A/N: This story was written for CrimsonQuills on livejournal for help_haiti. My thanks to the_ninth_bow for beta work!

Dean ended up choosing the hot librarian as his new roommate.

Sam said it was inevitable. Dean argued it had less to do with Castiel's looks and more to do with his quiet habits. Sam didn't believe him and Dean didn't blame him.

Castiel really was pretty freaking hot. Bright blue eyes and thick black hair and a lithe body that not even a boxy trench coat could hide. Dean knew it would haunt his dreams if he let the guy go. He wasn't planning on making a move, per se. But if he could brighten up the place with a pretty face, why not do it?

Anyway, Castiel was far and away the least creepy candidate. There was Alistair, the guy who owned three ferrets and loved them more than Dean thought necessary. Or Andy, the slimy little rat-faced kid who kept eyeing Dean's stereo. Then there was Chuck, who was nice enough, but reeked of Jim Beam and desperation. And it was better to not contemplate the meeting Dean had with Gordon. In comparison, Castiel's little staring problem was hardly worthy of note.

Castiel moved in on a Saturday afternoon. With Dean and Sam's help, it only took two hours to transport Castiel's possessions into the apartment from the little European car he drove. His bed and dresser were delivered later that day and by nightfall, he was fully ensconced in his new home. In that time Dean learned that Castiel came from a large family of all brothers, owned more books than anything else and was devoutly religious, but didn't mind it when others weren't. He wanted to learn more, but Castiel pleaded exhaustion and an early start the next morning.

Castiel played the lead role in Dean's dreams that night and the film was decidedly x-rated.

Cars and whiny customers swept Dean's thoughts away from his new roommate the next day, but they returned to him when Dean came home to find that Castiel had cooked spaghetti and meatballs.

"I hope you don't mind," Castiel said as he set a dish of noodles on the table, looking a bit nervous.

"Mind?" Dean said blankly. His mouth was filling with water, he didn't think he'd ever smelled anything so delicious and Castiel wanted to know if he minded? If Dean didn't already want to, he could have kissed the man right then and there.

"No, this is friggin' fantastic," Dean enthused.

"Ah, good," Castiel said simply, but the faint blush creeping over his cheeks gave away his pleasure.

Dean couldn't remember the last time he'd actually used the dining room table for eating. It was normally covered in mail and car parts, but now it was cleaned and set with dishes Castiel had brought with him. Dean made a mental note to ask about his junk later when food wasn't imminent.

Castiel made the oddly gallant gesture of filling a plate full first for Dean before serving himself. There was an awkward moment when Dean was afraid Castiel would insist on grace, but Castiel just began eating, so Dean followed suit.

The smell was nothing compared to the taste. Dean couldn't be sure if Castiel was actually an amazing cook or if Dean just ate so much crap that anything tasted wonderful, but it probably didn't matter. What mattered was that he absolutely made the right choice in roommates if this kind of food ecstasy happened frequently.

"Man, who taught you to cook like this?" Dean asked in between bites.

"My older brothers," Castiel said. "Michael cooked most of our meals until he left for school and then I was given the task."

"Didn't your parents cook?"

"I imagine they did while they were alive," Castiel said thoughtfully. "They died when I was quite young. My brothers raised me."

Dean's current bite of garlic bread didn't go down as easily as the rest.

"Oh," he said softly. It wasn't that he felt bad for asking because he couldn't have known. It was just that Dean knew something about raising your siblings. After his mother died and his father became lost in his grief, Dean took over caring for Sam. The situation wasn't easy on either side.

"I'm sorry."

"Me too," Castiel said with a smile. "But my brothers have been good to me, if a bit unorthodox in their rearing methods."

He could easily imagine. There was a reason kids weren't supposed to raise other kids. Dean had nearly flunked several grade levels because he spent so much of his time trying to be mother and father for his baby brother. In general, Dean thought he did pretty good. Sam was alive, healthy and had just graduated from law school. But their childhoods were kind of messed up. It was probably the real reason he liked Castiel's food so much. Both Sam and Dean grew up thinking home-cooked meals meant ramen noodles and peanut butter sandwiches.

"At least they taught you to do this," Dean said as he curled strands of spaghetti and sauce around his fork and transferred the whole mess into his mouth, grunting his approval in the back of his throat.

It was just an brief spark, but Dean caught the heated flash in Castiel's eyes before he looked away.

Better and better.

"You got a big ass family and you work at the library," Dean said, leaning on an elbow. "So what else? You got a girlfriend?"

"No," Castiel said quickly. "Nothing like that. I don't even really have any friends in this city."

"No friends?" An idea began to form in Dean's mind. What he really wanted to do was loosen Castiel up. Formal was one thing, but the guy sat ramrod straight in his chair and he still wore his suit and tie from work. And if Castiel was more relaxed, Dean could maybe...

Okay, so probably Dean was planning on making a move after all.

"We should go out after dinner," Dean decided.

"Out?" Castiel sounded uncertain.

"Yeah, I can show you around town. Take you to a few bars. Unless...is that against your beliefs?" Dean asked, already feeling mildly horrified at the thought.

"It's a world view, not a rule book, Dean," Castiel said, somewhat irritably and for some reason, it made Dean smile. He couldn't trust people who refused to fight with him.

"Then let's drag that world view out of the house and take it for a spin," Dean said, now eating with gusto. Castiel didn't verbally agree, but after a moment of lingering contemplation, he returned to his own meal with a little curved smile Dean seriously wanted to kiss.

When they finished, Castiel insisted on taking care of the dishes before anything else. Dean wasn't even the slightest bit surprised to find out that Castiel was a neat freak. Not that he minded. Castiel looked damned fine with his jacket off and shirt sleeves rolled up to the elbows as he plunged his hands into a sink full of soapy water.

