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I'm begging for you to take my hand (wreck my plans)

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"Why else would we need free will for?

What other way of falling there is, besides in love?"

 


 

Dean woke up to the smell of coffee and Sam’s voice by his side. What was Sam doing in his room? And why was his back hurting? His memory-foam mattress was supposed to… Oh. He slept on the desk. He adjusted his back on the chair, looking at the mug Sam had laid carefully between his books. “You need to rest, man.”

“Just did, apparently.” He said, but his voice wouldn’t fool a kid, let alone Sam. “What time is it?”

“Nine. Did you find anything?”

Dean sipped his coffee before answering. His gaze lowered towards the marking on the table “No.”

“Dean…” Sam seemed to be weighing his words carefully, pulling up a chair to sit in front of him. “Maybe you should let go.”

“It’s  Cas .”

“I know, but it’s been two weeks and we’ve still got nothing. If there was a way Jack would...”

“We don’t know that, he is God now, he might be busy or...”

“Dude, it’s  Jack , he would do  anything  for Cas, and he now quite literally can do  anything .”

Dean tore his eyes away from Sam. “We know God isn’t  that  all-powerful, maybe...”

Sam took a deep breath, letting his head fall into his hands for a second. “Ok. You’re right. I’ll check on Rowena’s spellbook again. But you have to promise you will get some sleep tonight. Cas wouldn’t want you to kill yourself over this. Also, take a shower and do some laundry, man, I’m sure you’ve been in this exact shirt for the past three days.”

Dean huffed but got up. He wouldn’t admit it, but he could use the shower.

Clean and shaved, he got down to the laundry room because  yeah  maybe he had been ignoring his growing pile at his chair for the past week or so. He had been busy. Since they defeated God and Lucifer, he and Sam had begun working on how to get Cas back. Sam had… mostly given up, for once leaving the books for Dean to page through. He couldn’t blame him, they knew from the start that the chances of all of them coming out of this alive were slim and they couldn’t risk awakening the empty again. Not now, when they finally found peace.

But Dean  couldn’t  let Cas there.

He kicked the washing machine as it began to make noise before leaning against it. He couldn’t.

“Jack?” He had tried praying before, once, but the boy hadn’t answered him and it felt a bit silly. He told himself it was because Jack was the closest thing he had to a son, but he knew the truth: Dean was not used to praying to anyone who wasn’t Cas. “Jack, I don’t know if you can even hear prayers, but listen. I need to know if there’s a way to save him. Anything. I’m sure you miss him too.  C’mon , we can’t just… not like this.”

He ran his hands through his face and hair, waiting in the silence after his words. He felt stupid: he knew this wouldn’t work. Sam was right: If Jack could help them he would’ve by now. This was nothing but a waste of…

“Dean.”

He turned fast towards the voice. Jack looked exactly the same, as if nothing had changed, standing a little awkwardly in the middle of his laundry room. Dean couldn’t help but smile.

“Hey kid, I wasn’t sure you...”

“I can hear your prayers, I just… have been a little busy. Also, time is a little different in heaven, I’m still getting used to it.”

“You are looking for Cas.” He said, not exactly a question, more like hope.

Jack nodded in response, his face blank, unreadable, and he didn’t add anything after. Dean’s stomach dropped.

“And? Spill it out.”

“There’s a way to save him.”

The way he says it makes it seem like he would rather say that  wasn’t  one. “What's the catch?”

“The empty is… beyond my reach, I have no power there. I can only open a door. Someone needs to go inside to get him.”

The words were out of his mouth before he could even process them “I will do it”  

“Dean. The empty is… worse than Hell. If you get stuck there we will  not  be able to pull you out.”

“I don’t care.”

Jack nodded “I knew you wouldn’t.”

 

 

Sam was face-timing Eileen, hands moving along as he talked out loud.

“Sam.”

He stopped in his tracks, mid-sentence, turning to face them. His smile grew larger, lighter, like he used to smile when they were young and fighting small, stupid monsters.

“Jack!” He got up instantly, but stopped on his tracks to look back at his tablet, bending over so his face was seen by the camera “Jack is here, I’ll call back.” He crossed the room in two larges steps and pulled Jack into a hug. “Man, it’s good to see you.”

“It’s good to see you too” Jack was smiling back

They pulled back, Sam’s hand lingering on Jack’s arms a bit. His smile flickered a little. “Did you… Did you find a way to save Cas?”

“He did. I’m going into the empty to get him.”

Dean didn’t mean to, but his voice echoed around the bunker as if It was waiting for Sam to argue back. They stared for a second, Jack half-forgotten, and Dean didn’t have time for this because Cas was still in the empty and it wasn’t fair that they won without him and…

“Ok,” Said Sam, breaking silence, and Dean could breathe again “Ok. Eileen and I were looking over some spells and I might have something to help you.”

 

 

They sat around their table and this felt a little more normal, as Dean brought coffee and Sam called Eileen and the four of them discussed the possibilities like this was a normal case. Of course, Jack was god and they were discussing how to get Dean in and out of angel Hell, so normal  was a vague idea at best. But they had hope and a direction. It was enough for him. Getting Cas out was enough.

Sam had found an  Ariadne  spell, which should help him find his way back once he was in. Jack and Eileen started discussing which sigils and safety measures they would have to take to ensure nothing else was coming back while Dean and Sam listed the ingredients for the spell, making sure they had what they would need. Tomorrow afternoon they would open the gates to the Empty on their basement and Dean was going inside to save Cas.

After that…

Dean didn’t want to think about after that. He had to focus on saving Cas. Everything else was secondary.

Jack left later that evening even after Sam argued he could stay, and promised to be back in time the next day. Dean and Sam ate dinner going over minor details and making sure Sam had understood the spell (which caused a small argument where he said shut up, Dean, I’m a good witch,  which, in a good day, would make Dean poke fun at him and call him Hermione, but today was not a good day, not yet).

“Sammy” Dean said when they had finished eating “If I don’t make it out...”

“Don’t...”

“If I don’t make it out, don’t come after me. We’ve done this too many times, man, it has to stop. If I die, I die.”

“You do know how hypocritical you sound? What, you can jump in Hell to save Cas, but I have to live with both of you suffering for eternity?”

“Sam. I’m asking you. You have a life here with Eileen, man, I can’t let you throw that away.”

“What, and you don’t have a life here?”

Dean flinched. “I’m asking you to let me go if it comes down to it.”

“Dude, it's the Empty, I won’t leave you there. I can promise you if you die on a stupid hunt and go to heaven drink beer with Jack for eternity I won’t bother you.” Sam took a deep breath, running his hands through his hair “C’mon man, tell me what’s going on.”

“What do you mean?”

“You playing dumb never worked with me. Spill it. You’ve been off since Cas.”

“Yeah, man, Cas died.

“Cas has died before and it fucked you up, but this time you didn’t even pick up my calls. I thought you both had died. Hell,  I  could be dying and you wouldn’t know. You never left me hanging like that.”

“Drop it, Sammy.”

