as if he’d never confessed his love for Dean with tears streaming down his face and been dragged into the afterlife as a result, leaving Dean a shaking, weeping mess on the floor. 

Dean can only stare, mouth hanging open. 

Cas’ gaze drops to Dean’s hand, and his eyebrows draw together. “You’re bleeding,” he says, and strides over. A soft touch, and a jolt of sensation, somehow both electric and soothing, briefly floods Dean’s body. It shakes him from his shocked state. 

“Cas?” he breaths. 

Castiel lifts his eyes to meet Dean’s. They’re soft with something that Dean can’t quite name, and so familiar. Jack is saying something, some kind of explanation, or maybe he’s calling for Sam, but Dean isn’t listening. He pulls Cas close, arms tight around his shoulders, fists clenched in his trenchcoat, eyes squeezed shut against the tears that threaten to fall. Dean doesn’t let go of Cas for a long time.


The vegetables are forgotten on the counter. 

There’s a hug from Sam, and a story from Jack, told around the kitchen table. As far as Dean is concerned, these are distractions. 

Dean sits next to Cas and watches him: the way his fingers rest lightly on the beer bottle that Sam handed him, the way he leans into the table, the way his eyes flit towards Dean, and then away again. Every gesture speaks to Cas’ presence , and Dean thinks he could get high off of it. There’s too many thoughts in his head, and none at all. He’s still grappling with the one fact that, by rights, should come as second nature to him by now: 

Cas came back. 

Jack pauses mid-sentence with a sigh and a look of exasperation that is far too parental for a technical three year-old. 

“The other newly resurrected angels are arguing again,” he says. “I should get back.”

Cas rises to his feet, and Dean’s arm shoots out before he can think about it, grabbing Cas’ sleeve. Cas looks directly at him for the first time since they sat down, and Dean decides he isn’t letting go. 

“You’re not leaving, are you?” Dean says, hearing the anxiety in his voice and not caring. “You just got here.”

Cas opens his mouth to reply, but Jack answers first. “You should stay, Cas. I’ve got this.”

In an instant Jack is gone, leaving Cas blinking at his empty seat. 

Dean smirks. Not so fun when you’re the one being disappeared on , he thinks. But he can’t keep the fondness from his voice when he says, “Come on, stay a while.”

He tugs on Cas’ sleeve, and is rewarded with a careful smile as Cas sits down again. 


Sam has questions for Cas. About the Empty, the angels, heaven. 

As they talk, Dean thinks about Cas’ smile, and how good it is to see it again. He thinks about the last time he saw Cas smile. He remembers that Cas is in love with him. 

Weird thing to forget. Or not weird. After all, what does it matter that your best friend is in love with you, when that best friend is back from the dead? 

Does it matter? Dean wonders. He feels a churning in his stomach, and blood rushing to his cheeks. They’ll probably have to talk about it. Whether he wants to or not, Dean owes it to Cas to give him a reply, he thinks. He realizes he has no idea what to say. Everything about those final moments, with Billie pounding on the door and tears shining in Cas’ eyes, is still too big and too much for Dean to get his head around. 

His gaze drifts from Cas’ face, talking about angels that Dean would probably recognize the names of if he was paying attention, to Cas’ hands, still loosely wrapped around a beer. Hands that shoved him away the last time they met. Hands that could do other things to Dean, if he asked. 

Dean shudders at the thought. Whether in distaste or anticipation, Dean doesn’t consider.

“You alright?” Sam asks, shifting his attention to Dean at the movement.

“What?” Dean sputters, blinking out of his thoughts. 

“You’ve barely said anything.”

Dean shrugs and gives a weak smile. “I’m just happy.” 

He looks back at Cas, and finds his blue eyes staring back, a question in the line between his brows. Dean realizes how much could be read into what he said, into happiness . He thinks that maybe he wants Cas to read into it. He thinks that might be a mistake. 

He doesn’t look away. 

Sam narrows his eyes, gaze darting between Dean and Cas. He raps sharply on the table. They both jump. 

“How ‘bout I let you guys catch up?” Sam says, getting to his feet without waiting for an answer. 

“Yeah. G’night Sam,” Dean replies, forcing his heart rate back down. 

Cas watches Sam leave with wide, nervous eyes, and Dean watches Cas, trying to decide what to make of those nerves.

“Hey,” Dean says softly, and smiles when Cas’ attention snaps back to him. 