Once the dishes were safely tucked back in the cabinets, Dean dragged Castiel into his new bedroom.

"You can't go out looking like this," Dean said as he positioned Castiel beside the dresser. "No girls are going want to talk to you."

"I don't want girls to talk to me," Castiel said softly, finally telling Dean what he wanted to hear.

"Well, no guys are going to talk to you either," Dean said, biting down on his internal whooping. "You look like an accountant."

"Men don't like accountants?"

"For their taxes, sure," Dean said. He began tugging at Castiel's tie and tried not let the fact that he was undressing the other man make his speech falter. "Not for sex."

"I thought we were just having a drink. Not looking for sex," Castiel said, watching Dean's hands as they started unbuttoning his white dress shirt.

"You should always keep an eye out for sex," Dean said. He kept his eyes fixed firmly on Castiel's as he slipped his fingers under the waist band of Castiel's pants and jerked the shirt tails out. "You never know who you'll find."

"I'll keep that in mind," Castiel said earnestly.

It was almost over right then and there. Dean felt himself swaying, drawn to the electric sphere that seemed to extend around Castiel, but he stopped himself just in time. If they were going to live together, Dean had to finesse this thing. They couldn't escape one another if it all went horribly wrong. Best to change his usual tactics and actually get to know the guy a little first.

He stepped away with much reluctance and let Castiel remove the shirt while he searched around for a suitable replacement. Dean wasn't much for fashion, but he knew what people wore to bars and so when he found casual blue button-down shirt, he tossed it to Castiel.

"You'll look more human in that," Dean said.

"What did you say?" Castiel asked almost snappishly, his already deep voice coming out as a suspicious growl.

"I...sorry, man, I didn't mean it like that. I just meant you'd be more approachable," Dean stuttered, totally caught off-guard by the change in Castiel's demeanor. This sort of thing was what stopped Dean from kissing the man. One minute, they were all ease and sexual tension. The next, Castiel's posture was stiff and his expression angry.

"I'm sorry?" Dean said again and just like that, Castiel deflated.

"Forgive me, Dean," he said as he sunk down onto his bed. "It's been a very trying few days with the move."

"Yeah," Dean agreed and he knew he was letting Castiel off the hook because of his attraction to him. He just didn't care.

"Would you rather stay in?" Castiel asked and he sounded so forlorn that Dean felt his heart jump around in his chest.

"No, because now I know you need a drink," Dean said firmly. "So just throw on some jeans and meet me out front."

Dean already thought Castiel was hot in what amounted to a potato sack in that trench coat, so the fitted jeans and blue shirt opened at the collar made Dean momentarily deaf and dumb when Castiel climbed into the Impala.

"Dean?"

It sounded like Castiel had probably said his name a few times. Dean shook himself and tore his eyes away from the pale skin of Castiel's neck.

"Right," he grunted as he started the car.

The ride to Dean's favorite bar was spent explaining to Castiel why the 1967 Chevy Impala was the sweetest car ever produced. It was a testament to how much Dean already liked Castiel that he resisted pointing out all the reasons why Castiel's old broken down 1987 Fiat couldn't compare. Castiel took the lecture in stride and complimented the Impala's interior, which made Dean puff up with well-deserved pride.

The Roadhouse was always crowded no matter the night and this one was no different. It gave Dean an excuse to clamp his hand around Castiel's wrist so he could drag him through the hot chattering mass of humanity. They had to stop every few feet to introduce Castiel to Dean's various acquaintances. By the fifth time, Dean started shortening his name to 'Cas' and when he received no complaints, the nickname stuck.

"What'll you have, Cas?" Dean said, speaking right into Castiel's ear and smiling at the way Castiel shivered lightly.

"I'll have a Blowjob," he answered, and it was about five minutes before Dean resurfaced from the fantasy this statement materialized for him. By then, Cas had finished his first drink and started on a second. Dean quickly caught up to him with two shots of Jack.

The rest of the evening passed in a kind of blur. Dean was vaguely aware that Cas stopped drinking after his second Blowjob. He remembered offering to teach Cas how to play pool by pressing up against his back and then suspecting that Cas already knew how when he sunk five balls in a row. At one point, Jo came over to make fun of Dean and tell lies about him to Cas who listened intently without cracking a smile, although Dean could see the humor glinting in among blue.

Somewhere after midnight Dean remembered with a pained moaning sound that he was supposed to work an extra shift the next morning.

"Um," he said against Cas' neck. Cas didn't seem all that much more relaxed than before, but Dean was grateful because his stiff upright posture was keeping Dean from puddling into the floor.

"C'n you drive my baby?"

"I believe so," Cas said very seriously.

"Gotta work. Forgot," Dean said, forlorn and loath to leave the warm comfort of Cas' neck.

"I'll make sure we get home safely," Cas promised and Dean believed him.

The night air was frigid against Dean's hot skin. He crowded close to Cas, slipping an arm around his waist.

"You're all burning up," he admired. Cas huffed what Dean hoped was a laugh, but didn't answer. His arms were strong and certain, steering Dean to the Impala and gently depositing him on the passenger's side. Dean's eyes slid from side to side as they drove, catching on passing lights and signs. They eventually got back to the house and the process happened in reverse. Cas propped Dean against the porch columns as he got the front door open and then walked him down the hall to his bedroom.

"Cas," Dean said, suddenly feeling extremely unwilling to let Cas go. He wasn't sure what he was asking for when he slid his arms around Cas' waist, but it felt pretty amazing when Cas returned the embrace.

"Dean." Castiel's voice was so quiet against Dean's ear, so gentle and fond. Instead of the expected shot of desire, Dean was overwhelmed by a thick press of comfort and safety.

"You're not thinking clearly," Cas said as Dean tightened his hold and brushed a kiss against Cas' jaw.

"No," Dean agreed. "Just stay with me."

