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“In conclusion: Dean Winchester, will you marry me?”

What?” Dean almost chokes on his sandwich.

“I’m trying to save your soul,” Cas snaps. “You don’t have to look so horrified.”

Dean groans and tries not to look at Sam. Doesn’t matter what Sam’s face is doing, it’s bound to make Dean want to deck him.

“Dean,” Cas says, his ruffled feathers apparently smoothing back down, “be reasonable. I wouldn’t, ah—well, not in this—”

About six mouthfuls’ worth of chicken salad and bread stored in his cheeks, Dean laughs. “Worst proposal ever, man.”

Cas looks at him balefully. “I’m being serious.”

“So am I,” Dean says.

“Dean,” Sam puts in, using his placating voice. “I swear this is for real. I did the research, Cas double-checked it…”

“Can it, Ashton,” Dean snaps. He chokes that mouthful of sandwich down as he stands, pushing back from the kitchen counter.

Cas looks paler and smaller than usual as he stares up at Dean. “You’re not being Punk’d, I assure you.”

Dean’s arm throbs. Everything goes too sharp in his vision, and he’s remembering Cas saying of course, agreeing to kill him. That would’ve been easier.

He snarls, sounding like some kind of petulant caged animal even to himself, and just remembers to snatch up his keys on his way out.

 

It takes about twenty minutes for Dean to feel like an idiot and a jerk. At least he’s pretty familiar with the feeling. He didn’t even get as far as the first rest stop along the highway before he turned back around, tail between his legs and the mark itching something fierce under two layers of sleeve.

When he sidles back into the war room, Cas raises his eyebrows but doesn’t say anything. He’s fiddling with his phone, probably sending Claire more texts for her to ignore.

Dean clears his throat. “Where’s Sam?”

“He thought we might, ah…” Cas shrugs. Great; Dean’s totally transparent and Sam’s being kind about what an asshole he is.

“Cas, Jesus Christ, you can’t—there’s no way in hell this is the best solution.”

Dean’s thoughts won’t stick to it, to the idea of—well, the thing Cas asked him to do. He can barely even think the word, just conjures up deliberately overblown mental images of Cas wearing a white veil, batting his eyelashes at him. Sam throwing rice at them, Dean spending way too much time at the open bar.

Cas sighs. “You’re being selfish.”

“I’m—” Dean actually splutters. “I’m just trying to keep you from making a huge mistake, okay?”

“It’s not a mistake,” Cas says, so fast, like he’s been thinking about this. Like he’s fine with it. Like he’s committed.

“Cas.” Dean makes a demonstrative gesture down at himself. “You saw what I—I mean, shit.”

Cas pockets his phone, leans back against the table and looks at Dean. One long moment, long enough that Dean sorta wants to run and hide. “You didn’t think you would make it out of that fight alive. I know.”

The Mark twitches. Dean’s teeth ache and he wonders if Cas would tell him where the Blade is.

Cas shrugs, fluid like a human. “You’re alive.” When he looks up, his gaze is steely and he’s all angel again, all divine determination. “I want you to stay that way.”

Dean lets his breath out through his teeth. “Okay, man.”

Cas blinks. He was probably expecting Dean to put up more of a fight. “Okay?”

“I mean, uh, just—tell me. I’m not saying yes, I’m just saying… you know, I’ll hear you out.”

That gets him a smile, Cas’ eyes crinkling at the corners. He’d look good in a tux, Dean lets himself think. “I’ll retrieve Sam.”

 

“So this is because I ganked Cain.”

“No,” Sam insists, pushing his hair out of his face. “We don’t know if Cain could’ve done anything anyway. I mean, we were putting it all on him, but that could’ve just as easily been a dead end.”

“Regardless,” Cas says, “you had to stop him. You did the right thing.”

Some little ember flickers warmly in Dean’s stomach, so he ignores it. “Okay, explain this like I’m a complete idiot.”

Sam holds up a finger. “One, we’ve got no clue how to get rid of the Mark of Cain. And no, I’m not really onboard with the whole—you stoically suffering until you go apeshit and we have to put you down thing.”

Dean grunts his reluctant acknowledgment.

Cas leans in, his arms crossed on the war room table. “The Mark is demonic in origin. It’s of Hell. Anything purely Heavenly will be anathema to it. If good truly is stronger than evil, the Mark will be destroyed.” If. Great, not even Cas is totally sure.

“Plus,” Sam says, “Cas can’t hold onto that grace much longer anyway. Two birds, one stone.”

“Right,” Dean says, slowly. “Cure Cas, cure Dean, everyone’s happy, now why the hell does that mean we have to get—you know, hitched?”

He really hates the way Cas looks at him lately, his eyes too soft and the corners of his mouth downturned. “You remember what happened the first time I tried to speak to you.”

“Yeah, all too freaking well.”

“You can’t just… take my grace. Not if you want to live.” There’s a beat where Cas kindly doesn’t say anything else about his own desire to see Dean alive. “It’s not meant for humans. But we think that—”

“There’s this old ritual,” Sam interjects. Dean’d be pissed, but it’s like seeing the old Sam, too excited about his research to hold back. “Like, Biblical times old. It’s a bunch of kind of crazy symbolic stuff, but Cas thinks it’d work, and then you guys would be bound together and—the whole idea is that if you’re married, your souls are tied. You can’t hurt each other, no matter what, so…”

“Dude, our souls?”

Sam pulls a face. “Yeah, well. Sorry. No prenup.”

Dean’s shoulders slump; his face goes into his hands. The back of his head buzzes, the memory of killing Cain and the barely-there brush of Cas’ fingers against his wrist as he took the Blade. There’d been a jolt of electricity there and Dean still doesn’t know if it was his longing for the blade or his longing for—well, anyway. Sam is treating this like a business transaction, like he and Cas are just—just two people who’ve got two problems that need taking care of.

Maybe they are. He hasn’t really stepped back to wonder about him and Cas lately. Maybe whatever that thing that used to keep him up wondering about the shape of Cas’ mouth and the warmth of his gaze—maybe whatever that is, it’s gone.

Yeah fucking right. Dean swallows and sneaks a sideways glance at Cas, who’s watching him like always.

“This is seriously the only way?”

Sam snorts out a laugh. “I have no idea, man. Maybe there’s another solution, but I sure as hell can’t figure it out.”

Dean draws in a slow breath. Cas looks away, down at his own hands, where they’re folded together on the tabletop.

“Just, uh.” God, Dean feels like an asshole. He wants a drink, he thinks. Or to punch someone. Both at once. “Just let me—”

“Sleep on it,” Cas says, exchanging a quick glance with Sam. “I know this decision doesn’t come lightly.”