I love you too

The urge to say it hits Dean like a brick to the face. His smile drops and he swallows down the words. The impulse to say them feels too sudden to be real, too uncomplicated to be trusted. 

Cas’ gaze drifts again, resting everywhere except on Dean. Dean doesn’t care for that, or for the awkwardness thick between them. More important than whatever mess going on in Dean’s head is the fact that he misses his friend. And he doesn’t have to anymore.

“Wanna watch TV?” 

Cas looks at him, unreadable as ever, until a smile that Dean thinks is hopeful curves his lips.

“Sure.”


After a few episodes of Nailed It! , and a few more beers, the scale of everything Cas said and everything between them starts to feel less intimidating. Cas laughs at all the wrong moments, and Dean lets himself enjoy the sound. He basks in the warm rumble that he thought he’d never hear again, eyes frequently sliding over to where Cas sits in one of the two matching arm chairs. He takes in the sight of his best friend next to him, the crows’ feet around his eyes and the way his nose crinkles when he smiles, and thinks, This is how it’s supposed to be

It’s so easy, to look over in a break between episodes, and say casually, as if asking for an opinion on a new haircut, “You really are in love with me?” 

Dean immediately regrets the question when Cas’ smile drops. 

“Yes,” Cas says softly. He hesitates, then meets Dean’s gaze. Dean isn’t sure if it’s defiance or apology that he sees there. 

Whatever it is, Dean can’t match it, and he looks away. He doesn’t know what to do with that “Yes”. Doesn’t know what he would have done with a “No” either. He thinks he’s an idiot for asking. 

It’s partly to silence his own thoughts, and partly to explain his shell-shocked reaction that Dean says, “I didn’t even think that angels could feel stuff like that.”

Cas’s face goes blank. Neither Dean nor Cas say anything or look at the other for a long moment. 

“To be fair, I don’t think angels are supposed to,” Cas finally says, voice rougher than it had been, and somehow distant. “Even as a human, I’ve never had a soul.”  

Dean is self-aware enough to realize that he doesn’t like the sound of Cas questioning his feelings. But he stops short of considering why. 

There’s a glassy look in Cas’ eye as he stares past a spot on the wall, and his voice dips quiet. “What should it feel like? To be in love?”

Suddenly Dean isn’t sure he knows the answer to that question. He has been in love before, hasn’t he? That’s how he knows what to call his relationship with Cas (family, brothers)? But when Dean thinks of love , nothing is clear or defined. So he answers honestly. “I don’t think I can describe it.”

Cas turns to him, still with a gaze that’s miles away. “Maybe…” he says, cocking his head. 

Dean watches in confusion as Cas gets to his feet and takes a couple of steps to stand next to Dean. He reaches for Dean’s face, murmuring, “Can I… ?”

Cas touches Dean’s forehead before finishing the question. 


Dean feels

It’s the familiar emotions that hit him first. Affection, joy, comfort, and yes, love. They flood Dean with warmth, lift him up like a cresting wave. And like a wave, they ease back down, into longing, loneliness, grief, pulling at Dean’s chest like a fishhook. And this is love too, he knows. There’s so much of it, the good and the bad, both trying to drown him in different ways. 

Just as Dean feels he’s about to be overwhelmed, something else cuts through. Something cold and sharp. A clinical, scientific fascination, that wraps itself around his brain and won’t let go, digging in its claws and compelling his attention. It’s followed by a sense of aesthetic appreciation that’s so aloof and objective that Dean wonders how it can coexist alongside emotions at all. But it’s soon overcome by loyalty, all-encompassing but soothing in its familiarity. Then the loyalty grows into devotion, and the devotion into worship--the kind that demands sacrifice. It keeps growing, terrifying in its weight until it’s shattered. By frustration, jealousy, betrayal, resentment, that all flash briefly together and then disappear.

Then, all there is, is hunger . A primordial urge to consume. But more than that, to be taken within, to inhabit, to possess, to know . A sprawling, ancient hunger, impossible to satisfy. Desire, with teeth. 


Dean wakes up on the floor, sweating and breathless. 

Cas’ face comes into focus, lines of anxiety and regret catching the blue light of the TV screen. He reaches out a hand to help Dean up.

Dean scrambles back reflexively. “Don’t touch me!” he hisses, the painful, overwhelming mass of emotion still too fresh and terrifying.

Cas withdraws in a rustle of feathers, and is gone. 