Sam lifted an eyebrow at him. His puppy dog eyes stopped working 12 years ago when he lost the babyface, but his don’t bullshit me face, on the other hand, grew just as powerful. “Dean, isn’t 15 years of keeping secrets and hiding shit from each other enough?”

Dean swallowed visibly but didn’t say anything for a while. Instead, he leaned back on his chair, head dropped so he was staring at the ceiling. Sam waited. When he spoke he still wasn’t looking at him. “Cas said something. To me. Before he died.”

“What did he say?”

Dean lowered his head, but his gaze still wasn’t on Sam. “A bunch of things. He had a full speech about happiness and…” He hesitated, his voice lowering a few notches as if there was anyone else in here to hear it. “He said he loved me”

There was a beat of silence. “Oh . What did you do?”

“Nothing. I just… I  couldn’t  do anything, the Empty was there and so was Billy and then he was… gone.”

Sam nodded. “Well do you?”

“Do I what?”

Sam chuckled “Love him back, man.” Dean’s eyes flickered to Sam before he turned his head away, but he could still see Sam’s smile. “Called it.”

Dean finally looked back at him “What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”

“That I have eyes?”

“Shut up, Sammy.”

“I’m just saying, when you two get all  lovey-dovey  here in the...” He is interrupted by Dean throwing a book at him. He catches it easily, laughing lightly while his older brother gets up.

“I’m going to sleep. The dishes are on you.”

Sam can’t find in himself to argue.

 

 

Eileen arrived early and was already helping Sam by the time Dean woke up. They looked optimistic, explaining the spell to him as if he cared about the specifics. It could be a demon’s curse, for all he cared, as long as it worked to get Cas out of there.

Jack wasn’t with them eating lunch and then he was, appearing on an empty chair in between bites. With the four of them around the table, it almost felt right.

The spell Sam cast on him looked like a small line around his wrist, which didn’t look very firm if you asked Dean, but whatever, he wasn’t the witch of the family.

Jack opened a rift in the middle of their basement. It looked too much like the void that took Cas, like all of the light was being sucked inside of it.

“Dean, be careful.” Warned Sam “And remember, I’m at the other end of the thread, if you need help getting out pull it twice.”

“Yeah, yeah, Sammy, I got it the first five times you told me that.”

“Don’t die” Said Eileen, gesturing along her words

I’ll try , he said back. Or at least he hope he did, Sam’s ASL was always better than his.

“I’m sorry I can’t help, Dean. But… bring him back.”

He smiled softly at Jack before snorting “Stop with the chick-flick moments, this isn’t even in my top 10 most dangerous decisions. I’ll be back for dinner.”

He felt his heart drop to his stomach as he said that, trying not to sound unsure, flashing a smile before he faced the rift.

 

 

Dean had been to purgatory way too many times to know how it felt to be ripped from this reality to another. He was expecting his stomach to turn and to feel every single one of his bones too heavy for his body, for his lungs to scream at every breath as if they knew  he was breathing the wrong brand of air. All of that was  fine , normal even, to a sense of degree (there was something to be said about how Dean’s brand of normal included his entire body fighting itself, but he wasn’t really interested in what).

What he didn’t expect, however, was what came after. He was standing on something, he was sure because it didn’t feel like falling. But it didn’t feel like  not  falling either. There was nothing solid under his feet. Actually, he wasn’t exactly sure he had feet. He must have feet. He reached his arms to see if he sensed a wall, but there was Nothing. The only thing that assured him that he had arms at all was the burning feeling on his wrist. He tried to look at it - he must’ve done it, because his vision could focus on the bright red line next to him, but he wasn’t sure he had eyes either. There wasn’t much around him but the red line and the glowing rift behind him. Well, he said behind, but there wasn’t really a way of knowing.

So he walked forward.

Dean couldn’t tell how long he had been walking (he was never good at understanding the passage of time in the first place, but here the idea of time sounded even more impossible than the idea of  feet ). But it must’ve been a while. The red tread seemed to stretch as far as his eyes could see and he could no longer see the bright rift he came from, but those weren’t really good indicators of anything, he wasn’t sure he could see very far here.

Dean knew Hell all too well. He remembered the years of pain and torture, he remembered how Hell was for other people in the years he spent torturing them too. The feeling of your whole body hurting, all the time, the deep awareness of every inch of your skin, where it's ripped, where it's trying desperately to heal before the next session. He thought he would never feel anything worse.

But this? The not  knowing ? At least in Hell he was hyper-aware of himself, of every thought and every touch. Here, if Dean wasn’t careful, he could lose the very concept of himself, of being. He could barely remember where his limbs were supposed to be, how the weight under his feet was supposed to feel. Dean could go insane here, lose himself amid the darkness. Alone and  pieceless .

So he did the only thing that made sense. He prayed for Cas.

He was on his knees. He wasn’t sure he had knees before, but now he was on them. Maybe it was muscle memory (it didn’t matter he wasn’t sure he even had muscles, because for this nothing else would feel right, so he was on his knees). When he spoke he wasn’t sure where the voice was coming from, let alone how he was hearing it, but as soon as the sound filled the nothing he felt a little better. A little more Dean Winchester.

“Cas? Can you hear me? Listen I’m here and I’m going to get you out, but I can’t find you anywhere, man. I have… I have no idea how to find you.”

He wanted to wait for an answer, but he was afraid that If he stopped talking he would forget how to do it at all.

“Cas, buddy, we need to get out of here. Please tell me you can hear me. You can always… you always heard me. Just say something so I can figure out how to get to you. I’m getting you out, you hear me? I’m getting us both out. What you said, before you…. I can’t just… What I mean to say is…” 

This felt a little too much like purgatory, half praying and half confessing and shit those memories weren’t good, but they grounded him. This was just like purgatory. He just had to grab Cas and run.

“Dammit, Cas, I just can’t let you here. Not ever, but especially not after… Not after that… Please answer me, dude. We won! And I… I didn’t kill him. I didn’t kill Chuck. We found another way, thanks to you. And Jack… Man, you’re going to be so proud of the kid. He is God now, you know? Took it upon himself to fix all of this. He is  ok , he is waiting for you outside. Sam and Eileen are too. We’re all alive. God, Cas, we might even have time to rest now, you know? No apocalypse on sight. But I… I can’t do that If you’re here, man. We… Dammit, no, not we… I mean… Look, Cas, I just… please listen to me. I need you.”

There was a beat of silence. Dean wasn’t aware if he was on his knees anymore. He was barely aware of the string on his wrist, tying him to Sam.

“Dean?”

The voice was low and broken and far away but familiar. It hit him in a way Dean couldn’t put words to. Suddenly he could look up because there was such a thing again. 

“Cas? Shit, Cas?”

The next “ Dean ” was even lower, but he was waiting for it now, looking for it. He was running towards it even the concept of  legs  didn’t properly make sense.

“Cas. I’m getting you out here.”

If asked to explain, Dean wouldn’t be able to tell why he reached or where he reached. But he had a hand again the moment he touched Cas, and he could  grab . Tighter than he ever held anything before.

“I’m getting you out of here,” he said again, because he wasn’t properly sure he said it before, and then he pulled the red string.

