It's literally been years since Dean's been inside a Maggie Moo's and nothing's changed. The walls are too bright, the lines are miles long, the servers look like they hate their lives, kids are running around like escaped animals, and Cas looks way too out of place amid the chaos.
Well, some things have changed.
"Dude," Dean chides, throwing a companionable arm over Cas's shoulder. Cas startles from his observation of some whale of a kid and her half-eaten triple fudge sundae and regards Dean with wide eyes, impossibly blue under the fluorescent lights. Something shivers deliciously in his chest at Cas's stare, like hot fudge over three scoops of vanilla, constricting into a candy shell, keeping all the good stuff safe. "Remember what I said about the staring thing? Chill out before someone calls Chris Hansen."
Dean steers Cas to an empty booth, shoving him in on one side before sliding in opposite, immediately reaching out for a menu. He hands it to Cas, who takes it with a curiosity that Dean's only seen two places: on puppies and on Sam's eight-year old face when he'd discovered dad's knife collection.
They've had fuck all to do for the last two days since a lead on some mystic weapon fell through, and they had been in the area, so why wouldn't he take an impromptu trip down memory lane?
"Keep your eyes on that." Dean pulls out his own menu from what looks like menu stowage, opening up and glancing at it. There are about 1,500 flavors on it. "Jesus, what happened to the simple days when there were, like, five flavors and you loved it because you didn't know any better? Low-fat, lactose-free vanilla? What the hell's that about? Get it away from my ice cream; it's talking to my ice cream and making it feel bad about itself."
Cas looks down at his menu, brows furrowed in confusion. "The air is sweet."
God, sometimes he can make the most innocuous thing sound like a fucking death sentence. 'The air is sweet' suddenly sounds an awful lot like Cardiovascular; Musculoskeletal; Endocrine; Integumentary; Nervous; Lymphatic. You humans are such a colossal waste of time, energy and cosmic planning.
Nodding, Dean flips to the back and starts reading over the descriptions for Sundaes and Fundaes, whatever the fuck a 'fundae' is. "Mm. It's the ice cream."
"Ice cream." I do not know how your species has survived this long with the handicap of having a severe disconnect between your fragile brains and reality.
"I scream, you scream, we all scream." The S'mores Brownie Fundae sounds like an orgasm and a half. "You decided yet? The Apple Strudel flavor sounds good."
The glare he gets in response could flay skin, and Jesus fuck, that's hot. "No."
"Don't let one bitch ruin the party, Cas."
Cas licks at his mouth and Dean can't help but be drawn to the lush bottom curve of his lips. Damn. He'd take a pint of that. "I have never had… I do not know what is good."
So eager to please. The earnest frustration coloring those words goes straight to Dean's cock. Yeah, this was probably the best and worst idea he's ever had, but it was too good to pass up. Plus, the poor bastard's never had ice cream before, which is the saddest thing in the history of ever, because what good Christian soul has never experienced the perfection of mint chocolate chip melting on their tongue? The feeling when cold strawberry hits the back of the throat and slips down, down, down? The sweet, unbearable agony of a brain freeze?
It still makes Dean laugh when Cas talks about Heaven in that reverent way, as if that's what it could ever be when there's no ice cream or pie or sex up there.
He signals for a server, some teenage girl with way too much eye make-up who looks as though she'd rather be getting a root canal than working at Maggie's, all torso and no legs and probably resentful of the fact. She comes over, dragging her angst behind her like a ball and chain, and pulls out a small pad of paper.
Cas attempts to smile at her, but Dean snorts and throws a packet of Splenda at him. "Dude. Chris Hansen." To the girl, he turns on the charm. "Do you have any specials?"
The girl, whose nametag reads Monica, sighs. Probably dreaming of the day she finally gets pregnant, has to quit her shitty job and become a shut-in to deal with the shame. "The Magnificent Moocha Surprise. It's double chocolate chunk, cookie dough and vanilla ice cream covered in fresh whipped cream, drizzled with chocolate sauce, topped with diced hazelnuts and macadamia nuts, and finished with a chocolate bar and a wafer slice."
What'd you say, Cas? Heaven has a river of bliss? That's nice.
"What is the surprise?" Cas inquires, sincere as anything and it's probably the most adorable thing Dean has ever heard. It almost makes him feel guilty about jerking off for months to the thought of that mouth on him. Almost.
Keeping it classy, Winchester.