Sex was surprisingly far from Dean's mind. All he knew was that he didn't want Cas to leave, that he would freeze alone in his bed. He'd been alone for so long and somehow, Dean knew, he just knew that if Cas left now, he'd be alone for a hell of a lot longer.

"Stay," he said again.

"Alright," Cas whispered.

The next few moments passed much like the ones they'd spent in Castiel's bedroom, only this time Cas was the one plucking clothing from Dean's body. Once he got Dean down to his underwear, Castiel pulled back the blankets and actually tucked Dean in. Tucked him in like he was kid and Dean knew it was probably weird, but the care Cas showed him was both soothing and erotic. He wasn't used to being cared for, didn't know it felt quite this nice.

"Thanks," he slurred into his pillow.

"Shh," Cas said as he climbed in beside Dean. "Sleep now, Dean."

Dean felt warm fingertips flutter across his forehead and then he slept.


The horrific screeching of an insistent alarm clock jolted Dean out of a dead sleep the next morning. He hated rolling away from Castiel's pervasive warmth, but making the noise stop was more important. Flipping over, Dean smacked a hand over the clock and flopped back, groaning his displeasure. Cas made a tiny sleepy noise that had Dean scooting back into place, draping an arm over Castiel's waist.

That nauseating sound woke him up again nine minutes later. The cycle started over and happened four more times before Dean realized he'd officially overslept.

"Shit," he grunted, hauling himself away from the secure little cocoon he'd created with his blankets and Castiel's body.

There wasn't even time for a shower. The best Dean could do was brush his teeth and run a comb through his hair. The clothes he wore the previous night were clean enough and hell, it wasn't like Bobby would complain about a few stains if they weren't. He checked on Castiel one last time before leaving him sleeping in a small lump at the center of the bed.

His sheets would smell like Castiel for days.

The thought made Dean feel less annoyed working on an early Saturday morning.

Everything was perfectly fine until about ten o'clock. A couple of regulars brought their cars around for oil changes and tune ups. It was normal, even boring work. He was inspecting the underside of a Ford Taurus when he first felt the sensation.

A tug. Light, but insistent. His thoughts turned to Castiel and a feeling like hunger filled his insides. At first Dean thought he actually was hungry, but it wasn't food occupying his mind. It was Castiel's warmth and his scent. That feeling of safety and the low thrum of desire he felt when Cas wrapped Dean up in his arms.

He shook himself. People always felt that way when they liked a new person, Dean thought. Maybe this feeling was a little stronger than normal, but nothing to worry about.

It was harder to believe that an hour later when he nearly broke a transmission because of his distraction. The sensation had been growing steadily stronger with each passing moment. His skin was drawn tight over his body and his chest ached for something. All he could think about, all he could see in his mind's eye was Castiel and when it began to physically hurt, Dean excused himself to the back office. Once alone, he pulled his cell out with shaky fingers and tried to dial the apartment, confused by this powerful, senseless and helpless longing he felt for Castiel. He'd only just gotten the third number out when Castiel appeared in the doorway, his eyes bright and wild.

"Dean," he gasped.

Dean dropped the phone and fell forward into Castiel's waiting arms, burying his face in Castiel's neck and wishing he could just climb right inside Castiel. As it was, Dean pulled Cas so close that his shirt buttons dug painfully into Dean's chest. The gnawing hunger instantly eased, draining away. Dean sagged against Castiel's chest.

"What the hell?" he asked weakly.

"I'm sorry, Dean," Cas murmured, sounding so sad that Dean lifted his head to look at him.

"Sorry for what?"

"We should speak in private," Cas said. Dean opened his mouth to point out that they were in private, but before he could speak, Cas brushed two fingers across Dean's forehead.

And then they were in their living room.

Dean stumbled under the weight of his shock and tried to get away from Castiel, but the second he lost contact, shards of white hot pain shot up his arms and through the back of his skull. He heard Cas draw a sharp breath, but he couldn't see him through the tears gathered thick and wet in his eyes.

One of Castiel's hands slid up under Dean's shirt and the other settled possessively on the back of his neck. The pain abruptly receded under waves of bright exhausting relief. Cas pressed his forehead into Dean's.

"Don't do that," he said, his voice dark and wrecked. "Don't stop touching me."

"What'd you do to me?" Dean whispered.

"I didn't do anything. Not intentionally, Dean. I promise you," Cas said. Despite the fear he felt, the confusion and the growing anger, Dean found he believed him. But it didn't really help the situation.

"What are you?"

Cas sighed. "Come here," he said and keeping a careful hand pressed flat against Dean's stomach under his shirt, Cas guided Dean to their sofa. Dean couldn't help sitting as close as possible to Castiel, virtually snuggling into his side and grasping Cas' free hand between both of his own hands.

"You put some kind of whammy on me," Dean accused him. The way Dean threaded their fingers together and pushed his belly harder against Castiel's hand really took the sting out of his words.

"I didn't," Cas denied. "This connection was formed through mutual consent. If I did 'put a whammy' on you, then you put one of your own on me."

"I didn't consent to jack shit," Dean said as he traced the lines of Castiel's palm.

"Not consciously, no. Neither did I, but the facts remains that we seem to have mated," Castiel said. Much more calmly than the words deserved, Dean thought.

"I know I was drunk, but I think I would have remembered any 'mating'," Dean said.

"Not physical mating, Dean," Castiel said in exasperation, as if Dean were a small child or too stupid to follow a simple conversation. It galled Dean that moving away from Cas would make his eyeballs feel like they were melting in his skull because he really wanted to punch Cas and stalk out of the room.

"Quit beating around the goddamned bush and tell me what the hell is going on here," Dean demanded.

"I'm an angel," Castiel said quickly.

Dean stared at him.

"Like as in halos and wings angel?"