There was pain as soon as he did so. He had a body again, but he wished he didn’t. It was Hell, capital H, where he felt every scar and every junction and every bone he ever broke breaking and mending themselves again and again and again. He screamed, loudly and desperately as he felt every inch of him burn.

But he didn’t let go.

Then it was all gone. He was on the cold, familiar floor of the bunker. He looked over by his side to find the familiar color of Cas’ trench coat under his fingers, his hand still holding his arm, before he passed out.

When he woke up again, he was in his bed and the first face he saw was Sam’s. A little anti-climatic, but he was always glad to see his brother, so whatever. He tried to sit in bed but winced in pain.

“You almost killed yourself, jerk.”

He coughed a little, trying to sit up again. This time he manages, his face only  slightly  contorting in pain. “Yeah, yeah, It’s not exactly the first time, Bitch. Besides, I’m good as new.”

He coughed on his hand again after that. A little blood came out.

“Yeah, I can see that.” Sam gets up, throwing a piece of cloth so he can clean himself

“How is Cas?”

“Alive. Here. Jack is keeping an eye on him, but he thinks he is going to be fine.”

He feels about fifty pounds lighter. His heart beats a little faster. “Of course he is. He is Cas.” He said, before throwing his covers off his body and trying to get up.

“What are you doing, Dean?”

“What does it look like I’m doing?”

Sam chuckled and Dean tried not to think about how Sam  knows  and if he knows he also probably connected the dots on why and what and…  whatever , sue him, he wanted to check and see if Cas was alright. 

“I’ll help you, here.” He offered his arm, letting Dean put his weight so they could walk to Cas’ room. “You know, Cas… He is human now.”

“What?”

“Yeah. I mean, Jack says he still got a bit of his grace left, but most of it stayed behind when you pulled him out.”

Shit .”

Cas was  human  again. It was his fault ( again) . (It was always his fault when Cas got hurt, even when it wasn’t him who hurt him.) Maybe he would hate him for it.

“Hey, you  saved him , I’m sure he will appreciate it.”

Dean snorted, because of course Sam could read his internal monologue, and waited for him to open the door before he almost fell inside the room.

Jack was there – he could see him with the corner of his eyes – but mostly his vision could see Cas. Cas, looking pale and fragile and  alive. 

They spoke a few words and he felt Jack heal whatever else was wrong with him, but he didn’t pay much attention. His mind was nothing but static and the sound of Cas’ name rolling again and again and again because  fuck  they really won. Chuck was defeated and the empty couldn’t hurt them anymore and Cas was  alive.

No one raised an eyebrow when he settled himself on the chair by Cas’ bed and he was too tired to think about being embarrassed over that. He slept with his head pillowed on his arm over Cas’ bed, making sure they were touching ever so slightly.

It was already morning when he felt the bed under him move. He pulled back startled, his eyes barely open as he stared at Cas shifting to sit.

“Dean?” He asked, his voice even lower than usual, crooking his head in confusion.

Dean forgot how to speak for a second. Cas’ hair was messy and his face still had pillow marks and  shit I love him I love him I love him.  His eyes shifted to his torso. He was shirtless, bandages on his chest that would probably need changing soon, but there was something different. His left arm had a scar now, familiar in a weird way, and he smiled as he recognized the shape of his hand.

“I’m the one who held you thigh and saved you from perdition,” He said, lowering his voice a little. Cas seemed even more confused, and Dean laughed at that. “I guess we’re even then? Can we promise no more trips to Hell?”

“You saved me from the empty.”

“Don’t sound so surprised, it’s what we do, right?” Cas smiled at that, softly, eyes locked in his. Dean smiled back. “You stay here, I’m going to get Jack, he wanted to check on you… Hey, Cas? Your grace, it...”

“I know.”

Dean didn’t press on it. He remember the feeling of not being human and he imagined that Cas would take his time to process not being an angel again.

“What you said, before, in the empty... Is it true? Did we win?”

“You heard me?”

“I always hear your prayers, Dean.”

He swallowed, trying not to think about what that  meant , what that did to him. Instead, he offered another smile. “Yeah, it’s true. And we are all alive, too. I can’t say I saw that coming. Jack is god,  shit . I’m proud of the kid, but that is going to take some getting used to. I mean, I gave God  driving lessons ?”

Cas chuckled, a little low and followed by a cough, but stupid and perfect. “I’m glad. And Dean? I’m proud of you for not killing Chuck.”

Dean Winchester did  not  blush, so instead, he got up from his chair, not facing Cas anymore. “I’m going to get them. They were all worried. I’ll be back.”

Cas’ room was a little packed after that, but Jack left after making sure he was going to recover. There wasn’t much he could do, but he assured that he should be great in a couple of days, his remaining grace accelerating the process just enough that his wounds weren’t worrisome. Eileen and Sam took their time talking to him and filling him in the details Dean failed to give.

Cas slept most of the following day, and Dean ignored the look on his brother’s face as he brought him lunch and dinner in bed. They didn’t talk, because Dean was a coward and because how  the fuck  do you bring up the declaration of love someone did before they  died ? “Hey, remember what you said to me right before you sacrificed yourself for all humanity?”

The next day Sam and Eileen were already up, the  freaks . It was early morning and they had just saved the entire world and they decided to  go jogging?  But at least they had already made coffee and eggs.

“Hey, Eileen, could you give me and my brother a second?” Asked Sam, as soon as Dean sat down

She nodded, picking her plate and turning on her chair so she had her back to them, returning to eat peacefully with her food on her lap. Sam chuckled a little, but Dean was eyeing him suspiciously.

“That can’t be good.”

“I’m just wondering why haven’t you talked to Cas yet.”

“Oh,  man ...”

“Don’t  oh man  me. I’m the one who has to stare at you looking at him like a lost puppy every day.”

“I’m not...”

“Look, I don’t mean to pry...”

“Then don’t.”

“...But I know you. And you’re  really  afraid of being happy. But,  damn , Dean don’t we deserve a little of that after the past, what, fifteen years?”

Dean chewed his food with intensity. “Fifteen? Don’t you mean  thirty-seven ?”

Sam laughed at that, taking another sip of his coffee. “Man, I can’t believe we actually got old.”

“Say it for yourself, I’m just begging to peak.”

He rolled his eyes, but his smile was still too knowing and smug and Dean kinda hated his brother for that. He also seemed to know to stop pushing his luck on the  romantic advice  and tapped Eileen in the shoulder so she could come back to the conversation.

“You done?” She signed, her mouth full with scrambled eggs.

 

 

The thing is. Sam was only kinda right – right enough to make Dean want to punch his face, because fuck him, he didn’t want a therapy session over coffee – but not  totally . Yeah, maybe Dean was afraid of happiness or  whatever , but that wasn’t a random woman he fell a little in love with during hunts. This was  Cas.  He couldn’t fuck up with  Cas , there was no going back once he crossed that line and he knew it. There was no single, easy way to break up if things went south (and let’s face it, with his dating history? Things were likely to go south) Cas was family.

Cas was more permanent than anything Dean ever had to deal with before.

