Sam was right. Dean is the most pathetic person he's ever known.
Okay, yeah, it's a pretty shitty situation. Dean never really wanted to fall in love. Until it happened and then he realized it was pretty fucking awesome. Except when you fall in love with an angel and they go back to live in Heaven and help other humans. Stupid other humans who aren't you and don't know that said angel has certain needs. Like he needs some positive reinforcement and that you gotta let him fuss over you or he'll go a bit nuts. And that he needs someone to show him stupid human things like Star Wars and astrology and food. God, all that pie they never ate. That's a serious regret for Dean.
So yeah, it sucks, but it's a Saturday night and Dean is laying on his sofa with a beer hanging limply from his hand while hours of Dr. Sexy, M.D. plays on the television. It's beyond sad and travelling into seriously fucking miserable. He's not left his apartment except to go to work, forcing a visit from Sam the previous day to make sure Dean hadn't drowned in his shower or something equally tragic.
He wonders idly what the recovery time is for unrequited angelic love. Or if there is a recovery to be had. Judging by Castiel's dismal future-seekings, Dean doesn't hold out much hope. He would say fuck it and give it a shot. Go out and find the next available fuck buddy. But the idea just makes him feel even shittier. It's stupidly romantic and Dean seriously means stupid, but he just doesn't want someone that's not Castiel. He can't imagine trying to kiss someone who doesn't have big fucking flappy wings to hang onto.
His favorite time of the day is before he falls asleep when he says a short prayer of thanks for Castiel. It's not like Cas is answering him or anything, but Dean knows Cas is feeling it and that's enough to ease Dean into a peaceful sleep.
Speaking of bedtime and prayers, Dean thinks it's probably late enough to get into bed. Maybe he'll be less pathetic in the morning.
When he lifts himself off the sofa and turns towards his bed landing, there is a woman standing in front of his stairs. Dean yelps and drops the empty beer bottle, which falls to the carpet with a dull thunk.
"What the fuck!"
"Hello, Dean," she says and it's her voice does the trick.
"Holy shit, it's you," Dean says, recognition turning his knees to jelly. It's her. The red-haired angel. Anna. Castiel's mother. The angel who...the angel who saved his life, Dean thinks, remembering Castiel's terse reminder. And he's right. Dean knows that. But he can't help feeling an echo of his old anger. He hates himself for it.
"It's me," Anna confirms with a small smile. Dean's memory isn't entirely accurate in regards to Anna. Of course, he remembers looking up at her instead of the few inches down he's looking now. But he also remembers her as being cold and harsh. Yet what he sees now is a pleasant expression. A softness gentle on her pretty features. The wings are the same as he remembered. Pointed and severe. Too short for Dean's liking, but then he's got a real specific taste in wings.
"What are you doing here?"
"I came to ask you what you're waiting for," she says simply.
"Um..." Dean twirls a finger. "Pretend I'm a dumb human for a minute here."
Anna laughs. "I was worried that your past issues with angels...well, with me were keeping you from acting on your feelings."
"How do you know I got 'feelings'?" Dean asks. Okay, Dean can be the bigger person here. He can admit that he was wrong about angels. But on this point, he was not wrong. Angels really are presumptuous sons of bitches.
"Most people only offer thanks once, Dean. Not every night," Anna says with a knowing grin. Dean feels himself begin to blush.
"Oh. You know about that, huh? What is it, like on angel radio or something?"
Holy crap, it probably is. Every angel in Heaven probably knows that Dean's a lovesick idiot.
"No," Anna promises him. "Castiel told me. He's feeling very conflicted."
"Yeah? About what?"
Anna lowers her eyes at him.
"You both can't possibly be this ignorant," she says. "Please tell me you aren't."
Dean knows what she means. He's just finding it hard to believe. He's not that stupid, but angels don't feel like that. Cas said they don't. Of course, Cas also said that angels aren't supposed to break into big fucking libraries and steal requests. The thing is though, Dean's not that lucky. Oh absolutely, he's the type of person who falls in love with angels.