"Wings, yes. Halos, no. You're thinking of Celestial angels," Castiel explained. At Dean's blank expression, he sighed and obeyed Dean's order to stop 'beating around the bush.'

"After God created the angels, a third of them rebelled and were cast into the Pit. They are known as Perdition's Angels. You know them as demons."

Dean considered making a crack about Hell's Angels, but he wasn't sure his shock and disbelief would allow his mouth to function properly.

"Another third fell in love with Earth and its inhabitants. In some cases, they fell in love quite literally. These angels elected to split with Heaven and take their chances amongst humanity. They lost a great deal of their powers and their immortality. For this reason, we are known as Mortal Angels. I'm a member of this third. The rest stayed at their posts in Heaven and are known as Celestial Angels," Castiel said, reminding Dean of a high school history teacher.

"You have wings?" he finally said.

"Yes, but you couldn't..." Cas trailed off as something apparently occurred to him. "Actually, I suppose you could see them if I uncloaked them. Angel mates usually can."

"I'm not your mate," Dean snapped. No matter how warm the idea made him feel. Dean always thought that if any mating happened with him, he'd actually get to choose the person.

"Perhaps not emotionally, but...Dean, you must understand what happened," Cas said, deadly serious now. He squeezed Dean's hands to emphasize his point. "Regardless of our feelings on the matter, for some reason, our unconscious selves, our souls if you will, reached for one another last night. The bond they created can't be broken just because it annoys you. The best we can hope for is to deal with it until the need for touch fades and then...if you wish...we can go our separate ways."

It was a bit too much for Dean to process. He shut Castiel out, stared at the opposite wall as he sorted through the cacophony in his mind. This whole thing was stupid. Dean never believed in angels. The only reason he was even listening to this garbage was because of the very real evidence he had that Castiel wasn't human. His inclination was to believe him, but then Dean wondered if the bond made him think that way. But if he blamed the bond, it meant he believed the bond existed, which meant that Castiel had told the truth.

He felt very confused.

"How long?" he finally asked.

"I'm not entirely sure," Cas said, sounding dejected. "The only bonded mates I've ever known were my parents and my brothers don't like to talk about them. I believe it's not an extreme period of time. I think the point is to force the bonded pair to concentrate their attention on one another."

"Yeah, humans don't need that," Dean said irritably. "Sex does the job well enough."

"You can only have sex so many times in a single day," Castiel pointed out. "But if you are always touching, then situations like this happen," he said, indicating the way they were curled up together as they discussed the problem, unconsciously stroking each other. Cuddling basically.

Dean made a face. So the bond forced people to have 24 hour chick flick moments.

"Is there anything to prove this? I mean, anything at all?"

Castiel hesitated.

"What?"

"You should bear my mark," Castiel said carefully.

"Excuse me?"

"It's how I first realized what had happened," Castiel said. He untangled his hand from Dean's and slid it under Dean's shirt like his other hand, but on the other side. "Unbutton my shirt."

A part of Dean immediately approved of this plan. Probably the part that enjoyed undressing Castiel yesterday before they were mated. Another part worried if he started taking off Cas' clothes, he might not want to stop.

Come on, Winchester. Suck it up.

Dean reached out, his hands just as shaky as when he tried to phone Castiel earlier. It seemed to take forever convincing each button to slide through their holes, but eventually, Cas' shirt fell open, revealing the deep red outline of a hand imprinted directly over Castiel's heart.

"The hell?"

"It's your mark," Castiel murmured. "Your claim on me."

Dean didn't even try to stop himself from pressing his hand to the print. It slotted into place with a perfection that thrilled Dean to his core and brought forth a surge of absolute and joyful possessiveness. The angel was his. A thrumming tattoo of 'mine mine mine' beat into Dean's brain. His fingers pushed hard on the flesh of Castiel's chest and it wasn't until Dean finally realized that Castiel was gasping breathlessly that he snatched his hand away, suddenly terrified that he was hurting Cas. But it wasn't pain that dilated Castiel's pupils and flushed his skin a dark red.

"Cas?"

"T-the exchange," Cas stuttered. "Stronger than I thought."

"Exchange?"

"Mates, their feelings." Cas lost his battle to remain upright. He wilted against Dean, his forehead resting against Dean's collarbone. "Their feelings are heightened and exchanged by the mark."

Dean didn't want to think about what that meant.

"You're saying I got a mark like this on me?"

Castiel nodded into his chest. As gently as possible, Dean leaned Cas away and placed Cas' hand on his knee. The pain flared at the lack of bare skin touching, but Dean only needed a few seconds to tear his shirt off.

His chest was smooth and handprint free. His left shoulder was another story. Something lit in Castiel's eyes when they fell on the mark, something dark and old. Before Dean could think to protest, Castiel fit his hand over the mark.

The sensation was a hundred times more powerful than what he'd felt when touching his own mark. There was no control, no ownership. He was claimed and helpless in Castiel's care, but Dean wasn't afraid because Cas would never hurt him. Dean was precious. He was held close and safe and for the first time in his life, Dean knew he could relax. Close his eyes and fall back and know that he'd never be hurt. This mark and this being holding it would give him only pleasure. It would learn and teach love and no matter who Dean tried to put in Castiel's place, he would always long for this very connection.

When Castiel lifted his hand, Dean came back to his senses in Castiel's embrace.

"Dean?"

"Yeah," Dean croaked. "Shit's pretty powerful," he said.

Castiel breathed out on a laugh.

"It's not real," Dean said suddenly. He pulled away from Castiel, not enough to stop touching him, but enough to put at least the illusion of distance between them. He hated doing it. He hated saying these things. The way he felt while Cas was touching his mark made it seem so very real. But they didn't choose it. Dean didn't choose it.

"You don't even know me," Dean said, keeping his eyes on their joined hands.

