Dean wasn’t sure how long he’d been staring at the empty bed next to his own. He woke up and glanced over and simply kept looking. He’d yet to notice the envelope on the nightstand addressed to him, from Sammy. He kept his ears open for any sound of a door creaking, whether it be the bathroom door or the front door; nothing opened and no one came. Dean was alone, really truly alone.
Well that wasn’t completely true, he had a bottle of scotch in his bag and an angel on speed dial, but he didn’t have his brother. He wasn’t really sure what happened to Sam, but he knew that no amount of shouting his name or searching the country for him would bring him back; no deals with a demon, not this time.
He got out of bed, not quite sure of the hour, but eventually he lifted his head from his pillow and threw his legs over the side, only to scrub his hands over his face and get stuck on that damn bed again. Perfectly made, in pristine condition, like it had never been occupied at all. Dean wondered briefly if he was about to wake up from a long and intricate dream that he’d been having in a mental institution. Then he would look next to him and see Sam and realize that his entire life was made up about him and his room mate in the loony bin. His life was crazy enough that it just might work.
That thought forced him to stand and head for the bathroom; he splashed water on his face and stared in the mirror, something that had become a bit of a routine. He had to check and make sure that he was real, that his face was his own, his eyes belonged to him, that the pain he felt was actually there settling in his chest. It was there alright, as he stared in the mirror, half disgusted with himself, half pissed off at his brother, he felt the crushing weight of it and found it slightly hard to breathe.
He looked to his left; a shower, then. Something warm and steamy, something to take his mind off of his failure. All he had to do was take care of his brother and he couldn’t even do that, again. Wherever his father was, heaven, hell, purgatory, walking around on Earth as a vengeful spirit, who cares; he was sure to be just as disappointed with Dean now as he was in life.
That thought sent Dean’s fist flying into the wall of the shower. The tiles didn’t break, but for a few brief moments the hunter was afraid his hand might have. It throbbed as he ran it under the hot water of the shower, the few pinpricks of blood that had been forced out mixed with the runoff going down the drain. He closed his eyes and tilted his head back, allowing the heat and dampness to take him over, he tried to forget about everything, but found it hard. Even harder than when he was staring at the emptiness. Something about showers, they make you recognize how shitty your life is.
He got out, toweled himself off, did his morning routine and stepped out into the still empty motel room. He thought for a moment about calling Cas, getting his ass in gear so they could hunt or just drink together. Someone to give him shit, or tell him it was going to be okay, or even better, to motivate him to do something about it. The problem was exactly that, he wasn’t motivated, and he knew that not even Castiel would help with it, but he could damn well try. He picked up his phone and carded through the contacts, ending up on Cas’ name; it’s not like he needed the contact exactly, he knew the angels number by heart. Though as he went to press the name, a gleam of white on his nightstand caught his eye. He set down his phone, calling Cas all but a memory, and rushed to the envelope waiting for him.
To Dean, from Sammy it said, Dean picked it up and stared at it as if it were the most offensive thing he’d ever seen, and that’s what did it, it flipped the switch and he was no longer calm. He picked up the closest thing to him-a lamp-and threw it against the nearest wall. The bits of glass shattered and came flying back at him for instant revenge, but he let them cut him, it didn’t bother him. He then turned over that perfect mattress, he had to get it out of his sight. His phone had been resting on it and was sent flying into the wall, shattering the screen. He groaned at himself, great, now how was he going to call Cas.
He’d deal with that later, for the moment, he had to go.
He picked up his broken phone and shoved it into his duffel along with his clothes from the day before, his knife and gun; at least Sam has the sense to take Ruby’s knife with him, wherever he went. Dean had an angel blade, he could gank any demon son’s of bitches he wanted with that.
Dean slung his bag over his shoulder, looked around the semi-trashed motel room and slammed the door behind him. He had to head back to the bunker, screw the hunt they were on. Someone else would come along and connect the dots. Someone else could save this town, he didn’t care anymore.
Again, that wasn’t entirely true, he stopped at a payphone on his way out of town and called the closest hunter he knew, telling them the details and saying that he had other matters to attend. The hunter would come and figure stuff out; he didn’t have to. He had to go home.
To his empty house, his empty bunker. The sounds echoed around much louder than when Sam had been with him; or perhaps that was a reaction of his own subconscious to the lack of his brother’s presence. Whatever the case, Sam wasn’t there, and the bunker didn’t feel warm as it usually did. There was nobody.
His parents were dead, Kevin was gone, Charlie was gone, Sam was. . . Missing. . . Hell even Crowley wasn’t around, bothering him like usual. He pondered calling Cas again, but decided against it, the bottle of Johnny Walker Black was the one calling him and he would answer.
Normally he’d hold up in his room with his computer and his booze because he wouldn’t want to deal with Sam’s exhausted looks. But now that he didn’t have any disappointed eyes on him he could let loose wherever he wanted, and where he wanted to do that was in the study of the bunker. He set up his laptop on the table top and climbed on up, no shoes, no problem. To hell with a cup as well, he was drinking straight from the bottle, who was there to tell him not to!
He queued up a random show on Netflix and had at it, made up his own drinking game. Every time he felt like it, he took a swig, which turned out to be a lot. By the end of the first episode he was feeling a bit light headed and decided to stop watching and ended up wandering around the bunker. He went into places he hadn’t been before, rooms filled with weird artifacts that he was pretty sure were fertility statues from around the world. But again, he wasn’t certain, that stuff was Sam’s area of expertise.