Up until the day Cas died, Dean was sure he hold the monopoly over  most unrequited feelings possible . There was no way an angel could fall in love, let alone with  him.  He worried about many things, but  what if Cas   loves me back  had never been one of them. Fuck Sammy, he  was  right about the ‘being afraid of happiness’ thing.

When Dean brought breakfast for Cas, he was already standing, fully dressed in his usual trench coat (that Dean had washed and dried yesterday, but just because he was already doing laundry anyway).

“Looking good.”

Cas raised his arms slightly, lowering his head a little “I feel good. Although I didn’t quite miss being human. I’ve forgotten how much you need to eat.”

Dean chuckled, handing him the plate of bacon and eggs, but his smile faltered “I’m sorry about your grace.”

“You saved me, Dean, you hardly need to apologize.” He accepted the place, but he left it on the table behind him. There was an uncomfortable silence around them for a second too long. Dean was going insane.

“We should talk.” he blurred before his mind caught up on his mouth and stopped him.

Cas sighed “I feared you would say that. But I supposed it's true.”

Silence fell around them again. Dean hadn’t thought he would get that far. He had no idea what to say, so instead, he asked “Did you mean it?”

It wasn’t until the words were out that he noticed how  terrified  he was that he misinterpreted what Cas had said. Or maybe he said it in the head of the moment and now, cleared headed and not about to die he…

“Yes, Dean, I did.” Cas' voice was warm and strong against his thoughts. They both avoided each other's eyes. “But you don’t have to say anything, I know you don’t feel the same, I just had to say it before, well...”

“Wait, what?”

Cas eyes were on his again, and he looked a little confused over the hurt “Like I said before, I’m happy with just being by your side, as your friend. If you still want that, of course.”

“If I still… Cas? Do you think you mean this  little  to me?”

“I simply do not want to make you uncomfortable. With me being human I need to be in the bunker for at least a few weeks, but I can go as soon as…”

Dean was never someone who could use his words very well. Taking action? That he was good at. Stupid, reckless decisions, his body moving before his thoughts had processed what he was about to do. Dean survived all those years because he was used to letting his body trust his instincts.

This is why he closed the space between them with two large steps and kissed him.

Man, he should’ve done this sooner. Like, ten-years-sooner.

“Will you  shut up , man?” He whispered, chuckling, his lips touching Cas’ as he mouthed the words.

Oh .”

“Yeah,  oh , you stupid angel.” And then they were kissing again. Cas’ hands closed around his waist as Dean held his face, and he opened his mouth and tilted his head and  he should’ve done this sooner . He couldn’t remember the last time he kissed slowly, taking his time to explore, to nibble softly his lower lip and enjoy the soft sound that came against his mouth, to smile against a kiss.

But eventually, Cas pushed him until his back was against a wall, pressing their bodies together, one arm against the wall, holding Dean down and mouth leaving his to his neck. Dean let out a small sigh as he felt lips on his neck, under his ears, suddenly very aware that he left the door wide open and that his hands were finding their way under Cas’ old shirt.

He pushed him away softly, trying to get enough space so his brain could form words again, but Cas took two steps away. It was cold without him.

“No, I just… the door is open.”

Cas frowned for a second before he turned his head, finally understanding. He let a low chuckle, too nervous for Dean to enjoy it. He reached for his hand before he could move.

“Look, man, I… We don’t have to… you know. Not if you don’t want to.”

“Do  you?”

Dean understood. He took the steps so he was close to him again. “I’m very, very bad with words. But… yeah, I want all of it. Everything you can offer, I want it.”

Cas smile had become so rare, seeing it now, so close to his face, was too close to a miracle.

“I’ll close the door.”

 

 

“We should get something to  eat ,” Dean said, his voice muffled again Cas’ naked shoulder, even if the idea of leaving sounded too close to Hell

“Probably.” he whispered back, the words against Dean’s hair “You humans need to eat a lot.”

“Get used to it. You’re lucky I’m a good cook.”

He lifted his head to look at him, his heart still unaccustomed to being able to stare at Cas’ face in detail – close enough to kiss (which he could do now) – as it cracked in another smile. Eyes locking on his as he said “I’m very lucky, yes.”

Dean snorted at that. “Sap.”

“I am entitled a little sentimentalism.”

Dean closed the (small) gap between them with another kiss. Soft and sweet and nothing like the heated kisses they had traded for most of the morning. Mostly because he  could  kiss him and saw no reason why he  shouldn’t.

Cas’ belly rumbled under them, breaking the magic around them. Dean couldn’t help but laugh. “C’mon, lunch.”

He got up first, stretching his naked body, not missing the way Cas’ let his eyes trail over him. Was he looking at him like that all along? How did he miss the hunger in his eyes all those eyes?

“Enjoying the view?”

“In fact, I am.”

Dean was over forty, one of the best hunters that ever was and a lady’s killer and he did  not  blush under the softness of the words. Of course not. Instead, he flirted back “You're not so bad yourself.”

Getting dressed was a little harder than predicted, mostly because Dean could finally adjust his collar around, and touching him lead to other things that definitely weren’t leading to putting  more  clothes on. When they finally got around, walking to the kitchen provided to be way more awkward than anything they did inside the room. It felt silly, because Sam and Eileen were the only ones here besides them and, well, it wasn’t anything they could hide from any of them, but walking the corridors of the bunker side to side after that felt too much like exposing a nerve.

“I think I’ll need more clothes.” Said Cas after what felt like too much time in silence

Dean let his gaze trail his coat before it he answered “Which is a shame, but yeah.”

“What, the dirty coat is attractive to you?”

So maybe Dean  did  blush, whatever, no need to make a big deal out of it. “Shut up, dude.” he said, coherently “It’s clean. I washed it.”

Cas chuckled at this and Dean was staring again.

The kitchen was empty when they arrived, which was perfect because he wasn’t sure he could face Sam right now, with his emotions bubbling inside him and Cas right  there  smiling at him.

“So, first official meal as a human, what do you want?”

Cas sat around the counter isle leaning on his elbows. “I’ve been eating for the past days, Dean.”

“You were sick! It doesn’t count. It has to be something we have on the fridge, though, ‘cause I’m not going down to the market now.”

Sam and Eileen eventually showed up, no doubt attracted by the smell of his cooking because  fuck  he could do a mean steak.

“Cas! It’s good to see you up.” Sam smiled at him

“Sam, Eileen. It’s good to be up.”

Yeah  yeah you’re all great, now get out of the kitchen, it’s getting cramped and I need space.” Mumbled Dean, flipping the stake “I’ll bring you the food when is ready. And  yes,  Sammy, I have salad. Your rabbit needs will be met.”

Sam eyed him and Dean felt his face flush. He wished sometimes he had a brother that couldn’t read him like an open book, but the smirk on his face was enough to know he  knew . But he thankfully didn’t say anything, leaving with Eileen with a table cloth and a few cutlery. Cas stayed behind, eyes not leaving Dean as he rinsed the potatoes and cleaned his hand on the cloth around this shoulders.

“You’re staring.”

“Yes, I am.”

Ridiculous, that’s what this was. Absolutely ridiculous.