Dean lies on the floor of the den, catching his breath, trying to arrange what he’s just experienced in some kind of way that makes sense. Finally, he gives up and goes to his room. He sits on the floor, knowing that’s where he’ll end up anyways, and takes long gulps of whiskey straight from the bottle. 

It’s not fair. He just got Cas back, and now it feels like he’s lost him again, because it turns out that Dean never really knew him in the first place. All the alien feelings twisting around inside of him, things never meant to be touched by a human soul, seem so out of place among all his experiences with Cas. During all the shared battles, all the arguments, all the talks over diner food and long drives, Castiel had felt… that

A part of Dean rebels at the fact that Castiel is, to all appearances, a man. Dean has gotten dudes off in truck stop bathrooms for money, and has treated himself to the occasional fantasy featuring Dr. Sexy, his own hand, and a bottle of lube. But none of that intruded on Dean’s carefully cultivated sense of being the man that life as a hunter demanded he be. So yeah, there’s a voice, that sounds an awful lot like John Winchester, insisting that Dean isn’t even into dudes. But in light of his glimpse at the eldritch, non-euclidian thing that Castiel is, the voice seems pretty irrelevant.

Cas being a dude isn’t the problem. It’s the want, and the worship, and the fascination, all so huge and crushing, that have Dean’s skin crawling. It should feel like a betrayal. Dean does feel dissected, objectified, threatened, scared. He should feel disgusted too. That would be the easiest thing. 

But there had also been so much love. So much bright, honest love that Dean could get lost in it. He wanted to get lost in it, to sink into the feeling and hold onto it forever. That love was just as painful to discover, because Dean had gone for so long without realizing it was there. Or he had realized, and decided on some level to ignore it. He was supposed to know Cas best, be his family, and it turns out he hadn’t known him at all. 

No wonder he never sticks around.


Dean wakes up the next morning with a headache and a crick in his neck from sleeping on the floor. He remembers what happened the night before, but there’s too much fog in his brain to think about it very closely. Instead, he clambers to his feet, brushes his teeth, and stumbles towards the kitchen. 

Dean freezes in the doorway. 

“Cas…”

Dean had expected the guy to high-tail it out of the bunker after the previous night’s fiasco. Instead he’s sitting at the kitchen table, resting his chin on laced fingers. He immediately straightens his posture when Dean enters the room. 

Cas’ eyes are a fraction too wide to call his expression blank. Dean connects the look in his eyes with something he felt last night--fear, and shame. There’s no evidence of that roiling, alien desire. Dean just sees his friend, his friend who’s clearly sliding into a pit of self-loathing. He hates it.

“Sam asked me to tell you that he’s gone to visit Eileen for a few days,” Cas says with note of formality. 

This is stupid , Dean thinks abruptly. He’s just stopped another apocalypse, and all his friends are alive this time, including his best friend. So the guy’s had a bit more going on under the surface all these years than Dean suspected, so what? Dean Winchester isn’t about to have his happy ending torpedoed because he can’t deal with feelings .

Dean nods. “Cool. I’m gonna make scrambled eggs. Want some?”

He feels Cas’ gaze follow him as he strides over to the fridge, and deliberately adds a nonchalant swagger to his step. He’s going to be normal about this if it kills him. 

“I…” Cas starts.

Dean turns to look at him, a challenge in the arch of his eyebrow. He knows Cas doesn’t eat, and Cas knows that he knows. He’s hoping Cas recognizes the meal for the olive branch that it is. 

Cas swallows, and nods. “Thank you.”


Dean hums to himself as he pushes eggs around the pan. He’d added dill and some of Sam’s goat cheese, and it’s smelling good enough to override the nausea of his hangover. 

Cas doesn’t say anything, and Dean doesn’t try to make small-talk. He can feel the angelic presence in the room, though, and that’s reassuring. That he feels that way is a relief in itself. Dean was worried that he’d develop some kind of instinctual recoil towards Cas, towards everything he’d felt that screamed, monster . But Dean’s gut still recognizes Cas as a friend, and he takes that as a win. 

