He holds the steering wheel like he does a bottle of beer, like he does to the handle of a machete. What does that say about the car, what does that say about Dean?
There’s blood on the dash and dropped like freckles onto Castiel’s face. He’s in the passenger’s seat. Dean insisted he use the seatbelt.
When he closes his eyes, he sees all the angels falling down to Earth, and satellites, and space. He used to see so much more, stars so thick that there was no darkness in the sky. He knows what humans mean when they describe night, now.
Dean flinches, hand banging against the side of the wheel. “Yeah?” He clears his throat.
It becomes difficult to swallow. “Where are we going?”
“Bunker.” He doesn’t say more than that. It isn’t hard to get used to the rock and bumps of the road and of the Impala.
Dean hadn’t asked too much about April. Cas was glad, he was embarrassed. She had a gun in his mouth, the metal sitting on his lips, when Dean had walked in. Cas had been about to die. Does he know? Does Dean know, that he saved him?
“Stop that with your fingers,” Dean tells him, low voice. Cas abandons his snare drum fingers and shoves his hands under his arms.
Something- an insect- bites him. He slaps at it, frowning. Dean finally lets a little smile out. “Mosquitoes finally want you, now that you’re human?”
Cas nods reluctantly, wiping off the smear of bug onto his pants. He’s worried. Dean hasn’t started treating him any differently. Cas is afraid- he might be more fragile, like this. Dean isn’t seeing it. Maybe he thinks of Cas as capable.
The car stops. Dean opens Cas’ door. “Welcome home. Get settled. I’m checking on Sam.”
He’s off on a one track mind and takes the beaten path to the infirmary where Sam’s slowly healing body is being kept. Cas is alone, and he finds a room for himself.
Each door, each doorway, leads to rooms that aren’t identical, but they are virtually indistinct by way of deciding which ones are inhabited and which ones are not. Cas thinks he’s found Dean’s room, but only because of shaved stubble and a used sink.
Otherwise, he can’t be sure.
Cas can try to avoid Dean in the bunker, but he finds the idea mostly useless.
There is no reason to keep away from him. The longer humanity lasts, the easier Cas finds it to fall prey to lying. Lying is important, when there are so many things Dean isn’t supposed to know about. It’s not like Dean wants to be alone, either- he wants coffee, and someone who isn’t pale and on the brink of death for company.
Cas washes his face with ice cold water, flinching at his reflection. It’s pure human. He drinks water over the sink, like a dog, gulping down two paper cups. There are only two mugs, and only two glass cups, and none of them belong to Cas. Dean’s mug has a picture of Yellowstone on it. Sam’s is blank and white. The way his soul was beginning to feel as he completed the Trials.
It might have been from his blood being cleaned out, or it might have been the general apathy that radiated off of him.
Sam was like a microwaved TV dinner. Ready, nutritious, tasty! All lies on those packages.
Dean has found a spell to make Sam better. His head is lolling on the pillow and his cheeks are hollow on the inside. Cas stares at him, one minute, two, before crossing the room and sitting in the seat next to Dean. It lets out a creak of announcement.
“He’s not doing too much better, but there’s progress.”
Dean blinks at him, doing a double take. “That’s good,” Cas replies.
“Cas? Have you changed yet? And is that coffee for me?”
“Yes, it is. And I haven’t.” There’s a bump on his head and his arms got tangled up in his shirt when he tried to take it off. He still has the same one on. The cold pizza was only enough power to get him into bed.
“Oh. Sorry.” Dean rubs his hands on his pants, anxious. The palms twist in his legs to the point where- where Cas wants to snatch his hands away and wipe them clean.
At this angle, the light coming in is barely enough to make out their individual features. A shapeless mask, times three. Three not-people. A half dead half demon, a disgrace of an angel, and Dean, who’s picked himself apart so many times he cannot be considered quite human.
The longer their vigil goes on, the worse off Cas feels. He’s off, off and empty, hates the lack of light in the room. Is it what humans feel like all the time? Biological receptors telling them there is something wrong -
“Fuck, I’m just- so worried, Cas.” His room comes out all quiet, like it’s the sound of distant running water under the earth.
“I know.” Cas wants to bury himself in Dean and tell him that, without exception, he deserves his brother back. “I know, Dean. Is there anything-”
“Nah. Nah.” Dean’s hands are still but they feel like they’re flying. Not in a dangerous way, but musical. They need to punch themselves raw, take out the energy on an unfortunate drum. He’s nothing but gentle with Cas.