Dean’s the king of hasty decisions made under shitty circumstances, and he almost says so, but the pleading weight of Cas’ gaze on his face shuts him up for now. “Gimme twelve hours,” he says, and with a weird, awkward air of formality, he and Cas shake on it.

 

Five hours later, Dean’s not asleep.

He’s actually making a good faith effort, lying motionless in bed staring at the insides of his eyelids and counting sheep. That’s never actually worked for him, but it’s a little more fun than his brain running itself ragged in circles thinking about Cain, about whether Crowley’s gonna be on his ass again soon, about whether Sam’s really forgiven him, about Cas. About the curls of hair at Cas’ temples, the steadiness of his voice when he proposed. When he fucking proposed. Jesus.

Yeah, okay, sheep.

The knock at his door’s actually a huge relief; Dean bolts upright before he can wonder which of his two keepers is checking on him this time. “Yeah?”

“Hello, Dean.” Cas cracks the door, the light from the hallway silhouetting him. “May I—?”

There goes the relief, but Dean puts on a smile, reaches to click his bedside lamp on, and pats the corner of his bed. “Go for it, man.”

Once he’s shut the door behind him, Cas moves with hesitance, taking one step and then another toward Dean’s bed. He’s usually a confident kind of guy, walks like he’s a blade slicing through the air, and Dean bites back an are you okay?

Cas sits. It doesn’t really jostle—memory foam—but his knee almost bumps Dean’s foot, and there’s warmth coming off him, and Dean wants to squirm. He should have put pants on.

“So, uh.” Dean curls his fingers into the blankets by his side.

Cas’ sleeves are rolled up to his elbows and his shoulders are broad in his dress shirt, his tie loose. “I should let you have your twelve hours.”

“Cool, but you didn’t.” Dean shrugs. This isn’t gonna clear his head, but he doesn’t have it in him to regret the sight of Cas, tired and rumpled and here. These past couple days might be the longest Cas has ever spent in the bunker, in one place with Dean. “So what’s up?”

It’s like Cas is actually nervous. He fidgets, tugging at the end of his tie, avoiding eye contact. All these stupid little ways Cas is settling into having a human body and now he’s putting his life in Dean’s hands? Jesus.

“You don’t want to marry me,” Cas says finally, flat and matter-of-fact.

“Hey, I…” Dean swallows the rest. He kind of owes Cas the truth. “It’s not you.” He cringes, then. He also owes Cas better than crappy clichés.

Cas waits, one foot tucked up under his thigh. He’s wearing socks, which strikes Dean as extra insane at a time like this.

“I dunno if angels do the—marriage thing,” Dean says. “But it’s kind of a big deal, you know, for us humans.”

“I’ve observed more weddings than you could count, you know.”

“Yeah, well, that’s not really the same thing as—” Dean scowls down at his own hands. “Marriage fucked my dad up bad. They were happy and then he just… I mean, he lost it, y’know?”

There’s a beat, and then Cas softens, shifts closer. One hand curls around Dean’s shin, hot even through the layers of the bedclothes. “That’s not usual, is it? What happened to your mother—”

“I know.” Dean watches the shadows highlighting the slopes of Cas’ knuckles. “Most people just end up hating each other and drifting apart, I guess. I dunno if that’s better.”

“I couldn’t hate you,” Cas says easily. “I think it would run counter to my existence at this point.”

“Cas, you can’t—”

“Dean.” Cas is way too close way too fast, the covers mussed around him and his eyes way, way too blue. “Listen.” He bites his lip, teeth digging into soft pink, and looks down in a sweep of dark eyelashes. Dean’s whole body feels too light. “If it’s easier for you to think of this as a business exchange, then I’ll accept that. But, ah, I should… warn you.”

“What,” Dean jokes weakly, “that you snore and don’t pick up after yourself?”

“That it might not work.”

“Wh—why not? I mean, other than it being a completely insane plan—all our plans are completely insane, that’s normal, I mean—”

Cas quiets him with a touch. A light thing, the pad of his thumb to the corner of Dean’s mouth. “It’s a tie between two souls,” he says. “Each soul protecting the other. And I—well. I’m not sure whether I have a soul.”

“Cas,” Dean says. He’s helpless; wants to argue, say dude, of course you do, but what does he know? It took him months to notice his own damn brother was missing one of the things.

Mouth twisted into something wry and self-deprecating, Cas drops his hand to Dean’s shoulder. “I might. I’m not much of an angel, and this grace isn’t mine. Something could have—sprung up in its place. But I don’t know. And if I don’t, you’ll be at risk.”

“Like I’m not right now?” Dean flexes the fingers of his right hand.

Cas licks his lips and Dean can’t help but watch. “You’re fighting the Mark. There might be something else for you, some other solution.”

“But not for you,” Dean says, filling in the obvious blank.

“Well.” Cas’ throat works for a second, shaded with stubble and soft yellow light. “Well, no.” His voice catches, suddenly rougher even than its usual low gravel. He’s quiet, like he’s scared and ashamed at the same time. “I don’t want to die, Dean.”

Oh. Oh, Jesus, Dean’s an asshole. “Hey,” he says, “hey,” and he’s cupping Cas’ face in his hands, tipping his chin up, “you’re not gonna die, Cas, come on.”

Cas’ eyes squeeze shut. “I would have welcomed it not that long ago.”

“You’re allowed to change your mind about dying.” Dean’s heart is doing slow flips in his chest. He fits his hand around the back of Cas’ neck, Cas’ pulse thumping under his wrist. “Wanting to live’s a good thing.”

“It doesn’t feel good,” Cas grumbles. It’d be endearing, charming, if there weren’t tears leaking out under his eyelashes and if that didn’t make Dean feel like gearing up for another apocalypse just to make it stop. “It feels selfish and it hurts.”

Dean knocks his fist lightly against Cas’ chest. “What’s that in there? Sounds like a soul to me.”

Thank fuck, Cas’ mouth quirks up. Tears are running down his face, unchecked because Cas isn’t self-conscious like a normal person. “This doesn’t feel very good either.”

“Yeah, I dunno, it’s supposed to be cathartic but I always friggin’ hate it.” Dean’s remembering why he usually keeps his hands off Cas. It’s hard to stop once he starts; he wipes the tears off Cas’ face with his thumbs, clumsier than he’d like to be, but then Cas is still just there, his eyes shining and his expression earnest and his face so infuriatingly gorgeous. “It just happens sometimes.” Dean strokes the hair at the back of his neck, breathless and afraid Cas’ll ask him to stop.

Cas lets out a small huff of breath and scoots closer still. “I guess this is me asking you to try this anyway. Because—I’m scared. Because I want to live. Just because.”