He watches the pattern that the spatula makes as he drags it through the slowly solidifying eggs, and realizes that Cas actually makes more sense now. Now that Dean knows what proportion of him is human, or at least comparable to human. Now that he knows the kinds of things that Cas feels, it’s like pieces of a puzzle falling into place, completing a picture that Dean had only seen fragments of before. Going to war with Raphael and the deal with Crowley, staying in Purgatory, his immediate commitment to Jack. None of it is discordant with Dean’s image of Castiel anymore. And all the times that Cas had left to go off on his own, those make sense too. A kind of sense that Dean hates, because it still took Cas away from him; but the drive to protect, the single-mindedness, is something that he can get his head around. 

Dean knows what makes Cas tick, probably for the first time ever. As crap as he feels about not understanding Cas before, Dean thinks that this can be a good thing. He can be a better friend; and if Dean is a better friend, then he can keep Cas with him. 

Dean decides to give Cas what he needs to stay. That starts with acceptance and forgiveness, in the form of a plate of scrambled eggs. 


Dean hunkers down in front of his plate and digs in. As he takes a gulp of coffee, Dean watches Cas raise his fork to his mouth and take a delicate bite of the eggs. Cas nods minutely, and Dean allows himself a smile. 

“I gotta pick up some groceries today,” Dean says after a few more bites. “But I was thinking, after that, we could catch a movie. There’s probably something with superheroes playing, always is these days. And then maybe hop a couple towns over, grab some drinks, hustle some pool? I bet we can convince some poor mooks that you’ve never played before.” Dean adds a conspiratorial wink. 

“I haven’t,” Cas says, and the sight of him tilting his head in confusion feels like a victory in itself.

“But you’ll still be good at it, right?”

“Of course.” Cas sounds almost offended at the implication that he might not be.

Dean grins. “Perfect! We got a plan.”

Cas sighs and sets down his fork. “Dean, I appreciate the invitation. But I should check on Jack.” 

“Okay, so we’ll go tomorrow,” Dean shrugs, keeping his tone light. 

Cas clenches and unclenches a fist on the table top. 

Dean watches the movement, swallowing down a mouthful of egg. He filters through what he knows about Cas, his freshly acquired insight: what he knows the angel wants, what he can offer him to stay. Acceptance, companionship, camaraderie. He doesn’t show his hand yet. He waits for the other shoe to drop. 

“Actually, you know Jack healed my wings,” Cas says, seemingly fascinated by the wood grain in the table. 

“Yeah, I noticed,” Dean says, quirking a smile to mask his tension. He tries to keep himself from mentally cursing Jack for returning Cas’ ability to fly off, in case the kid can hear.

“It’s been years since I could fly.” Cas says carefully. “I was thinking I’d take some time for myself, get used to it again.”

“How long? A couple days?” Dean watches Cas over the rim of his coffee mug as he takes a sip.

“I don’t know.”

Dean sets the mug down. He feels the bottom drop out of his stomach, along with his resolve to treat Cas like normal. “Longer?”

“I don’t know,” Cas says, voice near a whisper. 

Dean wonders how many different ways he can lose his friend, and why the universe is intent on making him experience all of them. 

“No.” Dean shoves himself up from the table, and paces towards the doorway. “Nope, no, no.”

He hears Cas get up and follow him. Dean closes his eyes, and silently counts to five as he inhales. 

“I’m not asking, Dean,” Cas says, frustration rising through his voice. He takes a breath and continues in a measured tone, “I know it was a mistake to make you feel… all of that. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you.” 

Dean shakes his head. He hates how reasonable Cas sounds, and doesn’t look at him.

Cas keeps talking. “I need some time, to come to terms with how I feel, and to find a way to move on.”

Dean rounds on Cas, eyes bright and furious. “You want to move on from me?” He scoffs. “It figures, that you put me in your head, and I still don’t get you at all. How do you feel all that and still want to leave me?” 

Even as Dean says it, he knows that he’s lying about not understanding. He knows how the ache of longing eats at Cas; he felt it for himself last night. He knows that it’s easier for Cas to fly away than to be confronted with the mess of living with human emotions. Dean knows that he’s also doing what comes easiest to him: falling back on anger. That’s not who you are . He takes a breath.

No more taking the easy way out .

Cas has fixed him with a determined stare, though there’s a quaver in his voice when he speaks. “I don’t want to lose your friendship.”

“You’re not gonna,” Dean insists. “How do I prove that to you?”

Cas turns away to stare at a spot on the floor, and Dean works to ease down his frustration. 

Schooling his voice into a gentle tone he continues, “Look, I know I freaked out. Not gonna lie, there was stuff in your head that I’m pretty sure no human has ever felt. Or should feel.”

