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Helping Hand

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Castiel headed to the bunker after a fruitless search for Lucifer. After driving fifteen hours to Cleveland to follow a lead on the Devil, he was exhausted and irritated. Although a full-powered angel again, Castiel's wings were still clipped, so to speak, and he longed for the days when he could be halfway around the world in the blink of an eye. On his quest to find Satan, Castiel had run into Crowley, whom he reluctantly let help with his search. As much as Castiel loathed working with the King of Hell, he knew Crowley wanted to find Lucifer as badly as he did. 

 

The pair set off looking for Lucifer, who'd been burning through vessels like a chain smoker through a pack of cigarettes. They'd tracked down his current vessel, one rock star named Vince Vincente, but when Castiel and Crowley arrived at the house it was empty, save for Rowena Macleod sitting on the back patio sipping a cup of tea. Apparently, shortly before the angel and demon arrived, the captured Rowena tricked Lucifer into letting her perform a spell. Unfortunately for Lucifer, the spell caused his vessel to rapidly decay, before the witch banished him to the bottom of the ocean. Castiel still unsure if he liked Rowena, admired her tenacity.

 

Even though Rowena decided not to actively hunt down Lucifer with Castiel and her son, Crowley, she did agree to help lock him back in the Cage when they finally caught him. Since the two didn't have any further leads at the moment, Rowena headed off with her son; most likely for protection, because as soon as Lucifer clawed his way up from the bottom of the ocean he would more than likely be gunning for the witch. Castiel hopped into his stolen truck and headed for Lebanon, Kansas.

 

When he eventually reached the Men of Letters bunker, it was quite late. It wasn't unusual for the Winchester's to be awake at this hour, lounging around their newly made family room watching a movie or curled up in one of the library's many chairs doing research. Castiel gradually descended the curved metal staircase of the bunker's entrance. Boots clunked with each heavy step, the sound echoing off the walls. The bunker was completely silent. Heading toward the hallway of bedrooms, Castiel glanced in at the kitchen, the family room, and the library finding them empty. The brothers must have called it a night.

 

The gray-tiled hallway with its light gray paint did nothing to help Castiel's sour mood. Being a fully powered angel again, he didn't require human things such as food or sleep, but Castiel was mentally exhausted from this hunt for Lucifer. It was his fault the fallen archangel was running around in the first place. Castiel had screwed up. Again. It was his responsibility to clean up his mess. Even so, it wouldn't hurt to relax for the night and start fresh in the morning. 

 

Sam set up a room for Castiel at the bunker a little while back, saying the angel should feel like it was his home too, because it was. Castiel appreciated the gesture, more so than he let on, but in trying to explain how it was unnecessary, being that he didn't sleep, Sam dismissed him with the wave of a hand.

 

It's done, Cas.

 

Castiel reached his room which, much to his delight, was directly across the hall from Dean’s. Being this close to his charge allowed him to keep watch over Dean, even though the hunter often protested.

 

You don’t have to watch over me, Cas, I don’t need a babysitter!

 

Castiel blew out a deep breath, reaching for the door knob when he heard it. A faint whimper. He stood unmoving for a moment. Castiel strained his angelic hearing. A groan and a shout had the angel swiftly crossing the hallway and throwing open Dean’s door.

 

The room was dark, save for the harsh fluorescent light spilling in from the hallway to fall across Dean’s bed. The hunter was on top of the blankets. He was wearing loose sweat pants, his chest and feet bare. Dean lay there, his body thrashing, eyes squeezed shut. A fine sheen of sweat caused his exposed skin to glisten.

 

Castiel’s eyes raked hungrily over Dean’s body. Desire swirled low in the angel’s gut. The Winchester’s were notorious for their layers of clothing. He couldn’t remember the last time he saw Dean in such a state of undress.

 

Another agonizing groan tore Castiel from his train of thought. Quickly, he strode over to the side of the bed. Laying a hand gently on Dean’s forehead, the angel used his grace, invading Dean’s mind and calming his nightmare.

