Work Header

Burning Up for You, Baby

Work Text:

“I’m gonna kill him,” Dean says.

Jo leans against his desk and sings, “No, you won’t.”

“This is the last straw.” Dean stares at the case files on his desk. Or rather, what used to be case files. All the actual data has been mysteriously replaced by pictures of cute baby animals.

No, not mysteriously. Dean knows exactly who did it. It’s Castiel fucking Novak. It’s always Castiel fucking Novak.

The Kansas City Police Department has always had a friendly rivalry with the Kansas City Fire Department, sure, but Castiel Novak has never been friendly. No, Castiel Novak is The Enemy.

“He has to be stopped,” Dean says, “and I have to be the one to do it.”

Jo sighs, reaching for one of the photos. “Quit being so melodramatic, Dean. Come on, is it really so bad? Look at this puppy. This puppy is adorable.”

“I’m a professional. This is my work. I am not going to be undermined by some dumbass who fights flames for a living!”

Jo shrugs. “He sure is cute, though.”

“Shut up, Jo.” It’s not Dean’s fault Castiel looks like he walked straight out of the pages of a firefighter pin-up calendar. It’s not Dean’s fault Castiel has the bluest eyes in Missouri–

God fucking dammit. Dean tears the puppy photo out of Jo’s hands. All right, so maybe it’s pretty adorable, but– Cas can’t just sneak into the precinct and fuck up a detective’s files.

“Revenge,” Dean says. “We have to get our revenge.” He enlists Jo’s help, and Victor’s, too. The three of them take one of the undercover cars down the block to the fire station. Sneaking inside is easy. So is finding a fire alarm in a fire station. So is pulling it.

The alarms blare too loud, and suddenly the station is a blur of movement. Jo looks at Dean with panic in her eyes; pranks are only fun until they get caught. “Go,” Dean shouts over the sirens. “I’m right behind you.”

Jo and Victor run for the door. Dean’s almost there too until he feels a hand tug at the back of his shirt.

“Look who it is,” says a very familiar voice. “Detective Winchester. Again.”

Jo and Victor are long gone. Dean pushes down the panic and turns to face his accuser. He feels his face split into a wide grin. “Fireman Novak. Fancy meeting you here.”

And maybe firefighters are the enemy or whatever, but the uniform is still pretty hot. Today, Castiel has his overalls tied around his waist, and he’s wearing a navy blue t-shirt with the KCFD insignia, and he looks good. Really good. Oh, God, Dean is so screwed.

“Let me guess,” Castiel says, crossing his arms. Mmm, nice biceps, strong from all that. Uh. Fighting fires and stuff. “You were the one who pulled the alarm.”

“Not bad, Cas,” Dean says, only because no one calls Castiel that. “You might even make a good detective if you get out of this dead-end place.”

Castiel licks his lips. “What you’ve just done is very dangerous. You know what this is, then?”

“Oh, yeah.” Dean grins, wide and foolhardy. “This is war.”

So they’re off. The next day, Dean finds everything in his desk covered in a thin layer of fire extinguisher foam. The day after that, it’s sriracha sauce in his morning coffee. All harmless pranks – both of them know better than to do anything that really interferes with the job – but it gets under his skin.

Day three, Dean discovers his police badge has been replaced by a toy replica. “What did I do to deserve this,” he groans. He knocks his head against the edge of his desk.

“You know what they say about little kids on the playground,” Jo says. “If he’s mean to you, it means he likes you.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t like him. Not at all. In fact, I hate him.”

Jo doesn’t even look up from her laptop. “Really?”

“I hate him so much. I hate his stupid eyes and his stupid smile and his stupid hands and–”

“His stupid ass?” Jo suggests.

Dean groans all over again. “Leave me to die in peace,” he says.

Jo laughs. “What happened to revenge?”

“Well, I would,” Dean says, “but my partner is too busy with paperwork to plan.”

Jo looks at him, unimpressed. She closes her laptop. “Fine, I’ll help. You’re a mess. But first, go get your badge back from your boyfriend, yeah?”