After another hour of wandering aimlessly, he’d come to the end of his bottle and the end of his wits, he passed out on the floor near the front entrance, just at the foot of the steps.
Through a sleepy, drunken haze he was almost certain that he felt strong arms pick him up and heard a deep voice calling his name, but then again, it could have been the booze. He fell back into an unconscious state and dreamt of Rocky and Bullwinkle, only he was Rocky and Sam was of course the moose. Crowley was Boris and for some odd reason Abaddon was Natasha. What was even more strange was Cas’ role as Fearless Leader.
Dean awoke with a massive headache and pulled his blankets over his head before he sat up, far too quickly and immediately confused by how he got into bed. Attributing his new sleeping arrangements to sleepwalking, he started to get up, but then his door opened.
His heart sped up, for a few agonizing seconds he’d expected to see Sam walking through the door, Advil in hand; but it wasn’t him and Dean berated himself for being stupid enough to expect his brother to be there. Castiel stared at him with a furrowed brow, three different pill bottles and a glass of water.
“I brought all three, I wasn’t exactly sure which one was the aspirin.” He half smiled, walking to the night stand and setting everything down.
“Couldn’t have just cured the headache, Cas?” Dean asked, plopping back down against the bed and regretting it, his head throbbed.
“I already cured you of your inevitable nausea. I thought you should experience some repercussions of your actions.” Dean sighed and downed some pills and water, then looked up at Cas.
“You’re a real pal.” He muttered, “Why are you here?” He didn’t mean for the words to come out as harsh as they did and he noticed a slight flinch in Castiel after he said them. He wanted to apologize immediately, but Cas straightened up and he could tell the angel had raised his walls.
“Sam.” Cas said, “He called me last week and said to come by today, that he wanted to discuss the details of a new case, something you needed my help with. He said you were too proud to call me and ask for help.” Dean sighed, Sam had been planning this for a while.
“Sam’s not here.” Dean grunted as he sat back up and moved to the edge of his bed where Cas was standing and staring with his head tilted, his brow furrowed. On a normal day, that look would have grounded Dean, would have made him feel okay; but this wasn’t a normal day, it wasn’t going to be normal ever again.
“Where is he? Did he go out for supplies?” Castiel looked around the room as if Sam would be hiding in there, ready to pop out and say surprise.
“No, he left. He’s gone.” Dean breathed, Castiel shifted in response.
“Where to?” Cas pried, Dean was beginning to get irritated.
“Hell if I know, Cas! He up and left in the middle of the night, no word, nothin!” Dean hopped off the bed and crossed the short distance to his dresser, opening the top drawer, pulling out some clothes for the day, before he slammed it shut again. He could feel Castiel’s eyes on his back.
“And you’re not looking for him?” Cas asked, his tone careful.
“No.” Dean muttered, rested his hands on top of the dresser, splayed out so he could observe every single one of his digits; they were the most interesting thing right now.
“He left no word?” Castiel asked, obviously having a hard time understanding.
“He left me a damn letter, but hell if I’m reading it!” Dean turned abruptly and brushed past Cas, heading out of his room to the bathroom. Cas watched his back until the door slammed behind him. Dean knew that the angel would be standing in the same spot, still staring when he was done. Or maybe he wouldn’t, maybe he would leave too.
Dean grit his teeth at the thought of Cas leaving, he hated what it did to him. He had to blink back the tears that welled in the corners of his eyes, though he was alone and no one would see them if they did spill over, he didn’t want to cry; not now, it was all too much. If he cried, then it would be real, it would be over, Sam would be gone and he would have nothing keeping him around anymore. No one to need him, and no one to look after him.
With a broken, ragged, shuddering breath Dean threw water on his face and stared at his red flannel shirt. Funny how when you’re angry you choose colors that compliment that rage. Red, just like his face and bloodshot eyes.
When he exited the bathroom, Cas was standing in the hall, leaning against a wall. The pose was so casual, Dean almost laughed, until he remembered the conversation that still awaited them. He said nothing and passed him, he didn’t stop walking until he reached the kitchen and the coffee that Cas had no doubt brewed for him. It would probably be a bit weak, or bitter, it was never just right when the angel made it, but it was fine all the same. The caffeine did it’s job no matter what.
“Dean.” Cas nearly growled, the sound surprised Dean out of his coffee induced stupor and he exhaled, squeezing his eyes for a moment before he turned around and faced the angel.
“I don’t know why, Cas.” Dean said softly, shrugging. He saw Castiel straighten as he came to the realization that this was real, there was no joke and Sam really wasn’t coming back, “It’s sort of like... I don’t know, like he’s done. He wanted out of the life, y’know?”
“He said that on many occasions. He expressed his want for a dog.” Cas half smiled and crossed the room to lean against the counter, next to Dean; he was thankful for the closeness and the body heat but suppressed the urge to lean into the angels’ shoulder.
“I know.” Dean inhaled and took a sip of his bitter coffee.
“What would you like to do?” Castiel asked after a few wonderful moments of silence where it felt like things might be okay.
“Well...” Dean thought for a moment, he hadn’t pondered that yet; what was he to do now that Sam was gone?
“Hunt, I guess.” He finally said.
“Alone?” Cas asked, though there was another underlying question, can I come with you?