It’s getting messy just like Dean was afraid it would. Cas is leaning into Dean’s cupped palms and his wet eyelashes are brushing Dean’s fingertips and Dean can’t stop in case it never starts again. “Yeah, Cas. Yeah. I was gonna say yes. I mean, yeah, I want this thing the hell off me. And I sure as fuck want you sticking around.”

Cas’ hand slides down Dean’s arm to his elbow. Too close to the Mark, but Dean’s not about to dislodge him. “I’ll be good to you.”

“Aw, geez, Cas—”

“I will,” Cas says. “I won’t hate you—ever—and I’ll drift only if you ask me to. I, well.” His mouth twitches, and Dean knows he’s thinking better of saying something.

“I gotcha.” Dean sort of gets that he just agreed to get married. He’ll probably freak out and drink too much, wonder how he got here—later. All that stuff can happen later, when he doesn’t have a bed full of angel and his heart in his throat.

Right now, everything’s about the little, lopsided smile curling Cas’ mouth. “Maybe we should go over the ritual in the morning.”

Dean laughs, startled into breathlessness. “Yeah, dude.”

Cas turns earnest again, leaning so close Dean imagines he can feel his breath. “Thank you, Dean.”

“Hey.” Dean claps Cas’ shoulder. “It’s win-win, right? I’d be pretty dumb not to go for it.”

The next silence is all wrong, Cas’ features going smooth and blank. “Right.”

Dean practically isn’t surprised. Of course he fucked up. He lets his hands drop. “So, uh, see you in the morning.”

Cas’ next breath is slow, audible. “Goodnight, Dean.”

 

Dean squints down at the notepad. Not enough coffee. Or Sam’s handwriting is just illegible, or this all just makes no fucking sense.

Cas eyes him over his own mug. “It’s complicated,” he allows. “It was meant to be.”

“At least we don’t have to hightail it to Vegas,” Sam says, dropping into his chair with a bowl full of some granola-based abomination. He’s the worst in the mornings. “We can just do this in our own backyard, or… you know. Dungeon. Wherever you guys want, I guess”

“Oh, yay.” Dean downs a giant gulp of coffee. “A home wedding, just what I always wanted. And will we hire a photographer?”

He can actually hear the scowl in Cas’ voice. “You agreed to this. Now take it seriously.”

“Whatever.” Dean yanks the topmost paper off the pad. “I got no idea what most of this means, Sam.”

“It’s just a lot of symbolic stuff.” Sam plucks his pen from behind his ear and starts making more notes like that’ll help. “Laying aside your worldly commitments, washing away your sins, blah blah blah.”

Cas clears his throat. “Rehearsals are common now, aren’t they?”

Dean hates the flush that immediately rises to his face. It prickles along the Mark too. “Yeah, for real weddings.”

“This is real,” Cas says, pushing his empty mug aside. “There’s a reason it’s so complex. I can take care of the vows. Unless,” he adds before Dean can get farther than raising an eyebrow, “you’ve become fluent in Enochian lately?”

“Enochian’s our best bet for the bond taking,” Sam says. He gives Dean an apologetic little nudge.

“Fine.” Dean glares into the dregs of his coffee. “What else?”

“It’s just a matter of being sure we do the right steps in the right order.” Cas hesitates for a split second. “And that we, ah, maintain adequate contact.”

Dean’s head snaps up. “What does that mean?”

Cas sits up straighter and offers his hand across the table, palm up. “Hold my hand.”

Instinctively, Dean bristles, trying not to look at either Sam or Cas. “I did the awkward high school movie date thing before I dropped out, okay? I know how to hold hands.”

“Hold my hand,” Cas repeats. He wiggles his fingers, infuriatingly calm, and Dean feels like a chastened schoolboy as he slides his hand into Cas’ grip.

“Hey, so.” Sam stands, his chair legs scraping against the concrete floor. “I’m gonna—make sure we have all the ingredients and stuff, you know, ancient ritual and all.”

“Thank you, Sam,” Cas says without taking his eyes off Dean’s face.

Dean only knows Sam’s gone by the muffling silence that surrounds them. Cas frowns down at their linked hands and readjusts, lacing their fingers together until their palms are pressed flush, warm and open.

“Like this.” Solemn, Cas tightens his grip on Dean’s hand for a moment. “Like, ah.” A fleeting hint of color crosses the arches of his cheekbones. “Like we’re in love.”

“Yeah,” Dean says. His palm is probably sweating, gross and clammy, but Cas doesn’t let go. “Okay. Like that.”

Cas takes a quick punch of a breath, like he’s injured and trying to hide it. “Our lifelines should be touching, as much as we can. Until the blood pact portion of the ritual.”

“Blood pact. Obviously.”

“It’s old magic,” Cas says, lifting one shoulder in a small shrug.

“I’m used to it.” Dean can’t stop feeling the minute shifts of Cas’ fingers against his own, smooth skin of Cas’ hand catching against his own calluses and scars. “What’s a little bloodletting between fiancés?”

The word drags Cas’ gaze back to meet Dean’s eyes. “What indeed,” he says. “You’d consider us engaged? I should’ve given you a ring.”

“Oh, God.” Dean shakes his head. “No, dude, I—it’s really not you, it’s just that this stuff scares the crap out of me.”

“Marriage scares you more than succumbing to uncontrollable bloodlust?”

Dean actually laughs. “Y’know, kinda. I mean, blood and guts and killing, that’s my life. That’s me. This—” He wriggles his fingers in Cas’, careful not to dislodge the way they’re still hanging on. “This is part of a whole package I never really got. Closest I came went up in some pretty freaking spectacular flames.”

“I’m not an expert,” Cas says, “and I know this isn’t what you wanted. But I’d really like to try making it good.”

Or we could pull off this contract, call it good, and act like it never happened, Dean could say. He could say, Stuff never ends up good with me or with you and sure as hell not with the two of us, so why bother trying?

Instead, he rubs his thumb against the side of Cas’ palm. “What do we have to lose, huh?”

The Mark throbs dully on Dean’s arm. They hold hands until Sam comes back with a box of dusty old herbs.

 

Cas finds him in the shooting range later that night, squeezing the trigger too fast and too tight. Dean’s not sure if it helps, if that buzzing in the back of his head is the Mark’s approval or its dissatisfaction that this isn’t enough.

“It’s late,” Cas observes. He hovers, doesn’t touch Dean but seems like he’s thinking about it.

“Yep,” Dean says, and fires off another shot.

“Dean.” There he goes, fingertips brushing the small of Dean’s back. Dean misses his next mark by a long shot, and he lowers the gun. “You should sleep.”

“Not sleeping a whole lot lately anyway.”

Cas touches Dean’s elbow, then, and his bicep. “Then you should rest.”