"The sheer amount of calories per spoonful," Monica replies, deadpan, tapping her tooth-marked pen against her pad. Dean grins and points at her.
"We'll take two."
Monica rolls her eyes and walks away, Cas staring after her.
"Where is she going?" Such is the grandeur we have imagined for the mighty dead.
"To update her blog with the emo poem of the day," Dean says, well aware that explaining anything to Castiel is like having a three-year old read the Magna Carta, but Cas is such a good sport that he nods as if he understands. Cas is nothing if not gracious, accepting everything that Dean says as Law.
Cas fingers absently at the salt and pepper shakers, eyes bright and alert, dragging that odd stare over the garishly-painted walls of the place. So different from the dick he'd met in the barn, ages of history between them erasing the paint-by-numbers canvas Heaven had created so that Dean could dip his fingers into outrageous shades and do what he will with it. He's changed Cas in ways that should never have been possible, but somehow are.
For a moment, he's back in the Green Room, the walls some staid mint color and without any of the so-called rapture that the whole of Heaven has to offer. Even Zachariah and his look-at-me-I'm-a-douche suit had blended harmlessly into the background. But Castiel, Cas, had bled himself dry to change the scenery. For him.
Cas's gaze is suddenly upon him and Dean straightens, the leather of the booth squeaking under his legs, the denim rubbing raw against his skin. "So, what do you think? Nothing beats Maggie's."
Cas blinks, head tilting. Like a bird. Not a hawk, but one of those little puff balls that hops instead of walks and wakes him up at five-in-the-morning when forty of its buddies come over for a sing-a-long.
"It is… interesting." I do not have to enjoy your pathetic pueblos simply because I am stuck in this frail shell.
Dean sprawls back and rests his head against the booth, head lolling toward the window. Even the buildings across the street haven't changed, the rest of the world spinning around this one street. Unbelievable. If there's ever nuclear fallout, it'll be Maggie's, Johnston & Bellamy Insurance, and four cockroaches. "My dad used to take us here, me and Sammy. In between hunts, unless he needed, you know, patching up. If he was up to it and we had the time, he'd bring us in just before closing. They'd be cleaning up and we'd come swanning in and ask for the biggest fucking sundaes on the menu."
And wow, too much information to be imparting over ice cream -- ice cream that isn't even on the table yet. Like Cas really cares what he did from ages eight to twenty-nine, or didn't already know beforehand.
When Dean turns his head away from the window, Cas is staring. Any other time, Dean would be waiting for Chris Hansen to pop out of a fucking hole in the ground, camera crew trailing behind him, all "Why don't you have a seat over there?" But there's something in that admittedly unsettling gaze that Dean can't really name. He's not the sharpest tool in the shed, what with Sammy getting the brains while Dean went back to the Charm and Beauty line for a second helping, but he recognizes that despite already knowing every single thing there is to know about him, Cas is listening. And obviously enjoying the story.
"How long has it been since you have last come here?" Cas inquires, lips quirked, and Dean swallows hard, suddenly flustered, because who ever asks this kind of shit and actually means it?
"Dude," Dean says, throat dry, and seriously where is that ice cream? "You already know."
And, oh, there's a smile. Small, practically non-existent, but there. "I do. But I… enjoy your anecdotes. It is as if I am experiencing them myself."
He has no idea what an anecdote is. "I, uh, 'bout twenty years ago?"
Cas nods, as if he's hearing it for the first time and didn't watch it happen from a fucking cloud, and fixes Dean with an unreadable look (all his looks are) from beneath his lashes.
"I do not think that we will have another… day of leisure such as this after today. But perhaps when it is all over you and I can… come here again." One does not simply walk into Mordor.
Dean opens his mouth to ask what Cas means by that, because what the fuck, but Monica takes that as her cue to appear with their ginormous platters of ice cream.
"Anything else?" Monica asks, but Dean just waves her away because… Jesus.
The implications of that innocent statement are huge. Huge. Biblical. He hasn't been under any false pretenses as far as the Host goes. He knows that if they win, and maybe if they don't, all the angels are going back to watch the fireworks from a galaxy far, far away, leaving Humanity to either pick up the mess or perish in it. And he'd been under the impression that Cas would be following the family.
Cas, who picks up his spoon curiously and scoops the smallest amount of ice cream possible onto it. Cas, who brings it to his mouth and darts his tongue out, curling around the dollop of cookie dough for his very first taste. Cas, whose eyes dazedly slip shut in rapture and yeah, best and worst idea Dean's ever had.