 

Dean stopped thrashing. His breaths becoming slow and steady. Castiel smiled down at him, relief flooding his chest, as his friend settled into a pleasant slumber. Moving his hand from Dean’s forehead, Castiel very gingerly ran his fingers back through the thick hair matted down with perspiration. A blush dusted Castiel’s cheeks. He tried to swallow around the lump forming in his throat. He knew had Dean been awake he would never have allowed Castiel this. To touch him in this way. So close. So intimate. A wave of guilt crashed over him then, and Castiel felt his chest constrict. He just had to go to his room and relax. Yes, that’s what he needed.

 

Castiel stood, turning to leave, when a hand suddenly shot out and wrapped around his wrist in a deathly grip. Castiel startled.

 

“Cas?” Dean mumbled, voice deep and rough from sleep, sending shivers down Castiel’s spine.

 

“Hello, Dean.” Castiel ticked one corner of his mouth up in the semblance of a smile. His eyes dropped down to the hand still securely wrapped around his wrist, heart thudding wildly in his chest, hoping Dean wouldn’t demand to know what Castiel was doing in his bedroom in the middle of the night, lecturing him about how ‘creepy’ it is to watch people while they’re sleeping. Nervous blue eyes ticked back up latching onto impossibly green ones. In all his existence, Castiel had never seen so many hues of green in one pair of eyes. They were mesmerizing.

 

Dean loosened the grip on Castiel’s wrist, stretching out his arms. Sweat soaked skin pulled tautly over the planes and ridges of Dean’s chest and abdomen.

 

“What’s up, buddy?” Dean yawned around the words. He sat up, blinking tired eyes and rubbing them with shaking hands quickly, running fingers through his hair, tousling the already messy short strands. Gazing up at Castiel, a sleepy smile formed on Dean’s face.

 

Dean looked absolutely debauched. Castiel nibbled at his bottom lip. “I’m sorry for intruding Dean.” He took a small step back toward the door. “I heard you having a nightmare and I came in here to check on you.”

 

“Oh.” Dean shifted uncomfortably on the bed. The warmth in his eyes vanished. Head bowed, he stared blankly into his lap. “Yeah, man. Sorry about that.”

 

“There’s no need to apologize, Dean.” Castiel said, trying to be helpful--though from the pained expression that flittered across Dean’s features, Castiel was clearly failing. “Do you want to talk about it?” he offered.

 

Dean swung his legs over the side of the bed. Shoulders hunched and head hung, Dean patted the spot next to him.

 

One of Castiel’s brows quirked upward. Dean was not the type to willingly share his feelings. Ever.

 

Hesitating for a moment, he reigned in his surprise, the angel’s face masked in a neutral expression, before finally accepting the invitation and taking a seat next to Dean on the bed. It was quite comfortable. The soft give of the memory foam seemed to cushion around the outline of his body. Perhaps he should invest in one of these mattresses, even if he doesn’t require sleep.

 

The silence stretched out. Castiel waited patiently for Dean to say something. Anything. He knew Dean wasn’t one for ‘chick-flick’ moments, as Dean calls them, but Castiel could see the battle warring within the hunter.

 

Dean opened his mouth. Closed it. Opened it again. He swallowed repeatedly, his bottom lip quivering. Green orbs bore into Castiel, shiny with unshed tears.

 

“She left me…” Dean spoke in a voice so quiet, had Castiel not been a celestial being, he was doubtful he would have heard it.

 

His eyebrows furrowed, head cocked to the side, the angel pushed the jealously and sadness crashing over him like tsunami as he tried to recall Dean mentioning anyone the hunter might have been seeing that could have left him.

 

“Uh, remember when I called you last week and asked you about that stuff with my Mom?” Dean’s fist clenched and unclenched, balling up the fabric of his sweats at his thighs.

 

This was about his mother? Oh. Oh.

 

Castiel stared at the side of Dean’s head, Dean’s adams apple still bobbing up and down, biting his bottom lip hard to try and keep it from quivering. It pained Castiel to see his friend this way. His mind flooded with all the things he wished he could do to comfort him, but Castiel settled for clasping his hand on Dean’s shoulder, giving it a couple firm squeezes. The angel then slid his hand over Dean’s shoulder blade, rubbing soothing circles on the hunter’s back. Dean leaned into the touch.

