“He was wrong about us,” says Castiel, firm, into Dean’s shoulder.
Dean doesn’t even sit up, just mumbles, “Who, Cas?” because there’s dozens of people who’ve passed judgment on their relationship all over the years and they’re all wrong, the two of them get that now. Dicks with wings, dick demons (and that’s still sore, that spot, but who knows if Cas knows), friends of both of theirs, even the mutuals (don’t get him started on Sam, frankly, though Sam usually places the closest bets).
“Jimmy, my—former vessel.” Eyes still closed, Dean just stares at the backs of his eyelids and wonders what in the world brought that up. According to Cas’s angel logic, Jimmy’s been history since Raphael redecorated Chuck’s place with his insides that first time. Who cares what he thinks?
“Yeah? What’d ol’ Jimmy say? Back off that dumb righteous dude, angel, he’s not worth it?” Dean jokes, fighting a yawn, finally opening his eyes in time to see Castiel’s stern expression. Cas isn’t real fond of Dean’s sense of humor when it involves bagging on himself; Dean maybe might do it sometimes just for that look.
Castiel looks only too happy to squash Dean’s expectations when he says, “Actually, he encouraged me to pursue you, as long as he was—removed. Unable to, feel it, that is. But that’s why he was wrong.”
Dean’s sleepiness slips away, because Cas is being even less understandable than usual, unless Dean’s usual he doesn’t want me certainty is about to be rewarded. Pretty damn unlikely, considering what they just got finished doing. Dean might not know what Cas’s original face looked like or exactly how many times he stuck his wings out for the hopeless fucks on Earth, but he knows Cas, and Cas isn’t the wham bam type.
“You’re gonna have to be specific, Cas, ‘cause I’m not really getting the message here, unless you’re about to pull a God-level plot twist on me and get up and leave.” (Again, Dean thinks privately, but that’s not really fair, cos Cas has never fucked him before, so it’d be different.)
Cas looks thoughtful, staring down at Dean with a furrowed brow where he’s propped up on a pillow, sweaty and messy and gloriously human, apart from his expressions—which sometimes still cross back over into alien and awe-inspiring every now and then. (Not dying, not being drained of damn destructive angel mojo, not being dragged into wars or chased by “family”, safe in the Bunker and securely in Dean’s bed. Sexily in Dean’s bed, if it has to be said.) He doesn’t know what the guy’s thinking, but he sure looks like a big dork doing it.
“He thought I was…interested, then, when we’d only met. I couldn’t argue with him, feelings were difficult for me. I couldn’t always identify why I was connected to you.” Castiel’s thoughtful look turns troubled, his eyes moving away from Dean’s face. Dean shakes the wrist that’s carelessly draped over his chest, trying to grab his attention back, but he remains diverted. “I thought it was my grace, or some form of—” and finally he faces Dean again, pressing his hand flat where it lay. “Ownership, forgive me, Dean. I thought it was because I’d returned you to yourself, that it was pride in creation, and it was unclean, blasphemous, because the only true creator is God.”
Castiel’s mouth tightened, and Dean felt his stomach jump at another reminder of the severity the guy seemed to be trying to express. “I knew you well, Dean, after Hell. I will always know you, the way you were then. Humans are wild and artless, hard to predict, confusing for one as foreign as I was. Jimmy was helpful, but nothing was more relieving—and, and frustrating,” he glares, a little, at Dean, and Dean offers a half-sheepish smile, remembering his gleeful asshattery after dodging the bullet of demonhood (yeah, that lasted long) and coming up against the cold, callous dicks who’d arranged it, “than to be so exposed to your myriad emotions and so unclear about any of the why.”
“You were interesting to me, because I had been told so much of you, and yet, you defied the telling. I found… something in you, and I didn’t know what, but it was—as I said, relieving. You were unkind, uncooperative...uncowed by humility we—they, I, typically inspire, and yet. Dean, you were still so good, and I was unprepared and dangerously affected. But it wasn’t what Jimmy Novak thought.”
Dean might be shaking now, and if Cas’s little glance at him mid-monologue is any indication, it’s not unnoticed, but what is he supposed to say to that? He struggles for composure, his lips half-lifting, smirking, trying to. “So you liked me but you didn’t like like me? Is that what you—the point we’re getting to? Did Uriel know this, cos he kinda seemed—”
Castiel’s eyelashes fall and his eyes sadden, and Dean cuts himself off. “Uriel was a friend, I thought. He warned me away from any feeling for a human, any at all, because you were our mission and nothing else. I know now, of course, that this was betrayal, of myself and our Father, but then. Then I believed him.” He gives Dean a dry look, sadness falling away. “I never know when people are lying, remember? You’ve been most invaluable to me in that.”Among other things, his slow, soft smile seems to add, and Dean can’t remember ever being this sure of that kind of sentiment before, so, ditto, Cas, ditto.