His own sundae starts melting as he watches a larger spoonful slide into that mouth, onto that tongue, lips smeared with vanilla, teeth flashing like the gleam of a jewel on a crucifix as hazelnuts are smote between them. A rosy flush has infused Cas's pale cheeks in response to the chill of the ice cream, the pleasure of those bursts of individual taste and the medley -- the melody -- of flavor they create.
Dean watches, pants tight, as Cas slides the spoon back out but keeps it close to drag the tip of his tongue up the handle of the metal to catch wayward drops of double chocolate chunk, and Dean's seen German porn less graphic than this.
But nothing can compare to the noises Cas makes with every spoonful, the hazy sighs and pleased growls that Dean can actually see building beneath the soft skin of Cas's throat.
Dean glances around, face hot, ice cream practically soup, and yep. People are staring. One woman's exhaustion-glazed eyes brighten with heat and a bit of envy as she watches Cas molest his ice cream. Her three screaming kids knock over a napkin dispenser.
"H-How is it?" Dean rasps, and Cas's eyes open lazily, glossy with gratification.
"Oh," Cas breathes, mouth half full, and Dean's eyes are drawn to the white of the vanilla peeking out from the corner of that mouth. "Oh, it is beyond words, Dean."
"No kidding." Because Dean doesn't have the words for this. They haven't been written. But when they do end up being penned, he's calling Chuck and putting them in the fucking Gospel.
Cas gestures with his spoon, tongue darting out and licking at the corner of his mouth. "You have not yet eaten."
All Dean hears is, "may I sit on your cock?"
But Cas says nothing after that, tucking back into his ice cream with that childlike, very un-childlike enthusiasm, practically going down on the spoon, and that mother from earlier is starting to shift restlessly at the show. Dean glowers at her, but she looks as though she'd throw down right in the middle of the restaurant for a shot at Cas.
Watching Cas scoop the melted ice cream at the bottom of the platter onto the luckiest spoon and into that mouth, oh god, that mouth, Dean really can't blame her.
Spoon clattering in the platter, Cas sits back with a luxurious, long hum, face flushed with the pleasure of a job well done, eyes closed in obvious contentment, his lashes dark smears of ink against the pale pink of his cheeks, and holy Christ, Dean suddenly has a vag.
"So," Dean says, overly loud, a muscle in his jaw jumping because he really needs to find a men's room. "I take it you enjoyed it."
Cas's smile widens, opening his eyes enough to flash Dean a peak of those devastating eyes. "Oh, yes. Thank you."
"Yep." And if his voice sounds higher than it ought to, no one comments on it. Dean looks down at his puddle of choco-cookie-vanilla and frowns at it. He'd chock it up to being a waste of what will probably be a shit-ton of money, but as far as he's concerned? Money so well spent.
"You did not…" Cas is frowning down at the mess in Dean's sundae platter, the soggy wafer bobbing sadly in the warm, watery swirl of chocolate and cookie dough. The nuts looks like the pictures of dead World War II soldiers that Sammy used to show him when they'd be in a town that had enough money for a functioning library. Dead soldiers, just numbers to be used and tossed away once they had served their purpose, floating downstream and forgotten soon after.
And that's just how it's going to be. They're going to play all the King's men, needed like air in the thick of the fight and easily discarded when the smoke clears, the Host pulling back their forces and going back to base, leaving the bodies of the frontline wherever they fall.
Dean sighs, the mood from before suddenly gone, and his erection wilts like a flower after the first frost of the season. The Dean Winchester Kansas Tour has come to an end. Time to pack it in and go back to what he does best: keep fighting and losing the good fight.
"Dean…" Cas starts, but Dean signals for Monica to bring them their check. Cas turns his Chris Hansen stare on him, but Dean can't be bothered to tell him to blink.
Monica holds out the thin receipt for Dean to take, then turns on her heels to go.
"Monica," Cas says, and she turns, eyes tired and unimpressed. Cas smiles at her. "Thank you for the ice cream."
Her lips part slightly in confusion before she heaves a sigh and blesses them with an honest-to-God smile. "Yeah, sure thing."