Cas helped him bring the dishes to the table Sam and Eileen had settled. They ate together, laughing out loud and talking about casual things. Dean’s elbow was touching Cas’ during the entire meal. It felt ridiculous, too, how happy he was with a meal and a [touch].

Later that afternoon Jodie called. They had told them about Cas, of course, and she wanted to get down to the bunker with the girls, but there were a few things they needed to deal with. Eileen volunteered to help. The boys stayed behind, and no one mentioned it.

At night, Dean crackled three bottles of beer open as they sat on the sofas. He hesitated for a second before dropping near Cas, letting his hand fall casually on the back behind him.

Sam rose an eyebrow at them, hiding his grim behind the bottle.

“Oh, man, shut up.”

“I didn’t say anything!” argued Sam, his smile too large on his face. There was a beat of silence before he added “I’m happy for you two.”

Dean growled, rolling his head back, but Cas offered Sam a soft smile. “Thank you, Sam, it means a lot.”

“Can we change the subject to anything  other  than my love life? Thank you.”

Cas smiled grew bigger by his side as he said that, and it took him a second before he recognized the son of a bitch was  smug. 

Sam coughed. “Well, how about we talk about what is going to do? I mean. We have free will now, what do we do with that?”

“Take a vacation. A long one.”

Cas nodded at that. “I think we are entitled some time off.”

Sam leaned back on his couch “Man, I don’t think I even know what to do with my time. But yeah, I agree, no more cases for a while.”

They stayed in silence for a while. It wasn’t a hard, uncomfortable silence - for once it sounded like peace.

“For us.” Said Cas suddenly, moving away from Dean’s hand to lean forward and raise his beer in between them “We were enough, after all.”

“To Team Free Will.” Laughed Sam, raising his beer as well.

“And it only took us, what? Eleven years?” Added Dean, joining them “And a couple of deaths here and then. Nothing we couldn’t manage.”

Sam’s laughter was loud enough to echo on the room and when Cas leaned back into his arm he let his fingers trail the back of his hair.

 

 


 

 

“I think I want a bar,” said Dean, throwing his shovel in the truck.

Sam eyed him weirdly “Now? Man, suit yourself. I want a shower and a 10-hour sleep.    I’m getting too old to be digging graves.”

The four of them settled for going on a hunt – a small, salt and burn case in a town three hours away from the bunker, like most of their cases, were nowadays. Eileen and Cas were protecting the civilian – a few teenagers who thought it would be funny to summon a spirit for kicks – leaving the brothers with the dirty work of finding the body.

“What? No, I mean. I think I want to open a bar, you know?”

“Like the roadhouse?’

Dean smiled, getting behind the wheel. “Exactly like the roadhouse. You said it yourself, we’re not that young anymore. I thought we could, I don’t know, help around? Be this 911-hunters call.

Sam sat by his side. “I’ve been thinking about that. I mean, with all the books in the Bunker and what you, Cas, and I have seen, we could do a lot good helping other hunters. Not to mention we have a direct line with Heaven  and  Hell, dude… I don’t know, since Bobby died no one picked his job. Hunting became a lot lonelier, harder.”

The impala started moving and Dean took a few seconds to speak again. “I’m going, to be honest men, I’m tired. I’ve been tired for years. I think It could be good for us, you know?”

Sam nodded. “Did you talk about this with Cas?”

“Not yet, wanted to talk to you first.” He let that sentence hang for a second, the next lines implicit.  I won’t go where you won’t follow . He coughed. “But I think he would like it. Cas was never a hunter, right? He just...”

“Hanged too much with us?” Sam offered, with a smile.

Dean laughed. “Yeah, the poor bastard, had to pick the most insane pair of hunters on earth to befriend”

Sam snorted. “ Befriend . Is Cas your pal?”

“It’s been almost a year, Sam, how long are you going to keep up the jokes about us?”

“Almost one year? Is your anniversary coming up?”

Dean punched him on the shoulder, but Sam only laughed harder. “Dude, shut up.”

Sam opened his mouth and Dean could hear the snarky comment about 10 years of third-wheeling or about Dean’s sappy face every time Cas kissed him on late afternoons on the bunker. But it never came. Sam closed his mouth again and they drove in silence for the next few minutes.

“I always thought we would one day die, you know? Either one of us or both. I never thought I’d get to see you like this.”

This felt too sincere, the kind of sincere Dean shielded himself away ever since he was nothing but a toddler holding his brother in his arms like his life depended on it. He drove in silence for a few more minutes.

“I keep waiting for the next apocalypse to come around.” He tried to laugh, but Sam didn’t follow him. When he looked, Sam was just nodding, eyes locked on the road. His smile had slipped away. “I mean, you and me, alive, in the impala, and we are… driving  home . There are people waiting for us. And I can’t stop thinking how I hope Eileen picked up pizza on that place just out of town.” His laugh felt more real now “It sounds too good to be true.”

Sam smiled softly, before laughing along “And we just dig a grave to burn some poor bastard’s bones.”

Dean laughed, his eyes meeting Sam’s “I mean, we were never going to be normal-normal. But I’d take this, you and me, a highway, a dumb ghost, over some life-altering events any day. I even missed the small hunts a little.”

Yeah”  And the softness in Sam’s eyes wasn’t the same as it was 16 years ago when he left school for a weekend to hunt their missing father, but it was more than good enough for Dean.

 

 


 

 

“Hey, Cas?” Dean’s voice was a little weaker, a little lower than usual. Not because he was nervous, that would be ridiculous, he wasn’t nervous. He was holding the papers in his hand with the normal amount of strength.

Cas lifted his head from the book he was reading, curled up in the armchair in sweatpants and an  AC DC  shirt that was technically Dean’s, but that Cas wore more often than not. Dean smiled at the picture, wondering if one day his heart would calm down, if one day this would be the kind of  usual  you don’t want to stare at for ages.

Probably not.

“Dean?”

“Uh, I’ve been wondering. With the bar idea and all… Maybe we should make your official documents? I mean, we have a couple of fake health insurance with your face on it, but… I thought...”

“Makes sense. Do I need to sign anything? We can call Charlie, I’m sure she...”

Dean tightened his hold on the papers in his hand. Not nervous, sure.

“Oh, I… I already did. It’s all more or less solved, I was just wondering… Is Castiel Winchester ok with you?”

Cas pondered, still casual as if Dean’s heart wasn’t trying Olympic tricks on his chest. It took him a few seconds before he answered. “No.”

Dean’s heart dropped as he tried to hold it together. “ No . Yeah, ok, that’s cool.  No . Castiel Novak, then? I’m sure Claire...”

Cas tilted his head. “No. I was thinking… Cas. Just… Cas, you know? No  of god.  Cas Winchester”

Dean breathed like for the first time, lowering his body so he could kiss him, pressing his body against the armchair. “Cas Winchester sounds perfect.”

He chuckled under him. “All this for some insurances papers? Are you feeling...” His eyes lowered, getting a glimpse of the papers Dean was clutching so hard still. “What is this?”

He took them out of his hand before Dean could react, watching his eyes widen as he read the lines. “Dean Winchester, were you  proposing ?”