 

“Oomph!” Castiel’s eyes widened in shock as Dean choked back a sob, throwing himself into the angel’s arms. Castiel’s eyes darted back and forth frantically, his torso twisted, arms wrapped around a shaking Dean Winchester. What was he supposed to do? In his eight-plus years of knowing this man, Castiel had never seen him so completely unraveled.

 

A sniffle rose from Dean as he nuzzled his face into the crook of Castiel’s neck. “She left me, man,” Dean whimpered, “she just fucking left.”

 

“Your mother?” asked Castiel, clarifying.

 

Dean nodded furiously, tears spilling over long blonde lashes, unable to keep them at bay any longer.

 

“Everyone leaves me!” Dean screamed into the hollow of the angel’s throat. “No one ever loves me enough to stay! Nobody… nobody needs me, not like I need them. Why would anybody wanna be around me, huh? I’m a violent alcoholic with abandonment and daddy issues.”

 

Instantly, Castiel wound one hand into the hair at the back of Dean’s head, gripping tight and snapping his head up. Blue eyes lit with fury locking onto red-rimmed green, still shiny with tears.

 

“You listen to me, Dean Winchester,” Castiel growled, “you are the Righteous Man. You have the brightest, most beautiful soul I’ve ever seen.” Emerald eyes widened, but Dean didn’t try to get out of the angel’s punishing grip. Castiel softened his voice, warmth and affection seeping into his words. “You are the kindest, bravest, smartest, most generous man I have ever met.” Loosening his grip, he tucked Dean’s head under his chin, burying his nose in the tousled blonde locks. Castiel inhaled deeply. Along with the scent of sweat, tears, leather, and whiskey, there was a deep Earthy scent that was inherently Dean. Feeling slightly brave, he punctuated his next statement with a soft kiss to the top of Dean’s matted down hair. “I don’t ever want to hear you talk about yourself in such a manner again. Understood?” Castiel commanded, his tone firm, but gentle.

 

Dean curled his fingers around the lapel of Castiel’s trench coat. Nodding slowly, he lifted his eyes, pleading.

 

The angel saw the question in his hunter’s eyes. Stroking a reassuring thumb across Dean’s cheekbone, he cradled his jaw, drawing his friend even closer. Castiel could feel the hunter’s hot breath blowing across his chapped lips. Dean was so close. It would be so easy to kiss the hunter. To close the tiny distance between them and settle his mouth on Dean’s plush pink lips. To take what he’d been craving all these years.

 

In that moment, Castiel thought Dean would probably let him. The angel swallowed. He couldn’t. It wouldn’t be right. Dean was in a fragile emotional state and he could not, no he would not, take advantage of his best friend.

 

Leisurely, Castiel stroked a hand through his friend’s hair, using his other arm to hug him tightly.

 

“I don’t know the reason for Mary leaving,” the angel began, “I can’t speak for her. Honestly, I can’t even imagine what she must be feeling right now.” Castiel cleared his throat. “I will tell you, Dean Winchester, that I am here for you. I will always come when you call and I’m not going anywhere. Ever.”

 

They sat for a few minutes, staring at one another. Their slow ragged breathing the only sound filling the room. Dean threw his arms around Castiel’s shoulders, pulling the angel into a bone crushing hug. Clapping Castiel on the back before releasing him, Dean scooted back toward the headboard putting some distance between the two of them.

 

“Thanks, man.” The hunter wiped the remaining tears from his face, tough guy façade settling back in place. “Sorry about all this ‘chick-flick’ stuff,” Dean said, waving his hand.

 

The absence of Dean’s body heat caused Castiel’s chest to tighten with disappointment. He stood, shaking the feeling off and crossed the bedroom, hand resting on the doorframe.

 

“Not to worry, Dean,” Castiel spoke over his shoulder, “your secret is safe with me.” He smirked at the hunter, trying not to betray his true feelings.

 

Dean chuckled softly, “Good to know, Cas. Good to know.”

 

“Sleep well, Dean.”

 

“G’night, Cas.”

 

Castiel pulled the door closed and headed across the hall into his bedroom.