In the parking lot, Dean rummages around in his jacket pocket for the keys to the Impala, fingers brushing the worn lining, finding holes that need patching. He glances up and takes one last look around at Maggie's and Johnston & Bellamy Insurance; the sidewalks are tired, crumbling at the curb with a melancholic sort of age, the cement of Johnston & Bellamy stained with time. Maybe things have changed more than he thought, just small things that add up to a sorry sort of ending.
"Dean," Cas murmurs, and Dean had almost forgotten he was there, that he'd given Dean the best jerk-off material anyone could hope for. Cas stands there, almost small in Jimmy Novak's trench coat and cheap suit, a splash of color against the drab background of this tiny Kansas parking lot. "I am sorry you did not enjoy your ice cream."
He smiles and pulls out the keys, finally, because he's suddenly more than ready to get the fuck out of here. "Hey, not a problem. You liked it, right? 's all that matters."
Dean unlocks and opens his door, just about to slide in --
Dean pauses. "Huh?"
Cas twitches, swaying a bit unsteadily, and Dean wants to chock it up to too much ice cream, but he knows that's not it. Cas swallows -- swallows -- and meets Dean's eyes. "I was… I was very young, you realize, younger than my brothers when we went to the sea for the first time."
Cas's eyes dart away from Dean's face, to the ground, then back to Dean, the gloss of ice cream-induced delight long gone and in its place is Cas's usual tired expression. "It was… a reward for our obedience. To see what He had given you." Dean's heart cracks at the way Cas's gravelly voice tapers off to the barest hum of a whisper, breaking in the face of the unfairness that is Humankind, the unfairness of God's love for his lesser creation. "I am… not trying to say that my Father is without fault… but He… He cared the best He could. He tried."
Tit for tat. Dean's anec-whateverthefuck in exchange for one of Cas's. And shit, but they're all broken in some way, aren't they?
"Must be a dad thing," is all Dean can offer, but it makes Cas smile. "Maybe… Maybe when all this shit's over, we can come back. You know, like you… like you said? Just you and me, without all the daddy issues."
Cas nods, eyes bright. "I would like that." And suddenly, everything's lighter, better. A small grin curls that fucking mouth. "And then I will scream; you will scream; we will scream."
No he fucking did not. "Dude, did you really just say that?"
Cas suddenly looks a bit self-conscious, studiously looking away from Dean and out onto the slowly-eroding street. "I am still trying to grasp the correct use of your double entendre. I apologize if I… did it wrong."
And, Jesus if that isn't the funniest thing ever. Dean's laughing, and it feels so fucking good. Much better than the feeling of mint chocolate chip melting on the tongue, or a brain freeze.
Smiling, Cas lifts his gaze to the sky, eyes soft and sad but steadfast. Saying something, and Dean, somewhere inside where his ten-year old self lives and still believes in the kind of lie Sammy calls 'hope', wants it to be a goodbye.
Cas lowers his chin and catches Dean staring. He grins. "Chris Hansen, Dean."
He's a warrior of God, fought countless demons and angels both, sat through the most pornographic dessert in history, and just had his own words thrown right back at him. And he loves it. Loves everything, fiercely and as genuinely as he can.
Holy shit, they're going to win.
"Cas --" Whatever it is that he's about to say is cut off by the stupid ringtone Sammy set his phone to, fucking Barbie Girl, and he answers it before it gets to the "C'mon, Barbie, let's go party" part. Wait until he gives Sammy a ring and the douchenozzle gets an earful of Mmm… Bop. "Hey, Sammy."
His brother starts talking about something to do with Bobby finding an incantation that might help them in the fight with whatshisname, but Dean is too busy having a Chris Hansen Stare-Off with Cas to pay attention. When Cas realizes the game, he huffs his odd laugh and ducks his head. Dean smiles.
"Sammy, I'm gonna head back now. Think you can surprise me with all the latest celebrity gossip when I get there?" He snaps his phone's shut on Sammy's "Fuck y--" and turns a winning smile on Cas, who smiles back. Dean's eyes are drawn to that mouth, jesus, how is that not illegal, which curves up even higher.
Cas inclines his head with a coy look in Dean's direction. "A little longer, Dean."
With the memory of Cas's first ice cream to tide him over, Dean's sort of all right with that.
"Shall we?" Cas is already riding shotgun before he can even finish the damn sentence.
Taking one last look at the slow death of Church Road, Dean exhales softly and gets in the Impala, Cas relaxed and licking at the phantom taste of cookie dough from his lips, before he guns it. It won't be too long before he's back here.
A little longer.