“Come on, Jo–”

“Then we’ll talk revenge.”

So Dean skulks down the street to the fire station. Apparently there’s not a single fire in the entire city worth fighting, because Castiel is there when Dean arrives, playing what looks like poker with some of the other firefighters. Castiel is smiling, and laughing, and he looks like a fucking sunbeam.

At the sound of the door, he looks up and meets Dean’s eyes. Dean opens his mouth to offer excuses, but Castiel cuts in.

“Everyone, we have a guest.” He nudges the young woman next to him. Dean doesn’t recognize her; she must be new. “Dean Winchester. What’s a gumshoe doing in a place like this?”

“I need my badge back,” he mumbles.

Castiel smiles even wider. “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that. What did you say?”

Dean clears his throat. “I need my badge.”

The other card-players all laugh. Ugh, Dean hates these people. He feels himself turning red as the fire engine.

“Well, I’m sorry, but I can’t help you. As you can see, I’m in the middle of a very important poker game.”

Dean shifts his weight. “Fine. Deal me in.”

Castiel’s hands still on the cards. “What was that?”

“Deal me in.” Dean gathers his courage, takes two long strides towards the table. He sits down on an upturned milk crate and slaps his hands on the table. “I win the next hand, you give me my badge.”

“And if you don’t?”

Shit. Dean didn’t think about that. “Um. I don’t know. What do you want?”

“What do I want?” Castiel leans forward, chin on hands. “I can think of a few things.”

Dean thinks he knows what that look means. He swallows. “Okay. Sure. Whatever you want.”

“Whatever I want,” Castiel repeats. He deals the cards.

It’s a tough round. Dean knows a few of the other players, like Rufus and Anna, but Castiel is a blank slate. He’s got a damn good poker face. But then, so does Dean.

More importantly, Dean gets lucky. He gets dealt two jacks – a made hand made even better by another jack in the flop. He’s feeling pretty good about the game until he notices the woman next to Cas.

She’s the newbie – someone calls her Hannah at one point – and she is all over Castiel. Laughing at his jokes, putting a hand on his knee, the whole nine yards. And once Dean notices, he can’t stop. He doesn’t know why it bugs him, because Castiel is polite but distant with her. It bugs him all the same.

Still, Dean wins the hand easily. Castiel sighs and reveals an almost-straight, which makes Dean laugh for a long time. Almost-straight. Just like Dean.

“Your badge is upstairs,” Castiel says, getting to his feet. Dean stumbles after him, grinning and bragging all the while about the three-of-a-kind.

“And you know I’m getting you back for this one,” Dean says. “And it’s gonna be awesome. You’re gonna think I’m awesome.”

“I already do,” Castiel says, glancing over his shoulder, and whoa. Okay.

Dean rubs at the back of his neck. “You know, it’ll be a lot harder for me to pretend to hate you if you keep saying stuff like that.”

Because here’s the thing. Dean really doesn’t hate Castiel Novak. Castiel Novak is clever and intelligent and attractive. He makes good coffee, excepting the sriracha sauce part. He’s good at poker. And he’s brave, too. He has to be, with this kind of job.

Dean would never admit it, not working where he does, but he has a lot of admiration for firefighters. Dean’s been afraid of fire since he was four years old; he could never do what Castiel does. Charging into an open flame, coughing up smoke with every step, that takes courage. Between the two of them, Castiel is the one who really saves lives.

They stop in front of the lockers. Castiel undoes the combination, and Dean memorizes the digits: 91808. Easy enough to remember. Will likely be useful later.

“So that new girl, Hannah,” Dean says. “She seems pretty cool.”

“She’s very brave,” Castiel says. “I like her.”

“Yeah, well, she likes you too. A lot.”

“I should hope so. I’m her superior.”

“No, man, I mean–” Dean waves his hands vaguely. Castiel cocks his head to the side. “You didn’t notice? Back there? She’s into you.”