He's not the type that has them fall back.
"So, what are your intentions towards my son?" But there's a grin on her face and Dean knows she's teasing him. He can't believe that either. So many years wasted with useless hatred for this angel, this angel who was one of the few beings in Castiel's life that made him feel good. It overwhelms Dean and he finds himself taking a step towards her.
"I'm sorry," he says thickly. "I shouldn't have...you saved me and Dad and Sammy. God, you saved Sammy. I should've thanked you."
Her expression changes, the humor transforming into deep sympathy.
"Please understand that I never wanted to leave your mother, Dean. But angels are given so much power. If we break the rules, chaos would reign on your planet. I didn't want to leave her, but...sometimes people die. I am very sorry," she says gently.
Two weeks ago, that speech would have pissed Dean off. Would have sent him on a tirade about how angels didn't deserve their power if they didn't use it to save people. But now Dean thinks he understands. Not completely, but enough to know he was wrong. But he can't say it. Not without his voice cracking, so he just nods. That hard knot that had been eased by Castiel's defense of Anna dissolves completely when she steps forward, closing the gap between them and lays her hand against his cheek, stroking a thumb over his jaw.
"I see why he likes you," she says quietly.
"I don't want him to get into trouble," Dean struggles to say. He knows that Anna is trying to steer him into somehow pursuing Castiel and fuck, does he ever want to do just that. But he doesn't want Castiel to be hurt or to lose his job or whatever the hell they do to angels that fall in love against the rules.
"I know you don't. That's why I came here. I was afraid for him myself. I...I understand what he's going through and I made the decision to remain in my post," she says and Dean hears the heartbreak in her tone. It never occurred to him that angels could hurt like that, just the same as humans.
He never thought he'd feel sympathy for the angel he's hated all these years.
"But he's so unhappy, Dean. He misses you terribly and...I think his path is different. If you're worried we're going to lock him up or physically punish him, then you really do still have a bit more to learn about angels."
Her tone is light, but not her meaning. Dean feels chastised. Kind of scolded actually. The way a mom would. Which just makes him smile.
"Besides, all you can do is ask. It's up to Castiel to make his mind up about what he wants to do," Anna reminds him. "His life might change, but we would never cause him pain."
"Seriously? Like one hundred percent, he won't get hurt?" Dean asks, suddenly eager and actually trembling a little.
"One hundred percent," she says, grinning again.
Dean slams his eyes shut, biting his bottom lip.
"What are you doing?" Anna asks.
"Praying. Shut up."
Michael doesn't say anything to Castiel for quite awhile that morning. They sit side by side in their usual places while they sort through requests. So familiar they are with each other's movements that they don't need any words to transact business. This suits Castiel just fine. He's not really in the mood to talk. Talking had been the activity of the previous night. Anna had confronted him about his sulky behavior and the two had stayed up all night talking about Dean and the way Castiel felt about him. Anna had seemed to think that talking might help 'push things along a bit faster'. She'd been rather impatient, come to think of it, but since she'd still refused to spell it out for him, Castiel is just as lost this morning as he's felt for the past four mornings.
"I think we need a break, brother," Michael says as he stamps an impression of his grace on the latest completed request. "And perhaps you can tell me why you're so quiet these days."
"I should think it was obvious," Castiel says as respectfully as possible.
"Well, perhaps, but I wanted to give you a chance to tell me. But if you prefer direct questioning, that's just as well," Michael says, giving Castiel the feeling he's in for a grueling interrogation. It's not possible to lie to Michael. If anyone could get Castiel to understand his plight, it would be Michael.
"You feel as if you've failed your first task," Michael says, tenting his long slender fingers against his narrow mouth. His sandy colored eyes search Castiel's face and his grace. There's no hiding, so Castiel doesn't bother.
"I did fail. I left Dean alone," he says bluntly.
"Yes, you did. And this is why you believe you failed." Michael removes his glasses and begins cleaning them on the front of his robe. "Because you did not finish the job."