"You're right," Castiel said softly. "I wouldn't have chosen for a bond to happen this way either."

And for some reason, that confession hurt more deeply than Dean would have imagined. He almost took his hand away before he remembered the inevitable icy pain.

"Yeah, well, we're stuck like this," Dean grumbled.

"Indeed."

Great. This was going to suck.


The first thing Castiel did after their conversation was call his brothers. Michael's booming voice echoed clearly over Cas' cell phone and he did not sound pleased with Cas. Dean experienced the odd urge to reach through the phone and throttle the guy, but managed to keep quiet as Michael explained that the little 'honeymoon period' would only last about a week. A second brother, Gabriel, laughed through the phone for about five minutes after Castiel related the news. In this case, it was Cas that looked like he wanted to reach through the phone. After Gabriel finally calmed down, he confirmed Michael's estimates and told Cas to 'wear the human out.' A third brother, Uriel, gave Castiel a lengthy lecture about consorting with humans. The fourth, Lucifer, sounded disgusted by the whole thing, but wished Cas a vague good luck. Dean fell asleep while Cas was arguing with Zachariah, the fifth brother and when he woke back up, Cas was hanging up with the last brother, Raphael, who promised to use some connection or another to ensure that Castiel wouldn't lose his job because of bond.

"You got too many damned brothers," Dean said, rubbing at his eyes. Cas watched every move he made even more closely than he had before they bonded or whatever it was.

"Yes," he agreed.

Then it was Dean's turn. He never took days off, so he had some vacation time saved up. Bobby sounded more annoyed that Dean had disappeared from work than that he needed some time off. In fact, he could have sworn he heard Bobby mutter 'it's about time' when Dean explained that he needed time to straighten out some personal business.

And then they were alone together.

"So...what do you want to do?" Dean asked after an awkward pause.

"I thought I'd like to sit here quietly," Castiel answered as he deflated against the couch.

"Seriously?"

"I'm tired of talking," he said and Dean couldn't blame him for that. Still, he didn't want to just sit around staring at the wall. Partly because he was afraid if there wasn't something occupying his mind, Dean would give into the pull of the bond and start something he'd wouldn't be able to stop.

"We could at least watch a movie."

When Castiel didn't disagree, Dean jumped up from the couch.

And then immediately fell back down under the pressure of shards of pain exploding behind his eyes.

"Goddamnit," he spat.

Castiel immediately began massaging Dean's temples like he knew exactly where the pain resided and his touch melted the hurt away as if it never existed. Dean grabbed Cas' hand and tried again.

"This is annoying," he told Castiel as he dragged him over to the movie shelf.

"It's inconvenient, yes."

Dean squatted next to the low shelf and Castiel wrapped a hand around the back of Dean's neck. He wanted to blame the bond when he leaned into Castiel's legs, but after all the leaning he'd done at the bar, he couldn't. It was all he could think about as he popped Caddyshack into the DVD player and led Castiel back to the couch. He spent most of the movie concentrating on the warm body at his side, the fingers playing with the hair at the back of his neck. Was it really the bond that made him enjoy sliding into bed with Cas that night? Or was there already something in Dean that made him need a solid presence at his back and possessive arms closed around his waist?

A less pleasant side effect of the bond made itself known in the morning. Dean refused to perform his morning ablutions at Castiel's side and so by the time they were done, both had raging headaches and they ended up flopping back in bed. Only this time, Dean dragged Castiel on top of his body and hooked his ankles around the back of Castiel's legs. Once again, Dean was surprised by how little he was thinking about sex. Not that it didn't feel great to have Castiel's weight pressing him into the mattress or Castiel's groin rubbing gently against his own. But the most pressing desire was for shared body warmth and the knowledge that he wasn't alone.

Which was kinda freaky because Dean never cared before that he was alone. Maybe it annoyed him a little that he couldn't seem to get anything going with anyone, but it didn't surprise him. The only people he could really trust were his family.

Thinking about family made Dean remember the party.

"Damn it," he murmured.

"Hmm?" Cas asked from Dean's neck, which he was mindlessly showering with small kisses. It felt so natural that Dean hadn't even realized it was happening.

"Sam," he said. "Engagement party tomorrow. I have to go. I'm the best man."

Castiel stopped the kisses. Not Dean's favorite action, but probably a good idea.

"Oh." He paused. "What do you want to tell him?"

Dean sighed.

"The kid's pretty smart. I think he'll notice the obsessive touching," he said as he slipped his hands under Castiel's shirt to rub up over his shoulder blades. "We'll have to say we decided to start dating."

"And he'll accept this?"

Dean winced. No, Sam would not accept it when Dean showed up with a man he just met and told Sam they were in a relationship. Dean couldn't remember the last time he actually dated a guy for longer than a week.

"He'll have to," Dean said and then he tilted his head in what he didn't realize was a silent request for more kissing until after Castiel obliged.

It was how they spent most of the day. Even in supposedly solitary activities, like when Cas said he wanted to read for a few hours. He sat between Dean's legs and read Northanger Abbey while Dean nuzzled at his ears. When Dean decided to work on the Impala, Cas spent the entire time rubbing his shoulders as Dean leaned over the engine. While Cas cooked lunch at the stove, Dean pressed in behind him and held him close. Dean had never touched someone this much in his entire life, but he was quick to discover that the touching didn't only relieve pain; it offered peace. The closer he got to Castiel, the more skin he touched, the more relaxed he felt.

It was addictive.

"So what about those wings?" Dean asked him that night after they climbed into bed. They were facing each other on their sides and for reasons passing understanding, Dean was tracing the lines and angles of Castiel's face. Over his eyebrows, down over his nose and across his cheeks to pass along both jaws.

"What about them?" Castiel asked absently, obviously blissed out by Dean's petting.

"You said I could see them."

Castiel tensed under Dean's hand.