Cas shrinks in on himself at that, and Dean feels a pang of sympathy in his gut. But he knows that Cas won’t accept what he has to say if there’s a hint that Dean’s being less than honest about any of it, so he powers on.

“And it was a lot to deal with. But there was also love.” Cas’ shoulders relax, and Dean waits a moment to see if Cas will turn to look at him. He doesn’t, and Dean keeps going. “Cas, I’m sorry I didn’t see it before. But I do want you to stay with me. Please, I just got you back.”

Dean wishes that Cas would look at him. But even with Cas’ eyes closed, Dean can see the internal conflict play across his face. Doubt, longing, fondness, fear, Dean can put a name to every twitch and wrinkle. And he knows what Cas needs to hear. 

“I love you.” 

Cas’ head snaps up, his eyes wide as they meet Dean’s. He sounds like the air has been knocked out of him when he says, “What?” 

“That’s what… that’s what this is, isn’t it?” Cas is looking at him now, and that’s a step in the right direction, but Dean can still see the disbelief in eyes. Dean licks his lips and pushes ahead, feeling like he’s dragging the words bloody out of his chest. “You’re my best friend, so I didn’t think… but this feeling, it’s been building for years…” Dean thinks about everything he felt in Castiel. There was so much that was strange and other-worldly, but so much that was familiar too. “Maybe I had to hear it from you to know that’s what it was.”

Dean knows he’s said the right thing when Cas’ body turns more fully towards his, a look of wonder on his face, breathing out his name, “Dean…”

His heart jackhammers in his chest. “That one thing you want. That you thought you couldn’t have. This is it?”

Cas nods.

A cocky smile spreads across Dean’s face. “Well you can’t have me if you’re not here, can you?”

Slowly, Cas steps closer. Cas’ hand reaching towards him brings back memories of the previous night, but Dean closes his eyes, determined not to show panic. As soon as Cas’ palm cradles his cheek, Dean relaxes. The touch is warm, and gentle. Dean covers Cas’ hand with his own, holding him in place, and opens his eyes. 

Cas’ gaze flits across Dean’s features, like Dean is a puzzle that can be solved by looking at it. He’s tentative in his looks and his touch, as if any movement could shatter the moment between them. 

Dean smirks, and lets his gaze drop to Cas’ lips. It’s the only warning he gives before pulling Cas into a kiss. He feels Cas gasp into his mouth, and then melt into his embrace. 

Kissing Cas is surprisingly easy. The rasp of stubble along Dean’s jaw is different, as is the fact that Cas is basically the same size as Dean, which puts a series of his standard moves out of the question. But Cas responds to every change in pressure, every brush of tongue and teeth, with sighs and moans, and hands pressing their bodies impossibly close. It feels good for Cas to be the one holding onto him for a change.

When Dean pulls back, Cas chases his lips with a breathy whimper. Dean can’t keep the smile from his lips.

“So, this means you’re staying?” Dean asks, brushing the tip of Cas’ nose with his own. 

“Yes,” Cas sighs. There’s something in his voice that sounds like surrender. 

Without thinking, Dean adds, “Forever?”

“Hm?” Cas leans in to capture Dean’s lips again, but Dean stops him with a hand cupping his face.

“No more missions from Heaven,” Dean says, blood pressure notching up as if he’s describing an errotic act. “No more going off to solve problems on your own, no more sacrificing yourself for us.” 

Dean feels Cas’ posture go rigid, watches his face turn grim. “Dean, I can’t promise that. I’ll do what’s necessary to keep you safe, and the world.”

Dean is barely thinking about what he’s doing, but knows whatever it is, he’s not giving up. He softens his voice, and lets it lilt up in question. “But you want to stay, don’t you? You want me?”

Cas nods weakly. His composure crumbles as Dean slides his gaze down to his lips, and then back up to fix him with a piercing look. 

“Then promise me.”

Cas opens his mouth to speak, and for a moment Dean thinks he’s going to say it. Instead, Cas hesitates, meeting Dean’s demanding gaze with a searching one. 

Dean feels selfish. He can’t remember the last time he’s wanted something so badly for himself as he wants to hear Cas promise to stay. He thinks maybe he’s earned some selfishness. 

“Cas. Think about what we could have,” Dean says softly, almost cooing. Sliding a hand up Cas’ face to tangle his fingers in his hair, hearing Cas sigh at the touch. “Everything you want. I saw it, and I’m telling you it’s yours.” 