“Yeah, dude, that’s what the surname means.”

Cas looked at his eyes like he could still see his soul in them. “I know enough human costume to know that’s not how you propose.”

Dean felt his face warmer. “What? You want me on my knee?”

“Yes.”

“You can’t be serious.”

Cas just stared at him, looking too much like a war general even curled up, in Dean’s stupid shirt, a book on his lap. Dean rolled his eyes, trying to look unimpressed as he dropped on one knee in front of the armchair.

“Happy?”

“Well, you haven’t asked anything.”

 Dean took another breath, holding back his stupid, growing smile because he just didn’t want to give him the satisfaction. If the smug smile on Cas’s face was anything to go by, he was failing miserably.

“Cas. Will you marry me?” Saying it out loud felt ridiculous, stupid, enough that he couldn’t hold his smile back anymore. Didn’t want to, not with Cas smiled back at him.

“Yes.” He said, softly, as if there was no other answer possible in the whole world. “But I want a ring.”

Dean laughed, lowering his head to hide it. “Really?”

“Yes.”

He lifted his head again, green meeting blue, their smiles mirrors of each other “Stupid, high maintenance angel.” He whispered before he closed the distance and kissed him again. Slow at first, as they did in early morning before coffee, taking all the time in the world, and then harder, as he climbed on his lap and lifted his shirt and prayed silently that Sam was used to knocking before entering any closed-door by now.

He called Charlie late that night to get the new name and she invited herself to go ring shopping the next week despite his constant complaints. He drove two extra hours to pick her up, parking next to her building. She was already waiting, smile bright and proud and he would’ve smiled back if not for the fact that she wasn’t alone.

“Hey, jackass.” Said Claire, opening the back door as if she had been invited.

“You  told her ?” He asked, betrayed, as Charlie climbed onto the passenger seat of the impala.

Cas  told me.” She corrected  I figure she would be the one you would ask for help.”

“And what? You decided to tag along?”

“You’re marrying my… fake… adoptive…  whatever dad.  I have the right.”

“Your  whatever dad ?” said Charlie, laughing at her

“Shut up. Anyways, I’m here, drive.”

Dean eyed Charlie dreadfully, who was happily smiling by his side. He rolled his eyes, changing gears and getting back to the road.

“Get in  queers  we’re doing shopping!” shouted Charlie as soon as he was far enough from her house to turn around.

Dean was protesting before he could even process what was said. “I’m not  queer.

Charlie turned around to look at Claire before they cracked in laughs.

“Yeah,  sure ,” she said

Claire leaned forward, leaning her arms on the back of the seat in front of her. “Just remind me who are you marrying again?”

Dean felt his cheek heat a little. “Cas doesn’t count. He is an angel.”

Was ” added Claire, helpful as ever.

“Besides, he totally counts.”

“Does not.”

“Look, either Cas is a dude or he is an angelic, non-binary being. Either way, he is gay. It’s queer.” Said Claire, leaning back.

“And Dean? For the record, I read every book in the  Winchester Gospel.  There is no way Cas was your first dude.”

Dean had to focus on the road to not turn the wheel and knock them and baby in a tree. “Shut up.” Their giggles were worse than silence treatment, he only managed to drive for a few seconds before he sighed. “Ok,  fine , maybe I’m… a  little  queer. Shut up about it”

The words tasted different than he thought they would, his tongue rolling the vowels as if it was hoping for them. He was glad when they changed the subject.

Ring shopping was harder than he expected ( finger size?  Who the fuck knows their  finger size ?), and he was glad they were helping him. Even if it meant Claire pulled out her dad’s old wedding ring for measurement.

(“Dude, that’s weird.” said Dean, as Claire handled it with the shopkeeper.

“I know. Shut up. I’m saving your ass here, don’t think too hard about it.”)

Charlie stopped by the bookshop as Dean and Claire made to get ice cream (after the nearest bar refused to let Claire in).

“You need a better fake Id, kiddo”

“You’re going to let me drink in your bar, right?” She asked, scooping from his cup without asking for the third time.

“You know, if you want chocolate you can get it yourself.” He complained but made no actions to take the cup out of her reach. “And… Yes, but only because I’m the best step- whatever dad  ever.”

She laughed at that. “Oh, yes, getting me a tattoo before I’m sixteen and letting me drink while underage.  Great  step-dad.”

He didn’t think about how she didn’t complain about the stupid name. “Hey, do you want the beer or not?”

When Charlie caught up to them, she had a few books bags in her hand (“Nerd” “Yeah, says the guy at my D&D table”), but she threw at him a smaller package. He frowned, but looked inside to find a pin of a sword with a banner with the colors pink, purple, and blue in it. He eyed her, but she just beamed at him and got in the car.

He dropped them both at Charlie’s, leaning out of his window before saying.

“Hey, thanks.”

Charlie smiled at him, winking “Don’t mention it.”

“Take care of him, jackass,” Claire said back

Dean laughed at that, waving them both before driving back to the bunker.

Cas loved the ring – it fitted him just fine. Dean didn’t realize how much he missed the weight of metal on his fingers until he slipped his on. It fit him just fine too.

Sam saw it the next day, in early morning, both Eileen and Cas still asleep, as Dean is handling him a coffee mug.

He dropped his fork and pulled Dean’s hand closer.

“Dude!”

“Is this a wedding ring?”

Sam’s smile was huge on his face. Dean coughed, pulling his hand to himself. “Yeah, Cas insisted.”

“He proposed?”

I  did!” Dean said, sounding in between flustered and offended.

“And you didn’t think of telling me?” His smile was still plastered on his face, stupid happy and stupid proud, like he wasn’t even trying to sound offended. “I’m your  brother .”

“It’s no big deal! Charlie was getting Cas’ documents and I thought we might as well, you know, make it official or whatever.”

Sam chuckled. “I can’t believe you proposed. Dean Winchester, a family man.”

“Calm down. I’m not about to move to a picket fence with a civilian wife, it’s just Cas.”

“Just Cas, your  fiancee . So, what are you planning on doing?”

“What?”

“You know. For the wedding.”

“I’m not having a wedding, Sammy, it's just papers.”

“Oh, we’re having a wedding.” Cas' voice behind them made them both turn “Morning Sam, Dean.”

He pecked Dean softly, moving to get a cup of coffee himself. Sam laughed at Dean’s face.

“So, what are you planning for the wedding?” Asked Sam, adjusting his body so he was facing Cas rather than his brother.

Dean growled, flopping on his seat next to Sam. “You sound like Claire. She is a teenager girl.”

“You told  Claire  before you told me?”

“Oh, get angry at your best friend over there,  he  told her. She showed uninvited along for the ring shopping.”

On the other side of the counter, Cas smiled, his thumb touching his ring softly.

“It’s really sweet that she helped with the rings.” Said Sam.

“Don’t know about sweet, but can't say she wasn’t useful. Did you know fingers have  sizes , Sam?”

Sam almost choked on his coffee laughing.

 


 

The bar was perfect. They bought an old roadhouse on a highway close enough to the bunker and did most of the renovation by hand – it took them a little longer than if they hired help, but Dean didn’t mind, he enjoyed the handwork and that way Sam and Cas could embed the walls with every sigil known to man.