Dean looked at the angel with his usual half smirk and heavy lids; he was alienated from his home, his family had turned their backs on him, they were a good fit, himself and his angel. He had the mark on his shoulder that proved just how well they fit.
“Not if you came with me.” Dean cleared his throat and crossed the room to the sink where he set down his half empty mug. He waited a few moments and then turned around to look at Cas and saw the beginnings of a smile forming on his face. Against his better judgment, he returned it.
They ended up on a case in Maine, some weird cult that was summoning the powers of a demon, as per usual. It wasn’t a particularly nasty demon, just your average joe trying to escape Hell. Castiel managed to scare the living crap out of most of the cult and got them to flee, but the leaders were the hardest ones to snap out of it. They really believed that they would be able to achieve great things with the help of one of Hell’s finest. Dean almost summoned Crowley to explain things to them but decided against it. Without Sam around for the King to poke fun at, he would just try to get Dean to come with him, to join the dark side. Dean didn’t want that.
Dean thought maybe he could smack some sense into the cult leader, Cas was against it, of course. So he opted for reasoning with him.
“Just stop with the rituals, man! This isn’t helping you.” Dean urged, but got laughs in return.
“How would you know, hunter.” The leader said, his hands grasping at his robes, very important-like. Dean rolled his eyes as he slowly approached the older man, “You kill their kind without even knowing what sort of benefits you would reap if you spared them! They would make you rich beyond your wildest dreams.”
“Yeah, right.” Dean scoffed, “What black-eyed bitch has been feeding you that lie?”
“I have.” The cult’s right hand man, err woman, suddenly stepped forward, her eyes black.
“Dean-” Cas muttered, staring at her with wide eyes.
“Welcome to the party, honey.” Dean smiled, ignoring Castiel, and stepping forward, angel blade in hand.
“Do you not know who I am?” She asked, her head tilted, a grin growing on her face. The cult leader was becoming more and more frightened by the second, he stepped back quite a ways, “Your friend seems to have recognized me.”
“Oh yeah?” Dean glanced back at Cas for a moment and then looked back to the demon, “Well I couldn’t care less who you are, I just know what you are.”
“And what’s that?” She asked, amused.
“Dead.” Dean replied quickly before lunging forward at her. She caught his arm with ease and twisted, causing Dean to scream and drop the blade. Dean, however, used her momentary smugness and distraction to elbow her with his other free arm, knocking her back and disorienting her for long enough that Dean could hit her a few more times, all with his left hand.
He was finally able to trip her, focussing all of his rage into this one moment, he was able to grab the angel blade and plunge it into her; the screams that emitted from her were satisfying enough that Dean ripped the blade out and shoved it in again, but this time it was for his probably broken arm. He did it again for all the things in his life that had gone wrong, he blamed her and her kind. He then did it again because Sam wasn’t there to stop him, he wasn’t there to see him covered in her vessel’s blood. He screamed at her for his brother’s absence, it was her fault, her and the monsters; they’d driven his brother away, and it broke him. He would have kept at it, kept plunging that blade into the vessel’s ruined chest were it not for the hands on his shoulders and the voice in his ear.
“Dean, stop.” Cas said softly, he was handling Dean with kids gloves at the moment and for that he was thankful. Dean fell back from the body and dropped the bloody blade; he rubbed his hands together in an attempt to rid himself of the red stains and winced at the pain. Castiel reached down to his hand and attempted to heal it but he pulled it away.
“No-” Dean snapped, standing up quickly as he began to walk away from the angel and the man who was muttering that Dean killed her, he killed his wife.
“Why?” Castiel asked, suddenly next to Dean, he didn’t bat an eyelash, he’d gotten used to the angel showing up places. Dean didn’t say anything as he rounded the Impala and tore open the trunk, with his good hand of course, and started peeling off his bloody red shirt. He wiped his hands off on it and threw it into the car and pulled out a new shirt, pulling it on and slamming the trunk closed. He walked to the drivers seat and got in, Cas was already there. Dean turned the car on and pulled out of the parking lot, exiting the makeshift commune and starting down the road.
“Why?” Cas asked again, though this time his voice was softer.
Dean looked at him briefly and exhaled loudly, “I want to feel the repercussions of my actions.” He said and shrugged, he could see Castiel’s furrowed brow and head tilt out of the corner of his eye and it was almost enough to get him to smile, but the pain in his arm helped dull that feeling.
He taught Cas how to wrap a broken arm when they got back to the bunker. The entire time the angel muttered about how he could fix it with a touch of his fingers or how they should go to a real doctor to get it fixed and to get pain meds for Dean. But the hunter shook off all the tries, stating that they didn’t have the money for a doctor and that he didn’t want Cas to fix this; it was his problem, he had to deal with it.
In reality he was happy to have something to focus on other than his brothers’ absence.
The lack of Sam around the bunker began to show over the next week. Dean didn’t realize how much cleaning the younger Winchester had done until he went for clean clothes one day only to realize he didn’t have any.
He had to do laundry. With one hand.
He got Cas to carry his basket down the incredibly long and unnecessary hall to the laundry room; it would have been too much with his broken one and probably would have resulted in him needing to take multiple pain pills.
The angel stared at him in confusion as they entered the room, Dean laughed at him.
“What?” He asked, motioning for Cas to set the basket on top of the dryer.