“Oh,” Castiel says. He smiles. “Is she?”

Dean’s not sure why he’s saying this. He rubs at his jaw. “Yeah. You know. It’s pretty obvious.”

“Hmmm,” Castiel says. “Interesting.”

“So are you gonna. Um. You gonna do anything about it?”

Castiel takes a step forward. Dean sees a glint of gold in his hand. “Why? Are you…” And then another step forward, into Dean’s personal space now. So that his breath is warm against Dean’s ear. “Jealous?”

Dean focuses on keeping his breathing steady while his heartbeat goes wild. This is too much for the workplace. Too much. “Um,” he says. “No?”

Castiel steps away. He turns to leave. “Of course not,” he says. “Well, your badge is in your pocket. You know where the door is.”

Dean starts, patting his pants pockets. There’s his badge. Goddamn. Cas had put his hand– Jesus Christ, that’s hot.

Castiel stops. “Are you coming?”

“Y-yeah,” Dean says. “Wait, oh my God, can I ride the fire pole down?”


It only gets worse from there. The next day, it’s not Dean’s badge that’s gone: it’s the keys to the Impala.

“Unacceptable,” Dean says, storming once more to the fire station. “This is completely unacceptable.” Twice in two days. This asshole is really fucking good at picking Dean’s pockets, apparently.

And when the fuck did he have the time to do that? They work in different places on different schedules and–

Whatever. How doesn’t matter, what matters is that Dean’s car keys are gone and this is too far. Nobody messes with his baby.

The first person he sees at the fire station is Rufus, the fire chief. “Hey,” Dean says, “have you seen–”

“He’s asleep,” Rufus says, barely glancing up.

“Sorry, um, what?” Dean stops in the doorway of Rufus’s office. He looks around. The fire station is emptier than usual.

“Castiel. He’s taking a nap upstairs. You know how it goes,” Rufus says, “72-hour shift, a man’s gotta sleep sometime. Things are quiet. It’s January. Not a lot of fires in January.”

“Right. That makes sense. Yeah.”

Rufus sighs and stands up. “You’re in the middle of one of your prank wars, aren’t you?”

Dean shuffles his feet. Rufus has been with the KCFD for decades; even if he’s not Dean’s boss, he deserves respect. Prank wars aren’t really… “Yes, sir,” he says. “Sorry, sir.”

“It’s fine.” Rufus waves a hand. “You know Bobby and I are too friendly to keep up that old rivalry. We both protect the city, Dean. I don’t see the point in fighting.”

“It’s not like that,” Dean says. “Cas and I–”

“I know, I know. I don’t mind. You two have your fun. Just be careful.”

“Yes, sir.” Dean salutes. “He took my car keys, though.”

Rufus’s eyebrows shoot up. “The Impala? Oh, Castiel should know better than to mess with such a beautiful car.”

“I know, right?”

Rufus laughs. “All right, Dean, that’s fair grounds for revenge.”

Dean thanks him and gets the hell out of there. Castiel, asleep? This is perfect timing. Dean goes up to the lockers first, remembering the combination to Castiel’s. He fools around with the equipment – nothing too serious, of course, or Rufus will have his hide. Just takes out a couple of pieces. Enough that next time Castiel does an equipment check, he’ll have to take notice.

Then Dean goes to find Castiel, asleep on a sofa on the top floor of the station. He’s curled up on his side, heavy work boots unlaced on the ground. He’s wearing green and blue striped socks. What a fucking nerd.

Oh, Dean thinks. It’s almost too mean to mess with him when he looks so peaceful.


Dean does the usual stuff – Sharpie drawings on Castiel’s cheeks, fingers in a cup of warm water. Immature college pranks. He thinks about blaring rock music or something to wake Castiel’s up, but. Well. 72-hour shift. It’s the absolute limit for firefighters, the most consecutive hours they can work, and it probably sucks. Castiel needs his sleep.

And Dean needs to get back to the precinct. Despite all this fun, Dean does actually have a job. And a partner. Jo will only put up with so much of this.