Marriage is about compromise or something, right? Anyway, he should give the poor bullet-riddled targets a rest, so Dean lets Cas lead him out, back up the few flights of stairs to his bedroom.

Smelling his own sweat and frustration, Dean drops heavily to the mattress. Cas watches from a respectful yard or so away, frowning.

¬“You can, uh.” Dean kicks his boots across the room. “You don’t have to—you can—I mean, we’re getting married, dude.”

That draws a smile out of Cas, and he unknots his tie, lets it slither off his collar and drops it near Dean’s shoes. “Are you asking me to sleep with you?”

Dean fucking blushes, completely aware that Cas did that on purpose. “Asshole.”

“So you’ve said.” In a series of efficient movements, Cas has stripped to boxers and tank top, the latter bright white against the tanned skin stretching over his shoulders and collarbones.

Dean tries to breathe, struggling out of his jeans and looking anywhere but the curve of muscle along Cas’ calf, how the hairs get lighter as they climb the thickness of his thighs.

“Well?” Cas prompts.

“Bluh?” Dean manages. “Oh, uh. Yeah, dude. Get comfy.”

All his embarrassment might be worth it for Cas’ chuckle. “Yeah, I’ve found that makes sleeping easier.”

As if Dean giving him permission uncorked something, Cas is totally unapologetic. He slides under Dean’s covers and pats the space next to him, and Dean’s so enthralled that he just goes, succumbing to Cas’ patient nudging until Cas is wrapped around him from behind, his nose tucked to the side of Dean’s neck. Dean’s pretty positive he smells, but Cas doesn’t care. Hell, maybe he even likes it—he lets out this small, contented sigh, dragging his stubble against the spot under Dean’s ear.

Cas falls asleep easy, which is probably his due after a couple millennia of barely getting any sleep. Dean lies awake for a long time after, counting every puff of Cas’ breath against his skin until he’s too exhausted to count any more.

 

“I can’t believe we have a billion and a half obscure herbs plucked from the Himayalas under the light of a new moon or what the fuck ever,” Dean says, “and we apparently don’t have any goddamn rosemary.”

Cas gives him a placid look across the top of the Impala as the passenger side door thumps shut. “You used it to marinate chicken last month.”

“Ugh.” Dean shoves the keys into his pocket and stalks toward the supermarket.

Bright colors and familiar shitty brand names; it’s all boring except there’s Cas at his elbow, squinting at boxes of cereal and eyeing the organic produce. Maybe some of this is stuff Cas sold when he had that crappy Gas-N-Sip job, or maybe it’s all shiny and new to him. Dean can’t always put himself in Cas’ head, but he usually ends up trying anyway.

They pick up the rosemary, plus a six-pack, and they argue for about thirty seconds over which salad mix they should buy for Sam before Dean gets this feeling like he’s being punched in his stomach. “Oh my god,” he hisses, “we’re bickering.”

Cas shrugs coolly. “I think he’d prefer the spring mix.”

Dean groans and grabs it. It’s all green crap, and he has to get out of here before he starts calling Cas dear.

It’s a short drive back, Cas watching scenery fly by out the window with the paper bag of groceries tucked between his knees. The wind ruffles his hair and Dean keeps sneaking glances over at him.

He’s always done that, he’s pretty sure—storing up glimpses of Cas’ face. Remembering the exact curve of his lips when he’s in a certain mood, just how rumpled his collar is on any given day. And here he is about to marry the guy and still doing it as if Cas could still up and vanish at any second.

Wordlessly, Cas offers his hand across the seat between them.

Dean cuts off his own internal debate and takes Cas’ hand. It’s cool and dry and Cas rubs his thumb across Dean’s knuckles, across the spaces between his fingers, and they stay like that until Dean has to turn in to the garage at the bunker.

The first thing Dean does after they put the groceries away is text Charlie: Hey so if u can make it here by tomorrow I guess im getting married and it wouldn’t suck if you were there. His phone starts buzzing like crazy almost right away, so he turns text notifications to silent.

Sam eats the salad without complaint, and Dean stares at the scribbled list of ritual steps one more time, and he watches Cas writing row after row of neat Enochian on a sheet of paper ripped from a spare notebook. Quick fingers, furrowed brow, his lower lip caught between his teeth.

For the first time in a couple years, Dean lets the thought form in his head. No distractions or denial, just I really wanna kiss him.

That’s a thing married people do, right? God, he’s getting in so far over his head.

Cas’ knock at his door that evening is perfunctory, and he pokes his head in before Dean can get farther than “Yeah?”

“Hi,” Cas says.

Dean smiles. “You know you can come in, right?”

“It’s your room,” Cas says, but he steps inside. He’s in flannel pajama pants that used to belong to Dean and he’s twisting his hands together like he’s as nervous as Dean is.

“Well, I mean, uh.” Dean scrubs his hand against the back of his neck. “It’s gonna be ours, like… pretty soon, huh?”

“Is that what this is?” Cas tilts his head. “Practice?”

“What’s this, a pop quiz?”

Cas just waits, squinting at him.

“Man, I don’t know.” Dean pushes the covers next to him down, some kind of invitation. “All I know is I’m pretty sure I need you to get in here, ’cause I’m getting cold.”

Yeah, there it goes. Cas laughs at him, but he comes to bed, so Dean calls it a victory. Maybe this is a routine, or the start of one—now that’s a word that makes Dean’s chest go all tight and breathless.

Once the lights are out, Dean starts rolling over, ready for Cas to slot in behind him, but Cas stops him with a hand at his shoulder. “Dean.”

“Don’t wear it out,” Dean says.

Cas sighs. “Just humor me. I want you to be sure. It’s my life you’re saving and yours you’re endangering.”

“Like you haven’t done the same for me and Sam? Dude, come on.” The flickering uncertainty in Cas’ face draws Dean in, makes him curl his body closer to Cas’. He opens for Dean, letting Dean’s thigh settle between his knees and Dean’s fingers hook into shirtfront. The Mark heats; maybe it’s Cas’ presence, but Dean forces his awareness of it to the back of his mind.

“I’ve done unforgivable things to you two as well.”

“Well, hey.” Dean’s too close, too fascinated by the little creases in Cas’ lips just visible as his eyes adjust, and too tired and freaked out to stop himself. He draws his thumb along the line of Cas’ jaw and says, “We forgave you. Remember?”

Cas’ eyes are dark. He wets his lips with his tongue. “I couldn’t forget. Do you think that gives a person a soul? Committing a horrible wrong and receiving forgiveness from those wronged?”

“Cas, I don’t know a damn thing about how souls get made.” Dean touches Cas’ throat—soft and warm. “But I know I want you to live, and I’m gonna figure out how to make that happen. You gonna be able to sleep?”