"I was so certain Dean was being held back by his conflict with Adam Zazel and his unresolved grief over his parents' deaths," Castiel reports. "I did not give other avenues of investigation much thought and...I ran out of time."
"Hmm." Michael places the glasses back on his face and rubs at his chin. "Interesting. Can I ask you a question?"
"Of course," Castiel answers.
"How do you feel about Dean Winchester?"
It's a simple question, but not. Castiel loves Dean, of course. But it's more than that. Castiel loves all of humanity, but he knows Dean. And he loves what he knows. He loves being near Dean. He loves how all of Dean's actions are fueled by beautiful reckless passion. He loves Dean's protectiveness and his loyalty. And by their Father, does Castiel ever love those sweet consuming prayers of gratitude, like secret love letters, that Dean sends him every night.
But Castiel doesn't know what it means or how to explain it to Michael. He remembers something Dean said to him while they talked of love and sex.
"Michael...have you...have you ever just felt like you had to touch someone?" Castiel asks quietly.
"Only your mother," Michael says without hesitation.
"My...? But...are you saying...?" Castiel stares at Michael, at the encouraging nod Michael gives him and he can't breathe. It's just not possible. After all this time. Michael. First Angel. Castiel's best friend in Heaven.
"How come you never told me?" Castiel's voice wavers, his wings twist over one another and he wishes so hard that Dean were here to hold him steady.
"Oh, those rules," Michael says with a deep sigh. "We have too many rules, I think."
Castiel's thoughts are coming sluggishly. He'd only just gotten used to the fact that Anna actually was his mother. Now to find out that not only is Michael his father, but that he apparently carries some kind of deep affection for Anna. A fierce desire to understand everything strikes Castiel hard in the chest.
"Are you in love with her?"
"Yes," Michael says simply.
"Then why? Why aren't you together?"
"I chose...we chose to go our separate ways for the sake of our duty," Michael explains and for the first time Castiel hears the pain edging his tone. He listens closely, reaching out with his grace and he's surprised when Michael allows it. Allows Castiel to see the deep and abiding love he carries for Anna. The love and the vicious longing and it's so very familiar. It's exactly how he feels about Dean.
"How?" Castiel whispers. "How can you stand it?"
"We're different, you and I," Michael says. He reaches for Castiel's hands, takes them in his own, so big and gentle. "You've always been different from everyone else. And not just in appearance. The rest of us, the other angels, we were born of necessity."
Michael squeezes Castiel's hands and his throat moves hard around his next words.
"But you, Castiel. You were born of love."
"This is why? Why...everything?"
"It was an accident. Anna and I were assigned to each other. But...it became so much more than that. I never understood why humans fell in love. Not until I found myself there," Michael says with a chuckle. Castiel doesn't understand how he can laugh at this. Being in love is extremely painful.
"Oh," Castiel says suddenly, stupidly. "I'm in love."
"Yes," Michael says, beaming. "I've been waiting for a long time to hear you say that."
And just like that, Castiel is thrown sideways again.
"What do you mean?"
"Our Father and I always knew you would fall for one of them. You're so much like them. Your heart was always too big. That's why you've been kept away from Earth, my child," Michael says, leaning forward. "We weren't waiting for a job special enough. We were waiting for a human special enough."
"No, but..." This is too much. Michael's got it all backwards. "No, that's not the way it is, Michael. Dean is...he deserves someone truly wonderful. Someone who can help him get over whatever's holding him in his past," Castiel says sadly.
"Oh Castiel, don't you understand? That thing he can't get over? That thing he keeps looking back towards? It's you."
Castiel opens his mouth, then shuts it again.
"You can't make a good love match with a human already in love," Michael continues while Castiel's busy trying to process anything other than astonishment. "Dean was doomed to poor future-seekings the moment he saw you on the porch of his brother's home."
"Um...I'm having trouble...this isn't making...I don't-"
"Take a deep breath, Castiel," Michael instructs, releasing his hands and sitting back in his chair. "Think about it for a few moments."