He licks his lips, and notices Cas’ gaze drop to track the movement. Dean licks his lips again, slowly, leaving them wet and glossy. He lets his mouth hang open invitingly for a moment, waiting to hear a small hitch in Cas’ breath, before he continues. 

“Looking at me openly. Touching me whenever you feel like it.” 

Dean raises his other hand to caress Cas’ neck and jaw, thumb brushing against a fluttering pulse point. Cas swallows a whine. 

He thinks back to Cas’ most human wants, the ones that hollowed him out with longing and buoyed him with warmth. Dean lets that warmth shine out of his eyes and colour his voice.

“We’ll go for long drives just for the fun of it, windows down, music playing. No hunts, just you and me and an open road and the world we saved to enjoy. And then we’ll come home, and Sam and Jack and Claire will come over. I’ll make dinner for all of us, and we’ll talk and laugh and be a family. And at the end of the night you’ll take me to bed.”

Cas trembles under Dean’s hands, and his eyes glisten with tears. He swallows and takes a breath that’s probably supposed to be calming, but doesn’t seem to do much. 

Dean leans his forehead into Cas’. He closes his eyes, not sure that he has the confidence to say the next part while looking at him. Even then, he can only speak in a whisper when he says, “I’ll let you treat me all soft and special-like. You want that, right?”

“Yes,” Cas sighs.

“Cas, you have to promise me.” Dean hears the edge of desperation in his own voice. If Cas turns him down now, he thinks it would break him. 

Cas’ voice cracks when he says, “I promise.”

Dean crushes their lips together, and Cas responds immediately, clutching at Dean’s back and the nape of his neck, sliding his tongue against Dean’s. He walks Dean backwards until he hits the kitchen island, and still keeps pressing closer, as if he can inhabit the same space as Dean if he just tries hard enough. That deep, ancient hunger is bleeding off the edges of Cas’ skin, and Dean feels a spike of adrenaline when he recognizes it. He reminds himself that it’s just part of Castiel, Castiel who loves him, who he understands.

Dean breaks off the kiss, masking his breathlessness with a fierce look. “Say it.” he demands.

“I love you.”

“And?”

“I’ll stay,” Cas answers helplessly. “I’ll stay with you forever. As long as you’ll have me.”

When Chuck was defeated, left crawling in the dust, that didn’t feel like a win for Dean. Seeing his phone light up with notifications from Jody and the girls, Charlie, Bobby, Garth, as they all materialized back into the world, that didn’t quite feel like a win either, though Dean did his best to act like it was. 

This moment, Cas alive and promising a future without any more loss, is when Dean feels like he’s won.

He pushes Cas back with a gentle hand on his chest, and slides out from between him and the counter. Their eyes stay locked as Dean trails his fingers down Cas’ sleeve to take his hand. 

“Come on.”

The dazed look on Cas’ face as Dean leads him towards his bedroom is almost comical. Dean can practically see the cartoon hearts dancing around Cas’ head, and bites his tongue to keep from laughing. It crosses his mind that Cas is going to look at him like that for the rest of his life, full of devotion and wonder, and he can’t help the giddiness that bubbles in his chest. He’s going to keep Cas.

There’s an immediate shift in mood as they enter Dean’s bedroom. Dean shuts the door with a click , and Cas’ gaze goes heavy-lidded and seductive. 

Cas is on Dean again, pressed up close, and kissing him like he’s starving for it. Dean manages to push Cas’ coat and jacket off his shoulders, and then Cas is crowding him back towards the bed, pushing him onto the mattress, climbing on top of him. He pulls at Dean’s lower lip with his teeth, and turns to suck bruises into his jaw and neck. His hands ghost over Dean’s body, trying to touch him everywhere and unable to settle on one spot. There’s a frantic energy to Cas, and Dean realizes that he finds it cute

Cas shoves Dean’s t-shirt up to his armpits and slides down to kiss and nip at his stomach. Dean chuckles at the sensation, and relaxes into it with a sigh. When he cards a hand through Cas’ hair, Cas captures it in his fingers. He turns his face to kiss Dean’s palm, his fingertips. He trails his mouth up Dean’s arm until he’s back at his neck again, making little needy sounds between every kiss. One hand slides up Dean’s thigh, and lightly traces the line of his hardening cock. Dean lifts his hips to press into the touch.