“Are you sure you trust her?” Dean asked one day, getting two beers from the mini-fridge he made sure to install as soon as they had electricity running

“Who, Rowena? Yeah, dude.” Sam looked from the spellbook he had opened on his lap

“I mean, inviting the queen of Hell to verify a hunter’s bar security is… a little risky”

Sam grabbed the beer from his hand. “It's ironic, I can’t argue with that. But I need help to lift this ward and she is the best witch we know.”

Dean waved his hand, unable to deny it, and took another sip. They were almost done with the bar. The lower floor was as good as it would get, missing just the tables and chairs (and the booze and the glasses and the very long list of things they had to buy but were ultimately details to him). Upstairs, Sam had decided to keep a small library and Charlie helped him run his own server – the wards were for the upper floor, some extra security never hurt anybody.

“Ellen would love it here,” Sam said, voice a little quieter than usual.

“She would. Bobby would love of your set up upstairs.”

Sam laughed dryly, taking another sip. “He would.”

They stared at the place for a second, leaning side by side against the counter. It had no chairs and no booze and the floor was still dirty from construction work and from when Sam spilled blood while drawing a sigil on the ceiling, but it already felt like theirs.

The front door opened all the way, hitting the wall behind it.

“So, I heard you needed my help.”

Rowena walked in, her dress and heels looking out of place on the wood panels of the bar, followed by Cas and Eileen.

“She dropped on our car.” Explained Cas, voice dragging a little.

“I needed a lift. Great warding, darling, I couldn’t track it” She slapped Sam’s face playfully as she said it.

“Rowena! Thank you for coming.”

Dean rolled his eyes.

“It's no trouble, I love helping my favorite student.” She winked at him, before looking to his left. “Dean.”

“Rowena.”

She clicked her tongue. “Well, I’m going to need an extra pair of hands, what about…” She turned her whole body to face Eileen, taking off her coat to hang by the entrance. “Honey, would you mind helping Sam here and me upstairs?”

She signed as she spoke, not taking her eyes off her.

“Sure.” Said Eileen, eyes moving slighting to look at Sam behind her, who just shrugged.

“Make sure not to interrupt us, it's a very delicate spell,” She said, looking icily at Dean and Cas before letting Sam guide her upstairs.

“Man, that woman gives me the creeps.” Said Dean, watching the trio leave.

“She  is  the queen of Hell.” Dean snorted, taking another sip of his beer. Cas crossed the bar and took the bottle off his hands. “Hey, grab your own…”

Cas kissed him, pushing him against the counter, legs between his as he lifted his body to sit on the counter. Dean moaned against his lips.

“We have time if you keep quiet,” Cas murmured against his ear, hands finding their way beneath his shirts.

Dean was not sure he kept quiet, but when Sam, Eileen, and Rowena came back downstairs looking proud of themselves they made no sign of having heard anything, so he counted that as a win.

 


 

A week later, Dean woke up by Cas’ side on their bed, a fact that was now more rule than exception, but still made him smile. He left the room quietly, letting him sleep, to the kitchen. He could smell coffee and pancakes, which meant either Sam or Eileen were already up. He hoped it was Eileen, her pancakes were better than Sam’s. He also wondered what was the occasion – they only bothered with pancakes on special days and lazy Mondays.

It wasn’t Sam who was in the kitchen, but he only had about half a second of excitement about Eileen’s pancakes when he realized it was not Eileen either.

“Rowena?”

The women turned to him, hair undone, no makeup on, and wearing nothing but a large plaid shirt half bottomed. Dean froze.

“Dean, hi.” She seemed embarrassed, which didn’t make sense. She was Rowena, she didn’t do embarrassed.

“Hi… Do you need anything?”

This was Sam’s plaid. There were two dots to connect, but Dean very much didn’t want to. He considered turning his back and leaving, ignoring the elephant in the room, but the elephant started yelling when Sam came out of the pantry wearing just sweat pants.

“I knew we still had maple syrup, Dean always…” Sam spoke, bottle on his hand, before his eyes met his brother’s. They both froze in place. “Dean.”

Dude, seriously?  Rowena? What about Eileen?”

Sam coughed, eyes shifting away from his. “She’s waiting in my room.”

Rowena smiled at him, smug as always, and only then did Dean see the three mugs on a tray behind her. He had been wrong, there weren’t two dots to connect, there were three.

“I’m not sure whether to be proud or disgusted.”

“Yeah, well, we’re going to leave now. Good morning.”

Dean waited for them to almost leave the kitchen before shouting “at least put a sound-stopping spell”

“Already did, darling” replied Rowena, smug as ever, and Dean grimaced.

“I hope they at least made enough pancakes for five” he murmured under his breath, going to the stove.

They didn’t.

Later that night, Dean brought Sam a beer in the library and sat in front of him.

“How the fuck did you convince Eileen of that?”

Sam chuckled, taking the beer and closing the book he was reading. “It didn’t take much convincing, actually.”

“Oh?”

“Apparently they had been texting since she asked for help about that possession in South Carolina.”

“Easy like that?”

Sam shrugged, taking a sip of his beer to hide his smile – but Dean knew his smug look.

“I guess. Tonight wasn’t the first time, that day on the roadhouse, with the warding… I thought you noticed.” He coughed. Leave it to Sammy to be both smug and embarrassed at the same time.

The obviousness of that hit Dean like a train. He had been so caught up with being alone with Cas that he didn’t even think about how weird the three of them had been.

“To be fair, Cas had been trying to get me alone on the bar for a while, I had other things on my mind.”

Sam laughed at his beer, almost choking. “Great minds, I guess.”

Dean took another sip, smiling at his brother. “Man, I can’t believe you’re the one shagging two chicks and I’m the one engaged to a dude.”

Sam laughed again. “Well, you  are  the gayest brother, so.”

“Shut up, bitch” He took another sip, trying to appear annoyed “But Rowena, really?”

He  blushed,  which honestly got Dean off guard. Sam had always been quieter about sex than Dean was, but he was almost  coy  about this. Rowena was more than just sex to him, Dean could read it all over his face.

“I guess. It’s actually been a long time coming.”

They held glances. The months Sam spent learning magic took a new light. Dean knew what he meant and Sam knew he knew. He let that sink in for a few seconds before saying:

“I mean, it makes sense, you always had a thing for MILFs”

Sam rolled his eyes, smile on his lips. “I like experienced women, it's different.”

Dean almost choked on his own laughter “Whatever you tell yourself at night. Should I expect more visits from the Queen of Hell at our home?”

Sam hesitated. “Probably. Not always, she can’t stay for long, with… ruling Hell and all of that. But… yeah, probably.”

“I won’t pretend I don’t have a favorite sister-in-law.”

“I think I won’t be able to save you if you ever call Rowena that.”

“Fair. But you’re the one who will handle the family dinners with an angel, God, and Madam Satan at the same table.”

Sam laughed, lighthearted and in love. “I’ll make sure there is no armageddon at dinner.”