“I don’t know,” Cas says. “What about you?”

“I don’t know.”

The darkness makes it easy to succumb to the moment. Cas’ breathless chuckle, then silence, and then Cas’ hand at the side of his neck, knuckles sliding down the stretch of tendon there. Something crackles between Cas’ palm and Dean’s skin and ignites every inch Cas touches with a low hum of desire. It’s pathetic, how with that acknowledgment earlier, Dean’s slamming head over heels into this thing where he wants to kiss Cas and he knows it. He wants to kiss him, he wants to touch his bare skin, he wants everything so bad that all it takes is the whisper of Cas’ fingertips against his collarbones to get him hard.

There’s no room between them, barely any layers, and Cas stills. He’s noticing.

“Shit, I’m—” Dean chokes down a humiliating whimper as Cas shifts his legs. “I’m—wait, holy shit, Cas.”

“I just wanted you to know,” Cas says mildly. He’s real calm for a guy with a pretty impressive erection pressed to Dean’s hip. “You’re not the only one, so you don’t need to be embarrassed.”

“Holy shit,” Dean says again. He could move and Cas probably wouldn’t stop him. He could kiss him. He could grab on tight and grind against Cas’ thigh until he came in his boxers.

He closes his eyes and breathes. Cas breathes with him, and it’s okay. There’s heat between them, all this aching possibility like a living thing that they’re keeping alive by passing it between their lungs. It’s not going away and neither are they.

“You’re not alone,” Cas tells him.

Dean sleeps on and off. When he wakes, he hears Cas’ breathing again, deep and slow, and he listens until it’s all he can hear over the irritated humming of the Mark’s pull on him. It gets him through to the morning.

 

Dean wakes up ravenous.

He mentally shuffles through about a dozen of his favorite foods before he gets it. It’s not food he wants, it’s the First Blade.

Cas is sprawled on the bed next to him, arm flung across his eyes as he sleeps, his lips parted and his jaw slack. One of his legs is tangled up in the sheets, the other dangling off the edge of the mattress.

Dean hurts all over with everything he wants. He could shake Cas awake, kiss him stupid, and ask for the Blade’s location. He could barter, say he wouldn’t go through with this marriage unless Cas—

His heart jackhammering against his chest, Dean scrambles out of bed.

You are not that asshole. He holds the thought, clutches it in his ribcage as he flees toward the kitchen like a bat out of Hell.

The shot of Jack burns his throat as it goes down; Dean figures he deserves it. He pours another and wills his hands to stop shaking, the Mark to stop itching at the marrow of his bones.

“Wow,” Sam says from somewhere behind and above him, “this is a really crappy bachelor party.”

“That’s your fault, isn’t it?” Dean glowers at the nearly-overflowing shot glass. “Isn’t that the best man’s job?”

“Oh, now I’m your best man?”

“Well, I mean.” Aw, shit. “You would’ve been, if… you know.”

Then someone else chimes in: “What am I, chopped liver?”

Dean whirls, knocking over the bottle of liquor with his elbow, and stares at Charlie. “You came.”

“Duh.” She tosses him a crooked grin, hitching her bag higher up on her shoulder. “Me being mad at you’s all in your head, doofus. You’re tying the knot! I wanna be a witness.”

Speaking of knots, the one squeezing in Dean’s chest starts to loosen some. “We’re not really gonna have flowers and cake, kiddo.”

Charlie shrugs and steals the shot, swallowing it smoothly. She’s good. “Just give me booze and make me cry with your beautiful heartfelt vows and I’m down for whatever.”

That’s when Cas wanders out, muffling a yawn into the heel of his palm and scratching his stomach, where his undershirt is riding up over the trail of dark hair leading into his pajama pants.

“Oh,” he says. He squints at the assembled. “Charlie.”

She turns her smile on him. “Guilty as charged! Man, I thought you’d be more… clothed.”

“Right.” Cas drags his hand through his hair. “I was going to be, but I woke up and Dean was gone. I worried.”

“Dean was,” Sam starts, then stops. “Okay.”

Dean drops his head into his hands, which is why he doesn’t see it coming when Cas comes up behind him and kisses the back of his neck. “I’m still here,” Cas says, low so only Dean can hear it, and Dean shudders, frozen with the nakedness of that. Cas touching him, making them obvious, and Dean’s pretty sure he’s actually—okay with it. The roiling in his gut subsides some, and as Cas’ fingers brush the slope of his shoulder, Dean gives himself permission to think it: shit, I love you.

It’s not that it doesn’t scare him. It’s that it fuels him, gets him to rise to his feet and squeeze Cas’ upper arm fondly. “Don’t worry, I’m good.”

Charlie’s scowling at them. When Dean raises a questioning eyebrow, she narrows her eyes. “Have you two even brushed your teeth today? Ew.”

Dean exchanges a glance with Cas and warmth curls down his spine. “Let’s get this show on the road.”

 

It’s sentimental, but it’s Dean’s goddamn wedding. So he takes a long hot shower and he ignores the Mark whining away at the back of his head like a distant chainsaw and then he shaves, combs some gel into his hair, puts on his nicest dress shirt, and stares at himself in the mirror as he tightens the knot of his tie.

He doesn’t look too shabby, actually.

Neither of them’s the bride and they didn’t do that thing where they couldn’t see each other, but they head into the forest separately—Sam follows at Dean’s heels with a satchel of herbs and all the other stuff they need. Charlie and Cas aren’t too far behind.

“You sure we have everything?”

Sam tosses the bag onto the ground. “Yep. It’s mostly pretty basic, man. I wouldn’t worry.”

Cas clears his throat and Dean turns. Honestly, Cas looks the way he always does, weary and beautiful with lines under his eyes and the light catching his cheekbones. Nothing accounts for the freefall happening in Dean’s chest, the swooping of his heart.

“Hey,” he says.

Cas smiles while Charlie laughs behind him. “Hello, Dean.”

“All right.” Sam squints at his phone, where he’s got all the steps stored in a memo. “You guys, take off your shoes.”

They do, and their socks too. The forest floor is cool and damp beneath Dean’s soles and he’s pretty sure a pine needle lodges itself in his heel immediately. He wiggles his toes and catches Cas’ eye.

Cas offers him another smile, a flicker of warmth. Dean takes a deep breath.

“This is good,” Cas says, quiet and even. “Letting the earth bear witness.”

“Yeah, otherwise all we’ve got are these two clowns.”

Sam snorts out an exasperated little laugh, and then he’s all business, taking over his duties as master of ceremonies.

“All right, you know the drill, yeah?”