“I’ve never seen this room before.” He replied, looking all around. He stared first at the grey brick that seemed to decorate the dungeon and then stared at the large green metal shelving unit that had old dusty baskets filled with old dusty linens and probably some sort of moth balls from another dimension. Cas picked up one sheet and coughed as he inhaled dust.
“Be careful, man!” Dean shouted, separating out his clothes into the washer, “You’ve never seen this room because you wouldn’t have any reason to do laundry, would you?”
“I suppose you’re right.” Castiel sighed and then leaned against the dusty shelves, Dean could feel his stare. He glanced back over his shoulder at the angel.
“Do-Do you wanna learn how, or something?” Dean asked, holding up a shirt, Castiel shrugged and walked toward him.
“How do I laundry?” He asked, taking the shirt from Dean and staring at it.
“First of all, you don’t laundry, you do the laundry. Like I said before.” Dean shook his head and half smiled, “You gotta separate out the colors and whites, well at least that’s what they say. But I don’t. I kind of just throw everything in together.”
“So I can put this shirt in?” Cas asked, looking at Dean in confusion.
“Yes, you can.” Dean watched Castiel throw the shirt in and then he showed him how much detergent to put in and how to turn it on, “Everything’s gonna get blood on it eventually, why not put it all in together.” He said as they were leaving the room and heading back up to the main room of the bunker. Dean put his laptop on the table and played another random Netflix show as he ate a burger, vowing to get Castiel to eat something eventually; even if he could only taste molecules, he was still gonna eat.
For a small fraction of a moment, Dean wasn’t thinking about his brother, or about his shitty hand that he was dealt in life. He was eating good food with a good friend and watching a good show; he was content. But then he remembered, and that contentment gave way to a crushing wave of depression and guilt at being happy when his brother was nowhere to be found.
He wondered if that’s how Sam felt every day that he and Cas were in purgatory.
A few weeks passed and Dean still had no clue where his brother was, nor had he looked in the envelope that now sat inside of the top drawer of his dresser, waiting for his attention. But it never came.
Dean was waiting for Cas to leave, not that he wanted him to, he was just expecting it at some point. The angel always had something else to do, something else going on. He never stayed with the Winchesters that long, what was different now? Surely it couldn’t be that Dean was lonely, and quite possibly needed Cas. The angel couldn’t know that, Dean didn’t broadcast that fact.
He woke up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat; his dreams had been intense, he’d been a teenager in charge of watching Sam only to lose him to a vampire nest. His father forced him to go back and search, when he found him he’d been turned and had already fed, no hope for a cure. He half expected to see a teenage vampire Sam staring at him through the darkness of his room, but it was empty-he wasn’t quite sure why that fact bothered him as much as it did.
It wasn’t that he expected Cas to be watching over him, but that’s what he usually did. Whenever the angel would show up in motel rooms, he’d stay and watch over them, hell he probably did it from heaven, so what was the difference now? Unless...
Dean tore off his covers and rushed from his room into the dark hall, it was quiet. He rushed from his room to the kitchen to the main foyer, even to the garage; there was no sign of Castiel anywhere. Dean’s chest felt like it was collapsing in on itself, so he’d finally left. The moment the hunter knew was coming had finally arrived. Castiel grew tired of him and decided to find something better to do.
A sense of dread washed over him, for the first time since Sam up and left, he’d felt truly alone, no prospect of calling up Cas anymore, Cas was done with him. This feeling led him out of the garage, up the front stairs, out the front door and into the darkness of the night.
There was no moonlight to guide him, it was hidden behind a bank of dark clouds and as he started walking, it began to storm. He wasn’t exactly sure where he was going, he just knew that he couldn’t be alone in the bunker anymore, and if he got rained on, maybe he’d get pneumonia and die... That wouldn’t be so bad, would it?
He walked for what seemed to him like hours but in all actuality was probably only a few minutes, he’d never liked cardio like Sam had. He wiped at his damp face as the overwhelming sense to just give up, to lay down and let it all slip away fell over him and he was in the process of dropping to his knees on the cold, wet road when he heard his name.
It was coming from behind him, and it was all too familiar. The simultaneous sounds of worry and exasperation that could only mean Castiel caught up with him.
“Dammit Dean! What are you doing?” Dean could feel his hands on his shoulders as he reached him and the knowledge pissed him off more than it should have.
It was sudden but he was pushing Cas off of him and falling to the ground, supported only by his bum hand and opposite elbow, he looked at Cas in disgust and horror, he couldn’t understand why he was still trying to help.
“Get away from me!” He shouted, crawling backwards even more. Castiel froze in place, half bent and half reaching forward for Dean. He looked at the hunter with a mix of hurt and confusion that broke Dean’s heart in two; he hadn’t meant to make him look like that.
“What’s the matter?” He asked, his head tilted in a way that reminded Dean of when they first met; he half expected Cas to follow up with you don’t think you deserve to be saved. And perhaps that was still the problem, he didn’t. He couldn’t fathom why Cas was wasting so much time on him, helping him cope with the loss of his brother.
“You’ll just leave-like everyone else.” Dean folded himself into the smallest possible shape he could while still sitting up, realizing it was a bit cold and perhaps he’d made a mistake.
“No-Dean. I wouldn’t-”
“Why the hell not!” He shouted, cutting off Castiel’s inevitable declaration of devotion, “You have no reason to stay.” He muttered into his knees. Castiel walked forward slowly, as if he were approaching a dangerous animal and reached out, his hand finding that spot on Dean’s shoulder and for a moment Dean felt warmth spread through his chest, like he was whole, he squeezed his eyes shut, hoping the sensation wouldn’t go away.