Castiel nods, inhales a great amount of air, blowing it out again and shuts his eyes. Too many revelations one right after the other are making Castiel's head spin. And yet, despite the very great shock of discovering he is the son of the Michael, it's somehow nothing compared to the idea that Dean might love him back. All Castiel can think is that he wants to find a way back into Dean's arms. He wants to wrap the human up in his wings and never let go.
"What should I do?" he whispers into the silent room.
"You have to make a decision," Michael says, tone very serious. "You have to decide if he's important enough to leave all this behind."
Castiel's eyes snap open again and he stares at Michael in shock.
"I can do that? Without punishment?"
"Of course, brother," Michael says. "We won't keep you here against your will. But you have to understand where your loyalties lay."
"I..." Castiel doesn't want to leave Heaven. Truly, he doesn't. He loves all his family so deeply, so profoundly that the thought of leaving feels like tearing off one of his very own wings. But living without Dean would be like having no wings at all. For thousands of years, Castiel existed in Heaven. It wasn't until Dean that he really lived.
"They are with him," he says, surprised by how firm he sounds. Michael breaks into another wide smile, his seriousness evaporating.
"Good. I was hoping you'd say that! Now I can give you this," he says and then hands Castiel a request slip he'd hidden under a file folder.
"Your new assignment," Michael announces happily. Castiel frowns at him, but his curiosity draws his attention down to the words on the sheet.
REQUESTER: Dean Winchester
LOCATION: Lawrence, Kansas, United States of America
REQUEST: Okay, so I'm a fucking idiot. I should have never let you go because...I love you, okay? I'm losing my goddamned...shit, I mean, I'm losing it without you. Obviously. So, Cas, you better get your feathery ass back down here or I swear to God, I'll come up there and drag you out myself.
SPECIFICS: Though this job requires relocation, the assigned angel shall continue in his duty to his Father. The job shall last the length of the requester's life. The assigned angel is encouraged to remain calm and remember this is a free gift from his Father.
ASSIGNED ANGEL: Castiel
"Only fools refuse free gifts," Castiel murmurs to himself, a short amazed laugh bubbling up from his chest.
"Um, nothing. Just some advice I got from Dean's friend," Castiel says, eyes glued to Dean's name on the page. "Michael, I don't understand. How can our Father accept that my loyalties lay with Dean?"
"Our Father made you different, Castiel. This isn't a question of him accepting you, but rather you being exactly what he wanted," Michael explains. "Remember how I told you that you were the only angel in creation who could possibly complete this love match? Well, I wasn't kidding."
"Am I an experiment?"
"Hmm. Well, perhaps we should say you are the beginning of a new generation," Michael says. He's watching Castiel, expression so fond, so completely joyful that when Castiel finally looks up from the sheet, he's startled by the depth of emotion he sees on Michael's face.
"Michael," Castiel starts, then stops again. There's so much he could say. That he's thankful. That he wishes Michael could choose this same path. That he hopes someday Michael can. That he's terrified and excited all at once. But Michael doesn't let him. He just gently tugs the request out of Castiel's hand and slips it into the URGENT slot.
"Go now. This is your reward for waiting all those many long years," he says. "Go and enjoy it."
"Should I…should there be a future-seeking?" Castiel asks. He's never heard of an angel future-seeking for themselves. He's not entirely sure it's possible.
"In this, I think you should rely on faith," Michael advises. "If you can't trust yourself, you should trust Dean."
Castiel nods. That, he can do.
"Besides," Michael continues, turning back to his pile of requests. "Don't think for a second I didn't future-seek the crap out of yours and Dean's future. I wasn't about to let my kid go marry just anyone after all."
But there's nothing to say to that, so Castiel just stares at Michael until he looks up.
"Thank you," Castiel murmurs. Michael smiles.
"You're welcome. I expect you back here to report for duty first thing in the morning. But for now, get out of here."