She teases him when he comes back sans car keys, but they get back to work. It’s all serious for at least an hour, and then Dean’s phone starts ringing.

The first few calls mostly just confuse him. It’s on the fifth that he finally asks, “How did you get this number?”

The dude on the other end pauses, then says, “Aren’t you Dean? From Craigslist?”

Craigslist. Oh, no. He wouldn’t.

Dean grits his teeth and hangs up. Immediately, the phone starts ringing again. “Fuck,” he says. He pulls open a browser and scrolls through recent entries on the website until he finds it.

Submitted by a Dean W., the advertisement offers, “One handsome young police officer, looking for fun with no strings attached. Gives excellent blowjobs. Call the number below for a good time. ;)”

Winky face. There’s an actual winky face. Castiel Novak and his fucking emoticons.

“This is it,” Dean says. “This is all I can handle.”

“What, the great Dean Winchester surrenders?” Jo has the ad open too now, and is laughing way, way too hard. She’s supposed to be on his side here.

“I have to,” Dean says. “I can’t put up with this anymore. I’m gonna have to change my number.”

“Or you could take the calls,” Jo says. “I’m sure Craigslist attracts some very nice, respectable–”

“Gives excellent blowjobs? I mean, what the fuck, Jo, who does he think he is?”

“Well, I’m sure you do,” she says.

“Hell yeah, I do! That’s not the point! The point is–”

“Hang on,” Jo says. She squints at the screen. “He included a picture. Is that– oh my God, I’m pretty sure that’s David Hasselhoff.”

“Un-fucking-believable.” Dean’s laughing now, because he can’t really be angry at Cas, not for something like this. He wipes a hand down his face.

“So you’re going to surrender, then?”

“No.” Dean holds up a finger. “I’m calling a truce. That’s different.”

“Sure it is.”

“And I’m changing my phone number.”

“Okay, Dean.”

“Think you can hold down the fort?”

Jo is still reading the ad. She clears her throat, then says loud enough for even Bobby in his office to hear, “Hey, everybody! Should I read aloud Dean’s Craigslist ad?”

That’s it. Dean’s out of there. Back to the fire station he goes.

Castiel is awake now, obviously. Rufus directs Dean to the bathroom, where Cas is scrubbing Sharpie penises off his face. He doesn’t even look up when Dean walks in.

“Hey,” Dean says, “listen. I think we should. Um. Call a truce.”

Cas braces himself on the edge of the sink. He meets Dean’s eyes in the mirror. “You saw the ad?”

“Yeah. David Hasselhoff. Nice touch.”

Castiel laughs, and then Dean laughs, and then they’re both laughing uncontrollably together. Dean has to brace himself against a wall.

“Is this another prank?” Castiel asks. “Are you serious about the truce?”

“Yeah,” Dean says. “Definitely. It’s going too far. You and I both have jobs to do.”

“Mmmm.” Castiel nods. He turns and leans against the sink, crosses his arms. Oh, God, the navy t-shirt and the biceps and the– Dean’s pretty sure he’s got a thing for firemen. Or maybe just a thing for Castiel Novak.

He clenches his fists. Takes a deep breath. “Well, listen. Maybe we could go for dinner or something, my treat. To, y’know, call it off.”

Castiel cheeks are a little pink, though maybe that’s from rubbing off the Sharpie drawings. “I could manage that. My shift’s almost over.”

“How’s Friday?”

“Friday?” Castiel straightens. “Oh, no. Sorry, that won’t work at all.”

“It– it won’t?”

“No,” Castiel says, smiling. “You see, it’s my boyfriend’s birthday on Friday. I’m taking him out for a nice dinner.”

“Oh.” Dean blinks. “Oh, right. Of course. No problem.”

“Saturday, then?”

Dean bites his lip. “Yeah. Yeah, Saturday’s fine.”

“Sounds good,” Castiel says. He smiles, wide and bright. Oh, God, Dean will never get tired of that smile.