 


 

The bar got popular. Dean half-expected it – he knew hunters were always looking for cheap beer and a roof to relax under, and like it or not The Winchesters were known among the community. But it was still wild to him to see the bar full, voices echoing around, glad to have a place where they could speak louder than a whisper.

Tonight wasn't its biggest night, but it was still packed – which was a shame because they were closing a few hours earlier. But none of this was on Dean’s mind as he heard the man in front of him.

“A demon sighting? Are you sure?” Asked Dean, pushing a beer across the counter and getting a paper from his hands.

“Sure as I can be, saw their dark eyes and everything.”

Dean growled, looking for Cas in the crowd. “wait here.” He said to the customer, “Cas, dude? Can you watch here, I need to go upstairs.”

Cas was sitting with Charlie, Jo, Donna, Kaia, and Claire, but he nodded. Dean jumped over the counter smoothly, before pecking Cas “Thanks, doll. Be right back.”

He didn’t miss the looks the customer gave him but paid no mind as he climbed upstairs two steps at the time. He reached for the knob, but decided against it, knocking instead.

“Is it safe?”

He could hear Sam rolling his eyes. “It was one time, Dean”

“Yeah, one time too many.” But he opened the door anyway.

Sam’s office had a huge window – it would be a bright room except it was filled with old books and ancient papers and post-its glued to glass that made it seem dark even on bright days. “Is Jack here already?”

“Not yet, but there is this kid swearing he saw a demon possession.”

Sam frowned. “A demon? Impossible, Rowena is keeping the doors closed.”

“Yeah, well, you might want to look into it. Here, he has notes.” He gave the ripped notebook page to Sam.

Sam read it quickly enough, frowning. “What, no sulfur? That’s weird.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought too.”

“I’ll ask Rowena, she should be here tonight anyway.”

Dean rolled his eyes, more performative than anything. “could it be a Buruburu?”

“On Georgia? I mean, maybe.”

“Well, you can always call that vampire nest, there is still a vegetarians one northwest of Atlanta, right?”

“Oh, Cody? That’s good, they keep an eye on things.” Sam replied, getting his phone from his pocket “I’ll text him, can you grab the Bestiary over there and look for Buruburu?”

Dean shrugged – Cas could handle the bar – and sat on the chair on his side of the desk with the book.

It took them a good half hour before Sam’s phone buzzed on his table. “It’s Eileen, she told me our last guests are downstairs.”

Jack was waiting for them at the bottom of the stairs when they came down, smile wide and weightless. “I believe I was promised free beer.”

Dean smiled at him, pulling him into a hug. “If it was Sam, I’m afraid to tell you he has no power behind my counter, you’ll have to pay.”

“It was Cas.”

“Shit.”

Sam and Jack laughed, hugging each other as well before going to the only table still occupied. Cas must’ve closed it while he was still upstairs – every few months they had family dinners and that usually meant closing the bar earlier.

Dean sat on the chair next to Cas, hand going automatically to his back. “Sorry, dude, Sammy and I were talking to Cody about a demon sighting.”

Rowena, from the other side of the table, in between Sam and Eileen, looked at him “Demon sighting?” She laughed dryly “Impossible, darling, I keep my doors well locked.”

“And yet you keep showing up at my house.”

She opened her mouth, he could see a snip reply coming – their back and forth was well oiled now, but Sam was always the buzzkill, interrupted “I don’t think its a demon, but it is weird, did you know it  snowed  in a town in Georgia last night? Its march.”

“Oh, you’re looking into Georgia? I know a few hunters doing work there” Said Claire, reaching for another beer. “Kaia and I were thinking about going down there tomorrow.”

Dean caught her hand before she reached her bottle “How many did you drink?”

“C’mon,  two.”

“You’re still seventeen, two is fine.”

“Last time I drank six and you didn’t come for my ass.”

“Last time you weren’t driving through four on the next day.”

Jody laughed as Claire looked at her for support. “Sorry kid, you’re alone on that fight.”

“Three and I’ll bring you a souvenir.”

Dean hesitated, but Cas intervened. “He wants that pecan pie they serve at Warrenton.”

“Done.”

Dean looked betrayed at Cas, but let her hand go. The table laughed – light and soft – and Dean got up to bring their food and the rest of their drinks (and Jack sneaked a fourth beer for Claire, winking at her with more obliviousness than necessary). They ate and talked loudly,

They slowly left – they were all sleeping at the bunker tonight (except for Jack), but Sam, Dean, and Cas were used to staying behind to close the bar down and review some wards.

This night, Jack stayed behind as well. The silence was comfortable as they did the dishes and put away the trash – domestic, in a weird way. Dean didn’t ask when Sam took out four extra-long necks as they locked the place – Cas and Jack had the same idea because they didn’t seem surprised either. Dean leaned against the hood of the impala, between his brother and Cas. His right hand holding his beer, his left finding Cas’ automatically.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a better year.” Said Sam, after a few minutes of silence.

Dean certainly hadn’t, every year past age 4 was covered in blood. This year sounded too close like heaven, even with the frights and might-night calls from Claire when her hunts went south and seeing the Queen of Hell using his stove in the morning.

“Let’s hope it stays that way.” He says, only half bitter.

“It will,” Cas says, squeezing his hand a little tighter.

They drink in silence for a couple of minutes before Jack says something.

“I actually have something for you. A gift, kinda off.” He coughs “I’ve been fixing heaven, you know, since it was… bad. It's pretty better now, a few of your friends helped. I didn’t want to bother then, but a guy named Ash hacked his way to my door one day. That’s… not the point. It's against the rules, and I said I wouldn’t interact with earth affairs, but… I want you to know they are all right. And they are all proud of what you’re doing. Ellen actually teared up when she saw the bar, but she told me to say she didn’t. Please don’t tell her I told you guys, by the way, she is terrifying. But uh, I want you to know they are alright, and happy for you. Bobby told me to give you this.”

Out of thin air, he pulled a picture – old and instantly recognizable: Dean, Sam, and Cas with Ellen, Bobby, and Jo, back when Heaven and Hell were still novelty.

“Thank you, kid.” Said Dean, taking the paper from his hands. It looked like it did when it had just been taken, no time spend bent in dirty jeans and not ultimately lost in the chaos.

“We are proud of you too, you know?” Said Sam “There is no one else I would trust this job to.”

“It’s true. Heaven needed you.” Added Cas

Jack smiled at them. It was hard for Dean to see him as God. Hell, It was hard for Dean to see him as anything other than a kid, young and innocent and harmless, but sometimes, when the light hit his eyes just right, he looked older. Wiser. He smiled back.

“C’mon, let's go home, it’s getting late.” He said, finishing his beer and opening the door of the Impala. “Are you staying?”

He always asked. Jack always said no. They never took it personally – he had a lot of work to do in Heaven, especially with Chuck leaving the place to its own luck for so long.

This time, he smiled. “Yeah, I… I think I am. Just tonight”

The three of them smiled. “Hop in, then.”

They settled in their places – Jack taking the back seat with Cas. Dean took the picture Jack gave them, a soft smile on his lips, placing it under his rearview before driving them home.