“I assure you, I do.” Castiel replied and Dean could no longer feel the rain or the wind, nor could he hear the thunder. He opened his eyes to find that they were inside the bunker in Dean’s room, he was at the head of his bed and Cas was sitting at the foot, no longer gripping him tight to raise him from his own personal perdition.
“I don’t understand.” Dean ran his hands through his hair, the remaining water splashed out of it and Dean felt his clothing, it wasn’t damp; he attributed it to special angel powers and was thankful that he wasn’t getting his bed wet.
“You don’t have to.” Cas replied, Dean wondered briefly what they were even talking about anymore. Were they discussing Sam, Dean’s sense of loneliness and depression, or the two of them and their profound bond?
“I thought you’d left.” Dean said quietly, so quietly that he was afraid the angel hadn’t heard, until he remembered that he was a celestial being of intent and could probably hear molecules rearranging if he so wanted.
“I wouldn’t leave you.” Castiel sighed in response, taking a moment to squeeze Dean’s hand where it rested on his knee as he stood up. Dean shifted until he was lying down, half under the covers when he heard his bedroom door open.
“Cas-” He said, not really knowing what he wanted to say.
“Yes, Dean?” Cas asked, turning back from the doorway.
“Just, stay?” He asked, Castiel nodded, and even though Dean may have been asking him not to leave the bunker, Cas closed the door behind him and sat at the foot of his bed. Dean’s feet were bumping into him but he didn’t seem to mind and so he closed his eyes, relishing in the knowledge that he wasn’t alone, at least not for the moment. He fell into a dreamless sleep, though whether it was Cas’ presence or some special angel mojo touch he didn’t know, and he didn’t really care.
Dean awoke the next morning lacking the feeling of dread that had made its home in his chest over the past month. Since Sam left he’d hated opening his eyes and leaving his room, knowing that he wouldn’t be there. On this day, however, Dean got out of bed with vigor and purpose, he knew that he’d miss Sam once he was up and around, but for the moment he was okay, and that was fine by him.
He noticed the lack of angel at the foot of his bed and sighed; he exited his room, still in the wrinkled clothes he’d fallen asleep in, and immediately smelled bacon and other various breakfast foods. He rushed to the kitchen to find Castiel staring confusedly at the stove, Dean’s laptop open to YouTube.
“Cas?” Dean asked, staring at the angel with half of a smirk, “What are you doing?”
“Cooking you food. The internet says that food is the best thing for comfort.” He explained very matter-of-factly and returned his attention to the bacon and what looked like it could have been pancakes if Cas had been able to get them into circles.
“So you chose bacon?” Dean was thoroughly entertained by this point in time.
“It’s as American as apple pie, so say the people on the web.” Castiel muttered as he turned over the strips, “And you love pie.”
“This is true.” Dean shrugged and walked closer to the angel, “Ok, you take the bacon, I’ll make the pancakes.” He grinned at Cas who smiled appreciatively as he pressed play on the video about how to make the perfect bacon and returned to his attempt. Dean flipped the oddly shaped flapjack and felt warm.
Dean forced Cas to eat three of his own pancakes, only because they were mildly horrifying. Dean ate most of the bacon seeing how you can’t really mess that up, and it was satisfying. He felt comfortable, so he supposed Cas did his job well. They sat across from each other at the kitchen table and exchanged brief but meaningful looks as was their usual M.O.
Their small talk consisted mostly of questions from Castiel about human nature and Dean’s sarcastic replies that usually led back to alcohol, sex and money.
“How could my father have created beings that were obsessed with alcohol and sex?” Castiel asked suddenly, though his tone wasn’t accusatory, it was genuinely interested.
“Who knows, maybe God is up there drinking fruity cocktails and hitting on chicks.” Dean half joked and Castiel’s eyes widened, but instead of having a fit like Dean was worried he might, he broke out into a fit of laughter that Dean couldn’t help but join in on. Cas ended up saying brokenly that he bet his father would look ridiculous drinking fruity beverages like Crowley and hoping that he, too, liked the ones with little umbrellas. Dean laughed, really, truly laughed, and was thankful for Cas once again. He always knew how to get him to laugh even in the toughest of times.
A pang of sentiment that vaguely resembled love hit him then, he did his best to shake it off, but once that warmth takes hold, there’s no getting rid of it, no matter how hard you try.
“Why don’t you read the letter?” Castiel asked one day, about two months after Dean woke up to find himself alone. Dean glanced over to where Cas was staring at his top dresser drawer, putting away his clothes. Dean told him he didn’t have to, but the angel insisted on doing laundry, he said it was an exhilarating pastime.
“Because, what’s the point? If he’s gone, he’s gone.” Dean sighed, trying to divert his attention back to the book he was reading, but Cas’ blue eyes caught his own green ones and there was no going back, he was stuck. Because just like that morning when he couldn’t look away from the pristine and untouched bed, he couldn’t pull his gaze away from the immaculate blue pools that were Castiel’s eyes. Sure, they originally belonged to Jimmy Novak, but with the amount of times that angel had been destroyed and put back together, there was no way Jimmy was still hanging around.