“Cas, I–”

The fire alarm sounds. They both flinch, and then Castiel is moving, brushing past Dean on his way out the door. “We’ll talk later,” he says, and then he’s gone.

Right. Right, because there’s a fire, and Cas has to fight it. Dean stands there for a long time, staring at the white walls of the bathroom. The fire alarm blares and he hears shouting, movement, and then the sound of an engine.

Then, only then, does he remember this morning. Breaking into Cas’s locker and fucking with his equipment.

“Oh my God,” Dean says, and then he’s moving too.

He gets to the curb just as the fire engine turns the corner. Fuck, no, this is all wrong, this is all so wrong, Cas is on that engine with faulty equipment and it’s Dean’s fault. It was just supposed to be a joke, just fun, but Dean forgot to tell him. He called a truce and forgot to tell him and now– and now–

Fuck. Where’s Dean’s car? He knows where the fire is, he saw the address on the screens in the station, he has to go after them. He has to warn Cas.

Cas, who took his car keys this morning. The Impala’s sitting at home, useless.

Dean’s hands are shaking as he dials Jo’s number. The phone rings once, twice. “Damn it, Jo! Damn it! Pick up your fucking phone!” he shouts. An old lady across the street gives him a funny look, but he’s too distracted to care. Cas is heading for a fire in faulty equipment, and Dean is standing on the curb helpless.

There is movement around him but it all feels strangely distant, like he’s underwater and everything’s blurry. The phone rings sharp in his ear and then a click, and then Jo.

“Jo, you have to pick me up right now,” he blurts.

“Dean? What?”

“Emergency. Squad car, now. I’m outside the fire station.”

Jo doesn’t even bother with a reply. She’s already moving.

Dean rubs at his face with a hand and listens to her shout something at Bobby.

“Is anybody hurt?” she asks.

“No. No. Not yet. Shit.” He sits down, because otherwise he’ll fall down. He grinds his knuckles into the concrete until they start to feel raw.

He hears her start the engine. The station is only a block away; when he looks up again she’s skidding to a stop and leaning over to push open the passenger side door. He stumbles into the car, stutters out an address.

“Do we need sirens?”she asks, hands hovering over the controls. There’s a red light coming up, bright and angry. They can’t afford to stop. The engine had sirens on; it could be at the fire now. Cas could be in the fire choking on smoke and–

“Yeah,” Dean says. “Yeah, we need sirens.”

She turns them on and everything goes blue and red.

“Fuck,” Dean says. “Fuck, Jo. It’s Cas.”

“Oh my God,” Jo says. “Is he okay?”

“Maybe. I don’t know. He went off to fight a fire but I– the prank war, fuck, Jo. I was so fucking stupid.” He slams a fist into the dashboard. “He could die because of a stupid prank and I– I can’t–”

“We’ll get there,” she says. “He’ll be fine.”

“You don’t get it,” Dean says. “I sabotaged his equipment. I fucking sabotaged his equipment. Why the fuck would I do that? What kind of piece-of-crap person sabotages a fireman’s equipment while he’s on duty? I thought he’d check it when he woke up, but then the alarms went off and he just ran out, he didn’t check, and now he’s going into a fire with no filter in his mask and I–” His throat closes up. He tries to swallow and can’t. He gasps.

Jo keeps her eyes firmly on the road. She white-knuckles the wheel.

“He was gonna take me out for dinner,” Dean chokes. “For my birthday. This Friday. He was gonna take me out for dinner.”

“Don’t talk that way,” Jo says. “We’ve got time.”

“This whole thing was so foolish,” he says. “The pranks, all of it. It’s just– you know. He was going on a 72-hour shift and we wouldn’t be able to see each other. I thought it’d be a good way to. To. Shit, Jo, drive faster.” Dean sees the flashing lights up ahead, knows they’re getting close. Cas had better be there. He’d better be okay. Dean wouldn’t know what to do if– if–

Jo screeches to a stop beside the fire engine. “Go,” she says. “I’ll take care of the rest.”