"I believe you could," he said carefully. Dean let his hand come to rest on Castiel's neck.

"You don't want me to see them?"

"It's not that." There was a nervous edge to his voice and he couldn't quite meet Dean's eyes. "I've just never showed them to a...a human before."

"That's not what you were going to say," Dean accused, catching the hiccup in Castiel's sentence.

Castiel stared at Dean's collar buttons.

"Cas?"

"To a lover," Castiel said. "I was going to say I've never shown them to a lover before."

Castiel thought of him as a lover. Even though they'd never had sex, had never even really kissed. In fact, they were only waiting out the honeymoon period and then it was meant to end. His sudden desire to see the wings burned through him like wildfire, but Dean knew if he asked to see them, it would make everything so much more serious.

"That's okay," he said quickly, turning to lie on his back. "I don't need to see them."

Cas didn't say anything, but Dean felt his gaze heavy on the side of his face. Then Cas let out a little sigh and reached over Dean to turn off the light, pressing his chest into Dean's in the process. Just that brief moment of feeling Cas' weight had Dean aching for more, but he contented himself with their bare arms lying alongside each other and tried to sleep.


They were late to Sam's party the next night. Trying to shower without losing hold of each other or tempting fate with a free naked show turned out to be a pain in the ass. Dean had felt ridiculous standing in the shower and washing his hair with one hand while the other held Castiel's on the other side of the curtain. Castiel must have used some kind of angelic mojo because his shower ended much faster, but even so, they were two of the last people to show up at Sam's apartment.

Dean didn't bother knocking. In a move that was starting to feel very familiar, Dean dragged Castiel through a swirling crowd into the kitchen where Sam was talking to one of his college friends.

"There you are! I thought you decided not to come," Sam said, but he was grinning, so Dean didn't feel too bad.

"Hey, you actually managed to get a girl to agree to marry you. I'm amazed. I wouldn't miss this for the world," Dean said. Sam's retort died on his tongue when he finally spotted Dean and Castiel's joined hands.

"Um?"

"Oh right. You remember Cas, of course," Dean said.

Cas shook Sam's hand with his free one.

"Congratulations," Castiel said, stiff and formal as ever.

Sam gaped at them.

"Um?" he said again.

"Yeah," Dean said, scratching at the back of his neck. "So Cas and I decided to date. Each other."

"But you just met," Sam said blankly.

"What can I say? Our eyes met across a crowded dinner table and the next thing I knew we woke up in bed together," Dean said, which was sort of true. At least true enough to pass Sam's special Dean Lie Detector.

Sam made a face. Dean could tell he was itching to lecture about the dangers of jumping too fast into relationships and fucking around with your roommate, but Sam was too polite to do so in front of Castiel. Instead he huffed and tried to force a smile on his face.

"Do you want a drink, Castiel?"

Dean prayed he wouldn't ask for another Blowjob.

"Water, please."

Sam wandered away to get them drinks about the same time that his fiancée, Sarah, showed up in the kitchen. Hugs and introductions were made and unlike Sam, Sarah seemed thrilled with Dean's new 'relationship.' Once she discovered that Castiel worked as a librarian, they dove into geekland. It turned out that Castiel frequented the art museum where Sarah was curator even before he'd moved to Lawrence. They were discussing surrealist art when Sam returned with beverages and Dean would have felt relieved, but he knew Sam would get sucked into their geek storm too.

And then Castiel turned to him and smiled.

"What kinds of art do you like, Dean?"

In all the time he'd lived with his nerd of a brother and spent time with his equally nerdy girlfriend, no one had ever bothered to ask Dean this question. They probably didn't mean to assume that Dean was too unsophisticated to understand art, but they had. The fact that Castiel bothered to include Dean warmed him more than he cared to admit.

"Well, not that surrealism crap," Dean said. "I'd rather see pictures of actual things I can recognize."

Okay, so maybe he was a little unsophisticated, but every time Dean was forced to visit Sarah's museum, he honestly enjoyed the paintings of wilderness scenery the most. Sam would probably call him a big hick, but the renderings of mountains and lakes gave him a peaceful feeling.

"Oh, I agree," Castiel said. "I find the surrealist paintings fascinating, of course, but I prefer earthy scenes. I think a beautiful painting of a mountain is very calming."

Dean stared at him.

"Me too," he said faintly. Sam snorted.

"Wow, they're actually talking about art," he mumbled to Sarah. Dean elbowed him in the ribcage.

"Shut the hell up," he said, then began pulling Cas towards the living room. "We need better music," he announced because some kind of horrifying light country was playing and that wouldn't do.

Everything went pretty well up until Dean noticed Castiel staring at a guy that he thought might work at Sam's law firm. A tall handsome man with curly blond hair that Dean remembered checking out at another Sam-related event. This did not mean that he felt okay with Castiel doing the same thing. In fact, once Dean noticed it, his first impulse was push his hand under Cas' shirt and over his mark.

"See something you like?" he asked sourly.

"Watch," Castiel said, squeezing Dean's hand. "Every time that young lady with the red hair comes close to that man, his breath stops."

As Dean watched, the girl in question, who even Dean could see was gorgeous, stepped past the blond man and he saw that Cas was absolutely right. The guy's breath stuttered in his chest, he leaned in as if wanting to take a step towards her and then clearly lost his courage.

"Why do you care?" Dean asked, honestly confused.

"It's fascinating. It would take so little for him to reach out and ask for what he wants. Even if she says no, then he could at least end his suffering," Castiel said.

Dean didn't know what to say to that and it didn't matter anyway because Sam called for everyone's attention so he could make a toast. Then Sarah had to make one and then they forced Dean to say something, which was embarrassing and painful because with everyone staring at him, Dean felt uncomfortable clinging to Castiel's hand. Cas stood close behind him and touched his back every few seconds, but even so, by the time he finished, Dean's head was killing him.