When Dean looked into his eyes, he could see the shining light of heaven within him, he assumed it was equivalent to when Cas looked at him and could see his soul; all he knew was that it was beautiful and sometimes he couldn’t look away. Today was one of those days when he got lost and found himself slack-jawed and staring.
“Dean?” Castiel pulled him from his reverie with his gravelly and concerned voice.
“Huh?” He asked, blinking a few times to rid himself of the burning sensation that had risen.
“I asked if you wanted to get out of the bunker for a while, it’s been weeks since our last hunt.” Castiel was staring at him with mild amusement, he’d really become more human in his last few weeks at the bunker.
“Eh, I’m not really feeling up to a hunt.” Dean shrugged, though he was already standing from his bed.
“We could just go into town, have some drinks, do whatever you want.” Castiel suggested, half smiling at the hunter. Dean had no choice but to oblige.
“Sure Cas.” Dean answered and soon they were headed into Lebanon to his favorite bar to kick back and have some fun.
He’d decided to teach Cas the basics of pool, but the angel caught on quick and was soon hustling people out of their money. That innocent blue-eyed head tilt was working for him and they’d wound up winning enough to pay for their tabs and then some.
They’d given up playing pool about an hour before closing and were sitting at a high top table talking and taking shots of whiskey.
“We won’t be able to drive back.” Castiel said, downing another shot, “You’re drunk and I’m not really sure how to operate a motor vehicle.”
“S’alright.” Dean slurred, “You can just fly us back and then we’ll come get the car tomorrow!”
“Good idea.” Cas laughed, Dean laughed in reply but their giggling was interrupted by a woman approaching them. Dean turned, as did Cas, and he looked at the angel with one brow raised. She was attractive, for all intents and purposes. Long blonde hair, curvy frame and clothes that she clearly wore for the sole purpose of showing off those curves. Her push-up bra was doing wonders, Dean was almost lost in the crevice of her cleavage until he remembered that he was there with Cas.
“Hey, sugar.” She said as she reached them, her eyes were for Dean, though she thought it through enough to give Cas a small wink. He furrowed his brow at her and looked to Dean.
“Hey yourself.” Dean replied, his prize-winning smirk making an appearance, he really couldn’t help it, it just happened.
“What’s say you and me get out of here?” She asked, her voice dropping down into a tone that Dean was sure was supposed to be sultry, the only thing he could think about it was that it wasn’t as nice as Cas’.
“Nah, I don’t think so.” He gave her the brush off, but she wasn’t having it, she laughed and leaned in closer, showing off more chest than necessary.
“Why not, sweetheart. You don’t know what you’d be missing.” She laughed and ran a hand up his chest, settling somewhere along his collarbone. Dean sat back and took her hand off of him, effectively giving it back to her.
“Because I came here with my friend, and I’m gonna leave here with my friend.” He said, and while he was still buzzed from the booze, his slurred speech was all but gone.
“Oh.” She said and then pursed her lips looking between Dean and Cas, “The good ones always are.” She sighed and turned her back on them, walking away. Dean downed the shot in front of him and then downed Castiel’s, standing from his stool quickly.
“C’mon Cas, let’s go.” He muttered angrily and then walked out of the bar. Castiel ran after him.
“Are you alright?” Cas asked, grabbing Dean’s shoulder to stop his forward momentum.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I’m just ready to go.”
“What did she mean, the best ones always are?” Castiel asked, not moving.
“I said let’s go.” Dean hissed and Castiel furrowed his brow even more, but in a moment they were back at the bunker, in Dean’s room, Castiel’s new favorite spot to land.
“Thank you.” Dean said, unbuttoning his shirt and peeling it off. Castiel took off his trench coat and placed it on top of Dean’s dresser; he’d told Cas a few weeks ago that if he was going to continue to sit in his room while he slept, that he should at least get comfortable.
“I still don’t understand what she meant.” Cas replied, Dean tried to answer but found it hard to speak as he worked on removing his jeans. He realized the problem and quickly kicked off his shoes and then pulled off the jeans. He fell into his bed heavily.
“She thought we were boyfriends.” Dean sighed, climbing underneath the covers.
“Oh.” Castiel replied, “I feel slightly dizzy.” Was his next statement.
“So lay down.” Dean muttered through his sleep-filled state. He was vaguely aware of a heaviness pressing into the mattress beside him as he drifted off to sleep, his head creating waves as he spun into darkness.
His alcohol induced dreams weren’t as pleasant as they were the first night he’d come back to the bunker. They were angry and filled with rage and death. He watched everyone that he ever loved die, and it ended with Castiel being stabbed by an angel blade that Dean was holding.
“Cas!” He shouted himself awake and sat up straight in his bed. The angel sat up quickly next to him.
“Dean, are you alright?” He asked, Dean felt his panic begin to diminish as he reached out in the darkness of his room and found Castiel’s shoulder. He squeezed it for good measure before allowing himself to fully calm down.
“Bad dream.” He replied shortly, still slightly out of breath.
“About me?” Cas asked in confusion.
“Dreamt that I killed you.” Dean sighed sleepily, laying back down. Castiel did the same beside him.
“You wouldn’t do that.” Cas said, Dean turned to face him.
“No.” Dean choked out, he still had a slight sense of panic, afraid that he might stab Castiel by accident at any moment, “I wouldn’t do it on purpose.”
“Dean-” Cas urged, “You wouldn’t at all.”
“I know, Cas, I know. But it doesn’t help me get the image out of my head.”