The first part’s pretty normal. They roll up their sleeves, take the warm, damp washcloths Sam passes to them, and wash each other’s forearms. It should be boring, but the muscles and bones in Cas’ arm shift, and Dean brushes his thumb against the inside of Cas’ wrist and gets a small shudder for his pains. The pressure of Cas’ fingertips, light and careful, against the Mark of Cain makes Dean suck in a sharp breath, but it passes. Cas’ gaze flicks up to Dean’s face, evaluating, and he nods.

“Okay.” Right, yeah, Sam’s here. “So that was supposed to symbolize outer cleanliness. You’re washing each other clean of, uh, the things you do in this life.”

“Like chewing with my mouth open,” Dean quips.

Cas considers him, his gaze too level, too steady. “Like feeling unnecessary guilt.”

“Yeah,” Dean says, faltering. “Like that too.”

Sam clears his throat, too loudly. Dean wants to be embarrassed, but Cas’ fingers are tucked into the crook of his elbow.

“So,” Sam says, “this is when you start, ah, holding hands.”

“I think we can handle it,” Dean says, not sure if he can handle it. At least they got that practice in, so when Cas slides his fingers in between Dean’s, his heart doesn’t stop on the spot. He curls his hand around Cas’ palm, licking his lips, and holds his free hand out for the next part.

Charlie’s handy, drizzling honey from the store-bought bear-shaped bottle onto their fingertips. Dean wants to thank her, but Cas is up in his space. His fingers smell sweet, his face is solemn, and he paints Dean’s lower lip with the utmost concentration like this is actual art.

“Hi,” Dean breathes.

“Hey.” Cas’ thumb presses against Dean’s lower lip, slides down the divot of his chin and the side of his neck.

Dean’s not half as graceful about it—he fumbles, his fingers shaky against Cas’ mouth and his dick giving a distant throb of interest as he does it, but he gets it done.

“Thank you,” Cas murmurs, tightening his grip around their joined hands.

“Purity,” Sam says. “That was purity.”

Dean wets his lips with his tongue, tasting the honey, and takes his pistol as Charlie passes it to him. Cas is letting his angel blade slide into his hand, one of those slick moves of his that’s always made Dean’s skin prickle with interest.

“Worldly commitments.” Sam again. Everything but the angles and curves of Cas’ face feels far away, but Dean manages to tune in. “Set them aside.”

They kneel together, the synchronized movement weirdly easy, and set their weapons on the labyrinth Sam sketched on printer paper that morning. It’s curling at the edges already, damp with the outdoors, but it should do the trick—

“Sacrifice.”

“Thanks, Sammy,” Dean mutters.

Someone laughs. Sam or Charlie, probably, because Dean can’t take his eyes off Cas and Cas is apparently just as rapt, his eyes trained on Dean’s mouth, neck, chest, hands.

“You guys ready?” That’s definitely Sam, holding up something damp and heavy that it takes Dean a second to recognize. The rope, presoaked in saltwater infused with that damn rosemary. It stinks, but it’s not a bad smell.

Cas reaches out and tugs lightly at the rope. “Love and remembrance,” he says, “for the rosemary. And the saltwater—it’s a preservative.”

“Good call, Poindexter.” Dean’s blood is molasses, slow and thick in his veins. He offers his palm without hesitation, noting absently how cold it feels after Cas’ grip, and lets Charlie make a clean slice, watching while Cas undergoes the same treatment. Blood wells up clean and crimson.

Sam exhales loud enough that Dean hears it, distracted as he is. “The rest is up to you, Cas.”

“Okay.”

So there they are, hands clasped and bleeding into each other’s lifelines, staring.

Cas squares his shoulders, steps in closer, slides his good hand to the small of Dean’s back. And then he opens his mouth.

Words pour out, guttural. Purposeful, even. Dean has no idea what any of them mean, which leaves him free to latch onto the rough edge to Cas’ voice. The fond curl of Cas’ fingers against his spine. Charlie’s darting around them again, helping them tie the rope around their joined hands. It stings, makes Dean draw in a hiss of a breath, but the pain recedes into a dull throb in a matter of seconds.

Cas keeps going, faster and faster, and sparks of heat are tumbling over themselves in the pit of Dean’s stomach. Maybe it’s just how bad he wants Cas, or maybe this spell is working. Fuck, he’s getting married.

“Wait,” he cuts in.

Cas trips over a word. He stops to give Dean a faintly appalled look.

Dean musters up an apologetic smile. “I just, uh.”

It’s just that this is his wedding, and it’s just that the puzzled quirk of Castiel’s eyebrows is enough to make his stomach flip, and he abruptly doesn’t want this whole event to pass in a language he doesn’t even speak.

“I do, okay?” Dean squeezes Cas’ hand, grits his teeth against the twist of pain where their wounds press together. “I love you, asshole, and I do.”

Cas’ entire face goes soft, fond, startled; his brows draw together and his eyes shine. “Well, I do, too.”

He picks up with the Enochian, smoothly incomprehensible, and Dean listens with his head a little clearer. Cas’ voice is deep and intent and he pronounces every word with fervor until it all comes to a halt and they’re standing there gaping at each other again.

Sam’s talking from somewhere to the side—Dean can’t care enough to look. “You may kiss the groom.”

Oh. Right, that.

Dean’s pretty sure he should be nervous, but he’s not. It’s easy, like letting the Impala coast down a hill on a sunny day, to take that half-step, seal up the small space between them, and kiss Cas for the first time.

Cas makes this small noise, as if he’s surprised that this is where they’ve ended up, and then his mouth opens all warm and slick and inviting and Dean groans and slings his arm around Cas’ shoulders, pulls him in, kisses him with everything he’s got.

Everything lights up, from Dean’s head to his feet like he’s a fucking pinball machine. It’s soothing and good and he can feel Cas, the sweet, solid aliveness of him as they breathe into each other’s mouths.

“I think,” Cas murmurs, “it’s working.”

“Mmhmm,” Dean agrees, and kisses him again. He tastes like honey and coffee.

There’s not one moment when it happens. It’s this build, heat stoking in Dean’s chest, in his belly and the back of his mind, ringing in his ears. Castiel, holding Dean’s face in his hands, smearing blood across his cheek and neither of them giving a shit with how good it is to lean their foreheads together and feel their hearts beating.

Dean opens his eyes to Cas smiling. Fondness and awe squeeze tight around his heart and they seem so damn logical that he only just realizes—those aren’t his.

Cas blinks, his eyes widening.

“It’s definitely working,” Dean says in the second before Cas’ wings flare up behind his shoulders, lit with some holy fire. Someone curses in the background; Dean had basically forgotten he and Cas weren’t alone.

The Mark makes itself known in a grind of pain down into the marrow of his arm. Cas’ wings flicker and shudder, and Cas shuts his eyes, and Dean’s whole body goes light and floaty and holy fuck, he feels amazing.