Shaking his head, Castiel does something unprecedented (Dean kids, he kids) and returns to the point. “But yes, that is the appropriate translation. I was fond of you, as I am of Sam now, as I’ve been of Anna, of Balthazar, even of M—” Dean makes a little disgusted noise and Castiel’s mouth twitches as he closes it with a snap. That affection is one thing Dean will never get, and Cas has tried but he can’t seem to even explain it himself, so it’s better left unsaid.
“Fond, but now I know, I can distinguish emotions, Dean. I know what this feels like now, and I did not feel it then. I did not…” Castiel pauses, his eyes boring into Dean’s, and yeah, no longer creepy, hasn’t been for years, especially when they go all dark and his lips part like it’s instinct, “did not hunger like this,” his voice has gone somewhat faint, and Dean’s belly’s full of warmth, though his body’s spent, “or experience the same pain from separation.” Ouch. Boner killer. But the guilt isn’t the same anymore, even if the remembered gut-stabbing pains linger for them both sometimes.
Dean leans up and does his best to suck the hurt out of Cas’s voice with open-mouthed, affectionate kisses, making his mark, saying I’m right here asshole stop missing me. Castiel kisses back, putting actions to the word hunger, clutching him close, hands desperate, but gently, as though he’s forgotten his strength is diminished. Dean pushes him harder, as is his usual technique, dragging him even tighter against him and rubbing a foot down his calf, and Cas leans over him, holding his face with quiet, unshakable intent, panting on his lips when they have to stop to breathe.
He can’t help but smile, gooey as it is to let himself. “So when’d it get to this then, o all-knowing one?” Dean’s emotions aren’t as weird, don’t really need the same kind of scientific observation or whatever. He felt like a sleaze for wanting to hit that even back in the barn with Bobby lying on the floor, as soon as he realized the guy was being possessed, but that’s truthfully where he’s been for years, until it got serious, and then he got scared; the sex part was always there, even if he ran from the rest, and he…really can’t remember where or when the other stuff started. Alternate dimension Detroit, maybe? Ill-spent night in Maine iniquity? Or fuck, the creepy angel Room, when Cas put a hand over his mouth and Dean realized they weren’t near as “done” as he’d guessed. Who even knows. It’s been forever, feels like.
Castiel’s answer is almost inaudible. “At first, thinking of your regard was odd, off-putting. The brothel, in Maine, was especially enlightening to me, but even then, I didn’t want—not Chastity, or you...I don't think. I felt differently, but it wasn’t like this.” His words get louder as he leans in to kiss Dean once more, their swollen lips almost unpleasant against each other’s, “I think it may have been a discovery I only understood once our end was imminent. But, I felt, when you had chosen otherwise.”
Dean could feel his face shaping into confusion again against Cas’s, and Cas hurried to clarify, kissing again and again, “I went to you, Dean, before—before Crowley’s deal. You were raking, as Lisa wanted, and there was peace for you. I could not ask you to let that go, and Crowley—he knew.” Castiel growls against Dean’s lips and squeezes him tighter, “He always knew. And the feeling was used against me.” Dean’s pulled away from the sharp arousal of that noise into the bloody memory of that manipulative bastard’s fitting end, and Cas’s dazed face says he’s not alone; he shakes Cas again, gets them back on track.
“So you were gonna, then, but you didn’t want to—what? Fuck up my failed try at apple pie?” Cas looks puzzled at first, but then he nods, carefully. Dean sighs, wishing this had been told to him then, but he can’t help but be…touched. He doesn’t want to be, and his anger from back then was still totally right, okay, but it’s kind of sweet, that Cas, the big dumbass, left him alone cos he thought he was happy. He might’ve hated it back then, and part of him does now, but he can see, now, why Cas would do that. Even if he didn’t like it.
Also, he’s more on Cas’s team than ever after getting his own taste of a deal with Crowley. And he owes Cas for a lifetime and more for helping him get that done, so he can—yeah, he can admit to this gratification here.
“…Thanks, Cas. Y’know, even if you were wrong. Even if you’re pretty much always wrong about that.”
Castiel rolls onto him and presses his forehead against the reinstated anti-possession tattoo with a sigh. “I’m aware, now, Dean. But I couldn’t even—I didn’t know. I just knew your safety, and this peace of yours, was important to me, a priority, if of course not the only. I tried, to keep you out of it, if I could, and now, now I realize that was love—the kind of love you taught, that aimed for protection above all else. You must know that, Dean. You must know it was love, then.”
Dean rubs a hand through the nest that is Cas’s hair and kisses where he brushed his fingers. “I do, Cas. We’ve all fucked up, but we all got back here because of—that, at least a little bit. Not the whole protection thing, not always, but man, I know you’re part of that, I got that loud and clear, and.” He’s quiet, eyes closed and face in Cas’s sweaty hair, his voice choked. “We both are.”
Cas holds him and he holds Cas, and they’re both silent, everything said. It’s rank in this room and they’ll have to shower soon—still weird, that Cas has to shower like he does—but they can take a minute first.