“Image of what?”
“Of you... Your eyes glowing white before you fall to the ground, your wings burned into the cement-” He choked back a sob that threatened to escape and didn’t do a very good job of it. There was a sudden weight on him and he realized that Cas was trying to comfort him in the best way he could. Dean allowed himself to be pulled forward; he allowed Cas to wrap an arm around his back and he let him draw a path along his back with his other hand. It was indeed very comforting.
“Try not to think about it.” Castiel said softly, “Think instead of... Pie.” Dean laughed into Castiel’s neck.
“Pie?” He asked, though the idea was already starting to calm him, he did love him some pie.
“Yes. Apple and key lime and pecan... Blueberry and cherry...” Cas was clearly trying very hard to calm him so instead of letting him continue naming pie flavors he took cherry pie and ran with it, singing Warrant lyrics to him instead. Castiel began singing with him and Dean soon fell asleep to the cracked but soothing tones of his voice.
“I think you’re depressed.” Castiel said to Dean, surprising the crap out of him in all honestly. He’d been doing research on a possible new case in Idaho and Cas just burst out with that doozy.
“Do you?” Dean raised his brows at the angel.
“Yes. It’s been three months since Sam left and you haven’t read the letter. You’re in denial and I think it’s made you depressed.” Cas said, his brow furrowed. Dean had half a mind to take away the angels’ internet privileges-why couldn’t he just look at porn like everyone else? He had to spend the majority of his time on WebMD and sights like it.
“Would you stop diagnosing me, Cas? Ever thought that maybe it isn’t Sam that made me depressed by the life that I live?” Dean asked and before he could check his question for errors it was out and on the table. He admitted it. He was depressed, “But wouldn’t you be?”
“I understand, Dean.” Castiel nodded, “Though the nightmares have been getting better, correct? Did you have them before?”
“Course.” Dean answered honestly, he had no reason to lie to Cas. They’d been sleeping in the same bed for a month; well he’d been sleeping, Cas had been... Lying... Awake... Now that Dean thought of it, it was a really strange situation, “I just didn’t sleep much before. Always on the move, constantly a new evil to fight.”
“And now?” Castiel asked, though he already knew the answer, Dean humored him.
“Now I have more down time.” Dean shrugged, “Stuff is bound to come up.”
“I accept that.” Cas sighed, scrolling through some more of whatever page he was on, Dean got fed up and grabbed the laptop from him.
“What is this, what are you looking at?” He pulled up the screen that Cas had expertly minimized in a hurry and was hoping to find porn but instead found a page about Being your own therapist. Or in his case, being a friends therapist.
“Really?” He asked, though he was half amused, “You’re cut off. No more internet for you!”
“What about Orange is the New Black?” He asked, seeming extremely concerned about the Netflix series he’d gotten into, Dean knew nothing about it, so he didn’t ask.
“Well, minus Netflix. It doesn’t count, it’s basically television-just get up!” He forced Cas out of his chair, “Go do laundry or something.”
Cas nodded and Dean looked up just before he left the room to see him look back and smile, Dean returned the grin but shook it off. He didn’t have time to think about that. To think about what the flipping sensation in his stomach meant.
Four months, no word from Sam, Dean had just remembered to get a new cell phone and he still hadn’t looked at that damn letter. He knew Cas was starting to get annoyed with him for not reading it. He traced his fingers over the letters on the envelope, To Dean, From Sammy. He’d taken the time to add those two extra letters to his name that he hated but he knew Dean loved.
That pissed him off beyond belief at times, one of the last things he’d done for his brother was recognize the nick name he’d come to accept. He knew Dean wasn’t going to stop calling him by it, so he moved on and worked on getting Crowley to stop calling him Moose-which was also never going to happen.
Dean laughed in spite of himself and then sniffed hard, not wanting to be happy as he finally removed the letter from his dresser. He wasn’t going to read it alone-he couldn’t. He walked out of his room and searched the bunker, though he knew where he could find Cas.
He spent a lot of time in the laundry room, and it was ridiculous. But when Dean entered he found him sitting on top of the washer, book in hand and laughed. Cas looked up and smiled and Dean joined him, hopping up on the dryer.
“What’s on the agenda for the day?” Castiel asked, closing his book. Dean held up the letter and Cas nearly tossed his book aside for a chance to touch the gleaming white, slightly wrinkled, paper.
“Today?” Cas asked, his brow furrowing, “What’s so special about today? Of all days?”
“Dunno.” Dean shrugged, “Just woke up and felt like reading it.”
“Well, get on with it.” Cas urged, Dean held back his laugh. Cas had really caught on to how he spoke in the past few months they’d spent together.
Dean took a deep breath, ripping open the top of the envelope. He supposed he could have used his pocket knife to open it but the jagged edges of the paper were oddly satisfying for the situation. He pried apart the opening and carefully extracted the folded paper inside. Castiel took the envelope into his hands as if it were precious to him, who knows it might have been. He’d been staring at it every time he put Deans shirts away.
Dean unfolded the paper and immediately realized that it hadn’t been written on motel stationary like he’d wrongfully assumed all these months. It was written on an old piece of parchment from a legal pad around the bunker. Dean knew these pages, he’d written on these pages on occasion. He held the corner of the stained yellow paper between his thumb and forefinger and immediately felt the need to rip it up. Cas’ hand atop his own was the only thing that stopped him, as if he could read his mind, the hand quelled his anger for the moment.