Cas lets out a whine, and goes still. His hands grip Dean’s hips, and his forehead rests on Dean’s shoulder; he trembles with every exhale.

“Hey,” Dean prompts, nudging Cas to look at him. He looks up, face flushed and eyes glassy, both innocent and debauched. Dean thinks he could get used to Cas looking that way.

He caresses Cas’ face soothingly. “Hey buddy, it’s okay. We can slow down. We have all the time we need.”

Cas nods.

“Cause you’re not going anywhere, right?”

“Right.”

“Here…” Dean shoves Cas softly, and climbs off the bed. “Nuh uh, stay there,” he says when Cas moves to follow him. 

Dean stands in the middle of his room and takes his clothes off. It’s not a strip tease, but it is a performance, a demonstration of what’s on offer. Dean watches Cas the entire time, tracking the emotions that play across his face. There’s that clinical fascination that makes Dean shudder; that objectifying adoration, drinking in every inch of bare skin skin as it’s revealed. There’s a deep, unyielding affection, and that’s the thing that Dean latches onto and focuses on.  

When Dean is naked, he stands in front of Cas, twirls his tie around his fingers, and pulls him to his feet. Cas reaches out to touch him, but Dean stops him with half a step backwards and a shake of his head. He moves back in when Cas’ hands hang still at his sides. 

Slowly, Dean undoes Cas’ tie, unbuttons his shirt, unfastens his pants. He lets each item of clothing fall to the floor in turn, holding Cas’ gaze the entire time. When Cas is naked, Dean pushes on his shoulders until he sits on the edge of the bed, and Dean sinks to his knees. He takes off Cas’ shoes, and slides his pants off his feet. 

On his knees, Dean can’t help but stare at Cas’ cock. Long, and flushed and hard, beading precome at the tip. That’s gonna go inside me , Dean thinks, though he doesn’t remember when he made the decision that he and Cas would end up there. He swallows, licks his lips, and turns his gaze back to Cas’ face. 

Starting with one hand on each ankle, Dean slides his hands up Cas’ muscled calves and thighs. He rises to his feet, and his hands move up Cas’ toned chest. His arms circle Cas’ neck, as Dean straddles his lap. Cas whimpers, but keeps his hands at his sides. Dean brings his lips up to Cas’ ear, nips at his earlobe. 

“You can touch me now, Cas.” 

With a growl deep in his throat, Cas swings Dean over onto his back. He covers Dean’s body with his own so they’re touching thigh to chest; laces his fingers with Dean’s and presses his hands next to his head. 

This time, Cas is more singular in his focus. He kisses Dean deeply, caressing the roof of his mouth with his tongue, trails his lips along Dean’s jaw and neck, and then moves back to his mouth again. He idly grinds his cock against the crease of Dean’s hip, groaning as he does so, but seems otherwise entirely content to limit himself to kissing Dean, and feeling him close. 

It’s good, it’s really good, the feel of skin slick with sweat, the friction and pressure against Dean’s cock as Cas presses him into the mattress and Dean bucks his hips in response. But besides that, Dean feels home, and safe, and wanted in a way he never has before. It’s absurdly good, but Dean knows he can do better. He knows Cas wants more. 

Cas’ moans pitch higher and his hips jerk involuntarily. 

“Sounding like you’re pretty close there, pal,” Dean says in between kisses.

“I’m an angel, I can keep myself from achieving sexual climax for as long as I want."

Dean’s eyebrows shoot up and he’s about to ask, Is that a challenge? But in the next moment Cas looks at him so sincerely that he’s struck dumb.

“I just… I just never thought I could… see you like this, have you…” Cas releases Dean’s hand, and strokes his face.

“As long as you’re here with me, you have me.” With his free hand, Dean runs his fingers up Cas’ back, feeling the thick chords of muscle there, feeling Cas solid and present and alive. “However you want me. Because I love you.”

A smile breaks across Cas’ face. “You love me,” he says with a hitched breath, almost a laugh, almost disbelieving.

“And I want you,” Dean says with conviction.

The smile drops off Cas’ face, and his pupils blow wide. “Dean, I love you so much.”

Dean tilts his head to avoid Cas’ kiss. “And?”

“I’ll stay forever.”

Dean rewards him with a smile. “Then we can have this forever.”

Cas murmurs, “Yes, oh yes…” into Dean’s lips, against his jaw, his neck.  