Dean's been pacing way too fucking much lately. And it's all Castiel's fault. He's not even able to pace with a friend because Anna took off as soon as Dean started praying, leaving him alone with his nerves. Which isn't at all fair. Now all Dean has to listen to are his thoughts. His stupid self-defeating thoughts. What if Cas doesn't answer his prayer? What if he does answer and the answer is no? What if he's disgusted by Dean's confession? What if he's not?
"Oh my god!" Dean whirls around to face Castiel, who is standing near his front door, his head cocked to an inquisitive angle. "We gotta get you a bell."
He just raises an eyebrow at Dean and says nothing. Which Dean lets him get away with for a couple of minutes because Dean's scared shitless he's about to get the disappointment of a lifetime. But then the threat of disappointment becomes worse than the disappointment itself.
"Well? Did you get my prayer?" Dean blinks. That wasn't something he ever expected to say. It makes his prayer sound like one of those "Do you like me?" notes kids send in elementary school.
"I did. You said you loved me," Castiel says, possibly with a questioning tone.
"Yeah, well, I've been kinda freaking out down here and I thought, you know. That was probably the reason."
Dean had to be the most awkward romantic in the history of the world. Though, judging by the way Castiel's eyes brighten with pleasure, he doesn't seem to mind. But he also keeps quiet and although his wings are thrashing fit to die, Dean can't really tell what that means.
"Well? You got anything to add to that?" he finally asks.
Castiel comes a bit closer. "I'm not very good at this," he confesses.
"Yeah, you and me both, buddy," Dean says.
"You must forgive me if I do something wrong, but I came here to tell you that I feel the same way and if you'll have me, I was hoping I could stay. With you," Castiel says shyly and Dean thinks it's actually possible for someone's heart to stop and speed up at the same time. Blood rushes to his head, making him feel like he might faint with it.
"I sent a threatening blasphemous prayer to Heaven, Cas. I was kinda serious about this whole thing," he says by way of answer to Castiel's request. Castiel smiles and bounces on the balls of his feet, his wings curling around his front.
Another weird silence, then Dean sighs. Their very short romance has a real blind leading the blind kinda feel to it. If Dean doesn't make some kind of move, they are liable to just stare at each other for the rest of their lives.
Not that this sounds all that bad. But Dean feels there are even better things to come.
"C'mere," he says, holding out his hand and loving the thrill he gets when Castiel immediately obeys. He winds his arms around Castiel's waist and when Castiel's wings close around his shoulders the way they did at Zazel's house, he lets out a long satisfied sigh.
"This right here? This is the reason you got big-ass wings," Dean murmurs into Castiel's neck. His entire body, from his shoulders on down to his heels are being caressed by soft warm feathers and already Dean can't wait to go to sleep and wake up wrapped up in wings.
"Ah, you think I've been made for you, but Michael says it's the opposite way around," Castiel says with a bit of a teasing tone Dean really likes. Not that he understands what Castiel means, but he'll have to ask later, when he's not intent on kissing Castiel for real. That little peck on his temple early was nowhere near enough.
"Whatever you say, angel-boy," Dean says. He cups one of Castiel's cheeks. "This is what humans do when they are in love. Don't let me catch you doing it with anyone else, okay?"
"Okay," Castiel says very seriously.
Then Dean kisses him, gentle at first, but quickly turning deep and intimate and when Castiel makes that little moaning noise Dean nearly choked upon hearing at their one dinner together, Dean kisses him that much harder. His hands slide around to Castiel's back, to his wing joints and Dean wraps his fingers around both of them.
Castiel loses it a little.
There's a growling noise and then Dean is being pushed back against his sofa, down onto it. The kiss breaks apart long enough for Castiel to draw a ragged breath, his blue eyes bright with desire. The wings curl forward, under and around Dean's body, cradling him close.
"What else do humans in love do?"
"C'mere and I'll show you," Dean says and when Castiel obeys him again, Dean does just that.
Being in love is so awesome.