But that wasn't what bothered him. It was Castiel's feverish eyes and sweat dampened skin.

"Come here," Dean muttered in an undertone. He led Cas away from the party up Sam's stairs to the bedroom he shared with Sarah. Seconds after he shut the door, Cas was in his space, hands under his shirt and knee pressed between Dean's legs.

"I don't like that feeling," Cas said, lips brushing Dean's earlobe.

"Yeah, it sucks," Dean said as he gathered Cas into a tight embrace. They stood like that for a long time, basking in the closeness and easing the angry bond. It really didn't like Dean and Castiel trying to separate themselves.

"Please take me home," Cas murmured awhile later. Dean immediately agreed. He wanted nothing more than to burrow under the blankets with Cas.

As soon as Dean opened the door, he saw Sam standing in the hallway.

"Here you are," he said. "I've been trying to find you. I wanted to talk to you in private."

Dean's mind blanked for a minute. He didn't want or know how to explain to Sam it wasn't possible, but Castiel saved him the trouble. Apparently Sam hadn't seen Cas yet because Castiel uncurled Dean's fingers and wrapped them around the door's edge. In that position, Dean could lean back against the door and still feel Castiel's fingers touching his own while giving Sam the impression that they were alone.

"What's up?"

Sam gave him a strange look about their location, but he let it go and took a deep breath.

"I just wanted to say that I understand now," Sam said.

"Understand what?" Dean asked, bewildered.

"When you said you were dating Castiel, I thought you'd lost your mind," Sam said. At Dean's glaring frown, he hurried to add, "Not because he's not cool, but you're just so different and if it fell apart, it'd be hell trying to live together. But the way you were with him tonight, it started to make sense."

"What do you mean?" Dean asked, though he wasn't sure he wanted the answer.

"He's different, but I don't think I realized how much you needed different. The staring and the formality kinda freaked me out, but Dean, the way you look when you have all that weird focus...I've never seen you look so happy," Sam said. "And I've never seen you so tactile with someone. Especially in public. You just looked really comfortable and...you looked happy. You were happy. I shouldn't judge anyway. I knew I was going to marry Sarah the first time I met her, so it's not like I don't believe in love at first sight. So I just wanted to say that. That I'm happy if you're happy."

Of course Dean was comfortable touching Cas. It was not touching Cas that caused problems. But he hadn't realized he seemed happy. Or rather, he hadn't realized he was happy. There wasn't really any call for it. No grand revelations or dramatic overtures. Dean just liked being around Castiel. He liked the way Cas looked out for him, included him, actually seemed to find Dean interesting.

"Right," Dean said. "Thanks."

Sam rolled his eyes at Dean's short response to his speech, but Dean could tell he was pleased.

"Just don't fuck it up, okay?"

"I'll try my best," Dean said sourly, which earned him a laugh and a clap to his shoulder. Luckily, the opposite shoulder of Castiel's mark because as Sam's hand touched him, Dean realized he really didn't want anyone but Cas to touch him there.

"I think we're going to take off," he said. "Congratulations again, man. Don't you fuck it up."

Sam laughed.

"I'll try my best," he mimicked as he turned and clattered down the stairs.

Castiel waited a moment before he appeared at Dean's side.

"Are you happy, Dean?" he asked quietly, careful to keep his gaze forward, away from Dean.

Dean sighed.

"Yeah, Cas," he said. "Yeah, I am. Are you?"

"Yes," Castiel said in nearly a whisper. "I just don't know why."

And wasn't that just the problem, Dean thought as he led Castiel through the house and out to the car.


There were two strangers in their kitchen the next morning. Or at least they were strangers to Dean. Judging by the way Castiel halted in the doorway and stared in shock at both men, he was acquainted with them.

"Michael," he said, voice slightly strangled. "Gabriel. What are you doing here?"

"You spontaneously bonded with a human, Castiel," one of them said. His big bellowing voice led Dean to believe it was Michael. "That's reason enough to visit."

"Ever heard of knocking, Mike?" Dean already didn't like the guy from his tone on the phone the other day. And now he was standing in their house, arms crossed over his chest and giving Castiel a disapproving look. He might have freaky angel powers, but Dean would absolutely kick him to the curb if he didn't back off.

"Oh great, you actually managed to find the one being in existence more protective of you than Michael," Gabriel deadpanned and then he lifted himself up to sit on the counter. "This'll be fun."

Michael's attention switched from Castiel to Dean. He didn't much look like Castiel. Dark brown hair fell into glittering hawkish black eyes. His features were rough and uneven, as if an artist had been sculpting his face from rock and then got bored before they finished. The whole look would be intimidating if Dean wasn't pissed at Michael for showing up without warning and upsetting Castiel. When Michael narrowed those piercing eyes at him, Dean lifted his chin and tensed his stance, just slightly in front of Castiel, whose hand he squeezed.

No one spoke for three very long moments.

Then Gabriel finally broke the tension by kicking Michael in the back.

"Quit being an ass," he said. "You can see the bond is valid."

"You can judge our bond?" Castiel asked.

"It's...very clear to us," Michael said grudgingly. "The connection appears strong."

"What Mike's trying to say is that there's what amounts to a steel rope stretching from your wee heart to Dean's," Gabriel clarified. "Even Mom and Dad's bond wasn't like that and they were pathetically in love."

"We're not in love," Dean protested.

"Protective, but not very bright," Gabriel said as he swept light colored eyes over Dean from head to foot. A cocky little smile curled one corner of his mouth. "So basically you've gotten yourself a guard dog."

Dean was halfway across the room before Castiel's insistent tugging managed to halt his progress. Only the pain of separating stopped Dean from ripping out of Castiel's grasp and finishing his journey to punch that smug smile off Gabriel's face.