He flexes his fingers against the back of Cas’ neck, feeling Cas’ shudder as muffled reverb in his own skin. The Mark’s gone, and Cas looks—even more tired than before, the circles under his eyes dark, but his smile is broad and pleased.

“You’re so fuckin’ gorgeous,” Dean tells him. A flush of pleasure passes between them. It makes Dean’s toes dig into the dirt beneath their feet.

“I could say the same to you.” Cas curls his fingers under Dean’s chin, dragging his thumb against Dean’s pulse.

Guys.” Charlie, hissing in Dean’s ear so close that it breaks his fascination with Cas and he jumps.

“Dude, what?”

She actually looks a little embarrassed, which he’ll definitely mock later. Right now caring about anything other than the energy pulsing between Cas and himself feels pretty impossible. “This is cute and all, but it feels like the really sappy version of motel pay-per-view. Maybe take it inside?”

“Please,” Sam groans. “I’m glad no one died and I’m really glad you’re clean, dude, but please.”

Cas laughs, this amazing full-body thing with his eyes crinkling at the corners. When he reaches for Dean’s hand, it’s the simplest thing Dean’s done in years to tangle their fingers together and walk home with Cas at his side.

 

Dean thought falling into bed with someone happened only in those two-dollar mass markets he used to pick up from grocery stores. Apparently not.

“I didn’t think it would be like this,” Cas says, propped up on his elbows with his knees bracketing Dean’s thighs. He kisses Dean’s chin, his temple, his lower lip. Their hands are still salty and a little bloody and Dean can’t even imagine giving a fuck.

Breathless and impatient, Dean yanks at Cas’ tie until it comes loose, his shirt until the buttons start to pop. “Is it s’posed to be?”

“No,” Cas admits. He tugs at Dean’s shirt so it comes untucked from his belt, his knuckles brushing the bare skin of Dean’s hip and stomach. Dean feels his pleasure like lightning in his bones. “No, I—I knew we would be bound, but I’ve never read that it would be so—” He goes quiet, but Dean gets this wash of amazement. It’s easy to tell that it’s Cas; the otherworldly edge, the way it crackles with something inhuman, the deep and unshakeable fondness of it.

“This is insane, man.” Dean grins, triumphant, as he gets Cas’ fly open and his hand in his boxers around the swaying heaviness of his erection. God, that feels good. “It’s like—I dunno, some kind of telepathic bullshit. Vulcan mindmeld, y’know?”

“That might not be far off.” Cas’ eyelids flutter, his lips part. He rolls his hips into Dean’s grasp and the arousal unfurling between them makes Dean’s dick ache where it’s pressed to the seam of his jeans. “Although I—I don’t know if we can actually—oh—”

Dean hears himself making a low noise, close to a growl, and then he’s flipping them over, pressing Cas into the mattress so he can feel every inch of them slotted together. He rocks his hips, starbursts of surprise and desire spangling the insides of his eyelids where it’s like he can see into the inside of Cas’ head and heart.

“You’ve gotta have a soul,” Dean says distractedly as he shoves Cas’ shirt open, rucking his undershirt up to pinch Cas’ stiffening nipple between thumb and forefinger and revel in the jolt of heat. “I mean—I didn’t die—and that’s what I’m, you know, feeling, right? Your soul?”

“Mm.” Cas gasps when Dean bears his weight down, dragging their half-clothed erections together. “Yours is luminous. I’m glad I can still—I would have missed it.”

Now that Dean knows it, the steady light and the pure reassurance of knowing that Cas exists and he’s not stopping anytime soon, he gets it. He’s been acquainted with this for about fifteen minutes and he’d miss it if it went away, too.

“Yeah,” he says, and leans down for a fresh kiss.

They manage to go slow by unspoken agreement, grasping each other’s hands and licking each other’s mouths open like they’ve been doing this for years. Some part of Dean wants to freak out, and maybe it will later, but Cas’ love is wide open to him and he sinks into it, letting them move together with their legs tangled and their eyes closed.

“Dean,” Cas says. Or maybe he thinks it, but Dean latches onto the word, the gravel and the yearning there, and he shifts so they’re lined up just right, and he drinks in Cas’ earnest moan and the white-hot pleasure that coils and then snaps in the space between them as Cas comes right in the palm of Dean’s hand.

“Yeah,” Dean says again. He kisses the corner of Cas’ mouth, nuzzles the stubble shadowing the underside of his jaw, and lets his orgasm wrench its way out of him with his muscles tightening and the echoing heat of Cas’ satiated devotion pooling in the base of his spine.

After, Cas pushes Dean’s sleeve up again and walks his fingertips along the clean space where the Mark of Cain once was. His relief is palpable, a wave of calm at the back of Dean’s head.

“I’m not gonna miss that.” Dean takes Cas’ uninjured hand and presses a lazy kiss to the center of his palm.

“Nor am I.”

“You feelin’ okay?” He doesn’t really have to ask—he can tell the answer is, largely, yes—but Dean likes the idea of pillow talk with Cas.

Cas stretches, his undershirt riding up over his stomach again, and seems to take stock. “I… yes,” he says carefully. “Yes. I’m with you, and I’m alive, and you’re free of the Mark. Those are all good things.”

Dean chuckles, curling in closer. “No shit. I like your soul, dude.”

“It likes you, too.” Cas’ eyelids droop, his hand going slack in Dean’s. His exhaustion filters into Dean’s consciousness.

With a hasty trip to the bathroom for a washcloth, Dean makes quick work of cleaning them up and then helping Cas out of his slacks and into a clean pair of boxers, one of Dean’s. Dean slides naked under the covers, coaxing Cas to follow. He’s got questions, about a billion of them, but Cas’ heartbeat is slowing and his breathing is evening out.

Just a quick nap. They’ve earned it. Dean tucks an arm around Cas’ middle and drops off in a haze of satisfaction.

 

This time, Dean wakes up rested and content and turned on beyond all belief.

Cas’ thigh is wedged between his legs, thick and sturdy, and Dean drags himself closer, letting his erection slide along the cord of muscle. “Fuck.”

“Mm?” Cas turns, dropping a kiss to the bridge of Dean’s nose. The movement comes so easy, like it’s habit, that Dean’s heart does some kind of fluttery thing.

“You’re so hot,” Dean whines.

“I’m really not sorry.” Cas’ eyes crack open and he smiles, shifting his leg deliberately. When Dean gasps, Cas broadcasts his smug pleasure, bright as a fucking searchlight.

“God. Fuck,” Dean says again. “How are we—why is it so—?”