Dean hits the ground running.

He searches the crowd of firefighters for Cas, but all the yellow helmets look alike. The fire is big and roaring and there’s smoke everywhere and– “Cas! Cas!”

Someone turns. Thank God.

“Cas,” Dean says. He grabs Cas’s hand in pulls him into a hug. “Oh my God, you’re all right.”

“Dean? I– what are you–”

“You can’t go in there,” Dean says.

“What? Dean, they need me, the fire’s getting out of control and–”

“No, no, no,” Dean says. “You don’t get it. When you were sleeping I broke into your locker and messed with your equipment, your mask, I thought you’d check it because you’re paranoid about that shit, but you didn’t, and now you’re going to go in there and it’s not safe, you can’t do that.”

Cas jerks his hand out of Dean’s, reaching for his oxygen mask. “You broke into my locker?”

“Yeah,” Dean says. He swallows. “It was dumb, but I was annoyed about the car thing. I crossed a line. Shit. Shit.”

“I have to go in there, Dean,” Cas says. “They need my help.”

“Then get a new mask.”

“I can’t,” Cas says. “We don’t keep spares.”

“No.” Dean’s hands are trembling when he puts them on Cas’s shoulders. “No, you’re not doing that to me, you can’t do that to me.”

“I’ll be fine,” Cas says. “In and out. I’ll be back before you know it.”

“But the smoke–”

“There are people inside, Dean,” he says. “I have to try.”

Dean feels his face go warm and prickly. “Cas, you son-of-a-bitch, you can’t leave me here.”

Cas looks away. Dean follows his gaze to where Rufus is setting up the rescue team. Cas leads the rescue team, Dean knows that.

“Not this one,” Dean pleads. “You can sit this one out.”

Cas pulls off his mask. He tugs Dean in and kisses him, roughly. “I’ll be fine. Wait for me.”

And then he’s pushing Dean away, fixing the faulty mask back over his face.

“I hate you for this,” Dean calls. He’s shaking all over and probably crying too, God, and there’s this feeling in his chest like he’s burning from the inside out.

Cas looks over his shoulder. Meets Dean’s eyes. “No, you don’t,” he says, and fucking winks.

Then he’s gone. Into the flames.

Dean’s field of vision goes black. When the world comes back into focus, everything is suddenly louder. Jo is at his side, holding him up with an arm around his shoulders.

“Dean?” she asks. “Dean, can you hear me?”

“Yeah,” he mumbles.

“Dean? Is Cas in there?”

“I couldn’t– I told him and he went in anyway. Jo, if he–”

“He won’t,” she says. “I talked to Rufus. The building’s structurally sound. Not a lot of smoke. Cas will make it out.”

“He was gonna take me out for dinner,” Dean says.

“For your birthday, that’s right,” Jo says, and her words are slow and calm, as if she’s speaking to a little kid.

Dean remembers, now, all those years ago. When the firefighter crouched at his side and took Sam from his arms and said, “It’s all right now. You’re safe. Thank you for protecting your brother.”

Dean remembers the heat of the flames, remembers the fear in his veins. His heart pounds now like it did then. Except this time, it’s not Mary caught in all that heat. This is worse, this is so much worse.

He can’t breathe. He can’t breathe. And neither can Cas.

Everything feels too loud, too intense. Jo is saying something in his ear but it just sounds like noise. There are sirens. Rufus is coming towards him, wearing that big fire chief’s helmet. Then Dean has a blanket around his shoulders. He’s sitting on a curb, watching the flames, watching the blurry shapes of firefighters emerge from the burning building. One of them is bending over and coughing, one of them is collapsing. Medics come over and help him back to his feet. He pulls off his helmet. It’s Cas, of course it is. He’s coughing, face covered in soot, and Dean is just sitting there watching it all happen.

There is a ringing in his ears, and it’s not from the sirens.