"Please, Dean," Cas said. "I understand. Trust me, I do, but hitting him will only make his taunting worse. I know this very well."

"You hit him before?"

"We've had many...brawls," Castiel confessed, looking chagrinned when Dean didn't think it was necessary. In fact, he felt proud of the guy. Dean looped an arm around Castiel's waist and pulled him close.

"Good. I hope you kicked his ass," Dean declared.

Michael sighed and Gabriel chuckled.

"From protective to in-denial to preening in under five minutes," Gabriel said as he hopped off the counter. "He's perfect, Michael. Don't you think?"

"I'm still not happy about this, but...yes," Michael said. "I have to admit, he is exactly what you've always needed Castiel."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

Truth be told, Dean didn't know what Castiel needed. Now that the concept was in his mind, Dean wondered if he could possibly be what Castiel needed. Sure they could talk about art for five seconds, but Cas liked books and intellectual things. Dean preferred action to over-thinking. He didn't want to bore Castiel.

"Castiel's always been somewhat remote from his emotions," Michael said diplomatically. "If it was left up to him, he would sit alone in a room all day reading. Your overt emotionalism and obvious passion must seem very attractive to him."

When Dean glanced at Castiel, he saw a deep red blush start to paint Cas' pale cheeks. Clearly, Michael had hit the nail on the head. Dean never thought of himself like that, like some kind of passionate magnet for reserved nerdy types who needed a little excitement in their lives. Although he did seem to be surrounded by nerds.

"There must be similar qualities that attracted you to Castiel," Michael explained. "Because the bond would not have formed if you had not recognized your inevitable need for one another. Bonds usually don't form so immediately, but then, Castiel, you always did things your own way."

"So quit complaining and worrying that you're being forced into this," Gabriel said, suddenly stern and serious. "You have no idea how many of our kind long for the bond. Some of them with our Castiel himself," he added with a smirk. Dean probably should have expected the rush of possessive jealousy that flooded his chest, but it still shocked him. Gabriel laughed again and patted Dean's cheek before Dean could avoid him.

"I really like you, kid. Take care of Castiel or Michael will kick your ass. Castiel, enjoy all the sex. I'll see you at Christmas."

Then he was gone.

Michael rolled his eyes.

"Sorry about Gabriel. He's always been obnoxious. To tell you the truth, I think he's a little jealous," Michael said.

"I didn't think Gabriel cared about bonds," Castiel said in obvious surprise.

"I don't think he did either until you called," Michael admitted. "Of course, we can all find love with or without a bond, but to have one dropped in your lap like this? You've been truly blessed. I trust you're intelligent enough to take advantage of it," he said to Castiel before turning to Dean. "And I've only known you for ten minutes, but I can already see you're too possessive to let Castiel go. I wish you both happiness. Castiel, don't forget to call us."

With that final order, Michael disappeared as well.

"So those were your brothers," Dean said after a moment of tense silence.

"Yes," Castiel said uncomfortably.

"We both have pretty nosy brothers," he commented.

"Dean." Castiel turned to face him, holding Dean only by the hands. "What they said about the bond. Even if it's true, you still have the right to make a conscious decision about our relationship. Please don't feel pressured by them."

His always intense blue eyes were earnest, his expression sincere. He was honestly giving Dean another out here. And it was stupid after days of worry, building evidence that Dean's feelings about Castiel were strong and genuine and three brothers spelling out how much sense they made together, but that simple offer, Castiel's willingness to give Dean up if that's what he wanted that finally taught Dean what had happened between them.

They'd fallen in love.

It didn't matter if it happened when they first laid eyes on each other or as Dean leaned drunkenly against Cas in a bar or at the first night they slept pressed close together. It didn't even matter if happened after the bond formed.

What mattered was that Castiel loved him enough to walk away. Dean knew what love was. It wasn't about candy and flowers and big fancy displays. It was about sacrifice and putting the one you loved before yourself.

Dean knew the only important question now.

"What do you want?"

"Me? I…" Castiel's voice trailed away, but his eyes said everything. They showed the exact same love and longing that'd been growing in Dean over the last few days.

"Cas," Dean rasped and he began walking towards Cas, forcing him back against the counter. "Show me."

"Show you what?" Castiel asked breathlessly.

Dean slid his hand under Castiel's shirt and over his mark.

"The wings. Show me your wings."

He heard a gasping sound and saw a flash of brown, but Dean couldn't wait another moment. With one hand still on the mark and the other twisted into Castiel's hair, Dean pulled him into their first real kiss. Castiel slumped against him, obviously overwhelmed by whatever Dean's heart was pumping into him through the mark. It was a fantastic, powerful feeling and Dean wanted it for the rest of his life. When he broke off the kiss, he saw two slender elegant wings hanging on either side of Castiel's body to his knees. They started out a deep chocolate brown at the back joint and faded into a light sandy color at the tips.

"Wow," Dean said stupidly.

Castiel made an incoherent noise and covered Dean's hand on his chest, pressing it harder against the mark.

"Dean," he panted.

Dean thought he made a good point. They'd been doing nothing but touching for days and while Dean enjoyed it more than he thought he would, he felt adding an orgasm or two into the mix could only make everything just that much better.

"Yeah, okay," Dean said. Suddenly they were in Dean's bedroom. Their bedroom.

"You are so awesome," Dean said before kissing Castiel again.

"I know," Castiel agreed and then Dean found himself flat on his back on the bed. Castiel climbed into his lap and stretched his wings out to either side.

"Now it's my turn," he said before sliding his hand into place over Dean's shoulder. The intensity of the feeling, the strength of Castiel's claim, arched Dean's back and stole his breath and the thought that he ever didn't want this made Dean whisper apologies against Castiel's lips.

Castiel's kiss silenced him and once again, Dean relaxed.

He didn't have to worry anymore. Cas would take care of him.