Dean takes a breath, clenches a fist against Cas’ back. He feels like he’s gotten away with making a crossroads deal without paying any price. 

He whispers hoarsly in Cas’ ear, “Castiel, I want you to fuck me.”

Cas stills, then shivers. He lifts his head to look Dean in the eye. 

“You want that, right?” Dean says gently. He brings a hand up to Cas’ face, traces Cas’ lower lip with his thumb. “Make me yours like no one else has. Know what it’s like inside me.” 

“I want to love you completely,” Cas says, as if he’s confessing all over again. “I want all of you.” 

Dean drags Cas into a rough kiss. Then he levers himself on his elbows so that he’s sitting up, with Cas straddling his hips.

Dean holds Cas’ face between his palms, and demands, “You know you can’t love me like that and take it away again.” 

“I won’t,” Cas insists.

Dean fixes Cas with a fierce stare. “Promise me.”

“I pledge myself to you, Dean Winchester,” Cas says, voice heavy with celestial intent. “As long as you want me.”

“Forever.”

“Forever,” Cas repeats without hesitation. In a mirror of how Dean is holding his face, he brushes a thumb across Dean’s cheekbone and curls his fingers in his hair. “I’ll be at your side forever.”

“Never leave,” Dean says, voice breaking.

“Never.”

“Good.” He kisses Cas breathless, then leans back into his pillow. “Lube’s in the nightstand.”

Dean expects the ancient hunger within Castiel to rear its head. He swears he can feel it seething beneath the angel’s skin. But instead, Cas is achingly tender with him. 

Cas shuffles down the bed to rest between Dean’s legs. Before he so much as touches Dean’s hole, he trails a line of kisses up Dean’s cock, swipes his tongue across the head, and takes him entirely down his throat. He watches attentively as Dean arches off the bed, cataloguing every twitch and moan that he draws out of Dean. Cas brings Dean to the edge of orgasm with his mouth, while slowly and carefully opening him with his fingers. He looks at Dean like it’s a gift to be allowed to do so. Dean loves those eyes and the way they look at him; he loves Cas’ fingers, and the way they touch him like he’s something precious; he loves Cas’ voice when it promises him, Forever

It occurs to Dean in a flash that it’s not just Cas promising to stay forever, but he himself promising to give himself to Cas, like this, forever. And that it’s not a deal, it’s not a bargain, it’s everything he’s ever wanted. Dean gets to feel this much love, forever. 

I love you ’s pour from Dean’s lips until they become gibberish, until Cas silences them with a kiss. 

Dean latches his legs around Cas’ hips, unthinking and eager. Cas stares at him, unblinking, as he presses in. Dean closes his eyes, and lets himself feel. 

Dean feels split open in every way. He doesn’t know how, but he’s sure that every emotion he’s ever had must be on display for Cas, the same way Castiel opened himself to Dean the previous night. And yet somehow, Cas doesn’t recoil. Instead, he murmurs about how Dean is beautiful and good and brilliant and shining . Feverish with the pressure of Cas moving inside of him, oversensitive with pleasure, Dean can’t deny the words, he can only let them fill him up. As he comes, Dean deliriously thinks he might be worthy of the praise. 

Cas comes inside of Dean, tense with restrained power, light leaking out of his eyes. Then he relaxes, collapsing on top of Dean, mindless of the mess on Dean’s chest and stomach. He peppers kisses across Dean’s face, and Dean can feel wetness on his cheeks under the press of Cas’ lips. 

“Dean. Oh, Dean…” Cas whispers. “I love you, I’m here, I’ll stay.” 

Dean trembles in the aftershock of his orgasm. 

He holds Cas tightly, listening to him repeat, “I love you and I’ll stay.” 


Dean wakes up to Castiel’s unearthly gaze watching him intently. 

He huffs in amusement. Weird, but I can get used to it .

Dean scrubs a hand through his hair and rubs his eyes. He feels sticky with sweat and dried come. “What time is it?”

“Four PM,” Cas answers. “I think we may have derailed your plans for the day.”

The staring, the dry remarks, are so familiar, so Cas , it makes Dean ache. They fit surprisingly well with the sight of the angel naked in Dean’s bed. 

“Ya think?” Dean asks with a grin. I get to keep this

“There’s still time to run errands before the stores close.”

“Nah, screw it,” Dean says. He leans over and captures Cas’ lips with his own, relishing the sound of Cas’ sigh. “How ‘bout we just go for a drive?”