Rufus is shaking his shoulder. “Dean,” he says. “Dean, can you hear me? Detective Winchester!”

“Cas,” Dean chokes out. “Is he–”

“He’s fine. Got some smoke, yeah, but he’s fine. They’re getting him hooked up to oxygen now.”

“And the fire?”

“Under control. Civilians are all safe.”

“Cas is okay?”

“Cas is okay,” Rufus repeats. “Come on, I’ll take you to him.” He helps Dean to his feet.

Dean shrugs off the shock blanket. He folds it in his hands. It’s a soft orange, nothing like the harsh and angry flames. He curls his fingers into the fabric. Cas is okay.

“This prank war has gone way too far,” Dean says.

Rufus laughs wearily. “Damn straight. You’re going to be writing a formal apology to the Kansas City Fire Department. And to your boyfriend.”

“I can think of other ways to apologize to him,” Dean says, and it’s a weak joke but they both laugh anyway. They laugh because Cas is alive. Dean didn’t fuck up too badly, not this time.

They round the corner and there’s Cas, sitting in the back door of the ambulance. The paramedic is helping him with the oxygen machine. He coughs, then holds the mask up to his face and takes a deep breath. The paramedic smiles and nods and says something else.

“Hey,” Dean says, stopping a few feet in front of Cas.

“Hey,” Cas says. He coughs. Rufus waves off the paramedic.

“We’ve got it from here,” Rufus says. “You doing all right, Novak?”

Cas smiles. Rufus nods to him, nods to Dean, and then walks away.

“So, I’m an idiot,” Dean says.

“Yes,” Cas says.

Dean sits down beside him. He tucks his feet up on the rear bumper. “I crossed a line.”

“We both did,” Cas says.

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Cas says. “I’m okay.”

“God,” Dean says. “I was so fucking worried. I thought I’d killed you.”

Cas smiles, weary. “You’re not getting rid of me that easily.” He starts to say something else, but wheezes instead.

“Shit, Cas,” Dean says. He reaches for Cas’s hands, helps him fit the oxygen mask over his face. Cas takes a deep breath, shuddering. Dean leaves his hands there. Brushes soot from Cas’s cheek.

“I just thought,” Dean says. “I thought it’d make things easier. It’s been a long week.”

It’s hard sometimes, even when Cas has 24-hour shifts. They’re always missing each other. Dean comes home and Cas is either sleeping or working.

And then this, the 72-hour shift. Dean has been coming home to an empty apartment and he hates it. He hates sleeping alone. The pranks, well, they made things better. They gave Dean an excuse to see Cas. To smile at him and flirt with him and be with him.

“I love you so much,” Dean says.

Cas doesn’t take off the oxygen mask. But he bumps Dean’s shoulder with his, and laces Dean’s fingers in his, and they’re okay.

“Don’t tell Jo I said this,” Dean says, “but I liked the baby animals.”

Cas laughs, but it sounds more like wheezing.

“I wasn’t thinking. I could have gotten you killed.”

Cas lifts the oxygen mask. “But you didn’t,” he says.

“No more pranks,” Dean says.

“No more pranks,” Cas agrees. He takes away the oxygen mask and lifts Dean’s hand to his lips.

The fire dies. The other firefighters take care of it. Cas did his job; he got all the civilians out alive.

“The Craigslist ad was pretty funny,” Dean admits.

Cas huffs a laugh. “Did you tell Sam?”

“Not yet. He and I haven’t gotten into a war this bad since high school.”

“He’s coming for dinner too, you know,” Cas says. “On Friday.”


“I know you don’t like birthdays, but I want to. I want to do something nice for you.”

“Okay,” Dean says, because he can never say no to Cas. “And we’ve got that date for Saturday.”

“Right.” They lapse into silence. Things are quieter now. Dean’s hand feels steadier in Cas’s.

“Oh, and I still need my car keys back,” Dean says. “So I can drive you home.”

“Home,” Cas says. He rests his head on Dean’s shoulder. “Yeah, let’s go home.”