“The grace,” Cas says, his palm smooth and possessive at the back of Dean’s thigh, “I think.” His fingers slide into the cleft of Dean’s ass, his voice even and thoughtful. “It should have killed you, or irreparably damaged you, but the marriage ceremony was done properly and that means, above all else, that the two of us can’t hurt each other. Since it came from me, and since it was my choice to disperse it into your body, once it scrubbed the Mark from your soul, the spell forced it out.”

Dean whimpers as the pad of Cas’ thumb catches at his rim. “O—okay.”

Cas’ smile widens. “It’s living between us now, amplifying the bond we’ve set up between our souls.” His voice dips disbelievingly on that last phrase, our souls.

“Oh,” Dean gets out, arching back into the gentle circle Cas is tracing with his fingertips. “Cool.”

“I like it,” Cas says roughly. “I like this feeling.”

It takes a few full seconds of Cas’ pause for Dean to catch on that he’s asking a question. “Yeah,” Dean says, and he means it. “Yeah, I like it too. Jesus, don’t stop.”

Cas cocks his disheveled head to the side. “What do you want, Dean?”

“You fuckin’ asshole, you know what I—”

“Well, yes,” Cas allows, moving his leg just so the friction of skin against skin catches at Dean’s balls, “but I want to hear it in your voice, too.”

Dean whimpers and bucks his hips. “Get in me, Cas, Jesus, please.”

The plea, slipped out of Dean’s mouth by virtue of sheer aching need, gets Cas in gear real fast. His eyes darken and he springs into action, digging the lube out of Dean’s bedside table and pouring it into his hand. Dean had almost forgotten that was even there, shitty as life has gotten, but Cas is like a dog who’s caught a scent, rolling Dean onto his stomach to stroke slick fingers against his hole.

Dean squirms, grinding down against the sheets and pushing up on his elbows so he can spread his legs for Cas. “C’mon, c’mon.”

Cas kisses the base of his spine, stroking his hip with his other hand. His fondness is obvious, a reassuring glow in the air around them, and it eases the way as he works one finger into Dean and then another.

“’s good,” Dean urges, probably unnecessarily. “You’re—ah, fuck, babe.” The pet name’s not intentional, but he doesn’t have time for self-consciousness as Cas’ fingers ghost over his prostate and he moans, his back curving.

Cas shudders over him, rubbing his stubbly cheek against Dean’s thigh. “Oh, that feels good, doesn’t it,” he says wonderingly.

“Uh-huh.” His limbs shaking a little, Dean looks back to toss a grin Cas’ way. “Yeah, I’ll show you sometime.”

“Soon,” Cas says, and he’s so intent and so beautiful that Dean’s caught off-guard when he works in the third finger. Dean whimpers again, shoves back onto Cas’ fingers. “You’re lovely,” Cas adds, a rasp of awe that makes goosebumps break out on Dean’s arms. The heel of his palm cups Dean’s balls, his fingers working in deeper and curling with deliberation, and Dean’s barely even surprised when tears spring up behind his eyelids.

Noticing, Cas stops. “Dean?”

“Ah, it’s just, I.” Dean licks his lips, willing his humiliation away. “Fuck. I wanted this. You. Shit, sorry.”

“No,” Cas says fiercely. He pushes his fingers back in, back home, crooks them just so and radiates pleasure at the sound of Dean’s groan. “Don’t be sorry. I’ve loved you for years. This was worth it.”

Dean tastes salt on his mouth; his own tears. “Yeah, okay, fuck. We’ll get your grace back, okay? Just—” He digs his fingers into the mattress. “Just as—as soon as you fuck me like you mean it.”

There’ll be time to draw this out next time, or the time after, and they both know it. For now, Cas is swift and attentive and he pets Dean’s hips as he rises up on his knees to slide into him in a slow, smooth motion. It’s been a couple years since he tried anything like this and Dean shifts, breathes out through his nose.

“I have you.” Cas kisses the assurance into the back of Dean’s neck.

Dean breathes in again. “I know. I’m—”

Before he can say ready, Cas is drawing out. Slow enough that Dean can feel him, every overheated inch until he presses back in, easier now. And then easier and easier, Dean’s body rocking back to meet him. Cas peppers his shoulders and back with dozens of kisses, his breath hot on Dean’s skin.

“Cas, Cas. Castiel.” Dean’s voice catches in his throat.

“Yes,” Cas says, one word laden with promise, and he reaches beneath them to wrap his hand around Dean’s achingly hard dick. “Dean.”

Dean’s easy, so fucking easy for him. He buries his face in the freshly unscarred bend of his elbow and sobs his way through it as he comes into the curl of Cas’ fingers.

Shaking on and over him, Cas tucks his own face against the side of Dean’s neck. “You feel so good,” he grits out, and Dean loves every second of the way he can feel Cas’ orgasm, every small twitch of Cas inside him, the ragged edge to his breathing and the pounding gladness settling into both of them.

Cas almost melts into the mattress as they move apart, his eyes heavy-lidded and his mouth stuck in a lazy smile. “Mmph,” he says, kissing the rise of Dean’s bicep.

Turning human, getting married, and having a bunch of sex has gotta make a guy tired. Dean pulls a face and tries to fake annoyance, but that’s a hard gig when all he wants to do is smooth Cas’ hair with his fingers and pull the covers up around him. He settles for cleaning them up again and dropping a self-indulgent kiss to Cas’ temple.

“Sweet dreams, you nerd.”

Cas snores.

Dean feels good—like, weirdly good. There’s no Mark on his arm and the only thing he wants to kill is the time until Cas wakes back up.

His watch says it’s barely past noon, so he saunters into the kitchen and presents Sam with his best smile. “So, that worked.”

Sam sighs, all long-suffering like he’s not almost as stoked as Dean. “You guys left all your crap in the middle of the woods. We brought your weapons in but I didn’t wanna pick up your gross shoes, jerk.”

“Awesome,” Dean tells him, so heartfelt that Sam looks at him like he just declared he’s giving up red meat.

It is awesome. It’s an excuse to head outside, to breathe in deep of the early spring air and to listen to the soft hum in his head that tells him—hey, Cas is alive. Cas loves you. And Cas is gonna be out for a couple hours minimum.

They’re gonna need lunch, since Cas’ll have to eat now. Maybe about a gallon of lube.

Dean fights back a dumbass grin as he retrieves their shoes and climbs into the Impala. If he plays his cards right, he’ll get back just by the time Cas wakes up with piping hot burgers, a start on Cas’ new human wardrobe, and—oh, yeah—a couple rings. If they’re doing this, and it sure as hell looks like they are, he’s gonna do it right.

The air is crisp and refreshing as he drives toward Hastings. With his head clear and his heart lighter than it’s been in years, Dean heads into the rest of the day and the rest of his life.