“The first few weeks,” murmurs Castiel, face hidden under Sam’s chin, “Bobby taught me the basics - cleaning up, cooking simple meals. He said I would need that kind of skill if I wanted to become a hunter. To survive,” he makes a vague gesture with his free hand, the other tucked under his head, “out there.”
To say that the queen bed they’re lying on is too narrow for them both would be an understatement. It reminds Sam of the one he had to sleep on during his first year at Stanford, when it turned out that the dorms were a no-go in the middle of the semester, and he had to rent out a poor excuse of a room from a lady who seemed to adopt a new cat every other day. Back then, though, he wouldn’t have changed it for even the best of hotel rooms. Hotel rooms meant dad. Everything was better than dad.
“Mm?” Sam turns his head to press his lips to Cas’ forehead. “And?”
“I was learning how to operate the washing machine when you arrived,” Cas’ hand rises from the covers. He traces the outline of Sam’s tattoo, drawing invisible circles with the tips of his fingers. “I realized I wouldn’t be able to stay with Bobby and not be noticed by either of you.”
“Cas—” If I ever see your face again, it’ll be too soon, do you understand, Castiel? Dean’s words still loud and clear in Sam’s ears, even though it’s been months. He remembers Cas’ flinch, the way he closed his eyes and hanged his head, as if he just heard the jury decide that he was sentenced to death. Sam and Dean left an hour later. The souls were back in Purgatory, as were the Leviathan, but that didn’t mean that they were allowed to rest. Sam recalls their visit to the salvage yard a month after that, but can’t remember if there were any signs that would point to Bobby having a lodger. But that’s Bobby for you.
The former angel shakes his head minutely. “When you left, I asked Bobby if there were someone else I could go to.”
The circles turned into a spiral, slowly closing in on the center of the five-pointed star. “He gave me an address and some money for the journey. And a phone with his and your numbers. I wrote them down on a leaflet advertising life insurance, memorized them, and threw away the phone at the bus station.”
Sam furrows his brow. “But…”
Cas chuckles mirthlessly. “I should have pawned it at the nearest shop. A waste of money. But I didn’t know any better back then.”
“Why’d you—” Sam stops. Cas didn’t want any of them to know where he was, he told Sam that when they met back in Montana, after taking out the vampire nest. He made Sam swear he wouldn’t spill to Dean. Or Bobby.
Sam closes his eyes. He himself did the same thing after Dean’s death. Severing all the connections. His motives were different, but… Maybe he and Cas have more in common than he ever realised. Now that’s something to think about.
Cas continues. “I arrived at Hannah’s two days later, asked her not to tell Bobby.”
“She looked at me and asked me who I had lost.” Cas’ fingers finish their dance. He lays his palm over Sam’s heart. “Did you know that almost all of the hunters take up the profession because of a loss of a loved one?”
Sam’s thoughts immediately go to his dad and his mom’s death. The life that she wanted to spare them. He thinks about Bobby and Karen, about Jo. His arms involuntarily tighten around Cas. The angel scoots even closer, covering Sam’s side with his body, skin cool to the touch. Sam pulls the thin comforter up and over them both. It’s not much against the chill coming from the half-opened window, but he doesn’t want to leave the bed. Not until Cas finishes speaking, and something tells him it’s going to be a while. Cas needs this, though, and Sam knows it.
“You weren’t dead,” whispers Castiel, voice almost inaudible, as if he didn’t want Sam to hear him. Sam can feel the puffs of Cas’ breath caress his skin. “But I lost all of you anyway. I believe that still counts, doesn’t it?”