In fact, and it makes breath catch under his Adam’s apple, his body lay a little more flat in the chair, Dean takes his hand. Crushes their fingers together, the thumb rubbing delicate circles on Cas’ palm.
Cas’ head rests on Dean’s shoulder. He is like a fleabitten dog being pet and taken home. Falling asleep with just a few touches that curl warm in his belly. It’s a tossup between sleep and terror and he’s not scared right now. He sleeps.
“Hey.” He can feel the vibration of the words rumble onto his chest. Dean’s hand is resting on his shoulder and Cas can’t find it in himself to move. “Sleepyhead. Wake up.”
His eyelashes flutter. Cas turns, plastering himself further on Dean’s lap. His head is sitting on one thigh. The nap has been almost more than he needed. “Dean,” he mumbles out, hands clenching into fists. He drags himself up, teeth clacking together almost painfully.
“Oh, don’t get too awake. You don’t need to be up.” Cas frowns, flexing back. His shoulder blades touch Dean’s stomach until they’re batted away with a hand.
Dean helps rouse him a little more. “What time is it?”
Dean shakes his head. He probably doesn’t know, Cas reflects. “I got you pajamas.” His knuckles trace some kind of path down the plane of Cas’ chest. “Put ‘em in the dryer and everything. They’re mine, but I think they’ll fit you.”
Cas laughs, the little thing shaking in his chest like rocks in a tumbler. The pajamas are indeed warm.
He is stupidly in love with Dean Winchester. With his warm, borrowed pajamas, with his warm shoulder and comfortable lap and soft, quiet laugh that echoes. Cas feels a sense of invading, awful physical discomfort. It stands at sharp contrast to the way his eyelids are getting heavier. Dean strokes a hand through his hair.
Now he won’t be able to get back to sleep at all. Cas cannot breathe a word of this in his chest.
Oh, another sharp pang in his chest. “Thank you so much.” He holds the fabric up, smiling to himself.
“No problem, buddy.” Dean pats him on the back.
Right. Right. So Castiel shakes it off, pulling the shirt over his head and replacing it with the one that smells like Dean. He takes off for the room he stayed in last night. He sleeps well. Too well.
Dean’s fingernails are bitten around the edges, when he hands over the card. It’s red; fake name printed on it.
There used to be a scar on his knuckle, that Castiel wiped away years ago. Dean’s skin isn’t ever pristine. The second you try and help, he goes right back to ruining it.
At the store, a department store, Castiel doesn’t but much. The most necessary things. Just what Dean told him to buy. A comforter and whatever clothes feel necessary, underwear and socks. He’s borrowing most of it.
There’s also extra pillows that are hard to carry to the car. A mug that he can use that isn’t Dean or Sam’s. These things, Cas feels guilty over.
The shower water glistens on Dean’s chest as he emerges into his room.
Cas is sitting on his bed. Cas feels... small, in the physical sense. His hair is damp from his own shower and he’s full. He has a pop tart as an offering.
Cas wants to thank Dean. He needs to thank Dean, only he doesn’t know how. It grips, hooks into him, when Dean sits down. He slings his arm around Cas’ shoulders and takes a bite out of the pop tart in his hands, teeth nearly grazing his fingers.
“Thanks. Do you have a reason to be in here, or are you just playing Mary Poppins for fun?”
Castiel feels so heavy. Like fishhooks and weights are pulling at his chest. His teeth are- there’s a tide rising in him, filling his chest. He’s going to vomit seawater and love confessions. “I was just bringing food in case you wanted any. Are you objecting, Dean?”
“No.” He smiles at Cas, eyes squinting, before glancing away.
He wants to reach in through Dean’s collarbones and press his ear to the heart in there. Is this like Jesus, offering his body and blood to the apostles, or was that different?
“Thank you for letting me stay,” Cas exhales through barely parted lips.
He hears Dean swallow more than he sees it. “Cas, you belong with us. With me. You’re good to have around. And we are friends.”
Dean lets out a near silent sigh. Cas’ fingernails bite into his palms, and red pain splinters out. Fuck.
He wants to thank Dean, thank you thank you thank you , and then turn right around and fling himself away from all of this. Tears sting at his eyes. They get bloodshot and cruel.
Being in the bunker? Like this? Soft clothes, soft hands, Cas has never felt so much.