“Read it, Dean.” Cas said, undoubtedly having already read it over his shoulder. Dean sighed and looked down past the corner where his hand was being held by the angels.
I’ve gone, you know why. I have to find my happiness, please find your own.
The letter was short, just one line and two names. Dean reread it about twenty times before he finally gave into the urge to crumble the paper up and throw it across the laundry room. He laughed spitefully and tore the envelope out of Castiel’s hands, throwing that the best he could.
“Are you alright?” Cas asked softly after Dean came down from his laughs which turned into small sobs. He’d wrapped an arm around the hunter and pulled him close to give him a place to cry; Dean was grateful.
“Yeah.” Dean cleared his throat, sitting up. Cas relinquished his hold on him, but kept his arm around his shoulders and instead rubbed small circles on his shoulder, it was calming, “It’s just what I expected.”
“Isn’t that good?” Cas asked.
“Yeah, Cas. It’s good.” Dean removed the angels hand from around him but instead of letting it go, he took it into his own and slid off the dryer, pulling Castiel behind him, “C’mon.” He said and Cas followed him out without question.
“Where are we going?” Castiel asked as he followed Dean into a random storage closet, Dean pointed up to a hatch in the ceiling.
“To the roof.” Dean shrugged, he jumped and grabbed onto the string, pulling down the ladder that led them to a small attic space that held another hatch and ladder that led them up onto the roof of the bunker.
It was a clear night, not a cloud in the sky, no danger of being rained on or being struck by lightning. Dean plopped down onto the gravel that topped the building and patted the spot next to him.
“What are we doing up here?” Cas asked, though he sat next to Dean anyway.
“Relaxing.” Dean shrugged, “I like to come up here to think.”
“Alright.” Castiel said, sighing and staring up.
“It is quite pleasant.” He said after a few moments of silence.
“It is, Cas, it really is.” Dean sighed, content.
“So now you find your happiness?” Castiel broke the comfortable silence they’d been sharing for a few minutes.
“Nah.” Dean said, looking at Cas who looked back, brows furrowed with his head tilt in confusion.
“But that’s what Sam told you to do.”
“Yeah, but little did he know, I’d already found my happiness.” Dean said, Castiel grew even more confused by that, Dean laughed. “I like the life, hunting doesn’t exactly make my heart race. But it’s what I’m good at, it’s my job. And then there’s you-” He looked at the angel who’s eyes widened in surprise, “Experts would say that I’ve abandoned one dangerously symbiotic relationship in favor of another... But who the hell cares what they have to say?” He was laughing, but the brevity of his statement weighed on both of them.
“You’re saying your relationship with my is dangerously co-dependent?” Castiel asked, still confused.
“Yes.” Dean replied quickly, unthinking-he didn’t have to think about it, he knew, “But that’s alright.”
“It is?” Cas asked, Dean stood up and brushed the dirt and whatever else off his pants before he held out a hand for Cas.
“It’s more than alright.” Dean said, pulling Castiel to his feet, “And I think you know that.”
“I do?” He asked, Dean groaned in frustration and shook his head, pulling the reluctant angel closer to him; he could practically see the wheels turning inside that head.
“I think you’ve been able to tell by now that I need you.” Dean said, Castiel nodded.
“Yes, it’s quite obvious that you’re in need of someone to be there for you, as a friend-”
“Cas, you and I both know that what’s been going on hasn’t been just friendly.” Dean stated, Castiel looked speechless and Dean smiled smugly for making him that way.
“I’m not sure what you mean-” Cas cut himself short as he began searching for answers within himself, Dean almost saw the internal struggle.
“Friends don’t cuddle.” Dean stated plainly, Castiel stared at him, his eyes once again wide, “Friends don’t hold hands-” Dean looked down at their intertwined fingers and laughed, “And friends definitely don’t kiss.”
“Dean, we haven’t kissed-” Dean cut him off by a soft brushing of their lips, just testing the waters, seeing how it worked out. Cas was hesitant at first, unsure of what to do until Dean relinquished his grip on one of his hands in favor of cupping his face and running a thumb over his cheekbone before pulling him in fully. The fit of their lips against one another’s was almost perfect, as if it were carved out specifically for that purpose.
Castiel sighed against Dean’s lips as he allowed himself to be fully enraptured, giving himself over to it. Their hands were no longer joined and Dean found that Cas' were snaking around his neck to keep their contact as close as it could possibly have been.
Dean broke the kiss, his eyes still squeezed shut and rested his forehead against Cas’ and breathed a smile, “See, friends don’t do that.”
“Perhaps you’re right, Dean.” Castiel replied, his voice was soft and his tone was light. It was the happiest he’d ever heard the angel, the sound suited him, “This is what would make you happy?” Cas asked, backing off slightly so he could look at Dean who opened his eyes to stare into blue ones.
“Yes.” Dean said, his small, hesitant smile growing into a grin as Casitel began to match it, “Yes it would.” He kissed him again, just a few small pecks before he turned his face back to the sky, “Which one is your favorite constellation?” He asked before smiling back at Castiel who wasn’t looking at the sky but at Dean, grinning just as wide.
Dean awoke and stared into the emptiness of his room, almost panicking until he felt the arms around him squeeze and he turned over to see Castiel staring back at him, his blue eyes sparkling, perfectly made, pristine blue eyes, and he knew he wasn’t alone and never would be again.