As he lay dying, the infection from the Lance of Michael rotting his flesh, seeping into his bones, slowly leeching his life force, Castiel finally had the courage to speak the words he had longed to speak for so long.
Castiel looked up at Dean Winchester and in a moment of complete clarity said what he should have said years before. “I love you.”
Dean remained stoic and Castiel quickly corrected himself. “I love all of you.”
When Dean declared that he was family, and that he wouldn’t be left behind, the moment was bittersweet for the angel. Dean loved him, like a brother. Not the kind of love Castiel felt for the eldest Winchester boy.
Soon he watched helplessly as Ramiel, one of the Princes of Hell, threw the Winchesters around like rag dolls. Castiel feared that they all would soon join him in death, when all of a sudden Sam managed to wrench the Lance of Michael away from Ramiel. Sam took the advantage and thrust the weapon into the very heart of the Prince of Hell, killing him within moments.
Castiel rejoiced, knowing that despite the fact he would surely die, the Winchesters…especially Dean…would live to see another day. He looked at them all sadly, not wanting to say good bye.
Then Crowley appeared again and picked up the Lance, seemingly to study it. When the King of Hell suddenly broke the Lance in two, Castiel was enveloped with a flash of energy so bright it knocked him senseless for a moment. When he came back to himself, he realized he was whole once again. The infection was gone and his wound was completely healed. The only evidence of his injury were the blood stains on his clothes.
Several days later found Sam, Dean and Castiel back at the bunker. They decided to regroup there while Mary took care of some business she said she had promised, for a friend.
Sam excused himself to take a shower and go to bed, leaving Dean sipping his whiskey alone with Castiel. Dean was chuckling over something amusing in a magazine he was reading, while Castiel pretended to peruse the books in the bunker’s library.
As the angel looked over at Dean, he felt a familiar sad ache come over him again. He knew the man would never return his affections but oh how he wished he would.
Castiel let out an audible sigh as he turned back to look at the books on the shelf in front of him and that caused Dean to look up. “Hey Cas, is something bothering you?”
“It’s nothing, Dean,” Castiel replied. “Please, don’t mind me.”
Dean put his magazine and drink down then and stood, walking over to the angel. Castiel’s heart sped up as Dean approached him.
“C’mon Cas,” Dean urged. “Something has been buggin’ ya since that whole thing with that Prince of Hell. Talk to me buddy. Get a load off. That’s what friends are for, right?”
Castiel looked up into Dean’s eyes then. “Friends?”
The angel then pushed past Dean, rounding the table in the middle of the room to put some space between them.
“Yeah, man. You’re my best friend,” Dean declared. “You know that. What the hell’s eatin’ ya?”
“It’s…nothing,” Castiel insisted. “Please, just let it go.”
Dean looked confused. “It’s obviously not nothing. C’mon man.”
Castiel couldn’t stop the wash of emotions that overcame him then as he looked back up into Dean’s eyes from across the table. “Do you remember, what I said, when I thought I was dying?”
Dean nodded. “Yeah, you said you loved us. Didn’t want to watch us die.”
Castiel shook his head. “No. At first all I said was that I love you.”
Dean’s eyes darted in confusion for a moment before he cocked his head, almost like a puppy, as he refocused on Castiel.
“I meant it, Dean.” Castiel insisted, tears beginning to crest in his eyes. “I know you will never return the sentiment, but I. love. you. Dean Winchester…and I always will.”
Dean’s eyes finally lit up in understanding as he stared at the angel.
“Wait…are you saying you love me…like…romantically?” Dean asked. “Dude, c’mon…I’m a guy!”
“What difference does that make?” Castiel asked.
“Isn’t that like, against the laws of Heaven or something?” Dean asked. “I mean…according to the Bible and all…”
Castiel shook his head. “No, not at all. That portion of the Bible was horribly misinterpreted.”
Dean stood there for a moment, clearly thinking about what to say or do next.
Surprisingly, Dean’s demeanor slowly softened and he began to make his way around the table towards Castiel. Once Dean stood in front of the angel he looked him straight in the eye. “So…you love me.”
Castiel nodded. “Yes. Very much so.”
Dean reached out, cupping the angel’s face and brushing away the tears that had fallen. “Why did you wait so long to tell me?”
Castiel cast his eyes down. “I didn’t think…”
“You didn’t think I’d feel the same?” Dean completed the thought for him.
Castiel nodded, fresh tears cresting as he looked back up into the hunter’s green eyes. “You’ve only ever been with women, so I assumed you would never want to…return my…affections.”
Dean pulled Castiel into an embrace. “Cas…what you and I got…it runs so much deeper than all of that…you know that, right?”
Castiel wrapped his arms around Dean, clutching him almost desperately as he allowed himself to sob into Dean’s shoulder.
“Shh, Cas,” Dean said as he reached up to stroke the back of the angel’s head. “No more tears.”
Castiel lifted his head, and looked at Dean again, his face so much closer now. Castiel’s heart beat rapidly as he studied the hunter’s face, flicking his eyes down towards his mouth.
Dean smirked that devilish smirk, wiping the tears from Castiel’s face with his thumbs, and then gently pulled the angel closer, until their lips met. Castiel was momentarily startled before he allowed himself to completely melt into Dean’s embrace and let Dean kiss him.
Castiel had known the bliss of heaven and this…this kiss…was so far beyond that. It was almost indescribable. The warmth of Dean’s lips and tongue as the hunter deepened the kiss lit Castiel’s heart on fire. Soon the angel was enthusiastically returning the kiss.
When the kiss finally broke, Dean looked at Castiel with a look that the angel never thought he’d see in those eyes. It was a look of utter devotion and…
“Cas, let me make one thing very clear,” Dean said. “I love you, too. I love you in every which way it’s possible to love you. Do you got that?”
Dean then dove in for another kiss and Castiel lost himself in the moment until…
“Ugh, get a room you two,” came Sam’s teasing voice from behind Castiel.
Castiel felt a rush of embarrassment and he saw a bright red blush creep over Dean’s face as they quickly separated.
“Um…yeah…well…that’s…uh…how you kiss a girl,” Dean fumbled for an excuse.
Sam rolled his eyes. “Oh, give me a break. I’ve known you two have had the hots for each other for years. Glad someone finally broke the ice.”
Dean looked dumbfounded. “Wait…you knew?”
“Duh! With the way you two look at each other?” Sam shrugged. “Sorry for interrupting, I just forgot to grab a book to read before bed.”
Dean then took Castiel’s hand. “C’mon.”
Dean led the angel down toward the living quarters. After they entered Dean's room, he handed the angel a set of pajamas. “Look, I…know you don’t need to sleep…and I’m not quite ready to do anything else just yet…but I’d love if you came to bed with me.”
“Are you asking me to…cuddle with you?” Castiel asked.
Dean blushed and nodded. “Just don’t tell Sam, okay?”
Castiel nodded and silently changed into the pajamas while Dean turned his back to give Castiel some privacy, while he stripped down to just the boxer briefs he was wearing. Dean then got into bed and Castiel climbed in after him, curling around Dean’s back and holding the hunter close.
Dean snuggled closer and let out a contented sigh. “This feels nice. Wish we’d done this a whole lot sooner.”
“So, do I,” Castiel admitted. “I love you, Dean.”
“G’night, Cas,” Dean said with a yawn. “I love you, too.”